The Discovery of the Source of the Nile by John Hanning Speke

This etext was produced by Laura Shaffer and J.C. Byers ( The Discovery of The Source of the Nile by John Hanning Speke John Hanning Speke, born 1827. Served in the Punjab but left in 1854 to explore Somaliland. Discovered Lake Tanganyika with Burton, and Lake Victoria independently. Was, with Grant, the first European to
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This etext was produced by Laura Shaffer and J.C. Byers (

The Discovery of The Source of the Nile
by John Hanning Speke

John Hanning Speke, born 1827. Served in the Punjab but left in 1854 to explore Somaliland. Discovered Lake Tanganyika with Burton, and Lake Victoria independently. Was, with Grant, the first European to cross equatorial africa. Died 1864.

Editor’s Note

John Hanning Speke was a man of thirty-six, when his Nile Journal appeared. He had entered the army in 1844, and completed ten years of service in India, serving through the Punjab Campaign. Already he had conceived the idea of exploring Africa, before his ten years were up, and on their conclusion he was appointed a member of the expedition preparing to start under Sir Richard (then Lieutenant Burton) for the Somali country. He was wounded by the Somalis, and returned to England on sick leave; the Crimean War then breaking out, be served through it, and later, December 1856, joined another expedition under Burton. Then it was that the possibility of the source of the Nile being traced to one of the inland lakes seems to have struck him.

Burton’s illness prevented him accompanying Speke on the latter’s visit to the lake now known as Victoria Nyanza. During this expedition Speke reached the most southerly point of the lake, and gave it its present name. Speke arrived back in England in the spring of 1859, Burton being left behind on account of his illness. The relations between the two had become strained, and this was accentuated by Speke’s hast to publish the account of his explorations. He was given the command of another expedition which left England in April 1860, in company with Captain James Augustus Grant, to ascertain still further if the Victoria Nyanza were indeed the source of the Nile. He met Sir Samuel Baker, to whom he gave valuable assistance, and who with his clue discovered the third lake, Albert Nyanza.

Speke telegraphed early in 1863, that the Nile source was traced. Returning to England that year he met with an ovation, and addressed a special meeting of the Geographical Society, and the same year, 1863, published his “Journal of the Discovery of the Nile.” Opposed in his statements by Burton and M’Queen (The Nile Basin, 1864″), it was arranged that he and Burton should meet for a debate, when on the very day fixed, Speke accidentally shot himself while out partridge-shooting.

Sir R. Murchison, addressing the Royal Geographical Society that year, speaks of Speke’s discovery of the source of the Nile as solving the “problem of all ages.”

Only two books were published by Speke–the “Journal” of 1863, which follows, and its sequel–“What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile,” which appeared in the year of his death, 1864.


In the following pages I have endeavoured to describe all that appeared to me most important and interesting among the events and the scenes that came under my notice during my sojourn in the interior of Africa. If my account should not entirely harmonise with preconceived notions as to primitive races, I cannot help it. I profess accurately to describe native Africa–Africa in those places where it has not received the slightest impulse, whether for good or evil, from European civilisation. If the picture be a dark one, we should, when contemplating these sons of Noah, try and carry our mind back to that time when our poor elder brother Ham was cursed by his father, and condemned to be the slave of both Shem and Japheth; for as they were then, so they appear to be now– a strikingly existing proof of the Holy Scriptures. But one thing must be remembered: Whilst the people of Europe and Asia were blessed by communion with God through the medium of His prophets, and obtained divine laws to regulate their ways and keep them in mind of Him who made them, the Africans were excluded from this dispensation, and consequently have no idea of an overruling Providence or a future state; they therefore trust to luck and to charms, and think only of self- preservation in this world. Whatever, then, may be said against them for being too avaricious or too destitute of fellow-feeling, should rather reflect on ourselves, who have been so much better favoured, yet have neglected to teach them, than on those who, whilst they are sinning, know not what they are doing. To say a negro is incapable of instruction, is a mere absurdity; for those few boys who have been educated in our schools have proved themselves even quicker than our own at learning; whilst, amongst themselves, the deepness of their cunning and their power of repartee are quite surprising, and are especially shown in their proficiency for telling lies most appropriately in preference to truth, and with an off-handed manner that makes them most amusing.

With these remarks, I now give, as an appropriate introduction to my narrative–(1.) An account of the general geographical features of the countries we are about to travel in, leaving the details to be treated under each as we successively pass through them; (2.) A general view of the atmospheric agents which wear down and so continually help to reduce the continent, yet at the same time assist to clothe it with vegetation; (3.) A general view of the Flora; and, lastly, that which consumes it, (4.) Its Fauna; ending with a few special remarks on the Wanguana, or men freed from slavery.


The continent of Africa is something like a dish turned upside down, having a high and flat central plateau, with a higher rim of hills surrounding it; from below which, exterially, it suddenly slopes down to the flat strip of land bordering on the sea. A dish, however, is generally uniform in shape–Africa is not. For instance, we find in its centre a high group of hills surrounding the head of the Tanganyika Lake, composed chiefly of argillaceous sandstones which I suppose to be the Lunae Montes of Ptolemy, or the Soma Giri of the ancient Hindus. Further, instead of a rim at the northern end, the country shelves down from the equator to the Mediterranean Sea; and on the general surface of the interior plateau there are basins full of water (lakes), from which, when rains overflow them, rivers are formed, that, cutting through the flanking rim of hills, find their way to the sea.

Atmospheric Agents

On the east coast, near Zanzibar, we find the rains following the track of the sun, and lasting not more than forty days on any part that the sun crosses; whilst the winds blow from south-west or north-east, towards the regions heated by its vertical position. But in the centre of the continent, within 5§ of the equator, we find the rains much more lasting. For instance, at 5§ south latitude, for the whole six months that the sun is in the south, rain continues to fall, and I have heard that the same takes place at 5§ north; whilst on the equator, or rather a trifle to northward of it, it rains more or less the whole year round, but most at the equinoxes, as shown in the table on the following page. The winds, though somewhat less steady, are still very determinable. With an easterly tending, they deflect north and south, following the sun. In the drier season they blow so cold that the sun’s heat is not distressing; and in consequence of this, and the average altitude of the plateau, which is 3000 feet, the general temperature of the atmosphere is very pleasant, as I found from experience; for I walked every inch of the journey dressed in thick woollen clothes, and slept every night between blankets.

The Number of Days on which Rain fell (more or less) during the March of the East African Expedition from Zanzibar to Gondokoro.

1860 Days on 1861 Days on 1862 Days on which which which rain fell rain fell rain fell

*** *** January 19 January 14 *** *** February 21 February[FN#1]12 *** *** March 17 March 21 *** *** April 17 April 27 *** *** May 3 May 26 *** *** June 0 June 20 *** *** July 1 July 22 *** *** August 1 August 20 *** *** September 9 September 18 October 2 October 11 October 27 November 0 November 17 November 20 December 20 December 16 December 6


From what has been said regarding the condition of the atmosphere, it may readily be imagined that Africa, in those parts, after all, is not so bad as people supposed it was; for, when so much moisture falls under a vertical sun, all vegetable life must grow up almost spontaneously. It does so on the equator in the most profuse manner; but down at 5§ south, where there are six months’ drought, the case is somewhat different; and the people would be subject to famines if they did not take advantage of their rainy season to lay in sufficient stores for the fine: and here we touch on the misfortune of the country; for the negro is too lazy to do so effectively, owing chiefly, as we shall see presently, to want of a strong protecting government. One substantial fact has been established, owing to our having crossed over ten degrees of latitude in the centre of the continent, or from 5§ south to 5§ north latitude, which is this: There exists a regular gradation of fertility, surprisingly rich on the equator, but decreasing systematically from it; and the reason why this great fertile zone is confined to the equatorial regions, is the same as that which has constituted it the great focus of water or lake supply, whence issue the principal rivers of Africa. On the equator lie the rainbearing influences of the Mountains of the Moon. The equatorial line is, in fact, the centre of atmospheric motion.


In treating of this branch of natural history, we will first take man–the true curly-head, flab-nosed, pouch-mouthed negro–not the Wahuma.[FN#2] They are well distributed all over these latitudes, but are not found anywhere in dense communities. Their system of government is mostly of the patriarchal character. Some are pastorals, but most are agriculturalists; and this difference, I believe, originates solely from want of a stable government, to enable them to reap what they produce; for where the negro can save his cattle, which is his wealth, by eating grain, he will do it. In the same way as all animals, whether wild or tame, require a guide to lead their flocks, so do the negroes find it necessary to have chiefs over their villages and little communities, who are their referees on all domestic or political questions. They have both their district and their village chiefs, but, in the countries we are about to travel over, no kings such as we shall find that the Wahuma have. The district chief is absolute, though guided in great measure by his “grey-beards,” who constantly attend his residence, and talk over their affairs of state. These commonly concern petty internal matters; for they are too selfish and too narrow-minded to care for anything but their own private concerns. The grey-beards circulate the orders of the chief amongst the village chiefs, who are fined when they do not comply with them; and hence all orders are pretty well obeyed.

One thing only tends to disorganise the country, and that is war, caused, in the first instance, by polygamy, producing a family of half-brothers, who, all aspiring to succeed their father, fight continually with one another, and make their chief aim slaves and cattle; whilst, in the second instance, slavery keeps them ever fighting and reducing their numbers. The government revenues are levied, on a very small scale, exclusively for the benefit of the chief and his grey-beards. For instance, as a sort of land-tax, the chief has a right to drink free from the village brews of pombe (a kind of beer made by fermentation), which are made in turn by all the villagers successively. In case of an elephant being killed, he also takes a share of the meat, and claims one of its tusks as his right; further, all leopard, lion, or zebra skins are his by right. On merchandise brought into the country by traders, he has a general right to make any exactions he thinks he has the power of enforcing, without any regard to justice or a regulated tariff. This right is called Hongo, in the plural Mahongo. Another source of revenue is in the effects of all people condemned for sorcery, who are either burnt, or speared and cast into the jungles, and their property seized by the grey-beards for their chief.

As to punishments, all irreclaimable thieves or murderers are killed and disposed of in the same manner as these sorcerers; whilst on minor thieves a penalty equivalent to the extent of the depredation is levied. Illicit intercourse being treated as petty larceny, a value is fixed according to the value of the woman–for it must be remembered all women are property. Indeed, marriages are considered a very profitable speculation, the girl’s hand being in the father’s gift, who marries her to any one who will pay her price. This arrangement, however, is not considered a simple matter of buying and selling, but delights in the high-sounding title of “dowry.” Slaves, cows, goats, fowls, brass wire, or beads, are the usual things given for this species of dowry. The marriage-knot, however, is never irretrievably tied; for if the wife finds a defect in her husband, she can return to her father by refunding the dowry; whilst the husband, if he objects to his wife, can claim half-price on sending her home again, which is considered fair, because as a second-hand article her future value would be diminished by half. By this system, it must be observed, polygamy is a source of wealth, since a man’s means are measured by the number of his progeny; but it has other advantages besides the dowry, for the women work more than the men do, both in and out of doors; and, in addition to the females, the sons work for the household until they marry, and in after life take care of their parents in the same way as in the first instance the parents took care of them.

