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Table of Contents
Music in Africa
The Black Forest Pigmies
The Perfect Tense in the Eastern Bantu Languages
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda, Part VI
"Futki" and Some Other Elephants
Mwanga, the Man and His Times
The Uganda Society
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
Vol. IV. OCTOBER, 1936. No. 2.
Indirect Rule ... ... by His Excellency, P. E. Mitchell.
Music in Africa ... ... ... ... ... ... by Y. Bansisa.
The Black Forest Pigmies .. ... .. ... by Pete Pearson.
The Perfect Tense in the Eastern Bantu
Languages ... ... ... ... ... by E. B. Haddon.
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda,
(Part VI) .. ... by Capt. C. R.S. Pitman.
"Futki" and Some Other Elephants ...... by H. B. Thomas.
Soll Erosion ...- ... ... ... ... by N.V. Brasneot.
Mwanga, the Man and his Times ... by T. B Fletoher.
NOTES. CORRESPONDENCE, REVIEW AND MINUTES.
NGONG, NEAR NAIROBI
SPORT, ETO. ADVANTAGES
GOLF No Rates or Taxes
POLO Indisputably Healthy
No Building Restrictions
TENNIS Excellent Building
Water Laid to Every
SHOOTING Gloriously Entrancing
GARDENING Only 8 Miles from
Delightful Residential Plots of o10
Acres upward at from Z15 per Acre
on very easy terms
An Initial Payment of 20o and
the balance spread ve r two to
three years will secure one of
Send for Descriptive Brochure to:-
KAREN ESTATES LIMITED
P. 0. Box 129
THE MOST RELIABLE
Between Seller and Buyer
"THE UGANDA HERALD"
(PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY).
Its Advertising Columns are occupied year after year by Adver-
tisers whose experience has proved that judicious and wisely placed
To Reach the Native Buyer you MUST Advertise in
Published Fortnightly in Luganda and read by thousands of Natives
throughout the Protectorate. Advertisements in "MATALISI" have
steadily increased during the past year positive proof of its
Sterling Value as an Advertising Medium.
RATES ON APPLICATION
The Uganda Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd.
Bombo Road, KAMPALA.
P. 0. Box 84.
Only ONE Car has
All These Features
1. Independent Suspension.
2. No-draught Ventilation.
3. Body Conformity Seating.
4. Outstanding Performance.
The Motor Mart and Exchange Ltd.,
EAST AFRICA'S BEST PRODUCTS
1% c1e(%T LageT
f hight re(eshing ABe
They are brewed and bottled by
East African Breweries
KENYA and UGANDA
RAILWAYS and HARBOURS.
COMBINED RAIL AND AIR TRANSPORT
Passenger tickets combining transport by Wilson
Airways and the Railway Services are now available.
IMPORTANT REDUCTIONS IN FARES.
Freight, for transfer at Nairobi, up to 45 lbs. per
Full details obtainable at stations and offices of the
Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours and
Messrs. Wilson Airways Limited.
WILL YOUR CHILD'S EDUCATION
COST YOU ?
Have you ever considered the difficulty you may
be confronted with in 10 to 15 years' time?
Let the "OLD MUTUAL" show you how, at
very little outlay now, you may secure, whether
you are alive or not, the education you intend
your child to have.
THE SOUTH AFRICAN MUTUAL
LIFE ASSURANCE SOCIETY
(Incorporated by Act of Parliament in the Union of South Africa).
BRANCH OFFICE FOR EAST AFRICA:
Stanley House, P. 0. Box 359.
Hardinge Street, NAIROBI.
KAMPALA LOCAL AGENCY:
A. H. Wardle & Co., Ltd.
A. C. R. BAMFORD,
District Manager for Uganda,
Barclays Bank Buildings. P. 0O. Box 500, Kampala.
The Uganda Journal.
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
Vol. IV. OCTOBER, 1936. No. 2.
... ... ... ... by His EXCELLENCY, P. E. MITCHELL.
Music in Africa ... ... ... ... ... ... ... by Y. BANSISA.
The Black Forest Pigmies ... ... ... ... ... by PETE PEARSON.
The Perfect Tense in the Eastern Bantu Languages ... ... by E. B. HADDON.
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda, Part VI. ... ... ... by C. R. S. PITMAN.
"Futki" and Some Other Elephants ... ... ... ... by H. B. THOMAS.
Soil Erosion ... ... ... .. ... ... ... by N. V. BRASNETT.
Mwanga, the Man and his Times .. ... ... ... by T. B. FLETCHER.
The blackness of the African Skin ...
The Caves of Mount Elgon ... ...
Teso Clans ... ... ... ...
