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 26 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 26 of 36)
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as they could, paddled it slowly along to an open space near
to a herd of zebras and pokus. Peering over the edge of
the canoe, the open space seemed like a patch of wet ground,
such as is often seen on the banks of a river, made smooth
as the resting-place of alligators. When we came within
a few yards of it, we found by the precipitate plunging of
the reptile that this was a large alligator itself. Although
I had been most careful to approach near enough, I unfor-
tunately only broke the hind-leg of a zebra. My two men
pursued it^ but the loss of a hind-leg does not prevent this
animal from a gallop. As I walked slowly after the men
on an extensive plain covered with a great crop of grass,

Mished custom, to the king's residence, there to mourn for the illustrious
deceased. Umnante had been repudiated by Essenzinconyarna, and had
afterward been guilty of signal infidelity to the nation by cohabiting with
a commoner of her father's tribe. Whether in consequence of this lapse,
or from some other circumstance, the usual etiquette was somewhat laxlj
observed, and there ensued an appalling tragedy, which had never beer
exceeded, either in brutality or foulness^^ by any of the black and inhu-
man exploits detailed in the long and bloody catalogue of Chaka's crimes.
Upon the grounds that * some of the subjects must have been accessary
by witchcraft to the death of the queen-mother, and did not therefore
attend to mourn,' several kraals and villages were fired ; men, women,
and children, having first been cruelly tortured, were roasted alive in tho
flames by the ferocious agents of a still more fiendish master ; this act
of unprecedented barbarity being followed up by a general massacre
throughout the realm, — the tide of blood flowing for a whole fortnight,
and reeking of cruelties too revolting to narrate." — Ed.


which was laid by its own weight, I observed that a soh-
taiy buffalo, disturbed by others of my own party, was
coming to me at a gallop. I glanced around, but the only
tree on the plain was a hundred yards off, and there was
no escape elsewhere. I therefore cocked my rifle, with
the intention of giving him a steady shot in the forehead
when he should come within three or four yards of me. The
thought flashed across my mind, " What if your gun misses
fire V I placed it to my shoulder as he came on at full
speed, and that is tremendous, though generally he is a
lumbering-looking animal in his paces. A small bush and
bunch of grass fifteen yards off made him swerve a little,
and exposed his shoulder. I just heard the ball crack
there as I fell flat on my face. The pain must have made
tnvcL renounce his purpose, for he bounded close past me on
Iq the water, where he was found dead. In expressing my
thankfulness to God among my men, they were much
offended with themselves for not being present to shield
me from this danger. The tree near me was a camel-thorn,
and reminded me that we had come back to the land of
thorns again, for the country we had left is one of ever-

July 27. — "We reached the town of Libonta, and were
received with demonstrations of joy such as I had never
witnessed before. The women came forth to meet us,
making their curious dancing gestures and loud lulliloos.
Some carried a mat and stick, in imitation of a spear and
ehield. Others rushed forward and kissed the hands and
cheeks of the different persons of their acquaintance among
us, raising such a dust that it was quite a relief to get to
the men assembled and sitting with proper African decorum
in the kotla. We were looked upon as men risen from the
dead, for the most skilful of their divinei*s had pronounced
us to have perished long ago. After many expressions of
joy at meeting, I arose, and, thanking them, explained the
,'.auses of our long delay, but left the report to be made by
their owr countrymen Formerly I had been the chief


