The Discover of the Source of the Nile
By John Hanning Speke
Relief from Protectors and Pillagers--The Scenery and Geology-- Meeting with the Friendly King Rumanika--His Hospitalities and Attention--His Services to the Expedition--Philosophical and Theological Inquiries--The Royal Family of Karague--The M-Fumbiro Mountain--Navigation of "The Little Windermere"--The New-Moon Levee --Rhinoceros and Hippopotamus Hunting--Measurement of a Fattened Queen--Political Polygamy--Christmas--Rumours of Petherick's Expedition--Arrangements to meet it--March to Uganda.
This was a day of relief and happiness. A load was removed from us in seeing the Wasui "protectors" depart, with the truly cheering information that we now had nothing but wild animals to contend with before reaching Karague. This land is "neutral," by which is meant that it is untenanted by human beings; and we might now hope to bid adieu for a time to the scourging system of taxation to which we had been subjected.
Gradually descending from the spur which separates the Lohugati valley from the bed of the Lueru lo Urigi, or Lake of Urigi, the track led us first through a meadow of much pleasing beauty, and then through a passage between the "saddle-back" domes we had seen from the heights above Lohugati, where a new geological formation especially attracted my notice. From the green slopes of the hills, set up at a slant, as if the central line of pressure on the dome top had weighed on the inside plates, protruded soft slabs of argillaceous sandstone, whose laminae presented a beef-sandwich appearance, puce or purple alternating with creamy-white. Quartz and other igneous rocks were also scattered about, lying like superficial accumulations in the dips at the foot of the hills, and red sandstone conglomerates clearly indicated the presence of iron. The soil itself looked rich and red, not unlike our own fine country of Devon.
On arriving in camp we pitched under some trees, and at once were greeted by an officer sent by Rumanika to help us out of Usui. This was Kachuchu, an old friend of Nasib's, who no sooner saw him than, beaming with delight, he said to us, "Now, was I not right when I told you the birds flying about on Lohugati hill were a good omen? Look here what this man says: Rumanika has ordered him to bring you on to his palace at once, and wherever you stop a day, the village officers are instructed to supply you with food at the king's expenses, for there are no taxes gathered from strangers in the kingdom of Karague. Presents may be exchanged, but the name of tax is ignored." Grant here shot a rhinoceros, which came well into play to mix with the day's flour we had carried on from Vihembe.
Deluded yesterday by the sight of the broad waters of the Lueru lo Urigi, espied in the distance from the top of a hill, into the belief that we were in view of the N'yanza itself, we walked triumphantly along, thinking how well the Arabs at Kaze had described this to be a creek of the great lake; but on arrival in camp we heard from the village officer that we had been misinformed, and that it was a detached lake, but connected with the Victoria N'yanza by a passage in the hills and the Kitangule river. Formerly, he said, the Urigi valley was covered with water, extending up to Uhha, when all the low lands we had crossed from Usui had to be ferried, and the saddle-back hills were a mere chain of islands in the water. But the country had dried up, and the lake of Urigi became a small swamp. He further informed us, that even in the late king Dagara's time it was a large sheet of water; but the instant he ceased to exist, the lake shrank to what we now saw.
Our day's march had been novel and very amusing. The hilly country surrounding us, together with the valley, brought back to recollection many happy days I had once spent with the Tartars in the Thibetian valley of the Indus--only this was more picturesque; for though both countries are wild, and very thinly inhabited, this was greened over with grass, and dotted here and there on the higher slopes with thick bush of acacias, the haunts of rhinoceros, both white and black; whilst in the flat of the valley, herds of hartebeests and fine cattle roamed about like the kiyang and tame yak of Thibet. Then, to enhance all these pleasure, so different from our former experiences, we were treated like guests by the chief of the place, who, obeying the orders of his king, Rumanika, brought me presents, as soon as we arrived, of sheep, fowls, and sweet potatoes, and was very thankful for a few yards of red blanketing as a return, without begging for more.
The farther we went in this country the better we liked it, as the people were all kept in good order; and the village chiefs were so civil, that we could do as we liked. After following down the left side of the valley and entering the village, the customary presents and returns were made. Wishing then to obtain a better view of the country, I strolled over the nearest hills, and found the less exposed slopes well covered with trees. Small antelopes occasionally sprang up from the grass. I shot a florikan for the pot; and as I had never before seen white rhinoceros, killed one now; though, as no one would eat him, I felt sorry rather than otherwise for what I had done. When I returned in the evening, small boys brought me sparrows for sale; and then I remembered the stories I had heard from Musa Mzuri--that in the whole of Karague the small birds were so numerous, the people, to save themselves from starvation were obliged to grow a bitter corn which the birds disliked; and so I found it. At night, whilst observing for latitude, I was struck by surprise to see a long noisy procession pass by where I sat, led by some men who carried on their shoulders a woman covered up in a blackened skin. On inquiry, however, I heard she was being taken to the hut of her espoused, where, "bundling fashion," she would be put in bed; but it was only with virgins they took so much trouble.
A strange but characteristic story now reached my ears. Masudi, the merchant who took up Insangez, had been trying his best to deter Rumanika from allowing us to enter his country, by saying we were addicted to sorcery; and had it not been for Insangez's remonstrances, who said we were sent up by Musa, our fate would have been doubtful. Rumanika, it appeared, as I always had heard, considered old Musa his saviour, for having eight years before quelled a rebellion, when his younger brother, Rogero, aspired to the throne; whilst Musa's honour and honesty were quite unimpeachable. But more of this hereafter.
Khonze, the next place, lying in the bending concave of this swamp lake, and facing Hangiro, was commanded by a fine elderly man called Muzegi, who was chief officer during Dagara's time. He told me with the greatest possible gravity, that he remembered well the time when a boat could have gone from this to Vigura; as also when fish and crocodiles came up from the Kitangule; but the old king no sooner died than the waters dried up; which showed as plainly as words could tell, that the king had designed it, to make men remember him with sorrow in all future ages. Our presents after this having been exchanged, the good old man, at my desire, explained the position of all the surrounding countries, in his own peculiar manner, by laying a long stick on the ground pointing due north and south, to which he attached shorter ones pointing to the centre of each distant country. He thus assisted me in the protractions of the map, to the countries which lie east and west of the route.
