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injunctions to us not to break through the hard stratum of
sand at the bottom, because they knew, if it were broken
through, " the water would go away." They are quite cor-
rect, for the water seems to lie on this flooring of incipient
sandstone. The value of the advice was proved in the case
of an Englishman whose wits were none of the brightest,
who, disregarding it, dug through the sandy stratum in the
wells at Mohotluani; the water immediately flowed away
downward, and the well became useless. "When we came to
the stratum, we found that the water flowed in on all sides
close to the line where the soft sand came in contact with it.
Allowing it to collect, we had enough for the horses that
evening ; but as there was not sufficient for the oxen, we sent
them back to Lobotani, where, after thirsting four full days
(ninety-six hours), they got a good supply. The horses were


kept by us as necessary to procure game for the sustenance
of our numerous party.

" Next morning we found the water had flowed in faster
than at first, as it invariably does in these reservoirs, owing
to the passages widening by the flow. Large quantities of
the sand come into the well with the water, and in the course
of a few days the supply, which may be equal to the wants
of a few men only, becomes sufficient for oxen as well. In
these sucking-places the Bakalahari get their supplies; and
as they are generally in the hollows of ancient river-beds,
they are probably the deposits from rains gravitating thither ;
in some cases they may be the actual fountains, which,
though formerly supplying the river's flow, now no longer
rise to the surface. "

On the evening of the second day at Serotli, a hyena
appearing suddenly,raised a panic among the cattle. This
cowardly animal always endeavors to produce a stampede
among animals and then attacks them in the rear. His cour-
age resembles that of a turkey-cock. He will bite if an ani-
mal is running away, but if the animal stands still, the hyena
does also. Seventeen of the oxen ran off and came into the
possession of Sekomi, who honestly sent them back with a
message strongly dissuading them against crossing the desert.

They however, persevered, traveling mornings and eve-
nings ; in the middle of the day the hot sun and heavy sand
would have overpowered the oxen. Miles beyond Serotli
one clump of trees and bushes seemed exactly like another ;
but the guide, Ramotobi, had an admirable knowledge of his
course, though to the explorers it seemed a trackless waste.
One morning as he was walking by Livingstone's side he
remarked :

" When we come to that hollow we shall light upon the
highway of Sekomi ; and beyond that again lies the river
Mokoko. "

Fact verified his statement for soon the men who were in
advance cried out " metse, metse," water, water. The oxen
dashed into the river till the water was nearly level with


their throats, and then drew in the refreshing mouthfuls till
their collapsed sides distended almost to bursting.

After leaving Mokoko, Kamotobi seems for the first time
to be at a loss which direction to take. He had only once
passed to the west of this side on the banks of which he had
spent his childhood but, f ortunr.tely, Mr. Oswell, while riding
in front of the wagon, spied a Bushwoman running away in
a bent position in order to escape observation. Taking her
for a lion he galloped up to her, and she, thinking herself
captured, began to deliver up her poor little property consist-
ing of a few traps m::de of cords.

"When made to understand that the party wanted water,
and would pay her for guiding them, she consented to con-
duct them to it, and, though late in the afternoon, walked
eight miles to the spring called ^Nchokotsa. A piece of meat
and a bunch of beads were sufficient to allay all her suspicion
and to make her laugh with joy.

At Nchokotsa the party first came upon the salinas, or salt
plain, covered with an efflorescence of lime. This salina was
twenty miles in circumference, and at the time it first burst
upon the view of the explorers, the setting sun was casting
a beautiful blue haze over the white incrustation, making tho
whole look exactly like a lake. Oswell threw up his hat in
the air at the sight, and shouted out a huzza which made the
poor Bushwoman and the Bakwains think him mad.

Livingstone was a little behind, and was as much deceived
as was Oswell, and not a little chagrined to think that his
companion had the first sight of Lake Ngami. They had no
idea that the long looked for lake was three hundred miles
distant. They were simply deluded by a mirage.