Twins are usually hailed with delight, because they swell the power of the family, though in some instances they are put to death. Albinos are valued, though their colour is not admired. If death occurs in a natural manner, the body is usually either buried in the village or outside. A large portion of the negro races affect nudity, despising clothing as effeminate; but these are chiefly the more boisterous roving pastorals, who are too lazy either to grow cotton or strip the trees of their bark. Their young women go naked; but the mothers suspend a little tail both before and behind. As the hair of the negro will not grow long, a barber might be dispensed with, were it not that they delight in odd fashions, and are therefore continually either shaving it off altogether, or else fashioning it after the most whimsical designs. No people in the world are so proud and headstrong as the negroes, whether they be pastoral or agriculturalists. With them, as with the rest of the world, “familiarity breeds contempt”; hospitality lives only one day; for though proud of a rich or white visitor–and they implore him to stop, that they may keep feeding their eyes on his curiosities–they seldom give more than a cow or a goat, though professing to supply a whole camp with provisions.

Taking the negroes as a whole, one does not find very marked or much difference in them. Each tribe has its characteristics, it is true. For instance, one cuts his teeth or tattoos his face in a different manner from the others; but by the constant intermarriage with slaves, much of this effect is lost, and it is further lost sight of owing to the prevalence of migrations caused by wars and the division of governments. As with the tribal marks so with their weapons; those most commonly in use are the spear, assage, shield, bow and arrow. It is true some affect one, some the other; but in no way do we see that the courage of tribes can be determined by the use of any particular weapon: for the bravest use the arrow, which is the more dreaded; while the weakest confine themselves to the spear. Lines of traffic are the worst tracks (there are no roads in the districts here referred to) for a traveller to go upon, not only because the hospitality of the people has been damped by frequent communication with travellers, but, by intercourse with the semi- civilised merchant, their natural honour and honesty are corrupted, their cupidity is increased, and the show of firearms ceases to frighten them.

Of paramount consideration is the power held by the magician (Mganga), who rules the minds of the kings as did the old popes of Europe. They, indeed, are a curse to the traveller; for if it suits their inclinations to keep him out of the country, they have merely to prognosticate all sorts of calamities–as droughts, famines, or wars–in the event of his setting eyes on the soil, and the chiefs, people, and all, would believe them; for, as may be imagined, with men unenlightened, supernatural and imaginary predictions work with more force than substantial reasons. Their implement of divination, simple as it may appear, is a cow’s or antelope’s horn (Uganga), which they stuff with magic powder, also called Uganga. Stuck into the ground in front of the village, it is supposed to have sufficient power to ward off the attacks of an enemy.

By simply holding it in the hand, the magician pretends he can discover anything that has been stolen or lost; and instances have been told of its dragging four men after it with irresistible impetus up to a thief, when it be-laboured the culprit and drove him out of his senses. So imbued are the natives’ minds with belief in the power of charms, that they pay the magician for sticks, stones, or mud, which he has doctored for them. They believe certain flowers held in the hand will conduct them to anything lost; as also that the voice of certain wild animals, birds, or beasts, will insure them good-luck, or warn them of danger. With the utmost complacency our sable brother builds a dwarf hut in his fields, and places some grain on it to propitiate the evil spirit, and suffer him to reap the fruits of his labour, and this too they call Uganga or church.

These are a few of the more innocent alternatives the poor negroes resort to in place of a “Saviour.” They have also many other and more horrible devices. For instance, in times of tribulation, the magician, if he ascertains a war is projected by inspecting the blood and bones of a fowl which he has flayed for that purpose, flays a young child, and having laid it lengthwise on a path, directs all the warriors, on proceeding to battle, to step over his sacrifice and insure themselves victory. Another of these extra barbarous devices takes place when a chief wishes to make war on his neighbour by his calling in a magician to discover a propitious time for commencing. The doctor places a large earthen vessel, half full of water, over a fire, and over its mouth a grating of sticks, whereon he lays a small child and a fowl side by side, and covers them over with a second large earthen vessel, just like the first, only inverted, to keep the steam in, when he sets fire below, cooks for a certain period of time, and then looks to see if his victims are still living or dead–when, should they be dead, the war must be deferred, but, otherwise commenced at once.

These extremes, however, are not often resorted to, for the natives are usually content with simpler means, such as flaying a goat, instead of a child, to be walked over; while, to prevent any evil approaching their dwellings a squashed frog, or any other such absurdity, when place on the track, is considered a specific.

How the negro has lived so many ages without advancing, seems marvellous, when all the countries surrounding Africa are so forward in comparison; and judging from the progressive state of the world, one is led to suppose that the African must soon either step out from his darkness, or be superseded by a being superior to himself. Could a government be formed for them like ours in India, they would be saved; but without it, I fear there is very little chance; for at present the African neither can help himself nor will he be helped about by others, because his country is in such a constant state of turmoil he has too much anxiety on hand looking out for his food to think of anything else. As his fathers ever did, so does he. He works his wife, sells his children, enslaves all he can lay hands upon, and, unless when fighting for the property of others, contents himself with drinking, singing, and dancing like a baboon to drive dull care away. A few only make cotton cloth, or work in wood, iron, copper, or salt; their rule being to do as little as possible, and to store up nothing beyond the necessities of the next season, lest their chiefs or neighbours should covet and take it from them.

Slavery, I may add, is one great cause of laziness, for the masters become too proud to work, lest they should be thought slaves themselves. In consequence of this, the women look after the household work–such as brewing, cooking, grinding corn, making pottery and baskets, and taking care of the house and the children, besides helping the slaves whilst cultivating, or even tending the cattle sometimes.

Now, descending to the inferior order of creation, I shall commence with the domestic animals first, to show what the traveller may expect to find for his usual support. Cows, after leaving the low lands near the coast, are found to be plentiful everywhere, and to produce milk in small quantities, from which butter is made. Goats are common all over Africa; but sheep are not so plentiful, nor do they show such good breeding–being generally lanky, with long fat tails. Fowls, much like those in India, are abundant everywhere. A few Muscovy ducks are imported, also pigeons and cats. Dogs, like the Indian pariah, are very plentiful, only much smaller; and a few donkeys are found in certain localities. Now, considering this good supply of meat, whilst all tropical plants will grow just as well in central equatorial Africa as they do in India, it surprises the traveller there should be any famines; yet such is too often the case, and the negro, with these bounties within his reach, is sometimes found eating dogs, cats, rats, porcupines, snakes, lizards, tortoises, locusts, and white ants, or is forced to seek the seeds of wild grasses, or to pluck wild herbs, fruits, and roots; whilst at the proper seasons they hunt the wild elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, pigs, and antelopes; or, going out with their arrows, have battues against the guinea-fowls and small birds.

The frequency with which collections of villages are found all over the countries we are alluding to, leaves but very little scope for the runs of wild animals, which are found only in dense jungles, open forests, or praires generally speaking, where hills can protect them, and near rivers whose marshes produce a thick growth of vegetation to conceal them from their most dreaded enemy–man. The prowling, restless elephant, for instance, though rarely seen, leaves indications of his nocturnal excursions in every wilderness, by wantonly knocking down the forest-trees. The morose rhinoceros, though less numerous, are found in every thick jungle. So is the savage buffalo, especially delighting in dark places, where he can wallow in the mud and slake his thirst without much trouble; and here also we find the wild pig.

The gruff hippopotamus is as widespread as any, being found wherever there is water to float him; whilst the shy giraffe and zebra affect all open forests and plains where the grass is not too long; and antelopes, of great variety in species and habits, are found wherever man will let them alone and they can find water. The lion is, however, rarely heard–much more seldom seen. Hyenas are numerous, and thievishly inclined. Leopards, less common, are the terror of the villagers. Foxes are not numerous, but frighten the black traveller by their ill-omened bark. Hares, about half the size of English ones–there are no rabbits–are widely spread, but not numerous; porcupines the same. Wild cats, and animals of the ferret kind, destroy game. Monkeys of various kinds and squirrels harbour in the trees, but are rarely seen. Tortoises and snakes, in great variety, crawl over the ground, mostly after the rains. Rats and lizards–there are but few mice–are very abundant, and feed both in the fields and on the stores of the men.

The wily ostrich, bustard, and florikan affect all open places. The guinea-fowl is the most numerous of all game-birds. Partridges come next, but do not afford good sport; and quails are rare. Ducks and snipe appear to love Africa less than any other country; and geese and storks are only found where water most abounds. Vultures are uncommon; hawks and crows much abound, as in all other countries; but little birds, of every colour and note, are discoverable in great quantities near water and by the villages. Huge snails and small ones, as well as fresh-water shells, are very abundant, though the conchologist would find but little variety to repay his labours; and insects, though innumerable, are best sought for after the rains have set in.[FN#3]

The Wanguana or Freed Men

The Wa-n-guana, as their name implies, are men freed from slavery; and as it is to these singular negroes acting as hired servants that I have been chiefly indebted for opening this large section of Africa, a few general remarks on their character cannot be out of place here.

Of course, having been born in Africa, and associated in childhood with the untainted negroes, they retain all the superstitious notions of the true aborigines, though somewhat modified, and even corrupted, by that acquaintance with the outer world which sharpens their wits.

Most of these men were doubtless caught in wars, as may be seen every day in Africa, made slaves of, and sold to the Arabs for a few yards of common cloth, brass wire, or beads. They would then be taken to the Zanzibar market, resold like horses to the highest bidder, and then kept in bondage by their new masters, more like children of his family than anything else. In this new position they were circumcised to make Mussulmans of them, that their hands might be “clean” to slaughter their master’s cattle, and extend his creed; for the Arabs believe the day must come when the tenets of Mohammed will be accepted by all men.

The slave in this new position finds himself much better off than he ever was in his life before, with this exception, that as a slave he feels himself much degraded in the social scale of society, and his family ties are all cut off from him–probably his relations have all been killed in the war in which he was captured. Still, after the first qualms have worn off, we find him much attached to his master, who feeds him and finds him in clothes in return for the menial services which he performs. In a few years after capture, or when confidence has been gained by the attachment shown by the slave, if the master is a trader in ivory, he will intrust him with the charge of his stores, and send him all over the interior of the continent to purchase for him both slaves and ivory; but should the master die, according to the Mohammedan creed the slaves ought to be freed. In Arabia this would be the case; but at Zanzibar it more generally happens that the slave is willed to his successor.

The whole system of slaveholding by the Arabs in Africa, or rather on the coast or at Zanzibar, is exceedingly strange; for the slaves, both in individual physical strength and in numbers, are so superior to the Arab foreigners, that if they chose to rebel, they might send the Arabs flying out of the land. It happens, however, that they are spell-bound, not knowing their strength any more than domestic animals, and they even seem to consider that they would be dishonest if they ran away after being purchased, and so brought pecuniary loss on their owners.

