« ForrigeFortsett »
heavy cough had been brought on by constant anxiety, and by his walking about the country trying to persuade men to lead, or proceed with us in our journey northwards. My fever came every second day from the 29th of May till the 4th of July, lasting six hours, making me feel weak and tottering. In July I had colds, discharges of mucus from the nose, and a large abscess burst-all of which staved off fever for a time; and I had only one or two attacks, of nine hours each, during the two following months. In the intervals of fever I generally managed to go for a stroll with my gun to shoot a dove or guinea-fowl for the sultan or myself. Of ten Seedees who formed my body-guard, servants, &c., only half were generally fit for duty, or, perhaps, four in ten, at this S.E. wind
Their complaints were of the chest, cough, fever, abscess, ulcers, and venereal (the social evil was evident every evening in the frequented part of the village). Our medicine - chest was at every one's service, but some Seedees applied to an old-lady doctor, who, instead of cure, brought tears and screams from them whilst applying her remedies to ulcers, bandaging them up with cow-dung and leaves to exclude the air. To cure headaches, the men cut their temples and rubbed in a paste of gunpowder. Blood would scarcely appear, but the mark was indelible, and the cure said to be complete.
The diseases observed amongst the inhabitants were swollen legs, resembling elephantiasis, itch in children, scales on the eyes, a few smallpox-marked and blind people, one harelip, and a shrivelled infant without a thumb. One blind man used to visit periodically, and, without even the guide of a dog, knew every turn in
the village ; he was welcomed everywhere, as a smile for ever played upon his lips. By moonlight he would stand singing for two hours at a time with a crowd of a hundred people, men and women, the sultan amidst them, all round him, joining in a chorus of almost devotional music. He had the power, by placing his hand to his mouth, of sending the deep, pleasing tones of his voice away to a distance, which gave delight to every one, the women in particular showing approval by a shrill peculiar falsetto noise, which they make by tapping the cheek or shaking the lower lip with the forefinger and thumb. Another blind man, deeply marked with smallpox, gathered the village boys around him and taught the songs of their country, while he beat time with his foot. They have several fine national airs.
Their funeral ceremonies are simple enough. Chiefs, and most of the respectable classes, are buried under the floors of their dwellings, or more commonly in cattle-sheds; while witches and slaves are thrown into the jungle without interment. I observed one of the latter lying, tied with his face to a pole, in long grass, with some rags round the waist; the limbs were trussed up much in the same way as an infant lies asleep
Though residing in the verandah of the chief house of the M'teme or sultan, or in the most central part of the village, I rarely saw any men at their meals, unless when assembled round pombé. They seemed to take pot-luck at any hour of the day, and at any house where the signs of eating were going on-getting a boiled sweet potato here, a drink of pombé there, or a snack of beef as a rarity. Women were more regular
THE SULTAN AND SULTANA.
in their living. The lady of my house, seated on a wooden stool in the open yard, had always some guests to dine with her, generally women of her own age and some little children, and never by any chance did her husband, the sultan, eat with her on these occasions. The food—some boiled sweet potatoes—would be brought on a wooden tray, and placed on the ground by a servant-maid, who knelt on one knee, or a bowl full of pombé would be presented in the same way. The sultan had seven wives. Each had her own separate house and establishment, which he visited daily, though at night he always slept in a place not much larger than himself, surrounded by charms and
He lived almost entirely upon pombé, drinking it three or four times during the day, commencing as early as seven o'clock, and ending the day, if he was not already stupefied, by having it at suppertime. He was a very hale, healthy-looking old man, apparently about seventy, and most active in his habits. Different houses in his village held daily “receptions for him, when he presided, and he was the first to taste the bowl of beer. The female population drank separately, and were presided over by the sultana. The liquor took five days of preparation: the grain (sorghum) had to be cleaned, ground, soaked, boiled, generally with cow-dung as firewood, allowed to cool, and was drunk, without filtration, in a fermenting state, out of bowls neatly made of grass by the women. With honey added it was tolerable, but without it the beverage was coarse and heady to a stranger. Our men were constantly tipsy; but the natives who fed upon it had a healthy appearance, and rarely became drunk. Their active early habits conduced to this result,
for all of them were in the fields before sunrise gathering the crop, or were doing varied works inside their enclosures. The women on the 3d June were clipping with a knife the tops of the sorghum, putting them into baskets, and carrying the whole on their heads to the village, where the grain, after being thoroughly sun-dried, was thrashed out by lines of men with longhanded rackets, as seen in the illustration, “ Unyamuezi Harvest,” of Speke's Journal. They sang and beat the grain to a chorus, winnowed it in the S.E. breeze, divided it into shares, and by the 1st of July all was housed for the year; and porters, had they chosen, might have gone with us to Karague, but they preferred tasting the new year's grain. After the harvest, the poorer people were allowed to glean the potato, ground-nut, and grain fields, glad to have some refuse, as, should the previous season have been a poor one, they must have lived upon dried potato, or what wild herbs they could pick up. Our Seedees, all of whom except ten were away with Speke, could not afford to purchase a cow or goat, and they felt the want of meat considerably, but not to the extent that a European does. My gun almost daily provided a guinea-fowl or pigeon, and the Seedees lived upon stirabout or fish; while, clubbing their daily rations, they could afford to purchase a fowl, or by doing some office for the natives, such as sewing, &c., they always secured friends. The coin we at first used was rose-coloured beads, called "goolabee.” These were great favourites; and when exhausted, the price of everything rose to double-in fact, the new coinage of sea-green beads, or “magee bahr," was refused point-blank; they wouldn't circulate. Pure whites, “Kanyera,” were tried; they also failed.
COINAGE AND MANUFACTURES.
Indian reds, or “Kudunduguru,” were utterly refused, as only taken in uncivilised northern countries !
Kutu'mnazee,” cocoa-nut leaves, at last passed muster, and milk was procured for our tea. It was a regular strike in the market. All this rubbish of beads was merely the equivalent to coppers. Silver was represented by webs of unbleached calico, 30 to 32 yards long, 1 yard wide, and weighing 10 lb., stamped in blue, “Massachusetts Sheeting.” The man who got this stamped portion—" Keerole,” or lookingglass, as they called it was thought a considerable swell, and took care to show it across his loins. Sovereign coinage consisted of coils of brass and copper wire, thicker than that used for telegraphic purposes, and converted into bracelets by the natives. The blacksmith is never allowed to work inside the village, perhaps because he has ample space outside, and it is considered safer—not that his caste prohibits it.
The nodules of ore are generally smelted in the forests, and brought in a lump to the smith, who, by means of stone anvils and stones as sledge-hammers, converts it into a long rod; and finally, by a hand-vice, and grease from a small pot he carries, it is tied between two posts and drawn till it becomes a thread. It is now fit, after being once heated, for being twisted neatly with the finger and thumb round a few hairs from the tail of a cow, or the thicker hair of a giraffe. In this state it is worn in rings ornamenting the ankles of men and women, fifteen of them costing one string of beads, value a halfpenny, and fifteen copper or brass ones being double price. Iron hoes, adzes, grass-hooks, small knives, pincers, &c., are all made up by the