" The mirage on these salinas was marvelous. It is never,
I believe, seen in perfection, except over such saline incrusta-
tions. Here not a particle of imagination was necessary for
realizing the picture of large collections of water ; the waves
danced along above, and the shadows of the trees were vivid-
ly reflected beneath the surface in such an admirable manner,
that the loose cattle, whose thirst had not been slaked suffi-


ciently by the very brackish water of Nchokotsa, with the
horses, dogs, and even the Hottentots, ran off toward the
deceitful pools. A herd of zebras in the mirage looked so
exactly like elephants that Oswell began to saddle a horse in
order to hunt them ; but a sort of break in the haze dispelled
the illusion. Looking to the west and north wesjL from Kcho-
kotsa, we could see columns of black smoke, exactly like those
from a steam-engine, rising to the clouds, and were assured
that these arose from the burning reeds of the Noka ea Bat-
letli, (" Kiver of the Batletli ")

Again and again were the party deceived by similar delu-
sions. On the fourth of July a company of horsemen felt
confident that they saw the lake and started forward to reach
it, but came instead upon the water of the Zouga river, which
the natives said flowed from ISTgami. This gladdened their
hearts and they felt sure of reaching their goal. The people
were friendly, and told them that by following the Zouga
they would at last reach the head waters, though they might
be " a moon " on their journey.

The Bechuana chief of the Lake country who had sent an
embassy to Sechele, inviting Livingstone to visit the lake
had also sent orders to all the people on the river to assist him,
so that the remaining part of the route along the beautifully
wooded stream was one of unalloyed pleasure.

So peaceable were the Bakobas who reside on the Zouga,
that Livingstone calls them the Quakers of Africa. They
had never been known to fight and had a tradition that their
forefathers in their first essays at war, made their bows of the
Palma Christi, and when these broke, they gave up fighting

While ascending the Zouga Livingstone discovered a large
tributary to it, called the Tamunakle, and inquiring of the
Bakobas whence it came they replied :
. " Oh ! from a country full of rivers, and full of large trees."

This information compared with the statements of the Bak-
wains., that the country on the north was not the large sandy
plateau generally supposed. The idea of a highway capable


of being traversed by boats, to an unexplored, rich, and popu-
lous country, so filled Livingstone's mind, that the actual dis-
covery of the lake seemed of but little importance.

On the first of August 1849, Lake Ngami was first viewed
by European eyes. It is a shallow sheet of water, some sev-
enty or eighty miles in circumference, with boggy, weedy
banks. The whole region was a basin, and Livingstone des-
cended over two thousand feet in approaching it from Kolobeng.

" My chief object in coming to the lake was to visit Sebit-
uane, the great chief of the Makololo, who was reported to
live some two hundred miles beyond. On the day after our
arrival at the lake, I applied to Lechulatebe for guides to
Sebituane. As he was much afraid of that chief, he objected,
fearing lest other white men should go thither also, and give
Sebituane guns : whereas, if the traders came to him alone,
the possession of fire-arms would give him such a superiority
that Sebituane would be afraid of him. It was in vain to
explain that I would inculcate peace between them that
Sebituane had been a father to him and Sechele, and was as
anxious to see me as he, Lechulatebe, had been. lie offered
to give me as much ivory as I needed, without going to that
chief; but when I refused to take any, he unwillingly con-
sented to give me guides.

" Next day, however, when Oswell and I were prepared to
start, with the horses only, we received a senseless refusal ;
and like Sekomi, who had thrown obstacles in our way, he
sent men to the Bayeiye with orders to refuse us a passage
across the river. Trying hard to form a raft at a narrow
part, I worked many hours in the water ; but the dry wood
was so worm-eaten it would not bear the weight of a single
person. I was not then aware of the number of alligators
which exist in the Zouga, and never think of my labor in the
water without feeling thankful that I escaped their jaws.

" The season was now far advanced ; and as Mr. Oswell,
with his wonted generous feelings, volunteered on the spot,
to go down to the Cape and bring up a boat, we resolved to
make our way south again."


In April, 1850, Livingstone set out on another expedition
north, this time accompanied by his wife, three children, and
the chief, Sechele. They reached Lake Ngami without serious
difficulty, and Sechele used all his power of eloquence with
Lcchulatcbe to induce him to furnish guides for Dr. Living-
stone to visit Sebituane. The wily chief made the same
objection as before, fearing lest Sebituane would in some
way get a supply of guns, and thus become a more formidable
foe ; but at last he yielded.

