WE must now return to Captain Grant, who had been left in the
Unyamuezi country, about which, during his stay, he made
" In a Weezee village," he tells us, " there are few sounds to
disturb the traveller's night rest. The horn of the new-comers, and the
reply to it from a neighboring village, an accidental alarm, the chirping:
of crickets, and the cry from a sick child occasionally, however, broke
the stillness. At dawn the first sounds were the crowing of cocks,
the lowing of cows, the bleating of calves, and the chirruping of
sparrows (which might have reminded him of America). Soon after
would be heard the pestle and mortar shelling corn, or the cooing of wild
pigeons in the neighboring palm-grove." The huts were shaped like
hay-stacks, dark within as the hold of a ship. A few earthen jars, tat-
tered skins, old bows and arrows, with some cups of grass, gourds, and
perhaps a stool, constitute the furniture.
Different tribes vary greatly in appearance. Grant describes some as
very handsome. He mentions two Nyambo girls, who, in the bloom of
youth, sat together with their arms affectionately twined round each
other's neck, and, when asked to separate that they might be sketched,
their arms were dropped at once, showing their necks and busts to be of
the finest form. Their woolly hair was combed out, and raised up from
the forehead and over their ears by a broad band from the skin of a milk-
white cow, which contrasted strangely with their transparent, light-copper
skins. The Waha women are like them, having tall, erect, graceful
figures and intelligent features.
An Arab trader, whom they had met, had sixty wives, who lived to-
gether in a double-poled tent, with which he always travelled. One of
them was a Watusi, a beautiful tall girl, with large, dark eyes, and the
smallest mouth and nose, with thin lips and small hands. Her noble
race will never become slaves, preferring death to slavery.
Inside each Weezee village there is a club-house, or " iwansa," as it is
called. This is a structure much larger than those which are used for
dwelling-houses, and is built in a different manner. One of these
iwansas, which was visited by Captain Grant, was a long, low room,
twelve by eighteen feet, with one door, a low; flat roof, well blackened
with smoke, and no chimney. Along its length there ran a high inclined
bench, on which cow-skins were spread for men to take their seats.
Huge drums were hung in one corner, and logs smouldered on the floor.
Into this place strangers are ushered when they first enter the village,
and here they reside until a house can be appropriated to them. Here
the young men all gather at the close of day to hear the news, and join
in that interminable talk which seems one of the chief joys of a native
African. Here they perform kindly offices to each other, such as pulling
out the hairs of the eyelashes and eyebrows with their curious little
tweezers, chipping the teeth into the correct form and painting on the
cheeks and temples the peculiar marks which designate their clan.
Smoking and drinking also go on largely in the iwansa, and here the
youths indulge in various games. One of these games is exactly similar
to the one which has been introduced into England. Each player has a
stump of Indian corn, cut short, which he stands on the ground in front
of him. A rude sort of teetotum is made of a gourd and a stick, and is
spun among the corn-stumps, the object of the game being to knock
down the stump belonging to the adversary. This is a favorite game,
and elicits much noisy laughter and applause, not only from the actual
players, but from the spectators who surround them.
In front of the iwansa the dances are conducted. A long strip of bark
or cow-skin is laid down, and the Weezees arrange themselves along it,
the tallest man always taking the place of honor in the middle. When
they have arranged themselves, the drummers strike up their noisy
instruments, and the dancers begin a strange chant, which is more like
a howl than a song. They swing their hands, stamp vigorously, and are
pleased to think that they are dancing. The male spectators encourage
their friends by joing in the chorus.
The Weezee boys are amusing little fellows, and have quite a talent
for games. Of course they imitate the pursuits of their fathers, such as
shooting with small bows and arrows, jumping over sticks at various
heights, pretending to shoot game, and other amusements. Some of the
elder lads convert their play into reality, by making their bows and
arrows large enough to kill the pigeons and other birds which fly about
them. They also make very creditable imitations of the white man's
gun, tying two pieces of cane together for the barrels, modelling the
stock, hammer, and trigger-guard out of clay, and imitating the smoke by
tufts of cotton wool. That they are kind-hearted boys is evident from
the fact that they have tame birds in cages, and spend much time in
teaching them to sing.
The Wanyamuezi treat the Watusi with great respect. When two
people of these tribes meet, the former presses his hands together, the
Watusi uttering a few words in a low voice. If a Watusi man meets a
woman of his own tribe, she lets her arms fall by her side, while he gently
presses them below the shoulders, looking affectionately in her face.
The class of Arabs met with were a most degraded set : instead of
improving the country, they brought ruin upon it by their imperiousness
and cruelty. All traded in slaves and generally treated them most
harshly Several gangs were met with in chains. Each slave was dressed
in a single goat's skin, and at night they kept themselves warm by lying;
near a fire. Never, by day or night, is the chain unfastened ; should one
of them require to move, the whole must accompany him. All ate
together boiled sweet potato, or the leaves of the pumpkin plant, and
were kept in poor condition to prevent their becoming troublesome.
Any meat or bones left from the travellers' dinners were therefore
given them, and accepted thankfully. One gang was watched over by a
small lad, whose ears had been cut off, and who treated them with unfeel-
ing coarseness. A sick slave having recovered, it was the boy's duty to
chain him to his gang again, and it was grievous to see the rough way he
used the poor, emaciated creature.
