« ForrigeFortsett »
THE RIVER KITANGULE.
by cattle, and just the ground on which to find a florikan. There were several huts, which gladdened the eye after a dreary march. The first sight of the river Kitangule, which had been so often named to us as an old ivory depôt, and the stream by which wood was floated down from Ruanda, was rather disappointing. Standing upon its steep shelving bank of white gravel, the stream is almost hidden by the papyrus, which lines its sides in a depth of from twenty to sixty yards ; but when ferrying it, its majestic flow is seen. The canoes here were of one log of timber hollowed out, fifteen feet long, the breadth of an easychair as you sat in them, and capable of carrying fifteen Waganda, with their loads, dogs, spears, and large shields. They were propelled by poles through a winding channel closely shut in by the papyrus, and by paddles when in the stream, a man at each end holding one about five feet long. I had obtained from the Waganda lads several of their neatly spun coils of rope, which they carry on their heads ; three or four of these were knotted together and a stone tied to one end as a sounding-line ; but on the ferryman noticing what was to be done, he objected, saying his sultan Rumanika would not permit any stone to be placed or thrown into the sacred Kitangule. A bribe at last softened him; but Mariboo now interfered, saying, in his superstition, that he had an equally sacred charge from his king—namely, that he was to convey me in safety to him, and he would allow no pranks to be played with the river, for “suppose in the middle of it some spirit were disturbed by a stone, and rose to upset the boat, what would his king say?” In short, after wasting words and time,
THE RIVER KITANGULE.
the project was given up, and we commenced the
passage of the river at a reach four hundred yards long, having paid beforehand twenty strings of beads for my men, and an extra handful of cowries were given by the Waganda to the ferrymen. Poling for twenty yards through a winding channel cleared of the tall papyrus,
and not broader than our canoe, we reached the stream, fully eighty yards across, judged to be five to six fathoms deep, looking as if any man-of-war could sail
and flowing majestically at the rate of about three miles an hour. The strength of the current was so great that we had to pole up its right bank inside the fringe of papyrus for thirty yards, and then the two ferrymen, with a paddle each, made the canoe glide across diagonally down to the opposite channel in the reeds, which they reached with great precision. Poling for fifty to eighty yards was now adopted, landing upon mire which nearly sucked us into its hold; beyond this, the old line of the river rose abruptly like a railway embankment. At that level the country extended far away in a pleasant grassy plain, giving it the appearance of an Indian parade-ground; but the footing was treacherous, being full of ant-holes, and dotted with cactus-trees, whiteant mounds, with their usual vegetation, thistle-looking plants, and a scarlet-flowering shrub. In the distance to the north were rocky hills.
We observed that the waters of the Kitangule are accumulated from the lakes Karague, Kagæra, Kishakka, Ooyewgomah, and water from Utumbi. This river is, beyond comparison, the greatest body of water met with from the south of the Victoria Nyanza all round its western shore to its most northerly point,
THE RIVER KITANGULE.
where the Nile was seen by Speke to make its exit from the lake. It reminded me, when ferrying it, of the Hoogly ten miles above Calcutta. Every other stream entering the lake was walked across, none had to be ferried; and they were so numerous that nine and ten might be forded in as many miles ; this was a daily occurrence when marching on the western shore of the lake. The accumulation of these streams, and the rivulets (no rivers) known from Arab information to be in the eastern or unexplored portion of the Victoria Nyanza, form a boundless sea of 20,000 square miles, never traversed from one side to the other. All these arteries throw in an immense mass of water, and though the greatest of them is the Kitangule, still it is 160 miles distant by water from the point whence the Nile issues from its parent reservoir, the Lake Nyanza, at 21 miles north latitude.
The country between the Kitangule and the Katonga, a distance of 100 miles, is a parallel series of grassy spurs tapering down to the lake's shores on the east. There are many beautiful spots on the route—high grounds from which, for a quarter of the horizon, are seen the waters of the lake, or the country undulating and park-like, covered with tall waving grasses, and overlooked by rocks. The curves, sweeps, and inclines of the hills often blended together in great beauty-never making the path inconveniently steep or too long in ascent or descent. All the cultivation was on these slopes, as the plains between them, sometimes six miles across, were ankle-deep in water and mud in this month of May; or where the valley was narrow, water would have accumulated in a drain four feet deep, across which the Waganda
THE VICTORIA NYANZA.
carried me on their necks, or, like a child, in their arms.
On some marches we had to cross ten different waters, and, to avoid others, long detours were made to get upon higher grounds.
The now famous Victoria Nyanza, when seen for the first time, expanding in all its majesty, excited our wonder and admiration. Even the listless Wanyamuezi came to have a look at its waters, stretching over ninety degrees of the horizon. The Seedees were in raptures with it, fancying themselves looking upon the ocean which surrounds their island home of Zanzibar, and I made a sketch, dotting it with imaginary steamers and ships riding at anchor in the bay. On its shores are beautiful bays, made by wooded tongues of low land (or points such as Boonjacko and Surree Points, guarding the Katonga river) running into the lake, with very often a rounded detached island at their apices. The low islands of Sesseh lie on the western shore of the lake. A deep fringe of the papyrus generally hid the view over its waters. When standing here, the hoarse tromboning of the hippopotamus, wishing to come out to graze, echoed from out these rushes. The harbours of the natives were cleared spaces composed of a spongy mass of seeds, rotten reeds, sticks, and roots. In front, for twenty yards, a short rush with a circular leaf grew, breaking the small surfing waves on the lake from two to three hundred yards, showing that it was of no depth. In the distance, large boats paddled along from the mainland to the islands of Sesseh. One, of five planks sewn together, having four cross bars as seats, was brought to convey me to Uganda ; but after four of us had got into it with some loads, the
THE SHORES OF THE LAKE.
craft was so cranky that such a voyage would have been madness, the water streaming in. Her bows and stern were pointed, standing for a yard over the water, with broad central plank from stem to stern, rounded outside, answering for a keel, and well adapted for gliding through papyrus.
The flora along this tract did not afford much variety. The most graceful tree on the route was the wild date-palm, growing in clumps of three and four upon the bare green hills : its crested plumes waved in the breeze, giving almost animal life to the silent
Birds' nests, or clusters of Indian red fruit, hung in pendants from the branches. We met with a new acacia, whose thin pods were broad and numerous; on looking at the tree, the crop was so abundant that the leaves were all but hidden by the fruit. Few large trees were seen ; they probably got killed by the different varieties of lichens and parasites which covered them. One acacia with a flat top was netted over with bushes of them, as if they had been planted on the tops of the branches. The north-east sides of trees were observed to have the most moss upon their trunks, denoting that it was the dampest wind at that particular locality and position. On the 14th of May I was sheltered from the rays of the sun by the boughs of the coffee-shrub, then with clusters of green berries bowing down its branches till within reach. Each yearly growth or produce could be seen by looking at the number of knots in the branches. No care or pruning was observed, and the roots near the trunk grew very much above the soil. On the grounds facing the lake, 20 or 30 miles south of the equator, quantities must be grown, as some houses there were