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CHAPTER IX.

THE UGANDA MARCH, APRIL 14 TO MAY 27, 1862— MARIBOO

AND HIS UGANDA FOLLOWERS-RICH FOLIAGE-FERRYING THE RIVER KITANGULE-SUPERSTITION AGAINST SOUNDING THE RIVER—VICTORIA NYANZA, A BOUNDLESS SEA-FINE COUNTRY BETWEEN KITANGULE AND KITONGA-FLORA OF THE DISTRICT — INCIDENTS OF THE MARCH-LUNCH WITH UGANDA WOMAN-DISAGREEABLE MARCH-THE GOVERNOR POKINNO-SUMMER-HOUSES OF THE UGANDA.

HAVING been detained at Karague for so many months, I was right glad to have a prospect in the end of March of getting away to join my companion. A party of Waganda, under an officer named Mariboo, arrived to take me as far as the Kitangule river, four marches, where large boats were said to be lying to convey me by the lake to Uganda. This, however, was not the case; no boats had been sent, and the journey of twenty-nine marches was performed by land, much to our disappointment, as Speke had previously been over it, and we missed the navigation of the Nyanza. Day by day the Waganda escort deluded me with the idea that we would come upon boats by the side of the Nyanza ; and Mariboo ordered the

MODE OF CONVEYANCE.

189

man.

march as he liked, halted when it suited him, got tipsy whenever he could, but in the end compensated for all by conveying me safe to his king.

Rumanika had a sort of litter made up, on which the Waganda lads were to carry me; my half-dozen Seedees could not have done it, as the country afterwards proved to be precipitous, and full of swamps and marshy drains. On the morning of the 14th April, when a start was made from Karague, Mariboo came into camp with his thirty or forty men, making a noise and saying they had been starved while waiting for the Unyamuezi doctor and myself during the last fortnight, and were determined to move to-day whether I was ready or not. “Bring out the white

Where is his bedding ? Let him get into the conveyance.” The property, however, had first to be despatched. I lost sight of it for two days, but none of the loads were plundered. On our journey, the stretcher was changed from the head to the shoulder of the Waganda, who went at the rate of six miles an hour, jostling and paining my limb unmercifully. The coach and four, as I may term it, was put down every mile, or less, that the bearers might rest, laugh, joke, and make a deafening noise with their mumbling language, beating their tongues to the roofs of their mouths. They seldom spoke when in motion, only when one stumbled the others would cry out against him, recommending greater care of their charge. Certainly it was not a safe position to be perched such a height on an open frame of sticks, with rocky precipices, small footing for the men, and very often water below. One great difficulty was to make them carry the conveyance so that the country in front could be

190

MARCHING WITH WAGANDA.

grass, well

seen in travelling; this they, for some reason, refused to do, and persisted in carrying me head first, instead of feet. If a grove of plantain was by the side of the path, it could not be resisted ; off all would dash at the fruit, eat, and carry away as much as they were able, sometimes politely offering me a share, or more frequently remaining so long away, as I lay on the stretcher, that it became irritating.

The best way was to join as much as possible with them in their frolics ; my men did so, and enjoyed the march extremely

At these groves, a single bunch or cluster of as many as 150 ripe plantains could be got in April, and their juice drunk from them al fresco. The large leaves of the tree, green, and soft as satin, were spread on the ground as a table-cloth; a wisp of softened by rubbing, enclosed a quantity of luscious ripe fruit, and what the men seemed most to enjoy was to bite and suck the fruit through the grass. During the march they all carried some small load on their heads, never more than 20 or 30 lb., rolled in the form of a web of cloth, neatly bound round, and having pipes and flutes stuck into it. Each man had a spear and shield over his back; the latter served as an umbrella when rain fell; and thus, with their bark-cloths kilted up, their dress was secure from rain or boggy ground. On arrival in camp, the march costume was changed for a clean suit of bark-cloth as stiff as silk, or for a set of many-coloured goat-skins, with scalloped, pierced edges, in which they made themselves smart, and strutted about like gentlemen. Those who had been able to find dogs led them with strings tied to their waists or wrists as they ran along.

MARCHING WITH WAGANDA.

191

Very ridiculous they appeared, for the animals (not accustomed to it) always refused to be led in this way. On coming near habitations, the men shouted and sang, as if carrying some object of triumph. Had I been a dead lion, they could not have made greater noise; and on getting near camp, regardless of cultivated fields, they would plunge into them with malicious delight, trample them down, slash

away

branches or plantain-trees which came in their

way,

and deposit the litter inside a grove.

When morning again came, the gay Mariboo, always scrupulously clean and proud of his dress, would appear, followed by his drummer-boy and dog, to announce, by beat of drum, a march or halt. If the former, the shouts of his men coming to join him would be heard in the distance, and Mariboo would answer and receive replies, till one by one all rushed up, spear in hand, as if to attack him, shouting allegiance, and causing their “captain ” to spring and bound with delight, while I looked on with admiration at the strange and wild spectacle. After several exhibitions of this sort, it became evident that presents were expected, and if the march was to be a success, a little “tipping” was necessary; quently, the captain was summoned to receive a gift of beads. His delight, as he handled the beautiful small beads, knew no bounds; his spear was flashed up to my face, while his left hand held his shield, and he finished with a number of nimble antics. His arms laid aside, he repeated, “N'yans, n'yans” (thanks, thanks), perhaps fifty times in succession, with a diagonal motion of both palms at each repetition. This over, another mode of thanks was adopted, and was

conse

192

WAGANDA ARE SO JOYOUS.

race.

even more agreeable; he drew his flute from his waist, played some soft music, making his eyes twinkle with delight, and swayed his body as if charmed with his own sweet strains. They certainly are a most joyous

On our third march from Karague, the ground was so steep, and there was so much danger of my falling off the stretcher, that I was obliged to get out, and be half-carried up the rocky side of the hill, never dreaming that they would run away with my conveyance, which they did on seeing that I was able to put my foot to the ground. For a couple of hours they allowed me to wait there, while they, like a parcel of wicked boys, kept throwing rocks down the precipice, listening in perfect quiet till they heard the last sound of the stones reaching the bottom of the ravine, when all would shout together.

From the capital of Karague to the right bank of the Kitangule, the distance viâ Meegongo was forty miles over flat-topped bare hills, and across valleys with swamps.

On emerging from these to the river plain, the flat country became studded with mounds from six to eight feet high, raised by the ever-working white ants. Thorny shrubs, cactus, climbing aloes, with pink flowers, covered them, or the jungle of grass was varied by circles of brushwood, giving shade to the rhinoceros; the older trees were veiled over with silvery grey moss, which drooped gracefully, like the pendent branches of the weeping willow. The plain extended for ten miles, with several “ back-waters upon it, covered with the thorny mimosa and papyrus, through which we had to cut our way. Emerging from it and going towards the river, we came upon higher land—a dry grassy plain three miles across, kept short

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