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 15 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 15 of 36)
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spread in the interior by the Mambari that the real white
n.en lire in the sea, and the myth was too good not to be
taken advantage of by my companions : so, notwithstand-
iDg my injunctions, I believe that, when I was out of hear-
ing, my men always represented themselves as .led by a
genuine merman : "Just see his hair !" If I returned from
walking to a little distance, they would remark of some to
whom they had been holding forth, " These people want tc
see your hair."

As the strangers had woolly hair like themselves. I had
to give up the idea of meeting any thing more European
than two half-caste Portuguese engaged in trading for
slaves, ivory, and bees'-wax.

IQth. — After a short march we came to a most lovely valley
about a mile and a half wide, and stretching away east-
ward up to a low prolongation of Monakadzi. A small
stream meanderj^- down the centre of this pleasant green
glen; and on a little rill^ which flows into it from the
western side, stands the town of Kabompo, or, as he likes
best to be called, Shinte. (Lat. 12° 37' 35" S., long. 22°
47' E.) When Manenko thought the sun was high enough
for us "to make a lucky entrance, we found the town em-
bowered in banana and other tropical trees having great
expansion of leaf; the streets are straight, and present a
complete contrast to those of the Bechuanas, which are all
very tortuous. Here, too, we first saw native huts with
square walls and round roofs. Goats were browsing about,
and, when we made our appearance, a crowd of ne^oes,
all fully armed, ran toward us as if they would eat us up;
some had guns, but the manner in which they were held
showed that the owners were more accustomed to bows


and arrows than to white men's weapons. After surround,
ing and staring at us for an hour, they began to disperse.

The two native Portuguese traders of whom we had heard
had erected a little encampment opposite the place where
ours was about to be made. One of them, whose spine
had Deen injured in youth, — a rare sight in this country, —
came and visited us. I returned the visit next morning.
His tall companion had that sickly yellow hue which made
him look fairer than myself, but his head was covered with
a crop of unmistakable wool. They had a gang of young
female slaves in a chain, hoeing the ground in front of their
encampment to clear it of weeds and grass ; these were
purchased recently in Lobale, whence the traders had now
come. There were many Mambari with them, and the
establishment was conducted with that military order which
pervades all the arrangements of the Portuguese colonists.
A drum was beaten and trumpet sounded at certain hours,
quite in military fashion. It was the first time most of my
men had seen slaves in chains. " They are not men,'' they
exclaimed, (meaning, they are beasts,) ''who treat their
children so."

The Balonda are real negroes, having much more woo)
on their heads and bodies than any of the Bechuana or
Caffre tribes. They are generally very dark in color, but
several are to be seen of a lighter hue ; many of the slaves
who have been exported to Brazil have gone from this
region; but, while they have a general similarity to the
typical negro, I never could, from my own observation,
think that our ideal negro, as seen in tobacconists' shops,
is the true type. A large proportion of the Balonda, indeed,
have heads somewhat elongated backward and upward,
thick lips, flat noses, elongated ossa calces, &c. &c.; but there
are also many good-looking, well-shaped heads and persons
among them.

nth, Tuesday. — We were honored with a grand recep-
tion by Shinto about eleven o'clock. Sambanza claimec
the honor of presenting us, Mancnko being slightly indis-


posed. The native Portngiiese and Mambarl went fally
armed with guns, in order to give Shinte a salute, their
drummer and trumpeter making all the noise that very
old instruments would produce. The kotla, or place of
audience, was about a hundred yards square, and two
graceful specimens of a species of banian stood near one
end ; under one of these sat Shinte, on a sort of throne
covered with a leopard's skin. He had on a checked
jacket and a kilt of scarlet baize edged with green ; many
strings of large beads hung from his neck, and his limbs
were covered wiAh iron and copper armlets and bracelets,
on his head he wore a helmet made of beads woven neatly
together and crov? ned with a great bunch of goose-feathers.
Close to him sat three lads with large sheaves of arrows
over their shoulders.

