Henry M. Stanley.

How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley online

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Online LibraryHenry M. StanleyHow I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley → online text (page 8 of 38)
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meridian - the first dose to be taken immediately after the first effect
of the purging medicine taken at bedtime the night previous. I may add
that this treatment was perfectly successful in my case, and in all
others which occurred in my camp. After the mukunguru had declared
itself, there was no fear, with such a treatment of it, of a second
attack, until at least some days afterwards.

On the third day the camp was visited by the ambassadors of Her Highness
the Sultana of Simbamwenni, who came as her representatives to receive
the tribute which she regards herself as powerful enough to enforce. But
they, as well as Madame Simbamwenni, were informed, that as we knew it
was their custom to charge owners of caravans but one tribute, and as
they remembered the Musungu (Farquhar) had paid already, it was not fair
that I should have to pay again. The ambassadors replied with a "Ngema"
(very well), and promised to carry my answer back to their mistress.
Though it was by no means "very well" in fact, as it will be seen in
a subsequent chapter how the female Simbamwenni took advantage of an
adverse fortune which befell me to pay herself. With this I close the
chapter of incidents experienced during our transit across the maritime


A valley of despond, and hot-bed of malaria. - Myriads of
vermin. - The Makata swamp. - A sorrowful experience catching
a deserter. - A far-embracing prospect. - Illness of William
Farquhar.-Lake Ugombo. - A land of promise. - The great
Kisesa. - The plague of earwigs.

The distance from Bagamoyo to Simbamwenni we found to be 119 miles,
and was accomplished in fourteen marches. But these marches, owing to
difficulties arising from the Masika season, and more especially to the
lagging of the fourth caravan under Maganga, extended to twenty-nine
days, thus rendering our progress very slow indeed - but a little more
than four miles a-day. I infer, from what I have seen of the travelling,
that had I not been encumbered by the sick Wanyamwezi porters, I could
have accomplished the distance in sixteen days. For it was not the
donkeys that proved recreant to my confidence; they, poor animals,
carrying a weight of 150 lbs. each, arrived at Simbamwenni in first-rate
order; but it was Maganga, composed of greed and laziness, and his
weakly-bodied tribe, who were ever falling sick. In dry weather the
number of marches might have been much reduced. Of the half-dozen
of Arabs or so who preceded this Expedition along this route, two
accomplished the entire distance in eight days. From the brief
descriptions given of the country, as it day by day expanded to our
view, enough may be gleaned to give readers a fair idea of it. The
elevation of Simbamwenni cannot be much over 1,000 feet above the level,
the rise of the land having been gradual. It being the rainy season,
about which so many ominous statements were doled out to us by those
ignorant of the character of the country, we naturally saw it under its
worst aspect; but, even in this adverse phase of it, with all its depth
of black mud, its excessive dew, its dripping and chill grass, its
density of rank jungle, and its fevers, I look back upon the scene with
pleasure, for the wealth and prosperity it promises to some civilized
nation, which in some future time will come and take possession of it. A
railroad from Bagamoyo to Simbamwenni might be constructed with as
much ease and rapidity as, and at far less cost than the Union Pacific
Railway, whose rapid strides day by day towards completion the world
heard of and admired. A residence in this part of Africa, after a
thorough system of drainage had been carried out, would not be attended
with more discomfort than generally follows upon the occupation of new
land. The temperature at this season during the day never exceeded 85
degrees Fahrenheit. The nights were pleasant - too cold without a pair
of blankets for covering; and, as far as Simbamwenni, they were without
that pest which is so dreadful on the Nebraska and Kansas prairies,
the mosquito. The only annoyances I know of that would tell hard on the
settler is the determined ferocity of the mabungu, or horse-fly; the
chufwa, &c., already described, which, until the dense forests and
jungles were cleared, would be certain to render the keeping of domestic
cattle unremunerative.