Livingstone had a very superior London-made gun, with
which Lechulatebe fell in love, and he offered for it whatever
number of elephant's tusks the explorer might ask, though
he had no ivory on hand. The bargain was made. Mrs. Liv-
ingstone was to remain at the lake with her children, and be
furnished with provisions in her husband's absence.

But " the best laid plans oft gang awry." The children
were taken sick with a fever on the day Dr. Livingstone was
to take his departure, and on the next day all the servants
were prostrate with the same complaint ; and a return to the
pure air of the desert became necessary.

Foiled in this second attempt to reach Sebituane, Living-
stone again returned to Kolobeng, whither he was soon fol-
lowed by messengers from that chief. "When he heard of
Livingstone's attempts to visit him, he dispatched three
detachments of his men with thirteen brown cows to Lechu-
latebe, thirteen white cows to Sekomi, and thirteen black cows
to Sechele, with a request to each to assist the white men to
reach him. Their policy, however, was to keep him out of
view, and act as his agents, in purchasing with his ivory the
goods he wanted.

A third attempt was more successful, and in company with
his wife and children, and Mr. Oswell, Dr. Livingstone finally
succeeded in interviewing Sebituane in his own home on the
banks of the river Chobe.

" Sebituane was about forty -five years of age ; of a tall and
wiry form, an olive or coffee-and-milk color, and slightly bald ;
in manner cool and collected, and more frank in his answers


than any other chief I ever met. He was the greatest war-
rior ever heard of beyond the colony ; for, unlike Mosilikatse,
Dingaau, and others, he always led his men into battle him-
self. When he saw the enemy, he felt the edge of his battle-
axe, and said, ' Aha ! it is sharp, and whoever turns his back
on the enemy will feel its edge.' So fleet of foot was he, that
all his people knew there was no escape for the coward, as
any such would be cut down without mercy. In some in-
stances of skulking, he allowed the individual to return home ;
then calling him, he would say, 'Ah ! you prefer dying at
home to dying in the field, do you? You shall have your
desire.' This was the signal for his immediate execution.

" He was much pleased with the proof of confidence we
had shown in bringing our children, and promised to take us
to see his country, so that we might choose a part in which
to locate ourselves. Our plan was, that I should remain in
the pursuit of my objects as a missionary, while Mr. Oswell
explored the Zambesi to the east. Poor Sebituane, however,
just after realizing what he had so long ardently desired, fell
sick of inflammation of the lungs, which originated in, and
extended from an old wound got at Melita. I saw his dan-
ger, but, being a stranger, I feared to treat him medically,
lest, in the event of his death, I should be blamed by his peo-
ple. I mentioned this to one of his doctors, who said,

" * Your fear is prudent and wise ; this people would blame

" He had been cured of this complaint, during the year
before, by the Barotse making a large number of free incisons
in the chest. The Makololo doctors, on the other hand, now
scarcely cut the skin.

" On the Sunday afternoon in which he died, when our
usual religious service was over, I visited him with my little
boy, Robert.

" * Come near,' said Sebituane, { and see if I am any longer
a man. I am done.'

" He was thus sensible of the dangerous nature of his disease,


BO I ventured to assent, and added a single sentence regarding
hope after death.

" * Why do you speak of death ?' said one of a relay of fresh
doctors ; ' Sebituane will never die.'

" If I had persisted, the impression would have been pro-
duced that by speaking about it I wished him to die. After
sitting with him some time, and commending him to the
mercy of God, I rose to depart, when the dying chieftain,
raising himself up a little from his prone position, called a
servant, and said,

" < Take Robert to Maunku (one of his wives), and tell her
to give him some milk.'

" These were the last words of Sebituane.

" "We were not informed of his death until the next day.
The burial of a Bechuana chief takes place in his cattle-pen,
and all the cattle are driven for an hour or two around and
over the grave, so that it may be quite obliterated. We went
and spoke to the people, advising them to keep together, and
support the heir. They took this kindly ; and in turn told
us not to be alarmed, for they would not think of ascribing
the death of their chief to us ; that Sebituane had just gone
the way of his fathers ; and though the father had gone, he
had left children, and they hoped that we would be as friendly
to his children as we intended to have been to him.

