None of them was overly enthusiastic about the plan, since
The chief of the village near the confluence of the Lake and River Shire, an old man, called Mosauka, hearing that we were sitting under a tree, came and kindly invited us to his village. He took us to a magnificent banyan-tree, of which he seemed proud. The roots had been trained down to the ground into the form of a gigantic arm- chair, without the seat. Four of us slept in the space betwixt its arms. Mosauka brought us a present of a goat and basket of meal "to comfort our hearts." He told us that a large slave party, led by Arabs, were encamped close by. They had been up to Cazembe's country the past year, and were on their way back, with plenty of slaves, ivory, and malachite. In a few minutes half a dozen of the leaders came over to see us. They were armed with long muskets, and, to our mind, were a villanous-looking lot. They evidently thought the same of us, for they offered several young children for sale, but, when told that we were English, showed signs of fear, and decamped during the night. On our return to the Kongone, we found that H.M.S. "Lynx" had caught some of these very slaves in a dhow; for a woman told us she first saw us at Mosauka's, and that the Arabs had fled for fear of an UNCANNY sort of Basungu.
This is one of the great slave-paths from the interior, others cross the Shire a little below, and some on the lake itself. We might have released these slaves but did not know what to do with them afterwards. On meeting men, led in slave-sticks, the Doctor had to bear the reproaches of the Makololo, who never slave, "Ay, you call us bad, but are we yellow-hearted, like these fellows--why won't you let us choke them?" To liberate and leave them, would have done but little good, as the people of the surrounding villages would soon have seized them, and have sold them again into slavery. The Manganja chiefs sell their own people, for we met Ajawa and slave- dealers in several highland villages, who had certainly been encouraged to come among them for slaves. The chiefs always seemed ashamed of the traffic, and tried to excuse themselves. "We do not sell many, and only those who have committed crimes." As a rule the regular trade is supplied by the low and criminal classes, and hence the ugliness of slaves. Others are probably sold besides criminals, as on the accusation of witchcraft. Friendless orphans also sometimes disappear suddenly, and no one inquires what has become of them. The temptation to sell their people is peculiarly great, as there is but little ivory on the hills, and often the chief has nothing but human flesh with which to buy foreign goods. The Ajawa offer cloth, brass rings, pottery, and sometimes handsome young women, and agree to take the trouble of carrying off by night all those whom the chief may point out to them. They give four yards of cotton cloth for a man, three for a woman, and two for a boy or girl, to be taken to the Portuguese at Mozambique, Iboe, and Quillimane.
The Manganja were more suspicious and less hospitable than the tribes on the Zambesi. They were slow to believe that our object in coming into their country was really what we professed it to be. They naturally judge us by the motives which govern themselves. A chief in the Upper Shire Valley, whose scared looks led our men to christen him Kitlabolawa (I shall be killed), remarked that parties had come before, with as plausible a story as ours, and, after a few days, had jumped up and carried off a number of his people as slaves. We were not allowed to enter some of the villages in the valley, nor would the inhabitants even sell us food; Zimika's men, for instance, stood at the entrance of the euphorbia hedge, and declared we should not pass in. We sat down under a tree close by. A young fellow made an angry oration, dancing from side to side with his bow and poisoned arrows, and gesticulating fiercely in our faces. He was stopped in the middle of his harangue by an old man, who ordered him to sit down, and not talk to strangers in that way; he obeyed reluctantly, scowling defiance, and thrusting out his large lips very significantly. The women were observed leaving the village; and, suspecting that mischief might ensue, we proceeded on our journey, to the great disgust of our men. They were very angry with the natives for their want of hospitality to strangers, and with us, because we would not allow them to give "the things a thrashing." "This is what comes of going with white men," they growled out; "had we been with our own chief, we should have eaten their goats to-night, and had some of themselves to carry the bundles for us to-morrow." On our return by a path which left his village on our right, Zimika sent to apologize, saying that "he was ill, and in another village at the time; it was not by his orders we were sent away; his men did not know that we were a party wishing the land to dwell in peace."
We were not able, when hastening back to the men left in the ship, to remain in the villages belonging to this chief; but the people came after us with things for sale, and invited us to stop, and spend the night with them, urging, "Are we to have it said that white people passed through our country and we did not see them?" We rested by a rivulet to gratify these sight-seers. We appear to them to be red rather than white; and, though light colour is admired among themselves, our clothing renders us uncouth in aspect. Blue eyes appear savage, and a red beard hideous. From the numbers of aged persons we saw on the highlands, and the increase of mental and physical vigour we experienced on our ascent from the lowlands, we inferred that the climate was salubrious, and that our countrymen might there enjoy good health, and also be of signal benefit, by leading the multitude of industrious inhabitants to cultivate cotton, buaze, sugar, and other valuable produce, to exchange for goods of European manufacture; at the same time teaching them, by precept and example, the great truths of our Holy Religion.
