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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 16 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 16 of 36)
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eighteen inches long.

There are two varieties of the manioc or cassava, — one
sweet and wholesome, the other bitter and containinj^
poison, but much more speedy in its growth than the
former. This last property causes its perpetuation.

Our chief guide, Intemese, sent orders to all the villages
around our route that Shinte's friends must have abundance
of provisions. Our progress was impeded by tLb lime re-
quisite for communicating the chiefs desire and consequent
preparation of meal. We received far more food from
Shinte's people than from himself Kapende, for instance,
presented two large baskets of meal, three of manioc-roots
steeped and dried in the sun and ready to be converted
into flour, three fowls, and seven eggs, with three smoke-
dried fishes; and others gave with similar liberality. 1
gave to the head-men small bunches of my stock of beads,
with an apology that we were now on our way to tne
mart et for these goods. The present was always politeiy
recei^^ed.

Afi^r crossing the Lonaje, we came to some pretty vil-
lages, embowered, as the negro villages usually are, in
bananas, shrubs, and manioc, and near the banks of the
Leeb'' we formed our encampment in a nest of serpents,
one 'if which bit one of our men; but the wound was
harmless. The people of the surrounding villages pre-
sented us with large quantities of food, in obedience to
the ^oandate of Shinte, without expecting any equivalent
One village had lately been transferred hither from th©
COUP try of Matiamvo. They, of course, continue to ac-
knowledge him as paramount chief; but the frequent in-
stances which occur of people changing froJii one part of

id



182 CROSSING THE LEEBA

the country to another show that the great chiefs possess
only a limited power. The only peculiarity we observed in
these people is the habit of plaiting the beard into a three-
fold cord.

The town of the Balonda chief Cazembe was pointed
out to us as lying to the N.E. and by E. from the town ol
{Shinte, arid great numbers of people in this quarter have
gone thither for the purpose of purchasing copper anklets,
made at Cazembe's, and report the distance to be about five
days' journey.

It took us about four hours to cross the Leeba, which is
considerably smaller here than where we left it, — indeed,
only about a hundred yards wide. It has the same dark
mossy hue. The villagers lent us canoes to effect our pass-
age; and, having gone to a village about two miles beyond
the river, I had the satisfaction of getting observations for
both longitude and latitude, — for the former, the distance
between Saturn and the moon, and for the latter, a meridian
altitude of Canopus. Long. 22° 57' E., lat. 12° 6' 6" S.

Here we were surprised to hear English cotton cloth
mucti more eagerly inquired after than beads and orna-
ments. They are more in need of clothing than the Be-
chuana tribes living adjacent to the Kalahari Desert, who
have plenty of skins for the purpose. Animals of all kinds
are rare here, and a very t^mall piece of calico is of great
value.

As the people on the banks of the Leeba were the last
of Shinte's tribe over which Intemese had power, he was
naturally anxious to remain as long as possible. He was
not idle, but made a large wooden mortar and pestle for
his wife during our journey. He also carved many wooden
spoons and a bowl; then commenced a basket; but, as
what he considered good living was any thing but agreeable
10 us, who had been accustomed to milk and maize, we went
forward on the 2d without him. He soon followed, but left
our pontoon, saying it would be brought by the head-man
of the village. This was a great loss, as we afterward



PLAINS COVERED WITH WATER. 183

found : it remained at this village more than a year, and,
when we returned, .i mouse had eaten a hole in it.

We entered on an extensive plain beyond the Leeba, ai
least twenty miles broad, and covered with water ankle
deep in the shallowest parts. We deviated somewhat from
oui N.W" course, by the direction of Intemese, and kept
the hills Piri nearly on our right during a great part of
the first day, in order to avoid the still more deeply-flooded
plains of Lobale (Luval?) on the west. These, according
to Intemese, are at present impassable on account of being
thigh deep. The plains are so perfectly level that rain-
water, which this was, stands upon them for months together
They were not flooded by the Leeba, for that was still far
within its banks. Here and there, dotted over the surface,
are little islands, on which grow stunted date-bushes and
scraggy trees.

