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 18 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 18 of 36)
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country may be called large only as compared with tho
Cape Colony or the Bechuana country. The cultivated
land is as nothing compared with what might be brought
under the plough. There are flowing streams in abundance,
\^ hich, were it necessary, could be turned to the purpose
of irrigation with but little labor. Miles of fruitful country
are now lying absolutely waste, for there is not even game
to eat off the fine pasturage, and to recline under the ever-
green, shady groves which we are ever passing in our pro-
gress. The people who inhabit the central region are not
all quite black in color. Many incline to that of bronze,
and others are as light in hue as the Bushmen, who, it may
be remembered, afford a proof that heat alone does not
cause blackness, but that heat and moisture combined do
very materially deepen the color.

Having, on the aforementioned date, reached the village
of Njambi, one of the chiefs of the Chiboque, we intended
to pass a quiet Sunday; and, our provisions being quilo
spent, I ordered a tired riding-ox to be slaughtered. As
we wished to be on good terms with all, we sent the hump
and ribs to, with the explanation that this was the
customary tribute to chiefs in the part from which we had
come, and that we always honored men in his position. He
returned thanks, and promised to send food. Next mora-
ing he sent an impudent message, with a very small present



of meal; scorning the meat he had accepted, he demanded
either a man, an ox, a gun, powder, cloth, or a shell; atid,
in the event of refusal to comply with his demand, he inti-
mated his intention to prevent our farther progress. We
replied, we should have thought ourselves fools if we had
scorned his small present and demanded other food instead ;
and, even supposing we had possessed the articles named,
no black man ought to impose a tribute on a party that did
not trade in slaves. The servants who brought the mes-
sage said that, when sent to the Mambari, they had always
got a quantity of cloth from them for their master, and now
expected the same, or something else as an equivalent,
from me.

We heard some of the Chiboque remark, "They have
only five guns;" and about mid-day Njambi collected all his
people and surrounded our encampment. Their object was
evidently to plunder us of every thing. My men seized
their javelins, and stood on the defensive, while the young
Chiboque had drawn their swords and brandished them
with great fury. Some even pointed their guns at me, and
nodded to each other, as much as to say, " This is the way
we shall do with him." I sat on my camp-stool, with my
double-barrelled gun across my knees, and invited the chief
to be seated also. When he and his counsellors had sat
down on the ground in front of me, I asked what crime
we had committed that he had come armed in that way.
He replied that one of my men, Pitsane, while sitting at
the fire that morning, had, in spitting, allowed a small
quantity of the saliva to fall on the leg of one of his men,
and this '< guilt" he wanted to be settled by the fine of a
man, ox, or gun. Pitsane admitted the fact of a little
saliva having fallen on the Chiboque, and, in proof of its
being a pure accident, mentioned that he had given the
man a piece of meat, by way of making friends, just before
it happened, and wiped it off with his hand as soon as it
fell. In reference to a man being given, I declared that wo
were all ready to die rather than give up one of our num-


bcT to be a slave ; that ray men might as well give me as 1
giv^ one of them, for we were all free men. ^' Then you
can give the gun with which the ox was shot.'* At* wo
heard some of his people remarking even now that we had
only "five guns/' we declined, on the ground that, as thej
were intent on plundering us, giving a gun would be help-
ing them to do so.

This they denied, saying they wanted the custom ai^
tribute only. I asked what right they had to demand pay-
ment for leave to tread on the ground of God, our common
Father. If we trod on their gardens, we would pay, but
not for marching on land which was still God's, and not
theirs. They did not attempt to controvert this, because
it is in accordance with their own ideas, but reverted again
to the pretended crime of the saliva.

My men now entreated me to give something; and, after
asking the chief if he really thought the affair of the
spitting a matter of guilt, and receiving an answer in the
affirmative, I gave him one of my shirts. The young
Chiboque were dissatisfied, and began shouting and bran-
dishing their swords for a greater fine.

