Sarah Geraldina Stock.

The story of Uganda and the Victoria Nyanza mission online

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flicting reports of the natives, Songoro begged the
loan of the Daisy, in order to transport a part of his
household to the mainland. Attacked shortly after-
wards by the king, he fled to the missionaries for
protection, and they chivalrously refused to give him
up. They were then assailed in their turn, and the
whole party slain, except one man, who was made
prisoner, and two of Songoro's men, who fled.

Thus fell the two leaders of the expedition (for
O'Neill was second in command to Smith) — fell on the
very threshold of their enterprise, and yet not before
the instructions given them at starting had been carried
out, the work of preparation effected, and one missionary,
at least, placed at the court of Uganda. Their last
words unrecorded on earth, their last moments un-
witnessed by any friend who could tell of them, their
noble, brave, and gentle spirits went back to God,
hailed, doubtless, with joyful acclamations above, but
leaving a blank and a silence deeply felt on earth.

Hassani, the native interpreter, who was in charge
of the Daisy, and who attempted in vain to recover
the bodies, sailed across the lake, and carried the
mournful tidings to Mr. Wilson. Meanwhile the two
men who escaped remained hid in the bush till the


next day, when the Daisy returning, they swam off
to her, and being landed at Kagei, carried the news
of what had happened to Unyanyembe, whence it was
sent on by the governor to Zanzibar, and thence
telegraphed to England, reaching the committee on
March 19, 1878. It was not long before that Lieu-
tenant Smith had written : —

* Wholesome lines are those you sent —

" I know not the way I'm going,
But well do I know my Guide."

Pray for us all, that we may know Him better and
better until the perfect day. . . . We are truly in the
midst of perils — dangers from within and dangers from
without — pestilence and sword and sea/

His mind appears to have dwelt much upon the
* blessed hope ' placed before the believer. Again
he writes, after reporting the first troubles with
Lukongeh : —

^ I am lost in contemplation of that glorious time
when Christ Jesus our Lord shall come and take His
great power and reign, and am fully persuaded that
nothing but such an advent can work so marvellous
a change as the subduing of all wills unto His will,
the making of all hearts His own. . . . We ask prayer
that our hopes, our aims, our desires, may be one —
the glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the
hastening of His kingdom.

Mr. O'Neill was hoping to return to England shortly,
and take his wife back with him to Africa. Although
Uganda was the goal he aimed at, he was not un-
mindful of the island where he had spent so many
days. But a few days before his murder he wrote
from Kagei :- —

'My stay at Ukerewe has not been altogether un-


profitable. I have obtained an insight into the language,
which is more or less spoken on three-fourths of the
lake shore ; and I doubt not that I have made some
friends, and prepared the way for the favourable
reception of my successor. ... I candidly trust the
Lord will send forth many labourers for this portion
of His great harvest.'

But Ukerewe still lacks the presence of those who
proclaim the gospel of peace !

The blow that had fallen on the Mission was far
more crushing than any which could have been anti-
cipated. Of the eight men originally sent out, two
(Dr. John Smith and Mr. James Robertson) had
succumbed to sickness, two (Mr. J. W. Robertson and
Mr, G. J. Clark) had been compelled by ill health to
return home. The hopes of the undertaking seemed
centred in the other four. And now the two leaders
of the expedition had fallen by the hand of the savage,
leaving but two of the eight in Africa, the one alone
in Uganda, the other also alone on the road thither,
many hundreds of miles between them. Strangely,
but brightly prophetic were the words of Dr. Krapf
written to the committee but a few weeks before the
sorrowful news reached Europe : —

' Many reverses may trouble you, but you have the
Lord's promises. Though many missionaries may fall
in the fight, yet the survivors will pass over the slain
in the trenches, and take this great African fortress for
the Lord.'

And among the many whose hearts were stirred by
the martyr-death of the devoted missionaries was one
who was hereafter to lay down his own life as a witness
to Africa's need, and as a precious seed-corn, out of
which the Lord of the harvest made the abundant fruit
to spring forth, the noble Bishop Hannington,


*Ye shall be sorrowful.' The conflict rages

Between Christ's servants and the hosts of sin.
And ever thu?, throughout the passing ages,
His soldiers fall, unfading crowns to win.

