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 20 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 20 of 36)
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used in eating. The repast was partaken of with decency
and good manners, and concluded by washing the hands as
at first.

Much of the civility shown to us here was, no doubt,
owing to the flattering letters of recommendation I carried
from the Chevalier Du Prat, of Cape Town; but I am
inclined to believe that my friend Cypriano was influenced,
too, by feelings of genuine kindness, for he quite bared his
garden in feeding us during the few days which I remained,
anxiously expecting the clouds to disperse so far as to
allow of my taking observations for the determination of
the position of the Quango. He slaughtered an ox for us,
and furnished his mother and her maids with manioc-roots,
to prepare farina for the four or five days of our journey to
Cassange, and never even hinted at payment. My wretched
appearance must have excited his compassion.

We were detained by rains and a desire to ascertain our
geographical position till Monday, the 10th, and only got
the latitude 9° 50' S., and, after three days' pretty hard
travellij.g through the long grass, reached Cassange, the
farthest inland station of the Portuguese in Western Africa.
I made my entrance in a somewhat forlorn state as to



clothing among onr Portuguese allies. The first gentleman
I met in the village asked if I had a passport, and said it
was necessary to take me before the authorities. As I was
in the same state of mind in which individuals are who
commit a petty depredation in order to obtain the shelter
and food of a prison, I gladly accompanied him to the house
of the commandant or Chefe, Senhor de Silva Eego. Having
shown my passport to this gentleman, he politely asked me
to supper, and, as we had eaten nothing except the farina
of Cypriano from the Quango to this, I suspect I appeared
particularly ravenous to the other gentlemen around the
table. They seemed, however, to understand my position
pretty well, from having all travelled extensively them-
selves : had they not been present, I might have put some
in my pocket to eat by night ; for, after fever, the appetite
is excessively keen, and manioc is one of the most unsatisfy-
ing kinds of food. Captain Antonio Rodrigues Neves then
kindly invited me to take up my abode in his house. Next
morning this generous man arrayed me in decent clothing,
and continued during the whole period of my stay to treat
me as if I had been his brother. I feel deeply grateful to
him for his disinterested kindness. He not only attended
to my wa^ts, but also furnished food for my famishing
party free of charge.

The village of Cassange (pronounced Kassanje) is com-
posed of thirty or forty traders' houses, slattered about,
without any regularity, on an elevated flat spot in the great
Quango or Cassange valley. They are built of wattle and
daub, and surrounded by plantations of manioc, maize, &c
TTiere are about forty Portuguese traders m this district,
all of whom are officers in the militia, and many of theru
have become rich from adopting the plan of sending out
pombeiros, or native traders, with large quantities of goods,
to trade in the more remote parts of the country. If .1
might judge from the week of feasting I passed among
them, they are generally prosperous.

As 1 always preferred to appear in my owi? proper eh a-


TFxter, I was an object of curiosity to these hospitable
Portuguese. They evidently looked upon me as an agent
of the English Government engaged in some new move
ment for the suppression of slavery. They could not divine
what a " missionario" had to do with latitudes and longi-
tudes, which I was intent on observing. When we became
a little familiar, the questions put were rather amusing : —
" Is it common for missionaries to be doctors ?" " Are you
a doctor of medicine and a ^doutor mathematico' too?
You must be more than a missionary to know how to calcu-
late the longitude. Come; tell us at once what rank you
hold in the English army." They may have given credit
to my reason for wearing the mustache, as that explains
why men have beards and women have none ; but that
which puzzled many besides my Cassange friends was the
anomaly of my being a " sacerdote," with a wife and four
children ! I usually got rid of the last question by putting
another : — " Is it not better to have children with a wife than
to have children without a wife?'' But all were most kind
and hospitable ; and, as one of their festivals was near, they
invited me to partake of the feast.

