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 32 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 32 of 36)
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sand-rivers, it is for the most part dry; but, by digging
down a few feet, water is to be found, which is percolating
along the bed on a stratum of clay.

February 4. — We were much detained by rains, a heavy
shower without wind falling every morning about daybreak :
it often cleared up after that, admitting of our moving on a
few miles. A continuous rain of several hours then set in.

On the 6th we came to the village of Boroma, which is
situated among a number of others, each surrounded by
extensive patches of cultivation. On the opposite side of
the river we have a great cluster of conical hills, called
Chorichori. Boroma did not make his appearance, but sent
a substitute, who acted civilly. I sent Sekwebu in the
morning to state that we intended to move on : his mother
replied that, ae she had expected that we should remain, no


food was read}'; but she sent a basket of corn and a fowl. ^9
an excuse why Boroma did not present himself, she said
that he was seized this morning by the EarimO; — which
probably meant that his lordshij) was drunk.

We marched along the river to a point opposite the hill
Pinkwo, (lat. 15° 39' 11" S., long. 32° 5' E.;) but the late
abundant rains now flooded the Zambesi again, and greai
quantities of wreck appeared upon the stream.

This flood having filled the river, we found the numerous
rivulets which flow into it filled also, and when going along
the Zambesi we lost so mucn time in passing up each little
stream till we could find a ford about waist deep, and then
returning to the bank, that I resolved to leave the river
altogether and strike away to the southeast. We accord-
ingly struck off when opposite the hill Pink we, and camo
into a hard Mopane country.

This Chicova is not a kingdom, as has been stated, but a
level tract, a part of which is annually overflowed by the
Zambesi, and is well adapted for the cultivation of corn,
It is said to be below the northern end of the hill Bungwe
T was veiy much pleased in discovering a small specimen
of such a precious mineral as coal. I saw no indication of
silver ; and, if it ever was worked by the natives, it is re-
markable that they have entirely lost the knowledge of it,
and cannot distinguish between silver and tin. Our path
lay along the bed of the Nake for some distance, the banks
being covered with impenetrable thickets. The villages
are not numerous ; but we went from one to the other, and
were treated kindly. Here they call themselves Bambiri,
though the general name of the whole nation is Banyai.
One of our guides was an inveterate talker, always stop-
]>ing and asking for pay, that he might go on with a merry
heart. I thought that he led us in the most diflicult paths
in order to make us feel his value, for, after passing through
one thicket after another, we always came into the bod
of the Nake again; and as that was full of coarse sand, and
the water only ankle deep, and as h :)t as a foot-bath from


f.he powerful rays of the sun, we were all completely tired
out. He likewise gave us a bad character at every villa^^e
we passed, calling to them that they were to allow him to
lead us astray, as we were a bad set. Sekwebu knew
every word he said, and, as he became intolerable, I dis-
missed him, giving him six feet of calico I had bought from
native traders, and telling him that his tongue was a
nuisance. It is in general best, when a scolding is neces-
sary, to give it in combination with a present, and then end
it by good wishes. This fellow went off smiling ; and my
men remarked, " His tongue is cured now.''

loth. — The head-man of these parts is named Nyampungo.
1 sent the last fragment of cloth we had, with a request
that we should be furnished with a guide to the next chief.
After a long conference with his council, the cloth was
returned with a promise of compliance and a request for
some beads only. This man is supposed to possess the
charm for rain, and other tribes send to him to beg it.
This shows that what we inferred before was correct, — that
less rain falls in this country than in Londa. Nyampungo
behaved in quite a gentlemanly manner, presented me
with some rice, and told my people to go among all the
villages and beg for themselves. An old man, father-in-law
of the chief, told me that he had seen books before, but
never knew what they meant. They pray to departed
chiefs and relatives, but the idea of praying to God seemed
new, and they heard it with reverence. As this was an
intelligent old man, I asked him about the silver; but he
was as ignorant of it as the rest, and said, " We never dug
silver, but we have washed for gold in the sands of the
rivers Mazoe and Luia, which unite in the Luenya." 1
think that this is quite conclusive on the question of no
silver having been dug by the natives of this district.
Nyampungo is aflSicted with a kind of disease called Se
sen da, which I imagine to be a species of leprosy common
m this quarter, — though vhey are a cleanly people. They
never had cattle. The chi». ^'s father had always lived in


their present position, and, when I asked him why he did
not possess these useful animals, he said, ** Who would f^ive
U9 the medicine to enable .us to keep them?" I found out
the reason afterward fn the prevalence of tsetse; but of
this ho was ignorant, having supposed that he could not
keep cattle because he had no medicine



