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David Livingstone.

Missionary travels and researches in South Africa: online

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mount chief; but the frequent instances which occur of people
changing from one part of the country to another, show that the
great chiefs possess only a limited power. The only peculiarity
we observed in these people is the habit of plaiting the beard into
a three-fold cord.

The town of the Balonda chief Cazembe was pointed out to
us as lying to the N.E. and by E. from the town of Shinte, and
great numbers of people in this quarter have gone thither for
the purpose of purchasing copper anklets, made at Cazembe's,
and report the distance to be about five days' journey. I made
inquiries of some of the oldest inhabitants of the villages at
which we were staying respecting the visit of Pereira and
Lacerda to that town. An old gray-headed man replied that
they had often heard of white men before, but never had seen
one, and added that one had come to Cazembe when our informant
was young, and returned again without entering this part of the
country. The people of Cazembe are Balonda or Baloi, and



330 NIGHT-EAINS.

his country has "been termed Londa, Lunda, or Lui, by the Por-
tuguese.

It was always difficult to get our guides to move away from
a place. With the authority of the chief, they felt as comfortable
as king's messengers could, and were not disposed to forego the
pleasure of living at free quarters. My Makololo friends were
but ill drilled as yet ; and since they had never left their own
country before, except for purposes of plunder, they did not take
readily to the peaceful system we now meant to follow. They
either spoke too imperiously to strangers, or, when reproved for
that, were disposed to follow the dictation of every one we met.
When Intemese, our guide, refused to stir toward the Leeba on
the 31st of January, they would make no effort to induce him
to go ; but, having ordered them to get ready, Intemese saw
the preparations, and soon followed the example. It took us
about four hours to cross the Leeba, which is considerably
smaller here than where we left it — indeed, only about a hundred
yards wide. It has the same dark mossy hue. The villagers
lent us canoes to effect our passage ; and, having gone to a vil-
lage about two miles beyond the river, I had the satisfaction of
getting observations for both longitude and latitude — for the
former, the distance between Saturn and the Moon, and for the
latter a meridian altitude of Canopus. Long. 22° 57^ E., lat.
12° 6^ 6^' S.

These were the only opportunities I had of ascertaining my
whereabouts in this part of Londa. Again and again did I take
out the instruments, and, just as all was right, the stars would be
suddenly obscured by clouds. I had never observed so great an
amount of cloudiness in any part of the south country ; and as
for the rains, I believe that years at Kolobeng would not have
made my little tent so rotten and thin as one month had done in
Londa. I never observed in the south the heavy night and
early morning rains we had in this country. They often con-
tinued all night, then became heavier about an hour before
dawn. Or if fair during the night, as day drew nigh, an ex-
tremely heavy, still, pouring rain set in without warning. Five
out of every six days we had this pouring rain, at or near break
of day, for months together ; and it soon beat my tent so thin,
that a mist fell through on my face and made every thing damp.



INTEMESE'S FICTION.— THEFT. 331

The rains were occasionally, but not always, accompanied with
very loud thunder.

February 1st. This day we had a fine view of two hills call-
ed Piri (Peeri), meaning "two," on the side of the river we had
left. The country there is named Mokwankwa. And there In-
temese informed us one of Shinte's children was born, when he was
in his progress southward from the country of Matiamvo. This
part of the country would thus seem not to have been inhabited
by the people of Shinte at any very remote period. He told me
himself that he had come into his present country by command of
Matiamvo.

Here we were surprised to hear English cotton cloth much more
eagerly inquired after than beads and ornaments. They are more
in need of clothing than the Bechuana tribes living adjacent to the
Kalahari Desert, who have plenty of skins for the purpose. An-
imals of all kinds are rare here, and a very small piece of calico
is of great value.

In the midst of the heavy rain, which continued all the morn-
ing, Intemese sent to say he was laid up with pains in the stom-
ach, and must not be disturbed ; but when it cleared up, about
eleven, I saw our friend walking off to the village, and talking with
a very loud voice. On reproaching him for telling an untruth, he
turned it off with a laugh by saying he really had a complaint in
his stomach, which I might cure by slaughtering one of the oxen
and allowing him to eat beef. He was evidently reveling in the
abundance of good food the chiefs orders brought us ; and he did
not feel the shame I did when I gave a few beads only in return
for large baskets of meal.