Shortly after starting this morning, we were summoned by the last officer on the Urigi to take breakfast with him, as he could not allow us to pass by without paying his respects to the king's guests. He was a man of most affable manners, and loth we should part company without one night's entertainment at least; but as it was a matter of necessity, he gave us provisions to eat on the way, adding, at the same time, he was sorry he could not give more, as a famine was then oppressing the land. We parted with reiterated compliments on both sides; and shortly after, diving into the old bed of the Urigi, were constantly amused with the variety of game which met our view. On several occasions the rhinoceros were so numerous and impudent as to contest the right of the road with us, and the greatest sport was occasioned by our bold Wanguana going at them in parties of threes and fours, when, taking good care of themselves at considerable distances, they fired their carbines all together, and whilst the rhinoceros ran one way, they ran the other. Whilst we were pitching our tents after sunset by some pools on the plain, Dr K'yengo arrived with the hongo of brass and copper wires sent by Suwarora for the great king Mtesa, in lieu of his daughter who died; so next morning we all marched together on to Uthenga.
Rising out of the bed of the Urigi, we passed over a low spur of beef-sandwich clay sandstones, and descended into the close, rich valley of Uthenga, bound in by steep hills hanging over us more than a thousand feet high, as prettily clothed as the mountains of Scotland; whilst in the valley there were not only magnificent trees of extraordinary height, but also a surprising amount of the richest cultivation, amongst which the banana may be said to prevail. Notwithstanding this apparent richness in the land, the Wanyambo, living in their small squalid huts, seem poor. The tobacco they smoke is imported from the coffee-growing country of Uhaiya. After arrival in the village, who should we see but the Uganda officer, Irungu! The scoundrel, instead of going on to Uganda, as he had promised to do, conveying my present to Mtesa, had stopped here plundering the Wanyambo, and getting drunk on their pombe, called, in their language, marwa--a delicious kind of wine made from the banana. He, or course, begged for more beads; but, not able to trick me again, set his drummers and fifers at work, in hopes that he would get over our feelings in that way.
Henceforth, as we marched, Irungu's drummers and fifers kept us alive on the way. This we heard was a privilege that Uganda Wakungu enjoyed both at home and abroad, although in all other countries the sound of the drum is considered a notice of war, unless where it happens to accompany a dance or festival. Leaving the valley of Uthenga, we rose over the spur of N'yamwara, where we found we had attained the delightful altitude of 5000 odd feet. Oh, how we enjoyed it! every one feeling so happy at the prospect of meeting so soon the good king Rumanika. Tripping down the greensward, we now worked our way to the Rozoka valley, and pitched our tents in the village.
Kachuchu here told us he had orders to precede us, and prepare Rumanika for our coming, as his king wished to know what place we would prefer to live at--the Arab depot at kufro, on the direct line to Uganda, in his palace with himself, or outside his enclosures. Such politeness rather took us aback; so, giving our friend a coil of copper wire to keep him in good spirits, I said all our pleasure rested in seeing the king; whatever honours he liked to confer on us we should take with good grace, but one thing he must understand, we came not to trade, but to see him and great kings and therefore the Arabs had no relations with us. This little point settled, off started Kachuchu in his usual merry manner, whilst I took a look at the hills, to see their geological formation, and found them much as before, based on streaky clay sandstones, with the slight addition of pure blue shales, and above sections of quartzose sandstone lying in flags, as well as other metamorphic and igneous rocks scattered about.
Moving on the next morning over hill and dale, we came to the junction of two roads, where Irungu, with his drummers, fifers and amazon followers, took one way to Kufro, followed by the men carrying Suwarora's hongo, and we led off on the other, directed to the palace. The hill-tops in many places were breasted with dykes of pure white quartz, just as we had seen in Usui, only that here their direction tended more to the north. It was most curious to contemplate, seeing that the chief substance of the hills was a pure blue, or otherwise streaky clay sandstone, which must have been formed when the land was low, but has now been elevated, making these hills the axis of the centre of the continent, and therefore probably the oldest of all.
When within a few miles of the palace we were ordered to stop and wait for Kachuchu's return; but no sooner put up in a plaintain grove, where pombe was brewing, and our men were all taking a suck at it, than the worthy arrived to call us on the same instant, as the king was most anxious to see us. The love of good beer of course made our men all too tired to march again; so I sent off Bombay with Nasib to make our excuses, and in the evening found them returning with a huge pot of pombe and some royal tobacco, which Rumanika sent with a notice that he intended it exclusively for our own use, for though there was abundance for my men, there was nothing so good as what came from the palace; the royal tobacco was as sweet and strong as honey-dew, and the beer so strong it required a strong man to drink it.
After breakfast next morning, we crossed the hill-spur called Waeranhanje, the grassy tops of which were 5500 feet above the sea. Descending a little, we came suddenly in view of what appeared to us a rich clump of trees, in S. lat. 1 42' 42", and E. long. 31 1' 49"; and, 500 feet below it, we saw a beautiful sheet of water lying snugly within the folds of the hills. We were not altogether unprepared for it, as Musa of old had described it, and Bombay, on his return yesterday, told us he had seen a great pond. The clump, indeed, was the palace enclosure. As to the lake, for want of a native name, I christened it the Little Winderemere, because Grant thought it so like our own English lake of that name. It was one of many others which, like that of Urigi, drains the moisture of the overhanging hills, and gets drained into the Victoria N'yanza through the Kitangule river.
To do royal honours to the king of this charming land, I ordered my men to put down their loads and fire a volley. This was no sooner done than, as we went to the palace gate, we received an invitation to come in at once, for the king wished to see us before attending to anything else. Now, leaving our traps outside, both Grant and myself, attended by Bombay and a few of the seniors of my Wanguana, entered the vestibule, and, walking through extensive enclosures studded with huts of kingly dimensions, were escorted to a pent-roofed baraza, which the Arabs had built as a sort of government office where the king might conduct his state affairs.