When we enterev.\ the kotla, the whole of ]\Ianenko's
party saluted Shinte by clapping their hands, and Sam-
banza did obeisance by rubbing his chest and arms with
ashes. One of the trees being unoccupied, I retreated to
it for the sake of the shade, and my whole party did the
same. We were now aboat forty yards from the chief,
and could see the whole ceremony. The different sections
of the tribe came forward in the same way that we did,
the head-man of each making obeisance with ashes which
he carried with him for the purpose 3 then came the sol-
diers, all armed to the teeth, running and shouting toward
us, with their swords drawn and their faces screwed up so
as to appear as savage as possible, for the purpose, I
thought, of trying whether they could not make us take to
our heels. As we did not, they turned round toward
Shinte and saluted him, then retired. When all had come
and were seated, then began the curious capering usually
jjeen in pichos. A man starts up, and imitates the most
approved attitudes observed in actual fight, as throwing
one javelin, receiving another on the shield, springing to
one side to avoid a third, running backward or forward,
leaping, &c. This over, Sambanza and the spokesman of


Nyamoana stalked backward and forward in front vi
Shinte, and gave forth, in a load voice, all they had been
able to learn, either from myself or people, of my past his-
tory and connection with the Makololo; the return of the
captives ; the wish to open the country to trade ; the Bible
as a word from heaven; the white man's desire for the
tribes to live in peace : he ought to have taught the Ma-
kololo that first, for the Balonda never attacked them, yet
they had assailed the Balonda : perhaps he is fibbing, per-
hajjs not : they rather thought he was ; but as the Balonda
had good hearts, and Shinte had never done harm to any
one, he had better receive the white man well, and send
him on his way. Sambanza was gayly attired, and, be-
sides a profusion of beads, had a cloth so long that a boy
carried it after him as a train.

Behind Shinte sat about a hundred women, clothed in
their best, which happened to be a profusion of red baize
The chief wife of Shinte, one of the Matebele or Zulus, sat
in front with a curious red cap on her head. During the
intervals between the speeches, these ladies burst forth
into a sort of plaintive ditty; but it was impossible for any
of us to catch whether it was in praise of the speaker, of
Shinte, or of themselves. This was the first time I had
ever seen females present in a public assembly. In the
south the women are not permitted to enter the kotla,
and, even when invited to come to a religious service there,
would not enter until ordered to do so by the chief; but
here they expressed their apj^robation by clapping their
hands and laughing to different speakers; and Shinte fre-
quently turned round and spoke to them.

A party of musicians, consisting of three drummers and
foi^r performers, on the piano, went round the kotla several
times, regaling us with their music. Their drums are
neatly carved from the trunk of a tree, and have a small
hole in the side covered with a bit of spider's web : the
ends are covered with the skin of an a\itelope pegged on ;
and, when they wish to tighten it, they hold it to the fir«


to make it contract: the instruments are beaten with the

The piano, named "marimba/' consists of two bars of
wood placed side by side, here quite straight, but, farther
north, bent round so as to resemble half the tire of a car-
ria^e-wheel ; across these are placed about fifteen wooden
keys, each of which is two or three inches broad and
fifteen or eighteen inches long; their thickness is regu-
lated according to the deepness of the note required : each
of the ke^^s has a calabash beneath it; from the upper part
of each a portion is cut off to enable them to embrace the
bars, and form hollow sounding-boards to the keys, which
also are of different sizes, according to the note required ;
and little drumsticks elicit the music. Eapidity of execu-
tion seems much admired among them, and the music is
pleasant to the ear. In Angola the Portuguese use the
marimba in their dances.

When nine speakers had concluded their orations, Shinte
stood up, and so did all the people. He had maintained
true African dignity of manner all the while, but my
people remarked that he scarcely ever took his eyes off me
for a moment. About a thousand people were present,
according to my calculation, and three hundred soldiers.
The sun had now become hot ; and the scene ended by the
Mambari discharging their guns.

