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 29 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 29 of 36)
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out, his lips covered with foam, and every muscle of hia
frame quivered. He came near to me, and, having a small
battle-axe in his hand, alarmed my men lest he might
do violence; but they were afraid to disobey my previous
orders and to follow their own inclination by knocking
him on the head. I felt a little alarmed too, but would not
show fear before my own people or strangers, and kept a
sharp look-out on the little battle-axe. It seemed to me a
case of ecstasy or prophetic frenzy voluntarily produced. I
felt it would be a sorry way to leave the world to get
my head chopped by a mad savage, though that, perhaps,
would be preferable to hydrophobia or delirium tremens.
Sekwebu took a spear in his right hand, as if to pierce a
bit of leather, but in reality to plunge it into the man if he
offered violence to me. After my courage had been suffi-
ciently tested, I beckoned with the head to the civil head-
man to remove him ; and he did so by drawing him aside.
This man pretended not to know what he was doing. I
would fain have felt his pulse, to ascertain whether, the
violent trembling were not feigned, but had not much
inclination to go near the battle-axe again. There was,
however, a flow of perspiration, and the excitement con-
tinued fully half an hour, then gradually ceased. This
paroxysm is the direct opposite of hypnotism, and it is
singular that it has not been tried in Europe as well as
clairvoyance. This second batch of visitors took no pains
to conceal their contempt for our small party, saj^ing to
each other, in a tone of triumph, '' They are quite a god-
send !" — literally, ^' God has apportioned them to us.'' "■ They
are lost among the tribes !" '' They have wandered in order
to be destroyed, and what can they do without shields
among so many?" Some of them asked if there were no
other parties. Sekeletu had ordered my men not to take


their shields, as in the case of ray first company. We
were looked upon as unarmed, and an easy prey. We
prepared against a night-attack by discharging and re-
loading our guns, which were exactly the same in number
(five) as on the former occasion, as I allowed my late com-
panions to retain those which I purchased at Loanda. Wo
were not molested; but some of the enemy tried to lead us
toward the Bashukulompo, who are considered to be the
fiercest race in this quarter. As we knew our direction to
the confluence of the Kafue and Zambesi, we declined their
guidance, and the civil head-man of the evening before
then came along with us. Crowds of natives hovered
round us in the forest ; but he ran forward and explained,
and we were not molested. That night we slept by a little
village under a low range of hills, which are called Chiza-
mena. The country here is more woody than on the high
lands we had left; but the trees are not in general large.

When we had passed the outskirting villages which alone
consider themselves in a state of war with the Makololo,
we found the Batoka, or Batonga, as they here call them-
selves, quite friendly. Great numbers of them came from
all the surrounding villages with presents of maize and .
masuka, and expressed great joy at the first appearance of
a white man and harbinger of peace. The women clothe
themselves better than the Balonda, but the men go inpuris
naturalihus. They walk about without the smallest sense
of shame. They have even lost the tradition of the " fig-
leaf" I asked a fine, large-bodied old man if he did not
think it would be better to adopt a little covering. He
looked with a pitying leer, and laughed with surprise at my
thinking him at all indecent : he evidently considered him-
self above such weak superstition. I told them that, on
my return, I should have my family with me, and no one
must come near us in that state. "■ What shall we put on ?
we have no clothing." It was considered a good joke
when I told them that, if they had nothing else, they tnusl
put on a bunch of grass.


