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 17 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 17 of 36)
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There is the house in which my father lived. You found
no human skulls near the place where you are encamped.
] never killed any of the traders : they all come to me. 1
am the great Moene Katema, of whom you have heard."
lie looked as if he had fallen asleep tipsy and dreamed
of his greatness. On explaining my objects to him, he
promptly pointed out three men who would be our guides,
and explained that the northwest path was the most
direct, and that by which all traders came, but that the
water at present standing on the plains would reach up to
the loins : he would therefore send us by a more northerly
route, which no trader had yet traversed. This was more
suited to our wishes, for we never found a path safe that
had been trodden by slave-traders.

We presented a few articles which pleased him highly, —
a small shawl, a razor, three bunches of beads, some but-
tons, and a powder-horn. Apologizing for the insignifi-
cance of the gift, I wished to know what I could bring
him from Loanda, saying, not a large thing, but something
email. He laughed heartily at the limitation, and replied,
''Everything of the white people would be acceptable, and
he would receive anything thankfully; but the coat he
then had on was old, and he would like another." I intro-
duced the subject of the Bible; but one of the old coun-
cillors broke in, told all he had picked up from the Mam-
bari, and glided off into several other subjects. It is a
misery to speak through an interj^reter, as I was now
forced to do. With a body of men like mine, composed as
they were of six different tribes, and all speaking the lan-
guage of the Bechuanas, there was no difficulty in commu-
cating on common subjects with any tribe we came to; but
dv>ling out a story in which they felt no intcrust, and
which I understood only sufficiently well to perceive that

a mere abridgment was given, was uncommonly slow
N If


work. Neither could Katema's attention be arrested,
except by compliments, of which they have always plenty
to bestow as well as receive. We were strangers, and
knew that, as Makololo, we had not the best of characters j
yet his treatment of us was wonderfully good and liberal.

I complimented him on the possession of cattle, and
pleased him by telling him how he might milk the cows.
He has a herd of about thirty, really splendid animals, ail
reared from two which he brought from the Balobale when
he was young. They are generally of a white color, and
are quite wild, running off with graceful ease like a herd
of elands on the approach of a stranger. They excited the
unbounded admiration of the Makololo, and clearly proved
that the country was well adapted for them. When Katema
wishes to slaughter one, he is obliged to shoot it as if it
were a buffalo. Matiamvo is said to possess a herd of cattle
in a similar state. I never could feel certain as to the
reason why they do not all possess cattle in a country con-
taining such splendid pasturage.

As Katema did not offer an ox, as would have been done
by a Makololo or Caffre chief, we slaughtered one of our
own, and all of us were delighted to get a meal of meat,
after subsisting so long on the light porridge and green
maize of Londa. On occasions of slaughtering an animal,
some pieces of it are in the fire before the skin is all
removed from the body. A frying-pan full of these pieces
having been got quickly ready, my men crowded about
their father, and I handed some all round. It was a
strange sight to the Balonda, who were looking on wonder-
ing. I offered portions to them too, but these were declined,
though they are excessively fond of a little animal food to
oat with their vegetable diet. They would not eat with us,
but they would take the meat and cook it in their own
way, and then use it. I thought at one time that they had
imported something from the Mohammedans, and the more
especially as an exclamatic a of surprise, "Allah!'' sounds
like the lUah of the Arabs; but we found, a little farthei


on, another form of salutation, of Christian (?) origin, " A ve-
rie," (Ave Marie.) The salutations probably travel farther
than the faith. My people, when satisfied with a meal like
that, which they enjoy so often at home, amused themselves
by an uproarious dance. Katema sent to ask what I had
gi s^en them to produce so much excitement. Intemese replied
it was their custom, and they meant no harm. The com-
panion of the ox we slaughtered refused food for two days,
and went lowing about for him continually. He seemed
inconsolable for his loss, and tried again and again to
escape back to the Makololo country. My men remarked,
■^ He thinks, They will kill me as well as my friend.^' Katema
thought it the result of art, and had fears of my skill in
medicine, and, of course, witchcraft. He refused to see the
magic lantern.