And fall they while the goal still distant lies,
With scarce a word yet spoken for their Lord,

His sweet approval He doth yet accord ;

Their 'feet' are beauteous in their Master's eyes.

S. G. S.


*The seed is the word of God,*— Luke viii. il.

WE must now go back to the solitary missionary
at the court of King Mtesa. A house of tiger-
grass had been erected for the white men about a mile
from the palace. The king was fairly friendly, and
seemed anxious to learn all that Mr. Wilson could
teach him. Regular services were held at the palace
on Sunday mornings, when the king hoisted his 'flag/
a 'nondescript thing, consisting of pieces of red, blue,
and white calico sewn together.' Passages of Scripture
were read in Kiswahili, and explained by Mr. Wilson,
Mtesa translating what was said into Luganda, for the
benefit of those unacquainted with the former language.
In these early days the king showed wonderful readiness
to receive the word, and seemed at times thoroughly
impressed by it. On one occasion, after Mr. Wilson
had been speaking of the power of Christ to save, and
urging his hearers to come to Him at once, while there
was time, the king took up the word, and ' spoke most
eloquently to them, telling them to believe in Christ
now, saying they could only do so in this life ; when
they were dead it would be too late.' And yet he never
came himself!

Troubles arose from time to time, owing to jealousy



of the foreigner on the part of the chiefs, and also to
the Arabs, who had a monopoly of the ivory trade at
the court of Uganda, and who feared that the influence
of white men would be to their detriment.

Meanwhile, the three months during which Lieutenant
Smith expected to be absent passed away, and still
Mr. Wilson received no tidings of his brethren.

On November 21, 1877, he writes: 'As this has
been my first experience of living in solitude, I have
felt rather lonely at times, but lately I have had good
company in the shape of five months' letters and
papers, which Smith forwarded to me by an Arab, who,
however, took them up to the palace instead of bringing
them to me, and I have had the greatest difficulty in
getting them from the king, having had, as it were, to
drag them, one by one, from him. He has a number
yet, and when I shall get them I don't know.'

And again on December 22 : * I am still alone,
and have no news of Smith and O'Neill, and expect I
shall have a solitary Christmas. I am beginning to get
a little alarmed about them, as Smith has been away so
much longer than he intended.'

He was, moreover, in great need of clothes, having
brought but little baggage from Ukerewe, and had to
* tax his tailoring skill ' to make himself look respectable.
His money, too, or at least such as passed current in
Uganda, was gone, and Mtesa supplied him but scantily
with food.

At length, on December 31, the sorrowful tidings
were brought him by Hassani that his brethren had
been murdered. In a couple more days he had started
for Kagei, accompanied by some men sent by King
Mtesa to ascertain the truth of the story. The voyage
was a perilous one, violent storms alternating with
dead calm, and it took eight days to reach Kagei,


Here Mr. Wilson met the only survivor of Lieutenant
Smith's party on the island, the carpenter Sisamani, who
confirmed the story told by Hassani. After repairing
the Daisy, Mr. Wilson started for Unyanyembe, to
purchase fresh cloth and beads, as there was hardly
anything among the stores at Kagei which he could
use as ' money.' He hoped also to meet Mr. Mackay,
but was disappointed in this, as the latter had been
hindered in his advance to the lake. The journey was
altogether a trying one, and he arrived back in Uganda
towards the end of March in somewhat impaired health.
Another five months had yet to elapse before he grasped
the hand of the only one of the original party of eight
who still remained in Africa.

In the meantime four new labourers had been
appointed to the Mission. Two artisans, named Sneath
and Tytherleigh, wxre sent out for the Nyanza, and
Dr. Baxter, with Mr. Copplestone, to take possession
of Mpwapwa. Mr. Mackay having completed his road
to Mpwapwa, returned to the coast, where he found
Sneath and Tytherleigh. The former, however, had
hardly arrived when he became so ill that he was
ordered back to England. The latter rendered great
assistance to Mr. Mackay, who now put into execution
his plan of transporting the stores wanted for the
interior by bullock-waggons to Mpwapwa. The task
was not an easy one, but Mr. Mackay decided that it
w^as both easier and more economical than employing
a large caravan of porters. Tytherleigh was joined by
Mr. C0pplestone, while Mr. Mackay was marching to
and fro, ordering and arranging all that went on, with
unflagging activity and perseverance. Receiving letters
from Mr. Wilson, however, urging him to hasten forward,
he started off, leaving the others to follow, and proceeded
by a route yet untraversed by missionaries. Passing



