are absolutely no paths inland.
I am making a halt here all to-day to try to buy canoes.
Yesterdaj', by great difficulty, and by sweetly smiling and waving
handkerchiefs, Ave at last induced a someAvhat more enterprising
native to come near us ; he Avas soon followed by others, and
they had promised to bring canoes for sale, and food, and all
sorts of good things. We shall see the result by this evening,
but, if I can get thirty of these little dug-out canoes, I shall
lash them tAvo and tAvo alongside of each other, and Ave shall
SAving doAvn the river at the rate of tAventy miles a day.
G//i October. ā Korokoro country. When I ceased Avriting on
our sand-bank on the 2nd, I Avas hopeful (moderately) of getting
canoes, and of everything going on smoothly, but it is fated in
this really dreadful journey nothing is to go smoothly for more
than one day at a time. On that day we managed to induce
the natives to sell eleven canoes only ā we wanted thirty ā and
neither for love, money, cajolery, nor threats could Ave get any
more. Accordingly, as the banks and the country for miles
inland at that part are absolutely impassable, Ave had to make
a very short journey on the 3rd, and send back the canoes to
bring up the men and loads in relays ; and it Avas no joke to
haA r e to punt and paddle these " dug-outs " back against the
On the 3rd Ave camped on the south bank, Avhere the country
seemed drier and more open inland, so Ave arranged that on the
4th Frank Rhodes should take all the loads into the canoes,
and just enough men to guide them doAvn stream, Avhile I made
my way across country Avith all the unloaded men, and Ave Avere
to try to meet after about five hours' march. This sounded
very Avell, and we had arranged for signal guns to be fired at
certain fixed hours by tAvo parties, but Avhen it came to practice
it Avas a dismal failure. I found after a feAv miles' march that
it Avas quite impossible to keep near the river, Avhich became
THE MISSION TO UGANDA
fringed with an impenetrable belt of swamp and tropical jungle
several miles wide. I had to push on till at last I found a
thinner place, and by cutting and tunnelling our way through
the tangled green wall for half a mile, arrived at the river bank
to find no signs of Rhodes and the canoes. Guns were fired, but
no answer came. It was awfully hot; we had had a long and
tiring march of some eighteen miles over very rough countiy,
and I felt sure Rhodes must have camped farther up stream ; so
after a short rest I left all the men by the river, and started
with three men to struggle up stream again through the jungle.
For 2 1 hours I panted, and crept, and crawled, and ploughed
my way through the most horrible tangle that ever was seen,
till at 4.30 P.M., to my immense relief, one of my signal shots
was answered a long way up the river, and shortly afterwards
the headman with Rhodes's party appeared in a canoe, and
reported that they had been delayed by swampings and acci-
dents, and were camped a long way back, and that it would
be quite impossible to get back to Frank Rhodes before dark.
I therefore jumped into the canoe, and came down by river to
where I had left my men, and bivouacked there for the night.
I had no tent, no food, no clothes, no nothing, and the mos-
quitoes were awful. However, the men had lots of rations of
Indian corn and beans, and there was plenty of good water in
the river, so I was pretty comfortable as far as food was con-
cerned, and by cutting and spreading a few fan-palm leaves on
the ground, managed to get a moderate night in spite of mos-
quitoes ; but I would not advise Europeans, as a rule, to sleep
on the ground in Central Africa just under the Equator on the
bank of a river which overflows periodically. Next morning
Frank and the canoes appeared at 10.30, and meanwhile both
he and I had succeeded in collecting several more canoes and
plenty of food, and were now able to embark the whole party.
So far so good ; but as nothing could go quite right, it
appeared that the day before, Frank had sent out my "boy"
(my chief gun-bearer), who had gone with the canoes in charge
of all my baggage to look for our party, and that he had not
returned ! He had taken one of my rifles with him, by Frank's
order. Frank had naturally thought that Ramadan (the "boy")
had found me and stayed with me, and so had come on to us.
THE KOROKORO DISTRICT 313
Now we had to wait and send out search parties for Ramadan
in all directions, but it was hopeless work in the jungle. We
searched right back to Rhodes's camp, but found no sign.
Meanwhile a porter was reported missing as well. At last it
was decided to be useless to wait, and that the missing men
having lost us would certainly follow the river down. So we
all embarked again, and came on down stream. Yesterday the
body of the missing porter was found floating down the stream,
with his throat cut and gashed all over with spear wounds.
The man had evidently been looking for food, etc., in the native
plantations, and being alone and unarmed had been murdered.