speaker, now I would leave the task of speaking to them.
Pitsane then delivered a speech of upward of an hour in
length, giving a highlj-flattering picture of the whole jour-
ney, of the kindness of the white men in general, and of
Mr. Gabriel in particular. He concluded by saying that T
bad done more for thom than they expected ; that I had not
only opened up a path for them to the other white men,
but concihated all the chiefs along the route. The oldest,
man present rose and answered this speech, and, among
other things, alluded to the disgust I felt at the Makololo
for engaging in marauding-expeditions against Lechulatebo
and Sebolamakwaia, of which we had heard from the first
persons we met, and which my companions most energeti-
cally denounced as '< mashuo hela,'' entirely bad. He en-
treated me not to lose heart, but to reprove Sekeletu as my
child. Another old man followed with the same entreaties.
The following day we observed as our thanksgiving to
God for his goodness in bringing us all back in safety to
our friends. My men docked themselves out in their best,
ard I found that, although their goods were finished, they
had managed to save suits of European clothing, which,
being white, with their red caps, gave them rather a dash-
ing appearance. They tried to walk like the soldiers they
had seen in Loanda, and called themselves my '' braves,"
(batlabani.) During the service they all sat with their
guns over their shoulders, and excited the unbounded admi-
ration of the women and children. I addressed them all
on the goodness of God in preserving us from all the
dangers of strange tribes and disease. We had a similar
fiervice in the afternoon. The men gave us two fine oxeii
for slaughter, and the women supplied us abundantly with
milk, meal, and butter. It was all quite gratuitous, and I felt
ashamed that I could make no return. My men explained
the total expenditure of our means, and the Libontese
answered, gracefully, ^' It does not matter : you have opened
a path for us, and we shall have sleep." Strangers came


flocking fVom a distance, and seldom empty-handed. Their
presents I distributed among my men.

Our progress down the Barotse valley was just like this.
Every village gave us an ox, .and sometimes two. The
people were wonderfully kind. I felt, and still feel, most
deeply gratefVil, and tried to benefit them in the only way
I could, by imparting the knowledge of that Savior who
can comfort and sujDply them in the time of need ; and my
prayer is that he may send his good Spirit to instruct thera
and lead them into his kingdom. Even now I earnestly
long to return and make some recompense to them for
their kindness. In passing them on our way to the north,
their liberality might have been supposed to be influenced
by the hope of repayment on our return, for the white
man's land is imagined to be the source of every ornament
they prize most. But, though we set out from Loanda
with a considerable quantity of goods, hoping both to pay
our way through the stingy Chiboque and to make presents
to the kind Baloiada and still more generous Makololo, the
many delays caused by sickness made us expend all my
stock, and all the goods my men procured by their own
labor at Loanda, and we returned to the Makololo as poor
as when we set out. Yet no distrust was shown, and my
poverty did not lessen my influence. They saw that I had
been exerting myself for their benefit alone, and even my
men remarked, '^ Though we return as poor as we went,
we have not gone in vain.'' They began immediately to
collect tusks of hippopotami and other ivory for a second





On the 31st of July we parted with our kind Li.bonta
friends. We planted some of our palm-tree seeds in differ-
ent villages of this valley. They began to sprout even
while we were there ; but, unfortunately, they were always
destroyed by the mice which swarm in every hut.

At Chitlane's village we collected the young of a colony
of the linkololo (Anastomus lamaUigerus,) a black, long-
legged bird, somewhat larger than a crow, which lives on
shell-fish (Ampullaria) and breeds in society at certain
localities among the reeds. These places are well known,
as they continue there from year to year, and belong to the
chiefs, who at particular times of the year gather most
of the young. The produce of this " harvest,'^ as they
call it, which was presented to me, was a hundred and
seventy -five unfledged birds. They had been rather late
in collecting them, in consequence of waiting for the
arrival of Mpololo, who acts the part of chief, but gave
them to me, knowing that this would be pleasing to him,
otherwise this colony would have yielded double the
amount. The old ones appear along the Leeambye in vast
flocks, and look lean and scraggy. The young are very
fat, and, when roasted, are esteemed one of the dainties of
the Barotse valley. In presents of this kind, as well as of
oxen, it is a sort of feast of joy, the person to whom they
are presented having the honor of distributing the mate-
rials of the feast. We generally slaughtered every ox at
the village where it was presented, and then our friends
and we rejoiced together.

The village of Chitlane is situated, like all others in tbo
/^jfj'otse valley, on an eminence, over which floods do not


rise; but this last year the water approached nearer to an
entire submergence of the whole valley than has been
known in the memory of man. Great numbers of people
were now suffering from sickness, which always prevails
v/hen the waters are drying up, and I found much demand
for the medicines I had brought from Loanda. The great
variation of the temperature each day must have a trying
effect upon the health. At this village there is a real Indian
banian-tree, which has spread itself over a considerable
space by means of roots from its branches; it has been
termed, in consequence, 'Hhe tree with legs," (more oa
maotu.) It is curious that trees of this family are looked
upon with veneration, and all the way from the Barotse to
Loanda are thought to be preservatives from evil.

