New York Herald/August 9, 1872
How can I describe my feelings to you, that you may comprehend exactly the condition that I am in, the condition that I have been in, and the extremely wretched condition that the Arabs and slave trading people of the Mrima — the hill land or the coast — would fain keep me in? For the last two months I have been debating in my own mind as to my best course. Resolves have not been wanting, but up to to-day they have failed. I am no nearer the object of my search apparently than I was two years ago, when you gave me the instructions at the hotel in Paris called the “Grand Hotel.” This object of my search you know is Livingstone — Dr. David Livingstone — F.R.G.S., LL.D., &c. Is this Dr. David Livingstone a myth? Is there any such person living? If so, where is he? I ask everybody — Omani, Arab-half-cast, Wamrima-pagazis — but no man knows. I lift up my head, shake off day dreams and ask the silent plains around and the still dome of azure upheaving to infinity above, where can he be?
No answer. The attitude of my people, the asinine obstinacy of Bombay, the evidently determined opposition of the principal Arabs to my departure from here, the war with Mirambo, the other unknown road to Central Lake, the impossibility of obtaining pagazis, all combine, or seem to, to say: “Thou shalt never find him. Thou shalt neither hear of him. Thou shalt die here.”
Sheikh, the son of Nasib, one of the ruling Powers, here declares it an impossibility to reach Ujiji. Daily he vexes me with “There is no road; all roads are closed; the Wakonongo, the Wagara and the Rawendi are coming from the south to help Mirambo; if you go to the north, Usukuma is the country of Mirambo’s mother; if you take the Wildjankuru road , 6 that is Mirambo’s own country. You see, then, sir, the impossibility of reaching the Tanganyika. My advice is that you wait until Mirambo is killed, then, inshallah (please God), the road will be open, or go back.” And oftentimes I explode, and cry out: “What! wait here until Mirambo is killed? You were five years fighting Manua Sera! Go back! after spending $20,000! O Sheikh, the son of Nasib, no Arab can fathom the soul of a muzungu (white man)! I go on and will not wait until you kill Mirambo; I go on, and will not go back until I shall have seen the Tanganyika,” and this morning I added, “and the day after to-morrow I start.”
“Well, master,” he replied, “be it as you say; but put down the words of Sheikh, the son of Nasib, for they are worthy to be remembered.”
He has only just parted from me, and to comfort myself after the ominous words I write to you. I wish I could write as fast as the thoughts crowd my mind. Then what a wild, chaotic and incoherent letter you would have! But my pen is stiff, the paper is abominable, and before a sentence is framed the troubled mind gets somewhat calmer. I am spiteful, I candidly confess, just now; I am cynical — I do not care who knows it. Fever has made me so. My whining white servant contributes toward it. The stubbornness of Bombay — “incarnation of honesty” Burton calls him — is enough to make one cynical. The false tongues of these false-hearted Arabs drive me on to spitefulness; the cowardice of my soldiers is a proverb with me. The rock daily, hourly growing larger and more formidable against which the ship of the expedition must split — so says everybody, and what everybody says must be true — makes me fierce and savage-hearted.
Yet I say that the day after tomorrow every man Jack of us who can walk shall march.
But before the expedition tries the hard road again — before it commences the weary, weary march once more — can I not gain some information about Livingstone from the scraps of newspapers I have been industriously clipping for some time back? May they not with the more mature knowledge I have obtained of the interior since I went on this venture give me a hint which I might advantageously adopt? Here they are, a dozen of them, fifteen, twenty, over thirty bits of paper. Here is one. Ah, dolor of heart, where art thou? This mirth-provoking bit of newspaper is almost a physician to me. I read: [“]Zanzibar, Feb. 6, 1870. I am also told by Ludha Damjee that a large caravan, laden with ivory, and coming from Nayamweze, has completely perished from this disease in Ujiji.[”] To you who stay at home in America may be accorded forgiveness if you do not quite understand where “Nayamweze” or “Ujiji” is; but to the British politico and Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul, Dr. John Kirk, a former companion of Livingstone, a man of science, a member of the Royal Geographical Society, and one who is said to be in constant communication with Livingstone, forgiveness for such gross ignorance is impossible. A parallel case of ignorance would be in a New York editor writing, “I am also told by Mr. So and So that a large wagon train, bringing silver bricks from Montana, has perished in Alaska.” Ujiji, you must remember, is about a month’s march westward of Unyamwezi — not “Nayamweze” — and to me it is inconceivable how a person in the habit of writing weekly to his government about Livingstone should have conceived Ujiji to be somewhere between the coast and “Nayamweze,” as he calls it. But then I am spiteful this morning of September 21, and there is nothing loveable under the sun at this present time except the memory of my poor little dog “Omar,” who fell a victim to the Makata Swamp. Poor Omar!
Amid these many scraps or clippings all about Livingstone there are many more which contain as ludicrous mistakes, mostly all of them having emanated from the same scientific pen as the above. I find one wherein Sir R. Murchison, 9 President of the Royal Geographical Society, stoutly maintains that Livingstone’s tenacity of purpose, undying resolution and herculean frame will overcome every obstacle. Through several scraps runs a vein of doubt and unbelief in the existence of the explorer. The writers seem to incline that he has at last succumbed. But to the very latest date Sir Roderick rides triumphant over all doubts and fears. At the very nick of time he has always a letter from Livingstone himself, or a dispatch from Livingstone to Lord Clarendon , or a private note from Dr. Livingstone to his friend Kirk at Zanzibar. Happy Sir Roderick! Good, Sir Roderick! a healthy, soul-inspiring faith is thine.