Here, as we entered, we saw sitting cross-legged on the ground Rumanika the king, and his brother Nnanaji, both of them men of noble appearance and size. The king was plainly dressed in an Arab's black choga, and wore, for ornament, dress-stockings of rich-coloured beads, and neatly-worked wristlets of copper. Nnanaji, being a doctor of very high pretensions, in addition to a check cloth wrapped round him, was covered with charms. At their sides lay huge pipes of black clay. In their rear, squatting quiet as mice, were all the king's sons, some six or seven lads, who wore leather middle-coverings, and little dream-charms tied under their chins. The first greetings of the king, delivered in good Kisuahili, were warm and affecting, and in an instant we both felt and saw we were in the company of men who were as unlike as they could be to the common order of the natives of the surrounding districts. They had fine oval faces, large eyes, and high noses, denoting the best blood of Abyssinia. Having shaken hands in true English style, which is the peculiar custom of the men of this country, the ever-smiling Rumanika begged us to be seated on the ground opposite to him, and at once wished to know what we thought of Karague, for it had struck him his mountains were the finest in the world; and the lake, too, did we not admire it? Then laughing, he inquired--for he knew all the story--what we thought of Suwarora, and the reception we had met with in Usui. When this was explained to him, I showed him that it was for the interest of his own kingdom to keep a check on Suwarora, whose exorbitant taxations prevented the Arabs from coming to see him and bringing things from all parts of the world. He made inquiries for the purpose of knowing how we found our way all over the world; for on the former expedition a letter had come to him for Musa, who no sooner read it than he said I had called him and he must leave, as I was bound for Ujiji.
This of course led to a long story, describing the world, the proportions of land and water, and the power of ships, which conveyed even elephants and rhinoceros--in fact, all the animals in the world--to fill our menageries at home,--etc., etc.; as well as the strange announcement that we lived to the northward, and had only come this way because his friend Musa had assured me without doubt that he would give us the road on through Uganda. Time flew like magic, the king's mind was so quick and enquiring; but as the day was wasting away, he generously gave us our option to choose a place for our residence in or out of his palace, and allowed us time to select one. We found the view overlooking the lake to be so charming, that we preferred camping outside, and set our men at once to work cutting sticks and long grass to erect themselves sheds.
One of the young princes--for the king ordered them all to be constantly in attendance on us--happening to see me sit on an iron chair, rushed back to his father and told him about it. This set all the royals in the palace in a state of high wonder, and ended by my getting a summons to show off the white man sitting on his throne; for of course I could only be, as all of them called me, a king of great dignity, to indulge in such state. Rather reluctantly I did as I was bid, and allowed myself once more to be dragged into court. Rumanika, as gentle as ever, then burst into a fresh fit of merriment, and after making sundry enlightened remarks of enquire, which of course were responded to with the greatest satisfaction, finished off by saying, with a very expressive shake of the head, "Oh, these Wazungu, these Wazungu! they know and do everything."
I then put in a word for myself. Since we had entered Karague we never could get one drop of milk either for love or for money, and I wished to know what motive the Wahuma had for withholding it. We had heard they held superstitious dreads; that any one who ate the flesh of pigs, fish, or fowls, or the bean called Maharague, if he tasted the products of their cows, would destroy their cattle --and I hoped he did not labour under any such absurd delusions. To which he replied, It was only the poor who thought so; and as he now saw we were in want, he would set apart one of his cows expressly for our use. On bidding adieu, the usual formalities of handshaking were gone through; and on entering camp, I found the good thoughtful king had sent us some more of his excellent beer.
The Wanguana were now all in the highest of good-honour; for time after time goats and fowls were brought into camp by the officers of the king, who had received orders from all parts of the country to bring in supplies for his guests; and this kind of treatment went on for a month, though it did not diminish my daily expenditures of beads, as grain and plantains were not enough thought of. The cold winds, however, made the coast-men all shiver, and suspect, in their ignorance, we must be drawing close to England, the only cold place they had heard of.
16th.--Hearing it would be considered indecent haste to present my tributary offering at once, I paid my morning's visit, only taking my revolving-pistol, as I knew Rumanika had expressed a strong wish to see it. The impression it made was surprising--he had never seen such a thing in his life; so, in return for his great generosity, as well as to show I placed no value on property, not being a merchant, I begged him to accept it. We then adjourned to his private hut, which rather surprised me by the neatness with which it was kept. The roof was supported by numerous clean poles, to which he had fastened a large assortment of spears--brass-headed with iron handles, and iron-headed with wooden ones--of excellent workmanship. A large standing-screen, of fine straw-plait work, in elegant devices, partitioned off one part of the room; and on the opposite side, as mere ornaments, were placed a number of brass grapnels and small models of cows, made in iron for his amusement by the Arabs at Kufro. A little later in the day, as soon as we had done breakfast, both Rumanika and Nnanaji came over to pay us a visit; for they thought, as we could find our way all over the world, so we should not find much difficulty in prescribing some magic charms to kill his brother, Rogero, who lived on a hill overlooking the Kitangule. Seating them both on our chairs, which amused them intensely, I asked Rumanika, although I had heard before the whole facts of the case, what motives now induced him to wish the committal of such a terrible act, and brought out the whole story afresh.
Before their old father Dagara died, he had unwittingly said to the mother of Rogero, although he was the youngest born, what a fine king he would make; and the mother, in consequence, tutored her son to expect the command of the country, although the law of the land in the royal family is the primogeniture system, extending, however, only to those sons who are born after the accession of the king to the throne.
As soon, therefore, as Dagara died, leaving the three sons alluded to, all by different mothers, a contest took place with the brothers, which, as Nnanaji held by Rumanika, ended in the two elder driving Rogero away. It happened, however, that half the men of the country, either from fear or love, attached themselves to Rogero. Feeling his power, he raised an army and attempted to fight for the crown, which it is generally admitted would have succeeded, had not Musa, with unparalleled magnanimity, employed all the ivory merchandise at his command to engage the services of all the Arabs' slaves residing at Kufro, to bring muskets against him. Rogero was thus frightened away; but he went away swearing that he would carry out his intentions at some future date, when the Arabs had withdrawn from the country.
Magic charms, of course, we had none; but the king would not believe it, and, to wheedle some out of us, said they would not kill their brother even if they caught him--for fratricide was considered an unnatural crime in their country--but they would merely gouge out his eyes and set him at large again; for without the power of sight he could do them no harm.