They had not much work to do, the sole object of the owner being to
keep them alive and prevent their running away till sold at the coast.
They generally looked sullen and full of despair; but occasionally, at
night, they danced and became even riotous, till a word from the earless
imp restored them to order.
A Happy Release.
Amou'j them was a poor fellow who had been five years in chains.
The travellers took compassion on him, and released him from bondage.
His chains were struck off with a hammer, and, once on his feet, a freed-
man, he seemed scarcely to believe the fact, when, however, attired in a
clean calico shirt, he strutted about and soon came to make his new
master his best bow. On his body were numerous spear-wounds. He
had been captured by the; Watuta, who had cut off several of his toes..
This man never deserted them during the journey, accompanying them
to Cairo, having gained the character of a faithful servant.
The Arab in Africa takes presents for everything he does, and it was
believed that the white men would do the same. If a bullet was extracted,
a gun repaired, an old sultan physicked, or the split lobe of an ear
mended, a cow or cows were at hand to be paid when the task was
When slaves were brought for sale and declined by the Englishmen,
the natives could not understand their indifference to such traffic, but
would turn from them with a significant shrug, as much as to say : " Why
are you here then ? "
The most horrible punishments are inflicted on those who offend
against the laws of the country. A woman and lad, who had been
accused of bewitching the sultan's brother, were found with their arms
tied behind them, writhing in torture on their faces. No sympathy was
shown them from the jeering crowd. The lad at last cried out : 'Take
me to the forest, I know an hero remedy." He was allowed to go, while
the woman was kept in the stocks near the sick patient. The lad was put
to death, and Captain Grant suspected, tortured before a fire. Another
man, for a crime in the sultan's harem, was stripped, tied to railings, and
his person smeared with grease and covered with greased rags, which
were then set fire to, when he was dragged forth to a huge fire outside
the village. On his way, spears were darted at him by the son and
daughter-in-law of the sultan, and when he fell he was dragged out by-
Attacked by Black Robbers.
Grant had the same difficulties in moving that Speke had experienced.
At length he got away, but as he was passing through the territory of
Sultan Myonga, his men moving in Indian file, a band of two hundred
natives, armed with spears and bows and arrows, burst upon him, spring-
ing over the ground like cats. The uplifted spears and the shouts of the
robbers frightened the porters, who gave up their loads and attempted to
escape from the ruffians, who were pulling their clothes and loads from
them. Grant endeavored without bloodshed to prevent this, but, as he
had only one of his gun-men and two natives by him, he could do noth-
ing. Little Rohan the sailor, one of his Zambesi men, was found with
his rifle in hand at full cock, defending two loads against five men. He
had been urged to fly for his life. The property, he answered, was his
life. Grant made his way, however, to Myonga, seeing as he went the
natives dressed out in the stolen clothes of his men. Though honor was
dear, the safety of the expedition was so likewise, and one false step
would have endangered it.
Myonga pretended to be very indignant, and said that he had cut off
the hand of one of his men, and promised that the property should be
restored. Some of the loads were given back, but others had been broken
open and rifled, and the chief demanded an enormous tribute for permit-
ting Grant to proceed. This was the origin of the alarming intelligence
Captain Speke had received.
At length the two travellers united their forces, and together they con-
tinued their journey towards Karague. To reach it they had first to pass
through the province of Usui, the chief of which, Suwarora, pillaged them
as usual. Here the little grass-hut villages were not fenced by a stockade,
but were hidden in large fields of plantains. Cattle were numerous, kept
by the Wahuma, who would not sell their milk, because the Englishmen
eat fowls. Their camp, night after night, was attacked by thieves. One
night, as Speke was taking an observation, a party of these rascals
enquired of two of the women of the camp what he was about. While
the latter were explaining, the thieves whipped off their clothes and ran
away with them, leaving the poor creatures in a state of absolute nudity.
Speke had not taken much notice of the goats and other things which;
had been stolen, but, in consequence of this, he ordered his men to shoot
any thieves who came near. A short time afterwards, another band
approaching, one of the men was shot, who turned out to be a magician,
and was till then thought invulnerable. He was tracked by his blood,
and afterwards died of his wound. The next day some of Speke's men
were lured into the huts of the natives by an invitation to dinner, but,
when they got them there, they stripped them stark naked and let them
go again. At night the same rascals stoned the camp. After this
another thief was shot dead and two others were wounded. Bombay and
Baraka gave their masters also a good deal of trouble. The former, who
was looked upon as an excellent fellow, more than once got very drunk,
and stole their property in order to purchase a wife for himself, besides
which the two men quarrelled desperately with each other.
At length, however, the travellers got free of Usui and the native guard
who had been sent to see them over the borders, and entered Karague,
to their great relief and happiness.
They had now, for some distance, wild animals alone to contend with,
and these they well knew how to manage. There was often danger, as
for instance, one day when they were hunting a lioness, she suddenly
turned and with tremendous fury charged at her foes. Nothing but a
lucky shot saved them.