14fA. — We left ]N"yampungo this morning. The path
wound up the Molinge, another sand-river which flows into
the Nake. When we got clear of the tangled jungle which
covers the banks of these rivulets, we entered the Mopane
country, where we could walk with comfort. When we
had gone on a few hours, my men espied an elephant, and
•were soon in full pursuit. They were in want of meat,
having tasted nothing but grain for several days. The
desire for animal food made them all eager to slay him,
and, though an old bull, he was soon killed The people
of Nyampungo had never seen such desperadoes before.
One rushed up and hamstrung the beast, while still stand-
ing, by a blow with an axe. Some Banyai elephant-
hunters happened to be present when my men were fighting
with him. One of them took out his snuff-box and poured
out all its contents at the root of a tree, as an offering tc
the Barimo for success. As soon as the animal fell, the
whole of my party engaged in a wild, savage dance round
the body, which quite frightened the Banyai, and he who
made the offering said to me, *^I see you are travelling
with people who don't know how to pray: I therefore
offered the only thing I had in their behalf, and the ele-
phant soon fell." One of Nyampungo's men, who remained
with me, ran a little forward, when an opening in the treeb


gave lis a view of the chase, and uttered loud prayers for
success in the combat. I admired the devout belief they
aL possessed in the actual existence of unseen beings, and
prayed that they might yet know that benignant One who
views us all as his own. My own people, who are rather
a degraded lot, remarked to me, as I came up, " God ga\ e
it to us. He said to the old beast, 'Go up there : men aie
come who will kill and eat you.' " These remarks are quoted
to give the reader an idea of the native mode of expression.

As we were now in the country of stringent game-laws,
we were obliged to send all the way back to Nyampungo,
to give information to a certain person who had been left
there by the real owner of this district to watch over his
property, the owner himself living near the Zambesi. The
side upon which the elephant fell had a short, broken tuskj
the upper one, which was ours, was large and thick. The
Banyai remarked on our good luck. The men sent to give
notice came back late in the afternoon of the following day.
They brought a basket of corn, a fowl, and a few strings
of handsome beads, as a sort of thank-offering for our
having killed it on their land, and said they had thanked
the Barimo besides for our supcess, adding, "There it is:
eat it and be glad." Had we begun to cut it up before we
got this permission, we should have lost the whole. They
brought a large party to eat their half, and they divided it
with us in a friendly way. My men were delighted with
the feast, though, by lying unopened a whole day, the
carcass was pretty far gone. An astonishing number of
hyenas collected round and kept up a loud laughter for
two whole nights. Some of them do make a very good
imitation of a laugh. I asked my nien what the hyenas
were laughing at, as they usually give animals credit for a
ehare of inteUigence. They said that they were laughing
because we could not take the whole, and that they would
have plenty to eat as well as we.

On coming to the part where the elephant was slain, we
passed through grass so tall that it reminded me of that in


the valley of Cassange. Insects are very numerous after
the rains commence. While waiting by the elephant, I
observed a great number of insects, like grains of line sand,
moving on my boxes. On examination with a glass, four
species were apparent : one of green and gold preening ittj
wings, -which glanced in the sun with metallic lustre :
another clear as crystal ; a third of the color of vermilion j
and a fourth black. These are probably some of those
which consume the seeds of every plant that grows.
Almost every kind has its own peculiar insect, and when
the rains are over very few seeds remain untouched. The
rankest poisons^ as the kongwhane and euphorbia, are soon
devoured; the former has a scarlet insect; and even the fiery
bird's-eye pepper, which will keep off many others from their
own seeds, is itself devoured by a maggot. I observed here,
what I had often seen before, that certain districts abound
in centipedes. Here they have light reddish bodies and
blue legs : great myriapedes are seen ^rawling everywhere.
Although they do no harm, they excite in man a feeling of
loathing. Perhaps our appearance produces a similar feel-
ing in the elephant and other large animals. Where they
have been much disturbed, Ijjiey certainly look upon us with
great distrust, as the horrid biped that ruins their peace.
In the quietest parts of the forest there is heard a faint
bat distinct hum, which tells of insect joy. One may see
many whisking about in the clear sunshine in patches
among the green glancing leaves ; but there are invisible
myriads working with never-tiring mandibles on leaves
and stalks and beneath the soil. They are all brimful of
enjoyment. Indeed, the universality of organic life may
be called a mantle of happy existence encircling the world,
and imparts the idea of its being caused by the conscious-
ness of our benignant Father's smile on all the works of
his hands.

