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 14 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 14 of 36)
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and frizzled by the sun. In proof of what the sun could
do, I compared my own bronzed flice and hands, then about
the same in complexion as the lighter-colored Makololo,
with the white skin of my chest. They readily believed
that, as they go nearly naked and fully exposed to that
influence, we might be of common origin after all. Here,
as everywhere when heat and moisture are combined, the
people are very dark, but not quite black. There is always
a shade of brown in the most deeply colored. I showed
my watch and pocket-compass, which are considered great
curiosities ; but, though the lady was called on by her hus-
band to look, she would not be persuaded to approach near

These people are more superstitious than any we had
et encountered : though still only building their village,
they had found time to erect two little sheds at the chief
dwelling in it, in which were placed two pots having charms
in them. AYhen asked what medicine they contained, they
replied, "Medicine for the Barimo;'^ but when I rose and
looked into them they said they were medicine for the
game. Here we saw the first evidence of the existence of
idolatry, in the remains of an old idol at a deserted village.
It was simply a human head carved on a block of wood.
Certain charms mixed with red ochre and white pipe-clay
are dotted over them when they are in use ; and a crooked
slick is used in the same way for an idol when they have
no professional carver.

As the Leeba seemed still to come from the direction in
«vhich we wished to go, I was desirous of proceeding far-
ther up with the canoes; but Nyamoana was anxious that
we should allow her people to conduct us to her brother
Bhinte; and; when I explained to her the advantage of



water-carriage, she represented that her brother did no|
live near the river, and, moreover, there was a cataract in
front, over w^hich it would be difficult to convey the canoes
She was afraid, too, that the Balobale, whose country lies
to the west of the river, not knowing the objects forw^hich
we bad come, would kill us. To my reply that 1 had been
so often threatened with death if I visited a new trito
that I was now more afraid of killing any one than of
being killed, she rejoined that the Balobale would not kill
me, but the Makololo would all be sacrificed as their ene-
mies. This produced considerable effect on my companions,
and inclined them to the j^lan of Nyamoana, of going to
the town of her brother rather than ascending the Leeba.
The arrival of Manenko herself on the scene threw so
much weight into the scale on their side that I was forced
to yield the point.

Manenko was a tall, strapping woman about twenty, dis-
tinguished by a profusion of ornaments and medicines hung
round her person; the latter are supposed to act as charms.
Her body was smeared all over with a mixture of fat and
red ochre, as a protection against the weather; a necessary
precaution, for, like most of the Balonda ladies, she waa
otherwise in a state of frightful nudity. This was not from
want of clothing; for, being a chief, she might have been
as well clad as any of her subjects, but from her peculiar
ideas of elegance in dress. When she arrived with her
husband, Sambanza, they listened for some time to th€
statements I was making to the people of Nyamoana, aftei
which the husband, acting as spokesman, commenced an
oration, stating the reasons for their coming ; and, during
every two or three seconds of the delivery, he picked up a
little sand and rubbed it on the upper part of h^s arms
and chest. This is a common mode of salutation in Londa;
and when they wish to be excessively pohte they bring
a quantity of ashes or pipe-clay in a piece of skin, and,
taking up handfuls, rub it on the chest and upper front
part of each arm; others, in saluting, drum their ribs witb


their elbows ; while others still touch the ground with one
cheek after the other, and clap their hands. The chiefs go
through the manoeuvre of rubbing the sand on the arms,
but only make a feint of picking up some. When Sam-
banza had finished his oration, he rose up and showed his
ankles ornamented with a bundle of copper rings : had
they been very heavy they would have made him adopt a
straggling walk. Some chiefs have really so many as to be
forced, by ^he weight and size, to keep one foot apart from
the other, the weight being a serious inconvenience in
walking. The gentlemen like Sambanza, who wish to
imitate their betters, do so in their walk; so you see men
with only a few ounces of ornament on their legs struttmg
along as if tliey had double the number of pounds. When
I smiled at Sambanza's walk, the people remarked, " That
is the way in which they show oif their lordship in these

Manenko was quite decided in the adoption of the policy
of friendship with the Makololo which we recommended ;
and, by way of cementing the bond, she and her coun-
sellors proposed that Kolimbota should take a wife among
them. Kolimbota, I found, thought favorably of the pro-
position, and it afterward led to his desertion from us.