As Pitsane felt that he had been the cause of this dis-
agreeable affair, he asked me to add something else. I
gave a bunch of beads, but the counsellors objected this
time ; so I added a large handkerchief. The more I yielded,
the more unreasonable their demands became, and at
every fresh demand a shout was raised by the armed party,
and a rush made around us with brandishing of arms. One
young man made a charge at my head from behind; but I
quickly brought round the muzzle of my gun to his mouth,
and he retreated. I pointed him out to the chief, and he
ordered him to retire a little. I felt anxious to avoid the
effusion of blood; and though sure of being able, with my
Makololo, who had been drilled by Sebituane, to drive oif
twice the num.ber of our assailants, though now a large
body and well armed with spears, swords, arrows, and
guns, I strove to avoid actual collision. ATy men wer«


quite unprepared for this exhibition, but behaved with
admirable coohiess. The chief and counsellors, by accept-
ing my invitation to be seated, had placed themselves in ^
trap, for my men very quietly surrounded them, and made
them feel that there was no chance of escaping their spears.
I then said that, as one thing after another had failed to
satisfy them, it w^as evident that they w^anted to fight, while
we only wanted to pass peaceably through the country;
that they must begin first, and bear the guilt before God :
we would not fight till they had struck the first blow. I
then sat silent for some time. It was rather trying for
me, because I knew that the Chiboque would aim at the
white man first; but I was careful not to appear flurried,
and, having four barrels ready for instant action, looked
quietly at the savage scene around. The Chiboque coun-
tenance, by no means handsome, is not improved by the
practice which they have adopted of filing the teeth to a
point. The chief and counsellors, seeing that they were
in more danger than I, did not choose to follow our decision
that they should begin by striking the first blow and then
see what we could do, and were perhaps influenced by
seeing the air of cool preparation which some of my men
displayed at the prospect of a work of blood.

The Chiboque at last put the matter before us in this
way: — ^' You come among us in a new way, and say you
are quite friendly : how can we know it unless you give us
some of your food, and you take some of ours ? If you
give us an ox, we will give you whatever you may wish,
and then we shall be friends." In accordance with the
entreaties of my men, I gave an ox, and, when asked what
I should like in return, mentioned food as the thing which
we most needed. In the evening, Njambi sent us a very
small basket )f meal, and two or three pounds of the flesh
of our own ox ! with the apology that he had no fowls,
and very little of any other food. It was impossible to
avoid a laugh at the coolness of the generous creatures. I
was truly thankful, nevertheless, that, though resolved to


lie rather than deliver up one of our number to be a
slave, we had so far gained our point as to be allowed to
pass on without having shed human blood.

In the midst of the commotion, several Chiboque stole
pieces of meat out of the sheds of my people, and Moho-
risi, one of the Makololo, went boldly into the crowd and
took back a marrow-bone from one of them. A few of mv
Batoka seemed afraid, and would perhaps have fled had
the affray actually begun, but, upon the whole, I thought
my men behaved admirably. They lamented having left
their shields at home by command of Sekeletu, who feared
that, if they carried these, they might be more disposed to
be overbearing in their demeanor to the tribes we should
meet. We had proceeded on the principles of peace and
conciliation, .and the foregoing treatment shows in what
light our conduct was viewed : in fact, we were taken for
interlopers trying to cheat the revenue of the tribe. They
had been accustomed to get a slave or two from every
slave-trader who passed them, and, now that we disputed
the right, they viewed the infringement on what they con-
sidered lawfully due with most virtuous indignation.

March 6. — We were informed that the people on the
west of the Chiboque of JSTjambi were familiar with the
visits of slave-traders ; and it was the opinion of our guides
from Kangenke that so many of my companions would be
demanded from me, in the same manner as the people
of JSTjambi had done, that I should reach the coast without
a single attendant. I therefore resolved to alter our course
and strike away to the N.N.E., in the hope that at some
point farther north I might find an exit to the Portuguese
settlement of Cassange. We proceeded at first due north,
with the Kasabi villages on our right and the Kasau on
our left. During the first twenty miles we crossed many
small, but now swollen, streams, having the usual boggy
banks; and wherever the water had stood for any length
of time it was discolored with rust of iron.