We made our beds on one of the islands, and were
wretchedly supplied with firewood. The booths constructed
by the men were but sorry shelter, for the rain poured
down without intermission till mid-day. There is no drain-
age for the prodigious masses of water on these plains, ex-
cept slow percolation into the difierent feeders of the Leeba
and into that river itself. The quantity of vegetation has
prevented the country from becoming furrowed by many
rivulets or ^^ nullahs." Were it not so remarkably flat, the
drainage must have been effected by torrents, even in spite
of the matted vegetation.

When released from our island by the rain ceasing, we
marched on till we came to a ridge of dry inhabited land
in the N.W. The inhabitants, according to custom, lent
us the roofs of some huts to save the men the trouble of
booth-making. I suspect that the story in Park's '< Travels,"
of the men lifting up the hut to place it on the lion, referred
to the roof only. We leave them for the villagers to replace
at their leisure. No payment is expected for the use of
them. By night it rained so copiously that all our bedn
wore flooded from below; and from this time forth we



181 A HALT.

always made a furrow ronnd each booth, and used the earth
to raise our sleeping-places. My men turned out to work
in the wet most willingly : indeed, they always did. ]
could not but contrast their conduct with that of Intemese.
He was thoroughly imbued with the slave-spirit, and lied
on all occasions without compunction. Untruthfulness is
a sort of refuge for the weak and 02:>pressed. We expected
to move on the 4th, but he declared that we were so near
Katema's, if we did not send forward to apprize that chief
of our approach, he would certainly impose a fine. It
rained the whole day, so we were reconciled to the delay ;
but on Sunday, the 5th, he let us know that we were still
two days distant from Katema. We unfortunately could
not manage without him, for the country was so deluged
we should have been brought to a halt, before we went
many miles, by some deep valley, every one of which was
full of water. Intemese continued to plait his basket with
all his might, and would not come to our religious service.
He seemed to be afraid of our incantations, but was always
merry and jocular.

Qth. — Soon after starting, we crossed a branch of the Loka-
iueje by means of a canoe, and in the afternoon passed over
the main stream by a like conveyance. The former, as is
the case with all branches of rivers in this country, is
called nuana Kalueje, (child of the Kalueje.) Hippopotami
exist in the Lokalueje, so it may be inferred to be peren-
nial, as the inhabitants asserted. We cannot judge of the
size of the stream from what we now saw. It had about
forty yards of deep, fast-flowing water, but probably not
more than half that amount in the dry season. Besides
these, we crossed numerous feeders in our N.N.W. course,
and, there being no canoes, got frequently wet in the course
of the day. The oxen in some places had their heads only
above water, and the stream, flowing over their backs,
wetted our blankets, which we used as saddles. The arm-
pit was the only safe spot for carrying the watch, for thei*e
it was preserved from rains above and waters below 1'



OMNIVOROUS Fisn. 185

mcD ou foot crossed these gullies holding up their biu-deiisj
&t arms' length.

Great numbers of the omnivorous-feeding fish Glanis
siluris, or mosala, spread themselves over the flooded plains,
and, as the waters retire, try to find their way back agaia
to the rivers. The Balonda make earthen dikes and
hedges across the outlets of the retreating waters, leaving
only small spaces through which the chief part of the
water flows. In these open spaces they plant creels, simi-
lar in shape to our own, into which the fish can enter but
cannot return. They secure large quantities of fish in
this way, which, when smoke-dried, make a good relifeh for
their otherwise-insipid food. They use also a weir of mats
made of reeds sewed together, with but half an inch be-
tween each. Open spaces are left for the insertion of the
creels as before.

In still water, a fish-trap is employed of the same shape
and plan as the common round wire mouse-trap, which has
an opening surrounded with wires pointing inward. This
is made of reeds and supple wands, and food is placed
inside to attract the fish.

Besides these means of catching fish, they use a hook of
iron without a barb ; the point is bent inward instead, so
as not to allow the fish to escape. Nets are not so common
as in the Zouga and Leeambye ; but they kill large quan-
tities of fishes by means of the bruised leaves of a shrub
which may be seen planted beside every village in the
country.

