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 21 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 21 of 36)
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one of the stations of the sub-commandants, who are placed
at different points in each district of Angola as assistants
of the head-commandant, or chefe. It is situated in a
beautiful glen, and surrounded by plantations of bananas
and manioc.

We met numbers of Mambari on their way back to Bihe.
Some of them had belonged to the parties which had pene-
trated as far as Linyanti, and foolishly showed their dis-
pleasure at the prospect of the Makololo preferring to go
to the coast-markets themselves to intrusting them with
their ivory. The Mambari repeated the tale of the mode
in which the white men are said to trade. '' The ivory is
left on the shore in the" evening, and next morning the
seller finds a quantity of goods placed there in its stead by
the white men who live on the sea.'^ '^ Now," added they
to my men, "how can you Makolo trade with these ^mer-
men' ? Can you enter into the sea and tell them to come
ashore ?" It was remarkable to hear this idea repeated so
near the sea as we now were. My men replied that they
only wanted to see for themselves; and, as they were now
getting some light on the nature of the trade carried on by
the Mambari, they were highly amused on perceiving the
reasons why the Mambari would rather have met them on
the Zambesi than so near the sea-coast.

There is something so exhilarating to one of Highland
blood in being near or on high mountains, that I forgot my
fever as we wended our way among the lofty tree-covered
masses of mica schist which form the highlands around the
romantic residence of the chefe of Golungo Alto. (Lat. 9**


8' 30'' S., long. 15° 2' E.) The whole district is extremely
beautiful. The hills are all bedecked with trees of various
hues of foliage, and among them towers the graceful palm,
which yields the oil of commerce for making our soaps and
the intoxicating toddy.

We were most kindly received by the commandant.
Lieutenant Antonio Canto e Castro, a young gentleman
whose whole subsequent conduct will ever make me re-
gard him with great affection. Like every other person
of intelligence whom I had met, he lamented deeply tlie
neglect with which this fine country had been treated.
This district contained, by the last census, 26,000 hearths
or fires; and, if to each hearth we reckon four souls, we
have a population of 104,000. The number of carre-
gadores (carriers) who may be ordered out at the pleasure
of Grovernment to convey merchandise to the coast is in
this district alone about 6000 \ yet there is no good road
in existence. Tliis system of compulsory carriage of mer-
chandise was adopted in consequence of the increase in
numbers and activity of our cruisers which took place in
1845. Each trader who went, previous to that year, into
the interior, in the pursuit of his calling, proceeded on the
plan of purchasing ivory and bees'-wax, and a sufficient
number of slaves to carry these commodities. The whole
were intended for exportation as soon as the trader reached
the coast. But when the more stringent measures of 1845
came into operation, and rendered the exportation of slaves
almost impossible, there being no roads proper for the em-
ployment of wheel-conveyances, this new system of com-
puls.''»ry carriage of ivory and bees'-wax to the coast was
resorted to by the Government of Loanda. A trader who
requires two or three hundred carriers to convey his mer-
chandise to the coast now applies to the general Govern-
ment for aid. An order is sent to the commandant of a
district to furnish the number required. Each head-man
of the Villages to whom the order is transmitted mast fur-
nish from five to twenty or thirty men, according to tho


proportion that his peoj^le bear to the entire population of
the district. For this accommodation the trader must pay
a tax to tliic Government of one thousand reis, or about
three shillings, per load carried. The trader is obliged to
pay the carrier also the sum of fifty reis, or about two-
pence a day, for his sustenance. And, as a day's journey
is never more than from eight to ten miles, the expense
which must be incurred for this compulsory labor is felt to
be heavy by those who were accustomed to employ slave-
labor alone. Yet no effort has been made to form a great
line of road for wheel-carriages. The first great want of a
country has not been attended to, and no development of
its vast resources has taken place. The fact, however, of
a change from one system of carriage to another, taken in
connection with the great depreciation in the price of
slaves near this coast, proves the effectiveness of our effortik
at repressing the slave-trade on the ocean.

