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THE RIVERS MWERANGO AND MOOGGA.
wear shoes with comfort; or where the valleys were free from the tall rushes, the chill of walking in such mire with a burning sun overhead was quite stupifying; but, strange to say, none of us suffered in health.
The Mwerango, twenty miles west of the Uganda capital, was the first large body of water we found flowing towards Egypt. The centre part of the bridge over it had long since fallen into disrepair, and as the river was too deep for wading, we had to swim across about twenty yards of its width, which was from 300 to 400 yards. You could not look up or down the stream, as the reeds hid everything ; neither could it be crossed anywhere but at this spot, or at other openings made in the bed of papyrus. In one hour our baggage was all across, and every one was freshened by a bathe. This stream and a sister river, the Moogga Myanza, join and form the Kuffoo, which flows to Unyoro, joining the Nile to the north of Kamarasi's residence. Regarding the rise of these two rivers there were various opinions among the Waganda. The Mwerango, they said, had its rise from rocks one day's journey to the S.S.W. of Namagoma. The other was honoured with a poetical tradition. It was named * Moogga,” after one of the wives of the late king Soona. She, on becoming pregnant, was sent, for medical advice, to the S.E. of Namagoma. Accompanying the birth of the child there was a flow of water, which has run ever since, and was christened “ Moogga,” after the queen! This river, or rather bed of rushes, was 500 yards across, and breast-deep. As we waded across it, on either side, within reach, the papyrus grew arching beautifully overhead. Its waters were clear, and sounded sweetly as they trickled
POKINO, THE GOVERNOR.
through the rushes to our left, contrasting pleasantly with the bogs we had previously been crossing. When asked at Namagoma how long it would take to reach the source of the Mwerango, my friend Mariboo replied figuratively by saying, “ A pot of plantain would not be boiled by the time you returned from its source,” meaning that it would take a very short time.
As my caravan daily shortened its distance from the residence of the king, messengers came to inquire for me, where I was to sleep each night, and to hurry on, because the king had heard I was beautiful, and he could not eat till he had seen me! These parties were sometimes commanded by boys of thirteen years of age-smart little fellows, who travelled very quickly over the country, never getting fatigued. If they met our caravan on the march, complimentary taps and rolls were sounded by their drummers, and returned by ours. It was not considered etiquette for any of their number to mingle with our baggage-party while moving along; because, if anything should be missed, they might be made answerable for it.
Pokino, the governor of a large territory, was one day announced while I was dressing. His name had been constantly quoted as an authority by Mariboo, and I had a strong desire to see him. On coming out of my hut, he sat surrounded by twenty Waganda in considerable state, and I could not help saying aloud, “ Hallo! is this Pokino ?” At once all grinned at the mention of the name; no one moved from their seated positions, and my iron chair was placed outside the red cow-skin, on which he alone sat,-a determined, sly-looking functionary, with a bad expression of mouth, and just the man to have an order obeyed.
THE HABITATIONS OF THE WAGANDA.
His dress was the ordinary one of the country, robing him in graceful folds of bark-cloth, salmon-coloured, which harmonised well with his dark complexion. Round his bare head he wore a wreath of creepers (Coccinia Indica), which made me inquire whether his head ached. A laugh from him, and suppressed titter from his men at my ignorance, immediately followed, and he wished to see my pictures and lucifer-matches; of the former he preferred the buffalo's head, and one representing some slaves in chains; these amused him more than any of the others, and he soon took his departure, walking away slowly with considerable style, as if proud of his tall stout manly figure.
The dwellings on this route were superior to any we had met with in Africaloftier, better constructed, and more cleanly. Having command of immensely tall reeds, and beautiful grasses for thatching, with, in most places, tall spars, they could readily make themselves comfortable dwellings; besides which, they are a very neat-handed race. A M'ganda has a double roof of reeds to his house, like the two "flies” in an Indian tent. The outer “fly” has a steeper slope than the under, and is covered to the ground with a thick thatch of long broad-bladed grass, a species of wild sugar-cane. This roofing appears when new white and clean from the inside, and is placed with perfect regularity, and supported by more poles than are generally requisite, as there are sacks of grain, dried flesh or fish, &c., to be slung from them. The interior is partitioned off into front and rear compartments, by means of high screens of the plantain leaf. The better class of houses have a raised bedstead in the dark interior,
which has but one door as an outlet for smoke, goats, and inhabitants. They also have their summerhouses, generally in a shady spot, where men meet to chat, smoke, and drink. It was amusing to see such comfort in these “barzahs,” which only required a table, and to be seated round, to look like a remarkably neat summer-house at home. Two huts on a height appeared devoted to the remains of the dead. On getting over the fence surrounding them, a lawn having straight walks covered with gravel soil led up to the doors, where a screen of bark-cloth shut out the view of the interior. Conquering a feeling of delicacy, I entered one of the huts. I found a fixed bedstead of cane, curtained as if to shade its bed of
from the musquito, spears, charms, sticks with strange crooks, tree-creepers, miniature idol-huts of grass, &c. These were laid in order in the interior ; but no one was there, and we were told it was a mausoleum. These, or similar places less pretentious, might be seen on the bare hill-sides; the latter merely square enclosures or fences of tall reeds, which my Waganda orderlies called “Looāleh,” or sacred ground. Occasionally one of their men, to amuse us, went through a strange unnatural antic. Placing both elbows at his sides, with the hands pointing upwards, like a position in the dumb-bell exercise, he commenced glimmering with his eyes, writhing the muscles of his shoulders and back, never drawing breath, and gradually sinking to the ground till he apparently lay dead, as if he had worked himself into a trance, or sleep of death.
Within a radius of thirty miles from the palace nothing is allowed to be plundered, as a number of government annuitants reside there. It was a great
NEWS ABOUT UGANDA.
pleasure to get amongst them to see order once more. Sheep, goats, and cattle were safe grazing at the roadside—not one of my escort dared touch them. It must have been very trying to them, for provision was scarce, and could not be purchased. We passed some small lakes, and the residence of the present king when he was a youth-all was now a wilderness, but pointed to with as great reverence as we should regard a sacred or historical spot. When within one march of the capital, Mariboo refused to convey me nearer 'till an order came, because all travellers remained there a fortnight and more—it was the custom of the country !” However, the detention was only for one day, and on the morning of the 26th of May a dashing party of Seedees came with their usual joyful demonstrations, bearing a letter and a fore-quarter of goat from my friend Speke! Cheering thought, to have him once more so near! We now heard a great deal of news. First, “ there was no food, only boiled plantain, in Uganda, and this could only be had by risking their lives! My arrival would be celebrated by a great deal of bloodshed. Captain Speke was a favourite with the king, because he was not, like the Arabs, particular about having the cattle or goats killed according to Mohammedan rites.” This last bit of news led me to ask Frij whether all Mohammedans ate fish. His reply was, “They do not eat every fishonly those that have the finger and thumb mark of God making them lawful.” They continued : “Baraka, who had been sent to the north with letters for the boats from Egypt, had been seen in Unyoro all safe, but its king would not allow him to come to join us viâ Uganda. The ships were still at Ugani. The