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African travel in the heroic ages of Bruce, Mungo Park, and Clapperton, had a prestige which lived through two generations; and, as is the fate of things sublunary, came to an untimely end. The public, satiated with adventure and invention, suffers in these days of " damnable license of printing" from the humours of severe surfeit. It nauseates the monotonous recital of rapine, treachery, and murder; of ugly savages-the mala gens, as was said anent Kentish men, of a bona terra -of bleared misery by day, and animated filth by night, and of hunting adventures and hairbreadth escapes, lacking the interest of catastrophe. It laments the absence of tradition and monuments of the olden time, the dearth of variety, of beauty, of romance. Yet the theme still continues to fulfil all the conditions of attractiveness set forth by Leigh Hunt. It hath remoteness and obscurity of place, difference of custom, marvellousness of hearsay. Events surpassing, yet credible; sometimes barbaric splendour-at least luxuriance of nature; savage contentment, personal danger and suffering, with a moral enthusiasm. And to the writer, no hours are more fraught with smiling recollections-nothing can be more charming than the contrast between his vantage-ground of present ease and that past perspective of wants, hardships, and accidents, upon which he gazes through the softening medium of time.
We arose early in the morning after arrival at Pangany, and repaired to the terrace for the better enjoyment of the view. The vista of the riverwith low coco-groves to the north, tall yellow cliffs on the southern side, a distance of blue hill, the broad stream bounded by walls of verdure, and the azure sea, dotted with diobolites, or little black rocks-wanted nothing but the finish and polish of
art to bring out the infinitude and rude magnificence of nature. A few donjon-ruins upon the hills would enable it to compare with the most admired prospects of the Rhine, and with half-a-dozen white kiosks, minarets, and latticed summer-houses, it would almost rival that gem of creation, the Bosphorus.
Pangany "in the hole," and its smaller neighbour Kumba, hug the left bank of the river, upon a strip of shore bounded by the sea, and a hill-range ten or eleven miles distant. Opposite are Bueny and Mzimo Pia, villages built under yellow sandstone bluffs, impenetrably covered with wild trees. The river, which separates these rival couples, may be 200 yards broad. The mouth has a bar and a wash at low tide, except at the south, where there is a narrow channel, now seven or eight-in Captain Owen's time, twelve-feet deep. The entrance for vessels they lie snugly opposite the town-is difficult and dangerous: even Hamid, most niggardly of niggard Suris, expended a dollar upon a pilot. At low water the bed of this tidal stream shrinks. During the rains, swelling with hillfreshes, it is almost potable; and when the sea flows, it is briny as the main. The wells produce heavy and brackish drink; but who, as the people say, will take the trouble to fetch sweeter? The climate is said to be healthy in the dry season, but the long and severe rains are rich in fatal bilious remittents.
Pangany boasts of nineteen or twenty stone houses. The remainder is a mass of cadjan huts, each with its wide mat-encircled yard, wherein all the business of life is transacted. The settlement is surrounded by a thorny jungle, which at times harbours a host of leopards. One of these beasts lately scaled the high terrace of our house, and seized upon a slave-girl. Her master, the burly
backwali, who was sleeping by her side, gallantly caught up his sword, ran into the house, and bolted the door, heedless of the miserable cry, B'ana, help me!"* The wretch was carried to the jungle and devoured. The river is equally full of alligators, and whilst we were at Pangany a boy disappeared. When asked by strangers why they do not shoot their alligators, and burn their wood, the people reply that the former bring good-luck, and the latter is a fort to which they can fly in need. Cocos, arecas, and plantains, grow about the town. Around are gardens of papaws, betel, and jamlis; and somewhat further, lie extensive plantations of holcus and maize, of sesamum, and other grains. The clove flourishes; and, as elsewhere upon the coast, a little cotton is cultivated for domestic use. Beasts are rare. Cows die after eating the grass; goats give no milk; and sheep are hardly procurable. But fish abounds. Poultry thrives, as it does all over Africa; and before the late feuds, clarified cowbutter, that "one sauce" of the outer East, was cheap and well-flavoured.
