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Glimpses of East Africa
and Zanzibar

Glimpses of East Africa
and Zanzibar


Ethel Younghusband

With Fifty-eight Illustrations from
Photographs and a Map





SwAHiLi Women Grinding Grain - . . - Frontispiece


IsT K.A. Rifles Crossing a River in Nandi - - - 18

AsKARis Reading the Koran on Sunday - - - - 18

Officer Commanding 1st K.A. Rifles 20

Officers' Quarters and Mess, Nairobi 20

SwAHiLis Washing 30

SwAHiLi Women Dancing 37

Giraffe Shot 40

A Morning's Bag on Nguasa Ngishu Plateau - - - 40

BliKUYU Honey-barrels 43

A Thorn Tree 43

Colour-Sergeants of Angoni and Yao Companies 1st K.A.R. 58

E Company Wood-cutting at Ngong 58

Baruku Testing Eggs in Water and Indian Egg-seller - 62

Three ''Boys" — Baruku, Ali and Googly - - - - 62

Masai Women 76

Masai Warriors as Levies 76

Masai Warriors 81

Masai Warrior 85

A Kj-virondo Woman and Village at Kibigori - - - 85

Saidi, My Husband's Orderly 117

Race Meeting, Nairobi 117

Two of our Kikuyu Porters 123

Waterbuck 123

Old Masharia on Guard Outside our Tent - - - - 130

Kikuyu Women and Mr. Hill at Escarpment Station - 130



facing paok

Buck Caught in Native Trap 158

My Husband and our Gunbbarers Crossing a Native Bridge 158

Baruku Brought in Three Porters Roped Together - 160

Grant's Gazelle - - - - - 160

A Bushbuck Kill 163

Evening Rest in Camp 163

Native Bridge Across a Deep Stream - - - 167

Native Game Traps - - 167

Nandi Interpreter and Guide 179

Nandi Natives - - ... - 179

Swahili Woman of Zanzibar - - - - 183

The Luxury of the Bath - - - - I88

Our Second Rhino - - - 188

The Author after a Long March - - - 190

Wilson, Moses and Two Porters Crossing a Stream - - 190

The Quay, Zanzibar 212

Officers' Quarters, 1st K.A.R., at Suwani, Zanzibar - 214

Indian Bazaar, Zanzibar 218

Swahili Water-carriers, Zanzibar 226

Main Street, Zanzibar - - - - - • - - - 234

Vaccinating Indians 234

Native Women Drawing Water from a Well - - . 244

Another Main Street, Zanzibar 246

A Ruined Palace, Zanzibar 254

Our House, Zanzibar - 272

My Husband on the Golf Course, Zaji^zibar - - - 272

GuLLANi Road, Zanzibar 280

Baobab Tree 289

The Place of Customs, Zanzibar 289

Mnazi Moja on the "Siku Kuu " 298

Officers' Team, Tug-of-War - - 306

Wives of the Askaris at a Well 306


On learning that we were to start for British East
Africa in a few weeks, naturally the first thing
to be done was to inquire, and read up all that one
could about that particular spot, the climate and
the life generally. All the books I managed to
get were very old, and the advice in them was
useless, for places and conditions of life change so
rapidly that what was wise to do a few years back
is no criterion as to what is necessary after the
country is more opened up and the conditions of
climate more studied.

As for making inquiries among friends, I found
that practically useless ; people seemed most vague
about the part of the world to which we were
going, and what little they did know was a strange
confusion of ideas, some even having no ideas at all.
It is partly for that reason this book is written.
Firstly, to interest my friends ; secondly, to help
those people who, like myself, have to go out to
British East Africa or Zanzibar, either for business


or pleasure, and who possibly have not the time to
find out and wade through the numbers of books
already written on this and kindred subjects, many
of them of great interest, but most of them of little
use to the intending traveller, who is generally in
a hurry to make arrangements, say farewells, and
get together his or her outfit. Those parts of my
book which lack interest for the other people can
easily be omitted by them. To know something,
however little, of the places, people and native
tribes to which one is going and with whom one
comes in contact must add greatly to the interest
of travelling. For myself, I found that many people
actually on the spot could tell me very little, and
sometimes knew even less, and stared in wonder
that any one could be interested in anything other
than the next event at the Sports Club, or which
horses would win at the coming race meeting.
The people who really know seem to hide them-
selves, or, if a lucky chance brings them on to the
scene, they talk less than any one ; their minds being
occupied with the present and future, they have
no time to recall the past.