The fiirtlier we advanced the more we fbund the country
bwarming with inhabitants. Great numbers came to see
the white man, — a sight they had never beheld before. They
always brought presents of maize and masuka. Theii
mode of salutation is quite singular. They throw them-
selves on their backs on the ground, and, rolling from side
to side, slap the outside of their thighs as expressions of
thankfulness and welcome, uttering the words " Kina
bomba." This method of salutation was to me very dis-
agreeable, and I never could get reconciled to it. I called
out, ^' Stop, stop ! I don't want that;'^ but they, inmgining
I was dissatisfied, only tumbled about more furiously and
slapped their thighs with greater vigor. The men being
totally unclothed, this performance imparted to my mind
a painful sense of their extreme degradation. My own
Batoka were much more degraded than the Barotse, and
more reckless. We had to keep a strict watch, so as not
to be involved by their thieving from the inhabitants, in
whose country and power we were. We had also to watch
the use they made of their tongues, for some within hear-
ing of the villagers would say, " I broke all the pots of
that village," or "I killed a man there." Thoy were
eager to recount their soldier-deeds when they were in
company with the Makololo in former times as a conquer-
ing army. They were thus placing us in danger by their
remarks. I called them together, and spoke to them about
their folly, and gave them a pretty plain intimation that I
meant to insist upon as complete subordination as I had
secured in my former journey, as being necessary for the
safety of the party. Happily, it never was needful to
resort to any other measure for their obedience, as they all
believed that I would enforce it.

December 6. — We passed the night near a series of villages
Before we came to a stand under our tree, a man camo
running to us with hands and arms firmly bound with
5ords behind his back, entreating me to release him
When I had dismounted, the head-man of the village


advanced, and I inquired the prisoner's offence. He stated
that he had come from the Bashukulompo as a fugitive, and
he had given him a wife and garden and a supply of seed;
but, on refusing a demand for more, the prisoner had
threatened to kill him, and had been seen the night before
skulking about the village, apparently with that intention.
I declined interceding unless he would confess to his father-
in-law, and promise amendment. He at first refused to
promise to abstain from violence, but afterward agreed.
The father-in-law then said that he would take him to the
village'and release him; but the prisoner cried out, bitterly,
*' He will kill me there! don't leave me, white man." I
ordered a knife, and one of the villagers released him on
the spot. His arms were cut by the cords, and he was
quite lame from the blows he had received.

We spent Sunday, the 10th, at Monze's village, who is
considered the chief of all the Batoka we have seen. He
lives near the hill Kisekise, whence we have a view of at
least thirty miles of open undulating country, covered with
short grass and having but few trees. These open lawns
would in any other land, as well as this, be termed pas-
toral ; but the people have no cattle, and only a few goatfe
and fowls.

The chief Monze came to us on Sunday morning, wrapped
in a large cloth, and rolled himself about in' the dust,
screaming "Kina bomba," as they all do. The sight of
great naked men wallowing on the ground, though intended
to do me honor, was always very painful : it made me feel
thankful that my lot had been cast in such different cir-
cumstances from that of so many of my fellow-men. One
of his wives accompanied him; she would have been comely
if her teeth had been spared : she had a little battle-axe in
her hand, and helped her husband to scream. She was
much excited, for she had never seen a white man oefore
We ra+her liked Monze, for he soon felt at home among us,
and kept up conversation during much, of the day. One
head-man of a village after another arrived, and each oi


them supplied us liberally with maize, groimdiuits, arj»1
corn. Monze gave us a goat and a fowl, and appeared
highly satisfied with a present of some handkerchiefs I had
got in my suj^plies left at the island. Being of printed
cotton, they excited great admiration; and, when I put a
gaudy-colored one as a shawl about his child, he said that
he would send for all his people to make a dance about it.
In telling them that my object was to open up a path
whereby they might, by getting merchandise for ivory,
avoid the guilt of selling their children, I asked Monze,
with about one hundred and fifty of his men, if they would
like a white man to live among them and teach them. All
expressed high satisfaction at the prospect of the white
man and his path: they would protect both him and his
property. I asked the question, because it would be of
great importance to have stations in this healthy region,
whither agents oppressed by sickness might retire, and
which would serve, moreover, as part of a chain of com-
munication between the interior and the coast. The
answer does not mean much more than what I know, by
other means, to be the case, — that a white man of good sense
would be welcome and safe in all these parts. By upright-
ness, and laying himself out for the good of the people, he
would be known all over the country as a benefactor of the
race. None desire Christian instruction, for of it they
have no idea. But the people are now humbled by the
scourgings they have received, and seem to be in a favor-
able state for the reception of the gospel. The gradual
restoration of their former prosperity in cattle, simul-
taneously with instruction, would operate beneficially upon
their minds. The language is a dialect of the other negro
languages in the great valley; and, as many of the Batoka
living under the Makololo understand both it and the
Sichuan a, missionaries could soon acquire it through that