The Board Game in North-West Africa
... ... by R. N. T. W. FIENNES.
... ... by F.K.
.. ... by F. LUKYN WILLIAMS.
by R. E. PARRY.
A Distant View of Ruwenzori ... ... ... ... ... by A. J. BOOTH.
Emin Pasha's Fort at Dufile ... ... ... ... ... by J. P. BIRCH.
Bee-keeping in Uganda ... ... ... ... ... ... by A. J. BOOTH.
Africa answers back (A. K. Nyabongo).
Minutes of a Special General Meeting and of the Annual General Meeting of
the Uganda Society, held on August 27th, 1936.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
His EXCELLENCY P. E. MITCHELL, ESQ., C.M.G., M.C.
H. JowITT, ESQ.
MARK WILSON, ESQ.
Honorary Vice-Presidents :
SIR ALBERT R. COOK, KT., C.M.G. THE RT. REV. BISHOP E. MICHAUD, C.B.E.
E. J. WAYLAND, ESQ. DR. H. H. HUNTER, C.B.E., LL.D.
MRS. C. G. MOODY. F. LUKYN WILLIAMS, ESQ.
Miss P. B. KNOWLES. CAPT. E. F. TWINING, M.B.E.
MRS. N. D. HIRA. K. D. GUPTA, ESQ.
CAPT. F. L. GUILBRIDE. OMW. B. K. MULYANTI.
SDR. A. T. SCHOFIELD.
C. G. MOODY, ESQ.
JOHN SYKES, EsQ.
Honorary Assistant Editor:
R. A. SNOXALL. ESQ.
Representative in Great Britain:
A. R. MORGAN, ESQ., O.B.E.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
I. There are no restrictions as to membership of the Uganda Society.
Membership is open to all races and to Institutions and Clubs. No entrance
fee is imposed. The annual subscription, which is payable in advance on ist
July of each year, is Shs. io/- for single membership and Shs. i5/- for double
members. The double membership is introduced for the convenience of families
and entitles two members of a family to all the rights and privileges of a full
member except that they receive only one copy of each number of the Journal.
2. Additional copies of the numbers of Volume III and of Volume IV (the
current number) may be obtained from the Uganda Printing and Publishing
Company, Ltd., Kampala (Business Managers). Price Shs. 2/50 per copy.
The bound Volumes I and II (Vol. I incomplete), and single numbers
of those Volumes are obtainable only at the Uganda Bookshop, Kampala.
Prices are as follows:- Vol. I, Shs. 12/-; Vol. II, Shs. i5/-; single numbers,
Shs. 3/-. Vol. I, No. 2, is now out of print.
Numbers of the current Volume and of Volume III are also on sale at the
Uganda Bookshop, Kampala.
3. Arrangements have been made with the Uganda Printing and Publishing
Company, Ltd.. Kampala, to bind Volumes of the Journal at a cost of Shs. 3/-
4. 'Separates' of articles will in future only be printed if ordered in advance.
Orders should be placed with the Editor or with the Business Managers.
Prices of 'separates' vary according to the length of the article and the number
and nature of illustrations. Minimum price 20 cents.
5. Blocks of illustrations may be purchased on application to the Honorary
Treasurer or Editor. The price of these is usually half the cost of production.
6. Subscriptions should be sent to the Business Managers, P. 0. Box 84,
Kampala, from whom Bankers' Orders may be obtained. Members are parti-
cularly requested to pay subscriptions by Bankers' Order, if possible. See also
Paragraph (8) below.
Under no circumstances will the Journal be sent to those whose subscript-
ions are outstanding.
7. Contributions to the Journal should be sent to the Editor, P. 0. Box 262,
Kampala. No guarantee is given to return any MSS. submitted. Articles
should be typed in double spacing on one side of the sheet only and should not
contain matter likely to cause political or religious controversy. Those submitted
by Government Officials must comply with Colonial Office Regulations; they
should either be submitted u,f.s. the Head of Department concerned or they
should be addressed to the Editor, with a request that he will obtain the necessary
permission for publication.
Those sending photographs should send glazed prints if possible.
8. The postal address of the Honorary Secretary is P. 0. Box 161, Kampala.
The postal address of the Honorary Editor is P. 0. Box 262, Kampala.
The Business Managers of the Society are the Uganda Printing and Publish-
ing Company, Ltd., P. 0. Box 84, Kampala, to whom all communications for
the Honorary Treasurer should be sent.
9. The postal address of the Society's representative in Great Britain is A. R.
Morgan, Esq., O.B.E., 66 Brodie Avenue, Mossley Hill, Liverpool. Members
resident in the United Kingdom may send their subscriptions to him.