Soon after pitching their tent they were greeted by an officer sent by
the king, Rumanika, to escort them through his country. He informed
them that the village officers were instructed to supply them with food at
the king's expense, as there were no taxes gathered from strangers in the
kingdom of Karague.
The country was hilly, wild, and picturesque, the higher slopes dotted
with thick bushes of acacias, the haunts of the white and black rhinoceros,
while in the valley were large herds of harte-beestes. The further they
proceeded into the country, the better they liked it, as the people were all
kept in good order. A beautiful lake was seen, which at first they sup-
posed to be a portion of the Nyanza, but it proved to be a separate lake,
to which the name of Windermere was given.
They now attained the delightful altitude of five thousand odd feet, the
atmosphere at night feeling very cool. Away to the west some Ispld,
sky-scraping cones were observed, and, on making enquiries, Speke vyas,
convinced that those distant hills were the great turn-point of the Central
African water-shed. Numerous travellers, whom he collected round
liim, gave him assistance in forming his map. He was surprised at the
amount of information about distant places which he was able to obtain
from these intelligent men.
As they approached the palace, the king, Rumanika, sent them a sup-
ply of excellent tobacco and beer manufactured by his people. On draw-
ing near his abode, the bearers were ordered to put down their loads and
fire a salute, and the two travellers at once received an invitation to visit
the king. He was found sitting cross-legged with his brother, both men
of noble appearance and size. The king was plainly dressed in an Arab
black robe; he wore on his legs numerous rings of rich colored beads,
and neatly-worked wristlets of copper. His brother, being a doctor of
high credit, was covered with charms ; he wore a checked cloth wrapped
round him. Large clay pipes were at their sides, ready for use. in
their rear sat the king's sons, as quiet as mice.
The king greeted them warmly and affectionately, and in an instant
both travellers felt that they were in the company of men who were
totally unlike the common order of the natives of the surrounding dis-
tricts. They had fine oval faces, large eyes, and high noses, denoting
the best blood of Abyssinia. They shook hands in the American style,
the ever-smiling king wishing to know what they thought of his country.
He observed that he considered his mountains the finest in the Avorld :
"And the lake, too ; did not they admire it? " He seemed a very intelli-
gent nsan, and enquired how they found their way over the world, which
'led to a long story, describing the proportions of land and water, the way
iships navigate the ocean, and convey even elephants and the rhinoceros
to fill the menageries of Europe and America.
A Fit of Merriment.
He gave them their choice of having quarters in his palace or pitching
their tents outside. They selected a spot overlooking the lake, on
account of the beautiful view. The young princes were ordered to attend
on them, one of whom, seeing Speke seated in an iron chair, rushed back
to his father with the intelligence. Speke was accordingly requested to
return, that he might exhibit the white man sitting on his throne.
Rumanika burst into a fresh fit of merriment at seeing him, and after-
wards made many enlightened remarks.
On another visit Speke told the king that if he would send two of his
children, he would have them instructed in England, for he admired his
race, and believed them to have sprung from the friends of the English^
the Abyssinians, who were Christians, and had not the Wahuma lost their
knowledge of God, they would be so likewise. A long theological and
historical discussion ensued, which so pleased the king that he said he
would be delighted if Speke would take two of his sons to England. He
then enquired what could induce them to leave their country and travel,
when Speke replied that they had had. their fill of the lujcuries of life, and
that their great delight was to observe and admire the beauties of creation,
but especially their wish was to pay visits to the kings of Africa, and in
particular his Majesty. He then promised that they should have boats ta
convey them over the lake, with musicians to play before them.
In the afternoon Speke, having heard that it was the custom to fatten-
A HAPPY NATIVE.
up the wives of the king and princes to such an extent that they could
not stand upright, paid a visit to the king's eldest brother. On entering
the hut, he found the old chief and his wife sitting side by side on a bench-
of earth strewed over with grass, while in front of them were placed
numerous wooden pots of milk. Speke was received by the prince with
great courtesy, and was especially struck by the extraordinary dimen-
sions, yet pleasing beauty of the immoderately fat fair one, his wife.
She could not rise. So large were her arms that between the joints
the flesh hung like large loose bags. Then came in their children, all
models of the Abyssinian type of beauty, and as polite in their manners
as thorough-bred gentlemen. They were delighted in looking over his
picture-books and making enquiries about them. The prince, pointing
to his wife, observed : " This is all the product of those pots, as, from
WONDERFUL DISCOVERIES. 563
early youth upwards, we keep those pots to their mouths, being the cus-
tom of the court to have very fat wives."
The king, having supposed that the travellers had been robbed of all
their goods, was delighted with the liberal presents he received, above all
that of a coat of handsome scarlet broadcloth. He told them that they
might visit every part of his country, and when the time arrived for pro-
ceeding to Uganda, he would escort them to the boundary.
Altogether, Rumanika was the most intelligent and best-looking ruler
the travellers met with in Africa. He had nothing of the African in his
appearance, except that his hair was short and wooly. He was fully six
feet two inches in height, and the expression of his countenance was
mild and open. He was fully clothed in a robe made of small antelope-
skins and another of dark cloth, always carrying, when walking, a long
staff in his hand. His four sons were favorable specimens of their race,
especially the eldest, named Chunderah. He was somewhat of a dandy,
being more neat about his lion-skin covers and ornaments than his
brothers. From the tuft of wool left unshaven on the crown of his head
to his waist he was bare, except when his arms and neck were decorated
with charmed horns, strips of otter-skins, shells, and bands of wool.