Well, I am to tell you the outspoken truth, tormented by the same doubts and fears that people in America and England are — to-day uncommonly so. I blame the fever. Yet, though I have heard nothing that would lead me to believe Livingstone is alive, I derive much comfort in reading Sir Roderick’s speech to the society of which he is President.
But though he has tenacity of purpose and is the most resolute of travelers, he is but a man, who, if alive, is old in years. I have but to send for Said bin Habib , who claims to be the Doctor’s best friend, and who lives but a rifle shot from the camp of the HERALD and Livingstone expeditions, and he will tell me how he found him so sick with fever that it seemed as if the tired spirit was about to take its eternal rest. I have but to ask Suliman Dowa, or Thomas, how he found “old Daoud Fellasteen” — David Livingstone — and he will tell me he saw a very old man, with very gray beard and mustache, who ought to be home now instead of wandering among those wild cannibals of Manyema.
What made me to-day give way to fears for Livingstone’s life was that a letter had reached Unyanyembe, from a man called Sherif, who is in charge of Livingstone’s goods at Ujiji, wherein he asked permission from Said bin Salim, the Governor here, to sell Livingstone’s goods for ivory, wherein he states further that Sherif had sent his slaves to Manyema to look for the white man, and that these slaves had returned without hearing any news of him. He (Sherif) was therefore tired of waiting, and it would be much better if he were to receive orders to dispose of the white man’s cloth and beads for ivory.
It is strange that these goods, which were sent to Ujiji over a year ago, have not yet been touched, and the fact that Livingstone has not been in Ujiji to receive his last year’s supplies puzzles also Said bin Salim, Governor of Unyanyembe, or, rather, of Tabor a and Kwihara, as well as it puzzles Sheikh, the son of Nasib, accredited Consul of Syed Barghash, Sultan of Zanzibar and Pemba at the Courts of Rumanika and Mtesa, kings respectively of Karagwah and Uganda. In the storeroom where the cumbersome moneys of the NEW YORK HERALD Expedition lie piled up bale upon bale, sack after sack, coil after coil, and the two boats, are this year’s supplies sent by Dr. Kirk to Dr. Livingstone — seventeen bales of cloth, twelve boxes of wine, provisions, and little luxuries such as tea and coffee.
When I came up with my last caravan to Unyanyembe I found Livingstone’s had arrived but four weeks before, or about May 23 last, and had put itself under charge of a half-caste called Thani Kati-Kati, or Thani, “in the middle,” or “between.” Before he could get carriers he died of dysentery. He was succeeded in charge by a man from Johanna, who, in something like a week, died of small-pox; then Mirambo’s war broke out, and here we all are, September 21, both expeditions halted. But not for long, let us hope, for the third time I will make a start the day after to-morrow.
To the statement that the man Sherif makes, that he has sent slaves to Manyema to search for Dr. Livingstone, I pay not the slightest attention. Sherif, I am told, is a half-caste. Half Arab, half negro.
Happy amalgamation! All Arabs and all half-castes, especially when it is in their interest to lie, lie without stint. What and who is this man Sherif, that he should, unasked, send his slaves twenty days off to search for a white man? It was not for his interest to send out men, but it was policy to say that he had done so, and that his slaves had returned without hearing of him. He is, therefore, in a hurry to sell off and make money at the expense of Livingstone. This man has treated the old traveler shamefully — like some other men I know of, who, if I live, will be exposed through your columns. But why should I not do so now? What better time is there than the present? Well, here it is — cooly, calmly and deliberately. I have studied the whole thing since I came here, and cannot do better than give you the results of the searching inquiries instituted.
It is the case of the British Public vs. Dr. John Kirk, Acting Political Agent and Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul at Zanzibar, as I understand it. The case is briefly this: Some time in October, 1870, Henry Adrian Churchill, Esq., was Political Agent and Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul at Zanzibar. He fitted out during that month a small expedition to carry supplies to Dr. Livingstone, under the escort of seven or eight men, who were to act as armed soldiers, porters or servants. They arrived at Bagamoyo, on the mainland, during the latter part of October. About the latter part of October or the early part of November Mr. Churchill left Zanzibar for England, and Dr. John Kirk, the present occupant of the consular chair, succeeded him as “acting” in the capacity Mr. Churchill heretofore had done. A letter bag, containing letters to Dr. Livingstone, was sealed up by Dr. John Kirk at Zanzibar, on which was written “November 1, 1870 —Registered letters for Dr. David Livingstone, Ujiji,” from which it appears that the letter bag was closed on the 1st November, 1870.
On the 6th January, 1871, your correspondent in charge of the NEW YORK HERALD Expedition arrived at Zanzibar, and then and there heard of a caravan being at Bagamoyo, bound for the interior with supplies for Dr. Livingstone. On the 4th of February, 1871, your correspondent in charge of the HERALD Expedition arrived at Bagamoyo and found this caravan of Dr. Livingstone’s still at Bagamoyo.
