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THE SULTAN OF USUI.
The most powerful chief on our route through Uzinza was Suwarora of Usui-a Wahuma by caste, but a superstitious creature, addicted to drink, and not caring to see us, but exacting through his subordinates the most enormous tax we had yet paid. His chief officer or “sirhidge” was a Watusi ; and when he called upon us dressed in the most ridiculous costume—a woman's crimson cotton gown, a redcheck turban, and “saharee" thrown round his shoulders—he was treated with every respect, and got a chair. We had time to make his acquaintance. He was middle-aged, with a dissipated, reckless look, full of animated conversation, very black, with flat nose and prominent teeth. His legs were masses of iron wire, fitting as tight as a stocking. He had many favours to ask; he would like so much to have a pair of our shoes, &c. He had sent two men, bearing the royal rod of his “M’kama” or sultan, to convey us with safety into the country. He hoped they had done their duty, for no Arab had ever such an honour paid him. There were ridiculous stories going about regarding us—as that we were possessed of supernatural powers, that we killed all the inhabitants of the country we passed through, and that we took possession of all countries; but, on his consulting the M'ganga, these reports were proved to be false, and we were admitted into the country. He paid us a second visit, dressed in a much less gaudy suit; and while he sat, eating coffee from a little basket he carried, we suggested that the tax had better be settled soon ; but he treated the matter with great indifference, saying, “Oh, don't press it; let it take its time! My brother will arrange it the day after to-morrow, because I have
THE WANYAMBO OF USUI.
to go into the district to see some patients; and now I must bid you adieu.” The previous night he had sent us a message that some handsome cloths would be acceptable if we would have the kindness to present them. We did so, and in return he gave us two goats, and we saw no more of him.
The brother of the sirhidge, a more morose person, now came into the field, and said, “Before I can even broach the subject of your arrival here to his highness the M’kama (sultan), I expect a present;” and so the treaty dragged its length for several days, till officers appeared in camp pronouncing the demand, with little sticks to represent each article. About five men's loads of copper were paid and carried away for the chief by our men. Although the tax was heavy, it was conducted in a gentlemanly, quiet way, and much quicker than we had expected, on account, it was said, of their fear to detain magicians longer in the country. The last extortion was, that guides must escort us to the frontier, and they had to be paid a load of copper between them.
The people of the country, generally called Wanyambo, dress in nothing but goat-skins, the length and shape of the tails of a shooting-coat, without pockets or buttons; a thong of leather ties this smartly round the waist, right side uppermost, and is slackened on sitting down; this forms their entire costume. With a variously-shaped spear or a bow and arrow (sometimes poisoned), they looked very active, slim fellows, having a far greater air about them than the Wezee. A tuft of wool is often left on their crowns; sometimes the teeth are entire, or the two upper incisors filed inside, but none are ever extracted. Some of the
people cover the body and arms with artificially raised solid blisters, in circles, waves, or lines. Their address, when it suited them, was that of cringing politeness, showing great respect every morning; but they could also be boisterous and insolent. The Wasui race can seldom be induced to carry loads; but amongst them numerous Wezees, driven from their homes by the Watuta, reside, and the traveller receives aid from them. A M'sui will carry a load on his head, but not upon the shoulder. On coming into camp to see the novelties, all the better class had a gourd of pombé in one hand, and generally chewed coffee beans. Round their ankles was a profusion of wires, generally more upon one leg than another. One stranger I saw wearing round his neck a flat piece of stone, which I thought to be malachite.
In this country we were more troubled by thieves than we had been anywhere else. After sunset our porters when beyond camp were assaulted, and their cloth coverings torn from them. At night they made several attempts to get inside our ring-fence of thorns, and the thefts became so numerous that we had to shoot two or three found plundering. The people rather approved of our doing this, and complimented us on being so alert and watchful during the night. . They seemed generally to be an industrious people, with comfortable “crofts” round their houses.
The Walinga are workers in iron, scarcely distinguishable in dress from the Wasui. Their furnaces are in the heart of the forest; charcoal and lumps of iron cinder (like a coarse sponge, and of a “ blue bottle” colour) usually mark the spot; and four lads, squatting under a grass roof with a double-handled bellows each,
blow at a live mass of charcoal which has the nodules of metal intermixed with it. In this calcining nothing else seems to be used, and the metal melts, descending into a recess, much in the same way as I have seen at the Cumberland lead-works.
One morning, to my surprise, in a wild jungle we came upon cattle, then upon a “bomah,” or ring-fence, concealed by beautiful umbrageous large trees, quite the place for a gypsy camp. At the entry two strapping fellows met me and invited my approach. I mingled with the people, got water from them, and was asked, “Would I not prefer some milk ?” This sounded to me more civilised than I expected from Africans, so I followed the men, who led me up to a beautiful ladylike creature, a Watusi woman, sitting alone under a tree. She received me, without any expression of surprise, in the most dignified manner; and, after having talked with the men, rose smiling, showing great gentleness in her manner, and led me to her hut. I had time to scrutinise the interesting stranger: she wore the usual Watusi costume of a cow's skin reversed, teased into a frieze with a needle, coloured brown, and wrapped round her body from below the chest to the ankles. Lappets, showing zebra-like stripes of many colours, she wore as a “turnover” round the waist; and, except where ornamented on one arm with a highly polished coil of thick brass wire, two equally bright and massive rings on the right wrist, and a neck pendant of brass wire,-except these and her becoming wrapper, she was au naturelle. I was struck with her peculiarly formed head and graceful long neck; the beauty of her fine eyes, mouth, and nose; the smallness of her hands and
naked feet—all were faultless; the only bad feature, which is considered one of beauty with them, was her large ears. The arms and elbows were rounded off like an egg, the shoulders were sloping, and her small breasts were those of a crouching Venus-a perfect beauty, although darker than a brunette ! Her temporary residence was peculiar—it was formed of grass, was flat-roofed, and so low that I could not stand upright in it. The fireplace consisted of three stones ; milk-vessels of wood, shining white from scouring, were ranged on one side of the abode. A good-looking woman sat rocking a gourd between her knees in the process of churning butter. After the fair one had examined my skin and my clothes, I expressed great regret that I had no beads to present to her. “They are not wanted,” she said : “sit down, drink this buttermilk, and here is also some butter for you.” It was placed on a clean leaf. I shook hands, patted her cheek, and took my leave, but some beads were sent her, and she paid me a visit, bringing butter and buttermilk, and asking for more presents, which she of course got, and I had the gratification to see her eyes sparkle at the sight of them. This was one of the few women I met during our whole journey that I admired. None of the belles in Usui could approach her; but they were of a different caste, though dressing much in the same style. When cowskins were not worn, these Usui women dressed very tidily in bark cloths, and had no marks or cuttings observable on their bodies. Circles of hair were often shaved off the crowns of their heads, and their neck ornaments showed considerable taste in the selection of the beads. The most becoming were a string of the