On the 7th we came to the village of Soana Molopo,
a half-brother of Katema, a few miles beyond the Loku-
lueje. When we went to visit him, we found him sitting
with about one hundred men. He called on Intemese to
give some account of us, though no doubt it had been done
in private before. lie then jjronounced the following sen-
tences : — " The journey of the white man is very proper ;
but Shinte has disturbed us by showing the path to tho

Makololo \^ho accompany him. lie ought to have taken

16*



186 /OUR guide's perversity.

tliem tlirough the country without showing them the
towns. We are afraid of the Makololo/' He then gave
us a handsome present of food, and seemed perplexed by
my sitting down familiarly and giving him a few of our
ideas When we left, Intemese continued busily impart-
ing an account of all we had given to Shinte and Masiko,
and instilling the hope that Soana Molopo might obtain as
much as they had received. Accordingly, when we ex-
pected to move on the morning of the 8 th, we got some
hints about the ox which Soana Molopo expected to eat ;
but we recommended him to get the breed of cattle for
himself, seeing his country was so i^ell adaj^ted for rearing
stock. Intemese also refused to move : he, moreover,
tried to frighten us into parting with an ox by saying
that Soana Molopo would send fo; tvard a message that we
were a marauding-party; but we packed up and went on
without him. We did not absolately need him ; but he
was useful in preventing the inhabitants of secluded vil-
lages from betaking themselves to flight. We wished to
be on good terms with all, and therefore put up with our
guide's peccadilloes. His good word respecting us had
considerable influence, and he was always asked if we had
behaved ourselves like men on the way. The Makololo
are viewed as great savages; but Intemese could not
justly look with scorn on them, for he has the mark of a
large gash on his arm, got in fighting ; and he would never
tell the cause of battle, but boasted of his powers, as the
Makololo do, till asked about a scar on his back, betoken-
ing any thing but bravery.

Intemese was useful in cases like that of Monday, when
we came upon a whole village in a forest enjoying their
noonday nap. Our sudden appearance in their midst so
terrified them that one woman nearly went into con-
vulsions from fear. When they saw and heard Intemese,
their terror subsided.

As usual, we were caught by rains after leaving Soana
M!olopo's, and made our booths at the house of Mozmkwa,



MOZINKWA AND HIS FAMILY. 187

a most intelligent and friendly man belonging to Katema.
He had a fine large garden in cultivation, and v rl hedged
round. He had made the walls of his compouno-. or court-
yard, of branches of the banian, which, taking root, had
grown to be a live hedge of that tree. Mozinkwa's wife
had cotton growing all round her premises, and several
plants used as relishes to the insipid porridge of the
country. She cultivated also the common castor-oil plant,
and a larger shrub {Jatropha curcas) which also yields a
purgative oil. Here, however, the oil is used for anointing
the heads and bodies alone. We saw in her garden like-
wiue the Indian bringalls, yams, and sweet potatoes.
Several trees were planted in the middle of the yard, and
in the deep shade they gave stood the huts of his fine
family. His children, all by one mother, very blacky but
CO tnely to view, were the finest negro family I ever saw.
\\ 8 were much pleased with the frank friendship and
lil»erality of this man and his wife. She asked me to bring
hor a cloth from the white man's country ; but, when we
returned, poor Mozinkwa's wife was in her grave, and he,
as is the custom, had abandoned trees, garden, and huts to
ruin. They cannot live on a spot where a favorite wife
has died, probably because unable to bear the remem-
brance of the happy times they have spent there, or afraid
to remain in a spot where death has once visited the esta-
blishment. If ever the place is revisited, it is to pray to
her or make some offering. This feeling renders any per-
manent village in the country impossible.

We learned from Mozinkwa that Soana Molopo was the
elder brother of Katema, but that he was wanting in wis-
dom ; and Katema, by purchasing cattle and receiving in
a kind manner all the fugitives who came to him, had
secured the birthright to himself, so far as influence in the
country is concerned. Soana' s first address to us did not
«avor much of African wisdom.

Friday, lOtli. — On leaving Mozinkwa's hospitable mansion,
we crossed another stream, about forty yards wide, iu



J 88 quendl'nde's politeness.

janoes. While this tedious process was going od, I was in-
formed that it is called the Moiia-Kalueje, or brother ot
Kalueje, as it flows into that river; that both the Kalueje
and Livoa flow into the Leebe ; and that the Chifamadze,
swollen by the Lotembwa, is a feeder of that river also,
below the point where we lately crossed it.

