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 22 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 22 of 36)
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cruisers had such an effect upon the mercantile houses of
that city that most of them failed. The English merchant.s
lost all, and Loanda f;ot a bad name in the commercial
world in consequence.

One of the arrangements of the custom-house may have
had some influence in preventing English trade. Ships
coming here must be consigned to some one on the spot;
the consignee receives one hundred dollars per mast, and
he generally makes a great deal m'^re for himself by j^ut-
ting a percentage on boats and men hired for loading and
unloading, and on every item that passes through his hands
The port-charges are also rendered heavy by twenty dollars
being charged as a perquisite of the secretary of Govern-
ment, with a fee for the chief physician, something for the
hospital, custom-house officers, guards, &c. &c. But, with
all these drawbacks, the Americans carry on a brisk and
profitable trade in calico, biscuit, flour, butter, &c. &c.

The Portuguese home Government has not generally re-
ceived the credit for sincerity in suppressing the slave-trade
which I conceive to be its due. In 1839, my friend ]Mr.
Gabriel saw thirty-seven slave-ships lying in this harbor,
waiting for their cargoes, under the protection of the guns
of the forts. At that time slavers had to wait many
months at a time for a human freight, and a certain sum
per head was paid to the Government for all that were ex-
ported. The duties derived from the ex2:)ortation of slaves
far exceeded those from other commerce, and, by agreeing
to the suppression of this profitable traffic, the Government
ttctually sacrificed the chief part of the exj)ort-revenue.

Since that period, however, the revenue fr^m lawful com-
R 22*


merce has very much exceeded that on slaves. The inten
lions of the home Portuguese Government^ however good,
cannot be fully carried out under the present system
The pay of the officers is so very small that they are nearly
all obliged to engage in trade; and, owing to the luciative
nature of the slave-trade, the temptation to engage in it ia
60 powerful that the philanthropic statesmen of Lisbon
need hardly expect to have their humane and enlightened
views carried out. The law, for instance, lately promul-
g;ated for the abolition of the carrier-system (carregadores)
is but one of several equally humane enactments against
this mode of compulsory labor, but there is very little pro-
bability of the benevolent intentions of the legislature
being carried into effect.

Loanda is regarded somewhat as a penal settlement, and
those who leave their native land for this country do so
with the hope of getting rich in a few years and then re-
turning home. They have thus no motive for seeking the
permanent welfare of the country. The Portuguese law
preventing the subjects of any other nation from Jiiolding
landed property unless they become naturalized, the country
has neither the advantage of native nor foreign enterprise,
and remains very much in the same state as our allies found
j*i in 1575. Nearly all the European soldiers sent out are
convicts, and, contrary to what might be expected from
men in their position, behave remarkably well. A few
riots have occurred, but nothing at all so serious as have
taken place in our own penal settlements. It is a remark-
able fact that the whole of the arms of Loanda are every
nisfht in the hands of those who have been convicts.
Various reasons for this mild behavior are assigned by
the officers, but none of these, when viewed in connection
with our own experience in Australia, appear to be valid.
Religion seems to have no connection with the change.
Perhaps the climate may have some influence in subduing
their turbulent disposition, for the inhabitants generally
arc a timid race : they are not half so brave as our vJ;itires.


The people of Ambriz ran away like a flock of sheep, and
allowed the Portuguese to take possession of their copper-
niinecs and country without striking a blow. If we must have
convict-settlements, attention to the climate might be of
advantage in the selection. Here even bulls are much
tamer than with us. I never met with a ferocious one in
this country, and the Portuguese use them generally for
riding : an ox is seldom seen.

The objects which I had in view in opening up the
country, as stated in a few notes of my journey published
in the newspapers of Angola, so commended themselves to
the general Government and merchants of Loanda, that,
at the instance of his excellency the bishop, a handsome
present for Sekeletu was granted by the Board of Public
Works, (Junta da Fazenda Publica.) It consisted of a
colonel's complete uniform and a horse for the chief, and
suits of clothing for all the men who accompanied me. The
merchants also made a present, by public subscription, of
handsome specimens of all their articles of trade, and two
donkeys, for the purpose of introducing the breed into his
country, as tsetse cannot kill this beast of burden. These
presents were accompanied by letters from the bishop and
merchants; and I was kindly favored with letters of recom-
mendation to the Portuguese authorities in Eastern Africa.