ISth. — We were awakened during the night by a message
from Shinte, requesting a visit at a very unseasonable hour.
As I was just in the sweating-stage of an intermittent, and
the path to the town lay through a wet valley, I declined
going. Kolimbota, who knows their customs best, urged
me to go ; but, independent of sickness, I hated words of
the night and deeds of darkness. "I was neither a hyena
nor a witch." Kolimbota thouo-ht that we ousfht to con-
form to their wishes in every thing : I thought we ought
to have some choice in the matter as well, which put him
into high dudgeon. However, at ten next morning we
went, and were led into the courts of Shinte, the walls of



which were woven rods, all very neat and high. Many
trees stood within the enclosure and afforded a grateful
shade. These had heen planted, for we saw somfc recently
put in, with grass wound round the trunk to protect them
from the sun. The otherwise waste corners of the streets
were planted with sugarcane and bananas, which spread
their large light leaves over the walls.

The Ficus Indica tree, under which we now sat, had
very large leaves, but showed its relationship to the Indian
banian by sending down shoots toward the ground. Shinte
soon came, and appeared a man of upward of fifty-five
years of age, of frank and open countenance, and about
the middle height. He seemed in good humor, and said he
had expected yesterday " that a man who came from the
gods would have approached and talked to him." That
had been my own intention in going to the reception ; but
when we came and saw the formidable preparations, and
all his own men keeping at least forty yards off from him,
I yielded to the solicitations of my men, and remained by
the tree opposite to that under which he sat. His remark
confirmed my previous belief that a frank, open, fearless
manner is the most winning with all these Africans. I
stated the object of my journey and mission, and to all 1
advanced the old gentleman clapped his hands in approba-
tion. He replied through a spokesman; then all the com-
pany joined in the response by clapping of hands too.

After the more serious business was ©ver, I asked
if he had ever seen a white man before. He replied,
'' Never : you are the very first I have seen with a white
ekin and straight hair : your clothing, too, is different from
any we have ever seen." They had been visited by native
Portuguese and Mambari only.

On learning from some of the people that "Shinte^s
mouth was bitter for want of tasting ox-flesh," I presented
him with an ox, to his great delight; and, as his country
is so well adapted for cattle, I advised him to begin a trade
in cows with the Makololo. He was pleased with the idea,


and when we returned from Loanda we found that he had
profited by the hint, for he had got three, and one of them
justified my opinion of the country, for it was more hke a
prize-heifer for fatness than any we had seen in Africa.
He soon afterward sent us a basket of green maize boiled,
another of manioc-meal, and a small fowl.

During this time Manenko had been extremely busy
with all her people in getting up a very pretty hut and
court-yard, to be, as she said, her residence always when
white men were brought by her along the same path.
When she heard that we had given an ox to her uncle,
she came forward to us with the air of one wronged, and
explained that ''this white man belonged to her; she had
brought him here, and therefore the ox was hers, not
Shinte's." She ordered her men to bring it, got it slaugh-
tered by them, and presented her uncle with a leg only.
Shinte did not seem at all annoyed at the occurrence.

19th. — I was awakened at an early hour by a messenger
from Shinte ; but, the thirst of a raging fever being just
assuaged by the bursting forth of a copious perspiration, I
declined going for a few hours. Violent action of the
heart all the way to the town did not predispose me to be
patient with the delay which then occurred, probably on
account of the divination being unfavorable : — " They could
not find Shinte." When 1 returned to bed, another mes-
sage was received : — " Shinte wished to say all he had to
tell me at once." This was too tempting an offer; so we
went, and he had a fowl ready in his hand to present, also
a basket of manioc-meal, and a calabash of mead. Eefer-
ring to the constantly-recurring attacks of fever, he re-
marked that it was the only thing which would prevent
a successful issue to my journey, for he had men to guide
me who knew all the paths which led to the white men.
He had himself travelled far when a young man. On
asking what he would recommend for the fever, "Drink
plenty of the mead, and as it gets in it will drive the fever
out." It was rather strong, and I suspect he liked the


remedy pretty well, ©ven though he had no fever. He had
always been a friend to Sebituane; and, now that his son
Sekeletu was in his place, Shinte was not merely a friend,
but a father to him; and if a eon asks a favor the father
must give it. He was highly pleased with the large cala-
bashes of clarified butter and fat which Sekeletu had sent
him, and wished to detain Kolimbota, that he might send
a present back to Sekeletu by his hands. This proposition
we afterward discovered was Kolimbota's own, as he had
heard so much about the ferocity of the tribes through
which we were to pass that he wished to save his skin.
It will be seen farther on that he was the only one of our
party who returned with a wound.

