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 33 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 33 of 36)
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crumbling sandstone is evidently alluvial, and is cut into
twelve feet deep. In this region, too, we met with pot-
holes six feet deep and three or four in diameter. In some
nases they form convenient wells; in others they are full
of earth ; and in others still the people have made them
into graves for their chiefs.

On the 20th we came to Monina's village, (close to the
sand-river Tangwe, latitude 16° 13' 38" south, longitude
32° 32' east.) This man is very popular among the tribes,
on account of his liberality. Boroma, Nyampiingo, Mo-
nina, Jira, Katolosa, (Monomotapa,) and Susa, all acknow-
ledge the supremacy of one called Nyatewe, who is re-
ported to decide all disputes respecting land.

When we told Monina that we had nothing to present
but some hoes, he replied that he was not in need of those
articles, and that he had absolute power over the country
in front, and if he prevented us from proceeding no one
would say any thing to him. His little boy Boromo having
come t'^ -he encampment to look at us, I gave him a knife,
and he went off and brought a pint of honey for me. The
father came soon afterward, and I offered him a shirt He
remarked to his councillors, ''It is evident that thife man
has nothing, for, if he had, his people would be buying


provisions, but we don't see them going about for that pur-
pose/^ His council did not agree in this. They evidently
believed that we had goods but kept them hid, and we fell
it rather hard to be suspected of falsehood. It was pro-
bably at their suggestion that in the evening a war-danco
was got up about a hundred yards from our encampment,
as if to put us in fear and force us to bring forth presents.
Some of Monina's young men had guns, but most were
armed with large bows, arrows, and spears. They beat
their drums furiously, and occasionally fired off a gun. As
this sort of dance is never got up unless there is an inten-
tion to attack, my men expected an assault. AYe sat and
looked at them for some time, and then, as it became dark,
lay down all ready to give them a w^arm rece2:)tion. But an
hour or two after dark the dance ceased, and, as we then
saw no one approaching us, we went to sleep. During the
night, one of my head-men, Monahin, was seen to get up,
look toward the village, and say to one who was half
awake, ^^ Don't you hear what these people are saying?
Go and listen." He then walked off in the opposite direc-
tion, and never returned. We had no guard set, but every
one lay with his spear in his hand. The man to whom he
spoke appears to have been in a dreamy condition, for it
did not strike him that he ought to give the alarm. Next
morning I found to my sorrow that Monahin was gone,
and not a trace of him could be discovered. He had an
attack of pleuritis some weeks before, and had recovered,
but latterly complained a little of his head. 1 observed
him in good spirits on the way hither, and in crossing
some of the streams, as I was careful not to wet my feet,
he aided me, and several times joked at my becoming so
li2:ht. In the evening he sat beside my tent until it was
dark, and did not manifest any great alarm. It was pro-
bably either a sudden fit of insanity, or, having gon3 a little
way out from the camp, he may have been carried ofi" by a
lion, as this part of the country is full of them. I iiicline to
the former opinion, because sudden insanity occurs when



there is any unuBual strain upon their minds. Monahin was
in command of the Batoka of Mokwine in my party, and he
was looked upon with great dislike by all that chief's sub-
jects. The only difficulties I had with them arose in con-
sequence of being obliged to give orders through him.
They said Mokwine is reported to have been killed by ^ho
Makololo, but Monahin is the individual who put forth his
hand and slew him. When one of these people kills in
battle, he seems to have no compunction afterward; but
when he makes a foray on his own responsibility, and kills
a man of note, the common people make remarks to each
other, which are reported to him and bring the affair per-
petually to his remembrance. This iteration on the con-
science causes insanity, and, when one runs away in a wide
country like this, the fugitive is never heard of. Monahin
had lately become afraid of his own party from overhearing
their remarks, and said more than once to me, " They want
to kill me.'' I believe if he ran to any village they would
take care of him. I felt his loss greatly, and spent three
days in searching for him. He was a sensible and most
obliging man. I sent in the morning to inform Monina of
this sad event, and he at once sent to all the gardens
around, desiring the people to look for him, and, should he
come near, to bring him home. He evidently sympathized
with us in our sorrow, and, afraid lest we might suspect
him, added, "We never catch nor kidnap people here. It
is not our custom. It is considered as guilt among all the
tribes." I gave him credit for truthfulness, and he allowed
us to move on without further molestation.