10. The Soczety's Bankers are the National Bank of India, Ltd., Kampala.
S11. Members are particularly requested to notify the Honorary Secretary of
any change of address. If this is not done safe delivery of the Journal can-
not be guaranteed.
12. Books belonging to the Society may be borrowed on application to the
Members are reminded that subscriptions for the year
1936-1937 were due on July 1 st, 1936, and their attention is
called to Notice No. 6 above.
The Minutes of a Special General Meeting and of the Annual General Meeting
of the Uganda Society, held on August 27th, are printed in the present number, and
the Annual Report is being circulated to members.
It would be superfluous for us to comment on the Report otherwise than to
remark that it gives cause for satisfaction in that the Society has maintained its
membership at the level of the previous year, and that, in spite of heavy expenses
of a non-recurrent nature, the financial position is sound. It is regrettable that the
increase in African membership has been disappointing, and we would urge upon
all our African members the necessity of bringing to the notice of all their friends,
who are not yet members, the existence of the Society and the advantages which it
offers to its members. Far more in the way of recruitment can be done by individ-
ual work than by the issue of notices and circulars.
We would take the opportunity of saying that the Society owes a deep debt of
gratitude to its Honorary Secretary, Dr. A. T. Schofield, for the hard work he has
done for it during the year, and that to his unflagging zeal the successful year's
working may be very largely attributed. It is most gratifying that he has kindly
agreed, despite the numerous other claims upon his time, to continue in office for
We welcome also the election of the Honourable H. Jowitt, Director of Educat-
ion, to the Presidency of the Society. Mr. Jowitt has, on numerous occasions
during the past year, been called upon to preside over the Society's meetings, owing
to the absence on leave of both the President and Vice-President, and his willing-
ness to continue to do so is therefore all the more a cause for satisfaction. It will
also help to assure the continuance of that unofficial connexion between the Society
and the Education Department, which was accepted as a principle of policy at the
Special General Meeting of February 27th, 1935, (See Journal Vol. III. p. 90).
Since the General Meeting news has been received of the appointment of our
Vice-President, Mr. Mark Wilson, as a Puisne Judge in Tanganyika. We offer him
our warmest congratulations and would once again thank him for his invaluable
services to the Society and the Journal.
We would also place on record our appreciation of the work done for the
Society by the retiring Honorary Auditor, Mr. S. R. Hooper.
Arrangements for the forthcoming Arts and Crafts Exhibition, to be held in
November, are now well in hand. Mrs. C. G. Moody, who did so much to make
the former Exhibition a success, has kindly undertaken the office of Honorary
Secretary and a number of Sub-Committees for the various Sections have been
appointed. Full details and entry forms have already been published. We would
appeal to all members to do their utmost in every way possible to make the Exhib-
ition a success.
At the July Meeting, Mr. J. Sykes lectured on "Drinks, Drinkers and Pussy-
foots in Ancient and Mediaeval England", and at the September Meeting Dr. A. T.
Schofield showed two films illustrative of the life history of Mosquitos and anti-
malarial measures His lecture was much appreciated, and was followed by a
lengthy discussion in which sundry aspects of the 'Malaria' problem were mention-
ed; in particular the various schools of thought aired their views on the subject of
The present number of the Journal contains a greater number of articles than
usual. In our Editorial of July we have already expressed our appreciation of
His Excellency's contribution on "Indirect Rule". We would also draw particular
attention to the late Mr. Pete Pearson's account of "The Black Forest Pigmies",
which Mr. V.D. Van Someren rightly claims in his footnote to be a unique docum-
ent, and to the urgency of the problems discussed in Mr. Brasnett's article on
"Soil Erosion". Mr. H. B. Thomas desires to express his thanks to various
gentlemen, who supplied reminiscences concerning "Futki", including Messrs. H.
Boazman, M. Moses, A. C. Knollys and J. P. Russell. We hope that Mr. Thomas's
extremely interesting article may provoke others to supply further information.
An innovation in the present number is the use of black ink for the illustrations.
We trust this will be found more satisfactory than the sepia ink previously used.
We beg to acknowledge with many thanks the following donations received for
the additional Coloured Plate required to illustrate Captain Pitman's articles:-
Mr. G. H. E. Hopkins ... ... o10
Mr. E. A. Temple Perkins ... ... 20
Dr. A. J. Boase ... ... ... 21
Miss Guylor ... ... ... 5
Mr. J. Sykes ... ... ... 10
Dr. A. T. Schofield ... ... ... 20
Captain F. L. Guilbride ... ... 10
Uganda Printing and Publishing Coy. 10
Mr. A. S. Thomas ... ... ... 10
Total Shs. i 16
Further contributions to this Fund will be thankfully welcomed.