There are many positions into which the slave may get by the course of events, and I shall give here, as a specimen, the ordinary case of one who has been freed by the death of his master, that master having been a trader in ivory and slaves in the interior. In such a case, the slave so freed in all probability would commence life afresh by taking service as a porter with other merchants, and in the end would raise sufficient capital to commence trading himself– first in slaves, because they are the most easily got, and then in ivory. All his accumulations would then go to the Zanzibar market, or else to slavers looking out off the coast. Slavery begets slavery. To catch slaves is the first thought of every chief in the interior; hence fights and slavery impoverish the land, and that is the reason both why Africa does not improve, and why we find men of all tribes and tongues on the coast. The ethnologist need only go to Zanzibar to become acquainted with all the different tribes to the centre of the continent on that side, or to Congo to find the other half south of the equator there.

Some few freed slaves take service in vessels, of which they are especially fond; but most return to Africa to trade in slaves and ivory. All slaves learn the coast language, called at Zanzibar Kisuahili; and therefore the traveller, if judicious in his selections, could find there interpreters to carry him throughout the eastern half of South Africa. To the north of the equator the system of language entirely changes.

Laziness is inherent in these men, for which reason, although extremely powerful, they will not work unless compelled to do so. Having no God, in the Christian sense of the term, to fear or worship, they have no love for truth, honour, or honesty. Controlled by no government, nor yet by home ties, they have no reason to think of or look to the future. Any venture attracts them when hard-up for food; and the more roving it is, the better they like it. The life of the sailor is most particularly attractive to the freed slave; for he thinks, in his conceit, that he is on an equality with all men when once on the muster- rolls, and then he calls all his fellow-Africans “savages.” Still the African’s peculiarity sticks to him: he has gained no permanent good. The association of white men and the glitter of money merely dazzle him. He apes like a monkey the jolly Jack Tar, and spends his wages accordingly. If chance brings him back again to Zanzibar, he calls his old Arab master his father, and goes into slavery with as much zest as ever.

I have spoken of these freed men as if they had no religion. This is practically true, though theoretically not so; for the Arabs, on circumcising them, teach them to repeat the words Allah and Mohammed, and perhaps a few others; but not one in ten knows what a soul means, nor do they expect to meet with either reward or punishment in the next world, though they are taught to regard animals as clean and unclean, and some go through the form of a pilgrimage to Mecca. Indeed the whole of their spiritual education goes into oaths and ejaculations–Allah and Mohammed being as common in their mouths as damn and blast are with our soldiers and sailors. The long and short of this story is, that the freed men generally turn out a loose, roving, reckless set of beings, quick-witted as the Yankee, from the simple fact that they imagine all political matters affect them, and therefore they must have a word in every debate. Nevertheless they are seldom wise; and lying being more familiar to their constitution than truth-saying, they are for ever concocting dodges with the view, which they glory in of successfully cheating people. Sometimes they will show great kindness, even bravery amounting to heroism, and proportionate affection; at another time, without any cause, they will desert and be treacherous to their sworn friends in the most dastardly manner. Whatever the freak of the moment is, that they adopt in the most thoughtless manner, even though they may have calculated on advantages beforehand in the opposite direction. In fact, no one can rely upon them even for a moment. Dog wit, or any silly remarks, will set them giggling. Any toy will amuse them. Highly conceited of their personal appearance, they are for ever cutting their hair in different fashions, to surprise a friend; or if a rag be thrown away, they will all in turn fight for it to bind on their heads, then on their loins or spears, peacocking about with it before their admiring comrades. Even strange feathers or skins are treated by them in the same way.

Should one happen to have anything specially to communicate to his master in camp, he will enter giggling, sidle up to the pole of a hut, commence scratching his back with it, then stretch and yawn, and gradually, in bursts of loud laughter, slip down to the ground on his stern, when he drums with his hands on the top of a box until summoned to know what he has at heart, when he delivers himself in a peculiar manner, laughs and yawns again, and, saying it is time to go, walks off in the same way as he came. At other times when he is called, he will come sucking away at the spout of a tea-pot, or, scratching his naked arm-pits with a table- knife, or, perhaps, polishing the plates for dinner with his dirty loin-cloth. If sent to market to purchase a fowl, he comes back with a cock tied by the legs to the end of a stick, swinging and squalling in the most piteous manner. Then, arrived at the cook-shop, he throws the bird down on the ground, holds its head between his toes, plucks the feathers to bare its throat, and then, raising a prayer, cuts its head off.

But enough of the freed man in camp; on the march he is no better. If you give him a gun and some ammunition to protect him in case of emergencies, he will promise to save it, but forthwith expends it by firing it off in the air, and demands more, else he will fear to venture amongst the “savages.” Suppose you give him a box of bottles to carry, or a desk, or anything else that requires great care, and you caution him of its contents, the first thing he does is to commence swinging it round and round, or putting it topsy-turvy on the top of his head, when he will run off at a jog-trot, singing and laughing in the most provoking manner, and thinking no more about it than if it were an old stone; even if rain were falling, he would put it in the best place to get wet through. Economy, care, or forethought never enters his head; the first thing to hand is the right thing for him; and rather then take the trouble even to look for his own rope to tie up his bundle, he would cut off his master’s tent- ropes or steal his comrade’s. His greatest delight is in the fair sex, and when he can’t get them, next comes beer, song, and a dance.

Now, this is a mild specimen of the “rowdy” negro, who has contributed more to open Africa to enterprise and civilisation than any one else. Possessed of a wonderful amount of loquacity, great risibility, but no stability–a creature of impulse–a grown child, in short–at first sight it seems wonderful how he can be trained to work; for there is now law, no home to bind him–he could run away at any moment; and presuming on this, he sins, expecting to be forgiven. Great forbearance, occasionally tinctured with a little fatherly severity, is I believe, the best dose for him; for he says to his master, in the most childish manner, after sinning, “You ought to forgive and to forget; for are you not a big man who should be above harbouring spite, though for a moment you may be angry? Flog me if you like, but don’t keep count against me, else I shall run away; and what will you do then?”

The language of this people is just as strange as they are themselves. It is based on euphony, from which cause it is very complex, the more especially so as it requires one to be possessed of a negro’s turn of mind to appreciate the system, and unravel the secret of its euphonic concord. A Kisuahili grammar, written by Dr. Krapf, will exemplify what I mean. There is one peculiarity, however, to which I would direct the attention of the reader most particularly, which is, that Wa prefixed to the essential word of a country, means men or people; M prefixed, means man or individual; U, in the same way, means place or locality; and Ki prefixed indicates the language. Example:– Wagogo, is the people of Gogo; Mgogo, is a Gogo man; Ugogo, is the country of Gogo; and Kigogo, the language of Gogo.

The only direction here necessary as regards pronunciation of native words refers to the u, which represents a sound corresponding to that of the oo in woo.

Journal of the Discovery
The Source of the Nile

Chapter 1

London to Zanzibar, 1859

The design–The Preparations–Departure–The Cape–The Zulu Kafirs– Turtle-Turning–Capture of a Slaver–Arrive at Zanzibar- -Local Politics and News Since Last Visit–Organisation of the Expedition.

My third expedition in Africa, which was avowedly for the purpose of establishing the truth of my assertion that the Victoria N’yanza, which I discovered on the 30th July 1858, would eventually prove to be the source of the Nile, may be said to have commenced on the 9th May 1859, the first day after my return to England from my second expedition, when, at the invitation of Sir. R. I. Murchison, I called at his house to show him my map for the information of the Royal Geographical Society. Sir Roderick, I need only say, at once accepted my views; and, knowing my ardent desire to prove to the world, by actual inspection of the exit, that the Victoria N’yanza was the source of the Nile, seized the enlightened view, that such a discovery should not be lost to the glory of England and the Society of which he was President; and said to me, “Speke, we must send you there again.” I was then officially directed, much against my own inclination, to lecture at the Royal Geographical Society on the geography of Africa, which I had, as the sole surveyor of the second expedition, laid down on our maps.[FN#4] A council of the Geographical Society was now convened to ascertain what projects I had in view for making good my discovery by connecting the lake with the Nile, as also what assistance I should want for that purpose.

Some thought my best plan would be to go up the Nile, which seemed to them the natural course to pursue, especially as the Nile was said, though nobody believed it, to have been navigated by expeditions sent out by Mehemet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt, up to 3§ 22ï north latitude. To this I objected, as so many had tried it and failed, from reasons which had not transpired; and, at the same time, I said that if they would give me œ5000 down at once, I would return to Zanzibar at the end of the year, March to Kaze again, and make the necessary investigations of the Victoria lake. Although, in addition to the journey to the source of the river, I also proposed spending three years in the country, looking up tributaries, inspecting watersheds, navigating the lake, and making collections on all branches of natural history, yet œ5000 was thought by the Geographical Society too large a sum to expect from the Government; so I accepted the half, saying that, whatever the expedition might cost, I would make good the rest, as, under any circumstances, I would complete what I had begun, or die in the attempt.

My motive for deferring the journey a year was the hope that I might, in the meanwhile, send on fifty men, carrying beads and brass wire, under charge of Arab ivory-traders, to Karague, and fifty men more, in the same way, to Kaze; whilst I, arriving in the best season for travelling (May, June, or July), would be able to push on expeditiously to my depots so formed, and thus escape the great disadvantages of travelling with a large caravan in a country where no laws prevail to protect one against desertions and theft. Moreover, I knew that the negroes who would have to go with me, as long as they believed I had property in advance, would work up to it willingly, as they would be the gainers by doing so; whilst, with nothing before them, they would be always endeavouring to thwart my advance, to save them from a trouble which their natural laziness would prompt them to escape from.

This beautiful project, I am sorry to say, was doomed from the first; for I did not get the œ2500 grant of money or appointment to the command until fully nine months had elapsed, when I wrote to Colonel Rigby, our Consul at Zanzibar, to send on the first instalment of property towards the interior.

As time then advanced, the Indian branch of the Government very graciously gave me fifty artillery carbines, with belts and sword-bayonets attached, and 20,000 rounds of ball ammunition. They lent me as many surveying instruments as I wanted; and, through Sir George Clerk, put at my disposal some rich presents, in gold watches, for the chief Arabs who had so generously assisted us in the last expedition. Captain Grant, hearing that I was bound on this journey, being an old friend and brother sportsman in India, asked me to take him with me, and his appointment was settled by Colonel Sykes, then chairman of a committee of the Royal Geographical Society, who said it would only be “a matter of charity” to allow me a companion.

Much at the same time, Mr Petherick, an ivory merchant, who had spent many years on the Nile, arrived in England, and gratuitously offered, as it would not interfere with his trade, to place boats at Gondokoro, and send a party of men up the White River to collect ivory in the meanwhile, and eventually to assist me in coming down. Mr Petherick, I may add, showed great zeal for geographical exploits, so, as I could not get money enough to do all that I wished to accomplish myself, I drew out a project for him to ascend the stream now known as the Usua river (reported to be the larger branch of the Nile), and, if possible, ascertain what connection it had with my lake. This being agreed to, I did my best, through the medium of Earl de Grey (then President of the Royal Geographical Society), to advance him money to carry out this desirable object.