After leaving his village, we marched in the bed of a
sand-river a quarter of a mile broad, called Tangwe.
Walking on this sand is as fatiguing as walking on snow.
The country is flat, and covered with low trees; but we see
high hills in the distance. A little to the south we have
those of the Lobole. This region is very much infested by
lions, and men never go any distance into the woods alone.
Having turned aside on one occasion at mid-day, and gone


a short distance among grass a little taller than myself, an
animal sprang away from me which was certainly not an
antelope, but I could not distinguish whether it was a lion
nr a hyena. This abundance of carnivora made us lose all
hope of Monahin. We saw footprints of many black rhi-
noceroses, buffalos, and zebras.

After a few hours we reached the village of Nyakoba.
Two men who accompanied us from Monina to Nyakoba's
would not believe us when we said that we had no beads.
It is very trying to have one's veracity doubted ; but, on
opening the boxes, and showing them that all I had
was perfectly useless to them, they consented to receive
some beads off Sekwebu's waist, and I promised to send
four yards of cahco from Tete. As we came away from
Monina' 8 village, a witch-doctor, who had been sent for,
arrived, and all Monina's wives went forth into the fields
that morning fasting. There they would be compelled
to drink an infusion of a plant named "goho," which
is used as an ordeal. This ceremony is called " muavi,"
and is performed in this way. When a man suspects
that any of his wives has bewitched him, he sends
for the witch-doctor, and all the wives go forth into the
field and remain fasting till that person has made an
infusion of the plant. They all drink it, each one holding
up her hand to heaven in attestation of her innocency.
Those who vomit it are considered innocent, while those
whom it purges are pronounced guilty, and put to death by
burning. The innocent return to their homes, and slaughter
a cock as a thank-offering to their guardian spirits. The
practice of ordeal is common among all the negro nations
north of the Zambesi. This summary procedure excited
my surprise, for my intercourse with the natives here had
led me to believe that the women were held in so much
estimation that the men would not dare to get rid of them
thus. But the explanation I received was this. The
slightest imputation makes them eagerly desire the test;
they are conscious of being innocent, and have the fullest

iOO woman's rights

fiiith in the muavi detecting the guilty alone: hence they
go willingly, and even eagerly, to drink it. When in An-
gola, a half-caste was pointed out to me who is one of the
most successful merchants in that countr}^; and the mother
of this gentleman, who was perfectly free, went, of her
own accord, all the way from Amhaca to Cassange, to be
killed by the ordeal, her rich son making no objection,
The same custom prevails among the Barotse, Bashubia,
and Batoka, but with slight variations. The Barotse, foi
instance, pour the medicine down the throat of a cock or
of a dog, and judge of the innocence or guilt of the person
accused according to the vomiting or purging of the
animal. I happened to mention to my own men the water-
test for witches formerly in use in Scotland: the supposed
witch, being bound hand and foot, was thrown into a pond :
if she floated, she was considered guilty, taken out, and
burned; but if she sank and was drowned, she was pro-
nounced innocent. The wisdom of my ancestors excited
as much wonder in their minds as their custom did in

The person whom N3^akoba appointed to be our guide,
having informed us of the decision, came and bargained
that his services should be rewarded with a hoe. I had
no objection to give it, and showed him the article : he
was delighted with it, and went off to show it to his wife.
He soon afterward returned, and said that, though he waa
perfectly willing to go, his wife would not let him. I st»id,
" Then bring back the hoe ;" but he replied, '' I want it.^'
^< Well, go with us, and you shall have it." " But my wife
won't let me." I remarked to my men, " Did you ever
hear such a fool ?" They answered, " Oh, that is the cus-
tom of these parts : the wives are the masters." And
Sekwebu informed me that he had gone to this man's
house, and heard him saying to his wife, ''Do you think
that 1 would ever leave you ?" then, turning to Sekwebu,
he asked, " Do you think I would leave this pretty
woman ? Is she not pretty?" Sekwebu had been making