We acknowledge with thanks the receipt of the following:-
Bulletin of the Imperial Institute -Vol. XXXIV, No. 2. (April-June, 1936).
Journal de la Societd des Africanistes-Tome VI, Fascicule I. (1936).
Annales du Musee du Congo Belge-Zoologie, Serie III. Section II. Tome II,
Fascicule 4. "Coldopttres-Carabides" (par L. Burgeon) (June, 1936), and Sdrie IV,
Tome I, Fascicule 2. "Contribution a la Faune ornithologique du Nord-Est du
Congo Belge" (par Dr. H. Schouteden) (April, 1936).
Man-July, August and September, 1936.
Bantu Studies-Vol. X, No. 2. (June, 1936).
The Nigerian Field-Vol. V, No. 3. (July, 1936).
By His EXCELLENCE P. E MITCHELL, C.M.G., M.C., GOVERNOR OF UGANDA.
In addressing you tonight on the subject of "Indirect Rule" I think it will be as
well if I begin with some generalisations, partly perhaps because I have a liking
for putting things in a general way, since to do so is helpful in keeping one's own
In the first place, Indirect Rule, to use the commonly accepted label, is no
more than a means to an end, like any other administrative system or practice. It
has no intrinsic value in itself, and it follows that, if it fails to achieve its end judged
by reasonable standards, it has nothing to be said for it, except (as I hope to be
able to convince you) that it is inevitable. What those ends are may not always
be easy to decide or recognize, and to that I will come later. It is, as it seems to
me, very important to keep this first generalisation in the front of your minds,
because it is very easy to fall into the error of mistaking the means for the end, and
thus to sacrifice the true interests of the people to a doctrinaire devotion to admin-
Another generalisation, perhaps even more fundamental than that which I have
just made, is that in any case in the matter of administration you are dealing with
human beings and not with chessmen, and it is humanity, human contacts, person-
alities and the realities of every day life among ordinary people, which must con-
dition every means which you may adopt to discharge the functions of administr-
ation. Perhaps I may be permitted to quote a line from a Latin poet which remains
as true today as when it was written two thousand years ago; it is this, "Naturam
expellasfurca-lamen usque recurret "-"You may pitch-fork nature out, but she will
come running back again."
We live in a scientific age, and rightly we incline more and more as the years
pass to study as scientifically as we can the problems with which we are confronted,
and to apply to them in increasing degree the scientific method. But the
greatest problem of all is human nature, and, although psychologists and anthro-
pologists can help us with it very greatly, in the practical business of administration
we shall make a sad mess of things if we think of the human material with which
we deal as a problem to study rather than as personalities to know. This I believe
to be of great importance anywhere, but where, as with us, there is the great dif-
ference of race dividing to a great extent administrators and administered, it seems
to me to be of over-whelming importance.
* A lecture given to the Uganda Society on July 17th, 1936.
Premising then that we are discussing tonight only a means to an end, and
that we are going to remind ourselves throughout that it is human people we are
concerned with, what is this Indirect Rule of which we hear so much ? In trying
to answer that question I would be understood to be speaking now only of African
dependencies; and I must ask my audience to bear in mind that much of what can
be said in general terms may not apply to such a unit as the Kingdom of Buganda,
which has special characteristics of its own.
It may perhaps be easier to begin by saying what Indirect Rule is not; it is
certainly not anything to do with sovereignty, home rule, nationalism and the like;
these are matters of political principle. It may or may not be right for one race or
nation to rule another, but, whether it is or whether it is not, it has nothing to do
with administrative systems.
Another thing that Indirect Rule is not is a sort of patent medicine, which
you can apply to any group of people as a kind of one-minute cure for all their
troubles. If any comparison of the kind is permissible it might be with the sur-
geon's instruments, and without the skill of the surgeon it is about as useful and
Indirect Rule is of course nothing new; it is at least as old as the Empire of
Ancient Rome. But it has acquired in our days a new orientation, for we have
come to look upon it rather as a means of discharging our obligations than of
ensuring our interests.
The foundation of the thing is two-fold and really very simple. It is founded first
on the assumption that in the ordinary everyday affairs of life every group of people
must necessarily possess some form of native, or perhaps, as native has a special
meaning here, I had better say natural authority, normally, of course, symbolised
in the person or some individual or individuals. In other words, in Africa as else-
where, for a group, clan, tribe or other unit to be a unit at all it must possess in
some form what we for convenience label "chiefs", and it must possess a general
body of social and administrative practices and customs-in fact, a common law.