On the evening of the day in which Manenko arrived^
we were delighted by the appearance of Mosantu and an
imposing embassy fron^ Masiko. It consisted of all his
under-chiefs; and they brought a fine elephant's tusk, two
calabashes of honey, and a large piece of blue baize, as a
present. The last was intended perhaps to show mo that
he was a truly great chief, who had such stores of white
men's goods at hand that he could afford to give presents
of them ; it might also be intended for Mosantu, for chiefs
usually remember the servants : I gave it to him. Masiko
expressed delight, by his principal men, at the return of
the captives, and at the proposal of peace and alliance
with the Makololo. He stated that he never sold any of
Lis own people to the Mambari, bu^. only captives whona


his people kidnapped from small neighboring tribes. WheD
the question was put whether his people had been in
the habit of molesting the Makololo by kidnapping their
servants and stealing canoes, it was admitted that two
of his men, when hunting, had gone to the Makololo
gardens, to see if any of their relatives were there. As
the great object in all native disputes is to get both parties
to turn over a new leaf, I explained the desirableness of
forgetting past feuds, accepting the present Makololo pro-
fessions as genuine, and avoiding in future to give them
any cause for marauding. I presented Masiko with an ox
furnished by Sekeletu as provision for ourselves.

We were now without any provisions, except a small
dole of manioc-roots each evening from JSTyamoana, which,
when eaten raw, produce poisonous effects. A small loaf,
made from nearly the last morsel of maize-meal from Li-
bonta, was my stock, and our friends from Masiko were
still more destitute ; yet we all rejoiced so much at their
arrival that we resolved to spend a day with them. The
Barotse of our party, meeting with relatives and friends
among the Barotse of Masiko, had many old tales to tell ;
and, after pleasant hungry converse by day, we regaled
our friends with the magic lantern by night ; and, in order
to make the thing of use to all, we removed our camp up
to the village of Nyamoana. This is a good means of
arresting the attention and conveying important facts to
the minds of these people.

When erecting our sheds at the village, Manenko fell
upon our friends from Masiko in a way that left no doubt
on our minds but that she is a most accomplished scold.
Masiko had, on a former occasion, sent to Samoana for
a cloth, — a common way of keeping up intercourse, — and,
after receiving it, sent it back, because it had the appear-
ance of having had "witchcraft-medicine" on it : this waa
a grave offence, and now Manenko had a good excuse for
venting her spleen, the ambassadors having called at her
village and elept in one of the huts without leave. If hei


fairiily was to be suspected of dealing in evil jharms, why
were Masiko's people not to be thought guilty of leaving
the same in her hut? She advanced and receded in true
oratorical style, belaboring her own servants as well for
allowing the offence, and, as usual in more civilized femi-
nine lectures, she leaned over the objects of her ire, and
screamed forth all their faults and failings ever since they
were born, and her despair of ever seeing them become
better until they were all "killed by alligators.'' Masiko's
people followed the plan of receiving this torrent of abuse
in silence, and, as neither we nor they had any thing to
eat, we parted next morning. In reference to Masiko
selling slaves to the Mambari, they promised to explain
the relationship which exists between even the most abject
of his people and our common Father; and that no more
kidnapping ought to be allowed, as he ought to give that
peace and security to the smaller tribes on his eastern
borders which he so much desired to obtain himself from
the Makololo. We promised to return through his town
when we came back from the sea-coast.