On or about the 18th February, 1871, appeared off Bagamoyo Her Britannic Majesty’s gunboat Columbine, Captain Tucker, having on board Dr. John Kirk, acting Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul. Three days before Dr. John Kirk arrived at Bagamoyo Livingstone’s caravan started for the interior, hurried, no doubt, by the report that the English Consul was coming. That evening about the hour of seven p.m. your correspondent dined at the French mission in company with the peres, Dr. Kirk and Captain Tucker of the Columbine. The next morning Dr. Kirk and Captain Tucker and another gentleman from the Columbine , and Pere Horner, superior of the French mission, left for Kikoko, first camp on the Unyanyembe road beyond the Kingani River; or, in other words, the second camp for the up caravans from Bagamoyo. Pere Horner returned to Bagamoyo the evening of that same day; but Messrs. Kirk and Tucker, the French Consul, Diviane, and, I believe, the surgeon of the Columbine, remained behind that they might enjoy the sport which the left bank of the Kingani offered them.
A good deal of ammunition was wasted, I heard, by the naval officers, because, “you know, they have only pea rifles,” so said Dr. Kirk to me. But Dr. Kirk, the companion of Livingstone and something of a sportsman, I am told bagged one hartbeest and one giraffe only in the four or five days the party was out. M. Diviane, or Divien, hurried back to Bagamoyo and Zanzibar with a piece of the aforesaid hartbeest, that the white people on that island might enjoy the sight and hear how the wondrous animal fell before the unerring rifle of that learned showman of wild beasts, Dr. John Kirk. Showman of wild beasts did I say? Yes. Well I adhere to it and repeat it. But to proceed. At the end of a week or thereabouts the party were said to have arrived at the French mission again. I rode up from the camp of the HERALD Expedition to see them. They were sitting down to dinner, and we all heard the graphic yarn about the death of the hartbeest. It was a fine animal they all agreed.
“But, Doctor, did you not have something else?” (Question by leader of HERALD Expedition.)
“No! we saw lots of game, you know — giraffe, zebra, wild boar, &c. — but they were made so wild, you know, by the firing of pea rifles by the officers, that immediately one began to stalk them off they went. I would not have got the hartbeest if I had not gone alone.”
Well, next morning Dr. Kirk and a reverend padre came to visit the camp of the HERALD Expedition, partook of a cup of tea in my tent, then went to see Moussoud about Dr. Livingstone’s things. They were told that the caravan had gone several days before. Satisfied that nothing more could be done, after a dejeuner at the French Mission, Dr. Kirk about eleven a.m. went on board the Columbine. About half-past three p.m. the Columbine steamed for Zanzibar. On the 15th of March your correspondent returned to Zanzibar to settle up the last accounts connected with the expedition. While at Zanzibar your correspondent heard that the report had industriously been spread among those interested in Livingstone, the travel-er, that Dr. Kirk had hurried off the Livingstone caravan at once, and that he had accompanied the said caravan beyond the Kingani, and that your correspondent could not possibly get any pagazis whatever, as he (Dr. Kirk) had secured them all. I wondered, but said nothing. Really the whole were marvellous, were it not opposed to fact. Livingstone’s caravan needed but thirty-three men; the HERALD Expedition required 140 men, all told. Before the Livingstone caravan had started the first caravan of the HERALD Expedition had preceded them by four days. By the 15th of March 111 men were secured for the HERALD Expedition, and for the remainder donkeys were substituted. June 23 saw us at Unyanyembe, and there I heard the reports of the chiefs of the several caravans of the HERALD Expedition. Living- stone’s caravan was also there, and the men in charge were interrogated by me with the following questions:
Q. When did you see Dr. Kirk last?
A. 1st of November, 1870.
A. At Zanzibar.
Q. Did you not see him at Bagamoyo?
A. No; but we heard that he had been at Bagamoyo.
Q. Is this true; quite, quite true?
A. Quite true, Wallah (by God).
The story is told. This is the case — a case, as I understand it to be, of the British Public vs. John Kirk. Does it not appear to you that Dr. John Kirk never had a word to say, never had a word to write to his old friend Dr. Livingstone all the time from 1st November, 1870, to about the 15th February, 1871; that during all this period of three and a half months Dr. John Kirk showed great unkindness, unfriendliness towards the old traveler, his former companion, in not pushing the caravan carrying supplies to the man with whom all who have read of him sympathize so much? Does it not seem to you, as it does to me, that had Dr. John Kirk bestirred himself in his grand character of English “Balyuz” — a noble name and great title out here in these lands — that that small caravan of thirty-three men might have been dispatched within a week or so after their arrival at Bagamoyo, by which it would have arrived here in Unyanyembe long before Mirambo’s war broke out? This war broke out June 15, 1871.
Well, I leave the case in your hands, assured that your intelligence, your natural power of discrimination, your fine sense of justice, will enable you to decide whether this man Dr. John Kirk, professed friend of Livingstone, has shown his friendship for Livingstone in leaving his caravan three and a half months at Bagamoyo; whether, when he went over to Bagamoyo in the character of showman of wild beasts to gratify the sporting instincts of the officers of Her Britannic Majesty’s ship Columbine, did he show any very kindly feeling to the hero traveler when he left the duty of looking up that caravan of the Doctor’s till the last thing on the programme.