I took with me a good stock of cotton cloth, fresh sup
plies of ammunition and beads, and gave each of my men
a musket. As my companions had amassed considerable
quantities of goods, they were unable to carry mine; but
the bishop furnished me with twenty carriers, and sent for-
ward orders to all the commandants of the districts throu^ih
which we were to pass to render me every assistance in
their power. Being now supplied with a good new tent
made by my friends on board the Philomel, we left Loanda
on the 20th of September, 1854, and passed round by sea
to the mouth of the river Bengo. Ascending this river, we
went through the district in which stand the ruins of the
Convent of St. Antonio ; thence into Icollo i Bengo, which


contains a population of 6530 blacks, 172 mulattoes, and 11
whites, and is so named from having been the residence of
a former native king. The proportion of slaves is only
3 38 per cent, of the inhabitants. The commandant of this
place, Laurence Jose Marquis, is a frank old soldier and a
most hospitable man : he is one of the few who secure the
universal approbation of their fellow-men for stern unflinch-
ing honesty, and has risen from the ranks to be a major in
the army. We were accompanied thus far by our generous
host, Edmund Gabriel, Esq., who, by his unwearied atten-
tions to myself, and liberality in supporting my men, had
become endeared to all our hearts. My men were strongly
impressed with a sense of his goodness, and often spoke of
him in terms of admiration all the way to Linyanti.

28^/i September, Kalungwembo. — We were still on the same
path by which we had come, and, there being no mosqui-
tos, we could now better enjoy the scenery. Eanges of
hills occupy both sides of our path, and the fine level road
is adorned with a beautiful red flower named Bolcamaria.
The markets or sleeping-places are well supplied with pro-
visions by great numbers of women, every one of whom is
seen spinning cotton with a spindle and distafl" exactly like
those which were in use among the ancient Egyptians. A
woman is scarcely ever seen going to the fields — though
with a pot on her head, a child on her back, and the hoe
over her shoulder — but she is employed in this way. The
cotton was brought to the market for sale, and I bought a
pound for a penny. This was the price demanded, and
probably double what they ask from each other. We saw
the cotton growing luxuriantly all around the market-
places from seeds dropped accidentally. It is seen also
about the native huts, and, so far as I could learn, it was
the American cotton, so influenced by climate as to be
perennial. We met in the road natives passing with bun-
dles of cops, or spin lies full of cotton thread, and these
they were carrying i > other parts to be woven into c!oth.
The women are the spinners, and the men perform tho


weaving. Each web is about five feet long, and fifteen or
eighteen inches wide. The loom is of the simplest construc-
tion, being nothing but two beams placed one over the other,
the web standing perpendicularly. The threads of the web
are separated by means of a thin wooden lath, and the
woof passed through by means of the spindle on which it
has oeen wound in spinning.

Numbers of other articles are brought for sale to these
sleeping-places. The native smiths there carry on their
trade. I bought ten very good table-knives, made ot
country iron, for twopence each.

Labor is extremely cheap, for I was assured that even
carpenters, masons, smiths, &c. might be hired for four-
pence a day; and agriculturists would gladly work for half
that sum.

Being anxious to obtain some more knowledge of this in-
teresting country and its ancient missionary-establishments
than the line of route by which we had come afforded, 1
resolved to visit the town of Massangano, which is situated
to the south of Golungo Alto and at the confluence of the
rivers Lucalla and Coanza. This led me to pass through
the district of Cazengo, which is rather famous for the
abundance and excellence of its coffee. Extensive coffee-
plantations were found to exist on the sides of the seve-
ral lofty mountains that compose this district. They were
not planted by the Portuguese. The Jesuit and other mis-
sionaries are known to have brought some of the fine old
Mocha seed, and these have propagated themselves far and
wide: hence the excellence of the Angola coffee. Some
have asserted that, as new plantations were constantly dis
covered even during the period of our visit, the coffee- tret
was indigenous; but the fact that pineapples, bananas,
yams, orange-trees, custard-apple-trees, pitangas, guavas,
and other South American trees were found by me in the
same localities with the recently-discovered coffee would
seem to indicate that all foreio-n trees must have been
introduced by the same agency. it is known that tha


Jesuits also introdaced many other trees for the sake of
their timber alone. Numbers of these have spread over
the country; some have probably died out and others failed
to spread, like a lonely specimen that stands in what was
the Botanic Garden of Loanda, and, though most useful
in yielding a substitute for frankincense, is the only one
of the kind in Africa.