Contrary to expectation the Expedition was not able to start at the end
of two days; the third and the fourth days were passed miserably enough
in the desponding valley of Ungerengeri. This river, small as it is in
the dry seasons, becomes of considerable volume and power during the
Masika, as we experienced to our sorrow. It serves as a drain to a score
of peaks and two long ranges of mountains; winding along their base, it
is the recipient of the cascades seen flashing during the few intervals
of sunlight, of all the nullahs and ravines which render the lengthy
frontage of the mountain slopes so rugged and irregular, until it glides
into the valley of Simbamwenni a formidable body of water, opposing a
serious obstacle to caravans without means to build bridges; added to
which was an incessant downfall of rain - such a rain as shuts people
in-doors and renders them miserable and unamiable - a real London
rain - an eternal drizzle accompanied with mist and fog. When the sun
shone it appeared but a pale image of itself, and old pagazis, wise in
their traditions as old whaling captains, shook their heads ominously at
the dull spectre, and declared it was doubtful if the rain would cease
for three weeks yet.

The site of the caravan camp on the hither side of the Ungerengeri was a
hot-bed of malaria, unpleasant to witness - an abomination to memory.
The filth of generations of pagazis had gathered innumerable hosts
of creeping things. Armies of black, white, and red ants infest the
stricken soil; centipedes, like worms, of every hue, clamber over shrubs
and plants; hanging to the undergrowth are the honey-combed nests
of yellow-headed wasps with stings as harmful as scorpions; enormous
beetles, as large as full-grown mice, roll dunghills over the ground; of
all sorts, shapes, sizes, and hues are the myriad-fold vermin with which
the ground teems; in short, the richest entomological collection could
not vie in variety and numbers with the species which the four walls of
my tent enclosed from morning until night.

On the fifth morning, or the 23rd April, the rain gave us a few hours'
respite, during which we managed to wade through the Stygian quagmire
reeking with noisomeness to the inundated river-bank. The soldiers
commenced at 5 A.M. to convey the baggage across from bank to bank over
a bridge which was the most rustic of the rustic kind. Only an ignorant
African would have been satisfied with its small utility as a means to
cross a deep and rapid body of water. Even for light-footed Wanyamwezi
pagazis it was anything but comfortable to traverse. Only a professional
tight-rope performer could have carried a load across with ease. To
travel over an African bridge requires, first, a long leap from land to
the limb of a tree (which may or may not be covered by water), followed
by a long jump ashore. With 70 lbs. weight on his back, the carrier
finds it difficult enough. Sometimes he is assisted by ropes
extemporized from the long convolvuli which hang from almost every tree,
but not always, these being deemed superfluities by the Washensi.

Fortunately the baggage was transferred without a single accident, and
though the torrent was strong, the donkeys were dragged through the
flood by vigorous efforts and much objurgation without a casualty.
This performance of crossing the Ungerengeri occupied fully five hours,
though energy, abuse, and fury enough were expended for an army.

Reloading and wringing our clothes dry, we set out from the horrible
neighbourhood of the river, with its reek and filth, in a northerly
direction, following a road which led up to easy and level ground. Two
obtruding hills were thus avoided on our left, and after passing them we
had shut out the view of the hateful valley.

I always found myself more comfortable and lighthearted while travelling
than when chafing and fretting in camp at delays which no effort could
avoid, and consequently I fear that some things, while on a march, may
be tinted somewhat stronger than their appearance or merit may properly
warrant. But I thought that the view opening before us was much more
agreeable than the valley of Simbamwenni with all its indescribable
fertility. It was a series of glades opening one after another between
forest clumps of young trees, hemmed in distantly by isolated peaks
and scattered mountains. Now and again, as we crested low eminences
we caught sight of the blue Usagara mountains, bounding the horizon
westerly and northerly, and looked down upon a vast expanse of plain
which lay between.

At the foot of the lengthy slope, well-watered by bubbling springs and
mountain rills, we found a comfortable khambi with well-made huts, which
the natives call Simbo. It lies just two hours or five miles north-west
of the Ungerengeri crossing. The ground is rocky, composed principally
of quartzose detritus swept down by the constant streams. In the
neighbourhood of these grow bamboo, the thickest of which was about two
and a half inches in diameter; the "myombo," a very shapely tree, with
a clean trunk like an ash, the "imbite," with large, fleshy leaves like
the "mtamba," sycamore, plum-tree, the "ugaza," ortamarisk, and the
"mgungu," a tree containing several wide branches with small leaves
clustered together in a clump, and the silk-cotton tree.

Though there are no villages or settlements in view of Simbo Khambi,
there are several clustered within the mountain folds, inhabited by
Waseguhha somewhat prone to dishonest acts and murder.