Unyamwezi is a romantic name. It is “Land of the Moon” rendered into English — as romantic and sweet in Kinyamwezi as any that Stamboul or Ispahan can boast is to a Turk or a Persian. The attraction, however, to a European lies only in the name. There is nothing of the mystic, nothing of the poetical, nothing of the romantic, in the country of Unyamwezi. I shudder at the sound of the name. It is pregnant in its every syllable to me. Whenever I think of the word immediately come thoughts of colycinth, rhubarb, calomel, tartar emetic, ipecacuanha and quinine into my head, and I feel qualmish about the gastric regions and I wish I were a thousand miles away from it. If I look abroad over the country I see the most inane and the most prosaic country one could ever imagine. It is the most unlikely country to a European for settlement; it is so repulsive owing to the notoriety it has gained for its fevers. A white missionary would shrink back with horror at the thought of settling in. An agriculturist might be tempted; but then there are so many better countries where he could do so much better he would be a madman if he ignored those to settle in this. And, supposing it were necessary to send an expedition such as that which boldly entered Abyssinia to Unyamwezi, the results would be worse than the retreat of Napoleon from Moscow. No, an ordinary English soldier could never live here. Yet you must not think of Unyamwezi as you would of an American swamp; you must not imagine Unyamwezi to have deep morasses, slushy beds of mud, infested with all abominable reptiles, or a jungle where the lion and the leopard have their dens. Nothing of the kind. Unyamwezi is a different kind of country altogether from that. To know the general outline and physical features of Unyamwezi you must take a look around from one of the noble coigns of vantage offered by any of those hills of syenite, in the debatable ground of Mgunda Makali, in Uyanzi.
From the summit of one of those natural fortresses, if you look west, you will see Unyamwezi recede into the far, blue, mysterious distance in a succession of blue waves of noble forest, rising and subsiding like the blue waters of an ocean. Such a view of Unyamwezi is inspiring; and, were it possible for you to wing yourself westward on to another vantage coign, again and again the land undulates after the same fashion, and still afar off is the same azure, mystic horizon. As you approach Unyanyembe the scene is slightly changed. Hills of syenite are seen dotting the vast prospect, like islands in a sea, presenting in their external appearance, to an imaginative eye, rude imitations of castellated fortresses and embattled towers. A nearer view of these hills discloses the denuded rock, disintegrated masses standing on end, boulder resting upon boulder, or an immense towering rock, tinted with the sombre color age paints in these lands. Around these rocky hills stretch the cultivated fields of the Wanyamwezi — fields of tall maize, of holcus sorghum, of millet, of vetches, &c. — among which you may discern the patches devoted to the cultivation of sweet potatoes and manioc, and pasture lands where browse the hump-shouldered cattle of Africa, flocks of goats and sheep. This is the scene which attracts the eye, and is accepted as promising relief after the wearisome marching through the thorny jungle plains of Ugogo, the primeval forests of Uyanzi, the dim plains of Tura and Rubuga, and when we have emerged from the twilight shades of Kigwa. No caravan or expedition views it unwelcomed by song and tumultuous chorus, for rest is at hand.
It is only after a long halt that one begins to weary of Unyanyembe, the principal district of Unyamwezi. It is only when one has been stricken down almost to the grave by the fatal chilly winds which blow from the heights of the mountains of Usagara, that one begins to criticize the beauty which at first captivated. It is found, then, that though the land is fair to look upon; that though we rejoiced at the sight of its grand plains, at its fertile and glowing fields, at sight of the roving herds, which promised us abundance of milk and cream — that it is one of the most deadly countries in Africa; that its fevers, remittent and intermittent, are unequaled in their severity.
Unyamwezi, or the Land of the Moon — from U (country) nya (of the) mwezi (moon) — extends over three degrees of latitude in length and about two and a half degrees of longitude in breadth. Its principle districts are Unyanyembe, Ugunda, Ugara, Tura, Rubuga, Kigwa, Usagozi and Uyoweh. Each district has its own chief prince, king, or mtemi, as he is called in Kinyamwezi. Unyanyembe, however, is the principle district, and its king, Mkasiwa, is generally considered to be the most important person in Unyamwezi. The other kings often go to war against him, and Mkasiwa often gets the worst of it; as, for instance, in the present war between the King of Uyoweh (Mirambo) and Mkasiwa.
All this vast country is drained by two rivers — the Northern and Southern Gombe , which empty into the Malagarazi River, and thence into Lake Tanganyika. On the east Unyamwezi is bounded by the wilderness of Mgunda Makali and Ukimbu, on the south by Urori and Ukonongo, on the west by Ukawendi and Uvinza, on the north by several small countries and the Ukereweh Lake. Were one to ascend by a balloon and scan the whole of Unyamwezi he would have a view of one great forest, broken here and there by the little clearings around the villages, especially in and around Unyanyembe.
The forests of southern Unyamwezi contain a large variety of game and wild beasts. In these may be found herds of elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, elands, hartbeests, zebras, springboks, pallahs, black bucks and a score of other kinds. In the neighborhood of the Gombe (Southern) may be seen any number of wild boars and hogs, lions and leopards. The Gombe itself is remarkable for the number of hippopotami and crocodiles to be found in it.
