David Livingstone.

Livingstone's travels and researches in South Africa : including a sketch of sixteen years' residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast, thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi to the eastern ocean online

. (page 11 of 36)
Online LibraryDavid LivingstoneLivingstone's travels and researches in South Africa : including a sketch of sixteen years' residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast, thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi to the eastern ocean → online text (page 11 of 36)
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according as he desired favors to be conferred in undertak-
ing hewing, agriculture, or fighting. The people still living
there, in charge of these articles, were supported by presents
fi'om the chief; and the Makololo sometimes follow the ex-
ample. This was the nearest approach to a priesthood I
met. When I asked them to part with one of these relics,
they replied, " Oh, no : he refuses.'' " Who refuses ?" *' San-
turu," was their reply, showing their belief in a future state
of existence. After explaining to them, as I always did
when opportunity offered, the nature of true worship, and
praying with them in the simple form which needs no
offering from the worshipper except that of the heart, and
planting some fruit-tree seeds in the grove, we departed.

Another incident, w^hich occurred at the confluence of
the Leeba and Leeambye, may be mentioned here, as show-
ing a more vivid perception of the existence of spiritual
beings, and greater proneness to worship, than among the
Bechuanas. Having taken lunar observations in the morn-
ing, I was waiting for a meridian altitude of the sun for
the latitude; my chief boatman was sitting by, in order to
pack up the instruments as soon as I had finished ; there
was a large halo, about 20° in diameter, round the sun ;
thinking that the humidity of the atmosphere, which this
indicated, might betoken rain, I asked him if his experience
did not lead him to the same view. " Oh, no," replied he;
*^ it is the Barimo, [gods or departed spirits,] who have
called a picho; don't you see they have the Lord [sun] in
the centre 'i"

While still at Naliele, I walked out to Katongo, (lat. 15°

16' U3",) on the ridge which bounds the valley of the Barotse

in that direction, and found it covered with trees. It is

only the commencement of the lands which are never



iTJundated; their gentle rise from the dead level of the
valley much resembles the edge of the Desert in the valley
of the Nile.

I imagined the slight elevation (Katongo) might be
healthy, but was informed that no part of this region is
exempt from fever. When the waters begin to retire from
this valley, such masses of decayed vegetation and mud
are exposed to the torrid sun that even the natives suffer
severely from attacks of fever. The grass is so rank in
its growth that one cannot see the black alluvial soil of
the bottom of this periodical lake. Even when the grass
falls down in winter, or is "laid'' by its own weight, one ia
obliged to lift the feet so high, to avoid being tripped up
by it, as to make walking excessively fatiguing. Young
leches are hidden beneath it by their dams; and the Mako-
lolo youth complain of being unable to run in the Barotso
land on this account. There was evidently no healthy
spot in this quarter; and, the current of the river being
about four and a half miles per hour, (one hundred yards
in sixty seconds,) I imagined we might find what we needed
in the higher lands, from which the river seemed to come.
I resolved, therefore, to go to the utmost limits of the Ba-
rotse country before coming to a final conclusion. Katongo
was the best place we had seen ; but, in order to accomplish
a complete examination, I left Sekeletu at JSTaliele, and
ascended the river. He furnished me with men, besides
my rowers, and among the rest a herald, that I might
enter his villages in what is considered a dignified manner.
This, it was supposed, would be effected by the herald
shouting out, at the top of his voice, "Here comes the lord,
the great lion;" the latter phrase being "tau e tona,''
which, in his imperfect way of pronunciation, became
"sau e tona," and so like "the great sow" that I could not
receive the honor with becoming gravity, and had to
entreat him, much to the annoyance of my party, to be

In our ascent we visited a number of Makololo villages.


and were always received with a hearty welcome, as mes-
sengers to them of peace, which they term ^^ sleep/' They
behave well in public meetings, even on the first occasion
of attendance, probahly from the habit of commanding the
Makalaka, crowds of whom swarm in every village, and
whom the Makololo women seem to consider as especially
under their charge:

The river presents the same appearance of low banks
without trees as we have remarked it had after we came
to 16° 16', until we arrive at Libonta, (14° 59' S. lat.)
Twenty miles beyond that, we find forests down to the
water's edge, and tsetse. Here I might have turned back,
as no locality can be inhabited by Euroj^eans where that
scourge exists; but, hearing that we were not far from
the confluence of the river of Londa or Lunda, named Leeba
or Loiba, and the chiefs of that country being reported to
be friendly to strangers, and therefore likely to be of use
to me on my return from the west coast, I still pushed on
to latitude 14° 11' 2" S. There the Leeambye assumes the
name Kabompo, and seems to be coming from the east. It
is a fine large river, about three hundred yards wide, and
the Leeba two hundred and fifty. The Loeti, a branch of
which is called Langebongo, comes from W.N.W., through
a level grassy plain named Mango j it is about one hundred
yards wide, and enters the Leeambye from the west ; the
waters of the Loeti are of a light color, and those of the
Leeba of a dark mossy hue. After the Loeti joins the
Leeambye, the diiferent-colored waters flow side by side for
some distance unmixed.

Before reaching the Loeti, we came to a number of people
from the Lobale region, hunting hippopotami. They fled
■precipitately as soon as they saw the Makololo, leaving
their canoes and all their utensils and clothing. My own
Makalaka, who were accustomed to plunder wherever they
went, rushed after them like furies, totally regardless of
my shouting. As this proceeding would have destroyed
my character entirely at Lobale, I took my stand on a~


cominanding position as they returned, and forced them to
lay dowQ all the plunder on a sand-bank, and leave it there
for its lawful owners.

It was now quite evident that no healthy location could
be obtained in which the Makololo would be allowed to live
in peace. 1 nad thus a fair excuse, if I had chosen to avail
myself of it, of coming home and saying that the " door
was shut," because the Lord's time had not yet come. But
believing that it was my duty to devote some portion of
my life to these (to me at least) very confiding and affec-
tionate Makololo, I resolved to follow out the second part
of my plan, though I had failed in accomplishing the first.
The Leeba seemed to come from the 'N. and by W., or
N.N.'W. ; so, having an old Portuguese map, which pointed
out the Coanza as rising from the middle of the continent
in 9° S. lat., I thought it probable that, when we had as-
cended the Leeba (from 14° 11') two or three degrees, we
should then be within one hundred and twenty miles of
the Coanza, and find no difficulty in following it down to
the coast near Loanda. This was the logical deduction;
but, as is the case with many a plausible theory, one of
the premises was decidedly defective. The Coanza, as we
afterward found, does not come from anywhere near the
centre of the country.

The numbers of large game above Libonta are prodigious,
and they proved remarkably tame. Eighty-one buffaloes
defiled in slow procession before our fire one evening, within
gunshot; and herds of splendid elands stood by day, with-
out fear, at two hundred yards' distance. They were all of
the striped variety, and, with their forearm markings, large
dewlaps, and sleek skins, were a beautiful sight to see.
The lions here roar much more than in the country near
the lake, Zouga, and Chobe. One evening we had a good
opportunity of hearing the utmost exertions the animal
can make in that line. We had made our beds on a larjre
Band-bank, and could be easily seen from all sides. A lion
on the opposite shore amused himself for hours by roaring


as loudly as he could, putting, as is usual in such cases, hia
mouth near the ground, to make the sound reverberate.
The river was too broad for a ball to reach him, so we let
him enjoy himself, certain that he durst not have been
guilty of the impertinence in the Bushman country.
Wherever the game abounds, these animals exist in pro-
portionate numbers. Here they were very frequently seen,
and two of the largest I ever saw seemed about as tall as
common donkeys; but the mane made their bodies appear
rather larger.

A party of Arabs from Zanzibar were in the country at
this time. Sekeletu had gone from Naliele to the town of
his mother before we arrived from the north, but left an ox
for our use, and instructions for us to follow him thither.
We came down a branch of the Leeambye called Marile,
which departs from the main river in latitude 15° 15' 43'' S.,
and is a fine deep stream about sixty yards wide. It makes
the whole of the country around Naliele an island. When
sleeping at a village in the same latitude as JSTaliele town,
two of the Arabs mentioned made their appearance. They
were quite as dark as the Makololo, but, having their heads
shaved, I could not compare their hair with that of the
inhabitants of the country. When we were about to leave,
they came to bid adieu; but I asked them to stay and
help us to eat our ox. As they had scruples about eating
an animal not blooded in their own way, I gained their
good-will by saying I was quite of their opinion as to
getting quit of the blood, and gave them two legs of an
animal slaughtered by themselves. They professed the
greatest detestation of the Portuguese, " because they eat
pigs;'' and disliked the English, " because they thrash them
foi selling slaves.'' I was silent about pork; though, had
they seen me at a hippopotamus two days afterward, they
would have set me down as being as much a heretic as any
of that nation ; but I ventured to tell them that I agreed
with the English, that it was better to let the children