I then recommended, as the best advice I could give him for the time being, to take some strong measures against Suwarora and the system of taxation carried on in Usui. These would have the effect of bringing men with superior knowledge into the country--for it was only through the power of knowledge that good government could be obtained. Suwarora at present stopped eight-tenths of the ivory-merchants who might be inclined to trade here from coming into the country, by the foolish system of excessive taxation he had established. Next I told him, if he would give me one or two of his children, I would have them instructed in England; for I admired his race, and believed them to have sprung from our old friends the Abyssinians, whose king, Sahela Selassie, had received rich presents from our Queen. They were Christians like ourselves, and had the Wahuma not lost their knowledge of God they would be so also. A long theological and historical discussion ensued, which so pleased the king, that he said he would be delighted if I would take two of his sons to England, that they might bring him a knowledge of everything. Then turning again to the old point, his utter amazement that we should spend so much property in travelling, he wished to know what we did it for; when men had such means they would surely sit down and enjoy it. "Oh no," was the reply; "we have had our fill of the luxuries of life; eating, drinking, or sleeping have no charms for us now; we are above trade, therefore require no profits, and seek for enjoyment the run of the world. To observe and admire the beauties of creation are worth much more than beads to us. But what led us this way we have told you before; it was to see your majesty in particular, and the great kings of Africa--and at the same time to open another road to the north, whereby the best manufactures or Europe would find their way to Karague, and you would get so many more guests." In the highest good-humour the king said, "As you have come to see me and see sights, I will order some boats and show you over the lake, with musicians to play before you, or anything else that you like." Then, after looking over our pictures with intensest delight, and admiring our beds, boxes, and outfit in general, he left for the day.
In the afternoon, as I had heard from Musa that the wives of the king and princes were fattened to such an extent that they could not stand upright, I paid my respects to Wazezeru, the king's eldest brother--who, having been born before his father ascended the throne, did not come in the line of succession--with the hope of being able to see for myself the truth of the story. There was no mistake about it. On entering the hut I found the old man and his chief wife sitting side by side on a bench of earth strewed over with grass, and partitioned like stalls for sleeping apartments, whilst in front of them were placed numerous wooden pots of milk, and hanging from the poles that supported the beehive-shaped hut, a large collection of bows six feet in length, whilst below them were tied an even larger collection of spears, intermixed with a goodly assortment of heavy-headed assages. I was struck with no small surprise at the way he received me, as well as with the extraordinary dimensions, yet pleasing beauty, of the immoderately fat fair one his wife. She could not rise; and so large were her arms that, between the joints, the flesh hung down like large, loose-stuffed puddings. Then in came their children, all models of the Abyssinian type of beauty, and as polite in their manners as thorough-bred gentlemen. They had heard of my picture-books from the king, and all wished to see them; which they no sooner did, to their infinite delight, especially when they recognised any of the animals, then the subject was turned by my inquiring what they did with so many milk-pots. This was easily explained by Wazezeru himself, who, pointing to his wife, said, "This is all the product of those pots: from early youth upwards we keep those pots to their mouths, as it is the fashion at court to have very fat wives."
27th.--Ever anxious to push on with the journey, as I felt every day's delay only tended to diminish my means--that is, my beads and copper wire--I instructed Bombay to take the under-mentioned articles to Rumanika as a small sample of the products of my country; (11) to say I felt quite ashamed of their being so few and so poor, but I hoped he would forgive my shortcomings, as he knew I had been so often robbed on the way to him; and I trusted, in recollection of Musa, he would give me leave to go on to Uganda, for every day's delay was consuming my supplies. Nnanaji, however, it was said, should get something; so, in addition to the king's present, I apportioned one out for him, and Bombay took both up to the palace. (12) Everybody, I was pleased to hear, was surprised with both the quantity and quality of what I had been able to find for them; for, after the plundering in Ugogo, the immense consumption caused by such long delays on the road, the fearful prices I had had to pay for my porters' wages, the enormous taxes I had been forced to give both in Msalala and Uzinza, besides the constant thievings in camp, all of which was made public by the constantly-recurring tales of my men, nobody thought I had got anything left.
Rumanika, above all, was as delighted as if he had come in for a fortune, and sent to say the Raglan coat was a marvel, and the scarlet broadcloth the finest thing he had ever seen. Nobody but Musa had ever given him such beautiful beads before, and none ever gave with such free liberality. Whatever I wanted I should have in return for it, as it was evident to him I had really done him a great honour in visiting him. Neither his father nor any of his forefathers had had such a great favour shown them. He was alarmed, he confessed, when he heard we were coming to visit him, thinking we might prove some fearful monsters that were not quite human, but now he was delighted beyond all measure with what he saw of us. A messenger should be sent at once to the king of Uganda to inform him of our intention to visit him, with his own favourable report of us. This was necessary according to the etiquette of the country. Without such a recommendation our progress would be stopped by the people, whilst with one word from him all would go straight; for was he not the gatekeeper, enjoying the full confidence of Uganda? A month, however, must elapse, as the distance to the palace of Uganda was great; but, in the meantime, he would give me leave to go about in his country to do and see what I liked, Nnanaji and his sons escorting me everywhere. Moreover, when the time came for my going on to Uganda, if I had not enough presents to give the king, he would fill up the complement from his own stores, and either go with me himself, or send Nnanaji to conduct me as far as the boundary of Uganda, in order that Rogero might not molest us on the way. In the evening, Masudi, with Sangoro and several other merchants, came up from Kufro to pay us a visit of respect.
28th and 29th.--A gentle hint having come to us that the king's brother, Wazezeru, expected a trifle in virtue of his rank, I sent him a blanket and seventy-five blue egg-beads. These were accepted with the usual good grace of these people. The king then, ever attentive to our position as guests, sent his royal musicians to give us a tune. The men composing the band were a mixture of Waganda and Wanyambo, who played on reed instruments made telescope fashion, marking time by hand-drums. At first they marched up and down, playing tunes exactly like the regimental bands of the Turks, and then commenced dancing a species of "hornpipe," blowing furiously all the while. When dismissed with some beads, Nnanaji dropped in and invited me to accompany him out shooting on the slopes of the hills overlooking the lake. He had in attendance all the king's sons, as well as a large number of beaters, with three or four dogs. Tripping down the greensward of the hills together, these tall, athletic princes every now and then stopped to see who could shoot furthest, and I must say I never witnessed better feats in my life. With powerful six-feet-long bows they pulled their arrows' heads up to the wood, and made wonderful shots in the distance. They then placed me in position, and arranging the field, drove the covers like men well accustomed to sport--indeed, it struck me they indulged too much in that pleasure, for we saw nothing but two or three montana and some diminutive antelopes, about the size of mouse deer, and so exceedingly shy that not one was bagged.