Manenko gave us some manioc-roots in the morning,
and had determined to carry our baggage to her uncle's,
Kabompo or Shinte. We had heard a sample of what
she could do with her tongue ; and, as neither my men nor
myself had much inclination to encounter a scolding from
this black Mrs. Caudle, we made ready the packages ; but
fehe came and said the men whom she had ordered for the
service had not yet come : they would arrive to-morrow.
Being on low and disagreeable diet, I felt annoyed at this
further delay, and ordered the packages to be put into the
canoes to proceed up the river without her servants. But
^lanenko was not to be circumvented in this way: sho
came forward with her people, and said her uncle would
be angry if she did not carry forward the tusks and gooda
of Sekeletu, seized the luggage, and declared that she
Hould carry it in spite of me. My men succumbed sooner
X) this petticoat-government than I felt inclined to do, and
L 14»


left me no power j and, being unwilling to encounter hex
tongue, I was moving off to the canoes, when she gave me
a kind explanation, and, with her hand on my shoulder,
put on a motherly look, saying, ^^Now, my little man, just
do as the rest have done." My feelings of annoyance of
course vanished.



11th of January, 1854. — On starting this morning, Samoana
(or rather Nyamoana, for the ladies are the chiefs here)
presented a string of beads, and a shell highly valued
among them, as an atonement for having assisted Manenko,
as they thought, to vex me the day before. They seemed
anxious to avert any evil which might arise from my dis-
pleasure; but, having replied that I never kept my anger
up all night, they were much pleased to see me satisfied.
"We had to cross, in a canoe, a stream which flows past
the village of ISTyamoana. Manenko's doctor waved some
charms over her, and she took some in her hand and on
her body before she ventured upon the water. One of my
men spoke rather loudly when near the doctor^ s basket of
medicines. The doctor reproved him, and always spoke
in a whisper himself, glancing back to the basket as if
afraid of being heard by something therein. So much
superstition is quite unknown in the south, and is men-
tioned here to show the difference in the feelings of this
new peo2)le, and the comparative want of reverence on
these points among Caffres and Bechuanas.

Manenko was accompanied by her husband and her
drummer , the latter continued to thump most vigorously
until a heavy, drizzling mist set in and compelled liim to


desist. Her husband used various incantations and vocife
rations to drive away the rain, but down it poured inces-
santly, and on our Amazon went in the very lightest
marching-order, and at a pace that few of the men could
keep up with. Being on ox-back, I kept pretty close to
our leader, and asked her why she 4i<i not clothe heretlf
during the rain, and learned that it is not considered proper
for a chief to appear effeminate. He or she must always
wear the appearance of robust youth and bear vicissitudes
without wincing. My men, in admiration of her pedestrian
powers, every now and then remarked, " Manenko is a
soldier ;" and, thoroughly wet and cold, we were all glad
when she proposed a halt to prepare our night's lodging
on the banks of a stream.

Next day we passed through a piece of forest so dense that
no one could have penetrated it without an axe. It was
flooded, not by the river, but by the heavy rains which
poured down every day and kept those who had clothing
constantly wet. I observed in this piece of forest a very
strong smell of sulphuretted hydrogen. This I had observed
repeatedly in other parts before. I had attacks of fever
of the intermittent type again and again, in consequence
of repeated drenchings in these unhealthy spots.

On the 11th and 12th we were detained by incessant
rains, and so heavy I never saw the like in the south. I
had a little tapioca and a small quantity of Libonta meal,
which I still reserved for worse times. The patience of
my men under hunger was admirable; the actual want of
the present is never so painful as the thought of getting
nothing in the future. We thought the people of some
large hamlets very niggardly and very independent of their
chiefs, for they gave us and Manenko nothing, though they
had large fields of maize in an eatable state around them.
When she went and kindly begged some for me, they gave
her five ears only. They were subjects of her uncle, and,
had they been Makololo, would have been lavish in theii
gifts to the niece of their chief I suspected that the^


were dependents of some of Shinte's principal men, and
had no power to part with the maize of their masters.

The forests became more dense as we went north. We
travelled much more in the deep gloom of the forest than
in open sunlight. No passage existed on either side of the
narrow path made by the axe. Large climbing plants
entwined themselves around the trunks and branches of
gigantic trees like boa-constrictors, and they often do con-
strict the trees by which they rise, and, killing them, stand
erect themselves. The bark of a fine tree found in abun-
dance here, and called ''motuia/^ is used by the Barotse for
making fish-lines and nets, and the "molompi," so well
adapted for paddles by its lightness and flexibility, was
abundant. There were other trees quite new to my com-
panions : many of them ran up to a height of fifty feet of
one thickness, and without branches.