The long broad plain visible from the eminences crossed between the
Ungerengeri and Simbo was now before us, and became known to sorrowful
memory subsequently, as the Makata Valley. The initial march was from
Simbo, its terminus at Rehenneko, at the base of the Usagara mountains,
six marches distant. The valley commences with broad undulations,
covered with young forests of bamboo, which grow thickly along the
streams, the dwarf fan-palm, the stately Palmyra, and the mgungu. These
undulations soon become broken by gullies containing water, nourishing
dense crops of cane reeds and broad-bladed grass, and, emerging from
this district, wide savannah covered with tall grass open into view,
with an isolated tree here and there agreeably breaking the monotony of
the scene. The Makata is a wilderness containing but one village of the
Waseguhha throughout its broad expanse. Venison, consequently, abounds
within the forest clumps, and the kudu, hartebeest, antelope, and zebra
may be seen at early dawn emerging into the open savannahs to feed. At
night, the cyn-hyaena prowls about with its hideous clamour seeking for
sleeping prey, man or beast.

The slushy mire of the savannahs rendered marching a work of great
difficulty; its tenacious hold of the feet told terribly on men
and animals. A ten-mile march required ten hours, we were therefore
compelled to camp in the middle of this wilderness, and construct a new
khambi, a measure which was afterwards adopted by half a dozen caravans.

The cart did not arrive until nearly midnight, and with it, besides
three or four broken-down pagazis, came Bombay with the dolorous tale,
that having put his load - consisting of the property tent, one large
American axe, his two uniform coats, his shirts, beads and cloth,
powder, pistol, and hatchet - on the ground, to go and assist the cart
out of a quagmire, he had returned to the place where he had left it
and could not find it, that he believed that some thieving Washensi, who
always lurk in the rear of caravans to pick up stragglers, had decamped
with it. Which dismal tale told me at black midnight was not received
at all graciously, but rather with most wrathful words, all of which
the penitent captain received as his proper due. Working myself into a
fury, I enumerated his sins to him; he had lost a goat at Muhalleh, he
had permitted Khamisi to desert with valuable property at Imbiki; he had
frequently shown culpable negligence in not looking after the donkeys,
permitting them to be tied up at night without seeing that they had
water, and in the mornings, when about to march, he preferred to sleep
until 7 o'clock, rather than wake up early and saddle the donkeys, that
we might start at 6 o'clock; he had shown of late great love for the
fire, cowering like a bloodless man before it, torpid and apathetic; he
had now lost the property-tent in the middle of the Masika season, by
which carelessness the cloth bales would rot and become valueless; he
had lost the axe which I should want at Ujiji to construct my boat; and
finally, he had lost a pistol and hatchet, and a flaskful of the best
powder. Considering all these things, how utterly incompetent he was
to be captain, I would degrade him from his office and appoint Mabruki
Burton instead. Uledi, also, following the example of Bombay, instead of
being second captain, should give no orders to any soldiers in future,
but should himself obey those given by Mabruki - the said Mabruki being
worth a dozen Bombays, and two dozen Uledis; and so he was dismissed
with orders to return at daylight to find the tent, axe, pistol, powder,
and hatchet.

The next morning the caravan, thoroughly fatigued with the last day's
exertions, was obliged to halt. Bombay was despatched after the
lost goods; Kingaru, Mabruki the Great, and Mabruki the Little were
despatched to bring back three doti-worth of grain, on which we were to
subsist in the wilderness.

Three days passed away and we were still at camp, awaiting, with what
patience we possessed, the return of the soldiers. In the meantime
provisions ran very low, no game could be procured, the birds were so
wild. Two days shooting procured but two potfuls of birds, consisting
of grouse, quail, and pigeons. Bombay returned unsuccessfully from his
search after the missing property, and suffered deep disgrace.

On the fourth day I despatched Shaw with two more soldiers, to see what
had become of Kingaru and the two Mabrukis. Towards night he returned
completely prostrated, with a violent attack of the mukunguru, or ague;
but bringing the missing soldiers, who were thus left to report for

With most thankful hearts did we quit our camp, where so much anxiety
of mind and fretfulness had been suffered, not heeding a furious rain,
which, after drenching us all night, might have somewhat damped our
ardor for the march under other circumstances. The road for the first
mile led over reddish ground, and was drained by gentle slopes falling
east and west; but, leaving the cover of the friendly woods, on whose
eastern margin we had been delayed so long, we emerged into one of the
savannahs, whose soil during the rain is as soft as slush and tenacious
as thick mortar, where we were all threatened with the fate of the
famous Arkansas traveller, who had sunk so low in one of the many
quagmires in Arkansas county, that nothing but his tall "stove-pipe" hat
was left visible.