over the Mgunda Mkhali, just then a gigantic swamp
which it took a fortnight to wade through, he at length
reached Uyui, some thirty miles north-east of Unyan-
yembe. Here his spirit was greatly stirred by what
he saw of the slave-trade. * Arab caravans,' he writes,
' with tusks of ivory are moving down to the coast
now ; and each has, as a supplement, a string of
living little ones trotting on, with their necks linked
together, to be disposed of to the highest bidder at the
coast.' Here, also, he learned with deep concern from
some men who brought letters from the coast to the
Arab governor, of the death of William Tytherleigh,
who had received an internal sprain, when helping to
push one of the waggons up a hill. This was a great
loss to the Mission, and Mackay, writing later on from
Uganda, says : ' Oh for Tytherleigh among us ! If you
can find another Tytherleigh in all England, please
send him out ; but his like is not to be every day met

On June 12, 1878, Mr. Mackay first sighted the
Victoria Nyanza. He writes thus : ' As eagerly as
ever the ten thousand Greeks shouted '^ Thalassa !
Thalassa !" in the immortal Anabasis of Xenophon, did
I gaze on the silvery sea, and thank God that now I
was near the Nyanza at last. For had I not been two
years and more on the way from the coast to Kagei,
and now an end to miserable marching was come, at
least for a time ? Had not my companions succumbed
to the climate one by one, and even reinforcements
failed ? Now I was here alone, to hold the fort till
better days should dawn.'

Mr. Wilson, on reaching Uganda, had sent the
Daisy back to Kagei under Hassani. Mr. Mackay
found the vessel in great need of repair, and this work,
together with the putting in order of the stores left here


under charge of native servants, occupied some time.
While staying here he resolved to pay a visit to
Lukongeh, at Ukerewe, having heard that the king
desired a conference with him. His men urged him
not to go, saying Lukongeh would certainly put him to
death ; and finding they could not deter him from his
purpose, declined to accompany him. He w^ent alone,
with the exception of an interpreter given him by
Kaduma, the friendly chief of Kagei, leaving his arms
behind, to show that his visit was one of peace.
Lukongeh received him well, and expressed sorrow for
the murder of Smith and O'Neill, making out that the
matter was not his fault. Returning to Kagei, Mackay
was greeted with great joy by the natives, who had
hardly expected to see him alive again ; but, alas ! his
own men, settling it in their minds that he was
murdered, had consumed all his provisions; and the
native food, to which he was obliged to have recourse,
brought on an illness which detained him some time

At length Mr. Wilson arrived once more at Kagei,
expecting to find there a caravan under charge of a
native. Instead of that, he tells us : ^ The people of
Kagei crowded round the canoes as we landed in the
dim twilight of the evening, and, on my asking for
news, told me a w^hite man had come. In another
minute Mackay appeared with a hearty welcome. He,
too, had been alone for a long time. We had seen but
little of each other before, but as we talked that night
of all that had passed in those two years, of those who
had fallen, of the reinforcements (come, too, only to
die) which had been, or were to be, sent, of our hopes
and fears, and plans for the future, it seemed as if we
had known each other intimately for years ; hour flew
by after hour unheeded, weariness was forgotten, and


the cocks began to crow, and grey dawn appeared in
the east, before we were even conscious that it was
growing late/

The two survivors of the original party started for
Uganda on August 23. The Daisy was wrecked on
the voyage, but the party were hospitably sheltered
by the natives of Usongoro, and after eight weeks
spent in repairing the vessel, they once more set sail,
and shortly after reached Uganda. Mtesa received
them cordially, and gave them a packet which had been
sent on by Dr. Emin Effendi (Emin Pasha), containing,
besides other things, the welcome tidings that three
more missionaries were on their way to the country.