I have been in Unyanyembe close on to three months now. By and by I shall tell you why; but first I should like to give you a glimpse of our life here. The HERALD Expedition has its quarters in a large, strong house, build of mud, with walls three feet thick. It is of one story, with a broad mud veranda in front and a broad flat roof. The great door is situated directly in the centre of the front, and is the only one possible means of ingress and egress. Entering in at this door we find a roomy hallway; on our right is the strong storeroom, where the goods of the HERALD Expedition and Livingstone’s caravan are kept well padlocked up to guard against burglars. Soldiers at night occupy this hallway with loaded guns, and during the day there are always two men on guard, besides Burton’s bull-headed Mabrouki , who acts as my porter or policeman. On our left is a room open to the hallway, on the floor of which are spread straw mats and two or three Persian carpets, where the Arab sheikhs squat when they come to visit me. Passing through the hallway we come to the courtyard, a large quadrangle, fenced in and built around with houses. There are about a dozen pomegranate trees planted in the yard, more for their shade than for their fruit. The houses around consist, first, of the granary, where we keep the rice, the matama, the Indian corn, the sweet potatoes, &c.; next comes the very much besmoked kitchen, a primitive affair, merely a few stones on which the pots are placed. The cook and his youthful subs are protected from the influences of the weather by a shed. Next to the kitchen is the stable, where the few remaining animals of the expedition are housed at night. These are two donkeys, one milch cow and six milch goats. The cow and the goats furnish me with milk for my gruel, my puddings, my sauces and my tea. (I was obliged to attend to my comfort and make use of the best Africa offers.) Next to the stable is another large shed, which serves as barracks for the soldiers. Here they stow them- selves and their wives, their pots and beds, and find it pretty comfortable. Next to this is the house of the white man, my nautical help, where he can be just as exclusive as he likes, has his own bedroom veranda, bathroom, &c.; his tent serves him for a curtain, and, in English phrase, he has often declared it to be “jolly and no mistake.” Occupying the half of one side of the house are my quarters, said quarters consisting of two well-plastered and neat rooms. My table is an oxhide stretched over a wooden frame. Two portmanteaus, one on top of the other, serve for a chair. My bedspread is only a duplicate of my table, over which I spread my bearskin and Persian carpet.
When the very greatest and most important of the Arab sheikhs visit me Selim, my invaluable adjunct, is always told to fetch the bearskin and Persian carpet from the bed. Recesses in the solid wall answer for shelves and cupboards, where I deposit my cream pots and butter and cheese (which I make myself) and my one bottle of Worcestershire sauce and my tin candlestick. Behind this room, which is the bed, reception, sitting, drawing room, office, pantry, &c., is my bathroom, where are my saddle, my guns and ammunition always ready, my tools and the one hundred little things which an expedition into the country must have. Adjoining my quarters is the jail of the fortlet, called “tembe” here — a small room, eight by six feet, lit up by a small air hole just large enough to put a rifle through — where my incorrigibles are kept for forty hours, without food, in solitary confinement. This solitary confinement answers admirably, about as well as being chained when on the road, and much better than brutal flogging.
In the early morning, generally about half-past five or six o’clock, I begin to stir the soldiers up, sometimes with a long bamboo, for you know they are such hard sleepers they require a good deal of poking. Bombay has his orders given him, and Feragji, the cook, who, long ago warned by the noise I make when I rouse up, is told in unmistakable tones to bring “chai” (tea), for I am like an old woman, I love tea very much, and can take a quart and a half without any inconvenience. Kalulu, a boy of seven, all the way from Cazembe’s country, is my waiter and chief butler. He understands my ways and mode of life exactly. Some weeks ago he ousted Selim from the post of chief butler by sheer diligence and smartness. Selim, the Arab boy, cannot wait at table. Kalulu — young antelope — is frisky. I have but to express a wish and it is gratified. He is a perfect Mercury, though a marvelously black one. Tea over, Kalulu clears the dishes and retires under the kitchen shed, where, if I have a curiosity to know what he is doing, he may be seen with his tongue in the tea cup licking up the sugar that was left in it and looking very much as if he would like to eat the cup for the sake of the divine element it has so often contained.
If I have any calls to make this is generally the hour; if there are none to make I go on the piazza and subside quietly on my bearskin to dream, may be, of that far off land I call my own or to gaze towards Tabora, the Kaze of Burton and Speke, though why they should have called it Kaze as yet I have not been able to find out (I have never seen the Arab or Msawahili who had ever heard of Kaze. Said bin Salim, who has been traveling in this country with Burton, Speke and Grant, declares he never heard of it); or to look towards lofty Zimbili and wonder why the Arabs, at such a crisis as the present, do not remove their goods and chattels to the summit of that natural fortress. But dreaming and wondering and thinking and marveling are too hard for me; this constitution of mine is not able to stand it; so I make some ethnological notes and polish up a little my geographical knowledge of Central Africa.
I have to greet about 499 people of all sorts with the salutation “Yambo.” This “Yambo” is a great word. It may mean “How do you do?” “How are you?” “Thy health?” The answer to it is “Yambo!” or “Yambo Sana!” (How are you; quite well?) The Kinyamwezi — the language of the Wanyamwezi — of it is “Moholo,” and the answer is “Moholo.” The Arabs, when they call, if they do not give the Arabic “Spalkher,” give you the greeting “Yambo;” and I have to say ‘Tambo.” And, in order to show my gratitude to them, I emphasize it with “Yambo Sana! Sana! Sana?” (Are you well? Quite well, quite, quite well? ) And if they repeat the words I am more than doubly grateful, and invite them to a seat on the bearskin. This bearskin of mine is the evidence of my respectability, and if we are short of commonplace topics we invariably refer to the bearskin, where there is room for much discussion. If I go to visit the Arabs, as I sometimes do, I find their best Persian carpets, their silk counterpanes and kitandas gorgeously decorated in my honor. One of the principal Arabs here is famous for this kind of honor-doing. No sooner did I show my face than I heard the order given to a slave to produce the Kitanda, that the Muzunga — white man — might lie thereon, and that the populous village of Maroro might behold. The silk counterpane was spread over a cotton-stuffed bed; the enormously fat pillows, covered with a vari-colored stuff, invited the weary head; the rich carpet of Ajim spread alongside of the Kitanda was a great temptation, but I was not to be tempted; I could not afford to be so effeminate as lie down while four hundred or five hundred looked on to see how I went through the operation.