The anniversary of the Kesurrection of our Savior was
observed on the 16th of April as a day of rejoicing, though
the Portuguese have no priests at Cassange. The colored
population dressed up a figure intended to represent Judas
Iscariot, and paraded him on a riding-ox about the village :
sneers and maledictions were freely bestowed on the j^oor
wretch thus represented. The slaves and free colored popu-
lation, dressed in their gayest clothing, made visits to all
the principal merchants, and, wishing them '' a good feast, '
expected a present in return. This, though frequently
granted in the shape of pieces of calico to make new
dresses, was occasionally refused; but the rebuff did not
much affect the petitioner.

At ten A.M. we went to the residence of the commandant,
and, on a signal being given, two of the four brass guns
belonging to the Government commenced firing, and con-


tinned some time, to the great admiration of my men,
M-hose ideas of the power of a cannon are very exalted.
The Portuguese flag was hoisted and trumpets sounded, aa
an expression of joy at the resurrection of our Lord. Cap-
tain Neves invited all the principal inhabitants of the place,
and did what he could to feast them in a princely style
All manner of foreign preserved fruits and wine from Por
tugal, biscuits from America, butter from Cork, and beei
from England, were displayed, and no expense spared ii
rendering the entertainment joyous. After the feast wa;:
over, they sat down to the common amusement of card-
playing, which continued till eleven o'clock at night. Af-
far as a mere traveller could judge, they seemed to bo
polite and willing to aid each other. They live in a febrilo-
district, and many of them had enlarged spleens. They
have neither doctor, apothecary, school, nor priest, and
when taken ill, trust to each other and to Providence. As
men left in such circumstances must think for themselves, '
they have all a good idea of what ought to be done in the
common diseases of the country, and what they have
of either medicine or skill they freely impart to each

None of these gentlemen had Portuguese wives. They
usually come to Africa in order to make a little monej;,
and return to Lisbon. Hence they seldom bring their
wives with them, and never can bo successful colonists in
consequence. It is common for them to have families by
native women. It was particularly gratifying to me, who ,
had been familiar with the stupid prejudice against color
entertained only by those who are themselves becoming
tawny, to view the liberality with which people of color
were treated by the Portuguese. Instances, so common
in the south, in which half-caste children are abandoned,
are here extremely rare. They are acknowledged at table,
and provided for by their fathers as if European. The
colored clerks of the merchants sit at the same table with
their employers without any embarrassment. The civil


manners of superiors to inferiors is probably the result of
the position they occupy, — a few whites among the usanda
of blacks; but nowhere else in Africa is there so much
good-will between Europeans and natives as here. If some
border-colonists had the absolute certainty of our Govern-
ment declining to bear them out in their arrogance, w^e
should probably hear less of Caffre insolence. It is inso-
lence which begets insolence.

From the village of Cassange we have a good view of
the surrounding country : it is a gently-undulating plain,
covered with grass and patches of forest. The western
edge of the Quango valley appears, about twenty miles
off, as if it were a range of lofty mountains, and passes by
the name of Tala Mungongo, ("Behold the Eange.") In
the old Portuguese map, to which I had been trusting in
planning my route, it is indicated as Talla Mugongo, or
'^Castle of Bocks!" and the Coanza is put down as rising
therefrom ; but here I was assured that the Coanza had
its source near Bihe, far to the southwest of this, and we
should not see that river till we came near Pungo Andonga.
It is somewhat remarkable that more accurate information
about this country has not been published. Captain [N'eves
and others had a correct idea of the courses of the rivers,
and communicated their knowledge freely; yet about this
time maps were sent to Europe from Angola representing
the Quango and Coanza as the same river, and Cassange
placed about one hundred miles from its true position.
The frequent recurrence of the same name has probably
helped to increase the confusion. I have crossed several
Quangos, but all insignificant except that which drains this
valley. The repetition of the favorite names of chiefs, as
Catende, is also perplexing, as one Catende may be mis-
taken for another. To avoid this confusion as much as
possible, I have refrained from introducing many names.
Numerous villages are studded all over the valley; but
these possess no permanence, and many more existed pr^


vious to the Portuguese expedition of 1850 to punisli the

This valley, as I have before remarked, is all fertile in
the extreme. My men could never cease admiring its
capability for raising tneir corn {Holcus sorghwii) and
despising the comparatively-limited cultivation of the in-
habitants. The Portuguese informed me that no manure
is ever needed, but that the more the ground is tilled the
better it yields. Virgin soil does not give such a heavy
crop as an old garden; and, judging from the size of the
maize and manioc in the latter, I can readily believe the
statement. Cattle do well, too. Viewing the valley as a
whole, it may be said that its agricultural and pastoral
riches are lying waste. Both the Portuguese and their
descendants turn their attention almost exclusively to
trade in wax and ivory; and, though the country would
vield any amount of corn and dairy-produce, the native
Portuguese live chiefly on manioc, and the Europeans
purchase their flour, bread, butter, and cheese from the