This made us more anxious about Ramadan, who, though not a
particularly plucky one (especially if face to face with a rhino,
when he invariably bolts up a tree with my second gun), is a
good fellow, and has worked well for me ever since we left the
So to-day once more we have waited all day, and sent canoes
up and down stream, and search parties everywhere, but with
no success ! It is useless to wait longer, and to-morrow morning
we must go on. There is still a slight chance that he may have
pushed right past us on land, and that we may see him sitting
on the bank to-morrow waiting for us to pass. If he is sensible
that is what he will have done, but it is, I fear, a very slight
chance. He has one of the porters with him, and also my rifle,
so I don't think the natives will have harmed him unless he tries
to loot for food. This is a lovely camp by the river, under giant
shady trees, but we are really prisoners, with a dense wall of
impenetrable jungle between us and the open country miles
This river is by no means easy navigation for canoes. It is
literally full of snags, sand-banks, and great trees which have been
swept down by the floods, and whose bare branches can be seen
just above the water at frequent intervals ā sometimes as many
as twenty of these sunken trees in half a mile, and with the
water foaming over their branches. The most dangerous are
those that barely show above the surface, and whose branches
are perhaps a few inches below the surface of the water.
Ndura, 15fh Oct. ā I am very sorry to say we have heard and
seen nothing of Ramadan, or of the porter who was with him,
314 THE MISSION TO UGANDA
and can only hope that they are all right, and have got to some
friendly natives, but one can't help feeling that they may have
come to grief in spite of his having my rifle and plenty of
The natives of Korokoro are not by any means a trustworthy
or good lot. I can't quite understand Ramadan, who has been
so many caravan journeys as servant and gun-bearer, being quite
such a duffer as to lose us altogether, and can't help fearing he
may have come to harm.
From daybreak on the 7th till now we have pushed ahead
well in the canoes, and have paddled hard from about 5.30 A.M.
till 2 P.M. every day. Fearfully dull and monotonous work it is,
too, and uncomfortable beyond words, to sit for eight and a half
hours at a stretch in a narrow "dug-out" canoe. Some of the
navigation has been really difficult with the river-bed quite full
of sunken trees (carried up and left by big floods) over which the
water boils and roars in an alarming manner. There have been
several swampings, but I myself have been by far the greatest
sufferer. The canoe, or rather the two canoes, containing all my
worldly goods, tent, clothes, guns, bed, everything, were in charge
of Tembo, who succeeded a few days ago in running them
against a very visible tree trunk sticking right out of the
water. The canoes were capsized, and everything at once went
to the bottom.
Unfortunately just there the river was about twelve feet
deep and very swift. We halted at once, and all the afternoon
made men go on diving, I having offered a high reward for
every box recovered. By this means most of the boxes were
recovered, but all full of water and in a dreadful state. But,
alas ! the things irretrievably lost were just those I valued
most. They were (1st) Mathews' rifle, which he lent me ā a
very excellent and valuable one. (2nd) My bed, so that now
I have always to sleep on the ground. Luckily some blankets
were saved and the mosquito net ! (3rd) All my shooting
trophies ā heads, horns, skins, etc. ā shot since we left Kikuvu.
These I regret as much or more than anything. I had some
very good and rare heads and skins, including those of what I
believe to be two brand-new sorts of antelopes, hitherto never
been shot by any one. It is too annoying for words.
Hutchisson has also been swamped ; has lost his bed and all
his boots, but we shall not have to walk much more.
There has been absolutely no shooting since we got the
canoes, though Frank and I go out religiously every afternoon
and struggle through swamps and thorns. "We have seen just
nothing. It is most fortunate I had a shot-gun, as nearly every
day I have been able to shoot a goose or two, or a water-bird of
some sort, from the canoes, so that we have not been quite
reduced to a diet of beans yet.
Zanzibar, 22nd Oct. ā Arrived all safe and well. "We were
met by Mr. Thompson at the mouth of the Tana, where for two
nights we were simply devoured by mosquitoes in millions,
which made dinner, sleep, and early breakfast periods of utter
horror. Then we marched to Witu, and from thence a twenty-
two mile walk to the head of the long creek, where three dhows
and a steam-launch were waiting to take us to Lamu.
In Witu we met Captain Kogers and General Hatch, and at
last we had a moment of supreme happiness, as we drank off a
bottle of beer apiece (the first for ten months) and ate real fresh
At Lamu the Swallow was waiting, and brought us slowly
down here, where I am horrified to see how terribly ill Rodd
looks. He has been dreadfully bad, and the doctor is most
anxious to get him out of the country at once, so he comes with
us by French mail.