The birds of the tropics have been described as generally
wanting in power of song. I was decidedly of opinion
that this was not applicable to many parts in Londu,



though birds there are remarkably scarce. Here the
choruSj or body of song, was not much smaller in volume
than ii is in England. It was not so harmonious, and
sounded always as if the birds were singing in a foreign
tongue. Some resemble the lark, and, indeed, there are
several of that family ; two have notes not unlike those of
the thrush. One brought the chaffinch to my mind, and
unother the robin; but their songs are intermixed with
several curious abrupt notes unlike any thing English.
One utters deliberately ^^peek, pak, pok;'' another has a
single note like a stroke on a violin-string. The mokwa
reza gives forth a screaming set of notes like our blackbird
when disturbed, then concludes with what the natives say
is " pula, pula," (rain, rain,) but more like " weep, weep,
weep.'' Then we have the loud cry of francolins, the
''pumpuru, pumpuru," of turtle-doves, and the ^'chiken,
chiken, chik, churr, churr," of the honey-guide. Occasion-
ally, near villages, we have a kind of mocking-bird, imi-
tating the calls of domestic fowls. These African birds
have not been wanting in song : they have only lacked
poets to sing their praises, which ours have had from the
time of Aristophanes downward Ours have both a classic
and a modern interest to enhance their fame. In hot, dry
weather, or at mid-day when the sun is fierce, all are still :
let, however, a good shower fall, and all burst forth at once
into merry lays and loving courtship. The early mornings
and the cool evenings are their favorite times for singing.
There are comparatively few with gaudy plumage, being
totally unlike, in this respect, the birds of the Brazils.
The majority have decidedly a sober dress, though col-
lectors, having generally selected the gaudiest as the most
valuable, have conveyed the idea that the birds of the
tropics for the most part possess gorgeous plumage.

l^th. — Several of my men have been bitten by spiders
and other insects, but no effect except pain has followed.
A large caterpillar is frequently seen, called lezuntabuea.
U is covered with long gray hairs, and, the body being


dark, it resembles a porcupine in miniature. If one 1 3ueboa
it, the hairs run into the pores of the skin, and remain
there, giving sharp pricks. There are others which have
a simihir means of defence; and when the hand is drawn
across them, as in passing a bush on which they happen to
be, the contact resembles the stinging of nettles. From
the great number of caterpillars seen, we have a consider-
able variety of butterflies. One particular kind flies more
like a swallow than a butterfly. They are not remarkable
for the gaudiness of their colors.

In passing along, we crossed the hills Yungue or Mvung-
we, which we found to be composed of various eruptive
rocks. At one part we have breccia of altered marl or slate
in quartz, and various amj^gdaloids. It is curious to observe
the difi'erent forms which silica assumes. We have it in clay-
stone porphjay here, no larger than turnip-seed, dotted
thickly over the matrix; or crystallized round the walls of
cavities once filled with air or other elastic fluid ; or it may
appear in similar cavities as tufts of yellow asbestos, or as
red, yellow, or green crystals, or in laminae so arranged as to
appear like fossil wood. Yungue forms the watershed be-
tween those sand-rivulets T^diich run to the N.E., and others
which flow southward, as the Kapopo, Ue, and Due, which
run into the Luia.