The news of the deaths of Smith and O'Neill had
called forth for the Nyanza Mission three volunteers
from the Church Missionary College, Mr. Pearson, Mr.
Litchfield, and Mr. Hall. It was resolved that these
three, together with Mr. Felkin, a young surgeon who
had already prepared to join the Mission, should start at
once ; and this time the (geographically) shorter route
by way of the Nile was chosen, Colonel Gordon, then
Governor of the Egyptian Soudan, promising to do all
in his power to assist them on the journey. Mr.
Litchfield was ordained before starting. The party
went by steamer from Suez to Suakim on the Red
Sea, and at once prepared to cross the desert to
Berber, whence they were to proceed up the Nile to
Khartoum. But the intense heat, 98° to 100°, struck
down one of their number, Mr. Hall, and he was com-
pelled, most reluctantly, to return home. The others,
after a trying journey, reached Berber in safety, whence
an Egyptian steamer conveyed them to Khartoum.
Here they were hospitably received and entertained
by Colonel Gordon, who sent them on in one of his
steamers. The voyage, though undertaken under these


favourable circumstances^ was not unattended with
trouble and danger. The Bahr-el-Zeber, as the river
is called after its junction with the Bahr-el-Abiad
(White Nile), was much encumbered with floating
islands and immense masses of vegetation, large quan-
tities of land having been detached by the floods and
carried northward. This so retarded their progress,
that the vo}'age from Khartoum to Shambeh, which
ought to have taken fourteen or fifteen days, occupied
sixty-eight, and they were seriously inconvenienced
with respect to food. After leaving Gondokoro they
had to take to small boats, to pass through the rapids,
and the current being very strong, and the river high,
the passage was extremely hazardous. From Bedden
to Dufli they had to march overland. Thence a
steamer conveyed them up to and across the Albert
Nyanza, as far as Magungo, where the Murchison Falls
intervene. The next stretch of road was almost im-
passable, now through high grass, which, when one
man passed through it, swung back on the next with
considerable violence, now over trees and creepers
stretching across the path, now through unwholesome
swamps. Mr. Litchfield and their dragoman were both
attacked by fever, to which the latter succumbed. He
passed away peacefully, expressing his trust in Christ.
To add to this, the attitude of the natives was most
threatening, and their own porters were not to be
depended on. At length they were met by Mr. Wilson,
who had set off immediately on receiving news of their
approach. The journey from Foweira to Mruli, the last
of the stations then under the Egyptian Government,
was made by boat, and thence they were escorted to
Uganda by messengers from King Mtesa, and arrived
February 14, 1879.

During Mr. Wilson's absence Mr. Mackay had


carried on the weekly * service ' on Sundays, reading
and explaining the Scriptures in Kiswahili, which the
king translated into the language of Uganda. Further,
Mtesa, who had at first been too jealous to allow his
subjects to learn to read, for fear they should outstrip
himself and his chiefs, now withdrew his prohibition,
and old pupils and young swarmed around Mackay,
eager for instruction. Two workshops sprang up on
the Mission premises, made of wickerwork, plastered
with clay, which excited great admiration. Bullock
training was commenced, Mackay having offered to
build a carriage for the king, which these animals were
to draw. The idle Waganda were astonished to see
the white man at work, making a broad road through
his shamha (garden or plantation). Mtesa at this time
showed much interest in the Word of God, and for-
bade any labour on Sunday. He further, after hearing
a lecture from Mackay upon the human body, and a
protest against such a piece of workmanship being sold
for a rag of cloth, actually forbade the sale of slaves !
He also despatched canoes across the lake to Kagei to
fetch the men who were believed to have arrived to
reinforce the Mission. These were Messrs. Sneath,
Penrose, Stokes, and Copplestone. But Mr. Sneath
had been again invalided home, and Mr. Penrose, an
artisan, had been attacked and slain by ruga-niga
(robbers), while conducting a caravan to the lake, thus
making the sixth who had fallen since the Mission

By the arrival of Messrs. Stokes and Copplestone
the party in Uganda was increased to seven — a larger
riumber of Church Missionary Society missionaries
than have been there at any subsequent period till
the arrival of Bishop Tucker and his party in Decem-
ber 1890. But opposition was not slow to arise. On