As the traders of Cassange were the first white men we
had come to, we sold the tusks belonging to Sekeletu, which
had been brought to test the difl'erence of prices in the Ma-
kololo and white men's country. The result was highly
satisfactory to my companions, as the Portuguese give
much larger prices for ivory than traders from the Cape
can possibly give, who labor under the disadvantage of con-
siderable overland expenses and ruinous restrictions. Two
muskets, three small barrels of gunpowder, and English
calico and baize sufficient to clothe my whole party, with
lar ^e bunches of beads, all for one tusk, were quite delight-
ful for those who had been accustomed to give two tusks
for one gun. With another tusk we j^rocured caUco, which
here is the chief currency, to pay our way down to the
coast. The remaining two were sold for money to purchase
a horse for Sekeletu at Loanda.

The superiority of this new market was quite astound-


ing to the Makololo, and they began to abuse the traders
by whom they had^ while in their own country, been visited,
and, as they now declared, " cheated/' They had no idea
of the value of time and carriage, and it was somewhat
difficult for me to convince them that the reason of the dif-
lerence of prices lay entirely in what they themselves had
done in coming here, and that, if the Portuguese should
carry goods to their country, they would by no means be
so liberal in their prices. They imagined that, if the Cas-
sange traders came to Linyanti, they would continue to
vend their goods at Cassange prices. I believe I gave them
at last a clear idea of the manner in which prices were regu-
lated by the expenses incurred; and when we went to
Loanda, and saw goods delivered at a still cheaper rate,
they concluded that it would be better for them to come to
that city than to turn homeward at Cassange.

Mr. Bego, the commandant, very handsomely offered me
a soldier as a guard to Ambaca. My men told me that
ihey had been thinking it would be better to turn back
nere, as they had been informed by the people of color at
Cassange that I was leading them down to the sea-coast
only to sell them, and they would be taken on board shij),
fattened, and eaten, as the white men were cannibals. I
asked if they had ever heard of an Englishman buying or
selling people ; if I had not refused to take a slave when
she was offered to me by Shinte ; but, as I had always be-
naved as an English teacher, if they now doubted my inten-
tions, they had better not go to the coast ; I, however, who
expected to meet some of my countrymen there, was deter-
mined to go on. They replied that they only thought it
right to tell me what had been told to them, but they did
not intend to leave me, and would follow wherever 1
should lead the way. This affair being disposed of for the
time, the commandant gave them an ox, and me a friendly
dinner before parting. All the merchants of Cassange
accompanied us, in their hammocks carried by slaves, to
the edge of the plateau on which their village stands, and


we parted with the feeling in my mind that I should never
forget their disinterested kindness. They not only did
every thing they could to make my men and me comfort-
able during our stay, but, there being no hotels in Loanda,
they furnished me with letters of recommendation to their
friends in that city, requesting them to receive me into
their houses, for without these a stranger might find him-
self a lodger in the streets. May God remember them in
their day of need !

The latitude and longitude of Cassange, the most easterly
Btation of the Portuguese in Western Africa, is lat. 9° 37'
30" S and long. 17° 49' E.; consequently we had still about
three hundred miles to traverse before we could reach the
coast. We had a black militia-corporal as a guide. He was
a native of Ambaca, and, like nearly all the inhabitants of
that district, known by the name of Ambakistas, could both
read and write. He had three slaves with him, and was
carried by them in a 'Hipoia,'' or hammock slung to a pole.