Having disposed of my usual number of “Yambos” for the morning I begin to feel “peckish,” as the sea skipper says, and Feragji, the cook, and youthful Kalulu, the chief butler, are again called and told to bring “chukula” — food. This is the breakfast put down on the table at the hour of ten punctually every morning: Tea, Ugali, a native porridge made out of the flour of dourra, holcus sorghum, or matama, as it is called here; a dish of rice and curry — Unyanyembe is famous for its rice; fried goat’s meat, stewed goat’s meat, roast goat’s meat, a dish of sweet potatoes, a few “slapjacks” or specimens of the abortive efforts of Feragji to make dampers or pancakes, to be eaten with honey. But neither Feragji’s culinary skill nor Kalulu’s readiness to wait on me can tempt me to eat. I have long ago eschewed food, and only drink tea, milk and yaourt — Turkish word for “clabber” or clotted milk. Plenty of time to eat goat meat when we shall be on the march; but just now — no, thank you.
After breakfast the soldiers are called, and together we begin to pack the bales of cloth, string beads and apportion the several loads which the escort must carry to Ujiji some way or another. Carriers come to test the weight of the loads and to inquire about the inducements offered by the “Muzungu.” The inducements are in the shape of so many pieces of cloth, four yards long, and I offer double what any Arab ever offered. Some are engaged at once, others say they will call again, but they never do, and it is of no use to expect them when there is war, for they are the cowardliest people under the sun.
Since we are going to make forced marches I must not overload my armed escort, or we shall be in a pretty mess two or three days after we start; so I am obliged to reduce all loads by twenty pounds, to examine my kit and personal baggage carefully, and put aside anything that is not actually and pressingly needed. As I examine my fine lot of cooking utensils, and consider the fearfully long distance to Ujiji, I begin to see that most of them are superfluous, and I vow that one saucepan and kettle for tea shall suffice. I must leave half my bed and half my clothes behind; all my personal baggage is not to weigh over sixty-four pounds. Then there are the ammunition boxes to be looked to. Ah, me! When I started from the coast I remember how ardently I pursued the game; how I dived into the tall, wet grass; how I lost myself in the jungles; how I trudged over the open plains in search of vert and venison. And what did it all amount to? Killing a few inoffensive animals the meat of which was not worth the trouble. And shall I waste my strength and energies in chasing game? No, and the man who would do so at such a crisis as the present is a —-. But I have my private opinion of him, and I know whereof I speak. Very well; all the ammunition is to be left behind except 100 rounds to each man. No one must fire a shot without permission, nor waste his ammunition in any way, under penalty of a heavy fine for every charge of powder wasted. These things require time and thought, for the HERALD Expedition has a long and far journey to make. It intends to take a new road — a road with which few Arabs are acquainted — despite all that Sheikh, the son of Nasib, can say against the project.
It is now the dinner hour, seven p.m. Ferrajji has spread himself out, as they say. He has all sorts of little fixings ready, such as indigestible dampers, the everlasting ugali, or porridge, the sweet potatoes, chicken and roast quarter of a goat; and lastly, a custard, or something just as good, made out of plantains.
At eight p.m. the table is cleared, the candles are lit, pipes are brought out, and Shaw, my white man, is invited to talk. But poor Shaw is sick and has not a grain of spirit or energy left in him. All I can do or say does not cheer him up in the least. He hangs down his head, and with many a sigh declares his inability to proceed with me to Ujiji.
“Not if you have a donkey to ride?” I ask.
“Perhaps in that way I may be able,” says Shaw in a most melancholy tone.
“Well, my dear Shaw,” I begin, “you shall have a donkey to ride and you shall have all the attendance you require. I believe you are sick, but what is this sickness of yours I cannot make out. It is not fever, for I could have cured you by this, as I have cured myself and as I have cured Selim; besides, this fever is a contemptible disease, though dangerous sometimes. I think if you were to exert your will — and say you will go, say you will live — there would be less chance of your being unable to reach the coast again. To be left behind, ignorant of how much medicine to take or when to take it, is to die. Remember my words — if you stop behind in Unyanyembe I fear for you. Why, how can you pass the many months that must elapse before I can return to Unyanyembe? No man knows where Livingstone is. He may be at Ujiji, he may be in Manyema, he may be going down the Congo River for the West Coast, and if I go down the Congo River after him I cannot return to Unyanyembe, and in that event where would you be?”
“It is very true, Mr. Stanley. I shall go with you, but I feel very bad here (and he put his hand over his liver); but, as you say, it is a great deal better to go on than stop behind.”