On Sunday, the 19th, both I and several of our party
were seized with fever, and I could do nothing but toss
about in my little tent, with the thermometer about 90°, —
though this was the beginning of winter, and my men
made as much shade as possible by planting branches of
trees all round and over it. "We have, for the first time in
my experience in Africa, had a cold wind from the north.
All the winds from that quarter are hot, and those from
the south are cold; but they seldom blow from eithei

2Qth. — We were glad to get away, though not on account
of any scarcity of food; for my men, by giving small
presents of meat as an earnest of their sincerity, formed
many friendships with the people of Katema. TVe went
about four or five miles in a JST.JST.W. direction, then two in
a westerly one, and came round the small end of Lake
Dilolo. It seemed, as far as we could at this time discern,
to be like a river a quarter of a mile wide;

Immediately beyond Dilolo there is a large flat abou

twenty miles in breadth. Here Shakatwala insisted on our

remaining to get supplies of food from Katema's subjects

before entering the uninhabited watery plains.



Heavy rains prevented us from crossing the plain in front
(N.N.W.) in one day, and the constant wading among the
grass hurt the feet of the men. There is a footpath all the
way across.^ but, as this is worn down beneath the level of
the rest of the plain, it is necessarily the deepest portion,
and the men, avoiding it, make a new walk by its side. A
path, however narrow, is a great convenience, as any one
who has travelled on foot in Africa will admit. The virtual
want of it here caused us to make slow and painful progress.

Ants surely are wiser than some men, for they learn by
experience. They have established themselves even on
these plains, where water stands so long annually as to
allow the lotus, and other aqueous plants, to come to matu-
rity. When all the ant-horizon is submerged a foot deep^
they manage to exist by ascending to little houses built of
black tenacious loam on stalks of grass and placed higher
than the line of inundation. This must have been the re-
sult of experience ; for, if they had waited till the water
actually invaded their terrestrial habitations, they would not
have been able to procure materials for their aerial quarters
unless they dived down to the bottom for every mouthful
of clay. Some of these upper chambers are about the size
of a bean, and others as large as a man's thumb. They
must have built in anticipation; and, if so, let us humbly
hope that the sufferers by the late inundations in Franco
may be possessed of as much common sense as the little
black ants of the Dilolo plains.




24,th of February. — On reaching unflooded lands beyond
the plain, we found the villages there acknowledged the
authority of the chief named Katende, and we discovered,
also, to our surprise, that the almost level plain we had
passed forms the watershed between the southern and
northern rivers, for we had now entered a district in
which the rivers flowed in a northerly direction into the
Kasai or Loke, near to which we now were, while the
rivers we had hitherto crossed were all running southward.
Having met with kind treatment and aid at the first vil-
lage, Katema's guides returned, and we were led to the
^N.N.W. by the inhabitants, and descended into the very
first really-deep valley we had seen since leaving Kolo-
bcng. A stream ran along the bottom of a slope of three
or four hundred yards from the plains above.

"We crossed this by a rustic bridge at present submerged
thigh deep by the rains. The trees growing along the
stream of this lovely valley were thickly planted and very
high. Many had sixty or eighty feet of clean straight
trunk, and beautiful flowers adorned the ground beneath
them. Ascending the opposite side, we came, in two
hours' time, to another valley, equally beautiful, and with
a stream also in its centre.

Eeaching the village of Kabinje, in the evening he sent
as a present of tobacco, Mutokuane or " bang,'' (Cannabis
sativa,) and maize, by the man who went forward to an-
nounce our arrival, and a message expressing satisfaction
at the prospect of having trade with the coast. The
westing we were making brought us among people
who are frequently visited by ihe Mambari as slave-dealora.


This trade causes bloodshed; for when a poor family is
selected as the victims it is necessary to get rid of the
older members of it, because they are supposed to be able
to give annoyance to the chief afterward by means of
enchantments. The belief in the power of charms for
good or evil produces not only honesty, but a great amount
of gentle dealing. The powerful are often restrained in
tlieir despotism from a fear that the weak and helpless
may injure them by their medical knowledge.