Amusement in tlie Palace.
He was fond of introducing Friz, Speke's head-man, into the palace,
that he might amuse his sisters with his guitar, and in return the sisters,
brothers, and followers would sing Karague music. The youngest son
was the greatest favorite, and on one occasion, the travellers having pre-
sented him with a pair of white kid gloves, were much amused with the
dignified way in which he walked off, having coaxed them on to his
Rumanika, contrary to the usual African custom, was singularly abste-
mious, living almost entirely on milk, merely sucking the juice of boiled
beef. He scarcely ever touched plantain wine or beer, and had never
been known to be intoxicated. The people were generally excessively
fond of this wine, the peasants especially drinking large quantities of it.
One of the most curious customs Avhich Rumanika holds in his char-
acter of high priest, is his new-moon levee, which takes place every
month, for the purpose of ascertaining the loyalty of his subjects. On
the evening of the new moon the king adorns himself with a plume of
feathers on his head, a huge white beard descending to his breast. He
takes post behind a screen. Before him are arranged forty long drums
on the ground, on the head of each of which is painted a white cross.
The drummers stand each with a pair of sticks, and in front is their
664 WONDERS OF THE TROPICS.
leader, who has a couple of small drums slung round his neck. The
leader raises first his right arm and then his left, the performers imitating
him, when he brings down both sticks on the drums with a rapid roll,
they doing the same, until the noise is scarcely to be endured. This
having continued for some hours, with the additon of smaller drums and
other musical instruments, the chiefs advance in succession, leaping and
gesticulating, and shouting expressions of devotion to their sovereign.
Having finished their performance, they kneel before him, holding out
their knobbed sticks that he may touch them, then, retiring, make room
Civilized as the country is in some respects, marriage is a matter of
barter between the father and the intended husband, the former receiving
cows, slaves, sheep, etc., for his daughter. Should, however, a bride not
approve of her husband, by returning the marriage gifts she is again at
liberty. The chief ceremony at marriages ccnsists in tying up the bride
in a skin, blackened all over, and carrying her with a noisy procession to
Measuring a Very Fat Lady.
The ladies of this country lead an easy life in many respects, their chief
object, apparently, being to get as fat as possible. Many of them succeed
wonderfully well, in consequence of their peculiar constitution, or from
the food they cat being especially nutritious. Five of Rumanika's wives
were so enormous that they were unable to enter the door of any ordinary
hut, or to move about without being supported by a person on either
side. One of his sisters-in-law was of even still greater proportions.
Speke measured her ; round her arm was one foot eleven inches ; chest,
four feet four inches; thigh, two feet seven inches; calf, one foot eight
inches ; height, five feet eight inches,
He could have obtained her height more accurately could he have had
her laid on the floor ; but, knowing the difficulties he would have had to
contend with in such a piece of engineering, he tried to get her height by
raising her up. This, after infinite exertion, was accomplished, when she
sank down again, fainting, for the blood had rushed into her head.
Meanwhile the daughter, a lass of sixteen, .sat before them, sucking at a
milk-pot, on which the father kept her at work by holding a rod in his
hand ; for, as fattening is one of the first duties of fashionable female life,
it must be duly enforced with the rod if necessary. The features of the
damsel were lovely, but her body was as round as a ball.
The women turn their obesity to good account. In exchanging food
for beads it is usual to purchase a certain quantity of food, which shall
be paid for by a belt of beads that will go round the waist. The women
of Karague being on an average twice as large round the waist as those
of other districts, food practically rises a hundred per cent, in price. Not-
withstanding their fatness their features retain much beauty, the face
being oval and the eyes fine and intelligent. The higher class of women
are modest, not only wearing cow-skin petticoats, but a wrapper of black
cloth, with which they envelop their whole bodies, merely allowing one
hand to be seen.
The travellers were allowed to move about the country as they liked,
and the king sent his sons to attend on them, that they might enjoy
such sport as was to be found. They heard of no elephants in that dis-
trict, but harte-beestes, rhinoceros, and hippopotami were common.
Desperate Battle With the River-horse.
The exciting capture of the last-named beast furnishes material
for many exciting tales of adventure. A traveller alludes to the
custom the natives have of throwing sand into the animal's eyes.
Blinded for the time, smarting, and assailed at his most sensitive point,
the hippopotamus plunged back into the stream to lave his eyes, and the
natives could not withstand his strength, even if the now doubled and
firmly twisted together harpoon lines would have borne the strain, so
they slacked away as he pulled, waiting until he was quiet to haul away
again, and diag him to the bank. To this the out-manceuvred brute was
foohshly nothing loath, and, having cleansed the sand from his eyes,
rushed back to the fight, his black and savage heart eager for the destruc-
tion of his tormentors. Again, however, was , he put to flight as before.
Streaming with blood, spouting it in torrents from his mouth and through
his nostrils, although he crunched the lance shafts like so many straws,
yet the blades remained deep in his throat and vitals, whilst many a
deadly thrust had been given behind his shoulder-blades.