The last difficulty I had now before me was to obtain a passage to Zanzibar. The Indian Government had promised me a vessel of war to convey me from Aden to Zanzibar, provided it did not interfere with the public interests. This doubtful proviso induced me to apply to Captain Playfair, Assistant-Political at Aden, to know what Government vessel would be available; and should there be none, to get for me a passage by some American trader. The China war, he assured me, had taken up all the Government vessels, and there appeared no hope left for me that season, as the last American trader was just then leaving for Zanzibar. In this dilemma it appeared that I must inevitably lose the travelling season, and come in for the droughts and famines. The tide, however, turned in my favour a little; for I obtained, by permission of the Admiralty, a passage in the British screw steam-frigate Forte, under orders to convey Admiral Sir H. Keppel to his command at the Cape; and Sir Charles Wood most obligingly made a request that I should be forwarded thence to Zanzibar in one of our slaver-hunting cruisers by the earliest opportunity.

On the 27th April, Captain Grant and I embarked on board the new steam-frigate Forte, commanded by Captain E. W. Turnour, at Portsmouth; and after a long voyage, touching at Madeira and Rio de Janeiro, we arrived at the Cape of Good Hope on the 4th July. Here Sir George Grey, the Governor of the colony, who took a warm and enlightened interest in the cause of the expedition, invited both Grant and myself to reside at his house. Sir George had been an old explorer himself–was once wounded by savages in Australia, much in the same manner as I had been in the Somali country–and, with a spirit of sympathy, he called me his son, and said he hoped I would succeed. Then, thinking how best he could serve me, he induced the Cape Parliament to advance to the expedition a sum of œ300, for the purpose of buying baggage- mules; and induced Lieut.-General Wynyard, the Commander-in- Chief, to detach ten volunteers from the Cape Mounted Rifle Corps to accompany me. When this addition was made to my force, of twelve mules and ten Hottentots, the Admiral of the station placed the screw steam-corvette Brisk at my disposal, and we all sailed for Zanzibar on the 16th July, under the command of Captain A. F. de Horsey– the Admiral himself accompanying us, on one of his annual inspections to visit the east coast of Africa and the Mauritius. In five days more we touched at East London, and, thence proceeding north, made a short stay at Delagoa Bay, where I first became acquainted with the Zulu Kafirs, a naked set of negroes, whose national costume principally consists in having their hair trussed up like a hoop on the top of the head, and an appendage like a thimble, to which they attach a mysterious importance. They wear additional ornaments, charms, &c., of birds’ claws, hoofs and horns of wild animals tied on with strings, and sometimes an article like a kilt, made of loose strips of skin, or the entire skins of vermin strung close together. These things I have merely noticed in passing, because I shall hereafter have occasion to allude to a migratory people, the Watuta, who dressing much in the same manner, extend from Lake N’yassa to Uzinza, and may originally have been a part of this same Kafir race, who are themselves supposed to have migrated from the regions at present occupied by the Gallas. Next day (the 28th) we went on to Europa, a small island of coralline, covered with salsolacious shrubs, and tenanted only by sea-birds, owls, finches, rats, and turtles. Of the last we succeeded in turning three, the average weight of each being 360 lb., and we took large numbers of their eggs.

We then went to Mozambique, and visited the Portuguese Governor, John Travers de Almeida, who showed considerable interest in the prospects of the expedition, and regretted that, as it cost so much money to visit the interior from that place, his officers were unable to go there. One experimental trip only had been accomplished by Mr Soares, who was forced to pay the Makua chiefs 120 dollars footing, to reach a small hill in view of the sea, about twenty-five miles off.

Leaving Mozambique on the 9th August, bound for Johanna, we came the next day, at 11.30 A.M., in sight of a slaver, ship-rigged, bearing on us full sail, but so distant from us that her mast- tops were only just visible. As quick as ourselves, she saw who we were and tried to escape by retreating. This manoeuvre left no doubt what she was, and the Brisk, all full of excitement, gave chase at full speed, and in four hours more drew abreast of her. A great commotion ensued on board the slaver. The sea- pirates threw overboard their colours, bags, and numerous boxes, but would not heave-to, although repeatedly challenged, until a gun was fired across her bows. Our boats were then lowered, and in a few minutes more the “prize” was taken, by her crew being exchanged for some of our men, and we learnt all about her from accurate reports furnished by Mr Frere, the Cape Slave Commissioner. Cleared from Havannah as “the Sunny South,” professing to be destined for Hong-Kong, she changed her name to the Manuela, and came slave-hunting in these regions. The slaver’s crew consisted of a captain, doctor, and several sailors, mostly Spaniards. The vessel was well stored with provisions and medicines; but there was scarcely enough room in her, though she was said to be only half freighted, for the 544 creatures they were transporting. The next morning, as we entered Pamoni harbour by an intricate approach to the rich little island hill Johanna, the slaver, as she followed us, stranded, and for a while caused considerable alarm to everybody but her late captain. He thought his luck very bad, after escaping so often, to be taken thus; for his vessel’s power of sailing were so good, that, had she had the wind in her favour, the Brisk, even with the assistance of steam, could not have come up with her. On going on board her, I found the slaves to be mostly Wahiyow. A few of them were old women, but all the rest children. They had been captured during wars in their own country, and sold to Arabs, who brought them to the coast, and kept them half-starved until the slaver arrived, when they were shipped in dhows and brought off to the slaver, where, for nearly a week, whilst the bargains were in progress, they were kept entirely without food. It was no wonder then, every man of the Brisk who first looked upon them did so with a feeling of loathing and abhorrence of such a trade. All over the vessel, but more especially below, old women, stark naked, were dying in the most disgusting “ferret-box” atmosphere; while all those who had sufficient strength were pulling up the hatches, and tearing at the salt fish they found below, like dogs in a kennel.

On the 15th the Manuela was sent to the Mauritius, and we, after passing the Comoro Islands, arrived at our destination, Zanzibar- – called Lunguja by the aborigines, the Wakhadim–and Unguja by the present Wasuahili.

On the 17th, after the anchor was cast, without a moment’s delay I went off to the British Consulate to see my old friend Colonel Rigby. He was delighted to see us; and, in anticipation of our arrival, had prepared rooms for our reception, that both Captain Grant and myself might enjoy his hospitality until arrangements could be made for our final start into the interior. The town, which I had left in so different a condition sixteen months before, was in a state of great tranquillity, brought about by the energy of the Bombay Government on the Muscat side, and Colonel Rigby’s exertions on this side, in preventing an insurrection Sultan Majid’s brothers had created with a view of usurping his government.

The news of the place was as follows:–In addition to the formerly constituted consulates–English, French, and American–a fourth one, representing Hamburg, had been created. Dr Roscher, who during my absence had made a successful journey to the N’yinyezi N’yassa, or Star Lake, was afterwards murdered by some natives in Uhiyow; and Lieutentant-Colonel Baron van der Decken, another enterprising German, was organising an expedition with a view to search for the relics of his countryman, and, if possible, complete the project poor Roscher had commenced.

Slavery had received a severe blow by the sharp measures Colonel Rigby had taken in giving tickets of emancipation to all those slaves whom our Indian subjects the Banyans had been secretly keeping, and by fining the masters and giving the money to the men to set them up in life. The interior of the continent had been greatly disturbed, owing to constant war between the natives and Arab ivory merchants. Mguru Mfupi (or Short-legs), the chief of Khoko in Ugogo, for instance, had been shot, and Manua Sera (the Tippler), who succeeded the old Sultan Fundi Kira, of Unyanyembe, on his death, shortly after the late expedition left Kaze, was out in the field fighting the Arabs. Recent letters from the Arabs in the interior, however, gave hopes of peace being shortly restored. Finally, in compliance with my request– and this was the most important item of news to myself–Colonel Rigby had sent on, thirteen days previously, fifty-six loads of cloth and beads, in charge of two of Ramji’s men, consigned to Musa at Kaze.

To call on the Sultan, of course, was our first duty. He received us in his usually affable manner; made many trite remarks concerning our plans; was surprised, if my only object in view was to see the great river running out of the lake, that I did not go by the more direct route across the Masai country and Usoga; and then, finding I wished to see Karague, as well as to settle many other great points of interest, he offered to assist me with all the means in his power.

The Hottentots, the mules, and the baggage having been landed, our preparatory work began in earnest. It consisted in proving the sextants; rating the watches; examining the compasses and boiling thermometers; making tents and packsaddles; ordering supplies of beads, cloth, and brass wire; and collecting servants and porters.

Sheikh Said bin Salem, our late Cafila Bashi, or caravan captain, was appointed to that post again, as he wished to prove his character for honour and honesty; and it now transpired that he had been ordered not to go with me when I discovered the Victoria N’yanza. Bombay and his brother Mabruki were bound to me of old, and the first to greet me on my arrival here; while my old friends the Beluchs begged me to take them again. The Hottentots, however, had usurped their place. I was afterwards sorry for this, though, if I ever travel again, I shall trust to none but natives, as the climate of Africa is too trying to foreigners. Colonel Rigby, who had at heart as much as anybody the success of the expedition, materially assisted me in accomplishing my object–that men accustomed to discipline and a knowledge of English honour and honesty should be enlisted, to give confidence to the rest of the men; and he allowed me to select from his boat’s crew any men I could find who had served as men-of-war, and had seen active service in India.

For this purpose my factotum, Bombay, prevailed on Baraka, Frij, and Rahan–all of them old sailors, who, like himself, knew Hindustani–to go with me. With this nucleus to start with, I gave orders that they should look out for as many Wanguana (freed men– i.e., men emancipated from slavery) as they could enlist, to carry loads, or do any other work required of them, and to follow men in Africa wherever I wished, until our arrival in Egypt, when I would send them back to Zanzibar. Each was to receive one year’s pay in advance, and the remainder when their work was completed.

While this enlistment was going on here, Ladha Damji, the customs’ master, was appointed to collect a hundred pagazis (Wanyamuezi porters) to carry each a load of cloth, beads, or brass wire to Kaze, as they do for the ivory merchants. Meanwhile, at the invitation of the Admiral, and to show him some sport in hippopotamus-shooting, I went with him in a dhow over to Kusiki, near which there is a tidal lagoon, which at high tide is filled with water, but at low water exposes sand islets covered with mangrove shrub. In these islets we sought for the animals, knowing they were keen to lie wallowing in the mire, and we bagged two. On my return to Zanzibar, the Brisk sailed for the Mauritius, but fortune sent Grant and myself on a different cruise. Sultan Majid, having heard that a slaver was lying at Pangani, and being anxious to show his good faith with the English, begged me to take command of one his vessels of war and run it down. Accordingly, embarking at noon, as soon as the vessel could be got ready, we lay-to that night at Tombat, with a view of surprising the slaver next morning; but next day, on our arrival at Pangani, we heard that she had merely put in to provision there three days before, and had let immediately afterwards. As I had come so far, I thought we might go ashore and look at the town, which was found greatly improved since I last saw it, by the addition of several coralline houses and a dockyard. The natives were building a dhow with Lindi and Madagascar timber. On going ashore, I might add, we were stranded on the sands, and, coming off again, nearly swamped by the increasing surf on the bar of the river; but this was a trifle; all we thought of was to return to Zanzibar, and hurry on our preparations there. This, however, was not so easy: the sea current was running north, and the wind was too light to propel our vessel against it; so, after trying in vain to make way in her, Grant and I, leaving her to follow, took to a boat, after giving the captain, who said we would get drowned, a letter, to say we left the vessel against his advice.