We found that many elephants had been feeding on the
fi'uit called mokoronga. This is a black-colored plum,
having purple juice. We all ate it in large quantities, as
we found it delicious. The only defect it has is the great
size of the seed in comparison with the pulp. This is the
chief fault of all uncultivated wild fruits. The moko-
ronga exists throughout this part of the country most
abundantly, and the natives eagerly devour it, as it is said
to be perfectly wholesome, or, as they express it, "It is
pure fat," aiid fat is by them considered the best of food.
Though onh' a little larger than a cherry, w^found that the
elephants had stood picking them off patiently by the hour.
We observed the footprints of a black rhinoceros {EhinO'


seros bicornis, Linn.) and her calf. We saw other footprints
among the hills of Semalembue; but the black rhinoceros
is remarkably scarce in all the country north of the Zam-
besi. The white rhinoceros {Rhinoceros simus of Burchell,)
or Mohohu of the Bechuanas, is quite extinct here, and
will soon become unknown in the country to the south.
It feeds almost entirely on grasses, and is of a timid, un-
suspecting disposition : this renders it an easy prey, and
they are slaughtered without mercy on the introduction of
fire-arms. The black possesses a more savage nature, and,
like the ill-natured in general, is never found with an ounce
of fat in its body. From its greater fierceness and wariness,
it holds its place in a district much longer than its more
timid and better-conditioned neighbor. Mr. Oswell was
once stalking two of these beasts, and, as they came slowly
to him, he, knowing that there is but little chance of hitting
the small brain of this animal by a shot in the head, lay
expecting one of them to give his shoulder till he was
within a few yards. The hunter then thought that by
making a rush to his side he might succeed in escaping;
but the rhinoceros, too quick for that, turned upon him,
and, though he discharged his gun close to the animal's
head, he w\as tossed in the air. My friend was insensible
for some time, and, on recovering, found large wounds on
the thigh and body: I saw that on the former part still
open, and five inches long. The white, however, is not
always quite safe, for one, even after it was mortally
wounded, attacked Mr. Oswell's horse, and thrust the
horn through to the saddle, tossing at the time both horse
and rider. I once saw a white rhinoceros give a buifalo,
which was gazing intently at myself, a poke in the chest,
but it did not wound it, and seemed only a hint to get out
of the way. Four varieties of the rhinoceros are enume-
rated by naturalists, but my observation led mt; to conciudo
that there are but two, and that the extra b-pecies ha^e
been formed from differences in tboir sizes, ages, and the
direction of the horns; as if we should reckon the short*


horned cattle a different species from the Alderneys or tho
Highland breed. I was led to this from having once seen
a black rhinoceros with a horn bent downward like that
of the kuabaoba, and also because the animals of the two
great varieties differ very much in appearance at different
stages of their growth. I find, however, that Dr. Smith,
the best judge in these matters, is quite decided as to the
propriety of the subdivision into three or four species. For
common readers it is sufficient to remember that there are
two well-defined species, that difler entirely in appearance
and food. The absence of both these rhinoceroses among
the reticulated rivers in the central valley may easily be
accounted for, they would be such an easy prey to tho
natives in their canoes at the periods of inundation ; but
one cannot so readily account for the total absence of the
giraffe and ostrich on the high open lands of the Batoka
north of the Zambesi, unless we give credence to the native
report which bounds the country still farther north by
another network of waters near Lake Shuia, and suppose
that it also prevented their progress southward. The Ba-
toka have no name for the giraffe or the ostrich in their lan-
guage; yet, as the former exists in considerable numbers
in the angle formed by the Leeambye and Chobe, they
may have come from the north along the western ridge.
The Chobe would seem to have been too narrow to act as
an obstacle to the giraffe, supposing it to have come into
that district from the south; but the broad river into
which that stream flows seems always to have presented
an impassable barrier to both the giraffe and the ostrich,
though they abound on its southern border, both in the
Kalahari Desert and the country of Mashona.