When we wished to move on, Kabinje refused a guide to
the next village, because he was at war with it ; but, after
much persuasion, he consented, provided that the guide
should be allowed to return as soon as he came in sight
of the enemy's village. This we felt to be a misfortune,
as the people all suspect a man who comes telling his own
tale ; but, there being no help for it, we went on, and found
the head-man of a village on the rivulet Kalomba, called
Kangenke, a very different man from what his enemy
represented. We found, too, that the idea of buying and
selling took the place of giving for friendship. As I had
nothing with which to purchase food except a parcel of
beads, which were preserved for worse times, I began to fear
that we should soon be compelled to suifer more from
hunger than we had done. The people demanded gun-
powder for every thing. If we had possessed any quan-
tity of that article, we should have got on well, for here
it is of great value. On our return, near this spot we
found a good-sized fowl was sold for a single charge of
gunpowder. Next to that, English calico was in great
demand, and so were beads; but money was of no value
w^hatever. Gold is quite unknown; it is thought to be
brass : trade is carried on by barter alone. The people
know nothing of money. A purse-proud person would
here feel the ground move from beneath his feet. Occasion-
ally a large piece of copper, in the shape of a St. Andrew's
cross, is offered for sale.

February 27. — Kangenke promptly furnished guidet


this morning, so wo went briskly on a short distance, and
came to a part of the Kasye, Kasai, or Loke, where he
had appointed two canoes to convey us across. This is a
most beautiful river, and very much like the Clyde in Scot-
land. The slope of the valley down to the stream is about
five hundred yards, and finely wooded. It is perhaps
one hundred yards broad, and was winding slowly from
side to side in the beautiful green glen, in a course to tho
north and northeast. In both the directions from which
it came and to which it went it seemed to be alternately
embowered in sylvan vegetation or rich meadows covered
with tall grass. The men pointed out its course, and said,
" Though you sail along it for months, you will turn with-
out seeing the end of it/'

While at the ford of the Kasai we were subjected to a
trick, of which we had been forewarned by the people of
Shinte. A knife had been dropped by one of Kangenke's
people, in order to entrap my men ; it was put down near
our encampment, as if lost, the owner in the mean time
watching till one of my men picked it up. Nothing was
said until our party was divided, one half on this and the
other on that bank of the river. Then the charge was
made to me that one of my men had stolen a knife.
Certain of my people's honesty, I desired the man, who
was making a great noise, to search the luggage for it ;
the unlucky lad who had taken the bait then came forward
and confessed that he had the knife in a basket which was
already taken over the river. When it was returned, the
owner would not receive it back unless accompanied with
a fine. The lad offered beads, but these were refused with
Bcorn. A shell hanging round his neck, similar to that
which Shinte had given me, was the object demanded, and
the victim of the trick, as we all knew it to be, was obliged
to part with his costly ornament. I could not save him
from the loss, as all had been forewarned; and it is tho
universal custom among the Makololo and many other
tribes to show whatever they may find to the chief person


of their company, and make a sorf of offer of it to him.
This lad ought to have done so to me : the rest of the
party always observed this custom. I felt annoyed at the
imposition, but the order we invariably followed in cross-
ing a river forced me to submit. The head of the party
remained to be ferried over last ; so, if I had not come to
terms, I would have been, as I always was in crossing
rivers which we could not swim, completely in the power
of the enemy. It was but rarely we could get a head-man
so witless as to cross a river with us and remain on the
opposite bank in a convenient position to be seized as a
hostage in case of my being caught.

This trick is but one of a number equally dishonorable
which are practised by tribes that lie adjacent to the more
civilized settlements. The Balonda farther east told us,
by way of warning, that many parties of the more central
tribes had at various periods set out, in order to trade with
the white men themselves, instead of through the Mambari,
but had always been obliged to return without reaching
their destination, in consequence of so many pretexts being
invented by the tribes encountered in the way for fining
them of their ivory.

This ford was in 11° 15' 47" S. latitude, but the weather was
so excessively cloudy we got no observation for longitude.