glow up and comfort their mothers when they became old,



than to carry them away and sell them across the sea,
This they never attempt to justify 3 ^'they want them only
to cultivate the land, and take care of them as their chil-
dren/' It is the same old story, justifyiag a monstrous
wi-ong on pretence of taking care of those degraded por-
tions of humanity which cannot take care of themselves;
doing evil that good may come.

These Arabs, or Moors, could read and write their own
language readily; and, when speaking about our Savior, I
admired the boldness with which they informed me "that
Christ was a very good prophet, but Mohammed was far
greater.'' And with respect to theii loathing of pork, it
may have some foundation in their nature; for I have
known Bechuanas who had no prejudice against the wild
animal, and ate the tame without scruple, yet, unconscioufl
of any cause of disgust, vomit it again. The Bechuanas
south of the lake have a prejudice against eating fish, and
allege a disgust to eating any thing like a serpent. This
may arise from the remnants of serj^ent-worship floating in
their minds, as, in addition to this horror of eating such
animals, they sometimes render a sort of obeisance to
living serpents by clapping their hands to them, and re-
fuisng to destroy the reptiles ; but in the case of the hog
they are conscious of no superstitious feeling.

Having parted with our Arab friends, we proceeded down
the Marile till we re-entered the Leeambye, and went to
the town of Ma-Sekeletu (mother of Sekeletu,) opposite the
island of Loyela. Sekeletu had always supplied me most
liberally with food, and, as soon as I arrived, presented mo
with a pot of boiled meat, while his mother handed me a
large jar of butter, of which they make great quantities
for the purpose of anointing their bodies. He had himself
sometimes felt the benefit of my way of putting aside a
quantity of the meat after a meal, and had now followed
my example by ordering some to be kept forme. Accord-
ing to their habits, every particle of an ox is devoured at
one meal; and as the chief cannot; without a deviation


Irom their customs, eat alone, he is often compelled to suffer
severely from hunger before another meal is ready. We
henceforth always worked into each other's hands by sav-
ing a little for each other; and when some of the sticklers
for use and custom grumbled, I advised them to eat like
men, and not like vultures.

As this was the first visit which Sekeletu had paid to this
part of his dominions, it was to many a season of great joy.
The head-men of each village presented oxen, milk, and
beer, more than the horde which accompanied him could
devour, though their abilities in that line are something
wonderful. The people usually show their joy and work
off their excitement in dances and songs.

As Sekeletfi had been waiting for me at his mother's, we
left the town as soon as I arrived, and proceeded down the
river. Our speed with the stream was very great, for in
one day we went from Litofe to Gonye, a distance of forty-
four miles of latitude; and if we add to this the windings
of the river, in longitude the distance will not be much less
than sixty geographical miles. At this rate we soon
reached Sesheke, and then the town of Linyanti.,

1 had been, during a nine weeks' tour, in closer contact
with heathenism than I had ever been before; and though
all, including the chief, were as kind and attentive to me
as possible, and there was no want of food, (oxen being
slaughtered daily, sometimes ten at a time, more than suf-
ficient for the wants of all,) yet to endure the dancing,
roaring, and singing, the jesting, anecdotes, grumbling,
quarrelling, and murdering of these children of nature,
seemed more like a severe penance than any thing I had
before met with in the course of my missionary duties. I
took thence a more intense disgust at heathenism than I
had before, and formed a greatly-elevated opinion of the
latent effects of missions in the south, among tribes which
are reported to have been as savage as the Makololo. The
mdirect benefits which, to a casual observer, lie beneath the
surface and are inax)preciable, in reference to the probable


wide diffusion of Christianity at some future time, are
worth all the money and labor that have b^en expended
to produce them.