.nrpii-ies among tho people, and had found that the
women indeed possessed a great deal of influence. Wo
questioned the guide whom we finally got from Nya-
koba, an intelligent young man, who had much of tho
Arab features, and found the statements confirmed.
When a young man takes a liking for a girl of another
village, and the parents have no objection to the''match,
he is obliged to come and live at their village. He has
to perform certain services for the mother-in-law, such
as keeping her well supplied with firewood; and wneu
he comes into her presence he is obliged, to sit with his
knees in a bent position, as putting out his feet toward
the old lady would give her great offence. If he becomes
tired of living in this state of vassalage, and wishes to re-
turn to his ow^n family, he is obliged to leave all his chil-
dren behind : they belong to the wife. This is only a
more stringent enforcement of the law from which ema-
nates the practice which prevails so very extensively in
Africa, known to Europeans as '' bu^^ing wives." Such
virtually it is ; but it does not appear quite in that light
to the actors. So many head of cattle or goats are given
to the parents of the girl " to give her up," as it is termed,
— i.e. to forego all claim on her offspring and allow an
entire transference of her and her seed into another familv.
If nothing is given, the family from which she hai come
can claim the children as part of itself: the payment is
made to sever this bond. In the case supposed, the young
m:in has not been able to advance any tniug for that pur-
pose; and, from the temptations placed here before my
m^?n, I have no doubt that some prefer to have their
daughters married in that way, as it leads to the increase
of their own village. My men excited the admiration
of the Bambiri, who took them for a superior breed on
account of their bravery in elephant-hunting, and wished
to get them as sons-in-law on the conditions named; faul
liono yielded to the temptation.

VVe were informed that there is a child belonging to a
2 A 34*


half caste Portuguese in one of these tribes, and the father
hail tried in vain to get him from the mother's parents.
Wo saw several' things to confirm the impression of the
higher position which women hold here ; and, being anxious
to discover if I were not mistaken., when we came among
the Portuguese I inquired of them, and was told that they
had ascertained the same thing; and that, if they wished
a nian to perform any service for them, he would reply,
''Well, I shall go and ask my wife.'' If she consented, he
would go and perform his duty faithfully; but no amount
of coaxing or bribery would induce him to do it if she
refused. The Portuguese praised the appearance of the
Banyai ; and they certainly are a fine race.

We got on better with Nyakoba than we expected. He
has been so much afi^ected by the sesenda that he is quite
decrepit, and requires to be fed. I at once showed his
messenger that we had nothing whatever to give. JSTya-
koba was offended with him for not believing me, and he
immediately sent a basket of maize and another of corn,
saying that he believed my statement, and would send
men with me to Tete who would not lead me to any other

The birds here sing very sweetly, and I thought 1 heard
the canary, as in Londa. We had a heavy shower of rain ;
and I observed that the thermometer sank 14° in one hour
afterward. From the beginning of February we expe-
rienced a sensible diminution of temperature. In January
the lowest wa«? 75-', and that at sunrise; the average at
the same hour (sunrise) being 79°; at 3 p.m., 90°; and at
sunset, 82°. In February it fell as low as 70° in the course
ol the night, and the average height was 88°. Only onco did
it rise to 94°, and a thunder-storm followed this; yet the
sensation of heat was greater now than it had been at
much higher temperatures on more elevated lands.

We passed several villages by going roundabout waycj
through the forest. We saw the remains of a lion that ha(i
been killed by a buffalo, and the horns of a putokwano,


(black QTitelope,) the finest I had ever seen, which had met
ts death by a lion. The drums, beating all night in one
village near which we slept, showed that some person in it
had finished his course. On the occasion of the death of a
ohief, a trader is liable to be robbed, for the people consider
tliemselve? not amenable to law until a new one is elected.
We continued a very winding course, in order to avoid the
chief Katolosa, who is said to levy large sums upon those
who fall into his hands. One of our guides was a fine, tall
young man, the very image of Ben Habib the Arab. They
were carrying dried buffalo's meat to the market at Tete
as a private speculation.