We had a brave crew of young negroes to pull us; but, pull as they would, the current was so strong that we feared, if we persisted, we should be drawn into the broad Indian Ocean; so, changing our line, we bore into the little coralline island, Maziwa, where, after riding over some ugly coral surfs, we put in for the night. There we found, to our relief, some fisherman, who gave us fish for our dinner, and directions how to proceed.

Next morning, before daylight, we trusted to the boat and our good luck. After passing, without landmarks to guide us, by an intricate channel, through foaming surfs, we arrived at Zanzibar in the night, and found that the vessel had got in before us.

Colonel Rigby now gave me a most interesting paper, with a map attached to it, about the Nile and the Mountains of the Moon. It was written by Lieutenant Wilford, from the “Purans” of the Ancient Hindus. As it exemplifies, to a certain extent, the supposition I formerly arrived at concerning the Mountains of the Moon being associated with the country of the Moon, I would fain draw the attention of the reader of my travels to the volume of the “Asiatic Researches” in which it was published.[FN#5] It is remarkable that the Hindus have christened the source of the Nile Amara, which is the name of a country at the north-east corner of the Victoria N’yanza. This, I think, shows clearly, that the ancient Hindus must have had some kind of communication with both the northern and southern ends of the Victoria N’yanza.

Having gone to work again, I found that Sheikh Said had brought ten men, four of whom were purchased for one hundred dollars, which I had to pay; Bombay, Baraka, Frij, and Rahan had brought twenty-six more, all freed men; while the Sultan Majid, at the suggestion of Colonel Rigby, gave me thirty-four men more, who were all raw labourers taken from his gardens. It was my intention to have taken one hundred of this description of men throughout the whole journey; but as so many could not be found in Zanzibar, I still hoped to fill up the complement in Unyamuezi, the land of the Moon, from the large establishments of the Arab merchants residing there. The payment of these men’s wages for the first year, as well as the terms of the agreement made with them, by the kind consent of Colonel Rigby were now entered in the Consular Office books, as a security to both parties, and a precaution against disputes on the way. Any one who saw the grateful avidity with which they took the money, and the warmth with which they pledged themselves to serve me faithfully through all dangers and difficulties, would, had he had no dealings with such men before, have thought that I had a first-rate set of followers. I lastly gave Sheikh Said a double- barrelled rifle by Blissett, and distributed fifty carbines among the seniors of the expedition, with the condition that they would forfeit them to others more worthy if they did not behave well, but would retain possession of them for ever if they carried them through the journey to my satisfaction.

On the 21st, as everything was ready on the island, I sent Sheikh Said and all the men, along with the Hottentots, mules, and baggage, off in dhows to Bagamoyo, on the opposite mainland. Colonel Rigby, with Captain Grant and myself, then called on the Sultan, to bid him adieu, when he graciously offered me, as a guard of honour to escort me through Uzaramo, one jemadar and twenty-five Beluch soldiers. These I accepted, more as a government security in that country against the tricks of the natives, than for any accession they made to our strength. His highness then places his 22-gun corvette, “Secundra Shah,” at our disposal, and we went all three over to Bagamoyo, arriving on the 25th. Immediately on landing, Ladha and Sheikh Said showed us into a hut prepared for us, and all things looked pretty well. Ladha’s hundred loads of beads, cloths, and brass wire were all tied up for the march, and seventy-five pagazis (porters from the Moon country) had received their hire to carry these loads to Kaze in the land of the Moon. Competition, I found, had raised these men’s wages, for I had to pay, to go even as far as Kaze, nine and a quarter dollars a-head!–as Masudi and some other merchants were bound on the same line as myself, and all were equally in a hurry to be off and avoid as much as possible the famine we knew we should have to fight through at this late season. Little troubles, of course, must always be expected, else these blacks would not be true negroes. Sheikh Said now reported it quite impossible to buy anything at a moderate rate; for, as I was a “big man,” I ought to “pay a big price;” and my men had all been obliged to fight in the bazaar before they could get even tobacco at the same rate as other men, because they were the servants of the big man, who could afford to give higher wages than any one else. The Hottentots, too, began to fall sick, which my Wanguana laughingly attributed to want of grog to keep their spirits up, as these little creatures, the “Tots,” had frequently at Zanzibar, after heavy potations, boasted to the more sober free men, that they “were strong, because they could stand plenty drink.” The first step now taken was to pitch camp under large shady mango-trees, and to instruct every man in his particular duty. At the same time, the Wanguana, who had carbines, were obliged to be drilled in their use and formed into companies, with captains of ten, headed by General Baraka, who was made commander-in-chief.

On the 30th September, as things were looking more orderly, I sent forward half of the property, and all the men I had then collected, to Ugeni, a shamba, or garden, two miles off; and on the 2nd October, after settling with Ladha for my “African money,” as my pagazis were completed to a hundred and one, we wished Rigby adieu, and all assembled together at Ugeni, which resembles the richest parts of Bengal.

Chapter II


The Nature of the Country–The Order of March–The Beginning of our Taxation–Sultan Lion’s Claw, and Sultan Monkey’s Tail–The Kingani –Jealousies and Difficulties in the Camp–The Murderer of M. Maizan.

We were now in U-za-Ramo, which may mean the country of Ramo, though I have never found any natives who could enlighten me on the derivation of this obviously triple word. The extent of the country, roughly speaking, stretches from the coast to the junction or bifurcation of the Kingani and its upper branch the Mgeta river, westwards; and from the Kingani, north, to the Lufigi river, south; though in the southern portions several subtribes have encroached upon the lands. There are no hills in Uzaramo; but the land in the central line, formed like a ridge between the two rivers, furrow fashion, consists of slightly elevated flats and terraces, which, in the rainy season, throw off their surplus waters to the north and south by nullahs into these rivers. The country is uniformly well covered with trees and large grasses, which, in the rainy season, are too thick, tall, and green to be pleasant; though in the dry season, after the grasses have been burnt, it is agreeable enough, though not pretty, owing to the flatness of the land. The villages are not large or numerous, but widely spread, consisting generally of conical grass huts, while others are gable-ended, after the coast-fashion–a small collection of ten or twenty comprising one village. Over these villages certain headmen, titled Phanze, hold jurisdiction, who take black-mail from travellers with high presumption when they can. Generally speaking, they live upon the coast, and call themselves Diwans, headsmen, and subjects of the Sultan Majid; but they no sooner hear of the march of a caravan than they transpose their position, become sultans in their own right, and levy taxes accordingly.

The Wazaramo are strictly agriculturists; they have no cows, and but few goats. They are of low stature and thick set and their nature tends to the boisterous. Expert slavehunters, they mostly clothe themselves by the sale of their victims on the coast, though they do business by the sale of goats and grain as well. Nowhere in the interior are natives so well clad as these creatures. In dressing up their hair, and otherwise smearing their bodies with ochreish clay, they are great dandies. They always keep their bows and arrows, which form their national arm, in excellent order, the latter well poisoned, and carried in quivers nicely carved. To intimidate a caravan and extort a hongo or tax, I have seen them drawn out in line as if prepared for battle; but a few soft words were found sufficient to make them all withdraw and settle the matter at issue by arbitration in some appointed place. A few men without property can cross their lands fearlessly, though a single individual with property would stand no chance, for they are insatiable thieves. But little is seen of these people on the journey, as the chiefs take their taxes by deputy, partly out of pride, and partly because they think they can extort more by keeping in the mysterious distance. At the same time, the caravan prefers camping in the jungles beyond the villages to mingling with the inhabitants, where rows might be engendered. We sometimes noticed Albinos, with greyish- blue eyes and light straw-coloured hair. Not unfrequently we would pass on the track side small heaps of white ashes, with a calcined bone or two among them. These, we were told, were the relics of burnt witches. The caravan track we had now to travel on leads along the right bank of the Kingani valley, overlooking Uzegura, which, corresponding with Uzaramo, only on the other side of the Kigani, extends northwards to the Pangani river, and is intersected in the centre by the Wami river, of which more hereafter.

Starting on a march with a large mixed caravan, consisting of 1 corporal and 9 privates, Hottentots–1 jemadar and 25 privates, Beluchs–1 Arab Cafila Bashi and 75 freed slaves–1 Kirangozi, or leader, and 100 negro porters–12 mules untrained, 3 donkeys, and 22 goats–one could hardly expect to find everybody in his place at the proper time for breaking ground; but, at the same time, it could hardly be expected that ten men, who had actually received their bounty-money, and had sworn fidelity, should give one the slip the very first day. Such, however, was the case. Ten out of the thirty-six given by the Sultan ran away, because they feared that the white men, whom they believed to be cannibals, were only taking them into the interior to eat them; and one pagazi, more honest than the freed men, deposited his pay upon the ground, and ran away too. Go we must, however; for one desertion is sure to lead to more; and go we did. Our procession was in this fashion: The Kirangozi, with a load on his shoulder, led the way, flag in hand, followed by the pagazis carrying spears of bows and arrows in their hands, and bearing their share of the baggage in the shape either of bolster-shaped loads of cloth and beads covered with matting, each tied into the fork of a three-pronged stick, or else coils of brass or copper wire tied in even weights to each end of sticks which they laid on the shoulder; then helter-skelter came the
Wanguana, carrying carbines in their hands, and boxes, bundles, tents, cooking-pots–all the miscellaneous property–on their heads; next the Hottentots, dragging the refractory mules laden with ammunition-boxes, but very lightly, to save the animals for the future; and, finally, Sheikh Said and the Beluch escort; while the goats, sick women, and stragglers, brought up the rear. From first to last, some of the sick Hottentots rode the hospital donkeys, allowing the negroes to tug their animals; for the smallest ailment threw them broadcast on their backs. In a little while we cleared from the rich gardens, mango clumps, and cocoa-but trees, which characterise the fertile coast-line. After traversing fields of grass well clothed with green trees, we arrived at the little settlement of Bomani, where camp was formed, and everybody fairly appointed to his place. The process of camp-forming would be thus: Sheikh Said, with Bombay under him, issues cloths to the men for rations at the rate of one- fourth load a-day (about 15 lb.) amongst 165; the Hottentots cook our dinners and their own, or else lie rolling on the ground overcome with fatigue; the Beluchs are supposed to guard the camp, but prefer gossip and brightening their arms. Some men are told off to look after the mules, donkeys, and goats, whilst out grazing; the rest have to pack the kit, pitch our tents, cut boughs for huts, and for fencing in the camp–a thing rarely done, by-the-by. After cooking, when the night has set it, the everlasting dance begins, attended with clapping of hands and jingling small bells strapped to the legs–the whole being accompanied by a constant repetition of senseless words, which stand in place of the song to the negroes; for song they have none, being mentally incapacitated for musical composition, though as timists they are not to be surpassed.