A very old man visited us here with a present of maize : like
the others, he had never before seen a white man, and, when con-
versing with him, some of the young men remarked that they were
the true ancients, for they had now seen more wonderful things
than their forefathers.

One of Intemese's men stole a fowl given me by a lady of
the village. When charged with the theft, every one of Inte-
mese's party vociferated his innocence and indignation at being
suspected, continuing their loud asseverations and gesticulations
for some minutes. One of my men, Loyanke, went off to the
village, brought the lady who had presented the fowl to identify



332 PLAINS COVEEED WITH WATEE.

it, and then pointed to the hut in which it was hidden. The Ba-
londa collected round him, evincing great wrath ; but Loyanke
seized his battle-axe in the proper manner for striking, and, placing
himself on a little hillock, soon made them moderate their tones.
Intemese then called on me to send one of my people to search
the huts if I suspected his people. The man sent soon found it,
and brought it out, to the confusion of Intemese and the laughter
of our party. This incident is mentioned to show that the greater
superstition which exists here does not lead to the practice of the
virtues. We never met an instance like this of theft from a white
man among the Makololo, though they complain of the Makalaka
as addicted to pilfering. The honesty of the Bakwains has been
already noticed. Probably the estimation in which I was held as
a public benefactor, in which character I was not yet known to
the Balonda, may account for the sacredness with which my prop-
erty was always treated before. But other incidents which hap-
pened subsequently showed, as well as this, that idolaters are not
so virtuous as those who have no idols.

As the people on the banks of the Leeba were the last of
Shinte's tribe over which Intemese had power, he was naturally
anxious to remain as long as possible. He was not idle, but
made a large wooden mortar and pestle for his wife during our jour-
ney. He also carved many wooden spoons and a bowl ; then
commenced a basket ; but as what he considered good living was
any thing but agreeable to us, who had been accustomed to milk
and maize, we went forward on the 2d without him. He soon fol-
lowed, but left our pontoon, saying it would be brought by the
head man of the village. This was a great loss, as we afterward
found ; it remained at this village more than a year, and when
we returned a mouse had eaten a hole in it.

We entered on an extensive plain beyond the Leeba, at least
twenty miles broad, and covered with water, ankle deep in the
shallowest parts. We deviated somewhat from our N. W. course
by the direction of Intemese, and kept the hills Piri nearly on
our right during a great part of the first day, in order to avoid
the still more deeply flooded plains of Lobale (Luval?) on the
west. These, according to Intemese, are at present impassable
on account of being thigh deep. The plains are so perfectly
level that rain-water, which this was, stands upon them for



LOVE OF BALONDA FOE THEIR MOTHERS. 333

months together. They were not flooded hj the Leeba, for that
was still far within it^ banks. Here and there, dotted over the
surface, are little islands, on which grow stunted date-bushes and
scraggy trees. The plains themselves are covered with a thick
sward of grass, which conceals the water, and makes the flats
appear like great pale yellow-colored prairie-lands, with a clear
horizon, except where interrupted here and there by trees. The
clear rain-water must have stood some time among the grass, for
great numbers of lotus-flowers were seen in full blow ; and the
runs of water tortoises and crabs were observed ; other animals
also, which prey on the fish that find their way to the plains.

The continual splashing of the oxen keeps the feet of the rider
constantly wet, and my men complain of the perpetual moisture
of the paths by which we have traveled in Londa as softening
their horny soles. The only information we can glean is from
Intemese, who points out the difterent localities as we pass along,
and among the rest "Mokala a Mama," his "mamma's home."
It was interesting to hear this tall gray-headed man recall the
memories of boyhood. All the Makalaka children cleave to the
mother in cases of separation, or removal from one part of the
country to another. This love for mothers does not argue supe-
rior morality in other respects, or else Intemese has forgotten any
injunctions his mamma may have given him not to tell lies. The
respect, however, with which he spoke of her was quite charac-
teristic of his race. The Bechuanas, on the contrary, care noth-
ing for their mothers, but cling to their fathers, especially if they
have any expectation of becoming heirs to their cattle. Our
Bakwain guide to the lake, Rachosi, told me that his mother
lived in the country of Sebituane, but, though a good specimen
of the Bechuanas, he laughed at the idea of going so far as from
the Lake Ngami to the Chobe merely for the purpose of seeing
her. Had he been one of the Makalaka, he never would have
parted from her.