" He was decidedly the best specimen of a native chief I ever
saw. I never felt so much grieved by the loss of a black man
before, and it was impossible not to follow him in thought
into the world of which he had just heard before he was
called away, and to realize somewhat the feelings of those
who pray for the dead. The deep, dark question of what is
to become of such as he, must, however, be left \vhere we find
it, believing most assuredly the Judge of all the earth will do

" At Sebituane's death, the chieftainship devolved, as her
father intended, on a daughter named Mamochisane. He had
promised to show us his country, and to select a suitable local-
ity for our settlement. We had now to look to the daughter,


who was living twelve days to the north, at Naliele. "We
were obliged, therefore, to remain till a message came from
her, and when it did, she gave us perfect liberty to visit any
part of the country we chose.

" Mr. Oswell and I- then proceeded one hundred and fifty
miles to the northeast, to Sesheke, and in the end of June,
1851, we were rewarded by the discovery of the Zambesi in
the centre of the continent. This was a most important point,
for that river was not previously known to exist there at all.

" "We saw it at the end of the dry season, at the time when
the river is about at its lowest, and yet there was a breadth
of from three hundred to six hundred yards of deep flowing
water. Mr. Oswell said he had never seen such a fine river,
even in India. At the period of its annual inundation, it rises
fully twenty feet in perpendicular height, and floods fifteen,
or twenty miles of lands adjacent to its banks."

Livingstone's love of adventure and exploration was now
thoroughly roused, and as the inquiry is often asked why he
let his family return to England and remained himself a
"grass widower" in Africa, we will let him tell his own story :

" As there was no hope of the Boers allowing the peace-
able instruction of the natives at Kolobeng, I at once resolved
to save my family from exposure to this unhealthy region by
sending them to England, and to return alone, with a view
to exploring the country in search of a healthy district that
might prove the centre of civilization, and open up the
interior by a path to either the east or west coast. This res-
olution led me to the Cape in April, 1852, the first time dur-
ing eleven vjears that I had visited the scenes of civilization.

" Our route to Cape Town led us to pass through the
centre of the colony during the twentieth month of a Caffre
war ; and our little unprotected party traveled quietly through
the heart of the colony to the capital, with as little sense or
sign of danger as if we had been in England.

" Having placed my family on board a homeward-bound
ship, and promised to rejoin them in two years, we parted,
for, as it subsequently proved, nearly five years."


HAVING sent his family to England, Livingstone started
on his last journey from Cape Town in June 1852. This
journey extended from the southern extremity of the Continent
to St. Paul de Loanda, the capital of Angola, on the west
coast, and thence across South Central Africa in an oblique
direction to Kilimane on the eastern coast. He traveled in
the common conveyance of the country, a heavy lumbering
Cape wagon drawn by ten oxen, and was accompanied by
two Christian Bechuanas, two Bakwains, and two young
girls who had gone down to the Cape as nurses to Mrs. Liv-
ingstone, and were returning to their home at Kolobeng.

At Kuruman, the residence of his father-in-law, Dr. Moffat,
he was detained a fortnight by the breaking of a wagon
wheel. Here he found five children of his friend Sechele,
who had been sent to Dr. Moffat for education when he found
that Livingstone was determined to abandon his residence
among the Bakwains. With the true missionary spirit, Mr.
Moffat had received them into his family, where they were
enjoying the benefits of civilized life, and were taught to
read the Bible in their native language.

The fact of the complete translation of the Bible into the
Bechuana tongue by Dr. Moifat, at a missionary station seven
hundred miles from the Cape, suggested to Livingstone the
inquiry whether Christianity, planted by modern missions, is
likely to retain its vitality without constant supplies of for-



eign teaching. If the Bechuana Bible was to meet the fate
of Elliot's Indian translation, it would not be a cause for
great congratulation ; but Livingstone's opinion was that the
Bechuana possess that imperishability which forms so remark-
able a feature in* the entire African race. This opinion
throws some light on the future destiny of the freedmen in
our country, and is an encouragement to effort in behalf of
Africans both at home and abroad.