Sir Gerald Portal left Zanzibar for England on
the 4th of November.
Photo by Dcbenliam,
CAPTAIN RAYMOND PORTAL.
DIARY OF CAPTAIN RAYMOND PORTAL
Although the present book only purports to contain
Sir Gerald Portal's own account of his mission to
Uganda, it has been necessarily supplemented with
matter from another hand ; and therefore, when the
Diary of his brother, the late Captain Portal, was
submitted to me, I felt that nothing could be more
appropriate than to include in what has now become
a memorial volume a document which appeared so
fresh, simple, and manly, and to add a few more
words in introduction about one who, in the narrow
circle of his friends, has been so deeply regretted, and
who only needed, as Sir Gerald has said himself, an
opportunity to show the stuff which all his con-
temporaries knew was in him. And if I seem to
some to speak almost with an excess of warmth of
one whose name was perhaps scarcely known to the
public until the news of his untimely death reached
home, I trust that the sincerity of this appreciation
will excuse the form ; and I feel certain that it will
find an echo in the hearts of all his friends.
Captain Raymond Melville Portal, the eldest son
THE MISSION TO UGANDA
of Mr. Melville Portal of Laverstoke, was born on
the 9th of October 1856. He was educated at Eton
and at Balliol, but he left the former early without
having made any particular mark there, and spent
the interval between school and college acquiring
a knowledge of foreign languages in France and
Germany. In these early days, while at Havre, he
was awarded a medal for saving the life of a man
from drowning, a recognition which he always
modestly deprecated as out of proportion to the
service rendered. At Balliol he became distinguished
as the finest athlete of his year, during that brilliant
period between 1870 and 1880 when the college had
as great a reputation on the cricket field and river as
in the schools, and he twice represented Oxford on
the running path in the annual competition with the
sister university for the hundred yards and quarter-
mile races. He also contributed with Grenfell, Mul-
holland, Wickens, and other famous oars, to bring the
Balliol Eight to the head of the river on the last
occasion on which it occupied that proud position.
His inclinations had always been for a military
career, but by the time he had taken his university
degree he had already passed the prescribed limit of
age, and w T as only eligible for a commission in a
West India regiment. He entered Sandhurst after a
very creditable examination, and while there renewed
his Oxford laurels in the athletic contests with Wool-
wich at Lillie Bridge in 1880. Passing out of the
college with honours, he was gazetted a second
lieutenant in the 1st West India Regiment in 1881,
MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN PORTAL
and, after a course of instruction with the 52nd at
Chatham and in Ireland, joined the former in Sierra
Leone. He subsequently served in the West Indies
and in Demerara, and after suffering severely from
the consequences of fevers contracted on the West
Coast, exchanged into the 81st Foot. Then for some
four years he acted as A.D.C. to Sir George Willis
at Portsmouth, and was eventually appointed adju-
tant to the mounted infantry at Aldershot, an
appointment which he still held when Sir Gerald
was enabled to offer him a place on his Uganda staff.
This offer he unhesitatingly accepted, and after barely
a week in which to make the most necessary pre-
parations, he sailed in company with Major Owen
and myself for Zanzibar, not without grave misgivings
on the part of friends, when they learned that one
whose constitution had already been severely tried
by African fever w T as embarking on an enterprise
inevitably fraught with many risks and hardships.
An interval of nearly fifteen years had passed
since he had left me behind at Balliol before we met
on board the s.s. Ava at Marseilles, once more to
spend three weeks in close and daily companionship.
These years had changed him little. He was still the
glorious type of physical manhood we remembered on
the Iffley path ; he still had all the old commanding
sunny charm, his honest, kindly nature beaming through
the eyes. Grave on occasion, reserved, almost shy
with strangers, he was full of a light-hearted humour
among his intimates, and his smile went straight to
the heart ā a man whom men w T ould follow anywhere,
322 THE MISSION TO UGANDA
and who only needed opportunity to lead. He was
the type and pattern of an English gentleman at the
best, calm, sensible and just, generous, simple and
sincere, and his head was as good as his heart.