Having left Cassange on the 21st; we passed across the
remaining portion of this excessively-fertile valley to the
foot of Tala Mungongo. We crossed a fine little stream
called the Lui on the 22d, and another named the Luare on
the 24th, and then slept at the bottom of the height, which
is from a thousand to fifteen hundred feet.

Situated a few miles from the edge of the descent, we
found the village of Tala Mungongo, and were kindly
accommodated with a house to sleep in, — which was very
welcome, as we were all both wet and cold. We found
that the greater altitude and the approach of winter
lowered the temperature so much that many of my men
Buffered severely from colds. At this, as at several other
Portuguese stations, they have been provident enough to
erect travellers' houses on the same principle as khans or
caravanserais of the East. They are built of the usual
wattle and daub, and have benches of rods for the way-
farer to make his bed on; also chairs, and a table, and a
large jar of water. These benches, though far from luxu-


rious couches, wore better than the c-roiind under the
rotten fragments of my gypsy-tent, for we had still showers
occasionally, and the dews were very heavy. I continued
to use them for the sake of the shelter they afforded, until
I found that they were lodgings also for certain inconve-
nient bedfellows.

27th. — Five hours' ride through a pleasant country of
forest and meadow, like those of Londa, brought us to a
"^ illage of Basongo, a tribe living in subjection to the Por-
tuguese. We crossed several little streams, which were
flowing in the westerly direction in which we were march-
ing, and unite to form the Quize, a feeder of the Coanza.
The Basongo were very civil, as indeed all the tribes wero
who had been conquered by the Portuguese. The Basong'^
and Bangala are yet only partially subdued. The farther
west we go from this the less independent we find the
bhxck population, until we reach the vicinity of Loanda,
where the free natives are nearly identical in their feelings
toward the Government with the slaves. But the go-
vernors of Angola wisely accept the limited allegiance and
tribute rendered by the more distant tribes as better than

"We spent Sunday, the 30th of April, at Ngio, close to
the ford of the Quize as it crosses our path to fall into the
Coanza. The country becomes more open, but is still
abundantly fertile, with a thick crop of grass between two
and three feet high. It is also well wooded and watered.
Villages of Basongo are dotted over the landscape, and
frequently a square house of wattle and daub, belonging to
n.ntive Portuguese, is placed beside them for the purposes
of trade.

Pitsane and another of the men had violent attacks of
fever, and it was no wonder; for the dampness and evapo-
ration from the ground was excessive. When at any time
I attempted to get an observation of a star, if the trough
of mercury were placed on the ground, so much moisture

was condensed on the inside of the glass roof over it that
Q 21


it was witn difficulty the reflection of the star could be
seen. When the trough was placed on a box to prevent
the moisture entering from below, so much dew was de-
posited on the outside of the roof that it was soon neces-
sary, for the sake of distinct vision, to wipe the glass.
This would not have been of great consequence, but a short
exposure to this dew was so sure to bring on a fresh fever
that I was obliged to give up observation by night alto-
gether. The inside of the only covering I now had was
not much better, but under the blanket one is not so hable
to the chill which the dew produces.

It would have afforded me pleasure to have cultivated a
more intimate acquaintance with the inhabitants of this
part of the country, but the vertigo produced by frequent
fevers made it as much as I could do to stick on the ox
and crawl along in misery. In crossing the Lombe, my
ox Sinbad, in the indulgence of his propensity to strike out
a new path for himself, plunged overhead into a deep hole,
and so soused me that I was obliged to move on to dry my
clothing without calling on the Europeans who live on the
bank. This I regretted, for all the Portuguese were very
kind, and, like the Boers placed in similar circumstances,
feel it a slight to be passed without a word of salutation.
But we went on to a spot where orange-trees had been
planted by the natives themselves, and where abundance
of that refreshing fruit was exposed for sale.

On entering the district of Ambaca, we found the land-
scape enlivened by the appearance of lofty mountains in
the distance, the grass comparatively short, and the whole
country at this time looking gay and verdant. We crossed
the Lucalla by means of a large canoe kept there by a man
who farms the ferry from the Government and charges
about a penny per head. A few miles beyond the Lucalla
we came to the village of Ambaca, an important place in
former times, but now a mere paltry village, beautifully
situated on a little elevation in a plain surrounded on all
hands by lofty mountains. It has a jail, and a gooi bouwe


for the commandant, but neither fort nor church, thougb
the ruins of a phice of worship are still standing.