What remains to be told is the daily occupation of Captain Grant, myself, and our private servants. Beginning at the foot: Rahan, a very peppery little negro, who had served in a British man-of- war at the taking of Rangoon, was my valet; and Baraka, who had been trained much in the same manner, but had seen engagements at Multan, was Captain Grant’s. They both knew Hindustani; but while Rahan’s services at sea had been short, Baraka had served nearly all his life with Englishmen–was the smartest and most intelligent negro I ever saw–was invaluable to Colonel Rigby as a detector of slave-traders, and enjoyed his confidence completely–so much so, that he said, on parting with him, that he did not know where he should be able to find another man to fill his post. These two men had now charge of our tents and personal kit, while Baraka was considered the general of the Wanguana forces, and Rahan a captain of ten.

My first occupation was to map the country. This is done by timing the rate of march with a watch, taking compass-bearings along the road, or on any conspicuous marks–as, for instance, hills off it –and by noting the watershed–in short, all topographical objects. On arrival in camp every day came the ascertaining, by boiling a thermometer, of the altitude of the station above the sea-level; of the latitude of the station by the meridian altitude of the star taken with a sextant; and of the compass variation by azimuth. Occasionally there was the fixing of certain crucial stations, at intervals of sixty miles or so, by lunar observations, or distances of the moon either from the sun or from certain given stars, for determining the longitude, by which the original-timed course can be drawn out with certainty on the map by proportion. Should a date be lost, you can always discover it by taking a lunar distance and comparing it with the Nautical Almanac, by noting the time when a star passes the meridian if your watch is right, or by observing the phases of the moon, or her rising or setting, as compared with the Nautical Almanac. The rest of my work, besides sketching and keeping a diary, which was the most troublesome of all, consisted in making geological and zoological collections. With Captain Grant rested the botanical collections and thermometrical registers. He also boiled one of the thermometers, kept the rain-gauge, and undertook the photography; but after a time I sent the instruments back, considering this work too severe for the climate, and he tried instead sketching with watercolours– the results of which form the chief part of the illustrations in this book. The rest of our day went in breakfasting after the march was over–a pipe, to prepare us for rummaging the fields and villages to discover their contents for scientific purposes– dinner close to sunset, and tea and pipe before turning in at night.

A short stage brought us to Ikamburu, included in the district of Nzasa, where there is another small village presided over by Phanze Khombe la Simba, meaning Claw of Lion. He, immediately after our arrival, sent us a present of a basket of rice, value one dollar, of course expecting a return–for absolute generosity is a thing unknown to the negro. Not being aware of the value of the offering, I simply requested the Sheikh to give him four yards of American sheeting, and thought no more about the matter, until presently I found the cloth returned. The “Sultan” could not think of receiving such a paltry present from me, when on the former journey he got so much; if he showed this cloth at home, nobody would believe him, but would say he took much more and concealed it from his family, wishing to keep all his goods to himself. I answered that my footing in the country had been paid for on the last journey, and unless he would accept me as any other common traveller, he had better walk away; but the little Sheikh, a timid, though very gentlemanly creature, knowing the man, and dreading the consequences of too high a tone, pleaded for him, and proposed as a fitting hongo, one dubuani, one sahari, and eight yards merikani, as the American sheeting is called here. This was pressed by the jemadar, and acceded to by myself, as the very utmost I could afford. Lion’s Claw, however, would not accept it; it was too far below the mark of what he got last time. He therefore returned the cloths to the Sheikh, as he could get no hearing from myself, and retreated in high dudgeon, threatening the caravan with a view of his terrible presence on the morrow. Meanwhile the little Sheikh, who always carried a sword fully two-thirds the length of himself, commenced casting bullets for his double-barrelled rifle, ordered the Wanguana to load their guns, and came wheedling up to me for one more cloth, as it was no use hazarding the expedition’s safety for four yards of cloth. This is a fair specimen of tax-gathering, within twelve miles of the coast, by a native who claims the protection of Zanzibar. We shall soon see what they are further on. The result of experience is, that, ardent as the traveller is to see the interior of Africa, no sooner has he dealings with the natives, than his whole thoughts tend to discovering some road where he won’t be molested, or a short cut, but long march, to get over the ground.

Quite undisturbed, we packed and marched as usual, and soon passed Nzasa close to the river, which is only indicated by a line of trees running through a rich alluvial valley. We camped at the little settlement of Kizoto, inhospitably presided over by Phanze Mukia ya Nyani or Monkey’s Tail, who no sooner heard of our arrival than he sent a demand for his “rights.” One dubani was issued, with orders than no one need approach me again, unless he wanted to smell my powder. Two taxes in five miles was a thing unheard of; and I heard no more about the matter, until Bombay in the evening told me how Sheikh Said, fearing awkward consequences, had settled to give two dubuani, one being taken from his own store. Lion’s Claw also turned up again, getting his cloths of yesterday–one more being added from the Sheikh’s stores–and he was then advised to go off quietly, as I was a fire-eater whom nobody dared approach after my orders had been issued. This was our third march in Uzaramo; we had scarcely seen a man of the country, and had no excessive desire to do so.

Deflecting from the serpentine course of the Kingani a little, we crossed a small bitter rivulet, and entered on the elevated cultivation of Kiranga Ranga, under Phanze Mkungu-pare, a very mild man, who, wishing to give no offence, begged for a trifling present. He came in person, and his manner having pleased us, I have him one sahari, four yards merikani, and eight yards kiniki, which pleased our friend so much that he begged us to consider his estate our own, even to the extent of administering his justice, should any Mzaramo be detected stealing from us. Our target-practice, whilst instructing the men, astonished him not a little, and produced an exclamation that, with so many guns, we need fear nothing, go where we would. From this place a good view is obtained of Uzegura. Beyond the flat alluvial valley of the Kingani, seven to eight miles broad, the land rises suddenly to a table-land of no great height, on which trees grow in profusion. In fact it appeared, as far as the eye could reach, the very counterpart of that where we stood, with the exception of a small hill, very distant, called Phongue.

A very welcome packet of quinine and other medicines reached us here from Rigby, who, hearing our complaints that the Hottentots could only be kept alive by daily potions of brandy and quinine, feared our supplies were not enough, and sent us more.

We could not get the Sultan’s men to chum with the Wanguana proper; they were shy, like wild animals–built their huts by themselves– and ate and talked by themselves, for they felt themselves inferiors; and I had to nominate one of their number to be their chief, answerable for the actions of the whole. Being in the position of “boots” to the camp, the tending of goats fell to their lot. Three goats were missing this evening, which the goatherds could not account for, nor any of their men. Suspecting that they were hidden for a private feast, I told their chief to inquire farther, and report. The upshot was, that the man was thrashed for intermeddling, and came back only with his scars. This was a nice sort of insubordination, which of course could not be endured. The goatherd was pinioned and brought to trial, for the double offence of losing the goats and rough-handling his chief. The tricking scoundrel–on quietly saying he could not be answerable for other men’s actions if they stole goats, and he could not recognise a man as his chief whom the Sheikh, merely by a whim of his own, thought proper to appoint–was condemned to be tied up for the night with the prospect of a flogging in the morning. Seeing his fate, the cunning vagabond said, “Now I do see it was by your orders the chief was appointed, and not by a whim of Sheikh Said’s; I will obey him for the future;” and these words were hardly pronounced than the three missing goats rushed like magic into camp, nobody of course knowing where they came from.

Skirting along the margin of the rising ground overlooking the river, through thick woods, cleared in places for cultivation, we arrived at Thumba Lhere. The chief here took a hongo of three yards merikani and two yards kiniki without much fuss, for he had no power. The pagazis struck, and said they would not move from this unless I gave them one fundo or ten necklaces of beads each daily, in lieu of rations, as they were promised by Ladha on the coast that I would do so as soon as they had made four marches. This was an obvious invention, concocted to try my generosity, for I had given the kirangozi a goat, which is customary, to “make the journey prosperous”–had suspended a dollar to his neck in recognition of his office, and given him four yards merikani, that he might have a grand feast with his brothers; while neither the Sheikh, myself, nor any one else in the camp, had heard of such a compact. With high words the matter dropped, African fashion.

The pagazis would not start at the appointed time, hoping to enforce their demands of last night; so we took the lead and started, followed by the Wanguana. Seeing this, the pagazis cried out with one accord: “The master is gone, leaving the responsibility of his property in our hands; let us follow, let us follow, for verily he is our father;” and all came hurrying after us. Here the river, again making a bend, is lost to sight, and we marched through large woods and cultivated fields to Muhugue, observing, as we passed long, the ochreish colour of the earth, and numerous pits which the copal-diggers had made searching for their much-valued gum. A large coast-bound caravan, carrying ivory tusks with double-toned bells suspended to them, ting-tonging as they moved along, was met on the way; and as some of the pagazis composing it were men who had formerly taken me to the Victoria N’yanza, warm recognitions passed between us. The water found here turned our brandy and tea as black as ink. The chief, being a man of small pretensions, took only one sahari and four yards merikani.

Instead of going on to the next village we halted in this jungly place for the day, that I might comply with the desire of the Royal Geographical Society to inspect Muhonyera, and report if there were really any indications of a “raised sea-beach” there, such as their maps indicate. An inspection brought me to the conclusion that no mind but one prone to discovering sea-beaches in the most unlikely places could have supposed for a moment that one existed here. The form and appearance of the land are the same as we have seen everywhere since leaving Bomani–a low plateau subtended by a bank cut down by the Kingani river, and nothing more. There are no pebbles; the soil is rich reddish loam, well covered with trees, bush, and grass, in which some pigs and antelopes are found. From the top of this enbankment we gain the first sight of the East Coast Range, due west of us, represented by the high elephant’s-back hill, Mkambaku, in Usagara, which, joining Uraguru, stretches northwards across the Pangani river to Usumbara and the Kilimandjaro, and southwards, with a westerly deflection, across the Lufiji to Southern N’yassa. What course the range takes beyond those two extremes, the rest of the world knows as well as I. Another conspicuous landmark here is Kidunda (the little hill), which is the southernmost point of a low chain of hills, also tending northwards, and representing an advance-guard to the higher East Coast Range in its rear. At night, as we had no local “sultans” to torment us, eight more men of sultan Majid’s donation ran away, and, adding injury to injury, took with them all our goats, fifteen in number. This was a sad loss. We could keep ourselves on guinea-fowls or green pigeons, doves, etc.; but the Hottentots wanted nourishment much more than ourselves, and as their dinner always consisted of what we left, “short-commons” was the fate in store for them. The Wanguana, instead of regarding these poor creatures as soldiers, treated them like children; and once, as a diminutive Tot–the common name they go by–was exerting himself to lift his pack and place it on his mule, a fine Herculean Mguana stepped up behind, grasped Tot, pack and all, in his muscular arms, lifted the whole over his head, paraded the Tot about, struggling for release, and put him down amidst the laughter of the camp, then saddled his mule and patted him on the back.