The honey-guides were very assiduous in their friendly
offices, and enabled my men to get a large quantity of
honey. But, though bees abound, the wax of these parts
forms no article of trade. In Londa it may be said to be
fully cared for, as you find hives placed upon trees in tho
most lonesome forests. We often met strings of carriers


laden with large blocks of this substance, each eighty or
a hundred pounds in weight, and pieces were offered to
us for sale at every village 3 but here we never saw a singlo
artificial hive. The bees were always found in the natural
cavities of mopane-trees. It is probable that the good
market for wax afforded to Angola by the churches of
Brazil led to the gradual development of that branch of
commerce there. I saw even on the banks of the Quango as
much as sixpence paid for a pound. In many parts of the
Batoka country bees exist in vast numbers, and the tribute
due to Sekeletu is often paid in large jars of honey ; but,
having no market nor use for the wax, it is thrown away.
This was the case also with ivory at the Lake Ngami at
the period of its discovery.

Though we are now approaching the Portuguese settle
ment, the country is still full of large game. My men
killed six buffalo-calves out of a herd we met. The abun-
dance of these animals, and also of antelopes, shows the in
Bufficiency of the bow and arrow to lessen their numbers.
There are also a great many lions and hyenas, and there ia
no check upon the increase of the former, for the people;
believing that the souls of their chiefs enter into them
never attempt to kill them : they even believe that a chief
may metamorphose himself into a lion, kill any one he
chooses, and then return to the human form : therefore,
when they see one, they commence clapping their hands,
which is the usual mode of salutation here. The conse-
quence is that lions and hyenas are so abundant that wo
Bee little huts made in the trees, indicating the places where
some of the inhabitants have slept when benighted in the
fields. As numbers of my men frequently left the line of
march in order to take out the korwes from their nests
or follow the honey-guides, they excited the astonishment
of our guides, who were constantly warning them of the
danger they thereby incurred from lions. I was often con-
siderably ahead of the main body of my men on this ac-
count, and was obli^^ed to stop every hour or two; but, th«

GllArEg.. 39.'5

Bun being excessively hot by day, I was glad of the oxra*?
for resting. We could make no such prodigious stiides aa
officers in the Arctic regions are able to do. Ten or twelve
miles a day were a good march for both the ni:a and my-
self; and it was not the length of the marches, but con-
tinuing day after day to perform the same distance, that
was so fatiguing. It was in this case much longer than ap-
pears on the map, because we kept out of the way of vil-
lages. I drank less than the natives when riding; but all my
clothing was now constantly damp from the moisture which
was imbibed in large quantities, at every pond. One doe^j
not stay on these occasions to prepare water with alum
or any thing else, but drinks any amount without fear. 1
never felt the atmosphere so steamy as on the low-lying
lands of the Zambesi ; and yet it was becoming cooler than
it was on the highlands.

"We crossed the rivulets Kapopo and Ue, now running but
usually dry. There are great numbers of wild grape-vines
growing in this quarter : indeed, they abound everywhere
along the banks of the Zambesi. In the Batoka country
there is a variety which yields a black grape of considerable
sweetness. The leaves are very large and harsh, as if capa-
ble of withstanding the rays of this hot sun; but the most
common kinds — one with a round leaf and a greenish
grape, and another with a leaf closely resembling that of
the cultivated varieties and with dark or purj^le fruit —
have large seeds, which are strongly astringent and render
it a disagreeable fruit. The natives eat all the varieties; and
I tasted vinegar made by a Portuguese from these grapes.
Probably a country which yields the wild vines so very
abundantly might be a fit one for the cultivated species.
At this part of the journey so many of the vines hai run
across the little footpath we followed that one hai to
be constantly on the watch to avoid being tripped. The
ground was covered with rounded shingle, which was not
easily seen among the grass. Pedestrianism may be ail
rory well for those whose obesity requires muoh exercise j


but for one who was becoming as thin as a lath, thioug
the constant perspiration caused by marching day aftei
day in the hot sun, the only good I saw in it was that it
gave an honest sort of a man a vivid idea of the tread-

Although the rains were not quite over, great numbers
of pools were drying up, and the ground was in many
parts covered with small green cryptogamous plants, which
gave it a mouldy appearance and a strong smell. As we
sometimes pushed aside the masses of rank vegetation
which hung over our path,.we felt a sort of hot blast on our
faces. Every thing looked unwholesome ; but we had no
fever. The Ue flows between high banks of a soft red
Bandstone streaked with white, and pieces of tufa. The

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 32 of 36)