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dancers and the din of the tom-toms in the village street

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We found our friend Major Sicard at Mazaro with picks, shovels, hurdles, and slaves, having come to build a fort and custom-house at the Kongone. As we had no good reason to hide the harbour, but many for its being made known, we supplied him with a chart of the tortuous branches, which, running among the mangroves, perplex the search; and with such directions as would enable him to find his way down to the river. He had brought the relics of our fugitive mail, and it was a disappointment to find that all had been lost, with the exception of a bundle of old newspapers, two photographs, and three letters, which had been written before we left England.

dancers and the din of the tom-toms in the village street

The distance from Mazaro, on the Zambesi side, to the Kwakwa at Nterra, is about six miles, over a surprisingly rich dark soil. We passed the night in the long shed, erected at Nterra, on the banks of this river, for the use of travellers, who have often to wait several days for canoes; we tried to sleep, but the mosquitoes and rats were so troublesome as to render sleep impossible. The rats, or rather large mice, closely resembling Mus pumilio (Smith), of this region, are quite facetious, and, having a great deal of fun in them, often laugh heartily. Again and again they woke us up by scampering over our faces, and then bursting into a loud laugh of He! he! he! at having performed the feat. Their sense of the ludicrous appears to be exquisite; they screamed with laughter at the attempts which disturbed and angry human nature made in the dark to bring their ill- timed merriment to a close. Unlike their prudent European cousins, which are said to leave a sinking ship, a party of these took up their quarters in our leaky and sinking vessel. Quiet and invisible by day, they emerged at night, and cut their funny pranks. No sooner were we all asleep, than they made a sudden dash over the lockers and across our faces for the cabin door, where all broke out into a loud He! he! he! he! he! he! showing how keenly they enjoyed the joke. They next went forward with as much delight, and scampered over the men. Every night they went fore and aft, rousing with impartial feet every sleeper, and laughing to scorn the aimless blows, growls, and deadly rushes of outraged humanity. We observed elsewhere a species of large mouse, nearly allied to Euryotis unisulcatus (F. Cuvier), escaping up a rough and not very upright wall, with six young ones firmly attached to the perineum. They were old enough to be well covered with hair, and some were not detached by a blow which disabled the dam. We could not decide whether any involuntary muscles were brought into play in helping the young to adhere. Their weight seemed to require a sort of cataleptic state of the muscles of the jaw, to enable them to hold on.

dancers and the din of the tom-toms in the village street

Scorpions, centipedes, and poisonous spiders also were not unfrequently brought into the ship with the wood, and occasionally found their way into our beds; but in every instance we were fortunate enough to discover and destroy them before they did any harm. Naval officers on this coast report that, when scorpions and centipedes remain a few weeks after being taken on board in a similar manner, their poison loses nearly all its virulence; but this we did not verify. Snakes sometimes came in with the wood, but oftener floated down the river to us, climbing on board with ease by the chain-cable, and some poisonous ones were caught in the cabin. A green snake lived with us several weeks, concealing himself behind the casing of the deckhouse in the daytime. To be aroused in the dark by five feet of cold green snake gliding over one's face is rather unpleasant, however rapid the movement may be. Myriads of two varieties of cockroaches infested the vessel; they not only ate round the roots of our nails, but even devoured and defiled our food, flannels, and boots. Vain were all our efforts to extirpate these destructive pests; if you kill one, say the sailors, a hundred come down to his funeral! In the work of Commodore Owen it is stated that cockroaches, pounded into a paste, form a powerful carminative; this has not been confirmed, but when monkeys are fed on them they are sure to become lean.

dancers and the din of the tom-toms in the village street

On coming to Senna, we found that the Zulus had arrived in force for their annual tribute. These men are under good discipline, and never steal from the people. The tax is claimed on the ground of conquest, the Zulus having formerly completely overcome the Senna people, and chased them on to the islands in the Zambesi. Fifty-four of the Portuguese were slain on the occasion, and, notwithstanding the mud fort, the village has never recovered its former power. Fever was now very prevalent, and most of the Portuguese were down with it.