On reaching Naliele on the 1st of August we found
Mpololo in great affliction on account of the death of his
daughter and her child. She had been lately confined;
and her father naturally remembered her when an ox was
slaughtered, or when the tribute of other food, which he
receives in lieu of Sekeletu, came in his way, and sent fre-
quent presents to her. This moved the envy of one of
the Makololo who hated Mpololo, and, wishing to vex him,
he entered the daughter's hut by night, and strangled both
her and her child. He then tried to make fire in the hut
and burn it, so that the murder might not be known ; but
the squeaking noise of rubbing the sticks awakened a ser-
vant, and the murderer was detected. Both he and hia
wife were thrown into the river, — the latter having ^/ known
of her husband's intentions, and not revealing them.''
She declared she had dissuaded him from the crime, and,
had any one interposed a word, she might have beeu

Mpololo exerted himself in every way to supply ns with
other canoes, and we left Shinte's with him. The Mam-
bowe were well received, and departed with friendly mes-
Bages to their chief Masiko. My men wore exceedingly
delighted with the cordial reception we met with every-


Where; but a source of annoyance was founJ where it was
not expected. Many of their wives had married other
men during our two years' absence. Mashauana's wife,
who had borne him two children, was among the number.
He wished to appear not to feel it much, saying, ^^Why,
wives are as plentiful as grass, and I can get another : she
may go;'' but he would add, "If I had that fellow, I
would open his ears for him." As most of them had more
wives than one, I tried to console them by saying that
they had still more than I had, and that they had enough
yet ; but they felt the reflection to be galling that, while
they were toiling, another had been devouring their corn.
Some of their wives came with very young infants in their
arms. This excited no discontent 3 and for some I had to
speak to the chief to order the men, who had married the
only wives some of my companions ever had, to restore

Sunday, August 5. — ^A large audience listened most atten-
tively to my morning address. Surely some will remember
the ideas conveyed, and pray to our merciful Father, who
would never have thought of him but for this visit. The
invariably kind and respectful treatment I have received
from these and many other heathen tribes in this central
country, together with the attentive observations of many
years, have led me to the belief that, if one exerts him-
self for their good, he will never be ill treated. There
may be opposition to his doctrine, but none to the man

While still at Naliele, a party which had been sent after
mo by Masiko arrived. He was much disappointed because
I had not visited him. They brought an elephant's tusk,
two calabashes of honey, two baskets of maize, and one
of groundnuts, as a present. Masiko wished to say that
he had followed the injunction which I had given as the
will of God, and lived in peace until his brother Limboa
came, captured his women as they went to their gardens,
and ih^ii appeared before his stockade. Masiko offered to



lead his men out; but thoy objected, saying, "Let vm
servants be killed: you must not be slain." Those who
said this were young Barotse who had been drilled to
fighting by Sebituane, and used shields of ox-hide. They
beat off the party of Limboa, ten being wounded and ten
slain in the engagement. Limboa subsequently sent three
slaves as a self-imposed fine to Masiko for attacking him.
I succeeded in getting the Makololo to treat the messengers
of Masiko well, though, as they regarded them as rebels,
it was somewhat against the grain at first to speak civilly
to them.

Mpololo, attempting to justify an opposite line of con-
duct, told me how they had fled from Sebituane, even
though he had given them numbers of cattle after their
subjection by his arms, and was rather surprised to find that
I was disposed to think more highly of them for having
asserted their independence, even at the* loss of milk. For
this food all who have been accustomed to it from infancy
in Africa have an excessive longing. I pointed out how
they might be mutually beneficial to each other by the
exchano^e of canoes and cattle.