February 23, 1879, a party of French Jesuit priests
arrived from Algiers, sent out by the Society of Notre
Dame d'Afrique, under the then Archbishop of Algiers,
now Cardinal Lavigerie. The presents they brought
for the king were exactly of such a nature as to please
him, including guns, swords, and gunpowder. They
immediately took up a position hostile to the Church
Missionary Society missionaries, refusing to kneel for
prayer at their Sunday services, and denouncing them
to the king as liars, who taught a false religion. Mr.
Mackay endeavoured to show the king the principal
points in which their teaching differed, appealing to
the * Book ' for judgment as to which was right ; but
Mtesa was sorely perplexed, and the chiefs remarked
that ' Every white man has a different religion.' Not
long after some messengers from Zanzibar brought
a letter to the king from the British Consul there,
Dr. (now Sir John) Kirk. This letter was mistrans-
lated to the king by the Arabs, who were sworn
enemies of the Mission, and made to appear as though
it cast reflections both on the character of the mission-
aries and their honesty of purpose. A very trying
time followed for them ; the king's manner towards
them changed, and he often refused to see them. One
day, hearing that the French priests were ill, Mackay
and Litchfield set off with some medicine to visit them,
little thinking into what danger they were running.
Mr. Felkin thus describes the occurrence : —

'As they went by the palace a man came to them,
and told their boys that if they went to the Frenchmen
they would all get tied up. They thought nothing
of this, and went on their way, but soon saw armed
men rush past them, and in a short time were brought
to a standstill by some thirty or forty men, dancing
and brandishing their spears and clubs. They were


told to go forward, and at once were surrounded.
Mack ay saw that they were in great danger, and
instantly sat down, calling on Litchfield to do the
same, as this is the only chance, it seems, with natives.
They then asked what was the meaning of it all, and
were told it was the king's order. '^ Then we will go
to the king," Mackay said. When they reached the
palace they sent in to say they must see the king
at once. No answer was returned, and after waiting
a due season, they left'

Later on, after a visit to the palace, they heard that
the soldiers were desirous to kill them, and only waited
the king's orders to do it. But however Mtesa's mind
may have been poisoned against them by Arab influence,
he had a strong reason for not proceeding to extremities,
as he was suffering much in his health, and was receiving
medical attention from Mr. Felkin. In spite of this,
the situation became more and more trying and embar-
rassing, and the missionaries found it even difficult
to obtain food for their daily need. Under these
circumstances they proposed to withdraw from the
Mission for a time, and requested permission from the
king to leave. This, however, he was unwilling to
give ; but at length he recurred to his intention, already
conceived, of sending an embassy to Queen Victoria
with one of the missionaries. Three men, by name
Namkadi, Kataruba, and Sawaddu, were chosen for
this purpose, and in May they started on their journey,
under the guidance of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Felkin.
Of their journey to and sojourn in England, where
much kindness w^as shown them, and their reception
by the Queen, we need not speak here. As far as
can be seen, the event was barren of any permanent
results, and Namkadi afterwards distinguished himself
by his enmity to the missionaries and to their work.


The Church Missionary Society Committee having
sanctioned the occupation of Uyui as a Mission station,
it was thought best that Messrs. Stokes and Copplestone
should return thither and commence work. Mr. Pearson
accompanied them as far as Kagei, whence it was
needful to fetch some stores ; and meanwhile, from
June to November 1 879, Mackay and Litchfield were
alone together in Uganda. A sudden change came
over Mtesa's attitude towards them, and these few
months were full of encouragement.

Mr. Litchfield wrote : ^ Peace is upon us, and there
is a wonderful change from the days of our troubles
here ; in fact, it is like clear sunshine after storm.
Mtesa is now taking up the question of education in
earnest, and is ordering all his chiefs, Batongole (offi-
cials), pages, and soldiers, to learn the alphabet, etc.,
in English characters. Mackay and myself are never
free from learners, some of whom are waiting with the
daylight. We have our hands full of work to supply
them with brain food, and the small printing-press sent
out with us from England is in daily requisition. . . .
Mackay and myself are now on visiting terms with
every chief in the capital without an exception, and not
a day passes without our house being filled with visitors.
You can think how all this cheers our hearts, and makes
us praise Him who has wrought this change. In medi-
cine, too, there has been some progress, as last month's
journal shows over two hundred cases, most of which
are cures.'

And again he gives us the following interesting
glimpse of his 'home' and daily fife: 'I have built
myself a house — the floor is the earth, the walls tiger-
grass, the roof thatch, with three rooms, and lock and
key doors, ist room, reception hall, dispensary, school-
room, and hospital ; 2nd, storeroom and kitchen ; 3rd,

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Online LibrarySarah Geraldina StockThe story of Uganda and the Victoria Nyanza mission → online text (page 4 of 13)