On the 8th, one of the men had left an ounce or two of

214: THE ox "SINBAD.


powder at our sleeping-place, and went back several miles
for it. My clothing being w^et from crossing a stream, 1
waei compelled to wait for him : had I been moving in the
Bun I should have felt no harm; but the inaction led to a
rioiont fit of fever. The continuance of this attack was a
souroo of much regret ; for we w^ent on next day to a small
ri\u;et called Chihune, in a lovely valley, and had, for a
wonder, a clear sky and a clear moon ; but such was the
conri'-sion produced in my mind by the state of my body,
that I could scarcely manage, after some hours' trial, to
got a lunar observation in which I could repose confidence.
The (yhihune flows into the Longe, and that into the Chi-
hombo, a feeder of the Kasai. Those who know the diffi-
culties of taking altitudes, times, and distances, and com-
mitting all of them to paper, will sympathize with me in
this and many similar instances. While at Chihune, the
men of a village brought wax for sale, and, on finding that
we wished honey, went off and soon brought a hive. All
the bees in the country are in possession of the natives;
for they place hives sufficient for them all. After having
ascertained this, we never attended the call of the honey-
guide, for we were sure it would only lead us to a hive
which we had no right to touch. The bird continues its
habit of inviting attention to the honey, though its ser-
vices in this district are never actually needed. My
Makololo lamented that they never knew before that wax
could be sold for any thing of value.

In passing through these narrow paths I had an oppor-
tunity of observing the peculiarities of my ox " Sinbad.^*
He had a softer back than the others, but a much more
'ntrat-table temper. His horns were bent downward and
hung loosely, so he could do no harm wdth them; but, aa
we wended our way slowly along the narrow path, he
would suddenly dart aside. A string tied to a stick put
through the cartilage of the nose serves instead of a bridle :
if you jerk this back, it makes him run faster on; if you
pull it to one side, he allows the nose and head to go, but


keeps the opposite eye directed to the forbidden spot and
goes in spite of you. The only way he can be brought to
a stand is by a stroke with a wand across the nose. When
Sinbad ran in below a climber stretched over the path so
low that I could not stoop under it, I was dragged off and
came down on the crown of my head; and he never
allowed an opportunity of the kind to pass without trying
to inflict a kick, as if I neither had nor deserved his love.

On leaving the Chihune, we crossed the Longe, and, as
the day was cloudy, our guides wandered in a forest away
to the west till we came to the river Chihombo, flowing to
the E.N.E. My men depended so much on the sun for
guidance, that, having seen nothing of the luminary all
day, they thought we had wandered back to the Chiboque;
and, as often happens when bewildcT-ed, they disputed as
to the point where the sun should r -.e next morning. As
soon as the rains would allow next iay, we went off to the
N.E. It would have been better to have travelled by com-
pass alone; for the guides took advantage of any fears ex-
pressed by my people, and threatened to return if presents
were not made at once. But my men had never left their
own country before except for rapine and murder. When
they formerly came to a village, they were in the habit of
killino; numbers of the inhabitants and then taking; a few
young men to serve as guides to the next place. As this
was their first attempt at an opposite line of conduct, and
as they were without their shields, they felt defenceless
among the greedy Chiboque, and some allowance must bo
made for them on that account.

Saturday, llth. — Beached a small village on the banks
of a narrow stream. I was too ill to go out of my little
covering except to quell a mutiny which began to show
itself among some of the Batoka and Ambonda of cur
])Hrty. They grumbled, as they often do against their
chiefs when they think them partial in their gifts, because
they supposed that I had shown a preference in the distri-
bution of the beads ; but the beads I had given to my prin-