It was not long before that irresistible charm
which his contemporaries had always recognised in
him made itself felt among his companions on the
Uganda Expedition. No one was so well able to
manage the refractory porter as he was, no one
more patient in the thankless task of keeping the
rearguard up to the mark. All who have returned
hitherto bear common testimony to this ; as in fact
his brother has written, " he was the best of them
all," and there is not one that will grudge him this
It was just as he was preparing to return from
Toru, where he had gone under the circumstances
already narrated, that the fever overpowered him,
and to those who read the following pages it must
appear to have been the inevitable result of the life
he was there doomed to lead. Sick as he was, how-
ever, he started for Kampala with the enlisted
Soudanese whom he had been instructed to brings
down. It was a fortnight's march for a man in
vigorous health, and he, growing daily weaker and
weaker, almost without supplies and medical stores,
absolutely alone as far as human sympathy was
concerned, with his motley crowd of half- drilled
irregulars, his porters, and his native servant almost
a stranger to him, pressed forward with indomitable
pluck day after weary day, until at last he could go
MEMOIR OF CAPTAIN PORTAL
no longer, and the men carried him in a hammock,
right willingly, and doing their honest best for him
as they were able.
A messenger despatched to Kampala brought
news of his critical condition, and Lieutenant Villiers
at once volunteered to go out and meet him, taking
all such comforts and drugs as could be collected.
The rest of the story has been already told. That
last march back to camp had worn him to a shadow.
His strength had ebbed away, and the gallant life was
not to be saved. It was a dark day for that little
band of Englishmen in the heart of Equatorial Africa.
It was a day of sadness for many of us when the
news reached the coast, and up in the Witu forest,
where we were at that time, men who had known
him but slightly during the short period of his
passage through Zanzibar, spoke reverently of his
name, and seemed touched with the shadow of a
personal loss. If he was known to comparatively
few, at least it may be said of him no man died more
beloved by his friends and contemporaries, and many
a tender thought has gone out since over the thousands
of intervening miles towards the green hill in Kampala,
where, before long, an iron cross will mark the distant
grave of one of the finest fellows who ever died in his
country's service, for the Greater England's sake.
324 THE MISSION TO UGANDA
Left England, Sunday, 11th December 1892.
Left Marseilles, Monday, 12th December 1892.
Arrived Zanzibar, Thursday, 29th December 1892.
1st Jan., Sunday. ā Left Zanzibar 5 a.m. in H.M.S. Philomel,
after big dinner night before given us by British residents. Much
speaking, eating, and drinking. Rough sea for two or three
hours, and several distinguished people invisible. Arrived
Mombasa about 4. Went on shore and did a walk with
Roddy. Dinner given by skipper in the evening, also very
big thing. Nice harbour, but didn't see town.
In the last two days everybody has eaten and drunk a very
great deal too much for good walking.
2nd Jan., Monday. ā On shore about 1 1 ; Gerry rowed by
captain and officers of Philomel; salute of guns and cheers of
crew. By tramway about six miles, then four-mile walk to
camp at Mazeras. Everything prepared with greatest comfort
and luxury by Gen. Mathews. Also there, Rogers and Wilson,
of I.B.E.A. Co. ; was rather seedy.
3rd Jan., Tuesday. ā Left about 7. Went with rearguard;
porters rather weak and lazy. Very short march of about five
miles to camp at Muachi. Waste of a day, as we might have
come on here yesterday. Mathews sent on more luxuries ā
champagne, beer, fruit, etc. Water plenty, but beastly. Head-
man seems a fool. He has brought a smart harem of six.
Ath Jan., Wednesday. ā Marched 6.30, minus harem. No
sleep at all for mosquitoes ; thick scrub ; no food or water till
11.30, where water, undrinkable. In rear with Frank and
Berkeley, who is rather ill. Porters very bad ; stoppages every
five minutes ; some of them clean done up. Met parties of
Wa-Nyika; no houses. Camp at 2.30; rather cooked; more
than an hour after the head. Got a wetting.
5th Jan., Thursday. ā Left 6.15. Short march to Samburu,
arrived 11.45 ; just got tents up before heavy storm. Put out
all baths and basins, and got lots of clean water. Berkeley and
Moffat both seedy. Afternoon Villiers arrived from Muachi
with nine porters and pony. Porters good ; pony poor. Went
shooting ; got one guinea-fowl ; saw deer, quail, and pigeon.
ACROSS THE TARO PLAIN 325
6th Jan., Friday. ā -Left 6.20. Got blisters from wet socks.
Did last two hours bare feet. Got through last of good water.
Arrived Toru noon ; rain-water holes. Stopped mail down from
1th Jan., Saturday. ā Started at 12. Feet rather bad. Rode
Villiers' pony to first halt, afterwards got on boots and walked.
Got to Butzuma about 6.30. No water ; went on two miles
farther, and halted four hours. Did nice sleep. The Company
seem to have done nothing to collect water on this plain ; have
cut wide path for twelve miles from Butzuma.