Monze had never been visited by any white man, but
had seen black native traders, who, he said, came for ivory,



not for slaves. He had heard of white men passing far Ut
the east of him to Cazembe, — referring, no doubt, to Pereira,
Laeerda, and others, who have visited that chief

Monze came on Monday morning, and^ on parting, pre-
sented us with a piece of a buffalo which had been killed
the day before by lions. We crossed the rivulet Makoe,
which runs westward into the Kafue, and went northward
in order to visit Semalembue, an influential chief theie.
We slept at the village of Monze's sister, who also passes
by the same name. Both he and his sister are feminine in
their appearance^ but disfigured by the foolish custom of
knocking out the upper front teeth.

It is not often that jail-birds turn out well ; but the first
person who apj)eared to welcome us at the village of
Monze's sister was the prisoner we had released in the
way. He came with a handsome present of corn and
meal, and, after praising our kindness to the villagers who
had assembled around us, asked them, "AYhat do you stand
gazing at? Don't you know that they have mouths like
other people ?" He then set off and brought large bundles
of grass and wood for our comfort, and a pot to cook our
food in.

December 12. — The morning presented the appearance of
a continuous rain from the north, — the first time we had
seen it set in from that quarter in such a southern latitude.
In the Bechuana country, continuous rains are always from
the northeast or east, while in Londa and Angola they are
from the north. At Pungo Andongo, for instance, the
(v^hitewash is all removed from the north side of the houses.
It cleared up, however, about laid-day, and Monze's sister
conducted us a mile or two upon the road. On parting,
she said that she had forwarded orders to a distant village
to send food to the point where we should sleep. In ex-
pressing her jo}^ at the prospect of living in peace, she said
it would be so pleasant '' to sleep without dreaming of any
one pursuing them with a spear.''

In our front we had ranges of hills called Cbamai, covered


With trees. TVe crossed the river Nackachinta, flowing
westward into the Kafue, and then j^assed over ridges of
rocks of the same mica schist which we found so abundant
in Golungo Alto : here they were surmounted by reddioh
porphyrj^ and fincly-himinated feldspathic grit with trap.

As we passed along, the people continued to supply us
with food in great abundance. They had by some means
or other got a knowledge that I carried medicine, and,
somewhat to the disgust of my men, who wished to keep
it all to themselves, brought their sick children for cure.
Some of them I found had hooping-cough, which is one of
the few epidemics that range through this country.



ISth. — The country is becoming very beautiful, and fur-
rowed by deep valleys; the underlying rocks, being igneous,
have yielded fertile soil. There is great abundance of large
game. The buffaloes select open spots, and often eminences,
as standing-places through the day. We crossed the Mbai,
and found in its bed rocks of pink marble. Some little
hills near it are capped by marble of beautiful whiteness,
the underlying rock being igneous. Yiolent showers occur
frequently on the hills, and cause such sudden sweeping floods
m these rivulets that five of our men, who had gone to the
other side for firewood, were obliged to swim back. The
temperature of the air is lowered considerably by the daily
rains. Several times the thermometer at sunrise has been
fts low as 68°, and 74° at sunset. Generally, however, it
stood at from 7?° to 74° at sunrise, 90° to 96° at mid^iay, and


80° to 84° at sunset. The sensation, however, as before
remarked, was not disagreeable.

14:th. — We entered a most beautiful valley, abounding in
large game. Finding a buffalo lying down, I went to
secure him for our food. Three balls did not kill him, and,
as he turned round as if for a charge, we ran for the shelter
of some rocks. Before we gained them, we found that
three elephants, probably attracted by the strange noise,
had cut off our retreat on that side : they, however, turned
short off, and allowed us to gain the rocks. We then saw
that the buffalo was moving off quite briskly, and, in order
not to be entirely balked, I tried a long shot at the last of
the elephants, and, to the great joy of my people, broke his
fore-leg. The young men soon brought him to a stand,
and one shot in the brain despatched him. I was right
glad to see the joy manifested at such an abundant supply
of meat.