Pangany, with the three other villages, may contain a total of four thousand inhabitants-Arabs, Moslem Sawahili, and heathens. Of these, female slaves form a large proportion. Twenty Banyans manage the lucrative ivory trade of the Nguru, Masai, and Chhaga countries. These merchants complain loudly of their pagazi, or porters, who receive ten dollars for the journey, half paid down, the remainder upon return; and the proprietor congratulates himself if, after payment, only 15 per cent run away. The Hindoos' profits, however, must be enormous. I saw one man to whom twenty-six thousand dollars were owed by the people. What part must interest and compound-interest have played in making up such sum, where even Europeans demand 40 per cent for monies lent on safe mortgage and bottomry! Their only drawback is the inveterate beggary of the people. Here the very princes are mendicants; and the Banyan dare not re
fuse the seventy or eighty savages who every evening besiege his door with cries for grain, butter, or a little oil. Besides Zanzibar rafters, which are cut in the river, holcus, maize, and ghee, Pangany, I am told, exports annually 35,000 lb. of ivory, 1750 lb. of black rhinoceros' horn, and 16 of hippopotamus' teeth.
After the dancing ceremony arose a variety of difficulties, resulting from the African travellers' twin banes, the dollar and the blood-feud. Pangany and Bueny, like all settlements upon this coast, belong, by a right of succession, to the Sazzid, or Prince-Regnant of Zanzibar, who confirms and invests the governors and diwans. At Pangany, however, these officials are par congé d'élire selected by Kimwere, Sultan of Usembara, whose ancestors received tribute and allegiance from Para to the sea-board. On the other hand, Bueny is in the territory of the Wazegura, a violent and turbulent heathen race, inveterate slave-dealers, and thoughtlessly allowed by the Arabs to lay up goodly stores of muskets, powder, and ball. Of course the two tribes, Wasumbara__and Wazegura, are deadly foes. Moreover, about a year ago, a violent intestine feud broke out amongst the Wazegura, who, at the time of our visit, were burning and murdering, kidnapping and slave-selling in all directions. The citizens of Pangany, therefore, hearing that we bearers of a letter from the Sazzid of Zanzibar to Sultan Kimwere, marked out for us the circuitous route via Tangate, where no Wazegura could try their valour. We, on the other hand, wishing to inspect the Pangany River, determined upon proceeding by the directest line along its left or northern bank. The timid townsmen had also circulated a report that we were bound for Chhaga and Kilimanjaro; the Masai were "out," the rains were setting in, and they saw with us no armed escort. They resolved, therefore, not to accompany us; but not the less did each man expect as usual his gift of dollars and bribe of inducement.
B'ana means 66 Sir," or 'Master," and is also prefixed to names. Muigni is the equivalent of the Arabic Sazzid—a prince not a descendant of the Prophet.
The expense of the journey was even a more serious consideration. In these lands the dollar is almighty. If deficient, you must travel alone, unaccompanied at least by any but blacks, without other instrument but a note-book, and with few arms; you must conform to every nauseous custom; you will be subjected, at the most interesting points, to perpetual stoppages; your remarks will be wellnigh worthless; and you may make up your mind that, unless one in a million, want and hardship will conduct you to sickness and death. This is one extreme, and from it to the other there is no golden mean. With abundance of money-certainly not less than £5000 per annum-an exploring party can trace its own line, paying off all opposers; it can study whatever is requisite; handle sextants in presence of negroes, who would cut every throat for one inch of brass; and by travelling in comfort, can secure a fair chance of return. Either from Mombas or from Pangany, with an escort of one hundred matchlockmen, we might have marched through the Masai plunderers to Chhaga and Kilimanjaro. But pay, porterage, and provisions for such a party, would have amounted to at least £100 per week a month and a half would have absorbed our means. Thus it was, gentle reader, that we were compelled to rest contented with a visit to Fuga.
Presently the plot thickened. Muigni Khatib, son of Sultan Kimwere, a black of most unprepossessing physiognomy, with a "villanous trick of the eye, and a foolish hanging of the nether lip," a prognathous jaw, garnished with cat-like mustaches and cobweb beard, a sour frown, and abundant surliness by way of dignity, dressed like an Arab, and raised by El Islam above his fellows, sent a message directing us to place in his hands what we intended for his father. This chief was travelling to Zanzibar in fear and trembling. He had tried to establish at his village, Kirore, a Romulian asylum for runaway slaves, and, having partially succeeded, he dreaded the consequences. The Beloch jemadar strongly urged us privily to cause his detention at the islands; a precaution somewhat
too oriental for our tastes. We refused, however, the Muigni's demand in his own tone. Following their prince, the dancing diwans claimed a fee for permission to reside; as they worded it, “el adah”. the habit; based it upon an ancient present from Colonel Hamerton; and were in manifest process of establishing a local custom which, in Africa, becomes law to remotest posterity. We flatly objected, showed our letters, and, in the angriest of moods, threatened reference to Zanzibar. Briefly all began to beg bakhshish; but I cannot remember any one obtaining it.