In these forests we first encountered the artificial bee-
hives so commonly met with all the way from this to
Angola. They consist of about five feet of the bark of a
tree fifteen or eighteen inches in diameter. Two incisions
are made right round the tree at points five feet apart,
then one longitudinal slit from one of these to the other;
the workman next lifts up the bark on each side of this slit,
and detaches it from the trunk, taking care not to break it,
until the whole comes from the tree. The elasticity of the
bark makes it assume the form it ha^ before ; the slit is
sewed or pegged up with wooden pins, and ends made of
coiled grass rope are inserted, one of which has a hole for
the ingress of the bees in the centre, and the hive is com-
plete. These hives are placed in a horizontal position on
high trees in diff'erent parts of the forest, and in this way
all the wax exported from Benguela and Loanda is col-
lected. It is all the produce of free labor. A ^' piece of
medicine" is tied round the trunk of the tree, and proves
Hufiicient protection against thieves. The natives seldom
rob each other, for all believe that certain medicines can
inflict disease and death; and, though they consider that


these are only known to a few, they act on the principle
that it is best to let them all alone. The gloom of theso
forests strengthens the superstitious feelings of the peo]tle.
In other quarters, where they are not subjected to this
influence, I have heard the chiefs issue proclamations t'>
the effect that real witchcraft-medicines had been placed at
certain gardens from which produce had been stolen, the
thieves having risked the power of the ordinary charms
previously placed there.

There was considerable pleasure, in spite of rain and
fever, in this new scenery. The deep gloom contrasted
strongly with the shadeless glare of the Kalahari, which
had left an indelible impression on my memory. Though
drenched day by day at this time, and for months after-
ward, it was long before I could believe that we were
getting too much of a good thing. Nor could I look at
water being thrown away without a slight, quick impres-
sion flitting across the mind that we were guilty of wast-
ing it. Every now and then we emerged from the deep
gloom into a pretty little valley, having a damp portion in
the middle ; which, though now filled with water, at other
times contains moisture enough for wells only. These wells
have shades put over them in the form of little huts.

We crossed, in canoes, a little never-failing stream, which
passes by the name of Lefuje, or " the rapid.'' It comes
from a goodly high mountain, called Monakadzi, (the
woman,) which gladdened our eyes as it rose to our sight
about twenty or thirty miles to the east of our course. It
is of an oblong shape, and seemed at least eight hundred
feet above the plains. The Lefuje probably derives its
name from the rapid descent of the short course it has to
flow from Monakadzi to the Leeba.

The number of little villages seemed about equal to the
number of valleys. At some we stopped and rested, the
people becoming more liberal as we advanced. Others we
found deserted, a sudden panic having seized the inhabit-
aats, though the drum of Nanenko was kept beaten pretty


constantly, in order to give notice of the approach of great
people.. When we had decided to remain for the night at
any village, the inhabitants lent us the roofs of their huts,
which in form resemble those of the Makololo, or a Chimi-
man's hat, and can be taken off the walls at pleasure.
They lifted them off, and brought them to the spot we had
selected as our lodging, and, when my men had propped
them up with stakes, they were then safely housed for the
night. Every one who comes to salute either Manenko or
ourselves rubs the upper parts of the arms and chest with
ashes; those who wish to show profounder reverence put
some also on the face.

We found that every village had its idols near it. This
is the case all through the country of the Balonda, so that,
when we came to an idol in the woods, we always knew
that we were within a quarter of an hour of human habi-
tations. One very ugly idol we passed rested on a hori-
zontal beam placed on two ujoright posts. This beam was
furnished with two loops of cord, as of a chain, to suspend
offerings before it On remarking to my companions that
these idols had ears, but that they heard not, &c., I learned
that the Balonda, and even the Barotse, believe that divina-
tion may be performed by means of these blocks of wood
and clay; and, though the wood itself could not hear, the
owners had medicines by which it could be made to hear
and give responses, so that if an enemy were approaching
they would have full information. Manenko having brought
us to a stand on account of slight indisposition and a desire
to send forward notice of our approach to her uncle, 1
asked why it was necessary to send forward information
of our movements if Shinte had idols who could tell him
Gveiy thing. '^ She did it only,''* was the reply. It is
seldom of much use to show one who worships idols the
folly of idolatry without giving something else as an object

* This is a curious African idiom, by which a person implies he had no
particular reason for his act.


of adoration instead. They do not love them. They fear
them, and betake themselves to their idols only when in
perplexity and danger.