Shaw was sick, and the whole duty of driving the foundering caravan
devolved upon myself. The Wanyamwezi donkeys stuck in the mire as if
they were rooted to it. As fast as one was flogged from his stubborn
position, prone to the depths fell another, giving me a Sisyphean
labour, which was maddening trader pelting rain, assisted by such men
as Bombay and Uledi, who could not for a whole skin's sake stomach the
storm and mire. Two hours of such a task enabled me to drag my caravan
over a savannah one mile and a half broad; and barely had I finished
congratulating myself over my success before I was halted by a deep
ditch, which, filled with rain-water from the inundated savannahs, had
become a considerable stream, breast-deep, flowing swiftly into the
Makata. Donkeys had to be unloaded, led through a torrent, and loaded
again on the other bank - an operation which consumed a full hour.

Presently, after straggling through a wood clump, barring our progress
was another stream, swollen into a river. The bridge being swept away,
we were obliged to swim and float our baggage over, which delayed us
two hours more. Leaving this second river-bank, we splashed, waded,
occasionally half-swimming, and reeled through mire, water-dripping
grass and matama stalks, along the left bank of the Makata proper, until
farther progress was effectually prevented for that day by a deep bend
of the river, which we should be obliged to cross the next day.

Though but six miles were traversed during that miserable day, the march
occupied ten hours.

Half dead with fatigue, I yet could feel thankful that it was not
accompanied by fever, which it seemed a miracle to avoid; for if ever a
district was cursed with the ague, the Makata wilderness ranks foremost
of those afflicted. Surely the sight of the dripping woods enveloped
in opaque mist, of the inundated country with lengthy swathes of
tiger-grass laid low by the turbid flood, of mounds of decaying trees
and canes, of the swollen river and the weeping sky, was enough to
engender the mukunguru! The well-used khambi, and the heaps of filth
surrounding it, were enough to create a cholera!

The Makata, a river whose breadth during the dry season is but forty
feet, in the Masika season assumes the breadth, depth, and force of an
important river. Should it happen to be an unusually rainy season, it
inundates the great plain which stretches on either side, and converts
it into a great lake. It is the main feeder of the Wami river, which
empties into the sea between the ports of Saadani and Whinde. About ten
miles north-east of the Makata crossing, the Great Makata, the Little
Makata, a nameless creek, and the Rudewa river unite; and the river thus
formed becomes known as the Wami. Throughout Usagara the Wami is known
as the Mukondokwa. Three of these streams take their rise from the
crescent-like Usagara range, which bounds the Makata plain south and
south-westerly; while the Rudewa rises in the northern horn of the same

So swift was the flow of the Makata, and so much did its unsteady
bridge, half buried in the water, imperil the safety of the property,
that its transfer from bank to bank occupied fully five hours. No sooner
had we landed every article on the other side, undamaged by the water,
than the rain poured down in torrents that drenched them all, as if they
had been dragged through the river. To proceed through the swamp which
an hour's rain had formed was utterly out of the question. We were
accordingly compelled to camp in a place where every hour furnished its
quota of annoyance. One of the Wangwana soldiers engaged at Bagamoyo,
named Kingaru, improved an opportunity to desert with another Mgwana's
kit. My two detectives, Uledi (Grant's valet), and Sarmean, were
immediately despatched in pursuit, both being armed with American
breech-loaders. They went about their task with an adroitness and
celerity which augured well for their success. In an hour they returned
with the runaway, having found him hidden in the house of a Mseguhha
chief called Kigondo, who lived about a mile from the eastern bank of
the river, and who had accompanied Uledi and Sarmean to receive his
reward, and render an account of the incident.