The latitude of Golungo Alto, as observed at the re-
sidence of the commandant, was 9° 8' 30" S., longitude
15° 2' E. A few days' rest with this excellent young man
enabled me to regain much of my strength, and I could
look with pleasure on the luxuriant scenery before his
door. We were quite shut in among green hills, many of
which were cultivated up to their tops with manioc, coffee,
cotton, groundnuts, bananas, pineapples, guavas, papaws,
custard-apples, pitangas, and jambos, — fruits brought from
South America by the former missionaries.

We left Golungo Alto on the 24th of May, — the winter
in those parts. Every evening clouds come rolling in
great masses over the mountains in the west, and pealing
thunder accompanies the fall of rain during the night or
early in the morning. The clouds generally remain on the
hills till the morning is well spent, so that we become fami-
liar with the morning mists, — a thing we never once ©aw
at Kolobeng. The thermometer stands at 80° by day, but
tiinks as low as 76° by night.

In going westward we crossed several fine little gushing


Streams which never dry. They unite in the Luinha (pro-
nouijced Lueenya) and Lucalla. As they flow over many
little cascades, they might easily be turned to good account;
but they are all allowed to run on idly to the ocean. Wo
passed through foi'csts of gigantic timber^ and, at an open
8})ace named Cambondo, about eight miles from Goluugo
Alto, found numbers of carpenters converting these lofty
trees into planks, in exactly the same manner as was fol-
lowed by the illustrious Robinson Crusoe. A tree of three
or four feet in diameter and forty or fifty feet up to the
nearest branches was felled. It was then cut into lengtha
of a few feet, and split into thick junks, which again were
reduced to planks an inch thick by persevering labor with
the axe. The object of the carpenters was to make little
chests, and they drive a constant trade in them at Cam-
bondo. When finished with hinges, lock, and key, all of
their own manufacture, one costs only a shilling and eight-
ponce. My men wjre so delighted with them that they
carried several of them on their heads all the way to

At Trombeta we were pleased to observe a great deal of
taste displayed by the sub-commandant in the laying out
of his ground and adornment of his house with flowers.
This trifling incident was the more pleasing, as it was the
first attempt at neatness I had seen since leaving the esta-
blishment of Mozinkwa in Londa. Rows of trees had
been planted along each side of the road, with pineapples
and flowers between. This arrangement I had an oppor-
tunity of seeing in several other districts of this country,
for there is no difficLilty in raising any plant or tree if it is
only kept from being choked by weeds.

This gentleman had now a fine estate, which but a few
years ago was a forest and cost him only £16. He had
planted about nine hundred cofl'ee-trees upon it, and as
these begin to yield in three years from being planted, and
in six attain their maximum, I have no doubt but that ere
now his £16 yields him sixty-fold. All sorts of fruit-trees

M0SQUIT08. 249

and grape-vines yield their fruit iwi3e in each year, "with-
out any labor or irrigation being bestowed on them. All
grains and vegetables, if only sown, do the same; and, if
advantage is taken of the mists of winter, even three crops
of pulse may be raised. Cotton was now standing in the
pods in his fields, and he did not seem to care about it. 1
understood him to say that this last plant flourishes, but the
wet of one of the two rainy seasons with which this coun-
try is favored sometimes proves troublesome to the grow jr.
I am not aware whether wheat has ever been tried, but 1
saw both figs and grapes bearing well. The great com-
plaint of all cultivators is the want of a good road to carry
their produce to market. Here all kinds of food are re-
markably cheap.

Farther on we left the mountainous country, and, as we
descended toward the west coast, saw the lands assuming
a more sterile, uninviting aspect. On our right ran the
river Senza, which nearer the sea takes the name of Bengo
It is about fifty yards broad, and navigable for canoes.
The low plains adjacent to its banks are protected from
inundation by embankments, and the population is entirely
occupied in raising food and fruits for exportation to
Loanda by means of canoes. The banks are infested by
myriads of the most ferocious mosquitos I ever met. Not
one of our party could get a snatch of sleep. I was taken
into the house of a Portuguese, but was soon glad to make
my escape and lie across the path on the lee side of the
fire, where the smoke blew over my body. My host won-
dered at my want of taste, and I at his want of feeling ;
for, to our astonishment, he and the other inhabitants had
actually become used to what was at least equal to a nail
through the heel of one's boot, or the toothache.