A great many of the Banyai are of a light coffee-and-
milk color, and, indeed, this color is considered handsome
throughout the whole country, a fair complexion being as
much a test of beauty with them as with us. As they
draw out their hair into small cords a foot in length, and
entwine the inner bark of a certain tree round each sepa-
rate cord, and dye this substance of a reddish color, many
of them put me in mind of the ancient Egyptians. The
great mass of dressed hair which they possess reaches to
the shoulders, but when they intend to travel they draw it
up to a bunch and tie it on the top of the head. They are
cleanly in their habits.

As we did not come near human habitations, and could
only take short stages on account of the illness of one of
my men, I had an opportunity of observing the expedients
my party resorted to in order to supply their wants.
Large white edible mushrooms are found on the ant-hills,
and are very good. The mokuri, a tuber which abounds
in the Mopane country, they discovered by percussing the
ground with stones ; and another tuber, about the size of a
turnip, called " bonga,'^ is found in the same situations. It
does not determine to the joints like the mokuri, and in
winter has a sensible amount of salt in it. A fruit called
*^ndongo'' by the Makololo, "dongolo" by the Bambiri,
resembles in appearance a small plum, which becomes


black when ripe, and is good food, as the seeds are small
Many trees are known by tradition, and one receives
curious bits of information in asking about different fruit?
that are met with. A tree named ''shekabakadzi" is su-
perior to all others for making fire by friction. As ita
name implies, women may even readily make fire by it
when benighted.

We were tolerably successful in avoiding the villages,
and slept one night on the flanks of the hill Zimika, whore
a great number of deep pot-holes afforded an abundant
supply of good rain-water. Here, for the first time, we
saw hills with bare, smooth, rocky tops, and we crossed
over broad dikes of gneiss and syenitic porphyry: the
directions in which they lay were N. and S. As we were
now near to Tete, we were congratulating ourselves on
having avoided those who would only have plagued us;
but next morning some men saw us, and ran off to inform
the neighboring villages of our passing. A party imme-
diately pursued us, and, as they knew we were within call
of Katolosa, (Monomotapa,) they threatened to send infor-
mation to that chief of our offence in passing through the
country without leave. We were obliged to give them two
small tusks ; for, had they told Katolosa of our supposed
offence, we should in all probability have lost the whole
We then went through a very rough, stony country with-
out any path. Being pretty well tired out in the evening
ot the 2d of March, I remained at about eight miles' distance
from Tete, Tette, or Nyungwe. My men asked me to go
on : I felt too fatigued to proceed, but sent forward to the
commandant the letters of recommendation with which I
had been favored in Angola by the bishop and others, and
lay down to rest. Our food having been exhausted, my
men had been subsisting for some time on roots and honey.
About two o'clock in the morning of the 3d we were
aroused by two officers and a company of soldiers, who had
been sent with the materials for a civilized breakfast and a
'^masheela" to bring me to Tete. (Commandant's house:


lat. 16° 9' 3" S., long. 33° 28' E.) My companions thougla
that we were captured by the armed men, and called me
in alarm. When I understood the errand on which they had
come, and nad partaKen ol a good breakfast, though I hcd
just before been too tired to sleep, all my fatigue vanished.
It was the most refreshing breakfast I ever partook of;
and I walked the last eight miles without the least feeling
of weariness, although the path was so rough that one of
the officers remarked to me^ " This is enough to tear a
man's life out of him.'^ The pleasure experienced in par-
taking of that breakfast was only equalled by the enjoy-
ment of Mr. Gabriel's bed on my arrival at Loanda. It
was also enhanced by the news that Sebastopol had fallen
and the war was finished.


DR. Livingstone's residence at tete.

I WAS most kindly received by the commandant, Tito
Augusto d' Araujo Sicard, who did every thing in his power
to restore me from my emaciated condition; and, as this
was still the unhealthy period at Elimane, he advised mo
to remain with him until the following month. He also
generously presented my men with abundant provisions of
millet; and, by giving them lodgings in a house of his own
until they could erect then* own huts, he preseiwed them
from the bite of the tampans, here named Carapatos. We
had heard frightful accounts of this insect while among tha
Eanyai; and Major Sicard assured me that to strangers its
bite is more especially dangerous, as it sometimes causes
fata fever It may please our homoeopathic friends to hear
that, in curing the bite of the tampan, the natives admi-
nister one of the insects bruised in the medicine employed.