Returning home to the tents as the evening sky was illumined with the red glare of the sun, my attention was attracted by observing in the distance some bold sky-scraping cones situated in the country Ruanda, which at once brought back to recollection the ill-defined story I had heard from the Arabs of a wonderful hill always covered with clouds, on which snow or hail was constantly falling. This was a valuable discovery, for I found these hills to be the great turn-point of the Central African watershed. Without loss of time I set to work, and, gathering all the travellers I could in the country, protracted, from their descriptions, all the distance topographical features set down in the map, as far north as 3 of north latitude, as far east as 36, and as far west as 26 of east longitude; only afterwards slightly corrected, as I was better able to connect and clear up some trifling but doubtful points.
Indeed, I was not only surprised at the amount of information about distant places I was enabled to get here from these men, but also at the correctness of their vast and varied knowledge, as I afterwards tested it by observation and the statements of others. I rely so far on the geographical information I thus received, that I would advise no one to doubt the accuracy of these protractions until he has been on the spot to test them by actual inspection. About the size only of the minor lakes do I feel doubtful, more especially the Little Luta Nzige, which on the former journey I heard was a salt lake, because salt was found on its shores and in one of its islands. Now, without going into any lengthy details, and giving Rumanika due credit for everything--for had he not ordered his men to give me every information that lay in their power, they would not have done so--I will merely say for the present that, whilst they conceived the Victoria N'yanza would take a whole month for a canoe to cross it, they thought the Little Luta Nzige might be crossed in a week. The Mfumbiro cones in Ruanda, which I believe reach 10,000 feet, are said to be the highest of the "Mountains of the Moon." At their base are both salt and copper mines, as well as hot springs. There are also hot springs in Mpororo, and one in Karague near where Rogero lived.
30th.--The important business of announcing our approach to Uganda was completed by Rumanika appointing Kachuchu to go to king Mtesa as quickly as possible, to say we were coming to visit him. He was told that we were very great men, who only travelled to see great kings and great countries; and, as such, Rumanika trusted we should be received with courteous respect, and allowed to roam all over the country wherever we liked, he holding himself responsible for our actions for the time being. In the end, however, we were to be restored to him, as he considered himself our father, and therefore must see that no accident befell us.
To put the royal message in proper shape, I was now requested to send some trifle by way of a letter or visiting card; but, on taking out a Colt's revolving rifle for the purpose, Rumanika advised me not to send it, as Mtesa might take fright, and, considering it a charm of evil quality, reject us as bad magicians, and close his gates on us. Three bits of cotton cloth were then selected as the best thing for the purpose; and, relying implicitly on the advice of Rumanika, who declared his only object was to further our views, I arranged accordingly, and off went Kachuchu.
To keep my friend in good-humour, and show him how well the English can appreciate a kindness, I presented him with a hammer, a sailor's knife, a Rodger's three-bladed penknife, a gilt letter-slip with paper and envelopes, some gilt pens, an ivory holder, and a variety of other small articles. Of each of these he asked the use, and then in high glee put it into the big block-tin box, in which he kept his other curiosities, and which I think he felt more proud of than any other possession. After this, on adjourning to his baraza, Ungurue the Pig, who had floored my march in Sorombo, and Makinga, our persecutor in Usui, came in to report that the Watuta had been fighting in Usui, and taken six bomas, upon which Rumanika asked me what I thought of it, and if I knew where the Watuta came from. I said I was not surprised to hear Usui had attracted the Watuta's cupidity, for every one knew of the plundering propensities of the inhabitants, and as they became rich by their robberies, they must in turn expect to be robbed. Where the Watuta came from, nobody could tell; they were dressed something like the Zulu Kaffirs of the South, but appeared to be now gradually migrating from the regions of N'yazza. To this Dr K'yengo, who was now living with Rumanika as his head magician, added that, whilst he was living in Utambara, the Watuta invested his boma six months; and finally, when all their cows and stores were exhausted, they killed all the inhabitants but himself, and he only escaped by the power of the charms which he carried about him. These were so powerful, that although he lay on the ground, and the Watuta struck at him with their spears, not one could penetrate his body.
In the evening after this, as the king wished to see all my scientific instruments, we walked down to the camp; and as he did not beg for anything, I gave him some gold and mother-of-pearl shirt studs to swell up his trinket-box. The same evening I made up my mind, if possible, to purchase a stock of beads from the Arabs, and sent Baraka off to Kufro, to see what kind of a bargain he could make with them; for, whilst I trembled to think what those "blood-suckers" would have the impudence to demand when they found me at their mercy, I felt that the beads must be bought, or the expedition would certainly come to grief.
1st and 2d.--Two days after this the merchants came in a body to see me, and said their worst beads would stand me 80 dollars per frasala, as they would realise that value in ivory on arrival at the coast. Of course no business was done, for the thing was preposterous by all calculation, being close on 2500 per cent. above Zanzibar valuation. I was "game" to give 50 dollars, but as they would not take this, I thought of dealing with Rumanika instead. I then gave Nnanaji, who had been constantly throwing out hints that I ought to give him a gun as he was a great sportsman, a lappet of beadwork to keep his tongue quiet, and he in return sent me a bullock and sundry pots of pombe, which, in addition to the daily allowance sent by Rumanika, made all my people drunk, and so affected Baraka that one of the women--also drunk--having given him some sharp abuse, he beat her in so violent a manner that the whole drunken camp set upon him, and turned the place into a pandemonium. A row amongst the negroes means a general rising of arms, legs, and voices; all are in a state of the greatest excitement; and each individual thinks he is doing the best to mend matters, but is actually doing his best to create confusion.
By dint of perseverance, I now succeeded in having Baraka separated from the crowd and dragged before me for justice. I found that the woman, who fully understood the jealous hatred which existed in Baraka's heart against Bombay, flirted with both of them; and, pretending to show a preference for Bombay, set Baraka against her, when from high words they came to blows, and set the place in a blaze. It was useless to remonstrate--Baraka insisted he would beat the woman if she abused him, no matter whether I thought it cowardly or not; he did not come with me expecting to be bullied in this way--the whole fault lay with Bombay--I did not do him justice-- when he proved Bombay a thief at Usui, I did not turn him off, but now, instead, I showed the preference to Bombay by always taking him when I went to Rumanika. It was useless to argue with such a passionate man, so I told him to go away and cool himself before morning.