cipal men were only sufficient to purchase a scanty meal,
and I had hastened on to this village in order to slaughter
a tired ox and give them all a feast as well as a rest on
Sunday, as j^reparation for the journey before us. I ex«
plained this to them, and thought their grumbling was al-
layed. I soon sank into a state of stupor, which the fever
sometimes produced, and was oblivious to all their noise in
slaughtering. On Sunday the mutineers were making a
terrible din in preparing a skin they had procured. I re-
quested them twice, by the man who attended me, to be
more quiet, as the noise pained me; but, as they paid no
attention to this civil request, I put out my head, and, re-
peating it myself, was answered by an impudent laugh.
Knowing that discipline would be at an end if this mutiny
were not quelled, ai I that our lives depended on vigor-
ously upholding auti ority, I seized a double-barrelled
pistol and darted fortn from the domicile, looking, I sup-
pose, so savage as to put them to a precipitate flight. As
some remained within hearing, I told them that I must
maintain discipline, though at the expense of some of their
limbs; so long as we travelled together they must re-
member that I was master, and not they. There being
but little room to doubt my determination, they imme-
diately became very obedient, and never afterward gave
me any trouble or imagined that they had r.ny right to
my property.

ISth. — We went forward some miles, but were brought
to a stand by the severity of my fever on the banks of a
branch of the Loajima, another tributary of the Kasai. I
was in a state of partial coma until late at night, when it
became necessary for me to go out; and I was sui'prised to
find that my men had built a little stockade^ and some of
them took their spears and acted as a guard. I found that
we were surrounded by enemies, and a party of Chiboquo
lay near the gateway, after having preferred the demand
of "' a man, an ox, a gun, or a tusk." My men had prepared
for defence in case of a night-attack, and, when the, Chi-


boque wished to be shown where I lay sick, they very

properly refused to point me out. In the morning I went

out to the Chiboque, and found that they answered mo

civilly regarding my intentions in opening the countr)^,

teaching them, &c. &c. They admitted that their chiefa

would be pleased with the prospect of friendship, and now

only wished to exchange tokens of good-will with me, and

offered three pigs, which they hoped I would accept. The

people here are in the habit of making a present and then

demanding whatever they choose in return. We had been

forewarned of this by our guides; so I tried to decline, by

asking if they would eat one of the pigs in company with

us. To this proposition they said that they durst not

accede. I then accepted the present, in hope that tho

blame of deficient friendly feeling might not rest with me,

and presented a razor, two bunches of beads, and twelve

copper rings, contributed by my men from their arms.

They went off to report to their chief; and, as I was quite

unable to move from excessive giddiness, we continued in

the same spot on Tuesday evening, when they returned

with a message couched in very plain terms, that a man,

tusk, gun, or even an ox, alone would be acceptable; that

he had every thing else in his possession but oxen, and

that, whatever I should please to demand from him, he

would gladly give it. As this was all said civilly, and

there was no help for it if we refused but bloodshed, I gave

a tired riding-ox. My late chief mutineer, an Ambonda

man, was now overloyal, for he armed himself and stood

at the gateway. He would rather die than see his fathe?

imposed on ; but I ordered Mosantu to take him out of thi

way, which he did promptly, and allowed the Chiboque t<

march off well pleased with their booty. I told my men

that I esteemed one of their lives of more value than all the

oxen we had, and that the only cau^(? which could induce

me to fight would be to save the lives and liberties of the

majority. In tne propriety of this they all agi'eed, and

said that, if the Chiboque molested us who behaved sc



peaceably, the guilt would be on their heads This is ft
favorite mode of expression throughout the whole country.
All are anxious to give explanation of any acts they have
performed, and conclude the narration with, "I have no
guilt or blame," ("molatu.") '* They have the guilt/' I
never could be positive whether the idea in their minds i8
guilt in the sight of the Deity, or of mankind only.

Kext morning the robber-party came with about thirty
yards of strong striped English calico, an axe, and two
hoes for our acceptance, and returned the copper rings, as
the chief was a great man and did not need the ornaments
of my men, but we noticed that they were taken back
again. I divided the cloth among my men, and pleased
them a little by thus compensating for the loss of the ox.
I advised the chief, whose name we did not learn, as he
did not deign to appear except under the alias Matiamvo,
to get cattle for his own use, and expressed sorrow that I
had none wherewith to enable him to make a commence-
ment. Rains prevented our proceeding till Thursday
morning, and then messengers appeared to tell us that
their chief had learned that all the cloth sent by him had
not been presented; that the copper rings had been secreted
by the persons ordered to restore them to us, and that he
had stripped the thievish emissaries of their property as a
punishment. Our guides thought these were only spies of
a larger party concealed in the forest through which re
were now about to pass. We prepared for defence by
marching in a compact body and allowing no one tc
straggle far behind the others. We marched through
many miles of gloomy forest in gloomier silence, but no-
thing disturbed us. We came to a village, and found all
the men absent, — the guides thought, in the forest, with
their countrymen. I was too ill to care much whetlier wo
were attacked or nof. Though a pouring rain came on, as
we were all anxious to get away out of a bad neighbor-
hood, we proceeded. The thick atmosphere prevented my
seeing the creeping plants in time to avoid them; so


