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138

RUMANIKA OF KARAGUE.

Rumanika, not the eldest, was found to be the only one of the three competent, or who felt conscientiously that he could support the dignity of the position by raising this weight from the ground; consequently he was elected. From that time a younger brother, Rogærah, became his bitter enemy, and fled to a corner of the province, taking with him a great proportion of the people with their cattle, as he was the more generous and the greater favourite of the two brothers. But Rumanika's mother had to be got rid of before he could properly hold the reins of government; and by some magic medicine she was killed, and he was declared “M’kama of Karague.”

Although illness prevented my seeing so much of Rumanika as I should otherwise have liked, I could not but notice that he was the handsomest and most intelligent sovereign we had met with in Africa. He stood six feet two inches in height, and his countenance had a fine, open, mild expression. There was nothing of the African look about him, except that he had wool instead of hair. His dress was a robe of numerous skins of small antelopes sewn together, and knotted over one shoulder, with a loin-cloth underneath; or an Arab cloak or shawl of bark-cloth hung from his shoulder, reaching below the knee. Going about with nothing on his head, his arms bare, except common ornaments of beads or brass, with painted porcelain beads on his ankles, and carrying a long staff, he was altogether the picture of the gentle shepherd of his flock. His four young sons, of ages from sixteen to twenty-four, were tall, smart, nice-looking young fellows-quite gentlemanly in their manners, and very cleanly in their persons and dress. There

HIS WIVES AND FAMILY.

139

was a younger son, an infant, always kept at the royal residence, and not allowed out. The five wives of the king have been described by Captain Speke: several were of enormous proportions, unable to enter the door of an ordinary hut, requiring a person on each side to support them when moving from one place to another, and expressing great delight at any present the

Wazoongo” (white men) should send their lord and master. Their diet, and that of the sons and daughters, was generally boiled plantain or milk. They considered their existence depended on the latter article of food, and certainly they all throve admirably upon it—the sons were full of vigour, and the women were fat and healthy, though not prolific. On Captain Speke asking to be allowed to take a young prince to England for education, the cry was, “They had never been more than ten miles from home; how could they go ?—there would be no milk for them—they would die.” Probably they had also some dread that the lads would be made slaves of. All of them were very particular and fastidious as to their diet.

The sultan drank milk; thought the meat of goat and sheep unclean; would not eat fish, fowl, or guineafowl; rarely or never touched stirabout; and merely sucked the juice of boiled beef. He drank very little plaintain-wine, and was never known to be intoxicated. He had many superstitions; he would not drink out of the vessel that we or any commoner had used, and he combined the offices of prophet, priest, and king. As prophet, he would place the tusks of an elephant upright on the ground, fill them with charms, seal them, and predict rain, although his calculations were not always correct. As priest, three days after

140

KING'S FONDNESS FOR CURIOSITIES.

new moon, he sat concealed, all but his head, in the doorway of his chief hut, and received the salutations of his people, who, one by one, shrieked and sprang in front of him, swearing allegiance. His head on these occasions was wonderfully dressed, and made to look quite patriarchal, with a crown of beads and feathers, and a false white beard of considerable length, giving him the look of an Indian “khitmutgar” or Jewish rabbi. He was very fond of curiosities, and amongst the collection he had obtained from Arab visitors were stuffed birds, an electric battery, looking-glasses, a clock with eyes in the cast-iron figure made to roll with the movement of the pendulum, &c. He expressed surprise that we had brought nothing to amuse him, so that all our ingenuity was put to the test in order to try and gratify his highness. A jumping-jack made of wood was sent him for his infant son, and he said he must have me make him one the size of life before I left the country. He had a three-pounder brass gun brought him unmounted from the coast; and on a picture being sent him, showing how we in India drag guns into action by means of elephants, nothing would satisfy him till he had ordered fifty men to cut down trees, to be made into a gun-carriage. I protested, saying, “ You have no iron-no elephant; who is to make the wheels?” Here was a dilemmaa wheel to make before I could be allowed to join my companion, and nothing to make it with but a penknife in my pocket! Luckily my friend Rumanika was not pig-headed, and had compassion on me when it was explained to him that ropes of bark, and men to drag the gun, would not answer the purposes of iron and elephant.

HIS VENERATION FOR LIONS.

141

This sovereign several times came to call while I lay sick, one day bringing me a fish alive in a jar from the lake; this pleased me, as the Wahuma have a prejudice against fish. But his chief delight seemed to be in medicines and pictures. It was an anxious moment when our tent was emptied of all listeners, and we were pressed for a medicinal charm to bring about the death of his brother Rogærah. Then, during the visit, the weight of the mercury, its reflections, &c., were looked at in amazement; the compass —“was there water in it?”—our shoes, our beddingall were marvels. With the sextant he looked through at the sun without fear; and when consulted one morning by my servant about some strange large animals that came in at night to our camp, he recommended that the next time they appeared we should challenge them three times, and if no answer were received, to fire at them; for “depend upon it they were enemies sent by his rebel brother to lay a trap for him.” Should they, however, prove to be leopards, they were not to be molested. For all leopards they have a great reverence, as Dagara, the late sovereign, is believed to be still protected by them; and on an invading army coming from Uganda, this sultan had the power to send leopards to disperse them. Their skins are only worn by royalty or its followers.

The sultan, on seeing the picture of some of his milk-carriers, sent for the sketch-book, turned out all idlers, and showed them to a few favourite servants about his family. His wives were quite clamorous about seeing them, asking why Rumanika had not been drawn. The back view of a naked young prince, enormously fat, with clotted long hair concealing his neck, gave them

142

THE KING'S BROTHER, M'NANAGEE.

great amusement, and they clapped their hands and laughed with joy at the resemblance to the original. All the princesses living in separate houses got jealous unless they saw the sketches, so that my servant was several times detained a whole day by them; and it became so fashionable to look at the pictures, that for days my camp was beset with people wishing to have their curiosity gratified. M'nanagee, the brother of the sultan, a man of six feet three inches in height, brought his favourite bow to be ornamented with pictures. There never was a prettier bit of stick; it was exactly his own height, of ash-coloured wood, bent merely at the ends, balanced beautifully, not a curve in it that could hurt the eye, and it was strung with the sinews of a cow. He could with ease throw an arrow, by giving it a high flight, 150 or 200 yards. Wishing to enlighten and amuse Rumanika, I sent him coloured pictures of our soldiers, and of men in ordinary costume; these he admired very much, but could I not show him how our ladies looked? Certainly. Figures of three ladies were painted—one in morning costume, one at an archery meeting using the bow and arrow, third in ball costume. He immediately hung all up on the wall of his small hut; and on inquiring which figure pleased him most, the palm was given to the evening costume.

Whenever he wished to spend the day at a spot on the hill across the lake, where I think his father had been interred, he was carried in a basket, made of osiers, by four men. The band led the way with music; several hundred followers surrounded him; and if he was on the return journey, small fat boys, having their heads wreathed with water-lilies plucked

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