Any sort of organised society, and whatever else primitive societies may or may
not be they are all highly, indeed complicatedly, organised, would be impossible
without these things, and the appearance, as in Africa, of European central govern-
ments, with ultimate control of everything in the country, makes no real difference
to this in principle, although it may affect it in practice in a very extensive manner.
May I give you just this single illustration of what I mean ? From the limits of
Cape Colony to the Nile, from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, tens of millions
of Bantu small-holders derive their living from the land and pasture their cattle,
and the whole of this vast and intricate system of land tenure and administration
is entirely regulated in practice, if not always in theory, by native customary law
and native authority.
Secondly, Indirect Rule is founded on the conception that the most important
duty of the Government is to train and develop the African inhabitants of the
country, so that their ancient tribal organizations may be modernised and adapted
by them in such a manner as to serve the present, and the future, as they have
served the past; that our duty is not to facilitate the Europeanisation of except-
lonal individuals but the civilisation of the mass; not, as has been said, so much
"on their own lines"-for, essentially, civilisation is not a matter of race-but upon
their own feet. It is, of course, often easier and more efficient for the moment to
administer rather than to teach administration ; it is for that matter easier to do a
sum in arithmetic than to teach someone else to do it; but we have much more to
do in Africa than the mere conduct of day to day business.
In addressing ourselves to this problem then, we have to do two things; we
have to get clear in our minds first the nature of native authority, and secondly the
functions of the central Government.
In a country such as we have in mind authority is of two kinds-the authority
of the European Power, which I shall call, for want of a better phrase, "the foreign
power", and the authority of the indigenous society, which I shall call "native
Speaking in a very general way, it is true to say that in our own country
authority has developed from the will of the king to our present-day conceptions
of the sovereign will of the people. But through all its stages it has been native
authority; and when the authority of the day and the will of the people have been
in conflict, the will of the people has, in the end, always prevailed and, having
prevailed, has been accepted as right.
In an African territory such as we are considering, this cannot be the case in
the same sense, for there is lacking the homogeneity, the national sentiment, which
make it possible.
You cannot, moreover, bridge the gap between foreign power and native auth-
ority by the simple expedient of appointing Africans to your own service. An
official of the foreign power is, qua official, not less "foreign" because he is a native,
paradoxical as that may sound. You cannot establish native authority upon a basis
of chiefs selected and appointed by the foreign power; you may get by this means
a useful temporary agency of administration, but it will not be native. That is not
to say that it is impossible ever to create a new native authority; it is not imposs-
ible, but it is a very difficult and a very slow process; and, if there is a real tradit-
ional native authority ready to your hand, it is also unnecessary and generally
The administrative system called "Indirect Rule" endeavours in each place
where it is to be applied to ascertain what are the persons or institutions which the
people concerned look upon as the natural authority. It looks, in doing this, to
tradition, but it is not traditionalist, and its regard for old things is based not on
their oldness but on their soundness; and after all, if things are both ancient and
alive, it is a reasonable presumption that they are sound. Above all it must be
realistic and keep to the facts as they are, however inconvenient, and to the human
limitations by which it is circumscribed, however cramping.
This involves, a priori, the discovery of what the natural groups were, for to
the European eye they have often become obscured by earlier administrative action
or other causes. It can seldom be asserted with certainty that this process is com-
plete at any particular time; and it is always desirable to be prepared to agree to
modifications or alterations which can be shown to be in accordance with native
organisation and the circumstances and needs of the day. In other words you have
to be constantly on your guard against the rigidity which so easily supplants con-
It naturally follows that in the application of Indirect Rule there is great
variety, depending on the stage which each community has reached. The normal
among Bantu people (and they, of course, are only one group, although by far the
greatest in numbers) may be described as a constitutional chief; the office of chief
is not an individual one, as in our European conception, but rather corporate, em-
bodying a number of persons with varied functions and responsibilities, some of
whom, startling as it may sound, may be dead.
You are no doubt all familiar with the general outline of Bantu ideas of the
composition of the community, which consists not only of the living members but
also of those whom we should call dead. The man-or woman, for it may be either
-who stands closest in relation to the spirits of the principal ancestor or ancestors,
is generally "the Chief," that is the apex, as it were, of the pyramid of family,
clan, and perhaps tribal authority, and in a sense the personification of the com-
munity. In addition to "the Chief" in this sense (who may be chief of three
hundred or three hundred thousand people, according to circumstances), there are a
number of other office holders with various functions, and every fully initiated
member of the tribe has the right to participate in tribal gatherings, "court" sess-
ions, and activities of this kind. In some cases, where the organisation is by
age-grades, there may be some qualification of this general right by restriction
to a particular grade or grades. In many cases groups are so small that some
measure of common activity through a council is necessary in present day condit-
ions, but that is sound enough if the component parts are genuine. It is synthetic
or artificial councils, deriving from no real native or natural authority, which are
a snare and a delusion.