Pitsane, Mohorisi, and I, who alone were mounted, were
often caught; and, as there is no stopping the oxen when
they have the prospect of giving the rider a tumble, wo
came frequently to the ground. In addition to these mis-
haps, Sinbad went off at a plunging gallop, the bridle
broke, and I came down backward on the crown of my
head. He gave me a kick on the thigh at the same time.
I felt none the worse for this rough treatment, but would
not recommend it to others as a palliative in cases of fever.
This last attack of fever was so obstinate that it reduced
me almost to a skeleton. The blanket which I used as
a saddle on the back of the ox, being frequently wet,
remained so beneath me even in the hot sun, and, aided by
the heat of the ox, caused extensive abrasion of the skin,
which was continually healing and getting sore again. To
this inconvenience was now added the chafing of my pro-
jecting bones on the hard bed.

On Friday we came to a village of civil people on the
banks of the Loajima itself, and we were wet all day in
consequence of crossing it. The bridges over it, and
another stream which we crossed at mid-day, were sub-
merged, as we have hitherto invariably found, by a flood
of perfectly-clear water. At the second ford we were met
by a hostile party, who refused us farther passage. I
ordered my men to proceed in the same direction we had
been pursuing, but our enemies spread themselves out in
front of us with loud cries. Our numbers were about
equal to theirs this time, so I moved on at the head of my
men. Some ran off to other villages, or back to their own
village, on pretence of getting ammunition; others called
out that all traders came to them, and that we must do
the same. As these people had plenty of iron-headed
arrows and some guns, when we came to the edge of
the forest I ordered my men to put the luggage in our
centre, and, if our enemies did not fire, to cut down
some young trees and mak« a screen as quickly as possible,
but do nothing to them except in case of actual attack. 1


then dismounted, and, advancing a little toward our prin-
cipal opponent, showed him how easily I could kill him,
but pointed upward, saying, "1 fear God." He did the
game, placing his hand on his heart, pointing upward, and
saying, '^I fear to kill; but come to our village; come: do
come.'' At this juncture, the old head-man, longa Panza,
a venerable negro, came up, and I invited him and all to
be seated, that we might talk the matter over. Tonga
Panza soon let us know that he thought himself very ill
treated in being passed by. As most skirmishes arise
from misunderstanding, this might have been a serious
one; for, like all the tribes near the Portuguese settle-
ments, people here imagine that they have a right to
demand payment from every one who passes through the
country ; and now, though longa Panza was certainly no
match for my men, yet they were determined no-t to forego
their right without a struggle. I removed with my men
to the vicinity of the village, thankful that no accident had
as yet brought us into actual collision.

The reason why the people have imbibed the idea so
strongly that they have a right to demand payment for
leave to pass through the country is probably this. They
have seen no traders except those either engaged in pur-
chasing slaves or who have slaves in their employment.
These slave-traders have always been very much at the
mercy of the chiefs through whose country they have
passed ; for, if they afforded a ready asylum for runaway
slaves, the traders might be deserted at any moment, and
stripped of their property altogether. They are thus
obliged to curry favor with the chiefs, so as to get a safe-
conduct from them. The same system is adopted to induce
the chiefs to part with their people, whom all feel to be the
real source of their importance in the country. On the
return of the traders from the interior with chains of slaves,
it is so easy for a chief who may be so disposed to take
away a chain of eight or ten unresisting slaves, that the
merchant is fain to give any amount of presents in order 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 18 of 36)