Kigondo said, when he had been seated, "I saw this man carrying a
bundle, and running hard, by which I knew that he was deserting you. We
(my wife and 1) were sitting in our little watch-hut, watching our corn;
and, as the road runs close by, this man was obliged to come close to
us. We called to him when he was near, saying, 'Master, where are you
going so fast? Are you deserting the Musungu, for we know you belong to
him, since you bought from us yesterday two doti worth of meat?' 'Yes,'
said he, 'I am running away; I want to get to Simbamwenni. If you will
take me there, I will give you a doti.' We said to him then, 'Come into
our house, and we will talk it over quietly. When he was in our house
in an inner room, we locked him up, and went out again to the watch; but
leaving word with the women to look out for him. We knew that, if you
wanted him, you would send askari (soldiers) after him. We had but
lit our pipes when we saw two men armed with short guns, and having no
loads, coming along the road, looking now and then on the ground, as
if they were looking at footmarks. We knew them to be the men we were
expecting; so we hailed them, and said, 'Masters, what are ye looking
for?' \ They said, 'We are looking for a man who has deserted our
master. Here are his footsteps. If you have been long in your hut you
must have seen him, Can you tell us where he is?' We said, 'yes; he is
in our house. If you will come with us, we will give him up to you; but
your master must give us something for catching him.'"

As Kigondo had promised to deliver Kingaru up, there remained nothing
further to do for Uledi and Sarmean but to take charge of their
prisoner, and bring him and his captors to my camp on the western bank
of the Makata. Kingaru received two dozen lashes, and was chained; his
captor a doti, besides five khete of red coral beads for his wife.

That down-pour of rain which visited us the day we crossed the Makata
proved the last of the Masika season. As the first rainfall which we had
experienced occurred on the 23rd March, and the last on the 30th April,
its duration was thirty-nine days. The seers of Bagamoyo had delivered
their vaticinations concerning this same Masika with solemnity. "For
forty days," said they, "rain would fall incessantly;" whereas we had
but experienced eighteen days' rain. Nevertheless, we were glad that it
was over, for we were tired of stopping day after day to dry the bales
and grease the tools and ironware, and of seeing all things of cloth and
leather rot visibly before our eyes.

The 1st of May found us struggling through the mire and water of the
Makata with a caravan bodily sick, from the exertion and fatigue of
crossing so many rivers and wading through marshes. Shaw was still
suffering from his first mukunguru; Zaidi, a soldier, was critically
ill with the small-pox; the kichuma-chuma, "little irons," had hold
of Bombay across the chest, rendering him the most useless of the
unserviceables; Mabruk Saleem, a youth of lusty frame, following the
example of Bombay, laid himself down on the marshy ground, professing
his total inability to breast the Makata swamp; Abdul Kader, the Hindi
tailor and adventurer - the weakliest of mortal bodies - was ever ailing
for lack of "force," as he expressed it in French, i.e. "strength," ever
indisposed to work, shiftless, mock-sick, but ever hungry. "Oh! God,"
was the cry of my tired soul, "were all the men of my Expedition like
this man I should be compelled to return." Solomon was wise perhaps
from inspiration, perhaps from observation; I was becoming wise by
experience, and I was compelled to observe that when mud and wet sapped
the physical energy of the lazily-inclined, a dog-whip became their
backs, restoring them to a sound - some-times to an extravagant activity.

For thirty miles from our camp was the Makata plain an extensive swamp.
The water was on an average one foot in depth; in some places we plunged
into holes three, four, and even five feet deep. Plash, splash, plash,
splash, were the only sounds we heard from the commencement of the march
until we found the bomas occupying the only dry spots along the line of
march. This kind of work continued for two days, until we came in sight
of the Rudewa river, another powerful stream with banks brimful of
rushing rain-water. Crossing a branch of the Rudewa, and emerging from
the dank reedy grass crowding the western bank, the view consisted of
an immense sheet of water topped by clumps of grass tufts and foliage of
thinly scattered trees, bounded ten or twelve miles off by the eastern
front of the Usagara mountain range. The acme of discomfort and vexation
was realized on the five-mile march from the Rudewa branch. As myself
and the Wangwana appeared with the loaded donkeys, the pagazis were
observed huddled on a mound. When asked if the mound was the camp, they
replied "No." "Why, then, do you stop here?" - "Ugh! water plenty!!" One
drew a line across his loins to indicate the depth of water before us,
another drew a line across his chest, another across his throat another

Online LibraryHenry M. StanleyHow I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley → online text (page 8 of 38)