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 23 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 23 of 36)
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put down in my journal when I had no idea that enlarged
supplies of cotton from new sources were so much needed
at home.

It is common to cut down cotton-trees as a nuisance,
and cultivate beans, potatoes, and manioc sufficient only
for their own consumption. I have the impression that
cotton, which is deciduous in America, is perennial here ;
for the plants I saw in winter were not dead, though going
by the name Algodao Americana, or American cotton. The
rents paid for gardens belonging to the old convents are
merely nominal, varying from one shilling to three pounds
per annum. The higher rents being realized from thoso
in the immediate vicinity of Loanda, none but Portuguese
or half-castes can pay them.

When about to start, the horse which the governor had
kindly presented for Sekeletu was seized with inflamma-
tion, which delayed us some time longer; and we ultimately
lost it.

November 20. — An eclipse of the sun, which I had
anxiously hoped to observe with a view of determining
the longitude, happened this morning, and, as often took
place in this cloudy climate, the sun was covered four
minutes before it began. When it shone forth, the eclipse
was in progress, and a few minutes before it should
(according to my calculations) have ended the sun was
<igain completely obscured. The greatest patience and
perseverance are required if one wishes to ascertain his
Jposition when it is the rainy season.

Before leaving, I had an opportunity of observing &



curious insect, which inhabits trees of the fig family,
'' Ficus,) upward of twenty species of which are found
here. Seven or eight of them cluster round a spot on one
of the smaller branches, and there keep up a constant dis-
tillation of a clear fluid, which, dropping to the ground,
forms a little puddle below. If a vessel is placed under
them in the evening, it contains three or four pints of fluid
in the morning. The natives say that if a drop falls into
the eyes it causes inflammation of these organs. To the
question, wdience is this fluid derived, the people reply that
the insects suck it out of the tree; and our own natu-
ralists give the same answer. I have never seen an orifice,
and it is scarcely possible that the tree can yield so much.
A similar but much smaller homopterous insect, of the
family Cercopidce, is known in England as the frog-hopper,
(Aphrophora spumaria,) when full grown and furnished
wath wings, but while still in the pupa state it is called
" Cuckoo-spit," from the mass of froth in which it envelops
itself. The circulation of sap in plants in our climate,
especially of the graminacesB, is not quick enough to yield
much moisture. The African species is five or six times
the size of the English. In the case of branches of the
fig-tree, the point the insects congregate on is soon marked
by a number of incipient roots, such as are thrown out
when a cutting is inserted in the ground for the purpose
of starting another tree. I believe that both the English
and African insects belong to the same family, and diff'er
only in size, and that the chief part of the moisture is
derived from the atmosj)here. I leave it for naturalists to
explain how these little creatures distil both by night and
day as much water as they please, and are more indepen-
dent than her majesty's steamships w4th their apparatus
for condensing steam; for, without coal, their abundant
supplies of sea-water are of no avail. I tried the following
experiment. Finding a colony of these insects busily dis-
tilling on a branch of the Ricinus communis, or castor-oil
plant, I denuded about twenty inches of the baik on the ti"©e-


Bide of the insects, and scraped away the inner bark^ so as
to destroy all the ascending vessels. I also cut a hol-e in
the side of the branch, reaching to the middle, and then
cut out the pith and internal vessels. The distillation
was then going on at the rate of one drop each sixty-seven
seconds, or about 2 ounces 5^ drachms in twenty- four
hours. Next morning the distillation, so far from being
affected by the attempt to stop the supplies, supposing
they had come up through the branch from the tree, was
increased to a -drop every five seconds, or twelve drops
per minute, making one pint (16 ounces) in every twenty-
four hours. I then cut the branch so much that, during
the day, it broke ; but they still went on at the rate of a
drop eveiy five seconds, while another colony on a branch
of the same tree gave a drop every seventeen seconds
only, or at the rate of about 10 ounces 41 drachms in
twenty -four hours. I finally cut off the branch ; but this
was too much for their patience, for they immediately
decamped, as insects will do from either a dead branch or
a dead animal, — which Indian hunters soon know when
they sit down on a recently-killed bear. The presence of
greater moisture in the air increased the power of these
distillers : the period of greatest activity was in the morn-
ing, when the air and every thing else was charged with

Having but one day left for experiment, I found again
that another colony on a branch denuded in the same way
yielded a drop every two seconds, or 4 pints 10 ounces in
twenty-four hours, while a colony on a branch untouched
yielded a drop every eleven seconds, or 16 ounces 2^g
drachms in twenty-four hours.. I regretted somewhat the
want of time to institute another experiment, namely,
to cut a branch and place it in water, so as to keep It iu
l:.fe, and then observe if there was any diminution of the
quantity of water in the vessel. This alone was wanting
to make it certain that they draw water from the atmo-
sphere. I imagine that they have some power of which we


are not aware, besides that nervous influence which cauf .s
constant motion to our own involuntary muscles, tiie
power of life-long action without fatigue. The reader will
remember, in connection with this insect, the case of the
ants already mentioned.

December 14. — Both myself and men having recovered
from severe attacks of fever, we left the hospitable resi-
dence of Mr. Canto with a deep sense of his kindness to
us all, and proceeded on our way to Ambaca. (Lat. 9° 16'
85"S., long. 15°23'E.)

Owing to the weakness of the men who had been sick,
we were able to march but short distances. Three hours
and a half brought us to the banks of the Caloi, a small
stream which flows into the Senza.

We found, on reaching Ambaca, that the gallant old
soldier, Laurence Jose Marquis, had, since our passing
IcoUo i Bengo, been promoted, on account of his stern
integrity, to the government of this important district.
The office of commandant is much coveted by the officers
of the line who come to Angola, not so much for the salary
as for the perquisites, which, when managed skilfully, in
the course of a few years make one rich.

Before leaving Ambaca we received a present often head
of cattle from Mr. Schut of Loanda; and, as it shows the
cheapness of provisions here, I may mention that the cost
was only about a guinea per head.

On crossing the Lucalla we made a detour to the south,
in order to visit the famous rocks of Pungo Andongo. As
soon as we crossed the rivulet Lotete, a change in the
vegetation of the country was apparent. We found trees
identical with those to be seen south of the Chobe. The
grass, too, stands in tufts, and is of that kind which the
natives consider to be best adapted for cattle. Two species
of grape-bearing vines abound everywhere in this district,
and the influence of the good pasturage is seen in the plump
condition of the cattle. In all my previous inquiries re-
specting the vegetable products of Angola, I was invariably


directed to Pungo Andongo. "_Do you grow wheat?" —
" Oh, yes, in Pungo Andongo." *' Grapes, hgs, or peaches ?"
— "Oh, yes, in Pungo Andongo." ^' Do you make butter,
cheese, &c.?" The uniform answer was, "Oh, yes: there
is abundance of all these in Pungo Andongo." But when
we arrived here we found that the answers all referi'ed to
tho activity of one man, Colonel Manuel Antonio Pires.
The presence of the wild grape shows that vineyards might
be cultivated with success; the wheat grows well without
iirigation; and any one who tasted the butter and cheese
at the table of Colonel Pires would prefer them to the
8t lie produce of the Irish dairy in general use throughout
that province. The cattle in this country are seldom
milked, on account of the strong prejudice which the Por-
tuguese entertain against the use of milk. They believe
that it may be used with safety in the morning, but, if
taken after mid-day, that it will cause fever. It seemed
to me that there was not much reason for carefully avoid-
ing a few drops in their coffee after having devoured ten
times the amount in the shape of cheese at dinner.

The fort of Pungo Andongo (lat. 9° 42' 14" S., long. 15°
SO'E.) is situated in the midst of a group of curious
columnar-shaped rocks, each of which is upward of three
hundred feet in height. They are composed of conglome-
rate, made up of a great variety of rounded pieces in a
matrix of dark red sandstone. They rest on a thick stra-
tum of this last rock, with very few of the pebbles in its
substance. On this a fossil palm has been found, and if of
tne same age as those on the eastern side of the continent
on which similar palms now lie, there may be coal under-
neath this, as well as under that of Tete. The asserted
existence of petroleum-springs at Dande, and near Cam-
bambe, would seem to indicate the presence of this useful
mineral, though I am not aware of any one having actually
seen a seam of coal tilted up to the surface in Angola, as
we have at Tete. The gigantic pillars of Pungo Anaongo

have been formed by a current of the sea coming from the


S.S.E. ; for, seen from the top, they appear arranged in fhat
direction, and must have withstood the surges of the ocean
at a period of our world's history when the relations of
laud and sea were totally different from what they are now,
and long before 'Hhe morning stars sang together, and all
the sons of God shouted for joy to see the abodes prepared
which man was soon to fill/' The embedded pieces in
the conglomerate are of gneiss, clay shale, mica and sand-
stone schists, trap, and porphyry, most of which are large
enough to give the whole the appearance of being the
only remaining vestiges of vast primeval banks of shin-
gle. Several little streams run among these rocks, and
in the central part of the pillars stands the village, com-
pletely environed by wellnigh-inaccessible rocks. The
pathways into the village might be defended by a small
body of troops against an army; and this place was long
the stronghold of the tribe called Jinga, the original pos-
sessors of the country.

In former times the Portuguese imagined that this place
was particularly unhealthy, and banishment to the black
rocks of Pungo Andongo was thought by their judges to
be a much severer sentence than transportation to any
part of the coast; but this district is now well known to
be the most healthy part of Angola. The water is remark-
ably pure, the soil is light, and the country open and undu-
lating, with a general slope down toward the river Coanza,
a few miles distant. That river is the southern boundary
of the Portuguese, and beyond, to the S. and S.W., we see
the high mountains of the Libollo. On the S.E. we have
also a mountainous country, inhabited by the Kimbonda or
A.mbonda; who are said by Colonel Pires to be a very brave
and independent people, but hospitable and fair in their
dealings. They are rich in cattle, and their country pro-
duces much bees'-wax, which is carefully collected and
brought to the Portuguese, with whom they have always
been on good terms.

The Ako, (Hako,) a branch of this family, inhabit the


left bank of the Coanza above this village, who, instead
of bringing slaves for sale^ as formerly, now occasionally
bring wax for the purchase of a slave from the Portuguese
I saw a boy sold for twelve shillings : he said that he be-
longed to the country of Matiamvo. Here I bought a pair
of well-made boots, of good tanned leather, which reached
above the knee, for five shillings and eightpence, and that
was just the price given for one pound of ivory by Mr.
Pires : consequently, the boy was worth two pairs of boots,
or two pounds of ivory. The Libollo on the south have
not so good a character; but the Coanza is always deep
enough to form a line of defence. Colonel Pires is a good
example of what an honest, industrious man in this country
may become. He came as a servant in a ship, and, by a
long course of persevering labor, has raised himself to be
the richest merchant in Angola. He possesses some thou-
sands of cattle, and, on any emergency, can appear in the
field with several hundred armed slaves.

While enjoying the hospitality of this merchant-prince
in his commodious residence, which is outside the rocks
and commands a beautiful view of all the adjacent country,
I learned that all my despatches, maps, and journal had
gone to the bottom of the sea in the mail-packet " Fore-
runner.^' I felt so glad that my friend Lieutenant Beding-
feld, to whose care I had committed them, though in the
most imminent danger, had not shared a similar fate, that
I was at once reconciled to the labor of rewriting. 1
availed myself of the kindness of Colonel Pires, and re-
mained till the end of the year reproducing my lost

Colonel Pires having another establishment on the banks
of the Coanza, about six miles distant, I visited it with
him about once a week for the purpose of recreation. The
difference of temperature caused by the lower altitude was
seen in the cashew-trees ; for while, near the rocks, these
trees were but coming into flower, those at the lower sta-
tion were ripening their fruit. Cocoanut-trees and 'i>ananae


bear well at the lower station, but yield little or no fi'uit
at the upper. The difference indicated by the thermo-
meter was 7°. The general range near the rocks was 67°
at 7 A.M., 74° at mid-day, and 72° in the evening.

A slave-boy belonging to Colonel Pires, having stolen
and eaten some lemons in the evening, went to the river
to wash his mouth, so as not to be detected by the flavor.
An alligator seized him and carried him to an island in the
middle of the stream : there the boy grasped hold of the
reeds, and baflied all the efforts of the reptile to dislodgo
him, till his companions, attracted by his cries, came to his
assistance. The alligator at once let go his hold; for when
out of his own element he is cowardly. The boy had many
marks of the teeth in his abdomen and thigh, and those of
the claws on his legs and arms.

The slaves in Colonel Pires' establishments appeared
more like free servants than any I had elsewhere seen.
Every thing was neat and clean, — while generally, where
slaves are the only domestics, there is an aspect of sloven-
liness, as if they went on the principle of always doing as
little for their masters as possible.

In the country near to this station were a large number
of the ancient burial-places of the Jinga. These are simply
large mounds of stone, with drinking and cooking vessels
of rude pottery on them. Some are arranged in a circular
form, two or three yards in diameter, and shaped like a
haycock. There is not a single vestige of any inscription.
The natives of Angola generally have a strange predilec-
tion for bringing their dead to the sides of the most fre-
quented paths. They have a particular anxiety to secure
the point where cross-roads meet. On and around the
graves are planted tree-euphorbias and other species of
that family. On the grave itself they also place water-
bottles, broken pipes, cooking-vessels, and sometmies a
little bow and arrow.

The Portuguese Government, wishing to prevent thra
custom affixed a penalty on any c^e burying in the roada,


and appointed places of public sepulture in every district
in the country. The people persist, however, in spite of
the most stringent enforcement of the law, to follow their
ancient custom.

The country between the Coanza and Pungo Andongo is
covered with low trees, bushes, and fine pasturage. In the
latter we were pleased to see our old acquaintances, the
gAudy gladiolus, Amaryllis toxicaria, hymanthus, and other
bulbs, in as flourishing a condition as at the Cape.

It is surprising that so little has been done in the way
of agriculture in Angola. Eaising wheat by means of ir-
rigation has never been tried; no plough is ever used; and
the only instrument is the native hoe, in the hands of
slaves. The chief object of agriculture is the manioc,
which does not contain nutriment sufficient to give proper
stamina to the people. The half-caste Portuguese have
not so much energy as their fathers. They subsist chiefly
on the manioc; and, as that can be eaten either raw,
roasted, or boiled, as it comes from the ground, or fer-
mented in water, and then roasted or dried after fermenta-
tion, and baked or pounded into fine meal, or rasped into
meal and cooked as farina, or made into confectionary
with butter and sugar, it does not so soon pall upon the
palate as one might imagine when told that it constitutes
their principal food. The leaves boiled make an excellent
vegetable for the table ; and, when eaten by goats, their
milk is much increased. The wood is a good fuel, and
yields a large quantity of potash. If planted in a dry
4oil, it takes two years to come to perfection, requiring
■luring that time one weeding only. It bears drought
well, and never shrivels up like other plants when de-
prived of rain. When planted in low, alluvial soils, and
either well supplied with rain or annually flooded, twelve,
or even ten, months are sufficient to bring it to maturity
The root rasped while raw, placed upon a cloth, and rubbed
with the hands while water is poured upon it, parts with
Jts starchy glutinous matter, and this, when it settles at



the bottom of the vessel and the water poured off, is
placed in the sun till nearly dry, to form tapioca. The
process of drying is completed on an iron plate over a slow
tire, the mass being stirred meanwhile with a stick, and
when quite dry it appears agglutinated into little globules,
and is in the form we see the tapioca of commerce. This
is never eaten by weevils, and so little labor is required in
its cultivation that on the spot it is extremely cheap.
Throughout the interior parts of Angola, fine manioc-meal,
which could with ease have been converted either into supe-
rior starch or tapioca, is commonly sold at the rate of about
ten pounds for a penny. All this region, however, has no
means of transport to Loanda other than the shoulders of
the carriers and slaves over a footpath.

Cambambe, to which the navigation of the Coanza
reaches, is reported to be thirty leagues below Pungo
Andongo. A large waterfall is the limit on that side; and
another exists higher up, at the confluence of the Lombe,
(lat. 9° 41' 2G" S. and about long. 16° E.,) over which hip-
popotami and elephants are sometimes drawn and killed.
The river between is rapid, and generally rushes over a
rocky bottom. Its source is point^^d out as S.E. or S.S.E.
of its confluence with the Lombe, and near Bihe. The situa-
tion of Bihe is not well known. When at Sanza, we were
assured that it lies nearly south of that point, and eight
days distant. This statement seemed to be corroborated
by our meeting many people going to Matiamvo and to
Loanda from Bihe. Both parties had come to Sanza, and
then branched off, one to the east, the otber to the west.
The soui'ce of the Coanza is thus probably not far from

I had the happiness of doing a little good in the way of
administering to the sick; for there are no doctors in the
interior of Angola. Notwithstanding the general healthi-
ness of this fine district and its pleasant temperature, I was
attacked by the fever myself While confined to my room,
& gentleman of coloi-, a canon of the Church, kindly paid



me a visit. He was on a tour of visitation in the different
interior districts for the purpose of baptizing and marrying
He had lately been on a visit to Lisbon in company with
the Prince of Congo, and had been invested with an ordei
of honor by the King of Portugal as an acknowledgment
of his services. He had all the appearance of a true negro,
but commanded the respect of the people; and Colonel P.,
who had known him for thirty years, pronounced him to be a
good man. There are only three or four priests in Loanda,
— all men of color, but educated for the office. About the
time of my journey in Angola, an offer was made to any
young men of ability who might wish to devote themselves
to the sei-vice of the Church to afford them the requisite
education at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. I
was informed, on what seemed good authority, that the
Prince of Congo is professedly a Christian, and that there
are no fewer than twelve chur^iies in that kingdom, the
fruits of the mission established in former times at San
Salvador, the capital. These churches are kept in partial
repair by the people, who also keep up the ceremonies of
the Church, pronouncing some gibberish over the dead in
imitation of the Latin prayers which they had formerly
heard. Many of them can read and write. When a king
of Congo dies, the body is wrapped up in a great many
folds of cloth until a priest can come from Loanda to con-
secrate his successor. The King of Congo still retains the
title of Lord of Angola, which he had when the Jinga. the
original possessors of the soil, owed him allegiance ; and,
when he writes to the Governor of Angola, he places his
own name first, as if addressing his vassal. The Jinga
paid him tribute annually in cowries, which were found on
the island that shelters Loanda Harbor, and, on refusing to
continue payment, the King of Congo gave over the island
to the Portuguese, and thus their dominion commenced in
this quarter.

There is not much knowledge of the Christian religion
in either Congo or Angola ; yet it is looked upon with a


certain degree of favor. The prevalence of fever is pro-
bal)ly the reason why no priest occupies a post in any part
of the interior. They come on tours of visitation like that
mentioned, and it is said that no expense is incurred, for
all the people are ready not only to pay for their services,
but also to furnish ever}^ article in their power gratuitously.
In view of the desolate condition of this fine missionary-
field, it is more than probable that the presence of a few
Protestants would soon provoke the priests, if not to love,
to good works.



January 1, 1855. — Having, through the kindness of
Colonel Pires, reproduced some of my lost papers, I left
Pungo Andongo the first day of this year, and at Can-
dumba slept in one of the dairy-establishments of my
friend, who had sent forward orders for an ample supply
of butter, cheese, and milk. Our path lay along the right
bank of the Coanza. This is composed of the same sand-
stone rock, with pebbles, which forms the flooring of the
country. The land is level, has much open forest, and is
well adapted for pasturage.

On reaching the confluence of the Lombe, we left the
river, and proceeded in a northeasterly direction, through
a fine open green country, to the village of Malange, where
we struck into our former path. A few miles to the west
of this a path branches off to a new district named the
Duke Braganza. This path crosses the Lucalla and several
of its feeders. The whole of the country drained by these
is described as extremely fertile. The territory west of
Braganza is reported to be mountainous, well wooded and
watered; wild coffee is abundant, and the people even


tcy their huts of coffee-trees. The rivers Dande, Senza,
ai fJ Lucalla are said to rise in one mountain-range
Numerous tribes inhabit the country to the north, who are
all indej)endent. The Portuguese power extends chiefly
over the tribes through whose lands we have r)assed. It
may be said to be firmly seated only between the rivers
Dande and Coanza. It extends inland about three hun-

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 23 of 36)