Livingstone's African Discoveries
Author:      Livingstone, David; Hughes, Thomas
 By Thomas Hughes
     Before the middle of 1852 Livingstone was ready to start on the journey
which resulted in the opening of routes from Central Africa to the West and
East coasts; but the way was still beset with difficulties.  The missionary
societies were regarded as "unpatriotic" by the authorities at the Cape; and
he, as the most outspoken of critics, and the most uncompromising denouncer of
the slave-trade and champion of the natives, came in for a double share of
their suspicion.  On the other hand, his brethren gave him only a half-hearted
support and doubted his orthodoxy.  He found great difficulty even in
procuring ammunition.  A country postmaster whom he had accused of
overcharging, threatened an action at the last moment, which he compromised
rather than be detained.  As it was, he had anticipated his meagre salary by
more than a year, and had to be content with very inferior oxen, and a wagon
which required constant mending throughout the journey.  On June 8, 1852, he
at last got away, taking with him a Mr. Fleming, the agent of his friend Mr.
Rutherford, a Cape merchant, in the hope of by degrees substituting legitimate
traffic for that in slaves.
     The heavy Cape wagon with its ten poor oxen dragged heavily onward.
Livingstone had so loaded himself with parcels for stations up-country, and
his wagon and team were so inferior, that he did not reach Kuruman until
September.  Here he was detained by the breaking of a wheel.
     The journey to Linyanti by the new route was very trying.  Part of the
country was flooded, and they were wading all day, and forcing their way
through reeds with sharp edges "with hands all raw and bloody." "On emerging
from the swamps," says Livingstone, "when walking before the wagon in the
morning twilight, I observed a lioness about fifty yards from me in the
squatting way they walk when going to spring.  She was followed by a very
large lion, but seeing the wagon she turned back."
     It required all his tact to prevent guides and servants from deserting.
Everyone but himself was attacked by fever.  "I would like," says his journal,
"to devote a portion of my life to the discovery of a remedy for that terrible
disease, the African fever.  I would go into the parts where it prevails most
and try to discover if the natives have a remedy for it.  I must make many
inquiries of the river people in this quarter." Again in another key: "Am I on
my way to die in Sebituane's country?  Have I seen the last of my wife and
children, leaving this fair world and knowing so little of it?"
     February 4, 1853: "I am spared in health while all the company have been
attacked by fever.  If God has accepted my service, my life is charmed till my
work is done.  When that is finished, some simple thing will give me my
quietus.  Death is a glorious event to one going to Jesus."
     Their progress was tedious beyond all precedent.  "We dug out several
wells, and each time had to wait a day or two till enough water flowed in for
our cattle to quench their thirst."
     At last, however, at the end of May, he reached the Chobe River and was
again among his favorite Makololo.  "He has dropped from the clouds," the
first of them said.  They took the wagon to pieces and carried it across on
canoes lashed together, while they themselves swam and dived among the oxen
"more like alligators than men." Sekeletu, son of Sebituane, was now chief,
his elder sister Mamochishane having resigned in disgust at the number of
husbands she had to maintain as chieftainess.  Poor Mamochishane!  After a
short reign of a few months she had risen in the assembly and "addressed her
brother with a womanly gush of tears.  'I have been a chief only because my
father wished it.  I would always have preferred to be married and have a
family like other women.  You, Sekeletu, must be chief, and build up our
father's house.'"
     On November 11, 1853, he left Linyanti, and arrived at Loanda on May 31,
1854.  The first stages of the journey were to be by water, and Sekeletu
accompanied him to the Chobe, where he was to embark.  They crossed five
branches before reaching the main stream, a wide and deep river full of
hippopotami.  "The chief lent me his own canoe, and as it was broader than
usual I could turn about in it with ease.  I had three muskets for my people,
and a rifle and double-barrelled shotgun for myself.  My ammunition was
distributed through the luggage, that we might not be left without a supply.
Our chief hopes for food were in our guns.  I carried twenty pounds of beads
worth forty shillings, a few biscuits, a few pounds of tea and sugar, and
about twenty pounds of coffee.  One small tin canister, about fifteen inches
square, was filled with spare shirts, trousers, and shoes, to be used when we
reached civilized life, another of the same size was stored with medicines, a
third with books, and a fourth with a magic lantern, which we found of much
service.  The sextant and other instruments were carried apart.  A bag
contained the clothes we expected to wear out in the journey, which, with a
small tent just sufficient to sleep in, a sheepskin mantle as a blanket, and a
horse rug as a bed, completed my equipment.  An array of baggage would have
probably excited the cupidity of the tribes through whose country we wished to
     The voyage up the Chobe, and the Zambesi after the junction of those
rivers, was prosperous but slow, in consequence of stoppages opposite
villages.  "My man Pitsane knew of the generous orders of Sekeletu, and was
not disposed to allow them remain a dead letter." In the rapids, "the men
leaped into the water without the least hesitation to save the canoes from
being dashed against the obstructions or caught in eddies.  They must never be
allowed to come broadside to the stream, for being flat-bottomed they would at
once be capsized and everything in them lost." When free from fever he was
delighted to note the numbers of birds, several of them unknown, which swarmed
on the river and its banks, all carefully noted in his journal.  One extract
must suffice here: "Whenever we step on shore a species of plover, a plaguy
sort of public-spirited individual, follows, flying overhead, and is most
persevering in its attempts to give warning to all animals to flee from the
approaching danger."