While delayed, by Manonko's management, among the
Balonda villages, a little to the south of the town of
Shinte, we were 'well supplied by the villagers with sweet
potatoes and green maize: Sambanza went to his mother's
village for supplies of other food. I was laboring under
fever, and did not find it very difficult to exercise patience
with her whims; but, it being Saturday, I thought wo
might as well go to the town for Sunday, (15th.) ^'No;
her messenger must return from her uncle first." Being
sure that the answer of the uncle would be favorable, I
thought we might go on at once, and not lose two days in
the same spot. "No : it is our custom;" and every thing
else I could urge was answered in the genuine pertinacious
lady style. She ground some meal for me with her own
hands, and when she brought it told me she had actually
gone to a village and begged corn for the purpose. She
said this with an air as if the inference must be drawn by
even a stupid white man, "I know how to manage, don't
I ?" It was refreshing to get food which could be eaten
without producing the unpleasantness described by the
Eev. John Newton, of St. Mary's, Woolnoth, London,
when obliged to eat the same roots while a slave in the
West Indies. The day, (January 14th,) for a wonder, was
fair, and the sun shone, so as to allow us to dry our cloth-
ing and other goods, many of which were mouldy and
rotten from the long-continued damp. The guns rusted,
in spite of being oiled every evening.

On Sunday afternocm, messengers arrived from Shinte,
expressing his approbation of the objects we had in view
in our journey through the country, and that he was glad
of the prospect of a w^ay being opened by which white
men might visit and allow him to purchase ornaments at
pleasure. Manenko now threatened in 8j)ort to go on, and
[ soon afterward perceived that what now seemed to me


the dilly-dallying way of this lady was the proper moda
of making acquaintance with the Balonda ; and much of
the favor with which I was received in different places
was owing to my sending forward messengers to state the
object of our coming before entering each town and vil-
lage. When we came in sight of a village, we sat down
under the shade of a tree and sent forward a man to give
notice who we were and what were our objects. The head-
man of the village then sent out his principal men, as
Bhinte now did, to bid us welcome and show us a tree
under which we might sleep. Before I had profited by the
rather tedious teaching of Manenko, I sometimes entered
a village and created unintentional alarm. The villagers
would continue to look upon us with suspicion as long as
we remained. Shinte sent us two large baskets of manioc
and six dried fishes. His men had the skin of a monkey,
called in their tongue " poluma," {Colobus guereza,) of a jet-
black color, except the long mane, which is pure white : it
is said to be found in the north, in the country of Mati-
amvo, the paramount chief of all the Balonda. We
learned from them that they are in the habit of praying
to their idols when unsuccessful in killing game or in any
other enterprise. They behaved with reverence at our re-
ligious services. This will appear important if the reader
remembers the almost total want of prayer and reverence
we encountered in the south.

Our friends informed us that Shinte would be highly
honored by the presence of three white men in his town
at once. Two others had sent forward notice of their ap-
proach from another quarter, (the west ;) could it be Barth
or Krapf y How pleasant to meet with Europeans in such
an out-of-the-way region ! The rush of thoughts made me
almost forget my fever. Are they of the same color as I
am? *^Yes; exactly so." And have the same hair ? "la
that hair? we thought it was a wig; we never saw the
like before : this white man must be of the sort that lived
in the sea." Henceforth my men took the hint, and always


eounded my praises as a true specimen of the variety of
white men who live in the sea. ^^Onl}- look at his hair; it
is made quite straight by the sea-water V

I exj^lained to them again and again that, when it was
said we came out of the sea, it did not mean that we came
from beneath the water; but the fiction has been widely

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 14 of 36)