An incident which occurred while we were here may be
mentioned, as of a character totally unknown in the south.
Two children, of seven and eight years old, went out to
collect firewood a short distance from their parents' home,
which was a quarter of a mile from the village, and were
kidnapped; the distracted parents could not find a trace of
them. This happened so close to the town, where there
are no beasts of prey, that we suspect some of the high
men of Shinte' s court were the guilty parties : they can
sell them by night. The Mambari erect large huts of a
square shape to stow these stolen ones in ; they are well fed,
but aired by night only. The frequent kidnapping from
outlying hamlets explains the stockades we saw around
them : the parents have no redress, fcr even Shinte himself
seems fond of working in the dark. One night he sent for
me, though I always stated I liked all my dealings to be
aboveboard. When I came, he presented me with a slave-
girl about ten years old : he said he had always been in the
habit ot presenting his visitors with a child. On my
thanking him, and saying that I thought it wrong to take
away children from their parents, that I wished him to
give up this system altogether and trade in cattle, ivory,
and bees' -wax, he urged that she was "to be a child" to
bring me water, and that a great man ought to have 8


child for the purpose, yet T had none. As I replied that J
had four children, and should be very soriy if my chief were
to take my little girl and give her away, and that 1 would
pi'cfer this child to remain and carry water for her own
mother, he thought I was dissatisfied with her size, and
s^nt for one a head taller. After many explanations of our
abhorrence of slavery, and how displeasing it must be to
God to see his children selling one another and giving each
other so much grief as this child's mother must feel, I
declined her also. If I could have taken her into my family
for the purpose of instruction, and then returned her as a
free woman, according to a promise I should have made to
the parents, I might have done so ; but to take her away,
and probably never be able to secure her return, would have
produced no good effect on the minds of the Balonda ; they
would not then have seen evidence of our hatred to slavery,
and the kind attentions of my friends would, as it almost
always does in similar cases, have turned the poor thing's

Shinte was most anxious to see the pictures of the magic
lantern ; but fever had so weakening an effect, and I had
Fuch violent action of the heart, with buzzing in the ears,
that I could not go for several days; when I did go for the
purpose he had his principal men and the same crowd of
court beauties near him as at the reception. The first
picture exhibited was Abraham about to slaughter his son
Isaac : it was shown as large as life, and the uplifted knife
was in the act of striking the lad; the Balonda men re-
marked that the picture was much more like a god than
»he things of wood and clay they worshipped. I explained
that this man was the first of a race to whom God had
fefiven the Bible we now held, and that among his children
our Savior appeared. The ladies listened with silent awe ;
but, when I moved the slide, the uplifted dagger moving
toward them, they thought it was to be sheathed in their
bodies instead of Isaac's. " Mother ! mother !" all 8hout(?d
at once, and off they rushed, helter-skelter, tumbling pell«


mell over each other, and over the little idol-hute and
tobacco-bushes; we could not get one of them back again.
Sliinte, however, sat bravely through the whole, and after-
ward examined the instrument with interest. An explana-
tion was always added after each time of showing' itfl
])0wers, so that no one should imagine there was aught
supernatural in it ; and had Mr. Murray, who kindly brought
it from England, seen its popularity among both Makololo
and Balonda, he would have been gratified with the direc-
tion his generosity then took. It was the only mode of
instruction I was ever pressed to repeat. The people came
long distances for the express purpose of seeing the objects
and hearing the explanations.

One cannot get away quickly from these chiefs ; they
like to have the honor of strangers residing in their vil-
lages. Here we had an additional cause of delay in fre-
quent rains : twenty -four hours never elapsed without
heavy showers; every thing is affected by the dampness;
surgical instruments become all rusty, clothing mildewed,
and shoes mouldy; my little tent was now so rotten and so
full of small holes that every smart shower caused a fine
mist to descend on my blanket, and made me fain to cover
the head with it. Heavy dews lay on every thing in the
morning, even inside the tent; there is only a short tim«
of sunshine in the afternoon, and even that is so interrupte<^
by thunder-showers that we cannot dry our bedding.