When he was gone, Bombay said there was not one man in the camp, besides his own set, who wished to go on to Egypt--for they had constant arguments amongst themselves about it; and whilst Bombay always said he would follow me wherever I led, Baraka and those who held by him abused him and his set for having tricked them away from Zanzibar, under the false hopes that the road was quite safe. Bombay said his arguments were, that Bana knew better than anybody else what he was about, and he would follow him, trusting to luck, as God was the disposer of all things, and men could die but once. Whilst Baraka's arguments all rested the other way;--that no one could tell what was ahead of him--Bana had sold himself to luck and the devil--but though he did not care for his own safety, he ought not to sacrifice the lives of others--Bombay and his lot were fools for their pains in trusting to him.
3d.--At daybreak Rumanika sent us word he was off to Moga-Namarinzi, a spur of a hill beyond "the Little Windermere," overlooking the Ingezi Kagera, or river which separates Kishakka from Karague, to show me how the Kiangule river was fed by small lakes and marshes, in accordance with my expressed wish to have a better comprehension of the drainage system of the Mountains of the Moon. He hoped we would follow him, not by the land route he intended to take, but in canoes which he had ordered at the ferry below. Starting off shortly afterwards, I made for the lake, and found the canoes all ready, but so small that, besides two paddlers, only two men could sit down in each. After pushing through the tall reeds with which the end of the lake is covered, we emerged in the clear open, and skirted the further side of the water until a small strait was gained, which led us into another lake, drained at the northern end with a vast swampy plain, covered entirely with tall rushes, excepting only in a few places where bald patches expose the surface of the water, or where the main streams of the Ingezi and Luchoro valleys cut a clear drain for themselves.
The whole scenery was most beautiful. Green and fresh, the slopes of the hills were covered with grass, with small clumps of soft cloudy-looking acacias growing at a few feet only above the water, and above them, facing over the hills, fine detached trees, and here and there the gigantic medicinal aloe. Arrived near the end of the Moga-Namirinzi hill in the second lake, the paddlers splashed into shore, where a large concourse of people, headed by Nnanaji, were drawn up to receive me. I landed with all the dignity of a prince, when the royal band struck up a march, and we all moved on to Rumanika's frontier palace, talking away in a very complimentary manner, not unlike the very polite and flowery fashion of educated Orientals.
Rumanika we found sitting dressed in a wrapper made of an nzoe antelope's skin, smiling blandly as we approached him. In the warmest manner possible he pressed me to sit by his side, asked how I had enjoyed myself, what I thought of his country, and if I did not feel hungry; when a pic-nic dinner was spread, and we all set to at cooked plantains and pombe, ending with a pipe of his best tobacco. Bit by bit Rumanika became more interested in geography, and seemed highly ambitious of gaining a world-wide reputation through the medium of my pen. At his invitation we now crossed over the spur to the Ingezi Kagera side, when, to surprise me, the canoes I had come up the lake in appeared before us. They had gone out of the lake at its northern end, paddled into, and then up the Kagera to where we stood, showing, by actual navigation, the connection of these highland lakes with the rivers which drain the various spurs of the Mountains of the Moon. The Kagera was deep and dark, of itself a very fine stream, and, considering it was only one-- and that, too, a minor one--of the various affluents which drain the mountain valleys into the Victoria N'yanza through the medium of the Kitangule river, I saw at once there must be water sufficient to make the Kitangule a very powerful tributary to the lake.
On leaving this interesting place, with the widespread information of all the surrounding countries I had gained, my mind was so impressed with the topographical features of all this part of Africa, that in my heart I resolved I would make Rumanika as happy as he had made me, and asked K'yengo his doctor, of all things I possessed what the king would like best. To my surprise I then learnt that Rumanika had set his heart on the revolving rifle I had brought for Mtesa--the one, in fact, which he had prevented my sending on to Uganda in the hands of Kachuchu, and he would have begged me for it before had his high-minded dignity, and the principle he had established of never begging for anything, not interfered. I then said he should certainly have it; for as strongly as I had withheld from giving anything to those begging scoundrels who wished to rob me of all I possessed in the lower countries, so strongly now did I feel inclined to be generous with this exceptional man Rumanika. We then had another pic-nic together, and whilst I went home to join Grant, Rumanika spent the night doing homage and sacrificing a bullock at the tomb of his father Dagara.
Instead of paddling all down the lake again, I walked over the hill, and, on crossing at its northern end, whished to shoot ducks; but the superstitious boatmen put a stop to my intended amusement by imploring me not to do so, lest the spirit of the lake should be roused to dry up the waters.
4th.--Rumanika returned in the morning, walking up the hill, followed by a long train of his officers, and a party of men carrying on their shoulders his state carriage, which consisted of a large open basket laid on the top of two very long poles. After entering his palace, I immediately called on him to thank him for the great treat he had given me, and presented him, as an earnest of what I thought, with the Colt's revolving rifle and a fair allowance of ammunition. His delight knew no bounds on becoming the proprietor of such an extraordinary weapon, and induced him to dwell on his advantages over his brother Rogero, whose antipathy to him was ever preying on his mind. He urged me again to devise some plan for overcoming him; and, becoming more and more confidential, favoured me with the following narrative, by way of evidence how the spirits were inclined to show all the world that he was the rightful successor to the throne:--When Dagara died, and he, Nnanaji, and Rogero, were the only three sons left in line of succession to the crown, a small mystic drum of diminutive size was placed before them by the officers of state. It was only feather weight in reality, but, being loaded with charms, became so heavy to those who were not entitled to the crown, that no one could lift it but the one person whom the spirits were inclined towards as the rightful successor. Now, of all the three brothers, he, Rumanika, alone could raise it from the ground; and whilst his brothers laboured hard, in vain attempting to move it, he with his little finger held it up without any exertion.
This little disclosure in the history of Karague led us on to further particulars of Dagara's death and burial, when it transpired that the old king's body, after the fashion of his predecessors, was sewn up in a cow-skin, and placed in a boat floating on the lake, where it remained for three days, until decomposition set in and maggots were engendered, of which three were taken into the palace and given in charge to the heir-elect; but instead of remaining as they were, one worm was transformed into a lion, another into a leopard, and the third into a stick. After this the body of the king was taken up and deposited on the hill Moga-Namirinzi, where, instead of putting him underground, the people erected a hut over him, and, thrusting in five maidens and fifty cows, enclosed the doorway in such a manner that the whole of them subsequently died from starvation.