As we were now drawing near to the sea^ my com-
panions were looking at every thing in a serious light. One
of them asked me if we should all have an opportunity of
watching each other at Loanda. " Suppose one went for
w&ter: wou d the others see if he were kidnapped?" I


replied, ^^I see what you are driving at; and if you suspect
me you may return, for I am as ignorant of Loanda as
you are; but nothing will happen to you but what happens
to myself. We have stood by each other hitherto, and will
do so to the last/^ The plains adjacent to Loanda are
somewhat elevated and comparatively sterile. On coming
across these we first beheld the sea : my companions
looked upon the boundless ocean with awe. On describing
their feelings afterward, they remarked that ^^we marched
along with our father, believing that what the ancients had
always told us was true, that the world has no end; but all
at once the world said to us, ^I am finished: there is no
more of me I' " They had always imagined that the world
was one extended plain without limit.

They were now somewhat apprehensive of suffering
want, and I was unable to allay their fears with any pro-
mise of supply, for my owd mind was depressed by disease
and care. The fever had induced a state of chronic dys-
entery so troublesome that I could not remain on the ox
more than ten minutes at a time; and as we came down
the declivity above the city of Loanda on the 31st of May,
I was laboring under great depressioiJ of spirits, as I under-
8t6od that, in a population of twelve- thousand souls, there
was but one genuine English geniJfiman. I naturally felt
anxiou*^ to know whether he were j/Ohnc'Ssed of good-nature,
or wis one of those crusty rnortsii one would rather not
m'^.et a^ all.

ThiS gentleman, Mr. Gabriel, oar commissioner for the
sjupprer.sion of the slave-trade^ bid. kindly forwarded i.a
invitation to meet me on the wriy from Cassange, but,
unfortunately, it crossed me en the road. When we
entered his porch, I was dcl^^htcd to see a number of
(lowers cultivated carefully, and inferred from this circum-
stance fhat he v/as, what I Boon discovered him to be, a
real whole-hearted Englishman.

Seeing me ill, he benevolor.tly offered me his bed. Kever
uhall I forget the lui;uvious pleasure I enjoyed in feeling


myiself again on a good English couch, after six months'
sleeping on the ground. I was soon asleep ; and Mr. Ga-
briel, coming in almost immediately, rejoiced at the sound-
ness of my repose.




In the hope that a short enjoyment of Mr. GabrieFft
generous hospitality would restore me to my wonted vigor,
I continued under his roof; but, my complaint having been
caused by long exposure to malarious influences, I became
much more reduced than ever, even while enjoying rest.
Several Portuguese gentlemen called on me shortly after
my arrival; and the Bishop of Angola, the Eight Eeverend
Joaquim Moreira Eeis, then the acting governor of the
province, sent his secretary to do the same, and likewise to
off'er the services of the Government physician.

Some of her majesty's cruisers soon came into the port,
and, seeing the emaciated condition to which I was re-
duced, offered to convey me to St. Helena or homeward ;
but, though I had reached the coast, I had found that, in
consequence of the great amount of forest, rivers, and
marsh, there was no possibility of a highway for wagons,
and I had brought a party of Sekeletu's people with me^
and found the tribes near the Portuguese settlement so very
unfriendly that it would be altogether impossible for my
men to return alone. I therefore resolved to decline the
tempting offers of my naval friends, and take back my Mako-
iolo companions to their chief, with a view of trying to
maKe a path from his country to the east coast bj means
of the great river Zambesi or Leeambye.

I, however, gladly availed myself of the medical assist-


ance of Mr. Cockin, the eiirgeon of the ^'Polyphemus,"
at the suggestion of his commander, Captain Phillips. Mr-
Cockin's treatment, aided by the exhilarating presence
of the warm-hearted naval officers, and Mr. Gabriel's un
wearied hospitality and care, soon brought me round
again. On the 14th I was so far well as to call on the
bishop, in company with my party, who were arrayed in
new robes of striped cotton cloth and red caps, all pre-
sented to them by Mr. Gabriel. He received us, as head
of the provisional Government, in the grand hall of the
palace. He put many intelligent questions respecting the
Makololo, and then gave them free permission to come to
Loanda as often as they pleased. This interview pleased
the Makololo extremely.