We were most kindly received by the commandant of
Ambaca, Arsenio de Carpo, who spoke a little English.
He recommended wine for my debility, and here I took
the first glass of that beverage I had taken in Africa. 1
felt much refreshed, and could then realize and meditate
on the weakening effects of the fever. They were curious
even to myself; for, though I had tried several times since
we left ISTgio to take lunar observations, I could not avoid
confusion of time and distance, neither could I hold the
instrument steady, nor perform a simple calculation : hence
many of the positions of this part of the route were left
till my return from Loanda. Often, on getting up in the
mornings, I found my clothing as wet from perspiration as
if it had been dipped in water. In vain had I tried to
learn or collect words of the Bunda, or dialect spoken in
Angola. I forgot the days of the week and the names of
my companions, and, had I been asked, I probably could
not have told my own. The complaint itself occupied
many of my thoughts. One day I supposed that I had got
the true theory of it, and would certainly cure the next
attack, whether in myself or companions; but some new
symptoms would appear and scatter all the fine specula-
lions which had sprung up, with extraordinary fertility, in
one department of my brain.

This district is said to contain upward of 40,000 souls.
Some ten or twelve miles to the north of the village of Am-
baca there once stood the missionary station of Cahenda;
and it is now quite astonishing to observe the great num-
bers who can read and write in this district. This is the
fruit of the labors of the Jesuit and Capuchin missionaries,
for they taught the people of Ambaca ; and ever since the
expulsion of the teachers by the Marquis of Pombal the
natives have continued to teach ei^ch other. These devoted
men are still held in high estimation throughout the coun-
try to this day. All speak well of them, (os padres Jesuitas;)


and, now that they are gone from this lower sphere, I could
not help wishing that these oar Roman Catholic fellow-
Christians had felt it to be their duty to give the people
the Bible, to be a light to their feet when the good men
themselves were gone.

When sleeping in the house of the commandant, an
insect, well known in the southern country by the name
tampan, bit my foot. It is a kind of tick, and chooses by
preference the parts between the fingers or toes for inflict-
ing its bite. It is seen from the size of a pin's head to that
of a pea, and is common in all the native huts in this coun-
try. It sucks the blood until quite full, and is then of a
dark-blue color, and its skin so tough and yielding that it
is impossible to burst it by any amount of squeezing with
the fingers. I had felt the effects of its bite in former
years, and eschewed all native huts ever after ; but, as I
was here again assailed in a European house, I shall detail
the effects of the bite. These are a tingling sensation of
mingled pain and itching, which commences ascending the
limb until the poison imbibed reaches the abdomen, where
it soon causes violent vomiting and purging. Where these
effects do not follow, as we found afterward at Tete, fever
sets in ; and I was assured by intelligent Portuguese there
that death has sometimes been the result of this fever.
The anxiety my friends at Tete manifested to keep my
men out of the reach of the tampans of the village made it
evident that they had seen cause to dread this insignificant
insect. The only inconvenience I afterward suffered from
this bite was the continuance of the tingling sensation in
the point bitten for about a week.

Alay 12. — As we were about to start this morning, the
commandant, Senhor Arsenio, provided bread and meat
most bountifully for my use on the way to the next sta-
tion, and sent two militia-soldiers as guides, instead of our
Cassange corporal, who left us here. About mid-day we
asked for shelter from the sun in the house of Senhor Mel-
lot, at Zangu ; and, though I was unable to sit and engage


m conversalion, I found, on rising from his couch, that he
had at once proceeded to cook a fowl for my use; and at
parting he gave me a glass of wine, which prevented the
violent fit of shivering I expected that afternoon. The
universal hospitality of the Portuguese was most gratify-
ing, as it was quite unexpected • and even now, as I copy
my journal, I remember it all with a glow of gratitude.

We spent Sunday, the 14th of May, at Cabinda, which is

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 20 of 36)