This, as may naturally be supposed, led into further genealogical disclosures of a similar nature, and I was told by Rumanika that his grandfather was a most wonderful man; indeed, Karague was blessed with more supernatural agencies than any other country. Rohinda the Sixth, who was his grandfather, numbered so many years that people thought he would never die; and he even became so concerned himself about it, reflecting that his son Dagara would never enjoy the benefit of his position as successor to the crown of Karague, that he took some magic powders and charmed away his life. His remains were then taken to Moga-Namirinzi, in the same manner as were those of Dagara; but, as an improvement on the maggot story, a young lion emerged from the heart of the corpse and kept guard over the hill, from whom other lions came into existence, until the whole place has become infested by them, and has since made Karague a power and dread to all other nations; for these lions became subject to the will of Dagara, who, when attacked by the countries to the northward, instead of assembling an army of men, assembled his lion force, and so swept all before him.
Another test was then advanced at the instigation of K'yengo, who thought Rumanika not quite impressive enough of his right to the throne; and this was, that each heir in succession, even after the drum dodge, was required to sit on the ground in a certain place of the country, where, if he had courage to plant himself, the land would gradually rise up, telescope fashion, until it reached the skies, when, if the aspirant was considered by the spirits the proper person to inherit Karague, he would gradually be lowered again without any harm happening; but, otherwise, the elastic hill would suddenly collapse, and he would be dashed to pieces. Now, Rumanika, by his own confession, had gone through this ordeal with marked success; so I asked him if he found the atmosphere cold when so far up aloft, and as he said he did so, laughing at the quaintness of the question, I told him I saw he had learnt a good practical lesson on the structure of the universe, which I wished he would explain to me. In a state of perplexity, K'yengo and the rest, on seeing me laughing, thought something was wrong; so, turning about, they thought again, and said, "No, it must have been hot, because the higher one ascended the nearer he got to the sun."
This led on to one argument after another, on geology, geography, and all the natural sciences, and ended by Rumanika showing me an iron much the shape and size of a carrot. This he said was found by one of his villagers whilst tilling the ground, buried some way down below the surface; but dig as he would, he could not remove it, and therefore called some men to his help. Still the whole of them united could not lift the iron, which induced them, considering there must be some magic in it, to inform the king. "Now," says Rumanika, "I no sooner went there and saw the iron, and brought it here as you see it. What can such a sign mean?" "Of course that you are the rightful king," said his flatterers. "Then," said Rumanika, in exuberant spirits, "during Dagara's time, as the king was sitting with many other men outside his hut, a fearful storm of thunder and lightning arose, and a thunderbolt struck the ground in the midst of them, which dispersed all the men but Dagara, who calmly took up the thunderbolt and places it in the palace. I, however, no sooner came into possession, and Rogero began to contend with me, than the thunderbolt vanished. How would you account for this?" The flatterers said, "It is as clear as possible; God gave the thunderbolt to Dagaro as a sign he was pleased with him and his rule; but when he found two brothers contending, he withdrew it to show their conduct was wicked."
5th.-- Rumanika in the morning sent me a young male nzoe (water-boc) (13) which his canoe-men had caught in the high rushes at the head of the lake, by the king's order, to please me; for I had heard this peculiar animal described in such strange ways at Kaze, both by Musa and the Arabs, I was desirous of having a look at one. It proved to be closely allied to a water-boc found by Livingstone on the Ngami Lake; but, instead of being striped, was very faintly spotted, and so long were its toes, it could hardly walk on the dry ground; whilst its coat, also well adapted to the moist element it lived in, was long, and of such excellent quality that the natives prize it for wearing almost more than any other of the antelope tribe. The only food it would eat were the tops of the tall papyrus rushes; but though it ate and drank freely, and lay down very quietly, it always charged with ferocity any person who went near it.
In the afternoon Rumanika invited both Grant and myself to witness his New Moon Levee, a ceremony which takes place every month with a view of ascertaining how many of his subjects are loyal. On entering his palace enclosure, the first thing we saw was a blaue boc's horn stuffed full of magic powder, with very imposing effect, by K'yengo, and stuck in the ground, with its mouth pointing in the direction of Rogero. In the second court, we found thirty-five drums ranged on the ground, with as many drummers standing behind them, and a knot of young princes and officers of high dignity waiting to escort us into the third enclosure, where, in his principal hut, we found Rumanika squatting on the ground, half-concealed by the portal, but showing his smiling face to welcome us in. His head was got up with a tiara of beads, from the centre of which, directly over the forehead, stood a plume of red feathers, and encircling the lower face with a fine large white beard set in a stock or band of beads. We were beckoned to squat alongside Nnanaji, the master of ceremonies, and a large group of high officials outside the porch. Then the thirty-five drums all struck up together in very good harmony; and when their deafening noise was over, a smaller band of hand-drums and reed instruments was ordered in to amuse us.
This second performance over, from want of breath only, district officers, one by one, came advancing on tip-toe, then pausing, contorting and quivering their bodies, advancing again with a springing gait and outspread arms, which they moved as if they wished to force them out of their joints, in all of which actions they held drum-sticks or twigs in their hands, swore with a maniacal voice an oath of their loyalty and devotion to their king, backed by the expression of a hope that he would cut off their heads if they ever turned from his enemies, and then, kneeling before him, they held out their sticks that he might touch them. With a constant reiteration of these scenes--the saluting at one time, the music at another--interrupted only once by a number of girls dancing something like a good rough Highland fling whilst the little band played, the day's ceremonies ended.
6th and 7th.--During the next two days, as my men had all worn out their clothes, I gave them each thirty necklaces of beads to purchase a suit of the bark cloth called mbugu, already described. Finding the flour of the country too bitter to eat by itself, we sweetened it with ripe plantains, and made a good cake of it. The king now, finding me disinclined to fight his brother Rogero, either with guns or magic horns, asked me to give him a "doctor" or charm to create longevity and to promote the increase of his family, as his was not large enough to maintain the dignity of so great a man as himself. I gave him a blister, and, changing the subject, told him the history of the creation of man. After listening to it attentively, he asked what thing in creation I considered the greatest of all things in the world; for whilst a man at most could only live one hundred years, a tree lived many; but the earth ought to be biggest, for it never died.