We made our beds on one of the islands, and were wretchedly
supplied with fircAvood. The booths constructed by the men were
but sorry shelter, for the rain poured down without intermission
till midday. There is no drainage for the prodigious masses of
water on these plains, except slow percolation into the different
feeders of the Leeba, and into that river itself. The quantity of



334 GEASS OF THE PLAINS.

vegetation has prevented the countiy from Ibecoming furrowed by
many rivulets or "nullahs." Were it not so remarkably flat, the
drainage must have been effected by torrents, even in spite of the
matted vegetation.

That these extensive plains are covered with grasses only, and
the little islands with but scraggy trees, may be accounted for
by the fact, observable every where in this country, that, where
water stands for any length of time, trees can not live. The
want of speedy drainage destroys them, and injures the growth
of those that are planted on the islands, for they have no depth
of earth not subjected to the souring influence of the stagnant
water. The plains of Lobale, to the west of these, are said to
be much more extensive than any we saw, and their vegetation
possesses similar peculiarities. When the stagnant rain-water
has all soaked in, as must happen during the months in which
there is no rain, travelers are even put to straits for want of
water. This is stated on native testimony ; but I can very well
believe that level plains, in which neither wells nor gullies are
met with, may, after the dry season, present the opposite extreme
to what we witnessed. Water, however, could always be got by
digging, a proof of which we had on our return when brought
to a stand on this very plain by severe fever: about twelve
miles from the Kasai my men dug down a few feet, and found an
abundant supply ; and we saw on one of the islands the garden
of a man who, in the dry season, had drunk water from a well
in like manner. Plains like these can not be inhabited while
the present system of cultivation lasts. The population is not
yet so very large as to need them. They find garden-ground
enough on the gentle slopes at the sides of the rivulets, and
possess no cattle to eat off the millions of acres of fine hay we
were now wading through. Any one who has visited the Cape
Colony will understand me when I say that these immense crops
resemble sown grasses more than the tufty vegetation of the
south.

I would here request the particular attention of the reader to
the phenomena these periodically deluged plains present, be-
cause they have a most important bearing on the physical geog-
raphy of a very large portion of this country. The plains of
Lobale, to the west of this, give rise to a great many streams,



LOAN OF EOOFS.— A HALT. 335

wliicli unite, and form the deep, never-failing Chobe. Similar ex-
tensive flats give birtli to the Loeti and Kasai, and, as we shall
see further on, all the rivers of an extensive region owe their origin
to oozing bogs, and not to fountains.

When released from our island by the rain ceasing, we march-
ed on till we came to a ridge of dry inliabited land in the N.W.
The inhabitants, according to custom, lent us the roofs of some
huts to save the men the trouble of booth-making. I suspect
that the story in Park's " Travels," of the men lifting up the
hut to place it on the lion, referred to the roof only. We leave
them for the villagers to replace at their leisure. No payment
is expected for the use of them. By night it rained so copious-
ly that all our beds were flooded from below ; and from this
time forth we always made a furrow round each booth, and used
the earth to raise our sleeping-places. My men turned out to
work in the wet most willingly ; indeed, they always did. I
could not but contrast their conduct with that of Intemese. He
was thoroughly imbued with the slave spirit, and lied on all
occasions without compunction. Untruthfulness is a sort of
refuge for the weak and oppressed. We expected to move on
the 4th, but he declared that we were so near Katema's, if we
did not send forward to apprise that chief of our approach, he
would certainly impose a fine. It rained the whole day, so we
were reconciled to the delay ; but on Sunday, the 5th, he let us
know that we were still two days distant from Katema. We
unfortunately could not manage without him, for the country
was so deluged, we should have been brought to a halt before
we went many miles by some deep valley, every one of which
was full of water. Intemese continued to plait his basket with
all his might, and would not come to our religious service. He
seemed to be afraid of our incantations, but was always merry
and jocular.