The winds coming from the north always bring heavy
clouds and rain; in the south, the only heavy rains noticed
are those which come from the northeast or east. The
thermometer falls as low as 72° when there is no sunshine,
though, when the weather is fair, the protected thermo-
meter generally rises as high as 82°, even in the mornings
and evenings.

2'ith. — We expected to have started to-day; but Sambanza,
who had been sent off early in the morning for guides, re-
turned at mid-day without them, and drunk. As far ns wo
could coll 3ct from his incoherent sentences, Shinte had said


the rain was too heavy for our departure^ and the gnides
fitiJl required time for preparation. Shinte himself was
busy getting some meal ready for my use in the journey.
As it rained nearly all day, it was no sacrifice to submit to
his advice and remain. Sambanza staggered to Manenko's
hut: she, however, who had never promised 'Ho love,
honor, and obey him,'' had not been "nursing her wrath
to keep it warmj" so she coolly bundled him into the hut,
and put him to bed.

As the last proof of friendship, Shinte came into my tent,
though it could scarcely contain more than one person,
looked at all the curiosities, the quicksilver, the looking-
glass, books, hair-brushes, comb, watch, &c. &c., with the
greatest interest; then, closing the tent, so that none of his
own people might see the extravagance of which he was
about to be guilty, he drew out from his clothing a string
of beads and the end of a conical shell, which is consi-
dered, in regions far from the sea, of as great value as the
Lord Mayor's badge is in London. He hung it round my
neck, and said, " There, now you have a proof of my friend-

My men informed me that these shells are so highly
valued in this quarter, as evidences of distinction, that for
two of them a slave might be bought, and five would be
considered a handsome price for an elephant's tusk worth
ten pounds. At our last interview old Shinte pointed out
our principal guide, Intemese, a man about fifty, who was,
he said, ordered to remain by us till we should reach the
sea; that I had now left Sekeletu far behind, and must
henceforth look to Shinte alone for aid, and that it would
always be most cheerfully rendered. This was only a
polite way of expressing his wishes for my success. It was
the good words only of the guides which w^ere to aid me
from the next chief, Katema, on to the sea; they were to
turn back on reaching him ; but he gave a good supply of
food for the journey before us, and, after mentioning as a
reason for letting us go even now that no one could say


that we had heen driven away from the town, since we had
been several days with him, be gave a most hearty saluta-
tion, and we parted with the wish that God might bless




26th. — Leaving Shinte, with eight of his men to aid in
carrying our luggage, we passed, in a northerly direction,
down the lovely valley on which the town stands, then
went a little to the west through pretty open forest, and
slept at a village of Balonda. In the morning we had a
fine range of green hills, called Saloisho, on our right, and
were informed that they were rather thickly inhabited
))j the people of Shinte, who worked in iron, the ore of
iv^hich abounds in these hills.

The country through which we passed possessed the same
general character of flatness and forest that we noticed
before The soil is dark with a tinge of red — in some
places it might be called red — and appeared very fertile,
iivery valley contained villages of twenty or thirty huts,
with gardens of manioc, which here is looked upon as the
staff of life. Yery little labor is required for its cultiva^-
tion. The earth is drawn up into oblong beds, about three
feet broad and one in height, and in these are planted
pieces of the manioc-stalk, at four feet apart A crop of
beans or groundnuts is sown between them, and when
these are reaped the land around the manioc is cleared of
weeds In from ten to eighteen months after planting, ac-
cording to the quality of the soil, the roots are fit for food.
There is no necessity for reaping soon, as the roots do Lot
become bitter and dry until after three years. When a


woman takes up the roots, she thrusts a piece or two of
the upper stalks into the hole she has made, draws back
the soil, and a new crop is thereby begun. The plant grows
to a height of six feet, and every part of it is useful ; the
leaves may be cooked as a vegetable. The roots are from
three to four inches in diameter, and from twelve to

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 15 of 36)