Accompanied by the commandant of Cazengo, who was
well acquainted with this part of the country, I pro-
ceeded in a canoe down the river Lucalla to Massangano.
This river is about eighty-five yards wide, and navigable for
canoes from its confluence with the Coanza to about six
miles above the point where it receives the Luinha. Near
this latter point stand the strong, massive ruins of an iron-
foundry erected in the times (1768) and by the order of the
famous Marquis of Pombal. The whole of the buildings
were constructed of stone cemented with oil and lime. The
dam for water-power was made of the same materials, and
twenty-seven feet high. This had been broken through by
a flood, and solid blocks, many yards in length, were carried
down the stream, affording an instructive example of the
transporting-power of water. There was nothing in the
appearance of the place to indicate unhealthiness; but
eight Spar>ish and Swedish workmen, being brought hither
for the purpose of instructing the natives in the art of
smelting iron, soon fell victims to disease and " irregulari-
ties." The effort of the marquis to improve the mode of
manufacturing iron was thus rendered abortive. Labor
and subsistence are, however, so very cheap that almost
any amount of work can be executed at a cost that renders
expensive establishments unnecessary.

A party of native miners and smiths are still kept in the
employment of the Government, who, working the rich,
black, magnetic iron-ore, produce for the Government from
i80 to 500 bars of good malleable iron every month. They
are supported by the appropriation of a few thousands of a
rtmaP fresh-water fish, called "Cacusu," a portion of the tax


levied upon the fishermen of the Cofinza. This fish is so
much reh'shed in the country that those who do not wish
to eat them can easily convert them into money The
commandant of the district of Massangano, fo^" instance,
has a right to a dish of three hundred ever) morning, as
part of his salary. Shell-fish are also fouiid in the Coanza,
and the "Peixemulher/^ or woman-fish of the Portuguese,
which is probably a Manatee.

"We found the town of Massangano on a tongue of rather
high land formed by the left bank of the Lucalla and right
bank of the Coanza, and received true Portuguese hospi-
tality from Senhor Lubata. The town has more than a
thousand inhabitants : the district has 28,063, with only
815 slaves.

Massangano district is well adapted for sugar and rice,
while Cambambe is a very superior field for cotton ; but
the bar at the mouth of the Coanza would prevent the ap-
proach of a steamer into this desirable region, though a
small one could ply on it with ease when once in.

The latitude of the town and fort of Massangano is 9*^
T'7' 46" S., being nearly the same as that of Cassange. The
country between Loanda and this point being compara-
tively flat, a railroad might be constructed at small ex-
pense. The level country is prolonged along the north
bank of the Coanza to the edge of the Cassange basin, and
a railway carried thither would be convenient for the trans-
port of the products of the rich districts of Cassange,
Pungo Andongo, Ambaca, Cambambe, Golungo Alto, Ca-
zengo, Muchima, and Calumbo, — in a word, the whole of
Angola and independent tribes adjacent to this kingdom.

Returning by ascending the Lucalla into Cazengo, we
had an opportunity of visiting several flourishing coffee-
plantations, and observed that several men, who had begun
with no capital but honest industry, had in the course of
a lew years acquired a comfortable subsistence. One of
these, Mr. Pinto, generously furnished me with a good
supply of his excellent coffee, and my men with a breed


of rabbits to carry to their own country. Their lands,
granted by Government, yielded, without much labor, coffee
sufficient for all the necessaries of life.