Weary of these importunities, we resolved to visit Chogway, a Beloch outpost, and thence, aided by the jemadar who had preceded us from Pangany, to push for the capitalvillage of Usumbara. We made preparations secretly, dismissed the "Riami," rejected the diwans who wished to accompany us as spies, left Said bin Salim and one Portuguese to watch our property in the house of Meriko, the governor, who had accompanied his Muigni to Zanzibar, and, under pretext of a short shooting excursion, hired a long canoe with four men, loaded it with the luggage required for a fortnight, and started with the tide at 11 A.M. on the 6th of January 1857.
First we grounded; then we were taken aback; then a puff of wind drove us forward with railway speed; then we grounded again. At last we were successful in turning the first dangerous angle of the river. Here, when sea-breeze and tide meet the "buffing stream"-as usual at the mouths of African rivers the wind is high and fair from the interiornavigation is perilous to small craft. Many have filled and sunk beneath the ridge of short chopping waves. After five miles, during which the stream, streaked with lines of froth, gradually narrowed, we found it barely brackish; and somewhat further, sweet as the celebrated creekwater of Guiana.
And now, while writing amid the soughing blasts, the rain and the darkened air of a south-west monsoon, I remember with yearning the bright and beautiful spectacle of those African rivers, whose loveli
ness, like that of the dead, seems enhanced by proximity to decay. We had changed the amene and graceful sandstone scenery, on the sea-board, for a view novel and most characteristic. The hippopotamus now raised his head from the waters, snorted, gazed upon us, and sank into his native depths. Alligators, terrified by the splash of oars, waddled down with their horrid claws, dinting the slimy bank, and lay like yellow logs, measuring us with small, malignant, green eyes, deep set under warty brows. Monkeys rustled the tall trees. Below, jungle-men and wo
planted their shoulder-cloths, their rude crates, and coarse weirs, upon the mud inlets where fish abounded. The sky was sparkling blue, the water bluer, and over both spread the thinnest haze, tempering raw tones of colour to absolute beauty. On both sides of the shrinking stream a dense curtain of many-tinted vegetation,
"Yellow and black, and pale and hectic red,"
shadowed swirling pools, where the current swept upon the growth of intertwisted fibres. The Nakhl el Shaytan, or Devil's Date, eccentric in foliage and frondage, projected gracefully curved arms, sometimes thirty and forty feet long, over the wave. This dwarf-giant of palms has no trunk, but the mid-rib of each branch is thick as a man's thigh. Upon the watery margin large lilies of snowy brightness, some sealed by day; others, wide expanded, gleamed beautifully against the dark verdure and the russet-brown of the bank-stream. In scattered spots were interwoven traces of human presence; tall arecas and cocos waving over a now impenetrable jungle; plantains, sugarcane and bitter oranges, choked with wild growth, still lingered about the homestead, blackened by the murderer's fire. And all around reigned the eternal African silence, deep and saddening, broken only by the cur
lew's scream, or by the breeze rustling the tree-tops, whispering among the matted foliage, and swooning upon the tepid bosom of the wave.
Amid such scenes we rowed and poled till the setting sun spread its cloak of purple over a low white cliff, at whose base the wave breaks, and on whose hoary head linger venerable trees, contrasting with the underwood of the other bank. Here lies the Pir of Wasin, a saint described by our Beloch guide as a "very angry holy man." A Sherif of pure blood, he gallantly headed, in centuries gone by, his Moslem followers, flying from Pangany when it was attacked by a ravenous pack of Infidels. The latter seem to have had the advantage in running. They caught the Faithful at these cliffs, and were proceeding to exterminate them, when mother earth, at the Sherif's prayer, opening wide, received them in her bosom. This Pir will not allow the trees to be cut down, or the inundation to rise above his tomb. Moreover, if the devotee, after cooking food at the grave in honour of its tenant, ventures to lick fingers
- napkins are not used in East Africa-he is at once delivered over to haunting jinns. The Belochies. never pass the place without casting a handful of leaves, a bullet, or a few grains of powder, into the stream. The guide once told, in the voice of awe, how a Suri Arab, doubtless tainted with Wallali heresy, had expressed an opinion that this Pir had been a mere mortal, but little better than himself; how the scoffer's ship was wrecked within the year; and how he passed through water into jehannum-fire. Probatum est. Defend us, Allah, from the Sins of Reason!