Circumstances change so rapidly in a growing
country, that even now some things I have said
may be changed, and the places altered ; for in-
stance, Nairobi is much enlarged and not so nicCj


I am told ; houses have sprung up like mushrooms
where I watched the butterflies flitting from flower
to flower. Settlers still have their grievances and
more, the native labour question is even now a
subject under discussion. I only try to describe
in simple words what I saw and found out for
myself, hoping the reader will not be too critical,
and that I may interest some.

I have to thank Captain C. R. Bacon, Captain
J. P. M. Mostyn and Mr. P. de Lord of Zanzibar
for kindly giving me permission to reproduce some
of their excellent photographs ; the rest I took

GiBRAEiTAB, September, 1908




Arrival in East Africa 17

Friends' prognostications — Mombasa — The King's
African Rifles at Mazerus — Unsuitable bungalows.


Mombasa 22

Early history — Its harbours — Inhabitants — Shops —


Our "Boys" and Swahilis in General - . - - 28

Engaging Baruku — The Swahili's descent — Their char-
acteristics — Wearing apparel — The changing
fashions — Medicine-men — Music and dancing.


Journey up from Mombasa on the Uganda Railway - 3S

Views, vegetation — How we stopped for a lion — Passing
through the game reserve — Nairobi — Kikuyu
shambas — Honey barrels.




We Start Housekeeping 44

Arrival in Nairobi — Hotel life— Housekeeping — All's
history — Goanese cooks — Plague in Nairobi —
Baruku's presents.


The Simple Life - 53

Baruku's wives — Dinner party difficulties — My wild
Masai groom — Lion scares — Masai levies — Our
burning garden — Baboons — A native dressmaker —
King's birthday celebration — Baruku's elastic
religion — Pets — Oddities of the boys — Tick fever —
Burglars and hyaenas.


•Christmas Customs and Others - - - 65

All's greeting — Our new quarters — Wild animals visit
us — Fleas — Rains — Our Christmas— My gardener —


The Masai 72

Mt. Ngong and the first medicine-man — The three
classes — Kraals — Masai of Nilotic stock— Dress and
ornaments — Bad eyes— Customs — Their dead — Milk-
woman — Immorality — Weapons — Woman's work.


Various Matters including Pets and Insects - - - 86

Locusts and locust-birds — Bees — Duke of Connaught's
visit — A wild Masai war dance — More plague — My
duiker — The mason hornet.



Snow Mountains, Some Society, and Clothes - - - 94

Mt. Kenia, Mt. Kilimanjaro — Other mountains— The
plains — Wet and heat in Nairobi — Race week — What
to wear in Nairobi — Exerciseand games — Officialism.


The Wakikuyu and Wakamba 103

Habitation — Origin — Dress and Ornaments — Teeth
cleaning — Hair dressing — Mtama sellers — Past and
future risings — Wakamba — Fear of Masai — Chicken
farmers — Customs — Witchcraft — Medicine-men —
Kinyolla — Food.


Our First Hunting Expedition 114

Train to Naivasha — Views — Lake Naivasha — A contre-
temps — Porters — The start — Kongoni — Thomson's
gazelle — A dead man — Waterbuck — Ostriches — On
the track of a rhino — Safari fare — An old character —
Elephant chase — Head porter gets into trouble — An
officer's escape from an elephant.


Boys, Insects, and Chickens 139

Boys and their vagaries — Caterpillars hold up a train —
Puff adders — Butterflies and ants— Chickens.


Our Second Safari 148

Death of Pups — Lack of porters — A mishap — Irapala —
Porters begin to give trouble — A five hours' wait in
the rain — Another Safari — Bamboo forest — We cross
Mt. Kinangop— View of Kenia — Porters escape —
Elephant tracks— Game traps — A Kikuyu chief —
We capture men — Bushbuck — The elusive water-
buck — Porters mutiny — Our first rhino — Return to
Naivasha — An old Somali — Crescent Island and the



Big Game Shooting under a Bed 178

Boer encampment— Poison for arrows— A leopard under
a bed— The King's African Rifles go to Zanzibar.


Our Third Safari and Another Rhino ... - 185

Gilgil — A hot march — Lake Olbolossat or Elboglosat —
We hear of lion— An exciting rhino chase— Hippos —
Eland— Wild pig— My husband ordered to Zanzibar.