On returning to Golungo Alto, I found several of my men
laid up with ^ever. One of the reasons for my leaving
them there was that they might recover from the fatigue
of the journey from Loanda, which had much more effect
upon their feet than hundreds of miles had on our way west-
ward. They had always been accustomed to moisture in
their own well-watered land, and we certainly had a super-
abundance of that in Loanda. The roads, however, from
Loanda to Golungo Alto were both hard and dry, and they
suffered severely in consequence ; yet they were composing
songs to be sung when they should reach home. The
Argonauts were nothing to themj and they remarked very
impressively to me, ''It was well you came with Makololo;
for no tribe could have done what we have accomplished
in coming to the white man's country : we are the true
ancients, who can tell wonderful things." Two of them
now had fever in the continued form, and became jaun-
diced, the whites or conjunctival membrane of their eyes
becoming as yellow as saffron ; and a third suffered from
an attack of mania. He came to his companions one day,
and said, " Eemain well. I am called away by the gods V
and set off at the top of his speed. The young men caught
him before he had gone a mile, and bound him. By gentle
treatment and watching for a few days he recovered. I
have observed several instances of this kind in the country,
but very few cases of idiocy ; and I believe that continuod
insanity is rare.




"While waiting for the recovery of my men, I visited, in
company with my friend Mr. Canto^ the deserted Convent
cf St. Hilarion, at Bango, a few miles northwest of Golungo
Alto. It is situated in a magnificent valley, containing a
population numbering 4000 hearths. This is the abode of
the Sova, or Chief Bango, who still holds a place of autho-
rity under the Portuguese. The garden of the convent,
the church, and dormitories of the brethren are still kept
in a good state of repair. I looked at the furniture, couches,
and large chests for holding the provisions of the brother-
hood with interest, and would fain have learned something
of the former occupants; but all the books and sacred
vessels had lately been removed to Loanda, and even the
graves of the good men stand without any record : their
resting-places are, however, carefully tended. All apeak
well of the Jesuits and other missionaries, as the Capm bins,
&c., for having attended diligently to the instruction of the
children. They were supposed to have a tendency to take
the part of the people against the Government, and were
supplanted by priests, concerning whom no regret is ex-
pressed that they were allowed to die out. In viewing the
present fruits of former missions, it is impossible not to
feel assured that, if the Jesuit teaching has been so per-
manent, that of Protestants, who leave the Bible in tho
liands of their converts, will not be less abiding.

The chief recreations of the natives of Angola are mar-
riages and funerals. When a young woman is about to be
married, she is placed in a hut alone and anointed wito
various unguents, and many incantations are employed in
order to secure good fortune and fruitfulness. Here, as almost

everywhere in the south, the height of good fortune is to



bear sons. They often leave a husband altogether if they
have daughters only. In their dances, when any one may
wish to deride another, in the accompanying song a line is
introduced, "• So and so has no children, and never will get
any /^ She feels the insult so keenly that it is not uncom-
mon for her to rush away and commit suicide. After some
days the bride elect is taken to another hut, and adorned
with all the richest clothing and ornaments that the rela-
tives can either lend or borrow. She is then placed in a
pubhc situation, saluted as a lady, and presents made by
all her acquaintances are placed around her. After this
she is taken to the residence of her husband, where she
has a hut for herself, and becomes one of several wives, — for
polygamy is general. Dancing, feasting, and drinking on
such occasions are prolonged for several days. In case of
separation, the woman returns to her father's family, and
the husband receives back what he gave for her. In nearly
all cases a man gives a price for the wife, and in cases of
mulattoes as much as £60 is often given to the parents of
the bride. This is one of the evils the bishop was trying
to remedy.

In cases of death the body is kept several days ; and there
is a grand concourse of both sexes, with beating of drums,
dances, and debauchery, kept up with feasting, &c., accord-
ing to the means of the relative. The great ambition of
many of the blacks of Angola is to give their friends- an
expensive funeral. Often, when one is asked to sell a pig.
he replies, ''I am keeping it in case of the death of any of
my friends." A pig is usually slaughtered and eaten on
the last day of the ceremonies, and its head thrown into
the nearest stream or river. A native will sometimes
appear intoxicated on these occasions, and, if blamed for
his intemperance, will reply, " Why, my mother is dead I"
as if he thought it a sufficient justification. The expenses
of funerals are so heavy that ofter years elapse before they
can defray them.