The important point is that true native authority among Bantu people is in
fact democratic and representative; it may have been distorted by past conquests,
or an ambitious individual may secure such a measure of support from the "foreign
power" as will enable him to distort it, but its fundamental basis is the will of the
whole community and its organisation is democratic. In principle I think that this
may also be said of the Nilotic and Hamitic groups, but I cannot claim to know
them as I know the Bantu.
On this foundation of native authority the native administration is organised,
in a manner with which many of you are familiar, for the discharge of administrat-
ive, judicial and financial functions. Many of those functions are new, the out-
come of the new circumstances in which the community finds itself, and all are
changing. This is the healthiest possible sign, for the last thing we wish to do is
to rivet on the African an anachronistic and rigid tribalism. His society must,
and does, change in accordance with his changing circumstances.
There is no division of functions between the British Government and the
native authority by subject-nothing resembling dyarchy. With a few exceptions,
such as the raising and control of armed forces, which are and must be reserved
entirely to the British Government, the division may be described as horizontal
rather than perpendicular; that is to say that, in principle, no branch of the admin-
istration is entirely British or entirely native, but that up to a point all are native,
in their simpler or at any rate their local aspect, and then British: it is moreover
axiomatic that in the sphere of administration (excluding large townships where
different issues arise) the point at which the division occurs ought to be constantly
rising, until in native Africa executive administration is the function of the local
The native administration of each area is responsible, to the extent of the
devolution to it in each case, for law and order, the collection of revenue, the con-
struction and maintenance of roads, hospitals and dispensaries, schools, farms and
so on; the native courts enforce the law-the customary law of the people as modified
from time to time, and such local legislation as they may be empowered to enforce,
as well as rules and orders made under statutory powers by the native authority.
The native treasuries receive revenue from various sources and make all necessary
These activities are all under the general supervision of the British administr-
ative officers, whose ultimate relation to the native authorities may be compared
to that of the Ministry of Health to local government bodies in England, (albeit
there are but few places where this stage has been reached today), remembering
always that in Africa executive and judiciary are not sharply separated. The super-
vision given may amount to no more than advice from time to time, the functions
of an appellate and revisionary court and audit; or it may have to go much further
and be a close and real control, and even, as I have said, a partial exercise of execut-
ive functions later to be discharged by the native authority.
Everything depends on the stage reached by the various units, but all are, or
at any rate ought to be, native authorities, and through them the people should
have a real share in the administration of their own country, or perhaps I should
say county, and be receiving a training in responsibility for public affairs of the
greatest value; they are in fact being patiently trained for the enjoyment of that
fuller citizenship which they will certainly attain.
It may perhaps be useful now to try to summarise the implications of the fore-
going; I think I should do it thus. First, the tribal system is capable of adapt-
ation and modernisation to meet the needs of a society organised on modern lines;
its attachment to the past is a valuable stabilising force, a force which serves an
essential purpose in holding society together and in preventing that contempt of
their own race which is one of the evils that civilisation is apt at first to bring to
Africans. If you do not respect your race, you cannot really respect yourself. But,
if its roots are in the past, properly directed its fruits lie in the future. It can
certainly be destroyed, but in that event it has inevitably to be laboriously recon-
structed on some other basis.
Secondly, the native customary law is a living system, capable of adapting
itself to the needs and circumstances of the people, providing always that we allow
the native judicial system, with adequate and intelligent guidance of course, to
perform its essential function of developing the common law in relation to the: facts
and circumstances of the day, and that well meaning people are prevented front
reducing it to a written code, thus crystallising a thing which needs, above all, to
be fluid, so that custom and circumstance may develop side by side. That I think is a
very important point. In many tribes there may already be said to be customary law,
governing such things as ploughing or coffee or cotton growing, none of which is a
generation old. The Zulu customary law was codified seventy years ago extreme-
ly efficiently. I doubt if there is anybody in the service of the British Crown
who could do that work today; it was done by people who knew a great deal more
about the Zulu than we know of the East African peoples. But the result has
been that at the present day European lawyers are employed to interpret the Zulu
Code to the Zulus, because they have long since outgrown it, and no longer know
or understand it.
Thirdly, and most important perhaps, the toughness and tenacity of what we
call the tribal system, the African social organisation, are remarkable; that is to say
that the living spirit of the Bantu people is both deep and strong. There is much
rather glib talk of detribalisationn", and on the surface it often appears to be a
quick and destructive process. But I believe that, in general, it is seldom more
than skin deep, a temporary phase of first contact with Europe, due mainly to a
hastily formed belief that to be civilised, educated and prosperous it is necessary
to copy the European in externals.