So the fight went on for nearly two hours, the huge animal's attacks
being always frustrated by the sand-throwing, while every appearance he
made above the water was the signal to receive numerous fresh wounds.
At length, fairly exhausted, his fierce energy and mighty strength alike
subdued, he was dragged and held as far out of the water as it was pos-
sible to pull so great a weight ; what was gained was retained by taking
a round-turn with the end of the rope about a neighboring piece of rock,
and then the animal was secured. The natives value the hippopotamus
for his hide, his flesh, and his ivory.
One day Captain Grant saw two harte-beestes engaged in a desperate
combat, halting calmly between each round to breathe. He could hear,
even at a considerable distance, the force of every butt as their headar
met, and, as they fell on their knees, the impetus of the attack, sending
their bushy tails over their backs, till one, becoming the victor, chased
the other out of the herd.
Several varieties of antelope and the mountain gazelle were seen bound-
ing over the hills. Pigs abounded in the low grounds, and hippopotami
in the lake.
Captain Spcke went out in search of rhinoceros, accompanied by the
prince, with a party of beaters. In a short time he dicovered a fine male,
when, stealing between the bushes, he gave him a shot which made him
trot off, till, exhausted by loss of blood, he lay down to die. The young
princes were delighted with the effect of the Englishman's gun, and, seiz-
ing both his hands, congratulated him on his successes.
A second rhinoceros was killed after receiving two shots. While pur-
suing the latter, three appeared, who no sooner sighted Speke, than they
all charged at him in line. His gun-bearers, however, were with him,
and, taking his weapons, he shot the three animals in turn. One dropped
down a little way on, but the others only pulled up when they arrived at
the bottom of the hill. One kept charging with so much fury that they
could not venture to approach till Speke had given him a second ball,
which brought him to the ground. Every man then rushed at the
creature, sending his spear or arrow into his sides until he sank like a.
porcupine covered with quills.
Tlie Wonderful Wliite Man.
The heads were sent to the king, to show what the white man could
do. Rumanika exhibited the greatest astonishment, declaring that some-
thing more potent than powder had been used; for, though the Arabs
talk of their shooting powers, they could not have accomplished such a
feat. " It is no wonder," he added, " that the English arc the greatest
men in the world."
Rumanika, like great men in other countries, had his private band.
The instruments were of a somewhat primitive character, while the
musicians differed in appearance considerably from those of America.
The most common instruments are the drums, which vary greatly in
size: one hung to the shoulder is about four feet in length, and one in
width It is played with the fingers, like the Indian "tom-tom." The
drums used at the new-moon reception are of the same shape, but very
much larger. The war-drum is beaten by women. At its sound the
men rush to arms, and repair to their several quarters. There are also
several stringed instruments. One of these, which Captain Grant de-
scribes, was played by an old woman ; it had seven notes, six of which
were a perfect scale. Another, which had three strings, was played by a
man : they were a full, harmonious chord. A third instrument called
the " nanga," formed of dark wood, in the shape of a tray, had three
crosses in the bottom, and was laced with one string, seven or eight times,.
over bridges at either end.
The prince sent the best player to be found to entertain his guest.
The man entered, dressed in the usual Wanyambo costume, looking a
wild, excited creature. After resting his spear against the roof of his.
hut, he took a " nanga " from under his arm and began playing, his wild
yet gentle music Avith words, attracting a number of admirers. It was
about a favorite dog, and for days afterwards the people sang that dog
They have two wind instruments, one resembling a flageolet, and
another a bugle. The latter is composed of several pieces of gourd, fitted
one into another, in telescope fashion, and is covered with cow-skin.
Rumanika's band was composed of sixteen men, fourteen of whom have
bugles, and the other two hand-drums. On the march they form in
three ranks, the drummers being in the rear, swaying their bodies in time
to the music, while the leader advances with a curiously active step,
touching the ground alternately with each knee. They also, when the
king rested on a march, or when out hunting, played before him, while
he sat on the ground and smoked his pipe.
The Wahuma, like most Africans, have great faith in the power of
charms, and believe that by their means persons can be rendered invul-
nerable. They also believe in the constant presence of departed souls,
supposing that they exercise a good or evil influence over those whom
they have known in life. When a field is blighted or a crop does not
promise well, a gourd is placed in the pathway ; passsengers set up a
wailing cry, which they intend as a prayer to the spirits to give a good
crop to their mourning relatives. Rumanika, in order to propitiate the
spirit of his father, was in the habit of sacrificing annually a cow on his
tomb, and also of placing offerings on it of corn and wine. These and
many other instances show that, though their minds are dark and mis-
guided, the people possess religious sentiments which might afford
encouragement to missionaries of the gospel.
A Merry Christmas.
The commencement of 1862 found the travellers still guests of the
enlightened king. Hearing that it was the English custom on Christmas
Day to have an especially good dinner, he sent an ox. Captain Speke
in return paid him a visit. He offered him the compliments of the
season, and reminded him that he was of the old stock of Abyssinians,
who were among the oldest Christians on record, and that he hoped the
time would come when wh'ite teachers would visit his country, to instruct
him in the truths which he and his people had forgotten.