Gt/i. Soon after starting we crossed a branch of the Lokalueje
by means of a canoe, and in the afternoon passed over the main
stream by a like conveyance. The former, as is the case with all
branches of rivers in this country, is called nuana Kalueje (child
of the Kalueje). Hippopotami exist in the Lokalueje, so it may
be inferred to be perennial, as the inhabitants asserted. We can
not judge of the size of the stream from what we now saw. It



336 FEKTILE COUNTEY.— OMNIVOROUS FISH.

had about forty yards of deep, fast-flowing water, "but probably
not more than half that amount in the dry season. Besides these,
we crossed numerous feeders in our N.N.W. course, and, there
being no canoes, got frequently wet in the course of the day.
The oxen in some places had their heads only above water, and
the stream, flowing over their backs, wetted our blankets, which
we used as saddles. The arm-pit was the only safe spot for car-
rying the watch, for there it was preserved from rains above and
waters below. The men on foot crossed these gullies holding up
their burdens at arms' length.

The Lokalueje winds from northeast to southwest into the
Leeba. The country adjacent to its banks is extremely fine and
fertile, with here and there patches of forest or clumps of magnifi-
cent trees. The villagers through whose gardens we passed con-
tinue to sow and reap all the year round. The grains, as maize,
lotsa {Pennisetum typhouleum), lokesh or millet, are to be seen
at all stages of their growth — some just ripe, while at this time
the Makololo crops are not half grown. My companions, who
have a good idea of the diflerent qualities of soils, expressed the
greatest admiration of the agricultural capabilities of the whole
of Londa, and here they were loud in their praises of the pastur-
age. They have an accurate idea of the varieties of grasses best
adapted for different kinds of stock, and lament because here there
are no cows to feed ofi" the rich green crop, which at this time im-
parts special beauty to the landscape.

Great numbers of the omnivorous feeding fish, Giants sihiris,
or mosala, spread themselves over the flooded plains, and, as the
waters retire, try to find their way back again to the rivers.
The Balonda make earthen dikes and hedges across the outlets
of the retreating waters, leaving only small spaces through
which the chief part of the water flows. In these open spaces
they plant creels, similar in shape to our own, into which the
fish can enter, but can not return. They secure large quantities
of fish in this way, which, when smoke-dried, make a good relish
for their otherwise insipid food. They use also a weir of mats
made of reeds sewed together, with but half an inch between
each. Open spaces are left for the insertion of the creels as
before.

In still water, a fish-trap is employed of the same shape a^d



THE GUIDE'S PERVERSITY. 337

plan as the common round wire mouse-trap, which has an open-
ing surrounded with wires pointing inward. This is made of
reeds and supple wands, and food is placed inside to attract the
iish.

Besides these means of catching fish, they use a hook of iron
without a barb ; the point is bent inward instead, so as not to
allow the fish to escape. Nets are not so common as in the
Zouga and Leeambye, but they kill large quantities of fishes by
means of the bruised leaves of a shrub, which may be seen.
planted beside every village in the country.

On the 7th we came to the village of Soana Molopo, a half-
brother of Katema, a few miles beyond the Lokalueje. When
we went to visit him, we found him sitting with about one hund-
red men. He called on Intemese to give some account of us,
though no doubt it had been done in private before. He then
pronounced the following sentences : " The journey of the white
man is very proper, but Shinte has disturbed us by showing the
path to the Makololo who accompany him. He ought to have
taken them through the country without showing them the
towns. We are afraid of the Makololo." He then gave us a
handsome present of food, and seemed perplexed by my sitting
down familiarly, and giving him a few of our ideas. When we
left, Intemese continued busily imparting an account of all we
had given to Shinte and Masiko, and instilling the hope that
Soana Molopo might obtain as much as they had received. Ac-
cordingly, when we expected to move on the morning of the
8th, we got some hints about the ox which Soana Molopo ex-
pected to eat, but we recommended him to get the breed of
cattle for himself, seeing his country was so well adapted for
rearing stock. Intemese also refused to move; he, moreover,
tried to frighten us into parting with an ox by saying that
Soana Molopo would send forward a message that we were a
marauding party ; but we packed up and went on without him.
We did not absolutely need him, but he was useful in preventing
the inhabitants of secluded villages from betaking themselves to
flight. We wished to be on good terms with all, and therefore
put up with our guide's peccadilloes. His good word respecting
us had considerable influence, and he was always asked if we
. had behaved ourselves like men on the way. The Makololo are-

Y



338 MOZINKWA AND HIS FAMILY.

viewed as great savages, but Intemese could not justly look with
scorn on them, for he has the mark of a large gash on his arm,
got in fighting ; and he would never tell the cause of battle, but
boasted of his powers as the Makololo do, till asked about a scar
on his back, betokening any thing but bravery.