A good deal of what is called detribalisation, by people labelled experts who
shake their heads over it, is genuine in the sense that the so-called detribalised
native believes himself to be detribalised, but it is only the temporary effect of his
first contact with Europeans; and in any crisis of his life or matter of major import-
ance to him he quickly recognizes the powerful forces of his own social and econom-
ic organisation and the traditions of his people.
It is commonly objected to the method of administration with which I am
dealing that it is inefficient or corrupt or oppressive, in tacit or expressed contrast
with other methods, particularly those which employ only European officials and
their direct subordinates. Even if this charge were true, it would not necessarily be
decisive: you may find yourself in the middle of the lake in a leaky boat, but to sink
the boat may not be the wisest thing to do.
The truth of the matter, however, is that there is no more reason why the
Indirect method of administration should be corrupt or inefficient than there is in
the case of any other method, and a good many very good reasons why it should
be less likely to be oppressive; apart from anything else, there is the safeguard that
the authority with which lies the responsibility for control and inspection is distinct
from the actual executive agent. Put more simply, it is for the Chief and his or-
ganisation to execute, and the District Commissioner and his staff to supervise, when
the thing has been fully worked out. And do not forget that the supervision part
of it is not something which has to be done in Africa because Native Administr-
ations cannot get on without it; it is an essential and universal feature of local
government everywhere and no more derogatory to the Native Authorities than
is the existence of the Ministry of Health to local authorities in England.
In any case, discussions as to the merits of "Indirect Rule" have little profit,
forthe fact is that native local government-Indirect rule-is not one of several alter-
natives from which to choose, but a necessity which cannot be escaped. It is not
a matter of theory or doctrine, but reality. You can waste a lot of time and do
untold harm by delay in organising and taking in hand your local government units:
but you will sooner or later have to do it. The breathing space you have-the
interval between the first occupation of these countries and the time when this
organisation must be undertaken-is due simply to the fact that for a considerable
time native authority will function and provide the indispensable agency of local
administration, even though you neglect it and leave it to its own devices and
ignore its existence. It will not stand this treatment indefinitely, and when, be-
cause of neglect, it begins to weaken, you are very soon brought up with a round
turn and made to realise how dependent you are on it.
Certainly, it is dependent on you; as I have already said, central Government
and native authority are complementary and integral parts of a single machine, a
machine the object of which is to discharge the daily administrative functions with
honesty and justice, and that measure of efficiency which ensures essentials and
eschews officiousness. By this you must judge it, bearing in mind that power lies
with the central government, and therefore responsibility; responsibility that the
defects which must appear from time to time in any organisation composed of ord-
inary men, and dealing with their fellow men, are corrected and made good, and
that there should be ensured to the people of the country the even handed justice,
the personal liberty and security and the opportunities for progress, which are the
justification for our presence here; for it is not as caretakers that we shall be justi-
fied in the eyes of posterity but as builders.
Music in Africa.
By Y. BANSISA.
There is nothing more pleasant than to see jolly young Africans, in their merry
state, performing their ancestral music. They sing and dance and jump about;
but to a European or to any person of the more civilised countries it would appear
to be mere confusion rather than music itself.
I think Shakespeare was right when he said in his Merchant of Venice in praise
"The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for reasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted! "
Shakespeare again says that the sweet power of music can be felt by animals
also, for they can distinguish noise from music This appreciation of music is also
found in Africans. From a European point of view, African native music is indeed
a primitive form of music; but to an African it is sufficient to express his feelings
to his fellow men.
I have sometimes heard certain foreigners say that there was practically no
music in Africa, and that the so-called African native music was the mere noise of
mentally-deranged people! When such people hear a bird straining its lovely voice
to express its inward feelings to men, they hastily order the bird to be stopped from
chanting its sweet music, and an African servant is commanded to drive it away as
if it had committed a terrible crime. If perchance the above-mentioned people hear
an African singing when he feels that he has satisfactorily done the daily task
given to him by his European master, they say harshly to him, "Will you stop that
horrible noise ? "
This article was awarded the first prize in the annual Uganda Bookshop Essay Prize
Competition (1935) at Makerere College. It is published by kind permission of The Uganda
I take this attitude of distaste towards African native music, which such people
have, to be a matter of nationality and not a matter of taste for music. I regard
such people as unlikely to be moved by their own native music, since a man who
appreciates the beautiful things of his own country is likely to be equally moved
by those of other countries. A born poet will still be a poet although he goes to
live even in the Congo Forest where everything is supposed to be terrifying and evil
However, many Europeans can be found taking an interest in African native
music and no one would be bold enough to say that all Europeans are not interested
in African native music, for all music appeals to people who are naturally gifted in it.