Every one remarked the serious deportment of the
Makololo. They viewed the large stone houses and
churches in the vicinity of the great ocean with awe.
A house with two stories was, until now, beyond their
comprehension. In explanation of this strange thing, I
had always been obliged to use the word for hut; and^ as
huts are constructed by the poles being let into the earth,
they never could comprehend how the poles of one hut
could be founded upon the roof of another, or how men
could live, in the upper story, with the conical roof of the
lower one in the middle. Some Makololo, who had visited
my little house at Kolobeng, in- trying to describe it to
their countrymen at Linyanti, said, '' It is not a hut : it is
a mountain with several caves in it."

Commander Bedingfekl and Captain Skene invited them
to visit their vessels, the ^'Pliito'^ and "Philomel." Know-
ing their fears, I told them that no one need go if he
entertained the least suspicion of foul play. Nearly the
whole party went ; and, when on deck, I pointed to the
sailors, and said, " Now, these are all my countrymen, sent
by our queen for the purpose of putting down the trade of
those that buy and sell black men." They replied, " Truly I
they are just like you !" and all their fears seemed to


vanish at once, for they went forward among the men,
and the jolly tars, acting much as the Makololo would have
done in similar circumstances, handed them a share of the
bread and beef which they had for dinner. The com-
mander allowed them to fire off a cannon ; and, having
the most exalted ideas of its power, they were greatly
pleased when I told them, " That is what they put down
the slave-trade with." The size of the brig-of-war amazed
them. "It is not a canoe at all: it is a town!" The
sailors' deck they named "the kotla ;" and then, as a
climax to their description of this great ark, added, "And
what sort of a town is it that you must climb up into with
a rope ?"

The effect of the politeness of the officers and men on
their minds was most beneficial. They had behaved with
the greatest kindness to me all the way from Linyanti,
and I now rose rapidly in their estimation ; for, whatever
they may have surmised before, they now saw that I was
respected among my own countrymen, and always after-
ward treated me with the greatest deference.

On the 15th there was a procession and service of the
mass in the Cathedral ; and, wishing to show my men a
place of worship, I took them to the church, which now
serves as the chief one of the see of Angola and Congo.
There is an impression on some minds that a gorgeous
ritual is better calculated to inspire devotional feelings
than the simple forms of the Protestant worship. But
here the frequent genuflexions, changing of positions,
burning of incense, with the priests' back turned to the
people, the laughing, talking, and manifest irreverence of
'the singers, with firing of guns, &c., did not convey to the
minds of my men the idea of adoration. I overheard
them, 'n talking to each other, remark that "they had
seen the white men charming their demons;" a phrase
identical with one they had used when seeing the Balonda
beating drums before their idols.

In the beginni- g of August I suffered a severe relapse,



which reduced me to a mere skeleton. I was then unable
to attend to my men for a considerable time ; but^ when in
convalescence from this last attack^ I was thankful to find
that I was free from that lassitude which, in my first
recovery, showed the continuance of the malaria in the
system. I found that my men, without prompting, had
established a brisk trade in firewood. They sallied forth
at cock-erowing in the morning, and by daylight reached
the uncultivated parts of the adjacent country, collected
a bundle of firewood, and returned to the city. It was
then divided into smaller fagots, and sold to the inhabit-
ants ; and, as they gave larger q.uantities than the regular
wood-carriers, they found no difficulty in selling. A ship
freighted with coal for the cruisers having arrived from
England, Mr. Gabriel procured them employment in un-
loading her at sixpence a day. They continued at this
work for upward of a month; and nothing could exceed
their astonishment at the vast amount of cargo one ship
contained. As they themselves always afterward ex-
pressed it, they had labored every day from sunrise to
sunset for a moon and a half, unloading, as quickly as they
could, "stones that burn,'' and were tired out, still leaving
plenty in her. With the money so obtained they purchased
clothing, beads and other articles to take back to their
own country. Their ideas of the value of diff'erent kinds
of goods rather astonished those who had dealt only with
natives on the coast. Hearing it stated with confidence
that the Africans preferred the thinnest fiibrics, provided
they had gaudy colors and a large extent of surface, the
idea was so new to my experience in the interior that T
dissented, and, in order to show the superior good sense
of the Makololo, took them to the shop of Mr. Schut.
When he showed them the amount of general goods which
they might procure at Loanda for a single tusk, I requested
them, without assigning any reason, to point out th« fabrics
they prized most. They all at once selected the strongest
pieces of English calico and other cloths, showing that thoy