For a good view of the adjacent scenery, the hill, Baramuana, behind the village, was ascended. A caution was given about the probability of an attack of fever from a plant that grows near the summit. Dr. Kirk discovered it to be the Paedevia foetida, which, when smelt, actually does give headache and fever. It has a nasty fetor, as its name indicates. This is one instance in which fever and a foul smell coincide. In a number of instances offensive effluvia and fever seems to have no connection. Owing to the abundant rains, the crops in the Senna district were plentiful; this was fortunate, after the partial failure of the past two years. It was the 25th of April, 1860, before we reached Tette; here also the crops were luxuriant, and the people said that they had not had such abundance since 1856, the year when Dr. Livingstone came down the river. It is astonishing to any one who has seen the works for irrigation in other countries, as at the Cape and in Egypt, that no attempt has ever been made to lead out the water either of the Zambesi or any of its tributaries; no machinery has ever been used to raise it even from the stream, but droughts and starvations are endured, as if they were inevitable dispensations of Providence, incapable of being mitigated.

Feeling in honour bound to return with those who had been the faithful companions of Dr. Livingstone, in 1856, and to whose guardianship and services was due the accomplishment of a journey which all the Portuguese at Tette had previously pronounced impossible, the requisite steps were taken to convey them to their homes.

We laid the ship alongside of the island Kanyimbe, opposite Tette; and, before starting for the country of the Makololo, obtained a small plot of land, to form a garden for the two English sailors who were to remain in charge during our absence. We furnished them with a supply of seeds, and they set to work with such zeal, that they certainly merited success. Their first attempt at African horticulture met with failure from a most unexpected source; every seed was dug up and the inside of it eaten by mice. "Yes," said an old native, next morning, on seeing the husks, "that is what happens this month; for it is the mouse month, and the seed should have been sown last mouth, when I sowed mine." The sailors, however, sowed more next day; and, being determined to outwit the mice, they this time covered the beds over with grass. The onions, with other seeds of plants cultivated by the Portuguese, are usually planted in the beginning of April, in order to have the advantage of the cold season; the wheat a little later, for the same reason. If sown at the beginning of the rainy season in November, it runs, as before remarked, entirely to straw; but as the rains are nearly over in May, advantage is taken of low-lying patches, which have been flooded by the river. A hole is made in the mud with a hoe, a few seeds dropped in, and the earth shoved back with the foot. If not favoured with certain misty showers, which, lower down the river, are simply fogs, water is borne from the river to the roots of the wheat in earthern pots; and in about four months the crop is ready for the sickle. The wheat of Tette is exported, as the best grown in the country; but a hollow spot at Maruru, close by Mazaro, yielded very good crops, though just at the level of the sea, as a few inches rise of tide shows.

A number of days were spent in busy preparation for our journey; the cloth, beads, and brass wire, for the trip were sewn up in old canvas, and each package had the bearer's name printed on it. The Makololo, who had worked for the Expedition, were paid for their services, and every one who had come down with the Doctor from the interior received a present of cloth and ornaments, in order to protect them from the greater cold of their own country, and to show that they had not come in vain. Though called Makololo by courtesy, as they were proud of the name, Kanyata, the principal headman, was the only real Makololo of the party; and he, in virtue of his birth, had succeeded to the chief place on the death of Sekwebu. The others belonged to the conquered tribes of the Batoka, Bashubia, Ba-Selea, and Barotse. Some of these men had only added to their own vices those of the Tette slaves; others, by toiling during the first two years in navigating canoes, and hunting elephants, had often managed to save a little, to take back to their own country, but had to part with it all for food to support the rest in times of hunger, and, latterly, had fallen into the improvident habits of slaves, and spent their surplus earnings in beer and agua ardiente.

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