These people are said to be very litigious and obstir.aic :


constant disputes are taking place respecting their lands.
A case came before the weekly court of the commandant
involving property in a palm-tree worth twopence. The
judge advised the pursuer to withdraw the case, as the
mere expenses of entering it would be much more than the
cost of the tree. " Oh, no/' said he ; ^' I have a piece of
calico with me for the clerk, and money for yourself. It's
my right : I will not forego if The calico itself cost
three or four shillings. They rejoice if they can say of an
enemy, ^^I took him before the court."

My friend Mr. Canto, the commandant, being seized with
fever in a severe form, it afforded me much pleasure to attend
him in his sickness who had been so kind to me in mine
He was for some time in a state of insensibility ;" and I,
having the charge of his establishment, had thus an oppor-
tunity of observing the workings of slavery. When a
master is ill, the slaves run riot among the eatables. I did
not know this until I observed that every time the sugar-
basin came to the table it was empty. On visiting my
j^atient by night, 1 passed along a corridor, and unexpect-
edly came upon the washerwoman eating pineapples and
sugar. All the sweetmeats were devoured, and it was
difficult for me to get even bread and butter until I took
tne precaution of locking the pantry-door. Probably the
slaves thought that, as both they and the luxuries were the
master's property, there was no good reason why they
should be kept apart.

Debarred by my precaution from these sources of enjoy-
ment, they took to killing the fowls and goats, and, when
the animal was dead, brought it to me, saying, "Wo
found this thmg lying out there." They then enjoyed a
feast of flesh. A feeling of insecurity prevails throughout
this country. It is quite common to furnish visitors with
the keys of their rooms. When called on to come to break-
fast or dinner, each locks his door and puts the key in his
pocket. At Kolobeng we never locked our doors by night
or by day for months together; but there slavery is uu-


knowc The Portuguese do not seem at all bigoted in
their attachment to slavery, nor yet in their prejudices
against color. Mr. Canto gave an entertainment in order
to draw all classes together and promote general good-will.
Two sovas or native chiefs were present, and took their
places without the least appearance of embarrassment.
The Sova of Kilombo appeared in the dress of a general,
and the Sova of Bango was gayly attired in a red coat
profusely ornamented with tinsel. The latter had a band
of musicians with him, consisting of six trumpeters and
four drummers, who performed very well. These men are
fond of titles, and tlie Portuguese Government humors
them by conferring honorary captaincy, &c. : the Sova of
Bango was at present anxious to obtain the title of '^ Major
of all the Sovas." At the tables of other gentlemen I
observed the same thing constantly occurring. At thi;J
meeting Mr. Canto communicated some ideas which I had
written out on the dignity of labor and the superiority of
free over slave labor. The Portuguese gentlemen present
were anxiously expecting an arrival of American cotton-
seed from Mr. Gabriel. They are now in the transition-
state from unlawful to lawful trade, and turn eagerly to
cotton, coffee, and sugar as new sources of wealth. Mr.
Canto had been commissioned by them to purchase three
sugar-mills. Our cruisers have been the principal agents
in compelling them to abandon the slave-trade; and our
Government, in furnishing them with a supply of cotton-
seed, showed a generous intention to aid them m com-
onencing a more honorable course. It can scarcely be
believed, however, that after Lord Clarendon had been at
the trouble of procuring fresh cotton-seed through our
minister at Washington, and had sent it out" to the care of
H. M. Commissioner at Loan da, probably from havinji^
fallen into the hands of a few incorrigible slave-traders, ii
never reached its destination. It was most likely cast into
the sea of Ambriz, and my friends at Golungo Alto were
left without the means of commencing a new enterprise.


Mr. Canto mentioned that there is now much more cot-
ton in the country than can be consumed; and if he had
possession of a few hundred pounds he would buy up ah
the oil and cotton at a fair price, and thereby bring about
a revolution in the agriculture of the country. These
commodities are not produced in greater quantity, because
the people have no market for those which now spring
up almost spontaneously around them. The above was

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 22 of 36)