But the truth is that like many others starting from the coast with superabundant health Shaw, soon after realizing what travel in Africa was, lost courage and heart. The ever-present danger from the natives and the monotony of the country, the fatigue one endures from the constant marches which every day take you further into the uninteresting country, all these combined had their effect on him, and when he arrived in Unyanyembe he was laid up. Then his intercourse with the females of Unyanyembe put the last finishing touch to his enfeebled frame, and I fear if the medicines I have sent for do not arrive in time that he will die. It is a sad fate. Yet I feel sure that if another expedition fitted out with all the care that the HERALD Expedition was, regardless of expense, if the members composing it are actuated by no higher motives than to get shooting or to indulge their lust, it would meet with the same fate which has overtaken my white man Farquhar, and which seems likely will overtake Shaw. If on the day I depart from here this man is unwilling or unable to accompany me I shall leave him here under charge of two of my soldiers, with everything that can tend to promote his comfort.
It was on the 23d day of June that the expedition arrived here, and after resting ten days or thereabouts I intended to have continued the journey to Ujiji. But a higher power ordained that we should not leave without serious trouble first. On the 6th of July we heard in Unyanyembe that Mirambo, a chief of Unyamwezi, had, after taking very heavy tribute from a caravan bound to Ujiji, turned it back, declaring that no Arab caravan should pass through his country while he was alive. The cause of it was this: Mirambo, chief of Uyoweh, and Wilyankuru, had a long grudge against Mkasiwa, King of Unyanyembe, with whom the Arabs lived on extremely friendly terms. Mirambo proposed to the Arabs that they should side with him against Mkasiwa. The Arabs replied that they could not possibly do so, as Mkasiwa was their friend, with whom they lived on peaceable terms. Mirambo then sent to them to say: “For many years I have fought against the Washenzi (the natives), but this year is a great year with me. I intend to fight all the Arabs, as well as Mkasiwa, King of Unyanyembe.”
On the 15th July war was declared between Mirambo and the Arabs. Such being the case, my position was as follows: Mirambo occupies the country which lies between the object of my search and Unyanyembe. I cannot possibly reach Livingstone unless this man is out of the way — or peace is declared — nor can Livingstone reach Unyanyembe unless Mirambo is killed. The Arabs have plenty of guns if they will only fight, and as their success will help me forward on my journey, I will go and help them.
On the 20th July a force of 2,000 men, the slaves and soldiers of the Arabs, marched from Unyanyembe to fight Mirambo. The soldiers of the HERALD Expedition to the number of forty, under my leadership, accompanied them. Of the Arabs’ mode of fighting I was totally ignorant, but I intended to be governed by circumstances. We made a most imposing show, as you may imagine. Every slave and soldier was decorated with a crown of feathers, and had a lengthy crimson cloak flowing from his shoulders and trailing on the ground. Each was armed with either a flintlock or percussion gun — the Balooches with matchlocks, profusely decorated with silver bands. Our progress was noisy in the extreme — as if noise would avail much in the expected battle. While traversing the Unyanyembe plains the column was very irregular, owing to the extravagant show of wild fight which they indulged in as we advanced. On the second day we arrived at Mfuto, where we all feasted on meat freely slaughtered for the braves. Here I was attacked with a severe fever, but as the army was for advancing I had myself carried in my hammock almost delirious. On the fourth day we arrived at the village of Zimbizo, which was taken without much trouble. We had arrived in the enemy’s country. I was still suffering from fever, and while conscious had given strict orders that unless all the Arabs went together that none of my men should go to fight with any small detachment.
On the morning of the fifth day a small detachment went out to reconnoitre, and while out captured a spy, who was thrown on the ground and had his head cut off immediately. Growing valiant over this little feat a body of Arabs under Soud, son of Said bin Majid, volunteered to go and capture Wilyankuru, where Mirambo was just then with several of his principal chiefs. They were 500 in number and very ardent for the fight. I had suggested to the Governor, Said bin Salim, that Soud bin Said, the leader of the 500 volunteers, should deploy his men and fire the long dry grass before they went, that they might rout all the forest thieves out and have a clean field for action. But an Arab will never take advice, and they marched out of Zimbizo without having taken this precaution. They arrived before Wilyankuru, and, after firing a few volleys into the village, rushed in at the gate and entered the village.
While they entered by one gate Mirambo took 400 of his men out by another gate and instructed them to lie down close to the road that led from Wilyankuru to Zimbizo, and when the Arabs would return to get up at a given signal, and each to stab his man. The Arabs found a good deal of ivory and captured a large number of slaves, and, having loaded themselves with everything they thought valuable, prepared to return by the same road they had gone. When they had arrived opposite to where the ambush party was lying on each side the road Mirambo gave the signal, and the forest thieves rose as one man. Each taking hold of his man, speared him and cut off his head.
Not an Arab escaped, but some of their slaves managed to escape and bring the news to us at Zimbizo. There was great consternation at Zimbizo when the news was brought, and some of the principal Arabs were loud for a retreat, but Khamis bin Abdullah and myself did our utmost to prevent a disgraceful retreat. Next morning, however, when again incapacitated by fever from moving about, the Governor came and told me the Arabs were going to leave for Unyanyembe. I advised him not to think of such a thing, as Mirambo would then follow them to Unyanyembe and fight them at their own doors. As he retired I could hear a great noise outside. The Arabs and Wanyamwezi auxiliaries were already running away, and the Governor, without saying another word, mounted his donkey and put himself at their head and was the first to reach the strong village of Mfuto, having accomplished a nine hours’ march in four hours, which shows how fast a man can travel when in a hurry.