     But he was already weak with fever; was seized with giddiness whenever he
looked up quickly, and, if he could not catch hold of some support, fell
heavily - a bad omen for his chance of passing through the unknown country
ahead - but his purpose never faltered for a moment.  On January 1, 1854, he
was still on the river, but getting beyond Sekeletu's territory and allies, to
a region of dense forest, in the open glades of which dwelt the Balonda, a
powerful tribe, whose relations with the Makololo were precarious.  Each was
inclined to raid on the other since the Mambari and Portuguese half-castes had
appeared with Manchester goods.  These excited the intense wonder and cupidity
of both nations.  They listened to the story of cotton-mills as fairy dreams,
exclaiming: "How can iron spin, weave, and print?  Truly ye are gods!" and
were already inclined to steal their neighbors' children - those of their own
tribe they never sold at this time - to obtain these wonders out of the sea.
     Happily Livingstone had brought back with him several Balonda children
who had been carried off by the Makololo.  This, and his speeches to Manenko,
the chieftainess of the district and niece of Shinte, the head chief of the
Balonda, gained them a welcome.  This Amazon was a strapping young woman of
twenty, who led their party through the forest at a pace which tried the best
walkers.  She seems to have been the only native whose will ever prevailed
against Livingstone's.
     He intended to proceed up to her uncle Shinte's town in canoes: she
insisted that they should march by land, and ordered her people to shoulder
his baggage in spite of him.  "My men succumbed, and left me powerless.  I was
moving off in high dudgeon to the canoes, when she kindly placed her hand on
my shoulder, and with a motherly look said, 'Now, my little man, just do as
the rest have done.' My feeling of annoyance of course vanished, and I went
out to try for some meat.  My men, in admiration of her pedestrian powers,
kept remarking, 'Manenko is a soldier,' and we were all glad when she proposed
a halt for the night."
     Shinte received them in his town, the largest and best laid out that
Livingstone had seen in Central Africa, on a sort of throne covered with
leopard-skin.  The kotla, or place of audience, was one hundred yards square.
Though in the sweating stage of an intermittent fever, Livingston held his own
with the chief, gave him an ox as "his mouth was bitter from want of flesh,"
advised him to open a trade in cattle with the Makololo, and to put down the
slave-trade; and, after spending more than a week with him, left amid the
warmest professions of friendship.  Shinte found him a guide of his tribe,
Intemese by name, who was to stay by them till they reached the sea, and at a
last interview hung round his neck a conical shell of such value that two of
them, so his men assured him, would purchase a slave.
     Soon they were out of Shinte's territory, and Intemese became the plague
of the party, though unluckily they could not dispense with him altogether in
crossing the great flooded plains of Lebala.  They camped at night on mounds,
where they had to trench round each hut and use the earth to raise their
sleeping places.  "My men turned out to work most willingly, and I could not
but contrast their conduct with that of Intemese, who was thoroughly imbued
with the slave spirit, and lied on all occasions to save himself trouble." He
lost the pontoon, too, thereby adding greatly to their troubles.
     They now came to the territory of another great chief, Katema, who
received them hospitably, sending food and giving them solemn audience in his
kotla surrounded by his tribe.  A tall man of forty, dressed in a snuff-brown
coat with a broad band of tinsel down the arms, and a helmet of beads and
feathers.  He carried a large fan with charms attached, which he waved
constantly during the audience, often laughing heartily - "a good sign, for a
man who shakes his sides with mirth is seldom difficult to deal with."
     "I am the great Moene Katema!" was his address; "I and my fathers have
always lived here, and there is my father's house.  I never killed any of the
traders; they all come to me.  I am the great Moene Katema, of whom you have
heard." On hearing Livingstone's object, he gave him three guides, who would
take him by a northern route, along which no traders had passed, to avoid the
plains, impassable from the floods.  He accepted Livingstone's present of a
shawl, a razor, some beads and buttons, and a powder-horn graciously, laughing
at his apologies for its smallness, and asking him to bring a coat from
Loanda, as the one he was wearing was old.
