« ForrigeFortsett »
found full of sacks containing very large berries of it. The sacks were remarkably stout and well madesomewhat similar to Calcutta rice-bags. Two fruits, new to us, were seen growing-one, the colour and size of the Indian loquat, with several stones, but growing on a lofty tree with sombre foliage and densely-close branches. The other was an underground scarlet fruit, growing in sets of five and six clustered together like bananas, and of the same size. After being peeled, the pulp, with numerous black seeds, tasted refreshing as a lime, and was much enjoyed by the Waganda, who carried them strung as necklaces. The stalk of this plant (an amomum) grows four feet high from a creeping knotted root, like that of many grasses; and the scarlet fruit does not show above ground till ripe, when it forces up the soil like a mole.
Food was abundant, plantain particularly so, and might be had by the king's guests for the mere pulling ; but if fowls, goats, or animal food was required, the natives charged almost London prices, preferring cowries, which we had none of, to beads. In the houses different grains were slung, in plantain-leaf coverings, from the posts which support the roofing. The staple food of the people is green plantain, a particular variety, boiled, when the peel comes off freely, and eaten like mashed potato. A piece of meat boiled with them made both very savoury, but plantain alone is not satisfying to a European. The various uses made of this tree surprised us. A chip from the bark was so watery that the hands could be well washed with it, but it was said to crack the skin : thread, wrappers, and stripes like ribbons were taken from the trunks, and the leaves were made into screen-fences, &c.
The wine I have before mentioned ; two quarts of it could be drunk without any injurious effect. Every large hut seemed to have a trunk of a tree scooped out like a canoe, leaving a narrow opening. Several of these are collected in the grove when sufficient fruit has ripened, and the plantain juice is put in them to ferment, with some grain, and heaped over with leaves. The scene at opening these, after three days of fermentation, was quite a festive one. The immense gourds of the village were brought to be filled ; cups were made from the leaves to taste the new beverage, and all was merry as at a carnival. A species of wine was made by the Waganda boys, very simple in its mode of manufacture, and excellent to drink. A small cavity was made in the ground, plantain leaves were placed flatly into it, so as to make a basin for liquid. Fruit, mixed with leaves, was pressed with the hands, some water added, and the leaves ultimately thrown away, leaving the “togweh” in the basin ready for drinking
In travelling through this country our Seedees never received any pay as in the southern provinces, for the king of Uganda gave orders to his people to provide and cook for us. This was not always done; it more frequently happened that as soon as our approach was seen the natives fled, leaving almost all their goods and chattels at our mercy.
No persuasion would bring them back, they are so accustomed to be surrounded and captured by troops of men sent by the king. Several influential officers in charge of districts were seen on this route—Simjabee, Kittareh, Kuddoo, and some of the Wazeewa or Wahia race. All brought presents of fowls, buttermilk, sugar-cane, and wine.
CHIEFS OF DISTRICTS.
Simjabee was a tall, thin, long-faced man, with small beard, and very much marked on the forehead with smallpox. His caste was not a particular one, for he ate honey, boiled beef, goat, sheep, antelope, water-boc, beans, and grains, and drank boiled milk and wine. He was a gentle old man, and begged for wires and large beads, which I did not possess. His present was several fowls and some buttermilk, which I thought strange to see in this part of the world. Kittareh called, bringing a bunch of the richest plantain I ever saw, actually dropping juice. Before presenting it he went through the Uganda custom of smoothing it over with his hands, and rubbing it on his face. We became great friends, and he took me over his neatlykept premises enclosed trimly with high fences of plantain leaf. In his hand he held by a cord a red pariah dog, and a liver-and-white beagle (?) followed at his heels. This animal was the only one of the kind I had observed. Kuddoo, a fine intelligent young fellow, was my companion up to Uganda : it was his duty to see that the various district officers on our route provisioned us properly. He was very fond of looking at pictures, a hunting-knife, or any Europeanmade article. On
On my showing him a paper of pins, and strewing numbers amongst a crowd for them to take as curiosities, I was surprised to see all collected most carefully and returned to me, because their king did not permit them to keep anything so strange.
They are under extraordinary control these Waganda, and obey their king through fear, making as smart obedient soldiers as any in existence. Two on our march quarrelled one day, and fought in the most manly manner—not with spears, knives, or bows and
MODES OF SALUTING.
arrows, as an Unyambo, Seedee or Wanyamuezi would do. They planted their spears, tucked up their bark clothes, and wrestled until one knocked the other down, and held him till he gave in. Previous to our leaving the finely-kept grounds of Kittareh (the man owning the beagle), he brought out a stirrupcup of wine and some boiled plantain-squash for the Waganda lads, who, having finished all, knelt in a body before the old man to thank him for his polite
This they did by diagonally swinging their hands placed together, and repeating the words “ N'yans, N'yans,” or “M’wambeea, M’wambeea," in a loud chorus-after which, all sprang up, looking grateful and happy. The upper class are in the habit of making speeches. On a present being put into their hands, they hold it, and talk for five minutes expressing thanks. The Waganda mode of salute on meeting a friend is peculiar: neither party smiles until the words “Nyo, Nyi, Nyogeh,” are repeated alternately by each many times, when one makes bold to address a sentence, then resumes the “Nyo” once or twice, and after these formalities a conversation may with propriety commence. When the women wish to show respect to a superior, they kneel before him like the Wanyamuezi women. All these social forms are as scrupulously attended to in Africa as the ceremonies at the most polite court of Europe.
On the march we never knew where we were to halt for the day. The men did not know themselves; they could not tell the probable time of arrival, so that the dinner-hour was always uncertain ; and if our baggage was tied up by seven in the morning, we seldom left before eleven: once off, we continued
UNCERTAIN LIFE OF THE AFRICAN.
wandering till sunset. They were like a parcel of hungry hounds, darting into every hut, spear up, and shouting at places where they thought they could safely plunder, eating and drinking on the way perhaps five or six times a-day. Mariboo, although in charge of me, would be absent for days drinking, allowing me to get on as I best could; consequently, on several occasions, my conveyance, bedding, and writing materials were nowhere to be found. Some villagers, instead of presenting our party with wine, would in excuse make an offering of half-a-dozen cowries to me, and on having it explained to them that the white man did not exact presents, they would express great surprise. The Wezee doctor (Kiengo) of our party had Rumanika's orders to seize the officer of the Kisuere district for having committed two misdemeanours. The man had been to present me with a gourd of wine, and did so very hurriedly, slipping away from my sight. Soon after, chase was given, a party following him up to his house, but the alarm had preceded him. The cattle that were to have been taken as forfeited to Rumanika, and the wives who were to have become the wives of Kiengo, were both driven to the jungles, but the plunder that fell to the lot of his pursuers was brought into our camp. The case was an illustration of the uncertain life of African men and women. The home they have lived in since the day of their birth, may in an instant, by the caprice of another, be wrested from them, or they may return to find it a ruin. My Waganda were careful not to plunder too much in their own country, for fear of the wrath of their king; but when in Rumanika's territory, or on the borders