One of my men came to tell me there was not one soldier left; they had all run away. With difficulty I got up and I then saw the dangerous position I had placed myself in through my faith in Arab chivalry and bravery. I was deserted except by one Khamis bin Abdullah, and he was going. I saw one of my soldiers leaving without taking my tent, which lay on the ground. Seizing a pistol, I aimed it at him and compelled him to take up the tent. The white man, Shaw, as well as Bombay, had lost their heads. Shaw had saddled his donkey with my saddle and was about leaving his chief to the tender mercies of Mirambo, when Selim, the Arab boy, sprung on him, and pushing him aside, took the saddle off, and told Bombay to saddle my donkey. Bombay I believe would have stood by me, as well as three or four others, but he was incapable of collecting his senses. He was seen viewing the flight of the Arabs with an angelic smile and with an insouciance of manner which can only be accounted for by the charitable supposition that his senses had entirely gone. With bitter feelings toward the Arabs for having deserted me I gave the order to march, and in company with Selim, the brave Arab boy; Shaw, who was now penitent; Bombay, who had now regained his wits; Mabruki Speke, Chanda, Sarmeen and Uredi Manu-a-Sera arrived at Mfuto at midnight. Four of my men had been slain by Mirambo’s men.
The next day was but a continuation of the retreat to Unyanyembe with the Arabs; but I ordered a halt, and on the third day went on leisurely. The Arabs had become demoralized; in their hurry they had left their tents and ammunition for Mirambo.
Ten days after this, and what I had forewarned the Arabs of, came to pass. Mirambo, with 1,000 guns, and 1,500 Watuta, his allies, invaded Unyanyembe, and pitched their camp insolently within view of the Arab capital of Tabora. Tabora is a large collection of Arab settlements, or tembes, as they are called here. Each Arab house is isolated by the fence which surrounds it. Not one is more than two hundred yards off from the other, and each has its own name, known, however, to but few outsiders. Thus the house of Amram bin Mou- soud 53 is called by him the “Two Seas,” yet to outsiders it is only known as the “tembe of Amram bin Mousoud,” in Tabora, and the name of Kaze, by which Burton and Speke have designated Tabora, may have sprung from the name of the enclosed grounds and settlement wherein they were quartered. South by west from Tabora, at the distance of a mile and a half, and in view of Tabora is Kwihara, where the HERALD Expedition has its quarters. Kwihara is a Kinyamwezi word, meaning the middle of the cultivation. There is quite a large settlement of Arabs here — second only to Tabora.
But it was Tabora and not Kwihara that Mirambo, his forest thieves and the Watuta came to attack. Khamis bin Abdallah, the bravest Trojan of them all — of all the Arabs — went out to meet Mirambo with eighty armed slaves and five Arabs, one of whom was his little son, Khamis. As Khamis bin Abdallah’s party came in sight of Mirambo’s people Khamis’ slaves deserted him, and Mirambo then gave the order to surround the Arabs and press on them. This little group in this manner became the targets for about one thousand guns, and of course in a second or so were all dead — not, however, without having exhibited remarkable traits of character.
They had barely died before the medicine men came up, and with their scalpels had skinned their faces and abdominal portions, and had extracted what they call “mafuta,” or fat, and their genital organs. With this matter which they had extracted from the dead bodies the native doctors or waganga made a powerful medicine, by boiling it in large earthen pots for many hours, with many incantations and shakings of the wonderful gourd that was only filled with pebbles. This medicine was drunk that evening with great ceremony, with dances, drum beating and general fervor of heart.
Khamis bin Abdallah dead, Mirambo gave his orders to plunder, kill, burn and destroy, and they went at it with a will. When I saw the fugitives from Tabora coming by the hundred to our quiet valley of Kwihara, I began to think the matter serious and began my operations for defence. First of all, however, a lofty bamboo pole was procured and planted on the top of the roof of our fortlet, and the American flag was run up, where it waved joyously and grandly, an omen to all fugitives and their hunters.
Then began the work of ditch making and rifle pits all around the court or enclosure. The strong clay walls were pierced in two rows for the muskets. The great door was kept open, with material close at hand to barricade it when the enemy came in sight; watchmen were posted on top of the house, every pot in the house was filled with water, provisions were collected, enough to stand a siege of a month’s duration, the ammunition boxes were unscrewed, and when I saw the 3,000 bright metallic cartridges for the American carbines I laughed within myself at the idea that, after all, Mirambo might be settled with American lead, and all this furor of war be ended without much trouble. Before six p.m. I had 125 muskets and stout fellows who had enlisted from the fugitives, and the house, which only looked like a fortlet at first, became a fortlet in reality — impregnable and untakable.
All night we stood guard; the suburbs of Tabor a were in flames; all the Wanyamwezi and Wanguana houses were destroyed, and the fine house of Abid bin Sulemian had been ransacked and then committed to the flames, and Mirambo boasted that “to-morrow” Kwihara should share the fate of Tabora, and there was a rumor that that night the Arabs were going to start for the coast.
But the morning came, and Mirambo departed, with the ivory and cattle he had captured, and the people of Kwihara and Tabora breathed freer.
And now I am going to say farewell to Unyanyembe for a while. I shall never help an Arab again. He is no fighting man, or, I should say, does not know how to fight, but knows, personally, how to die. They will not conquer Mirambo within a year, and I cannot stop to see that play out. There is a good old man waiting for me somewhere, and that impels me on. There is a journal afar off which expects me to do my duty, and I must do it. Goodbye; I am off the day after to-morrow for Ujiji; then, perhaps, the Congo River.
(Source: Stanley’s Dispatches to the New York Herald, Archive.org)