The tide, running like a mill-race, compelled our crew to turn into a little inlet near Pombui, a stockaded village on the river's left bank. The people, who are subject to Zanzibar, flocked out to welcome their strangers, laid down a bridge of coco-ribs, brought chairs, and offered a dish of small green mangos, here a great luxury. We sat under a tree till midnight, unsatiated with the charm of the hour. The moon rained molten silver over the dark foliage of the wild palms, the stars were as golden
The tide flowing about midnight, we resumed our way. The river then became a sable streak between lofty rows of trees. The hippopotamus snorted close to our stern, and the crew begged me to fire, for the purpose of frightening Sultan Momba a pernicious rogue. At times we heard the splashing of the beasts as they scrambled over the shoals; at others, they struggled with loud grunts up the miry banks. Then again all was quiet. After a protracted interval of silence, the near voice of a man startled us in the deep drear stillness of night, as though it had been some ghostly sound. At 2 A.M., reaching a clear tract on the river-side- the Ghaut or landingplace of Chogway-we made fast the canoe, looked to our weapons, and, covering our faces against the heavy clammy dew, lay down to snatch an hour's sleep. The total distance rowed was about 13.5 miles. We began the next morning with an inspection of Chogway, the Bazar, to which we were escorted by the jemadar with sundry discharges of matchlocks. It was first occupied about five years ago, when Sultan Kimwere offered Tongway or Meringa-a lofty peak in the continuous range to the north-west-with cheap generosity, as a mission-station to Dr Krapf. The position is badly chosen, water is distant, the rugged soil produces nothing but vetches and manive, and it is exposed to miasma when the inundation subsides upon the black alluvial plain below the hillock. Commanding, however, the Southern Usumbara road, it affords opportunity for something in the looting line. The
garrison ever suffers from sickness; and the men, dull as a whaler's crew, abhor the melancholy desolate situation. The frequent creeks around are crossed by tree-bridges. The walk to Pangany, over a rugged road, occupies from five to six hours, yet few but the slaves avail themselves of the proximity. A stout snake-fence surrounds the hill-top, crested by the cadjan penthouses of these Bashi Buzuks its fortifications are two platforms for matchlockmen planted on high poles, like the Indian ""Maychan." The Washenzy savages sometimes creep up at night to the huts, shoot a few arrows, set fire to the matting, and hurriedly levant. When we visited Chogway, the Wazegura were fighting with one another, but they did not molest the Belochies. South of the river rises a detached hill, "Tongway Muanapiro," called in our charts "Gendagenda," which may be seen from Zanzibar. Here rules one Mwere, a chief hostile to the Bashi Buzuks, who, not caring to soil their hands with negro blood, make their slaves fight his men, even as the ingenuous youth of Eton sent their scouts to contend at cricket with the ambitious youth of Rugby. Fifty stout fellows, with an ambitious leader and a little money, might soon conquer the whole country, and establish there an absolute monarchy.
These Beloch mercenaries merit some notice. They were preferred, as being somewhat disciplinable, by the late Sazzid Said, to his futile blacks and his unruly and self-willed Oman Arabs. He entertained from 1000 to 1500 men, and scattered them over the country in charge of the forts. The others hate themdivisions even amongst his children was the ruler's policy-and nickname them "Kurara Kurara.” * The jemadar and the governor are rarely on speaking terms. Calling themselves Belochies, they are mostly from the regions about Kech and Bampur. They are mixed up with a rabble-rout of Affghans and Arabs, Indians and Sudies,† and they speak half-a-dozen different languages.
*To sleep! to sleep!-"rárá" being the Beloch mispronunciation of lálá. The pure negro is universally called "Sudy" in Western India.