Active preparations were now made for the departure of the travellers,
but unhappily Captain Grant was suffering from so severe a complaint in
one of his legs, that he was compelled to remain behind, under the pro-
tection of the hospitable sovereign, while Speke set off for Uganda.
About the middle of January a large escort of smartly-dressed men,
women, and boys, leading their dogs and playing their reeds, under the
command of Maula, arrived from Mtesa, King of Uganda, to conduct the
travellers to his capital. Maula informed them that the king had ordered
his officers to supply them with everything they wanted while passing
through his country, and that there would be nothing to pay.
Speke set forth, in the hopes that before long he should settle the great
Nile problem for ever. It was, however, not believed that he would be
able to proceed north from Uganda, Rumanika especially declaring that
he would be compelled to return to the southward.
Passing through a remarkably rich country, famous for its ivory and
coffee productions, they descended from the Mountains of the Moon to an
alluvial plain, where Rumanika keeps thousands of cows. Once ele-
phants abounded here, but, since the increase of the ivory trade, these
animals had been driven off to the distant hills.
They soon reached the Kitangule River, which falls into the Victoria
Nyanza. It was about eighty yards broad and so deep that it could not
be poled by the canoe-men, while it runs at a velocity of from three to
four knots an hour. It is fed from the high-seated springs in the Moun
tains of the Moon, Speke believed that the Mountains of the Moon give
birth to the Congo as well as the Nile, and also the Shire branch of the
Frightening Away the Devil.
The country through which they passed was a perfect garden of plan-
tations, surprisingly rich, while along the banks of the river numberless
harte-beestes and antelopes were seen.
At a village, where they were compelled to stop two days, drumming,
singing, screaming, yelling, and dancing went on the whole time, during
the night as well as day, to drive the " phepo," or devil, away. In front
of a hut sat an old man and woman, smeared with white mud, and hold-
ing pots of beer in their laps, while people came, bringing baskets full of
plantain squash and more pots of beer. Hundreds of them were collected
in the court-yard, all perfectly drunk, making the most terrific uproar.
The king sent messengers expressing his desire to see the white man.
Speke now sent back to Grant, earnestly urging him to come on if he
possibly could, as he had little doubt that they would be able to proceed
-across the country to the northward. On approaching the capital, a mes-
senger came to say that the king, who, by the way, is our old friend
Mtesa, was so eager to meet the white man that he would not taste food
until he had seen him.
Speke won his favor by blistering and doctoring him. He managed
"to keep up his own dignity by refusing to submit when improperly
treated. Ke also gained great credit with the monarch by exhibiting his
skill as a sportsman ; and Mtesa was delighted to find that after a little
practice he himself could kill birds and animals. He did not, however,
confine himself to shooting at the brute creation, but occasionally killed
a man or woman who might have been found guilty of some crime.
A Black Queen.
After he had been some time in the palace, he was introduced to the
queen dowager. Her majesty was fat, fair, and forty-five. He found her
seated in the front part of her hut, on a carpet, her elbow resting on a
pillow. An iron rod, like a spit, with a cup on the top, charged with
magic powder, and other magic Avands were placed before the entrance
and within the room four sorceresses, or devil-drivers, fantastically
dressed, with a mass of other women, formed the company. They being
dismissed, a band of musicians came in, when beer was drunk by the
queen, and handed to her visitor and high officers and attendants. She
smoked her pipe, and bid Speke to smoke his. She required doctoring,
and Speke had many opportunities of seeing her, so completely winnings
her regard that she insisted on presenting him with various presents,
among others a couple of wives, greatly to his annoyance. She appeared
to be a jovial and intelligent personage.
On his next visit the king told Speke that he had wished to see him on
the previous day, and begged that whenever he came he would fire a gun
at the waiting hut, that he might hear of his arrival. The king was much
pleased with a portrait Speke made of him, as also with his colored
sketches of several birds he had killed, but was still more delighted v/ith
some European clothes, with which he was presented.
When Speke went to visit him, he found his Majesty dressed in his
new garments. The legs of the trousers, as well as the sleeves of the
waistcoat, were much too short, so that his black feet and hands stuck
out at the extremities as an organ-player's monkey's do, while the cocks-
comb on his head prevented a fez cap, which he wore, from sitting
properly. On this visit twenty new wives, daughters of chiefs, all
smeared and shining with grease, were presented, marching in a line
before the king, and looking their prettiest, whilst the happy fathers
floundered on the ground, delighted to find their darling daughters
appreciated by the monarch. Speke burst into a fit of laughter, which
was imitated not only by the king but by the pages, his own men chuck-
ling in sudden gusto, though afraid of looking up.
The King Makes a Capture.
The king at last returned Speke's visit. Having taken off his turban,,
as Speke was accustomed to take off his hat, he seated himself on his
stool. Everything that struck his eye was admired and begged for,
though nothing seemed to please him so much as the traveller's wide-
awake and mosquito curtains. The women, who were allowed to peep
into Bana's (the white man's) den, received a couple of sacks of beads, to
commemorate the visit.