Our stay at the Lake was necessarily short. We had found that the best plan for allaying any suspicions, that might arise in the minds of a people accustomed only to slave-traders, was to pay a hasty visit, and then leave for a while, and allow the conviction to form among the people that, though our course of action was so different from that of others, we were not dangerous, but rather disposed to be friendly. We had also a party at the vessel, and any indiscretion on their part might have proved fatal to the character of the Expedition.
The trade of Cazembe and Katanga's country, and of other parts of the interior, crosses Nyassa and the Shire, on its way to the Arab port, Kilwa, and the Portuguese ports of Iboe and Mozambique. At present, slaves, ivory, malachite, and copper ornaments, are the only articles of commerce. According to information collected by Colonel Rigby at Zanzibar, and from other sources, nearly all the slaves shipped from the above-mentioned ports come from the Nyassa district. By means of a small steamer, purchasing the ivory of the Lake and River above the cataracts, which together have a shore-line of at least 600 miles, the slave-trade in this quarter would be rendered unprofitable,--for it is only by the ivory being carried by the slaves, that the latter do not eat up all the profits of a trip. An influence would be exerted over an enormous area of country, for the Mazitu about the north end of the Lake will not allow slave-traders to pass round that way through their country. They would be most efficient allies to the English, and might themselves be benefited by more intercourse. As things are now, the native traders in ivory and malachite have to submit to heavy exactions; and if we could give them the same prices which they at present get after carrying their merchandise 300 miles beyond this to the Coast, it might induce them to return without going further. It is only by cutting off the supplies in the interior, that we can crush the slave-trade on the Coast. The plan proposed would stop the slave-trade from the Zambesi on one side and Kilwa on the other; and would leave, beyond this tract, only the Portuguese port of Inhambane on the south, and a portion of the Sultan of Zanzibar's dominion on the north, for our cruisers to look after. The Lake people grow abundance of cotton for their own consumption, and can sell it for a penny a pound or even less. Water-carriage exists by the Shire and Zambesi all the way to England, with the single exception of a portage of about thirty-five miles past the Murchison Cataracts, along which a road of less than forty miles could be made at a trifling expense; and it seems feasible that a legitimate and thriving trade might, in a short time, take the place of the present unlawful traffic.
Colonel Rigby, Captains Wilson, Oldfield, and Chapman, and all the most intelligent officers on the Coast, were unanimous in the belief, that one small vessel on the Lake would have decidedly more influence, and do more good in suppressing the slave-trade, than half a dozen men-of-war on the ocean. By judicious operations, therefore, on a small scale inland, little expense would be incurred, and the English slave-trade policy on the East would have the same fair chance of success, as on the West Coast.
After a land-journey of forty days, we returned to the ship on the 6th of October, 1859, in a somewhat exhausted condition, arising more from a sort of poisoning, than from the usual fatigue of travel. We had taken a little mulligatawney paste, for making soup, in case of want of time to cook other food. Late one afternoon, at the end of an unusually long march, we reached Mikena, near the base of Mount Njongone to the north of Zomba, and the cook was directed to use a couple of spoonfuls of the paste; but, instead of doing so, he put in the whole potful. The soup tasted rather hot, but we added boiled rice to it, and, being very hungry, partook freely of it; and, in consequence of the overdose, we were delayed several days in severe suffering, and some of the party did not recover till after our return to the ship. Our illness may partly have arisen from another cause. One kind of cassava (Jatropha maligna) is known to be, in its raw state, poisonous, but by boiling it carefully in two waters, which must be thrown off, the poison is extracted and the cassava rendered fit for food. The poisonous sort is easily known by raising a bit of the bark of the root, and putting the tongue to it. A bitter taste shows poison, but it is probable that even the sweet kind contains an injurious principle. The sap, which, like that of our potatoes, is injurious as an article of food, is used in the "Pepper-pot" of the West Indies, under the name of "Cassereep," as a perfect preservative of meat. This juice put into an earthen vessel with a little water and Chili pepper is said to keep meat, that is immersed in it, good for a great length of time; even for years. No iron or steel must touch the mixture, or it will become sour. This "Pepper-pot," of which we first heard from the late Archbishop Whately, is a most economical meat-safe in a hot climate; any beef, mutton, pork, or fowl that may be left at dinner, if put into the mixture and a little fresh cassereep added, keeps perfectly, though otherwise the heat of the climate or flies would spoil it. Our cook, however, boiled the cassava root as he was in the habit of cooking meat, namely, by filling the pot with it, and then pouring in water, which he allowed to stand on the fire until it had become absorbed and boiled away. This method did not expel the poisonous properties of the root, or render it wholesome; for, notwithstanding our systematic caution in purchasing only the harmless sort, we suffered daily from its effects, and it was only just before the end of our trip that this pernicious mode of boiling it was discovered by us.
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