There are some very old Barotse living here, who were
the companions of the old chief Santuru. These men,
protected by their age, were very free in their comments
on the "upstart" Makololo. One of them, for instance,
interrupted my conversation one day with some Makololo
gentlemen with the advice "not to believe them, for they
were only a set of thieves;" and it was taken in quite a
good-natured way. It is remarkable that none of the
ancients here had any tradition of an earthquake having
occurred in this region. Their quick perception of events
recognizable by the senses, and retentiveness of memory,
render it probable that no perceptible movement of the
earth has taken place between 7° and 27° S. in the centre
of the continent during the last two centuries at least.
There is no appearance of recent fracture or disturbance
of rocks to be seen in the central country, except the fallp


oi Gonye; nor is there any evidence or tradition of bur-
rU anes.

I left I^aliele on tlie 13lh of August, and, when proceed-
in r along the shore at mid-day, a hippopotamus struck the
caaoe with her forehead, lifting one-half of it quite out of
the water, so as nearly to overturn it. The force of the
butt she gave tilted Mashauana out into the river; the rest
of us sprang to the shore, which was only about ten yards
off. Glancing back, I saw her come to the surface a short
way off and look to the canoe, as if to see if she had
done much mischief. It was a female, whose young one
bad been speared the day before. ISTo damage was done,
except wetting person and goods. This is so unusual an
occurrence, when the precaution is taken to coast along
the shore, that my men exclaimed, " Is the beast mad V
There were eight of us in the canoe at the time, and the
shake it received shows the immense power of this animal
in the water.

August 22. — This is the end of winter. The trees which
line the banks begin to bud and blossom, and there is some
show of the influence of the new sap, which will soon end
in buds that push off the old foliage by assuming a very
bright orange color. This orange is so bright that I mis-
took it for masses of yellow blossom. There is every
variety of shade in the leaves, — ^yellow, purple, copper,
liver-color, and even inky black.

Having got the loan of other canoes from Mpololo, and
three oxen as provision for the way, which made the
number we had been presented with in the Barotse valley
amount to thirteen, we proceeded down the river toward
Sesheke, and were as much struck as formerly with the
noble river. The whole scenery is lovely, though the atmo-
sphere is murky in consequence of the continuance of the
smoky tinge of winter.

The amount of organic life is surprising. At the time
the river begins to rise, the Ibis religiosa comes down in

floeks of fifties, with prodigious numbers of other water



fowl. Some of the sand-banks appear whitened during
the day with flocks of pelicans ; I once counted three hun-
dred ; others are brown with ducks, (Anas histrionica,) — 1
got fourteen of these by one shot, — {Querquedula Hottentota,
Smith,) and other kinds. Great numbers of gulls, {Froceh
laria turtur, Smith,) and several others, float over the sur-
face. The vast quantity of small birds which feed on in-
Bects show that the river teems also with specimens of
minute organic life. In walking among bushes on the
banks, we are occasionally stung by a hornet, which makes
its nest in form like that of our own wasp, and hangs it
on the branches of trees. The breeding ffropyq is so strong
in this insect that it pursues any one twenty or thirty
yards who happens to brush too closely past its nest. The
sting, which it tries to inflict near the eye, is more like a
discharge of electricity from a powerful machine, or a
violent blow, than aught else. It produces momentary
insensibility, and is followed by the most pungent pain.
Yet this insect is quite timid when away from its nest.
It is named Murotuani by the Bechuanas.

We have tsetse between Nameta and Sekhosi. An in-
sect of prey, about an inch in length, long-legged and
gaunt-looking, may be observed flying about and lighting
upon the bare ground. It is a tiger in its way, for it
springs upon tsetse and other flies, and, sucking out their
blood, throws the bodies aside.