I then told him again I wished one of his sons would accompany me to England, that he might learn the history of Moses, wherein he would find that men had souls which live for ever, but that the earth would come to an end in the fullness of time. This conversation, diversified by numerous shrewd remarks on the part of Rumanika, led to his asking how I could account for the decline of countries, instancing the dismemberment of the Wahuma in Kittara, and remarking that formerly Karague included Urundi, Ruanda, and Kishakka, which collectively were known as the kingdom of Meru, governed by one man. Christian principles, I said, made us what we are, and feeling a sympathy for him made me desirous of taking one of his children to learn in the same school with us, who, on returning to him, could impart what he knew, and, extending the same by course of instruction, would doubtless end by elevating his country to a higher position than it ever knew before,--etc., etc. The policy and government of the vast possessions of Great Britain were then duly discussed, and Rumanika acknowledged that the pen was superior to that of the sword, and the electric telegraph and steam engine the most wonderful powers he had ever heard of.
Before breaking up, Rumanika wished to give me any number of ivories I might like to mention, even three or four hundred, as a lasting remembrance that I had done him the honour of visiting Karague in his lifetime, for though Dagara had given to coloured merchants, he would be the first who had given to a white man. Of course this royal offer was declined with politeness; he must understand that it was not the custom of big men in my country to accept presents of value when we made visits of pleasure. I had enjoyed my residence in Karague, his intellectual conversations and his kind hospitality, all of which I should record in my books to hand down to posterity; but if he would give me a cow's horn, I would keep it as a trophy of the happy days I had spent in his country. He gave me one, measuring 3 feet 5 inches in length, and 18 3/4 inches in circumference at the base. He then offered me a large sheet, made up of a patchwork of very small N'yera antelope skins, most exquisitely cured and sewn. This I rejected, as he told me it had been given to himself, explaining that we prided ourselves on never parting with the gifts of a friend; and this speech tickled his fancy so much, that he said he never would part with anything I gave him.
8th and 9th.--The 8th went off much in the usual way, by my calling on the king, when I gave him a pack of playing-cards, which he put into his curiosity-box. He explained to me, at my request, what sort of things he would like any future visitors to bring him-- a piece of gold and silver embroidery; but, before anything else, I found he would like to have toys--such as Yankee clocks with the face in a man's stomach, to wind up behind, his eyes rolling with every beat of the pendulum; or a china-cow milk-pot, a jack-in-the- box, models of men, carriages, and horses--all animals in fact, and railways in particular.
On the 9th I went out shooting, as Rumanika, with his usual politeness, on hearing my desire to kill some rhinoceros, ordered his sons to conduct the filed for me. Off we started by sunrise to the bottom of the hills overlooking the head of the Little Windermere lake. On arrival at the scene of action--a thicket or acacia shrubs--all the men in the neighbourhood were assembled to beat. Taking post myself, by direction, in the most likely place to catch a sight of the animals, the day's work began by the beaters driving the covers in my direction. In a very short time, a fine male was discovered making towards me, but not exactly knowing where he should bolt to. While he was in this perplexity, I stole along between the bushes, and caught sight of him standing as if anchored by the side of a tree and gave him a broadsider with Blissett, which, too much for his constitution to stand, sent him off trotting, till exhausted by bleeding he lay down to die, and allowed me to give him a settler.
In a minute or two afterwards, the good young princes, attracted by the sound of the gun, came to see what was done. Their surprise knew no bounds; they could scarcely believe what they saw; and then, on recovering, with the spirit of true gentlemen, they seized both my hands, congratulating me on the magnitude of my success, and pointed out, as an example of it, a bystander who showed fearful scars, both on his abdomen and at the blade of his shoulder, who they declared had been run through by one of these animals. It was, therefore, wonderful to them, they observed, with what calmness I went up to such formidable beasts.
Just at this time a distant cry was heard that another rhinoceros was concealed in a thicket, and off we set to pursue her. Arriving at the place mentioned, I settled at once I would enter with only two spare men carrying guns, for the acacia thorns were so thick that the only tracks into the thicket were runs made by these animals. Leading myself, bending down to steal in, I tracked up a run till half-way through cover, when suddenly before me, like a pig from a hole, a large female, with her young one behind her, came straight down whoof-whoofing upon me. In this awkward fix I forced myself to one side, though pricked all over with thorns in doing so, and gave her one on the head which knocked her out of my path, and induced her for safety to make for the open, where I followed her down and gave her another. She then took to the hills and crossed over a spur, when, following after her, in another dense thicket, near the head of a glen, I came upon three, who no sooner sighted me, than all in line they charged down my way. Fortunately at the time my gun-bearers were with me; so, jumping to one side, I struck them all three in turn. One of them dropped dead a little way on; but the others only pulled up when they arrived at the bottom. To please myself now I had done quite enough; but as the princes would have it, I went on with the chase. As one of the two, I could see, had one of his fore-legs broken, I went at the sounder one, and gave him another shot, which simply induced him to walk over the lower end of the hill. Then turning to the last one, which could not escape, I asked the Wanyambo to polish him off with their spears and arrows, that I might see their mode of sport. As we moved up to the animal, he kept charging with such impetuous fury, they could not go into him; so I gave him a second ball, which brought him to anchor. In this helpless state the men set at him in earnest, and a more barbarous finale I never did witness. Every man sent his spear, assage, or arrow, into his sides, until, completely exhausted, he sank like a porcupine covered with quills. The day's sport was now ended, so I went home to breakfast, leaving instructions that the heads should be cut off and sent to the king as a trophy of what the white man could do.
10th and 11th.--The next day, when I called on Rumanika, the spoils were brought into court, and in utter astonishment he said, "Well, this must have been done with something more potent than powder, for neither the Arabs nor Nnanaji, although they talk of their shooting powers, could have accomplished such a great feat as this. It is no wonder the English are the greatest men in the world."
Neither the Wanyambo nor the Wahuma would eat the rhinoceros, so I was not sorry to find all the Wanyamuezi porters of the Arabs at Kufro, on hearing of the sport, come over and carry away al
Who are we?
Tour Egypt aims to offer the ultimate Egyptian adventure and intimate knowledge about the country. We offer this unique experience in two ways, the first one is by organizing a tour and coming to Egypt for a visit, whether alone or in a group, and living it firsthand. The second way to experience Egypt is from the comfort of your own home: online.