Adventures with Lions and Rhino 20&

Wonderful lion story— Officers' escape from lions— Pig-
sticking — An exciting rhino adventure.

Zanzibar 212

First views — Boy divers — "Intelligent" guides — Houses
— Drives — Indian bazaar — Native quarters — Indian
shops— Goanese stores — Vegetables and fruit.

Tippoo Tib and Other Matters 225

His origin and work— Heat — Official etiquette— Native
diseases — Deaths — Jiggers — Plague — A remarkable
story— Lunatics.


History of Zanzibar 237

Early history— Seyyid Said — A princess's romance —
Abolition of slave trade — Barghash's visit to England
— Improvements in Zanzibar — Succeeding Sultans —
British influence— Efforts at suppressing the slave
trade — The two Governments— Matters leading to
the bombardment.



The Bombardment of Zanzibar 250

Khaled occupies the palace — British warsliips arrive —
The bombardment — Escape of Khaled — Hamoud's
reign — The present Sultan — The Sultana.

The Parsis 261

Origin — Settlement in India after Mohammedan
invasion — Tower of Silence — Dress — Benevolence —
We go to a wedding — Religion.

Subjects Oriental 271

Tea-party with Parsis and Khojas — The Aga Khan's
cousin — Opening ceremony of new Jamat Khana
premises — Khoja burial ground.


Animals and Insects of Zanzibar 278

Pariah dogs — Lemurs — Repulsive insects — Domestic


Chwaka, Dunga and the Wahadimu 288

The drive out — Bathing — Native fisher folk — Mark and
the natives — Dunga— The haunted house — History
of the Wahadimu — An experimental garden.


More Details of the Arabs of Zanzibar - . - . 296

Characteristics — Intermural burial — The " Siku Kuu " —
Curios to collect — Lamu— Its china industry — The
cocoanut — Climate — Neighbouring islands.



Last Words 305

The native askari — His games — Respect for his oflRcer —
The last of Ali — Somalis — Tanga — Dar-es-Salaam —
Not a woman's country.



Friends' prognostications — Mombasa — the King's African Eifles
at Mazems — unsuitable bungalows.

It was with something like awe that I first beheld
the palms and other tropical vegetation growing
with such profusion on the banks of the shore, as
we entered Kilindini harbour. I had heard so
much of dangers and death connected with our
African Protectorates, as before coming out from
home people take a curious delight in telling one
all the horrors they know, or have heard, of that
particular spot one is about to visit.

All the books I had read on that part of Africa
we had to live in, that is British East Africa, were
on an average twenty years old, and as even one
year makes a vast difference to the knowledge
gained about the best ways of taking care of one-
self, and the civilised methods of living, the circum-
stances were not at all the same, nor the danger
from illness or death to be compared with what it
had been. Others died in making the way clear,
but nowadays white people can live as healthily as

17 2


at home in many parts of East Africa if they suit
their ways of living to the conditions of the country.
All the same, I do not think people realise what a
strain on their vitality it is to live in the "tin"
houses, with little or no air-spaces between the
wood and the corrugated iron, which Government
so often provides for its officials.

Unfortunately the big boats have to anchor in
the middle of the harbour, and we and our luggage
were rowed ashore in boats. ^ I am always astonished
that one's luggage does not tumble into the sea
when it is being swung off the ship, or carried down
the side by ''porters," for it seems as much as we
can manage to do to get ourselves down safely and
into the small boat.

During the time we stayed in Mombasa we saw
a good deal, owing to the kindness of the English
residents, many of whom were most prompt in call-
ing on us while staying in the hotel, and helping us
to see what was to be seen, and enjoy what was
going on. I shall never forget the kindness of Mrs.
Walker, the wife of a doctor, who, although she had
only seen me twice, asked me to come and stay
with her while my husband went up to Nairobi, as
there was some difficulty about quarters, and the
colonel suggested my going home.

Of this kindness, however, I did not take advan-
tage, as I was afraid if I separated from my husband

^ A pier is being constructed now.

I'hnti, Inj ( 'irpt. ('. B.. Bacon
1st K.A. Rifles Crossing a River in Nandi

To face p. 18 Photo by Capt. J. P. JI. Mustyii

AsKARis (Native Soldiers) Reading the Kor.uj on Sunday


there might be a difficulty about my rejoining him.
All the same, it gave me a great feeling of security
to know there was a lady kind enough and willing
to give me shelter in a land where I knew no one.