Long before reaching Sesheke we had been informed that
a party of Matebele, the people of Mosilikatse, had brought
some packages of goods for me to the south bank of the
river, near Victoria Falls, and, though they declared they
had been sent by Mr. Moff'at, the Makololo had refused to
credit the statement of their sworn enemies. They ima-
gined the parcels were directed to me as a mere trick
whereby to place witchcraft-medicine in the hands of the
Makololo. When the Matebele on the south bank called to
the Makololo on the north to come over in canoes and re-


eelve the goods sent by Moffat to ^^IS'akc," the Makololo
replied, " Go along with you : we know better than tliat
How could he tell Moffat to send his things here, he having
gone away to the north V The Matebele answered, "Here
are the goods : we place them now before ycu, and if you
leave them to perish the guilt wiL be yours." When they
had departed, the Makololo thought better of it, and, after
m icb divination, went over with fear and trembling, and
earned the packages carefully to an island in the middle of
the stream; then, building a hut over them to protect
them from the weather, they left them ; and there I found
they had remained from September, 1854, till September,
1855, in perfect safety. Here, as I had often experienced
before, I found the news was very old, and had lost much
of its interest by keeping ; but there were some good eat-
ables from ^Irs. Moffat. Among other things, I discovered
that my friend Sir Eoderick Murchison, while in his study
in London, had arrived at the same conclusion respecting
the form of the African continent as I had lately come to
on the spot ; and that from the attentive study of the geo-
logical map of Mr. Bain and other materials, some of which
were furnished by the discoveries of Mr. Oswell and my-
self, he had not only clearly enunciated the peculiar configu-
ration as a hypothesis in his discourse before the Geogra-
phical Society in 1852, but had even the assurance to send
me out a copy for my information ! There was not much
use in nursing my chagrin at being thus fairly " cut out"
by the man who had foretold the existence of the Austra-
lian gold before its discovery; for here it was in black and
white. In his easy-chair he had forestalled me by three
years, though I had been working hard through jungle,
marsh, and fever, and, since the light dawned on my mind
at Dilolc, had been cherishing the pleasing delusion that I
should be the first to suggest the idea that the interior of
Africa was a watery plateau of less elevation than flanking
hilly ranges.
Having waited a few days at Sesheke till the horsoi


which we had left at Liny an ti should arrive, we proceeded
to that town, and found the wagon, and every thing wo
bad left in November, 1853, perfectly safe. A grand meet-
ing of all the peoj^le was called to receive our report and
the articles which had been sent by the governor and mer-
chants of Loanda. I explained that none of these were
my property, but that they were sent to show the friendly
feelings of the white men, and their eagerness to enter into
commercial relations with the Makololo. I then requested
my companions to give a true account of what they had
seen. The wonderful things lost nothing in the telling, the
climax always being that they had finished the whole world,
and had turned only when there was no more land. One
glib old gentleman asked, '^ Then you reached Ma Eobert
[Mrs. L.] ?" They were obliged to confess that she lived
a little beyond the world. The presents were received with
expressions of great satisfaction and delight; and on Sun-
day, when Sekeletu made his appearance at church in his
uniform, it attracted more attention than the sermon ; and
the kind expressions they made use of respecting myself
were so very flattering that I felt inclined to shut my eyes.
Their private opinion must have tallied with their public
report, for I very soon received offers from volunteers to
accompany me to the east coast. They said they wished
to be able to return and relate strange things like my re-
cent companions; and Sekeletu immediately made arrange-
ments with the Arab Ben Habid to conduct a fresh party
with a load of ivory to Loanda. These, he said, must go
with him and learn to trade; they were not to have any
thing to do in the disposal of the ivory, but simply look
and learn. My companions were to remain and rest them-
frelves, and then return to Loanda when the others had
come home. Sekeletu consulted me as to sending presents
back to the governor and merchants of Loanda; but, not
possessing much confidence in this Arab, I advised him to
send a present by Pitsane, as he knew who ought to re-
ceive it


Since my arrival in England, information has been re-
ceived from Mr. Gabriel that this party had arrived on the
west coast, but that the ivory had been disposed of to some
Portuguese merchants in the interior, and the men had
been obliged to carry it down to Loanda. They had not
been introduced to Mr. Gabriel, but that gentleman, having
learned that they were in the city, went to them and pro-
nounced the names Pitsane, Mashauana, when all started up
and crowded round him. When Mr. G. obtained an inter-
preter, he learned that they had been ordered by Sekeletu
to be sure and go to my brother^ as he termed him. Mr.
G. behaved in the same liberal manner as he had done to
my companions, and they departed for their distant homo
after bidding him a formal and affectionate adieu.

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 26 of 36)