On the following day, while my men were cutting up
the elephant, great numbers of the villagers came to enjoy
the feast. We were on the side of a fine green valley,
studded here and there with trees and cut by numerous
rivulets. I had retired from the noise, to take an observa-
tion among some rocks of laminated grit, when I beheld
an elephant and her calf at the end of the valley, about
two miles distant. The calf was rolling in the mud, and
the dam was standing fanning herself with her great ears.
As I looked at them through my glass, I saw a long str: ng
of my own men appearing on the other side of them, and
Sekwebu came and told me that these men had gone off,
saying, " Our father will see to-day what sort of men ho
has got." I then went higher up the side of the valley, in
order to have a distinct view of their mode of hunting.
The goodly beast, totally unconscious of the approach of
an enemy, stood for some time suckling her young one,
which seemed about two years old : they then went into a
pit containing mud, and smeared themselves all over with
it, the little one frisking about his dam, flapping his eara



and tossing his trunk incessantly, in elephantine fashion
She kept flapping her ears and wagging her tail, as if in
the height of enjoyment. Then began the piping of hej
enemies, which was performed by blowing into a tube, 07
the hands closed together, as boys do into a key. Thej
call out to attract the animal's attention : —

'* chief! chief! we have come to kill you.

chief! chief! many more will die besides you," &c.
*' The gods have said it," &o. &o.

Both animals expanded their ears and listened, then left
their bath as the crowd rushed toward them. The little
one ran forward toward the end of the valley, but, seeing
the men there, returned to his dam. She placed herself on
the danger-side of her calf, and passed her proboscis' over it
again and again, as if to assure it of safety. She frequently
looked back to the men, who kept up an incessant shouting,
singing, and piping; then looked at her young one and
ran after it, sometimes sideways, as if her feelings were
divided between anxiety to protect her offspring and desire
to revenge the temerity of her persecutors. The men kept
about a hundred yards in her rear, and some that distance
from her flanks, and continued thus until she was obliged
to cross a rivulet. The time spent in descending and get-
ting Tip the opposite bank allowed of their coming up to
the edge and discharging their spears at about twenty
yards' distance. After the first discharge she appeared with
her sides red with blood, and, beginning to flee for her own
life, seemed to think no more of her young. I had pre-
viously sent off Sekwebu with orders to spare the calf It
ran very fast, but neither young nor old ever entei into a
gallop : their quickest pace is only a sharp walk. Befoi«
Sekwebu could reach them, the calf had taken refuge iu
the water, and was killed. The pace of the dam gradually
became slower. She turned with a shriek of rage, and
made a furious charge back among the men. They
vanished at right angles to her course, or sideways, and,
as she ran straight on, she went through the whole party


but came near no one except a man who wore a piece of
cloth on his shoulders. Bright clothing is always dangerous
in these cases. She charged three or four times^ and, ex-
cept in the first instance, never went farther than one
hundred yards. She often stood after she had crossed a
rivulet, and faced the men, though she received fresh
spears. It was by this process of spearing and loss of
blood that she was killed; for at last, making a short
charge, she staggered round and sank down dead in a
kneeling posture. I did not see the whole hunt, having
been tempted away by both sun and moon appearing
unclouded. I turned from the spectacle of the destruction
of noble animals, which might be made so useful in Africa,
with a -feeling of sickness; and it was not relieved by the
recollection that the ivory was mine, though that was the
case. I regretted to see them killed, and more especially
the young one, the meat not being at all necessary at that
time ; but it is right to add that I did not feel sick when
my own blood was up the day before. "We ought, perhaps,
to judge those deeds more leniently in which we ourselves
have no temptation to engage. Had I not been previously
guilty of doing the very same thing, I might have prided
myself on superior humanity when I experienced the
nausea in viewing my men kill these two.

Passing the rivulet Losito, and through the ranges of
hills, we reached the residence of Semalembue on the 18th.
His village is situated at the bottom of ranges through
which the Kafue finds a passage, and close to the bank
of that river. The Kafue, sometimes called Kahowhe or
Bashukulompo Eiver, is upward of two hundred yards wide
here, and full of hippopotami, the young of which may be
been perched on the necks of their dams. At this point we
had reached about the same level as Linyanti.