As we were crossing the river, we were joined by a meB
senger from Katema, called Shakatwala. This person was
a sort of steward, or factotum to his chief. Every chief hat
one attached to his person, and, though generally poor^
they are invariably men of great shrewdness and ability.
They act the part of messengers on all important occasions,
and possess considerable authority in the chief's house-
hold. Shakatwala informed us that Katema had not re-
ceived precise information about us, but if we were peaceably
disposed, as he loved strangers, we were to come to hiL
town. We proceeded forthwith, but were turned aside, by
the strategy of our friend Intemese, to the village of
Quendende, the father-in-law of Katema. This fine old
man was so very polite that we did not regret being obliged
to spend Sunday at his village. He expressed his pleasure
at having a share in the honor of a visit as well as Katema,
though it seemed to me that the conferring that pleasure
required something like a pretty good stock of impudence,
in leading twenty-seven men through the country without
the means of purchasing food. My men did a little busi-
ness for themselves in the begging line : they generally
comm(^nced every interview with new villagers by saying,
^^1 have come from afar; give me something to eat.'' 1
forbade this at first, believing that, as the Makololo had a
bad name, the villagers gave food from fear. But, after
some time, it was evident that in many cases maize and
manioc were given from pure generosity. The first time I
came to this conclusion was at the house of Mozinkwa:
scarcely any one of my men returned from it without
something in his hand; and as they protested they had not



CROP OP WOOL, 189

begged, T asked himself, and found that it was the case,
and that he had given spontaneously.

Quendende's head was a good specimen of the greater
crop of wool with which the negroes of Londa are fur
nished. The front was parted in the middle, and plaited
into two thick rolls, which, falling down behind the ears,
reached the shoulders : the rest was collected into a large
knot, which lay on the nape of the neck. As he was an
intelligent man, we had much conversation together: he
had just come from attending the funeral of oue of his
people, and I found that the great amount of drum-beating
which takes place on these occasions was with the idea
that the Barimo, or spirits, could be drummed to sleep.
There is a drum in every village, and we often hear it going
from sunset to sunrise. They seem to look upon the de-
parted as vindictive beings, and, I suspect, are more in-
fluenced by fear than by love. In beginning to speak on
religious subjects with those who have never heard of Chris-
tianity, the great fact of the Son of God having come down
'rom heaven to die for us is the prominent theme. No fact
more striking can be mentioned. " He actually came to
men. He himself told us about his Father and the dwell-
ing-place whither he has gone. We have his words in this
book, and he really endured punishment in our stead from
pure love,'^ &c. If this fails to interest them, nothing else
will succeed.

We here met with some people just arrived from the
town of Matiamvo, (Muata yanvo,) who had been sent to
announce the death of the late chieftain of that name.
Matiamvo is the hereditary title, muata meaning lord or
chief The late Matiamvo seems, from the report of these
men, to have become insane, for he is said to have some-
times indulo^ed the whim of running; a muck in the town
and beheading whomsoever he met, until he had quite a
heap of human heads. Matiamvo explained this conduct
by saying that his people were too many, and he wanted
to diminish them. He had absolute power of life and death.



190 MATIAMVO'S CONDUCT.

On inquiring whether human sacrifices were still made, as
in the time of Pereira, at Cazembe's, we were informed
that these had never been so common as was represented
to Pereira, but that it occasionally happened, when certain
charms were needed by the chief, that a man was slaugh-
tered for the sake of some part of his body. He added
that he hoped the present chief would not act like his
(mad) predecessor, but kill only those who were guilty of
witclicraft or theft. These men were very much astonished
at the liberty enjoyed by the Makololo; and, when they
found that all my people had cattle, we were told that
Matiamvo alone had a herd. One very intelligent man
among them asked, " If he should make a canoe, and take
it down the river to the Makololo, would he get a cow for
it ?" This question, which my men answered in the affirma-
tive, was important, as showing the knowledge of water-
communication from the country of Matiamvo to the
Makololo; and the river runs through a fertile country
abounding in large timber. If the tribes have intercourse
with each other, it exerts a good influence on their chiefs
to hear what other tribes think of their deeds. The Ma-
kololo have such a bad name, on account of their perpetual
forays, that they have not been known in Londa except as
ruthless destroyers. The people in Matiamvo' s country
submit to much wrong from their chiefs, and no voice can
be raised against cruelty, because they are afraid to flee
elsewhere.