There is a very nice English club in Mombasa,
where ladies may go in the evening to see the
papers, after they have taken their exercise at the
Sports Club in the form of tennis, badminton or
other games. Mombasa itself is very hot, but the
residents all have their private trolleys, the Govern-
ment officials being supplied with one ; these trol-
leys run on lines and are pushed by coolies ; there
frequently seem to be accidents, but I don't know
that people are often hurt, though it is a little agi-
tating to the nerves when the trolley is going fast
down an incline and a dog walks quietly over the
lines. We went over one poor dog, but he was
more frightened than hurt, happily.

We had expected to join my husband's battalion
of the King's African Kifles at Mazerus ; but, on ar-
riving at Mombasa, we heard the soldiers had been
hurriedly moved up to Nairobi a few days previously,
owing to the very great amount of sickness among
the officers and men. It was against a good deal of
local and medical advice that those in authority
picked out Mazerus as a suitable ypot for a camp ; but
as is often the case, no notice was taken of that ad-
vice, the lines were built, and officers' quarters put
up, and then it was found out to be an impossible



place to live in. A place apparently shunned by
Indians and natives alike ought to speak for
itself. Owing to the presence of, I believe, a
great quantity of lead, the water was not good, and
Mazerus was altogether a fever spot.

The officers' quarters that were built were
ridiculous iron and wood houses, absolutely unsafe
for the tropics, the bachelor quarters were one
small bungalow divided into two quarters for two
officers, being small and very hot, and simply un-
bearable on the sunny side during the heat of the
day. It did not seem to strike those responsible
for their structure that the expense is much greater
of having officers going home on sick leave, and at
the same time lowering their power of usefulness,
than if they had built decent quarters, suitable for
such a hot climate.

Even in Nairobi, those same bungalows were
unbearable during the hot months of January and
February, so in Mazerus they must have been too
terrible for words to express, to have to pass one's
days in.

It caused a great deal of expense moving them
all, and putting them up in Nairobi ; and then
when up they let in the rain, and dust devils blew
parts of the houses down. The health and comfort
of officers in the King's African Rifles seem of very
secondary consideration.

When I was ill in one of them, two or three


Officer Commanding 1st K.A. Rifles

To fact p. 20 Photo by Capt. C. li. Bacon

Officers' Quarters and Mess, Nairobi


doctors told me that, if a board were held, they
were all ready to condemn them as uni&t, but —
where was the money to come from to build others,
or even to improve those already up ? So the
question was passed over.



Early history — its harbours — inhabitants — shops — natives.

Almost the whole history of Mombasa, as far back
as we have knowledge, is written in one word, and
that the native name for it " Mvita " (Battle). In
the fourteenth century Arabs visited the place,
later in the fifteenth century the Portuguese.

Vasco da Gama is still brought to one's notice
in the names of the streets.

For some time struggles occurred between the
old residents and the Portuguese, who took formal
possession in 1508. At intervals Mombasa was
besieged, burnt to the ground, built up again, razed
to the ground afresh, and so on.

The Portuguese built the old fort in 1595 called
Jesus Fort, in the centre of the town, and by its
aid kept peace for a time. However, it was taken
through trickery by the Arabs, who kept it for a

Another fort was built before this in 1588,
facing the sea at one end of Mombasa, during the
Turkish invasion, which the Portuguese turned



into a chapel, but which was finally made into a
fort again by the Arabs.

But to return to the Portuguese fort, it was
repaired in 1635 by the Portuguese, and the in-
scription with date is still on it. However, by the
end of the seventeenth century, the Portuguese
and many natives took refuge in it, the town being
occupied by the Arabs ; they held out for some
time till plague broke out among them, which
killed most of the Europeans. After holding out
for two years, the Arabs entered the fort and
killed the few remaining members of the garrison.
This was the last connection that the Portuguese
had with the island.

Even now peace did not reign, for two parties
of Arabs were continually disputing ; and this
went on till Seyyid Said Imaum of Muskat settled
in Zanzibar, but after his death his sons quarrelled,
and England was called upon to arbitrate. Zanzi-
bar, including the African coast-line possessions,
and Mombasa were made independent of Muscat
and have been so ever since. However, later in
1887 the British East African Association leased
the coast-land from Seyyid Barghash, but now it
forms part of the British Protectorate, the Govern-
ment paying an annual rental to the Government
of Zanzibar.