LiNTANTi, September J 1853. — The object proposed to the
Makololo seemed so desirable that it was resolved to proceed
with it as soon as the cooling influence of the rains should
be felt in November. The longitude and latitude of Lin-
yanti (lat. 18° 17' 20'^ S., long. 23° 50' 9" E.) showed that
St. Philip de Benguela was much nearer to us than
Loanda; and I might have easily made arrangements
with the Mambari to allow me to accompany them as far
as Bihe, which is on the road to that port; but it is so
undesirable to travel in a path once trodden by slave-
traders that I preferred to find out another line of march.

Accordingly, men were sent at my suggestion to examine
all the country to the west, to see if any belt of country
free from tsetse could be found to afford us an outlet. The
search was fruitless. The town and district of Linyanti
are surrounded by forests infested by this poisonous insect,
except at a few points, as that by which we entered at
Sanshureh and another at Sesheke. But the lands both
east and west of the Barotse valley are free from this
insect-plague. There, however, the slave-trade had defiled
the path, and no one ought to follow in its wake unless
well armed. The Mambari had informed me that many
English lived at Loanda; so I prepared to go thither. The
prospect of meeting with countrymen seemed to over-
balance the toils of the longer march.

A "ricno:" its results. 129

A "picho" was called to deliberate on the steps proposed.
[n these assemblies great freedom of speech is allowed •
ind on this occasion one of the old diviners said, '^ Where
s he taking you to ? This white man is throwing you
iway. Your garments already smell of blood.'' It is
curious to observe how much identity of character appears
all over the world. This man was a noted croaker. Ho
always dreamed something dreadful in every expedition,
and was certain that an eclipse or comet betokened the
propriety of flight. But Sebituane formerly set his visions
down to cowardice, and Sekeletu only laughed at him now.
The general voice was in my favor; so a band of twenty-
seven were appointed to accompany me to the west.
These men were not hired, but sent to enable me to
accomplish an object as much desired by the chief and
most of his people as by me. They were eager to obtain
free and profitable trade with white men. The prices
which the Cape merchants could give, after defraying the
great expenses of a long journey hither, being very small,
made it scarce worth while for the natives to collect pro-
duce for that market ; and the Mambari, giving only a few
bits of print and baize for elephants' tusks worth more
pounds than they gave yards of cloth, had produced the
belief that trade with them was throwing ivory away.
The desire of the Makololo for direct trade with the sea-
coast coincided exactly with my own conviction that no
permanent elevation of a people can be effected without
commerce. Neither could there be a permanent mission
here, unless the missionaries should descend to the level of
the Makololo, for even at Kolobeng we found that traders
demanded three or four times the price of the articles we
needed, and expected us to be grateful to them besides for
letting us have them at all.

The thrqfemen whom I had brought from Kuruman ha.l
frequent relapses of the fever; so, finding that instead" of
serving me I had to wait on them, I decided that they
ehould return to the south with Fleming as soon as he had


finished his trading. I was then entirely dependent on
my twenty-seven men, whom I might name Zambesians,
for there were two Makololo only, while the rest eon-
eisted of Barotse, Batoka, Bashubia, and two of the Am-

The fever had caused considerable weakness in my owa
frame, and a strange giddiness when I looked up suddenly
to any celestial object, for every thing seemed to rush
to the left, and if I did not catch hold of some object
I fell heavily on the ground : something resembling a
gush of bile along the duct from the liver caused the
same fit to occur at night, whenever I turned suddenly

The Makololo now put the question, "In the event of
your death, will not the white people blame us for having
allowed you to go away into an unhealthy, unknown
country of enemies ?" I replied that none of my friends
would blame them, because I would leave a book with
Sekeletu, to be sent to Mr. Moffat in case I did not return,
which would explain to him all that had happened until
the time of my departure. The book was a volume of my
J ournal ; and, as I was detained longer than I expected at
Loanda, this book, with a letter, was delivered by Sekeletu
to a trader, and I have been unable to trace it. I regret
this now, as it contained valuable notes on the habits of
wild animals, and the request was made in the letter to
convey the volume to my family. The prospect of passing
away from this fair and beautiful world thus came before
me in a pretty plain, matter-of-fact form, and it did seem
a serious thing to leave wife and children, — to break up all
connection with earth and enter on an untried state of
existence ; and I find myself in my journal pondering over
that fearful migration which lands us in eternity, wonder-
ing whether an angel will soothe the fluttering soul, sadly
flurried as it must be on entering the spirit-world, and
hoping that Jesus might speak but one word of peace, for
that would establish iu the bosom an everlasting calm*