     From this point troubles multiplied, and they began to be seriously
pressed for food.  The big game had disappeared, and they were glad to catch
moles and mice.  Every chief demanded a present for allowing them to pass, and
the people of the villages charged exorbitantly for all supplies.  On they
floundered, however, through flooded forests.  In crossing the river Loka,
Livingstone's ox got away from him, and he had to strike out for the farther
bank.  "My poor fellows were dreadfully alarmed, and about twenty of them made
a simultaneous rush into the water for my rescue, and just as I reached the
opposite bank one seized me by the arms and another clasped me round the body.
When I stood up it was most gratifying to see them all struggling toward me.
Part of my goods were brought up from the bottom when I was safe.  Great was
their pleasure when they found I could swim like themselves, and I felt most
grateful to those poor heathens for the promptitude with which they dashed in
to my rescue." Farther on, the people tried to frighten them with the account
of the deep rivers they had yet to cross, but his men laughed.  "'We can all
swim,' they said; 'who carried the white man across the river but himself?' I
felt proud of their praise."
     On March 4th they reached the country of the Chiboques, a tribe in
constant contact with the slave-dealers.  Next day their camp was surrounded
by the nearest chief and his warriors, evidently bent on plunder.  They paused
when they saw Livingstone seated on his camp-stool, with his double-barrelled
gun across his knees, and his Makololos ready with their javelins.  The chief
and his principal men sat down in front at Livingstone's invitation to talk
over the matter, and a palaver began as to the fine claimed by the Chiboque.
"The more I yielded, the more unreasonable they became, and at every fresh
demand a shout was raised, and a rush made round us with brandished weapons.
One young man even made a charge at my head from behind, but I quickly brought
round the muzzle of my gun to his mouth and he retreated.  My men behaved with
admirable coolness.  The chief and his counsellors, by accepting my invitation
to be seated, had placed themselves in a trap, for my men had quietly
surrounded them and made them feel that there was no chance of escaping their
spears.  I then said that as everything had failed to satisfy them they
evidently meant to fight; and if so, they must begin, and bear the blame
before God.  I then sat silent for some time. It was certainly rather trying,
but I was careful not to seem flurried, and, having four barrels ready for
instant action, looked quietly at the savage scene around." The palaver began
again, and ended in the exchange of an ox for a promise of food, in which he
was wofully cheated.  "It was impossible to help laughing, but I was truly
thankful that we had so far gained our point as to be allowed to pass without
shedding blood."
     He now struck north to avoid the Chiboque, and made for the Portuguese
settlement of Cassange through dense forest and constant wet.  Here another
fever fit came on, so violent that "I could scarcely, after some hours' trial,
get a lunar observation in which I could repose confidence.  Those who know
the difficulties of making observations and committing them all to paper will
sympathize with me in this and many similar instances."
     At this crisis, when the goal was all but at hand, obstacles multiplied
till it seemed that after all it would never be reached.  First his riding ox,
Sindbad - a beast "blessed with a most intractable temper," and a habit of
bolting into the bush to get his rider combed off by a climber, and then
kicking at him - achieved a triumph in his weak state, "when the bridle broke,
and down I came backward on the crown of my head, receiving as I fell a kick
on the thigh.  This last attack of fever reduced me almost to a skeleton.  The
blanket which I used as a saddle, being pretty constantly wet, caused
extensive abrasion of the skin, which was continually healing and getting sore
     Then the guides missed their way and led them back into Chiboque
territory, where the demands of the chief of every village for "a man, an ox,
or a tusk," for permission to pass, began again.  Worst of all, signs of
mutiny began to show themselves among the Batoka men of his party, who
threatened to turn back.  He appeased them by giving them a tired ox to be
killed at the Sunday's halt.  "Having thus, as I thought, silenced their
murmurs, I sank into a state of torpor, and was oblivious of all their noise.
On Sunday the mutineers were making a terrible din in preparing the skin.  I
requested them twice to be more quiet as the noise pained me, but, as they
paid no attention to this civil request, I put out my head and, repeating it,
was answered by an impudent laugh.  Knowing that discipline would be at an end
if this mutiny was not quelled, and that our lives dependent on vigorously
upholding authority, I seized a double-barrelled pistol and darted out with
such a savage aspect as to put them to precipitate flight.  They gave no
further trouble." Every night now they had to build a stockade, and by day to
march in a compact body, knowing the forest to be full of enemies dogging
their path, for now they had nothing to give as presents, the men having even
divested themselves of all their copper ornaments to appease the Chiboque
harpies.  "Nothing, however, disturbed us, and for my part I was too ill to
care much whether we were attacked or not." They struggled on, the Chiboque
natives, now joined by bodies of traders, opposing at every ford, Livingstone
no longer wondering why expeditions from the interior failed to reach the
coast.  "Some of my men proposed to return home, and the prospect of being
obliged to turn back from the threshold of the Portuguese settlements
distressed me exceedingly.  After using all my powers of persuasion, I
declared that if they now returned, I should go on alone, and returning into
my little tent, I lifted up my heart to Him who hears the sighing of the soul.