Livingstone found some difficulty in procuring servants for
further explorations at the North, as the ravages of the Boers
had impressed the Bechuanas with terror; but he finally
succeeded in securing three, and was also favored with the
company of George Fleming, a man of color, who was
endeavoring to establish a trade with the Makololo, and who
also had three attendants.

This party left Kuruman, November 20th, 1852, and at
Motito, distant forty miles, met Sechele on his way to lay
his grievances before the Queen of England. Sechele was
fully imbued with the common notion of the country, that
England was powerful, just, and generous ; and he employed
all his eloquence to induce Livingstone to accompany him to
her majesty, but without avail.

Livingstone was equally unable to persuade Sechele to
desist from his enterprise ; he proceeded as far as the Cape,
and there, finding his resources exhausted, retraced his fruit-
less journey of a thousand miles.

Livingstone's party continued northward, skirting along the
Kalahari desert, and giving the Boers a wide berth. On the
31st of December he reached Litubaruba, in Sechele's domin-
ions, and found the Bakwains looking disconsolate. Most of
their cattle and many of their children had been carried off
by the Boers. The Bakwains are much attached to their
children. A little child toddling near a party of men, while
they are eating, is sure to get a handful of the food.

" This love of children may arise, in a great measure, from
the patriarchal system under which they dwell. Every little
stranger forms an increase of property to the whole commu-


nity, and is duly reported to the chief boys being more
welcome than girls. The parents take the name of the child,
and often address their children as Ma (mother), or Ra
(father). Our eldest boy being named Robert, Mrs. Living-
stone was, after his birth, always addressed as Ma-Robert,
instead of Mary, her Christian name."

On the 15th of January 1853, Livingstone left the country
of the Bakwains, deeply impressed with their miseries He
succeeded in avoiding the Boers, and had little dread of the
lions and other carnivorous beasts which abound in this region.

" When a lion is met in the daytime, a circumstance by no
means unfrequent to travelers in these parts, if preconceived
notions do not'lead them to expect something very "noble"
or "majestic," they will see merely an animal somewhat
larger than the biggest dog they ever saw, and partaking very
strongly of the canine features ; the face is not much like the
usual drawings of a lion, the nose being prolonged like a
dog's ; not exactly such as our painters make it though they
might learn better at the Zoological Gardens their ideas of
majesty being usually shown by making their lions' faces
like old women in nightcaps. When encountered in the day-
time, the lion stands a second or two, gazing, then turns
slowly round, and walks as slowly away for a dozen paces,
looking over his shoulder ; then begins to trot, and, when he
thinks himself out of sight, bounds off like a greyhound.
By day there is not, as a rule, the smallest danger of lions,
which are not molested, attacking man, nor even on a clear
moonlight night.

" On the plain, south of Sebituane's ford, a herd of buffa-
loes kept a number of lions from their young by the males
turning their heads to the enemy. The young and the cows
were in the rear. One toss from a bull would kill the strong-
est lion that ever breathed. I have been informed that in
one part of India even the tame buffaloes feel their superior-
ity to some wild animals, for they have been seen to chase a
tiger up the hills, bellowing as if they enjoyed the sport.
Lions never go near any elephants except the calves, which,



when young, are sometimes torn by them ; every living
thing retires before the lordly elephant, yet a full-grown
one would be an easier prey than the rhinoceros; the lion
rushes off at the mere sight of this latter beast."

Many of the plains over which the party passed had large
expanses of grass without trees, but a treeless horizon was
seldom found. The ostrich was often seen feeding on some
spot where no one could approach him without detection.
As the wagon moved along far to the windward, he would
rush off a mile or so. When he began to run, all the game
in sight followed his example. It was very difficult to get a
shot at one. It requires the utmost address of the Bush-
men, crawling for miles on their stomachs, to stalk him suc-
cessfully; yet the quantity of feathers collected annually,
shows that many are slain, as each bird has only a few in the
wings and tail.

An ingenious plan for beguiling the ostrich to its destruc-
tion, is practiced by the Bushmen. The hunter whitens his

Online LibraryJosiah TylerLivingstone lost and found → online text (page 10 of 51)