In modern times, when Western civilisation has been introduced into many
parts of Africa, music in Africa may be grouped into two main divisions, namely
African native music and European music. I can safely term the latter "European,"
because it is the Europeans who have influenced the life of Africans so much as
regards their mode of living, dress, customs, etc., while few things have been copied
from Asiatic people although they were amongst the first to open up the "Dark
Continent". The kanzu which they introduced into Africa is now on its last legs.
I can only touch briefly on the early history of our native music, as this would
lead back to the study of prehistoric men. But one may say that our African
native music has been wedded to many different languages down through the ages,
and has varied according to the customs and behaviour of the tribes which used it.
Music in Africa existed a very long time ago, for we find even our jolly Pigmies,
who are counted among the most primitive races of mankind, expressing their
emotions in music.
Our ancestors did not know what formal music was, but under the Providence
of Nature they soon found out that music was the most convenient way of express-
ing one's feelings in the most agreeable manner and no feast was complete unless
music was performed. Music usually consisted of songs which commended a hero,
or a person's beauty. The praise of great persons in the tribe, such as a paramount
chief, were always sung in beautiful pieces of music which were very often
invented by women. The composer was not known. The new song which was taken
up by the tribe seemed to begin from nowhere. Even to-day the composers of African
native songs are not known at all in many tribes, and the natives seem not to take
any interest in tracing their origin.
The phrases used in these songs were incomprehensible to young people as
they consisted of similes, metaphors and such language as was not often met with
in the ordinary language of speech. Pieces of sweet music were also found in fables
and they recounted adventures which happened to the person who was the chief
character in the fable. If a great event happened in the country, such as the return
from exile of a great chief who had been captured, that event was celebrated in
song and it lived for ever, though sometimes the descendants thought of that event
as being only a myth.
African native music falls into two divisions: (i)Vocal Music and(2)Instrumental
Music. The former is most widespread in Africa, from the primitive Pigmies to the
more civilised Bantu.
(i) Vocal Music was sung during any part of the day. If a person felt lonely,
he would sing certain pieces of music to while away the time. If he was unable to
use his voice, he would whistle the tune. On account of this gift of whistling, the
African has gained the fame of being one of the best whistlers of the human race!
Whistling is particularly common among pastoral people, for their work did not
need a long-sustained effort; they had only to look after their cattle. On the other
hand, agricultural people were always occupied in hard manual work during the
most part of the day, and so had less time for music.
Lullabies were very common among nurses. Children could not be hushed or
made to sleep unless a song was sung to them. For love of these lullabies children
used to sit on their nurses' laps in order to be lulled, although they were not weeping
or wanting to sleep. Such lullabies are common in various tribes of Africa.
These lullabies may be illustrated by the following which is taken from the
"Nyabura nyina ogu kirira mu ndugu
Nyabura nyina ogu obwa atakalire
Nyabura nyina ogu munkwatire.
Nyabura nyina ogu obwamara kulya
Nyabura nyina ogu ngu mumpe kunu."
which may be translated:-
Ha! that mother, who takes her food alone.
Ha! that mother, before she has eaten.
Ha! that mother she says, "Lull the children for me."
Ha! that mother when she has finished to eat.
Ha! that mother she says, "Give the child to me."
Other African native lullabies are composed in the same way as that which
has been mentioned. Always nurses lulled their children with lullabies in this
strain ; for they were afraid of making direct request to their masters and therefore
they always expressed what they wanted in lullabies.
When all the people of the family had gathered together at night, they used
to sit around the fireplace and sing if they liked and, if there was any liquor avail-
able, they would drink it. It must be noted here that, in most tribes of Africa, beer
or any intoxicating thing was seldom given to women or those who were consider-
ed to be still children. Women and children took part only in music. If the
music became sweeter, some people would stand up and dance. As modesty is the
most distinguished characteristic of women, women in many African tribes were
wont not to dance, but they had the duty of providing music.
Vocal music was really performed in those days by what we may term a choir.
There was a leader who had the duty of setting the tune of the song and it was his
duty to sing the stanzas. The choir repeated only the first phrase of the song
as soon as the leader had finished a stanza. Such music is represented by Baga-
nda ballads which are common throughout the country; and the following is an
CHOIR : Wajangala / eby'enyumba tebitotolwa. Wajangala !
LEADER : Ekyenyi yakula mu'tike.
CHOIR : Wajangala eby'enyumba tebitotolwa. