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 24 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 24 of 36)
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dred miles to the river Quango; and the population,
according to the imperfect data afforded by the census
given annually by the commandants of the fifteen or six-
teen districts into which it is divided, cannot be under
600,000 souls.

Leaving Malange, we passed quickly, without deviation,
along the path by which we had come. At Sanza (lat. 9'^
87' 46" S., long. 16° 59' E.) we expected to get a little seed-
wheat, but this was not now to be found in Angola.

"While at Tala Mungongo, we met a native of Bihe who
has visited the country of Shinte three times for the pur-
poses of trade. He gave us some of the news of that dis-
tant part, but not a word of the Makololo, who have always
been represented in the countries to the north as a despe-
rately-savage race, whom no trader could visit with safety.
The half-caste traders whom we met at Shinte's had re-
turned to Angola with sixty-six slaves and upward of fifty
tusks of ivory. As we came along the path, we daily met
long lines of carriers bearing large square masses of bees'-
wax, each about a hundred pounds' weight, and numbers
of elephants' tusks, the property of Angolese merchants.
Many natives were proceeding to the coast also on their
own account, carrying bees'-wax, ivory, and sweet oil.
They appeared to travel in perfect security; and at differ-
ent parts of the road we purchased fowls from them at a
penny each. My men took care to celebrate their own
daring in having actually entered ships, while the natives
of these parts, who had endeavored to frighten them on
their way down, had only seen them at a distance. Poor

feUows ! they were more than ever attentive to me; and,



as they were not obliged to erect sheds for themselves, in
consequence of finding them already built at the different
sleeping-places, all their care was bestowed in making me
comfortable. Mashauana, as usual, made his bed with hi»
head close to my feet, and never during the entire journey
did I have to call him twice for any thing I needed.

January 15, 1855. — We descended in one hour from the
heights of Tala Mungongo. I counted the number of paces
made on the slope downward, and found them to be sixteen
hundred, which may give a perpendicular height of from
twelve to fifteen hundred feet.

Before we reached Cassange we were overtaken by the
commandant, Senhor Carvalho, who was returning, with a
detachment of fifty men and a field-piece, from an unsuc-
cessful search after some rebels. The rebels had fled, and
all he could do was to burn their huts. He kindly invited
me to take up my residence with him; but, not wishing t'^
pass by the gentleman (Captain Neves) who had so kindly
received me on my first arrival in the Portuguese pos-
sessions, I declined. Senhor Eego had been superseded in
his command, because the Governor Amaral, who had come
into office since my departure from Loanda, had determined
that the law which requires the office of commandant to be
exclusively occupied by military officers of the line should
once more come into operation. I was again most kindly
welcomed by my friend Captain Neves, whom I found
laboring under a violent inflammation and abscess of the
hand. There is nothing in the situation of this village te
indicate unhealthiness, except, perhaps, the rank luxu
riance of the vegetation. Nearly all the Portuguese in<
habitants sufl'er from enlargement of the spleen, the eff'ecta
of freauent intermittents, and have generally a sickly ap-
pearance. Thinking that this affection of the hand was
simply an effort of nature to get rid of malarious mattei
from the system, I recommended the use of quinine. He
himself applied the leaf of a plant called cathory, famed
among the natives as an excellent remedy for ulcers. Thf


cathory-leaves, when boiled, exude a gummy juice, which
effectually shuts out the external air. Each remedy, of
course, claimed the merit of the cure.

Many of the children are cut off by fever. A fine boy
of Captain Neves' had, since my passage westward, shared
a similar fate. Another child died during the period of
my visit.

The intercourse which the natives have had with white
men does not seem to have much ameliorated their con-
dition. A great number of persons are reported to lose
their lives annually in different districts of Angola by the
cruel superstitions to which they are addicted, and the
Portuguese authorities either know nothino^ of them or are
unable to prevent their occurrence. The natives are bound
to secrecy by those who administer the ordeal, which gene-
rally causes the death of the victim. A person, when ac-
cused of witchcraft, will often travel from distant districts
in order to assert her innocency and brave the test. They
come to a river on the Cassange called Dua, drink the
infusion of a poisonous tree, and perish unknown.

The same superstitious ideas being prevalent through
the whole of the country north of the Zambesi seems to
indicate that the people must originally have been one.
All believe that the souls of the departed still mingle
among the living and partake in some way of the food
they consume.

The chieftainship is elective from certain families. Among
the Bangalas of the Cassange valley the chief is chosen
from three families in rotation. A chief's brother inherits
in preference to his son. The sons of a sister belong to her
brother; and he often sells his nephews to pay his debts.
By this and other unnatural customs, more than by war, ia
the slave-market supplied.

While here, I reproduced the last of my lost papers and
maps ; and, as tnere is a post twice a month from Loanda,
I had the happiness to receive a packet of the '^Tijnes/'
und, among other news, an account of the Eussian war up


to the terrible charge of the light cavalry. The intense
anxiety I felt to hear more may be imagined by every
true patriot; but I was forced to brood on in silent
thought, and utter my poor prayers for friends who per-
chance were now no more, until I reached the other side
of the continent.

A considerable trade is carried on by the Cassange mer-
chants with all the surrounding territory by means of
native traders, whom they term "pombeiros." Two of
these, called in the history of Angola " the trading blacks,"
(os feirantes pretos,) Pedro Joao Baptista and Antonio
Jose, having been sent by the first Portuguese trader that
lived at Cassange, actually returned from some of the Por-
tuguese possessions in the East with letters from the
governor of Mozambique in the year 1815, proving, as is
remarked, ^' the possibility of so important a communica-
tion between Mozambique and Loanda." ^ This is the only
instance of native Portuguese subjects crossing the conti-
nent. JSTo European ever accomplished it, though this
fact has lately been quoted as if the men had been
^^ Portuguese.''

Captain Neves was now actively engaged in preparing
a present, worth about fifty pounds, to be sent by pom-
beiros to Matiamvo. It consisted of great quantities of
cotton cloth, a large carpet, an arm-chair with a canopy
and curtains of crimson calico, an iron bedstead, mosquito-
curtains, beads, &c., and a number of pictures rudely
painted in oil by an embryo black painter at Cassange.

Matiamvo, like most of the natives in the interior of the
country, has a strong desire to possess a cannon, and had
sent ten large tusks to purchase one ; but, being Govern-
ment property, it could not be sold : he was now furnished
with a blunderbuss mounted as a cannon, which would
probably please him as well.

Senhor Gra§a and some other Portuguese have visited
this chief at different times: but no European resides
beyond the Quango : indeed, it is contrary to the policy of


the Government of Angola to allow their siihjects to pene-
trate farther into the interior. The present would hav<
been a good opportunity for me to have visited that chief,
and I felt strongly inclined to do so, as he had expressed
dissatisfaction respecting my treatment by the Chiboque,
and even threatened to punish them. As it would be im-
proper to force m}^ men to go thither, I resolved to wait
and see whether the proposition might not emanate from
themselves. When I can get the natives to agree in the
propriety of any step, they go to the end of the aftair
without a murmur. I speak to them and treat them as
rational beings, and generally get on well with them in

February 20. — On the day of starting from Cassange the
westerly wind blew strongly, and on the day following we
were brought to a stand by several of our party being laid
up with fever. This complaint is the only serious draw-
back Angola possesses. It is in every other respect an
agreeable land, and admirably adapted for yielding a rich
abundance of tropical produce for the rest of the world.
Indeed, I have no hesitation in asserting that, had it been
in the possession of England, it would now have been
yielding as much or more of the raw material for her
manufactures as an equal extent of territory in the cotton-
growing States of America, A railway from Loanda to
this valley would secure the trade of most of the interior
of South Central Africa.

As soon as we could move toward the Quango we did so,
meeting in our course several trading-parties, both native
and Portuguese. We met two of the latter carrying a
tusk weighing 126 lbs. The owner afterward informed us
that its fellow on the left side of the same elephant was 130
lbs. It was 8 feet 6^ inches long, and 21 inches in circum-
ference at the part on which the lip of the animal rests.
The elephant was rather a small one, as is common in this
hot central region. Some idea may be formed of the
strength of his neck when it is recollected that he bore a


weight of 256 lbs. The ivory which comes from the east
ami northeast of Cassange is very much larger than any
to be found farther south. Captain Neves had one weigh-
ing 120 lbs. ; and this weight is by no means uncommon.
They have been found weighing even 158 lbs.

Before reaching the Quango we were again brought to
a stand, by fever in two of my companions, close to the
residence of a Portuguese who rejoiced in the name of
William Tell and who lived here in spite of the prohibition
of the Government. We were using the water of a pond;
and this gentleman, having come to invite me to dinner,
drank a little of it, and caught fever in consequence. If
malarious matter existed in water, it would have been a
wonder had we escaped; for, travelling in the sun, with
the thermometer from 96° to 98° in the shade, the evapora-
tion from our bodies causing much thirst, we generally
partook of every water we came to. We had probably
thus more disease than others might suffer who had better

Mr. Tell remarked that his garden was rather barren,
being still, as he said, wild; but when more worked it
would become better, though no manure be applied. M.y
men were busy collecting a better breed of fowls and
pigeons than those in their own country. Mr. Tell pre-
sented them with some large specimens from Eio Janeiro.
Of these they were wonderfully proud, and bore the cock
in triumph through the country of the Balonda, as evidence
ot having been to the sea. But when at the village of
Shinte a hyena came into our midst when we were all
sound asleep, and picked out the giant in his basket from
eighty-four others, and he was lost, to the great grief of
my men. The anxiety these people have always shown to
improve the breed of their domestic animals is, I think, a
favorable point in their character.

On coming back to Cj^^riano's village on the 28thj we
found his step-father had died after we had passed, and,
accoiding to the custom of the country, he had spent more*


than his patrimony in funeral orgies. He acted with his
wonted kindness, though, unfortunately, drinking has got
him 80 deeply in debt that he now keeps out of the way of
his creditors. He informed us that the source of the
Quango is eight days, or one hundred miles, to the south
of this, and in a range called Mosamba, in the country of
the Basongo. We can see from this a sort of break in the
high land which stretches away round to Tala Mongongo,
through which the river comes.

A death had occurred in a village about a mile off, and
tne people were busy beating drums and firing guns. The
funeral rites are half festive, half mourning, partaking
somewhat of the character of an Irish wake. There is
nothing more heart-rending than their death-wails. When
the natives turn their eyes to the future world, they have
a view cheerless enough of their own utter helplessness
and hopelessness. They fancy themselves completely in
the power of the disembodied spirits, and look upon the
prospect of following them as the greatest of misfortunes.
Hence they are constantly deprecating the wrath of de-
parted souls, believing that, if they are appeased, there is
no other cause of death but witchcraft, which may bo
averted by charms.

We were informed that a chief named Gando, living on
the other side of the river, having been accused of witch-
craft, was killed by the ordeal, and his body thrown into
the Quango.

The ferrymen demanded thirty yards of calico, but
received six thankfully. The canoes were wretched, carry-
ing only two persons at a time; but, my men being well
acquainted with the water, we all got over in about two
oours and a half They excited the admiration of the
inhabitants by the manner in which they managed the
cattle and donkeys in crossing.

On the eastern side of the Quango we passed on, without
visiting our friend of the conical head-dress, to the resi-
dence of some Ambakistas who had crossed the river in


order to secure the first chances of trade in wax. I have
oefore remarked on the knowledge of reading and writing
that these Ambakistas possess; they are famed for their
love of all sorts of learning within their reach, a knowledge
of the history of Portugal, Portuguese law, &c. &c. They
are remarkably keen in trade, and are sometimes called
the Jews of Angola. They are employed as clerks and
writers, their feminine delicacy of constitution enabling
them to write a fine lady's hand, a kind of writing much
esteemed among the Portuguese. They are not physically
equal to the European Portuguese, but jwssess considerable
ability; and it is said that half-castes, in the course of a
few generations, return to the black color of the maternal

The Bashinje, in whose country we now are, seem to
possess more of the low negro character and physiognomy
than either the Balonda or Basongo; their color is generally
dirty black, foreheads low and compressed, noses flat and
much expanded laterally, though this is partly owing to
the alsD spreading over the cheeks, by the custom of insert-
ing bits of sticks or reeds in the se^^tum ; their teeth are
deformed by being filed to points; their lips are large.
They make a nearer approach to a general negro appear-
ance than any tribes I met; but I did not notice this on
my way down. They cultivate pretty largely, and rely upon
their agricultural products for their supplies of salt, flesh,
tobacco, &c. from Bangaias. Their clothing consists of
pieces of skin hung loosely from the girdle in front and
behind. They plait their hair fantastically. We saw some
women coming with their hair woven into the form of a
European hat, and it was only by a closer inspection that
its nature was detected. Others had it arranged in tufts,
with a threefold cord along the edge of each tuft; while
others, again, follow the ancient Egyptian fashion, having
the whole mass of wool plaited into cords, all hanging
down as far as the shoulders. This mode, with the some-
what Egj'ptian cast of countenance in othM* parts of Londa,

SANS awe's idea of dignity 289

reminded me strongly of the paintings of that nation ir
the British Mascum.

We had now rain every day, and the sky seldom pre.
sented that cloudless aspect and clear blue so common in
tJie dry lands of the south. The heavens are often over-
cast by large white motionless masses, which stand for
hours in the same position; and the intervening spaces are
tilled with a milk-and-water-looking haze. Kotwithstand-
ing these unfavorable circumstances, I obtained good OD-
servations for the longitude of this important point on both
sides of the Quango, and found the river running in 9° 50' S.
lat., 18°33'B. long.

On proceeding to our former station near Sansawe's
village, he ran to meet us with wonderful urbanity, asking
if we had seen Moene Put, king of the white men, (or Por-
tuguese,) and added, on parting, that he would come to
receive his dues in the evening. I replied that, as he had
treated us so scurvily, even forbidding his people to sell ua
any food, if he did not bring us a fowl and some eggs as
part of his duty as a chief, he should receive no present
from me. When he came, it was in the usual Londa way
of showing the exalted position he occupies^ mounted on
the shoulders of his spokesman, as schoolboys sometimes
do in England, and as was represented to have been the
case in the southern islands when Captain Cook visited
them. My companions, amused at his idea of dignity,
greeted him with a hearty laugh. He visited the native
traders first, and then came to me with two cocks as a
present. I spoke to him about the impolicy of treatment
we had received at his hands, and quoted the example of
the Bangalas, who had been conquered by the Portuguese
for their extortionate demands of payment for firewood,
gi-ass, water, &c., and concluded by denying his right to
any payment for simply passing through uncultivated land.
To all this he agreed ; and then I gave him, as a token of
friendship, a pannikin of coarse powder, two iron spoons,
and two yards of coarse printed calico He looked rather


BJiucily at these articles, for he had just received a barrel
Containing eighteen pounds of powder, twenty-four yards
of calico, and two bottles of brandy, from Senhor Pascoal
the pombeiro. Other presents were added the next day,
but we gave nothing more; and the pombeiros informed
me that it was necessary to give largely, because they are
accompanied by slaves and carriers who are no great
friends to their masters; and, if they did not secure the
friendship of these petty chiefs, many slaves and their loads
might be stolen while passing through the forests. It is
thus a sort of black-mail that these insignificant chiefs
levy; and the native traders, in paying, do so simply as a
bribe to keep them honest. This chief was a man of no
power, but in our former ignorance of this he plagued us a
whole day in passing.

Finding the progress of Senhor Pascoal and the other
pombeiros excessively slow, I resolved to forego his com-
pany to Cabango after I had delivered to him some letters
to be sent back to Cassange. I went forward with the
intention of finishing my writing and leaving a packet for
him at some village. We ascended the eastern acclivity
that bounds the Cassange valley, which has rather a
gradual ascent up from the Quango, and we found that
the last ascent, though apparently not quite so high as
that at Tala Mungongo, is actually much higher. The top
18 about 5000 feet above the level of the sea, and the
bottom 3500 feet ; water boiling on the heights at 202°, the
thermometer in the air showing 96°, and at the bottom at
205°, the air being 75°. We had now gained the summit
of the western subtending ridge, and began to descend
toward the centre of the country, hoping soon to get out
of the Chiboque territory, which, when we ascended from
the Cassange valley, we had entered ; but, on the 19th of
April, the intermittent, which had begun on the 16th of
March, was changed into an extremely severe attack of
rheumatic fever. This was brought on by being obliged
to sleep on an extensive plain covered with water Th«


rain poured down incessantly; but we formed our beds by
dragging up the earth into oblong mounds, somewhat like
graves in a country churchyard, and then placing grass
upon them. The rain continuing to deluge us, we were
unable to leave for two days; but as soon as it became fair
we continued our march. The heavy dew upon the high
grass was so cold as to cause shivering, and I was forced
to lie by for eight days, tossing and groaning with violent
pain in the head. This was the most severe attack I had
endured. It made me quite unfit to move, or even know
what was passing outside my little tent. Senhor Pascoal,
who had been detained by the severe rain at a better spot,
at last came up, and, knowing that leeches abounded in
the rivulets, procured a number, and applied some dozens
to the nape of the neck and the loins. This partially
relieved the pain. He was then obliged to move forward,
in order to purchase food for his large party. After many
days, I began to recover, and wished to move on, l?ut my
men objected to the attempt on account of my weakness.
When Senhor Pascoal bad been some time at the village in
front, as he had received instructions from his employer,
Captain Neves, to aid me as mucb as possible, and being
himself a kindly-disposed person, he sent back two mes-
sengers to invite me to come on, if practicable.

It happened that the head-man of the village where I
bad lain twenty-two days, while bargaining and quarrelling
in my camp for a piece of meat, had been struck on the
iijouth by one of my men. My principal men paid five
pieces of cloth and a gun as an atonement ; but the more
they yielded the more exorbitant he became, and he sent
word to all the surrounding villages to aid him in avenging
the affront of a blow on the beard. As their courage
usually rises with success, I resolved to yield no more, and
departed. In passing through a forest in the country
beyond, we were startled by a body of men rushing after
us. They began by knocking down the burdens of the
bindermost of my men, and several shots were fired, each


party spreading out on both sides of the path. I fortu-
nately had a six-barrelled revolver, which my friend
(Japtain Henry Need, of her majesty's brig "Linnet," had
considerately sent to Golungo Alto after my departure
from Loanda. Taking this in my hand, and forgetting
fever, I staggered quickly along the path with two or thi ee
of my men, and fortunately encountered the chief The
sight of the six barrels gaping into his stomach, with my
own ghastly visage looking daggers at his face, seemed to
produce an instant revolution in his martial feelings ; for
he cried out, *'0h, I have only come to speak to you, and
wish peace only.'* Mashauana had hold of him by the
hand, and found him shaking. "We examined his gun, and
found that it had been discharged. Both parties crowded
up to their chiefs. One of the opposite party coming too
near, one of mine drove him back with a battle-axe. The
enemy protested their amicable intentions, and my men
asserted the fact of having the goods knocked down as
evidence of the contrary. Without waiting long, I re-
quested all to sit down j and Pitsane, placing his hand upon
the revolver, somewhat allayed their fears. I then said to
the chief, " If you have come with peaceable intentions,
we have no other : go away home to your village.'^ He
replied, ^' I am afraid lest jou shoot me in the back." I
rejoined, " If I wanted to kill you, I could shoot you in
the face as well." Mosantu called out to me, " That's
only a Makalaka trick : don't give him your back." But
I said, '^ Tell him to observe that I am not afraid of him,"
and, turning, mounted my ox. There was not much danger
in the fire that was opened at first, there being so many
trees. The enemy probably expected that the sudden
attack would make us forsake our goods and allow them
to plunder with ease. The villagers were no doubt
pleased with being allowed to retire unscathed, and we
were also glad to get away without having shed a drop of
blood or having compromised ourselves for any future visit.
My men were delighted with their own bravery, and made


the woods rmg with telling each other how ^* brilliant their
conduct before the enemy" would have been, had hosti-
lities not been brought to a sudden close.

I do not mention this little skirmish as a very frightful
affair. The negro character in these parts, and in Angola,

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 24 of 36)