We left Quendende's village in company with Quendende
himself, and the principal man of the ambassadors of Ma-
tiamvo, and, after two or three miles' march to the N.W.,
came to the ford of the Lotembwa, which flows southward.
A canoe was waiting to ferry us over, but it was very
tedious work; for, though the river itself was only eighty
yards wide, the whole valley was flooded, and we were
obliged to paddle more than half a mile to get free of the
water. A fire was lit to warm old Quendende and enable
him to dry his tobacco-leaves. The leaves are taker from



SUPERSTITIOUS CUSTOMS. 191

the plant and spread close to the fire until they are quite
dry and crisp ; they are then put into a snuff-box, Tvhich,
with a little pestle, serves the purpose of a mill to grind
them into powder: it is then used as snuff. As we sat by
the fire, the ambassadors communicated their thoughts
freely respecting the customs of their race. "When a chiei
dies, a number of servants are slaughtered with him to
form his company in the other world. The Barotse followed
the same custom ; and this and other usages show them to
be genuine negroes, though neither they nor the Balonda
resemble closely the typical form of that people. Quen-
dende said if he were present on these occasions he would
hide his people, so that they might not be slaughtered.
As we go north, the people become more bloodily super-
stitious.

We were assured that if the late Matiamvo took a fancy
to any thing, — such, for instance, as my watch-chain, which
was of silver wire^ and was a great curiosity, as they had
never seen metal plaited before, — he would order a whole
village to be brought up to buy it from a stranger. When
a slave-trader visited him, he took possession of all his
goods ; then, after ten days or a fortnight, he would send
out a party of men to pounce upon some considerable
village, and, having killed the head-men, would pay for all
the goods by selling the inhabitants. This has frequently
been the case, and nearly all the visitants he ever had were
men of color. On asking if Matiamvo did not know he
was a man, and would be judged, in company with those
he destroyed, by a Lord who is no respecter of persons,
the ambassador replied, "We do not go up to God, as you
do : we are put into the ground.'' I could not ascertain
that even those who have such a di>stinct perception of the
c<jn tinned existence of departed spirits had any notion of
noaven : they appear to imagine the souls to be always
near the place of sepulture.

After crossing the river Lotembwa, we travelled about
eight miles, and came to Katema's straggling town, (lat



192 PRESENTATION TO KATEMA.

1 1° 35' 49" S., long. 22° 27' E.) It is more a collection of
^'illages than a town. We were led out about half a
mile from the houses, that we might make for ourselves
the best lodging we could of the trees and grass, while
Intemese was taken to Katema to undergo the usual pro-
cess of pumping as to our past conduct and professions.
Katema soon afterward sent a handsome present of food.

Next morning we had a formal presentation, and found
Katema seated on a sort of throne, with about three hun-
dred men on the ground around, and thirty women, who
were said to be his wives, close behind him. The main
body of the people were seated in a semicircle, at a dis-
tance of fifty yards. Each party had its own head-man
stationed at a little distance in front, and, when beckoned
by the chief, came near him as councillors. Intemese gave
our history, and Katema placed sixteen large baskets of
meal before us, half a dozen fowls, and a dozen eggs, and
expressed regret that we had slept hungry: he did not like
any stranger to suffer want in his town; and added, '^Go
home and cook and eat, and you will then be in a fit state
to speak to me at an audience I will give you to-morrow.'*
He was busily engaged in hearing the statements of a large
body of fine young men who had fled from Kangenke,
chief of Lobale, on account of his selling their relatives to
the native Portuguese who frequent his country. Katema
is a tall man, about forty years of age, and his head was
ornamented with a helmet of beads and feathers. He had
on a snuff-brown coat, with a broad band of tinsel down
the arms, and carried in his hand a large tail made of the
oaudal extremities of a number of gnus. This has charms
attached to it, and he continued waving it in front of him-
gelf all the time we were there. He seemed in good spirits,
laughing heartily several times. This is a good sign, for a
man who shakes his sides with mirth is seldom difficult to
deal with. "When we rose to take leave, all rose with us,
as at Shinte's.

Returning next morning, Katema addressed me thus :—



INTERVIEW WITH KATEMA. 1^8

"I am the great Moene (lord) Katema, the fellow of A£»-
tiamvo. There is no one in the country equal to Matiamvo
end me. I have always lived here, and my forefathers too.



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 16 of 36)