But to speak again of Mombasa itself, it is an
island, with two excellent harbours to the north



and to the south ; namely, Mombasa harbour, and
Kilindini (the deep place). The latter is by far
the larger and best suited to ships of any size ; only
a few of the smaller boats anchor in Mombasa har-

A strange cosmopolitan mixture of individuals
lives in Mombasa, the old half-caste natives now
called Swahihs, their old rulers the Arabs, Indians,
including old Portuguese subjects from Goa,
Parsis, Hindus and Mohammedans, and last but
not least, the Europeans.

These last have built their houses, especially
those belonging to Government, by the sea, so as
to get a more or less continual breeze, away from
the town and all along a fine road running to Kilin-
dini harbour where also are the old quarters of
the King's African Rifles, when the 3rd Battalion
was stationed at Mombasa.

The Arab quarter is near the northern harbour,
and is unhealthy, but is very quaint and pretty,
threaded by little lines of trolley cars. The Indian
quarter is more inland.

The water comes from deep stone-lined wells,
dug about the island ; it is a pity it cannot be
brought from the mainland, as in case of an epi-
demic the wells would be dangerous. Zanzibar is
supplied with water brought in pipes two or three
miles, though the natives still like using their old
wells, thinking the water better.



Mombasa can boa,st of a cathedral, a Parsi fire
temple, Mohammedan mosques and a Hindu
temple. When I first went to Mombasa, the pri-
vate trolleys already mentioned ran along lines
connecting all the outlying houses with the town
and the Sports Club, but on a later visit there were
public trolleys, for which one took tickets, and
many more public rickshaws.

The shops kept by Goanese are the usual
"stores" where anything can be bought, from a
needle to a bath, and from a suit of clothes to
French novels. There are some Indian shops,
but not equal to those in Zanzibar. The former
all seemed to bear the name of "de Sousa," pre-
ceded by different initials or Christian names, or
else they were called the " English " or " Mom-
basa " or " Colonial Stores ". This I found also in
Nairobi and Zanzibar.

As I gazed from our hotel verandah on the
bright scene of sunlight and colour and white build-
ings, I felt I had touched the East indeed, but at
first, with my untrained eye, I could not distinguish
a native from an Indian child, nor anything else
coloured. There is such a medley of Somalis, up-
country natives, Swahilis, Indians, Goanese and
Arabs. However after a few months' residence up
country, I could distinguish all these at a glance,
and not only that, but one tribe from another of
those with which I had come in contact, such as



Masai, Wakikuyu and Wakamba, until they get
partly civilised and partially clothed.

It seemed warm, but not unbearable, when we
arrived at Mombasa at the end of August ; in fact
quite cool after the terrific heat of the Red Sea,
July and August being the hottest months for the
sea. But the sun in Mombasa in the middle of
the day is very hot, and it is distinctly unwise for a
woman to walk about in it then, if she wishes to
avoid fever. I remember remarking how the still-
ness of the evening strikes one, broken as it is by
the sound of countless insects, and it seems very
peaceful. One night I was awakened by the voices
of men, singing and laughing loudly ; next morning,
in my ignorance, I remarked what a lot of noise
some natives made in the night. At two in the
morning natives are quiet, unless they have an
Ngoma (dance) on, and the rowdy crowd I heard
was a merry party of bachelors and grass-widowers
returning from a dinner at the club, having drunk
more deeply than wisely perhaps. I had yet to
learn the tremendous barrel-like capacity which
residence in the tropics, added to habit, creates in

The hotels of Africa are not remarkable for
great comfort, though the one in Mombasa at which
we stayed was fairly good, and meals were taken
in a pleasant manner on a sort of verandah roof.

An officer who came out on the same boat with



us, and who was going to Uganda to join the 4th
Battalion King's African Rifles, kindly lent my
husband two Arabic grammars by Green, until he
could get his own, as he has quite a mania for
studying languages. However, this man amused us
by saying that he wrote home to his sister for
" Green's Arabic," and after waiting two months or
so, he received a little packet of gum arable with a
letter expressing surprise that he should want it.
Since then we have received a letter from him and
are now not surprised at his sister's mistake.




Engaging Baruku — the Swahili's descent — their characteristics —
wearing apparel — the changing fashions — medicine- men —

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