We were now in want of food; for, to the great surprise
of my companions, the people of Kangenke gave nothing
except by way of sale, and charged the most exorbitant
prices for the little meal and manioc they brought. The
only article of barter my men had was a little fat saved
from the ox we slaughtered at Katema's; so I was obliged
to give them a portion of the stock of beads. One day
(29th) of westing brought us from the Kasai to near the
village of Katende, and we saw that we were in a land
where no hope could be entertained of getting suppli^ of
animal food, for one of our guides caught a light-blue-
colored mole and two mice for his supper. The care with
which he wrapped them up in a leaf and slung them on


hid spear told that we could not hope to enjoy any larger
game. We saw no evidence of an}^ animals besides; and,
on coming to the villages beyond this, we often saw boys
ftnd girls engaged in digging up these tiny quadrupeds.

Katende sent for me on the day following our arrival,
and, being quite willing to visit him, I walked, for this
purpose, about three miles from our encampment. When we
approached the village we were desired to enter a hut, and, as
it was raining at the time, we did so. After a long time spent
in giving and receiving messages from the great man, we were
told that he wanted either a man, a tusk, beads, copper rings,
or a shell, as payment for leave to pass through his country.
No one, we were assured, was allowed that liberty, or even
to behold him, without something of the sort being pre-
sented. Having humbly explained our circumstances, and
that he could not expect to "catch an humble cow by the
horns," — a proverb similar to ours that "you can't draw
milk out of a stone,'' — we were told to go home, and he
would speak again to us next day. 1 could not avoid a
hearty laugh at the cool impudence of the savage, and
made the best of my way home in the still pouring rain.
My men were rather nettled at this want of hospitality ;
but, after talking over the matter with one of Katende's
servants, he proposed that some small article should be
given, and an attempt made to please Katende. I turned
out my shirts, and selected the worst one as a sop for him,
and invited Katende to come and choose any thing else I
had, but added that, when I should reach my own chief
naked, and was asked what I had done with my clothes, I
ihould be obliged to confess that I had left them with
Katende. The shirt was despatched to him, and some of
my people went along with the servant • they soon returned,
saying that the shirt had been accepted, and guides and
food too would be sent to us next day. The chief had,
moreover, expressed a hope to see me on my return. He
is reported to be very corpulent. The traders who have

come here seem to have beer very timid, yielding to every



demand made on the most frivoloua pretences. One of my
men, seeing another much Hke an acquaintance at home,
addressed him by the name of the latter in sporty telling
him, at the same time, why he did so ; this was pronounced
to be a grave offence, and a large fine demanded : when the
case came before me I could see no harm in what had been
done, and told my people not to answer the young fellow.
The latter felt himself disarmed, for it is chiefly in a brawl
they have power ; then words are spoken in anger which
rouse the passions of the complainant's friends. In this
case, after vociferating some time, the would-be offended
party came and said to my man that, if they exchanged
some small gift, all would be right, but, my man taking nc
notice of him, he went off rather crest-fallen.

My men were as much astonished as myself at the de-
mand for payment for leave to pass, and the almost entire
neglect of the rules of hospitality. Katende gave us only
a little meal and manioc, and a fowl. Being detained two
days by heavy rains, we felt that a good stock of patience
was necessary in travelling through this country in the
rainy season.

Passing onward without seeing Katende, we crossed a
small rivulet, the Sengko, by which we had encamped, and
after two hours came to another, the Totelo, which was
somewhat larger and had a bridge over it. At the farther
end of this structure stood a negro, who demanded fees.
He said the bridge was his, the path his; the guides were
his children; and if we did not pay him he would prevent
farther progress. This piece of civilization I was not pre-
pared to meet, and stood a few seconds looking at our bold
toll-keeper, when one of my men took off three copper
bracelets, which paid for the whole party. The negro wa«
a better man than he at first seemed, for he immediately
went to his garden and brought us some leaves of tobacco
as a present.