8th Jan., Sunday. ā Started just before midnight ; long and
tiring march. Halted about 6.30. Villiers produced some
much-needed Liebig. Horrible winding path ; men sewn up.
Head of caravan got to Maungu about 9, tail not till after 2 ;
the last bit very tiring. On getting to top of ridge the finest
view I ever saw. Unfortunately water one hour up the moun-
tain, so got very little and no bath. Rather seedy, slight fever.
Hamilton 1 came in with homeward caravan. This march more
than thirty-four miles, without water and very little food.
9th Jan., Monday. ā Felt bad. Started 6.30. Walked two
hours, then rode. Marago ya Kanga about 12.30 ; lovely camp
under mountain. Looks fine game country ; saw lots of quail,
and tracks of lion, giraffe, hartebeest, etc. Laid up for feet.
They got a few quail.
10th Jan., Tuesday. ā Rest here to-day ; stayed in bed ; others
went out early to get meat for men. Two zebra, one Clarke's
gazelle. Feet better. Villiers brought sugar-cane, not very
good, and a goat ; excellent.
11th Jan., Wednesday. ā Started 6.30. Rode ; beautiful countiy.
Crossed River Voi on foot ; long swamp, long rushes. Camped
far side. Lots of tracks of all sorts, but saw no game.
12th Jan., Thursday. ā Started 6.30. Rode again; sick of it.
Pretty country. Gerry and Villiers on ahead ; got shots at
zebra and hartebeest, no result; halted 11-2. Four men absent
starting ; got three apiece. Roddy, Frank, and G. ahead.
Roddy one Kirhii antelope. Ngorungo M'Buyuni about 5.
13//t Jan., Friday.ā Off at 6. Rode. Halt 11-1. Very hot
1 Of the I.B.E.A. Co.'s service ā killed by Somalis and mutinous garrison
at Tuzki Hill Fort, near Kismayu, August 1893.
326 THE MISSION TO UGANDA
afternoon. Tsavo 4.30. They got a few pigeons. Wretched
place ā one mud hut, with feeble stockade ; nice river, no culti-
vation Avhatever ; a little bit of widened path, the only sign of
improvement by Company except the bit of road over Toru
14th Jan., Saturday. ā Left noon. Eode. Two porters deserted
at Tsavo. Uninteresting country ā low, thick scrub, quartz and
granite. More food at Tsavo, making loads heavier. Much
struggling and very slow. Arrived two hours after the head, at
5.30, at Ngorini ; nasty, dirty place, full of creeping things.
loth Jan., Sunday. ā Left 6.10. Rode; very thick scrub and
jungle ; path nearly grown over. Rear of caravan very bad, all
lame or sick. Camp noon, Kinani ; good big water hole. Got
good view of Kilimanjaro, due west.
16th Jan., Monday. ā Left 6. Walked two hours, then rode.
Camp about 11.30, Mto Ndei ; got on new road about 10.
Moffat still got fever. M'Donald coming down, is camped here
ā dined with us ; gave awful accounts of Uganda. They went
out shooting, but of course got nothing. M'Donald says he got
one mail in nine months.
17th Jan., Tuesday. ā Left at 6. Passed M'Donald at start;
walked to-day about fourteen miles. Still on road, fast being
grown over. Very thick stifling jungle part of the way, then
open plains, good timber and long grass, rather park-like. Camp
Masongole about 12.30. Too much inhabited by Wakamba to
go shooting. Heard leopard.
ISth Jan., Wednesday. ā Left 6.10. Walked about ten miles to
Kibwezi, pretty park-like country ; good road, cleared for the
last two miles. Nice tidy place, and a good deal seems to have
been done in a short time. Mr. Watson gave us milk and
butter on arrival ā great treats. Afternoon had trial shots with
rifles, and filled a few hollow bullets ; result to be seen. Roddy
not well, with tummy ache. Strike among men, headed by
Sudi, about going on. Lots of Wakamba about ; amused them
with burning glass, telescope, etc. Great dinner with Mr.
Watson ā champagne, and all kinds of things.
19th Jan., Thursday. ā Walked on at 7 with Gerry and Frank.
Caravan followed at 1 2. Six miles to Mbwinzao ; bad, rocky road.
Knocked over guinea-fowl with "450, but couldn't find him. F.
ON THE MARCH 327
had a stalk at hartebeest, but missed. Walked miles, had shot
at hartebeest galloping hard, but didn't get him. Large herd,