The village of Tete is built on a long slope down to the


river, the fort being close to the water. The rock beneath
is gray sandstone, and has the appearance of being crushed
away from the river: the strata have thus a crumpled
form. The hollow between each crease is a street, the
houses bein^ built upon the projecting fold. The rocks at
the top of the slope are much higher than the fort, and, of
course, completely command it. There is then a large
valley, and beyond that an oblong hill called Karueira.
There are about thirty European houses : the rest are
native, and of wattle and daub. A wall about ten feet
high is intended to enclose the village j but most of tho
native inhabitants prefer to live on different spots outside.
There are about twelve hundred huts in all, which with
European households would give a population of about
four thousand five hundred souls. Only a small proportion
of these, however, live on the spot; the majority are en-
gaged in agricultural operations in the adjacent country.
Generally there are not more than two thousand people
resident, for, compared with what it was, Tete is now a
ruin. The number of Portuguese is very small ; if we ex-
clude the military, it is under twenty. Lately, however,
one hundred and five soldiers were sent from Portugal to
Senna, where in one year twenty-five were cut off by fever.
They were then removed to Tete; and here they enjoy
much better health, though, from the abundance of spirits
distilled from various plants, wild fruits, and grain, in
which pernicious beverage they largely indulge, besides
partaking chiefly of unwholesome native food, better health
could scarcely have been expected. The natives here un-
derstand the method of distillation by means of gun-barrels
and a succession of earthen pots filled with water to keep
them cool. The general report of the fever here is that,
while at Kilimane the fever is continuous, at Tete a man
recovers in about three days. The mildest remedies only
are used at first, and, if that period be passed, then the
more severe.

The fort of Tete has been the salvation of the Portuguese


power in tliis quarter. It is a small square building, with
a thatched apartment for the residence of the troops ; and,
though there are but few guns, they are in a much better
state than those of any fort in the interior of Angola.
The cause of the decadence of the Portuguese power in^
this region is simply this : — In former times, considerabla
quantities of grain, as wheat, millet, and maize, were ex-
ported ; also coffee, sugar, oil, and indigo, besides gold-dusfr
and ivory. The cultivation of grain was carried on by
means of slaves, of whom the Portuguese possessed a large
number. The gold-dust was procured by washing at various
points on the north, south, and west of Tete. A merchant
took all his .slaves with him to the washings, carrying as
much calico and other goods as he could muster. On
arriving at the washing-place, he made a present to the
chief of the value of about a pound sterling. The slaves
we]'e then divided into parties, each headed by a confiden-
tial servant, who not only had the supervision of his squad
while the washing went on, but bought dust from the inhabit-
ants and made a weekly return to his master. When several
masters united at one spot, it was called a " Bara ;" and
they then erected a temporary church, in which a priest
from one of the missions performed mass. Both chiefs
and people were favorable to these visits, because the
traders purchased grain for the sustenance of the slaves
with the goods they had brought. They continued at this
labor until the whole of the goods were expended ; and by
this means about one hundred and thirty pounds of gold
were annually produced. Probably more than this was
actually obtained, but, as it was an article easily secreted,
this alone was submitted to the authorities for taxation. At
present the whole amount of gold obtained annually by
the Portuguese is from eight to ten pounds only. When
the slave-trade began, it seemed to many of the merchants
a more speedy mode of becoming rich to sell off the slaves
than to pursue the slow mode of gold-washing and agricul-
ture, and they continued to export them until they hud^


neither hands to labor nor to fight for them. It was Just
the story of the goose and the golden egg. The coffee
and sugar plantations and gold-washings were abandoned,
because the labor had been exported to the Brazils. Many
of the Portuguese then followed their slaves, and the
Government was obliged to pass a law to prevent further
emigration, which, had it gone on, would have depopu-
lated the Portuguese possessions altogether. A clever
man of Asiatic (Goa) and Portuguese extraction, called
^yaude, now built a stockade at the confluence of 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 33 of 36)