Intemese was useful in cases like that of Monday, when we
came upon a whole village in a forest enjoying their noonday nap.
Our sudden appearance in their midst so terrified them that one
woman nearly went into convulsions from fear. When they saw
and heard Intemese, their terror subsided.

As usual, we were caught by rains after leaving Soana Molo-
po's, and made our booths at the house of Mozinkwa, a most in-
telligent and friendly man belonging to Katema. He had a fine
large garden in cultivation, and well hedged round. He had made
the walls of his compound, or -court-yard, of branches of the ban-
ian, which, taking root, had grown to be a live hedge of that tree.
Mozinkwa's wife had cotton growing all round her premises, and
several plants used as relishes to the insipid pomdge of the coun-
try. She cultivated also the common castor-oil plant, and a larger
shrub {Jatropha ciircas), which also yields a purgative oil. Here,
however, the oil is used for anointing the heads and bodies alone.
We saw in her garden likewise the Indian bringalls, yams, and
sweet potatoes. Several trees were planted in the middle of the
yard, and in the deep shade they gave stood the huts of his fine
family. His children, all by one mother, very black, but come-
ly to view, were the finest negro family I ever saw. We were
much pleased with the frank friendship and liberality of this
man and his wife. She asked me to bring her a cloth from
the white man's country ; but, when we returned, poor Mozink-
wa's wife was in her grave, and he, as is the custom, had aban-
doned trees, garden, and huts to ruin. They can not live on a
spot where a favorite wife has died, probably because unable to
bear the remembrance of the happy times they have spent there,
or afraid to remain in a spot where death has once visited the es-
tablishment. If ever the place is revisited, it is to pray to her, or
make some offering. This feeling renders any permanent village
in the country impossible.

We learned from Mozinkwa that Soana Molopo was the elder
brother of Katema, but that he was wanting in wisdom ; and



QUENDENDE'S POLITENESS. 339

Katema, hj purchasing cattle and receiving in a kind manner all
the fugitives who came to him, had secured the birthright to him-
self, so far as influence in the country is concerned. Soana's first
address to us did not savor much of African wisdom.

Friday, V)th. On leaving Mozinkwa's hospitable mansion we
crossed another stream, about forty yards wide, in canoes. While
this tedious process was going on, I was informed that it is called
the Mona-Kalueje, or brother of Kalueje, as it flows into that riv-
er; that both the Kalueje and Livoa flow into the Leeba; and
that the Chifumadze, swollen by the Lotembwa, is a feeder of that
river also, below the point where we lately crossed it. It may be
remarked here that these rivers were now in flood, and that the
water was all perfectly clear. The vegetation on the banks is so
thickly planted that the surface of the earth is not abraded by the
torrents. The grass is laid flat, and forms a protection to the
banks, which are generally a stiff black loam. The fact of ca-
noes being upon them shows that, though not large, they are not
like the southern rivulets, which dry up during most of the year,
and render canoes unnecessary.

As we were crossing the river we were joined by a messenger
from Katema, called Shakatwala. This person was a sort of stew-
ard or factotum to his chief. Every chief has one attached to
his person, and, though generally poor, they are invariably men
of great shrewdness and ability. They act the part of mes-
sengers on all important occasions, and possess considerable au-
thority in the chief's household. Shakatwala informed us that
Katema had not received precise information about us, but if we
were peaceably disposed, as he loved strangers, we were to come
to his town. We proceeded forthwith, but were turned aside, \j
the strategy of our friend Intemese, to the village of Quendende,
the father-in-law of Katema. This fine old man was so very
polite that we did not regret being obliged to spend Sunday at



Online LibraryDavid LivingstoneMissionary travels and researches in South Africa: → online text (page 32 of 68)