Semalembue paid us a visit soon after our arrival, and
said that he had often heard of me, and, now that he had
the pleasure of seeing me, he feared that I should sleep the
first night at his village hungry. This was considered th©


nandsome way of introducing a present, for ho ihcn handed
five or six baskets of meal and maize, and an enormous one
of groundnuts. Next morning he gave me about twenty
baskets more of meal. I could make but a poor return for
his kindness; but he accepted my apologies politely, saying
that he knew there were no goods in the country from
which I had come, and, in professing great joy at the
words of peace I spoke, he said, " Now I shall cultivate
largely, in the hope of eating and sleeping in peace/' It
is noticeable that all whom we have yet met eagerly caught
up the idea of living in peace as the probable effect of the
gospel. They require no explanation of the existence of
the Deity. Sekwebu makes use of the term " Eeza,'' and
they appear to understand at once. Like negroes in
general, they have a strong tendency to worship; and 1
heard that Semalembue gets a good deal of ivory from the
surrounding tribes on pretence of having some supernatural
power. He transmits this to some other chiefs on the
Zambesi, and receives in return English cotton goods which
come from Mozambique by Babisa traders. My men here
began to sell their beads and other ornaments for cotton
cloth. Semalembue was accompanied by about forty peo-
ple, all large men. They have much wool on their h^ads,
which is sometimes drawn all together up to the crown
and tied there in a large tapering bunch. The forehead
and round by the ears is shaven close to the base of this
tuft. Others draw out the hair on one side and twist it
into little strings. The rest is taken over and hangs above
the ear, which gives the appearance of having a cap cocked
jauntily on the side of the head.

The mode of salutation is by clapping the hands. Yarious
parties of women came from the surrounding villages to
see the white man, but all seemed very much afraid. Their
fear, which I seldom could allay, made them, when ad-
dressed, clap their hands with increasing vigor. Sekwebu
was the only one of the Makololo who knew this part of
the country; and this was the region which to his luind


was best adapted for the residence of a tribe. The natives
generally have a good idea of the nature of the soil and
pasturago, and Sekwebu expatiated with great eloquence on
the capabilities of this part for supplying the wants of the
Makololo. There is certainly abundance of room at pre-
sent in the country for thousands and thousands more of

We passed near the Losito, a former encampment of
the Matebele, with whom Sekwebu had lived. At the
eight of the bones of the oxen they had devoured, and the
spot where savage dances had taken place, though all de-
serted now, the poor fellow burst out into a wild Matebele
song. He pointed out also a district, about two days and
a half west of Semalembue, where Sebituane had formerly
dwelt. There is a hot fountain on the hills there named
"Nakalombo," which may be seen at a distance emitting
steam. ^< There/^ said Sekwebu, '^ had your Molekane [Sebi-
tuane] been alive, he would have brought you to live with
him. You would be on the bank of the river; and, by
taking canoes, you would at once sail down to the Zambesi
and visit the white people at the sea."

The Kafue enters a narrow gorge close by the village of
Semalembue : as the hill on the north is called Bolengwe,
I apply that name to the gorge, (lat. 15° 48' 19" S., long. 28°
22' E.). Semalembue said that he ought to see us over the
river; so he accompanied us to a pass about a mile south of
his village, and when we entered among the hills we found
the ford of the Kafue. On parting with Semalembue I
put on him a shirt, and he went away with it apparently
much delighted.

The ford was at least 250 yards broad, but rocky and
shallow. After crossing it in a canoe, we went along the
left bank, and were completely shut in by high hills.

Semalembue intended that we should go a little to the
northeast, and pass through the people called Babimpe, and
we saw some of that people, who invited us to come that
way on account of its being smoother ; but, feeling anxioua


to get back to llio Zambesi again, we decided to cross th«
hills toward its confluence with the Kafue. The distance,
which in a straight line is but small, occupied three days.

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 29 of 36)