When we got fairly away from the villages, the guides
from Kangenke sat down and told us that there were threo


paths in ft*ont, and if we did not at once present thera
with a cloth they would leave us to take whichever wo
might like best. As I had pointed out the direction in
which Loanda lay, and had only employed them for tho
Bake of knowing the paths between villages which lay
along our route, and always objected when they led us in
any other than the Loanda direction, I wished my men
now to go on without the guides, trusting to ourselves to
choose the path which would seem to lead us in the direction
we had always followed. But Mashauana, fearing lest wo
•might wander, asked leave to give his own cloth, and when
the guides saw that they came forward, shouting, ^'Averie!
Averie V

In the afternoon of this day we came to a valley about
a mile wide, filled with clear, fast-flowing water. The men
on foot were chin deep in crossing, and we three on ox-back
got wet to the middle, the weight of the animals preventing
them from swimming. A thunder-shower descending com-
pleted the partial drenching of the plain, and gave a cold,
uncomfortable " packing in a wet blanket'^ that night.
Next day we found another flooded valley about half a
mile wide, with a small and now deep rivulet in its middle,
flowing rapidly to the S.S.E., or toward the Kasai. The
middle part of this flood, being the bed of what at other
times is the rivulet, was so rapid that we crossed by holding
on to the oxen, and the current soon dashed them to the
opposite bank : we then jumped off", and, the oxen being re-
lieved of their burdens, we could pull them on to the shal-
lower part. The rest of the valley was thigh deep and
boggy, but, holding on by the belt which fastened the blanket
to the OX; we each floundered through the nasty slough as
well as we could.

In the afternoon we came to another stream, iluana Loke,
(or child of Loke,) with a bridge over it. The men had to
swira off to each end of the bridge, and when on it were
breast deep : some preferred holding on by the tails of tho
oxen the whole way across. I intended to do this too ;


but, riding to the deep part, before I could dismcunt and
Beize the helm the ox dashed off with his companions, and
his body sank so deep that I failed in my attempt even to
catch the blanket-belt, and if I pulled the bridle the ox
seemed as if he would come backward upon me; so I struck
out for the opposite bank alone. My poor fellows were
dreadfully alarmed when they saw me parted from the
cattle, and about twenty of them made a simultaneous rush
into the water for my rescue, and just as I reached the
opposite bank one seized my arm, and another threw his
around my body. When I stood up it was most gratifying.
to see them all strugghng toward me. Some had leaj^ed
off the bridge and allowed their cloaks to float down the
Btream. Part of my goods, abandoned in the hurry, were
brought up from the bottom after I was safe. Great was
the pleasure expressed when they found that I could swim
like themselves, without the aid of a tail, and I did and do
feel grateful to these poor heathens for the promptitude
with which they dashed in to save, as they thought, my
life. I found my clothes cumbersoBie in the water : they
could swim quicker from being naked. They swim like
dogs, not frog-fashion as we do.

In the evening we crossed the small rivulet Lozeze, and
came to some villages of the Kasabi, from whom we got
some manioc in exchange for beads. They tried to frighten
us by telling of the deep rivers we should have to cross in
our way. I was drying my clothes by turning myself r( und
and round before the fire. My men laughed at the idea of
being frightened by rivers. "We can all swim: w^ho car-
ried the white man across the river but himself?" I felt
proud of their praise.

Saturday, Ath March. — Came to the outskirts of the ter-
ritory of the Chiboque. We crossed the Konde and Ka-
luze rivulets. The former is a deep, small stream with a
bridge, the latter insignificant; the valleys in which these
rivulets run are beautifully fertile. My companions are
continually lamenting over the uncultivated vales in sucb


woids as the5;e : — '^ W^hat a fine country for cattle! My
heart is sore to see such fruitful valleys for corn lyinc;

While at the villages of the Kasabi we saw no evidences
of want of food among the people. Our beads were very
Taiaable, bat cotton cloth would have been still more so; as
we travelled along, men, women, and children came running
aft»r us, with meal and fowls for sale, which we would
gladly have purchased had we possessed any English manu-
factures. "When they heard that we had no cloth, they
turned back much disappointed.

The amount of population in the central parts of the

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 17 of 36)