A few days afterwards he was accompanying the king when an.
adjutant-bird was seen in a tree. The king had a gun Speke had given
him, but he had little more than one charge of powder remaining
Speke had left his gun at home. The king at the second shot killed
the bird, greatly to his delight. He insisted upon carrying the bird to-
show to his mother.
Before entering the palace, however, he changed his European clothes
for a white goat-skin wrapper. Directly afterwards a battalion of his
army arrived before the palace, under the command of his chief officer,
whom Speke called Colonel Congou. The king came out with spear and
shield in hand, preceded by the bird, and took post in front of the
enclosure. His troops were divided into three companies, each contain-
ing about two hundred men. After passing in single file, they went
through various evolutions. Nothing, Speke says, could be more wild
or fantastic than the sight which ensued. Each man carried two spears
and one shield, held as if approaching an enemy. They thus moved in
three lines of single rank and file at fifteen or twenty paces asunder, with
the same high action and elongated step, the ground leg only being
bent to give their strides the greater force. The captains of each com-
pany followed, even more fantastically dressed.
The great Colonel Congou had his long, white-haired goat-skins, a
fiddle-shaped leather shield, tufted with white hair at all six extremities,
bands of long hair tied below the knees, and the helmet covered with
rich beads of several colors, surmounted with a plume of crimson
feathers, from the centre of which rose a stem, tufted with goat-hair.
Finally the senior officers" came charging at their king, making violent
protestations of faith and honesty, for which they were applauded.
Speke was now, towards the end of May, looking forward to the
arrival of Grant. To propitiate the despot he sent a compass, greatly to
the delight of Mtesa, who no sooner saw it than he jumped and yelled
with intense excitement, and said it was the greatest present Bana had
ever given him, for by this he found out all the roads and countries.
It had been arranged that Grant should come by water ; but the
natives, fearing to trust themselves on the lake, brought him all the dis-
tance on a litter. At length, the sound of guns announced the arrival of
Grant, and Speke hurried off to meet his friend, who was now able to
limp about a little, and to laugh over the accounts he gave of his travels.
The travellers forthwith began to make arrangements for proceedings
on to Unyoro, governed by Kamrasi, of despicable character and con-
sidered merpiless and cruel, even among African potentates, scattering
death and torture around at the mere whim of the moment; while he
was inhospitable, covetous, and grasping, yet too cowardly to declare
war against the King of the Waganda, who . had deprived him of por-
tions of his dominions. The Waganda people were, therefore, very
unwilling to escort the travellers into his territory ; and Colonel Congou
declared that if compelled to go, he was a dead man, as he had once led
an army into Unyoro.
The travellers' great object was to reach the spot where the Nile was
supposed to flow out of the Victoria Nyanza, and proceed down the
stream in boats.
By July the arrangements for their journey were made. The king
presented them with a herd of cows for their provisions, as well as some
robes of honor and spears, and he himself came out with his wives to
see them off. Speke ordered his men to turn out under arms and
acknowledge the favors received. Mtesa complimented them on their
goodly appearance and exhorted them to follow their leader through fire
and water, saying that, with such a force, they would have no difficulty
in reaching Gani.
It was arranged that Grant should go on to Kamrasi direct, Avith the
property, cattle, etc., while Speke should go by the river to examine its
exit from the lake, and come down again, navigating as far as practicable.
They now commenced their march down the northern slopes of
Africa, escorted by a band of Waganda troops, under the command of
Kasora, a young chief They had proceeded onwards some days, when
Kari, one of Speke's men, had been induced to accompany some of the
Waganda escort to a certain village of potters, to obtain pots for making,
plantain wine. On nearing the place, the inhabitants rushed out. The
Waganda men escaped, but Kari, whose gun was unloaded, stood still,
pointing his weapon, when the people, believing it to be a magic horn,
speared him to death, and then fled.
After passing through a country covered with jungle, Speke reached
the banks of the Nile. The shores en either side had the appearance of
a highly-kept park. Before him was a magnificent stream, six or seven
hundred yards wide, dotted with islets and rocks — the former occupied
by fishermen's huts, the latter by sterns and crocodiles, basking in the
sun — flowing between fine, high, grassy banks, covered with trees and
plantations. In the background herds of harte-beestes could be seen
grazing, while the hippopotami were snorting in the water, Florican and
Guinea fowl rising at their feet.
The chief of the district received them courteously, and accompanied
Speke to the Isamba Rapids.
The water ran deep between its banks, which were covered with fine
grass, soft cloudy acacias, and festoons of lilac, while here and there,
where the land had slipped above the rapids, bare places of red earth
could be seen. There, too, the waters, impeded by a natural dam, looked .
like a huge mill-pond, sullen and dark, in which two crocodiles, floating
about, were looking out for prey. From the high banks Speke looked
down upon a line of sloping wooded islets lying across the stream, which,
by dividing its waters, became at once both dam and rapids. " The
whole scene was fairy-like, wild and romantic in the extreme," says Cap-
Proceeding southward they reached the Rippon Falls, by far the most
interesting sight he had seen in Africa.