Presently the head man came in.  'Do not be disheartened,' he said, 'we will
never leave you.  Wherever you lead, we will follow.  Our remarks were only
made on account of the injustice of these people.' Others followed, and with
the most artless simplicity of manner told me to be comforted.  'They were all
my children; they knew no one but Sekeletu and me, and would die for me: they
had spoken in bitterness of spirit, feeling they could do nothing.'"
     On April 1st they gained the ridge which overlooks the valley of the
Quango and the Portuguese settlements on the farther bank.  "The descent is so
steep that I was obliged to dismount, though so weak that I had to be
supported.  Below us, at a depth of one thousand feet, lay the magnificent
valley of the Quango.  The view of the Vale of Clyde, from the spot where Mary
witnessed the Battle of Langside, resembles in miniature the glorious sight
which was here presented to our view."
     On the 4th they were close to the Quango, here one hundred fifty yards
broad, when they were stopped for the last time by a village chief and
surrounded by his men.  The usual altercation ensued; Livingstone refusing to
give up his blanket - the last article he possessed except his watch and
instruments and Sekeletu's tusks, which had been faithfully guarded - until on
board the canoes in which they were to cross.  "I was trying to persuade my
people to move on to the bank in spite of them, when a young half-caste
Portuguese sergeant of militia, Cypriano di Abren, who had come across in
search of beeswax, made his appearance and gave the same advice." They marched
to the bank - the chief's men opening fire on them, but without doing any
damage - made terms with the ferrymen, with Cypriano's help, crossed the
Quango, and were at the end of their troubles.
     Four days they stopped with Cypriano, who treated them royally, killing
an ox and stripping his garden to feast them, and sending them on to Cassange
with provisions of meal ground by his mother and her maids.  "I carried
letters from the Chevalier du Prat of Cape Town, but I am inclined to believe
that my friend Cypriano was influenced by feelings of genuine kindness excited
by my wretched appearance."
     At Cassange they were again most hospitably treated, and here, before
starting for Loanda, three hundred miles, they disposed of Sekeletu's tusks,
which sold for much higher prices than those given by Cape traders.  "Two
muskets, three small barrels of powder, and English calico and baize enough to
clothe my whole party, with large bunches of beads, were given for one tusk,
to the great delight of my Makololos, who had been used to get only one gun
for two tusks.  With another tusk we purchased calico - the chief currency
here - to pay our way to the coast.  The remaining two were sold for money to
purchase a horse for Sekeletu at Loanda." Livingstone was much struck both by
the country he passed through and the terms on which the Portuguese lived with
the natives.  Most of them had families by native women, who were treated as
European children and provided for by their fathers.  Half-caste clerks sat at
table with the whites, and he came to the conclusion that "nowhere in Africa
is there so much good-will between Europeans and natives as here."
     The dizziness produced by his twenty-seven attacks of fever on the road
made it all he could do to stick on Sindbad, who managed to give him a last
ducking in the Lombe.  "The weakening effects of the fever were most
extraordinary.  For instance, in attempting to take lunar observations I could
not avoid confusion of time and distance, neither could I hold the instrument
steady, nor perform a simple calculation." He rallied a little in crossing a
mountain range.  As they drew near Loanda the hearts of his men began to fail,
and they hinted their doubts to him.  "If you suspect me you can return," he
told them, "for I am as ignorant of Loanda as you; but nothing will happen to
you but what happens to me.  We have stood by one another hitherto, and will
do so till the last."
     The first view of the sea staggered the Makololo.  "We were marching
along with our father," they said, "believing what the ancients had told us,
that the world had no end; but all at once the world said to us: 'I am
finished; there is no more for me.'"
     The fever had produced chronic dysentery, which was so depressing that
Livingstone entered Loanda in deep melancholy, doubting the reception he might
get from the one English gentleman, Mr. Gabriel, the commissioner for the
suppression of the slave-trade.  He was soon undeceived.  Mr. Gabriel received
him most kindly, and, seeing the condition he was in, gave up to him his own
bed.  "Never shall I forget the luxurious pleasure I enjoyed in feeling myself
again on a good English bed after six months' sleeping on the ground.  I was
soon asleep; and Mr. Gabriel coming in almost immediately after, rejoiced in
the soundness of my repose."

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