After sending a party of Beluch to track down the deserters and goats, in which they were not successful, we passed through the village of Sagesera, and camped one mile beyond, close to the river. Phanze Kirongo (which means Mr Pit) here paid us his respects, with a presentation of rice. In return he received four yards merikani and one dubuani, which Bombay settled, as the little Sheikh, ever done by the sultans, pleaded indisposition, to avoid the double fire he was always subjected to on these occasions, by the sultans grasping on the one side, and my resisting on the other; for I relied on my strength, and thought it very inadvisable to be generous with my cloth to the prejudice of future travellers, by decreasing the value of merchandise, and increasing proportionately the expectations of these negro chiefs. From the top of the bank bordering on the valley, a good view was obtainable of the Uraguru hills, and the top of a very distant cone to its northward; but I could see no signs of any river joining the kingani on its left, though on the former expedition I heard that the Mukondokua river, which was met with in Usagara, joined the Kingani close to Sagesera, and actually formed its largest head branch. Neither could Mr Pit inform me what became of the Mukondokua, as the Wazaramo are not given to travelling. He had heard of it from the traders, but only knew himself of one river beside the Kingani. It was called Wami in Uegura, and mouths at Utondue, between the ports of Whindi and Saadani. To try and check the desertions of Sultan Majid’s men, I advised–ordering was of no use–that their camp should be broken up, and they should be amalgamated with the Wanguana; but it was found that the two would not mix. In fact, the whole native camp consisted of so many clubs of two, four, six, or ten men, who originally belonged to one village or one master, or were united by some other family tie which they preferred keeping intact; so they cooked together, ate together, slept together, and sometimes mutinied together. The amalgamation having failed, I wrote some emanicipation tickets, called the Sultan’s men all up together, selected the best, gave them these tickets, announced that their pay and all rewards would be placed for the future on the same conditions as those of the Wanguana, and as soon as I saw any signs of improvement in the rest, they would all be treated in the same manner; but should they desert, they would find my arm long enough to arrest them on the coast and put them into prison.

During this march we crossed three deep nullahs which drain the Uzaramo plateau, and arrived at the Makutaniro, or junction of this line with those of Mboamaji and Konduchi, which traverse central Uzaramo, and which, on my former return journey, I went down. The gum-copal diggings here cease. The Dum palm is left behind; the large rich green-leaved trees of the low plateau give place to the mimosa; and now, having ascended the greater decline of the Kingani river, instead of being confined by a bank, we found ourselves on flat open-park land, where antelopes roam at large, buffalo and zebra are sometimes met with, and guinea-fowl are numerous. The water for the camp is found in the river, but supplies of grain come from the village of Kipora farther on.

A march through the park took us to a camp by a pond, from which, by crossing the Kingani, rice and provisions for the men were obtained on the opposite bank. One can seldom afford to follow wild animals on the line of march, otherwise we might have bagged some antelopes to-day, which, scared by the interminable singing, shouting, bell-jingling, horn-blowing, and other such merry noises of the moving caravan, could be seen disappearing in the distance.

Leaving the park, we now entered the riches part of Uzaramo, affording crops as fine as any part of India. Here it was, in the district of Dege la Mhora, that the first expedition to this country, guided by a Frenchman, M. Maizan, came to a fatal termination, that gentleman having been barbarously murdered by the sub-chief Hembe. The cause of the affair was distinctly explained to me by Hembe himself, who, with his cousin Darunga, came to call upon me, presuming, as he was not maltreated by the last expedition, that the matter would now be forgotten. The two men were very great friends of the little Sheikh, and as a present was expected, which I should have to pay, we all talked cheerfully and confidentially, bringing in the fate of Maizan for no other reason than to satisfy curiosity. Hembe, who lives in the centre of an almost impenetrable thicket, confessed that he was the murderer, but said the fault did not rest with him, as he merely carried out the instructions of his father, Mzungera, who, a Diwan on the coast, sent him a letter directing his actions. Thus it is proved that the plot against Maizan was concocted on the coast by the Arab merchants–most likely from the same motive which has induced one rival merchant to kill another as the best means of checking rivalry or competition. When Arabs–and they are the only class of people who would do such a deed–found a European going into the very middle of their secret trading- places, where such large profits were to be obtained, they would never suppose that the scientific Maizan went for any other purpose than to pry into their ivory stores, bring others into the field after him, and destroy their monopoly. The Sultan of Zanzibar, in those days, was our old ally Said Said, commonly called the Emam of Muscat; and our Consul, Colonel Hamerton, had been M. Maizan’s host as long as he lived upon the coast. Both the Emam and Consul were desirous of seeing the country surveyed, and did everything in their power to assist Maizan, the former even appointing the Indian Musa to conduct him safely as far as Unyamuezi; but their power was not found sufficient to damp the raging fire of jealousy in the ivory-trader’s heart. Musa commenced the journey with Maizan, and they travelled together a march or two, when one of Maizan’s domestic establishment fell sick and stopped his progress. Musa remained with him eight or ten days, to his own loss in trade and expense in keeping up a large establishment, and then they parted by mutual consent, Maizan thinking himself quite strong enough to take care of himself. This separation was, I believe, poor Maizan’s death- blow. His power, on the Emam’s side, went with Musa’s going, and left the Arabs free to carry out their wicked wills.

The presents I had to give here were one sahari and eight yards merikani to Hembe, and the same to Darunga, for which they gave a return in grain. Still following close to the river–which, unfortunately, is so enshrouded with thick bush that we could seldom see it–a few of the last villages in Uzaramo were passed. Here antelopes reappear amongst the tall mimosa, but we let them alone in prosecution of the survey, and finally encamped opposite the little hill of Kidunda, which lying on the left bank of the Kingani, stretches north, a little east, into Uzegura. The hill crops out through pisolitic limestone, in which marine fossils were observable. It would be interesting to ascertain whether this lime formation extends down the east coast of Africa from the Somali country, where also, on my first expedition, I found marine shells in the limestone, especially as a vast continuous band of limestone is known to extend from the Tagus, through Egypt and the Somali country, to the Burrumputra. To obtain food it was necessary here to ferry the river and purchase from the Wazaramo, who, from fear of the passing caravans, had left their own bank and formed a settlement immediately under this pretty little hill–rendered all the more enchanting to our eyes, as it was the first we had met since leaving the sea-coast. The Diwan, or head man, was a very civil creature; he presented us freely with two fine goats–a thing at that time we were very much in want of–and took, in return, without any comments, one dubani and eight yards merikani.

The next day, as we had no further need of our Beluch escort, a halt was made to enable me to draw up a “Progress Report,” and pack all the specimens of natural history collected on the way, for the Royal Geographical Society. Captain Grant, taking advantage of the spare time, killed for the larder two buck antelopes, and the Tots brought in, in high excited triumph, a famous pig.

This march, which declines from the Kingani a little, leads through rolling, jungly ground, full of game, to the tributary stream Mgeta. It is fordable in the dry season, but has to be bridged by throwing a tree across it in the wet one. Rising in the Usagara hills to the west of the hog-backed Mkambaku, this branch intersects the province of Ukhutu in the centre, and circles round until it unites with the Kingani about four miles north of the ford. Where the Kingani itself rises, I never could find out; though I have heard that its sources lies in a gurgling spring on the eastern face of the Mkambaku, by which account the Mgeta is made the longer branch of the two.

Chapter III


Nature of the Country–Resumption of the March–A Hunt–Bombay and Baraka–The Slave-Hunters–The Ivory-Merchants–Collection of Natural-History Specimens–A Frightened Village–Tracking a Mule.

Under U-Sagara, or, as it might be interpreted, U-sa-Gara– country of Gara–is included all the country lying between the bifurcation of the Kingani and Mgeta rivers east, and Ugogo, the first country on the interior plateau west,–a distance of a hundred miles. On the north it is bounded by the Mukondokua, or upper course of the Wami river and on the south by the Ruaha, or northern great branch of the Lufiji river. It forms a link of the great East Coast Range; but though it is generally comprehended under the single name Usagara, many sub-tribes occupy and apply their own names to portions of it; as, for instance, the people on whose ground we now stood at the foot of the hills, are Wa-Khutu, and their possessions consequently are U-Khutu, which is by far the best producing land hitherto alluded to since leaving the sea-coast line. Our ascent by the river, though quite imperceptible to the eye, has been 500 feet. From this level the range before us rises in some places to 5000 to 6000 feet, not as one grand mountain, but in two detached lines, lying at an angle of 45 degrees from N.E. to S.W., and separated one from the other by elevated valleys, tables, and crab-claw spurs of hill which incline towards the flanking rivers. The whole having been thrown up by volcanic action, is based on a strong foundation of granite and other igneous rocks, which are exposed in many places in the shape of massive blocks; otherwise the hill-range is covered in the upper part with sandstone, and in the bottoms with alluvial clay. This is the superficial configuration of the land as it strikes the eye; but, knowing the elevation of the interior plateau to be only 2500 feet above the sea immediately on the western flank of these hills, whilst the breath of the chain is 100 miles, the mean slope of incline of the basal surface must be on a gradual rise of twenty feet per mile. The hill tops and sides, where not cultivated, are well covered with bush and small trees, amongst which the bamboo is conspicuous; whilst the bottoms, having a soil deeper and richer, produce fine large fig-trees of exceeding beauty, the huge calabash, and a variety of other trees. Here, in certain places where water is obtainable throughout the year, and wars, or slave-hunts more properly speaking, do not disturb the industry of the people, cultivation thrives surprisingly; but such a boon is rarely granted them. It is in consequence of these constantly- recurring troubles that the majority of the Wasagara villages are built on hill-spurs, where the people can the better resist attack, or, failing, disperse and hide effectually. The normal habitation is the small conical hut of grass. These compose villages, varying in number according to the influence of their head men. There are, however, a few mud villages on the table-lands, each built in a large irregular square of chambers with a hollow yard in the centre, known as tembe.

As to the people of these uplands, poor, meagre-looking wretches, they contrast unfavourably with the lowlanders on both sides of them. Dingy in colour, spiritless, shy, and timid, they invite attack in a country where every human being has a market value, and are little seen by the passing caravan. In habits they are semi-pastoral agriculturalists, and would be useful members of society were they left alone to cultivate their own possessions, rich and beautiful by nature, but poor and desolate by force of circumstance. Some of the men can afford a cloth, but the greater part wear an article which I can only describe as a grass kilt. In one or two places throughout the passage of these hills a caravan may be taxed, but if so, only to a small amount; the villagers more frequently fly to the hill-tops as soon as the noise of the advancing caravan is heard, and no persuasions will bring them down again, so much ground have they, from previous experience, to fear treachery. It is such sad sights, and the obvious want of peace and prosperity, that weary the traveller, and make him every think of pushing on to his journey’s end from the instant he enters Africa until he quits the country.