" Though beautiful, the scene was not exactly what I expected, for
the broad surface of the lake was shut out from view by a spur of hill,
and the falls, about twelve feet deep and four to five hundred feet broad,
were broken by rocks ; still it was a sight that attracted one to it for
hours. The roar of the waters, the thousands of passenger fish leaping
at the falls with all their might, the fishermen coming out in boats, and
taking post on all the rocks with rod and hook, hippopotami and 'croco-
diles lying sleepily on the water, the ferry at work above the falls, and
cattle driven down to drink at the margin of the lake, made in all, with
the pretty nature of the country — small grassy-topped hills, with trees in
the intervening valleys and on the louver slopes — as interesting a picture
as one could wish to see."
Here, then, he had arrived at what he considered the source of the
Nile — that is, the point from where it makes its exit from the Victoria Ny-
anza ; and he calculated that the whole length of the river is, thus meas-
uring from the south end of the lake, two thousand three hundred miles.
He and his party now returned northward, and reached Urondogani
again in August. The difficulty was next to obtain boats. The fisher-
men, finding that the strangers were to be supplied with fish by the
king's order, ran away, though the cows they had brought furnished the
travellers with food. At length five boats, composed of five planks laslied
together and caulked with rags, were forthcoming. Speke, with his
attendants, Kasora, and his followers embarked, carrying goats, dogs,
and kit, besides grain and dried meat. No one, however, knew how
many days it would take to perform the voyage.
Tall rushes grew on either side of the broad river, which had in places
a lake-like appearance. The idle crew paddled slowly, amusing them-
selves by sometimes dashing forward, and then resting, while Kasora had
the folly to attack the boats of Wanyoro he met coming up the river.
The frontier line was. crossed on the 14th, but they had not proceeded
far when they saw an enormous canoe of Kamrasi's, full of well-armed
men, approaching them. The canoe turned, as if the people were afraid,
and the Waganda followed. At length, however, the chased canoe
turnjd, and the shore was soon lined with armed men, threatening them
with destruction. Another canoe now appeared' It was getting dark.
The only hope of escape seemed by retreating. Speke ordered his fleet
to keep together, promising ammunition to his men if they would fight.
The people in one boat, however, were so frightened that they allowed
her to spin round and round in the current.
Brutal Attack by Natives.
The Wanyoro were stealing on them, as they could hear, though
nothing could be seen. One of the boats kept in shore, close to the
reeds, when suddenly she was caught by grappling-hooks. The men
cried out " Help, Bana ! they are killing us." Speke roared in reply :
" Go in, and the victory will be ours." When, however, three shots were
fired from the hooked boat, the Wanyoro fled, leaving one of their
number killed and one wounded, and Speke and his party were allowed
to retreat unmolested.
Speke, after proceeding up the river some distance, determined to
continue the journey by land, following the track Grant had taken.
Grant's camp was reached, and the next day a messenger arrived from
Kamrasi, saying that the king would be glad to see them, and the march
was ordered to Unyoro.
The frontier was again passed, when the country changed much for
the worse. Scanty villages, low huts, dirty-looking people clad in skins,
the plantain, sweet potato and millet forming the chief edibles, besides
goats and fowls. No hills, except a few scattered cones, broke the level
surface of the land, and no pretty views cheered the eye. They were
now getting to a distance from the rain-attractive influences of the Moun-
tains of the Moon, and vegetation decreased proportionately. Their first
halt was on the estate of the chief Kidjwiga. Scarcely had they been
established than a messenger page from Mtesa, with a party of fifty
Waganda, arrived to enquire how Bana was, and to remind him of the
gun and other articles he had promised to send up from Gani.
The natives ran off as they passed through the country, believing them
to be cannibals. They supposed that the iron boxes which the porters
carried on their shoulders each contained a couple of white dwarfs, which
were allowed to fly off to eat people. They, however, gained confidence,
and soon flocked around the Englishmen's huts.
On arriving at the end of their day's march, on the 2d of September,
they were told that elephants had been seen close by. Grant and Speke,
therefore, sallied forth with their guns, and found a herd of about a hun-
dred, feeding on a plain of long grass. Speke, by stealing along under
cover of the high grass, got close to a herd, and fired at the largest. The
animals began sniffing the air with uplifted trunks, when, ascertaining by
the smell of powder that the enemy was in front of them, they rolled up
their trunks, and came close to the spot where he way lying under a
mound. Suddenly they stopped, catching scent of the white man, and
lifting their heads high, looked down upon him. Speke was now in a
dangerous position, for, unable to get a proper front shot at any of them,
he expected to be picked up or trodden to death. As he let fly at their
temples, they turned round and went rushing away at a much faster pace
than they came.
The explorers at length reached Khartoum, having sailed down the
Nile, and were soon at Berber.
The two travellers, whose adventures we have thus far followed, em-
barked for England, on the 4th of June, on board the " Pera," where
they safely arrived, after an absence of eleven hundred and forty-six
His friends had shortly afterwards to mourn Captain Speke's untimely
death, from his gun accidentally going off while at shooting.
Speke was the first European who saw the Victoria Nyanza, while the
adventurous and hazardous journey he and Grant performed together
deservedly places them in the first rank of African travellers. They also
opened up an extensive and rich district hitherto totally unknown, into
which the blessings of Christianity and commerce will soon be intro-
TO CHAPTER 26
INTRODUCTION :: CONTENTS
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