had regard to strength without reference to color. I believe
that most of the Bechuana nation would have done the
same. But I was assured that the people near the coast,
with whom the Portuguese have to deal, have not so much
regard to durability. This probably arises from oalicu
being the chief circulating-medium, — quantity being then
of more importance than quality.

During the period of my indisjDOsition, the bishop sent
frequently to make inquiries, and as soon as I was able to
walk I went to thank him for his civilities. His whole
conversation and conduct showed him to be a man of great
benevolence and kindness of heart. Alluding to my being
a Protestant, he stated that he was a Catholic from convic-
tion; and though sorry to see others, like myself, following
another path, he entertained no uncharitable feelings, nor
would he ever sanction persecuting measures. He com-
pared the various sects of Christians, in their way to
heaven, to a number of individuals choosing to pass down
the different streets of Loanda to one of the churches : all
would arrive at the same point at List. His good influence,
both in the city and the country, is universally acknow-
ledged : he was promoting the establishment of schools,
which, though formed more on the monastic principle than
Protestants might approve, will no doubt be a blessing. He
was likewise successfully attemj^ting to abolish the non-
marriage custom of the country; and several marriages
had taken place in Loanda among those who, but for his
teaching, would have been content with concubinage.

St. Paul de Loanda has Deen a very considerable city,
but is now in a state of decay, it contains about twelve
thousand inhabitants, most of whom are people of color.*

* From the census of 1850-51 we find the population of this city
arranged thus : — 830 whites, only IGO of whom are females. This is the
largest collecti'^r- of whites in the country, for Angola itself contains only
about 1000 whites. There are 2400 half-castes in Loanda, and only 120
of them slaves ; and there are 9000 blacks, more than 6000 of whom are


There are various evidences of its former magnificence,
especially two cathedrals, one of which, once a Jesuit
college, is now converted into a workshop ; and in passing
the other we saw with sorrow a number of oxen feeding
within its stately walls. Three forts continue in a good
state of repair. Many large stone houses are to be found.
The palace of the governor and Government offices arft
commodious structures, but nearly all the houses of the
native inhabitants are of wattle and daub. Trees are
planted all over the town for the sake of shade, and the
city presents an imposing appearance from the sea. It is
provided with an effective police, and the custom-house
department is extremely well managed. All parties agree
in representing the Portuguese authorities as both polite
And obliging; and, if ever any inconvenience is felt by
.strangers visiting the port, it must be considered the fault
of the system, and not of the men.

The harbor is formed by the low, sandy island of Loanda,
which is inhabited by about 1300 souls, upward of 600 of
whom are industrious native fishermen, who supply the
city w^ith abundance of good fish daily. The space between
it and the mainland, on which the city is built, is the
station for ships. When a high southwest wind blows,
the waves of the ocean dash over part of the island, and,
driving large quantities of sand before them, gradually fill
up the harbor. Great quantities of soil are also washed
in the rainy season from the heights above the city, so that
the port, which once contained water sufficient to float the
largest ships close to the custom-house, is now at low-water
dry. The ships are compelled to anchor about a mile north
of their old station. Nearly all the water consumed in
Loanda is brought from the river Bengo by means of
launches, the only supply that the city affords being from
Borae deep wells of slightly-brackish water. Unsuccessful
attempts have been made by different governors to finish a
canal which the Dutch, while in possession of Loanda
during the seven years preceding 1648, had begun, to bring


wator from the river Coanza to the city. There is not a
siiii^le English merchant at Loanda, and only two Americajt.
This is the more remarkable as nearly all the commerce 13
cariied on by means of English calico brought hither um
Lis])on. Several English houses attempted to establish a
trade about 1815, and accepted bills on Rio de Janeiro in
payment for their goods; but the increased activity of our

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 21 of 36)