Knowing by old experience that the beautiful green park in the fork of these rivers abounded in game of great variety and in vast herds, where no men are ever seen except some savage hunters sitting in the trees with poisoned arrows, or watching their snares and pitfalls, I had all along determined on a hunt myself, to feed and cheer the men, and also to collect some specimens for the home museums. In the first object we succeeded well, as “the bags” we made counted two brindled gnu, four water-boc, one pallah-boc, and one pig,– enough to feed abundantly the whole camp round. The feast was all the better relished as the men knew well that no Arab master would have given them what he could sell; for if a slave shot game, the animals would be the master’s, to be sold bit by bit among the porters, and compensated from the proceeds of their pay. In the variety and number of our game we were disappointed, partly because so many wounded got away, and partly because we could not find what we knew the park to contain, in addition to what we killed–namely, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes, buffaloes, zebra, and many varieties of antelopes, besides lions and hyenas. In fact, “the park,” as well as all the adjacent land at the foot of the hills, is worth thinking of, with a view to a sporting tour as well as scientific investigation.

A circumstance arose here, which, insignificant though it appeared, is worth noting, to show how careful one must be in understanding and dealing with negro servants. Quite unaccountably to myself, the general of my Wanguana, Baraka, after showing much discontent with his position as head of Captain Grant’s establishment, became so insolent, that it was necessary to displace him, and leave him nothing to do but look after the men. This promoted Frij, who enjoyed his rise as much as Baraka, if his profession was to be believed, enjoyed his removal from that office. Though he spoke in this manner, still I knew that there was something rankling in his mind which depressed his spirits as long as he remained with us, though what it was I could not comprehend, nor did I fully understand it till months afterwards. It was ambition, which was fast making a fiend of him; and had I known it, he would, and with great advantage too, have been dismissed upon the spot. The facts were these: He was exceedingly clever, and he knew it. His command over men was surprising. At Zanzibar he was the Consul’s right- hand man: he ranked above Bombay in the consular boat’s crew, and became a terror even to the Banyans who kept slaves. He seemed, in fact, in his own opinion, to have imbibed all the power of the British Consul who had instructed him. Such a man was an element of discord in our peaceful caravan. He was far too big-minded for the sphere which he occupied; and my surprise now is that he ever took service, knowing what he should, at the time of enlistment, have expected, that no man would be degraded to make room for him. But this was evidently what he had expected, though he dared not say it. He was jealous of Bombay, because he thought his position over the money department was superior to his own over the men; and he had seen Bombay, on one occasion, pay a tax in Uzaramo–a transaction which would give him consequence with the native chiefs. Of Sheikh Said he was equally jealous, for a like reason; and his jealousy increased the more that I found it necessary to censure the timidity of this otherwise worthy little man. Baraka thought, in his conceit, that he could have done all things better, and gained signal fame, had he been created chief. Perhaps he thought he had gained the first step towards this exalted rank, and hence his appearing very happy for this time. I could not see through so deep a scheme and only hoped that he would shortly forget, in the changes of the marching life, those beautiful wives he had left behind him, which Bombay in his generosity tried to persuade me was the cause of his mental distraction.

Our halt at the ford here was cut short by the increasing sickness of the Hottentots, and the painful fact that Captain Grant was seized with fever.[FN#6] We had to change camp to the little village of Kiruru, where, as rice was grown–an article not to be procured again on this side of Unyamuezi–we stopped a day to lay in supplies of this most valuable of all travelling food. Here I obtained the most consistent accounts of the river system which, within five days’ journey, trends through Uzegura; and I concluded, from what I heard, that there is no doubt of the Mukondokua and Wami rivers being one and the same stream. My informants were the natives of the settlement, and they all concurred in saying that the Kingani above the junction is called the Rufu, meaning the parent stream. Beyond it, following under the line of the hills, at one day’s journey distant, there is a smaller river called Msonge. At an equal distance beyond it, another of the same size is known as Lungerengeri; and a fourth river is the Wami, which mouths in the sea at Utondue, between the ports of Whindi and Saadami. In former years, the ivory- merchants, ever seeking for an easy road for their trade, and knowing they would have no hills to climb if they could only gain a clear passage by this river from the interior plateau to the sea, made friends with the native chiefs of Uzegura, and succeeded in establishing it as a thoroughfare. Avarice, however, that fatal enemy to the negro chiefs, made them overreach themselves by exorbitant demands of taxes. Then followed contests for the right of appropriating the taxes, and the whole ended in the closing of the road, which both parties were equally anxious to keep open for their mutual gain. This foolish disruption having at first only lasted for a while, the road was again opened and again closed, for the merchants wanted an easy passage, and the native chiefs desired cloths. But it was shut again; and now we heard of its being for a third time opened, with what success the future only can determine–for experience WILL not teach the negro, who thinks only for the moment. Had they only sense to see, and patience to wait, the whole trade of the interior would inevitably pass through their country instead of Uzaramo; and instead of being poor in cloths, they would be rich and well dressed like their neighbours. But the curse of Noah sticks to these his grandchildren by Ham, and no remedy that has yet been found will relieve them. They require a government like ours in India; and without it, the slave trade will wipe them off the face of the earth.

Now leaving the open parks of pretty acacias, we followed up the Mgazi branch of the Mgeta, traversed large tree-jungles, where the tall palm is conspicuous, and drew up under the lumpy Mkambaku, to find a residence for the day. Here an Arab merchant, Khamis, bound for Zanzibar, obliged us by agreeing for a few dollars to convey our recent spoils in natural history to the coast.

My plans for the present were to reach Zungomero as soon as possible, as a few days’ halt would be required there to fix the longitude of the eastern flank of the East Coast Range by astronomical observation; but on ordering the morning’s march, the porters–too well fed and lazy–thought our marching-rate much too severe, and resolutely refused to move. They ought to have made ten miles a-day, but preferred doing five. Argument was useless, and I was reluctant to apply the stick, as the Arabs would have done when they saw their porters trifling with their pockets. Determining, however, not to be frustrated in this puerile manner, I ordered the bugler to sound the march, and started with the mules and coast-men, trusting to Sheikh and Baraka to bring on the Wanyamuezi as soon as they could move them. The same day we crossed the Mgazi where we found several Wakhutu spearing fish in the muddy hovers of its banks.

We slept under a tree, and this morning found a comfortable residence under the eaves of a capacious hut. The Wanyamuezi porters next came in at their own time, and proved to us how little worth are orders in a land where every man, in his own opinion, is a lord, and no laws prevail. Zungomero, bisected by the Mgeta, lies on flat ground, in a very pretty amphitheatre of hills, S. lat. 7§ 26′ 53″, and E. long. 37§ 36′ 45″. It is extremely fertile, and very populous, affording everything that man can wish, even to the cocoa and papwa fruits; but the slave- trade has almost depopulated it, and turned its once flourishing gardens into jungles. As I have already said, the people who possess these lands are cowardly by nature, and that is the reason why they are so much oppressed. The Wasuahili, taking advantage of their timidity, flock here in numbers to live upon the fruits of their labours. The merchants on the coast, too, though prohibited by their Sultan from interfering with the natural course of trade, send their hungry slaves, as touters, to entice all approaching caravans to trade with their particular ports, authorising the touters to pay such premiums as may be necessary for the purpose. Where they came from we could not ascertain; but during our residence, a large party of the Wasuahili marched past, bound for the coast, with one hundred head of cattle, fifty slaves in chains, and as many goats. Halts always end disastrously in Africa, giving men time for mischief;- -and here was an example of it. During the target-practice, which was always instituted on such occasions to give confidence to our men, the little pepper-box Rahan, my head valet, challenged a comrade to a duel with carbines. Being stopped by those around him, he vented his wrath in terrible oaths, and swung about his arms, until his gun accidentally went off, and blew his middle finger off.

Baraka next, with a kind of natural influence of affinity when a row is commenced, made himself so offensive to Bombay, as to send him running to me so agitated with excitement that I thought him drunk. He seized my hands, cried, and implored me to turn him off. What could this mean? I could not divine; neither could he explain, further than that he had come to a determination that I must send either him or Baraka to the right-about; and his first idea was that he, and not Baraka, should be the victim. Baraka’s jealousy about his position had not struck me yet. I called them both together and asked what quarrel they had, but could not extract the truth. Baraka protested that he had never given, either by word or deed, the slightest cause of rupture; he only desired the prosperity of the march, and that peace should reign throughout the camp; but Bombay was suspicious of him, and malignantly abused him, for what reason Baraka could not tell. When I spoke of this to Bombay, like a bird fascinated by the eye of a viper, he shrank before the slippery tongue of his opponent, and could only say, “No, Sahib–oh no, that is not it; you had better turn me off, for his tongue is so long, and mine so short, you never will believe me.” I tried to make them friends, hoping it was merely a passing ill-wind which would soon blow over; but before long the two disputants were tonguing it again, and I distinctly heard Bombay ordering Baraka out of camp as he could not keep from intermeddling, saying, which was true, he had invited him to join the expedition, that his knowledge of Hindustani might be useful to us; he was not wanted for any other purpose, and unless he was satisfied with doing that alone, we would get on much better without him. To this provocation Baraka mildly made the retort, “Pray don’t put yourself in a passion, nobody is hurting you, it is all in your own heart, which is full of suspicions and jealousy without the slightest cause.”

This complicated matters more than ever. I knew Bombay to be a generous, honest man, entitled by his former services to be in the position he was now holding as fundi, or supervisor in the camp. Baraka, who never would have joined the expedition excepting through his invitation, was indebted to him for the rank he now enjoyed– a command over seventy men, a duty in which he might have distinguished himself as a most useful accessory to the camp. Again I called the two together, and begged them to act in harmony like brothers, noticing that there was no cause for entertaining jealousy on either side, as every order rested with myself to reward for merit or to punish. The relative position in the camp was like that of the senior officers in India, Bombay representing the Mulki lord, or Governor-General, and Baraka the Jungi lord, or Commander- in-Chief. To the influence of this distinguished comparison they both gave way, acknowledging myself their judge, and both protesting that they wished to serve in peace and quietness for the benefit of the march.

Zungomero is a terminus or junction of two roads leading to the interior–one, the northern, crossing over the Goma Pass, and trenching on the Mukondokua river, and the other crossing over the Mabruki Pass, and edging on the Ruaha river. They both unite again at Ugogi, the western terminus on the present great Unyamuezi line. On the former expedition I went by the northern line and returned by the southern, finding both equally easy, and, indeed, neither is worthy of special and permanent preference. In fact, every season makes a difference in the supply of water and provisions; and with every year, owing to incessant wars, or rather slave-hunts, the habitations of the wretched inhabitants become constantly changed–generally speaking, for the worse. Our first and last object, therefore, as might be supposed, from knowing these circumstances, was to ascertain, before mounting the hill-range, which route would afford us the best facilities for a speedy march now. No one, however, could or would advise us. The whole country on ahead, especially Ugogo, was oppressed by drought and famine. To avoid this latter country, then, we selected the southern route, as by doing so it was hoped we might follow the course of the Ruaha river from Maroro to Usenga and Usanga, and thence strike across to Unyanyembe, sweeping clear of Ugogo.

With this determination, after despatching a third set of specimens, consisting of large game animals, birds, snakes, insects, land and freshwater shells, and a few rock specimens, of which one was fossiliferous, we turned southwards, penetrating the forests which lie between the greater range and the little outlying one. At the foot of this is the Maji ya Wheta, a hot,