But, as I bad always believed that, if we serve God at all,
it ought to be done in a manly way, I wrote to my
brother, commending our little girl to his care, as I was
determined to " succeed or perish'' in the attempt to open
op^^this part of Africa. The Boers, by taking possession
of all my goods, had saved me the trouble of making a
will; and, considering the light heart now left in mj
bosom, and some faint efforts to perform the duty of Chris-
tian forgiveness, I felt that it was better to be the plun-
dered party than one of the plunderers.

When I committed the wagon and remaining goods to
the care of the Makololo, they took all the articles except
one box into their huts; and two warriors — Ponuane and
Mahale — brought forward each a fine heifer-calf. After
performing a number of warlike evolutions, they asked
the chief to witness the agreement made between them,
that whoever of the two should kill a Matebelo warrior
first, in defence of the wagon, should possess both the

I had three muskets for my people, a rifle and a double-
barrelled smooth-bore for myself; and, having seen such
great abundance of game in my visit to the Leeba, I
imagined that I could easily supply the wants of my
party Wishing also to avoid the discouragement which
would naturally be felt on meeting any obstacles if my
companions were obliged to carry heavy loads, I took only
a few biscuits, a few pounds of tea and sugar, and about
twenty of coffee, which, as the Arabs find, though used
without either milk or sugar, is a most refreshing beverage
after fatigue or exposure to the sun. We carried one small
tin^ canister, about fifteen inches square, filled with spare
shirting, trousers, and shoes, to be used when we reached
civilized life, and others in a bag, which were expected to
wear out on the way ; another of the same size for medi-
cines ; and a third for books, my stock being a Nautical
Almanac, Thomson's Logarithm Tables, and a Bible; a
fourth box contained a magic lantern, whioh we found of


much use. The sextant and artificial horizon, thermo-
meter, and compasses were carried apart. My ammuni-
tion was distributed in portions through the whole lug-
gage; so that, if an accident should befall one part, we
could still have others to fall back upon. Our chief hopes
for food were upon that; but, in case of failure, I took
about twenty pounds of beads, worth forty shillings, which
still remained in the stock I brought from Cape Town, a
small gypsy tent, just sufficient to sleep in, a sheep-skin
mantle as a blanket, and a horse-rug as a bed. As I had
always found that the art of successful travel consisted in
taking as few "impediments" as possible, and not for-
getting to carry my wits about me, the outfit was rather
spare, and intended to be still more so when we should
come to leave the canoes. Some would consider it inju-
dicious to adopt this plan; but I had a secret conviction
that, if I did not succeed, it would not bo for want of the
" knick-knacks'' advertised as indispensable for travellers,
but from want of "pluck," or because a large array of
baggage excited the cupidity of the tribes through whose
country we wished to pass.

The instruments I carried, though few, were the best of
their kind. A sextant, by the famed makej-s Troughton
and Sims, of Fleet Street; a chronometer watch, with a
stop to the seconds-haad, — an admirable contrivance for
enabling a person to take the exact time of observations,
it was constructed by Dent, of the Strand, (61,) for the
Koyal Geographical Society, and selected for the service
hy the President, Admiral Smythe, to whose judgment and
kindness I am in this and other matters deeply indebted.
It was pronounced by Mr. Maclear to equal most chrono-
meters in performance. For these excellent instruments 1
have much pleasure in recording my obligations to my
good friend Colonel Steel, and at the same time to Mr.
Maclear for much of my ability to use them. Besides
these, I had a thermometer by DoUond ; a compass from
the Cape Observatory, and a small pocket one in addition ;


a good small telescope with a stand capable of being
screwed into a tree.

11th of November, 1853. — Left the town of Linjanti,
accompanied by Sekeletii and his principal men, to embark
on the Chobe. The chief came to the river in order to see
that all was right at parting. We crossed five branches
of the Chobe before reaching the main stream : this

Online LibraryDavid LivingstoneLivingstone's travels and researches in South Africa : including a sketch of sixteen years' residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast, thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi to the eastern ocean → online text (page 11 of 36)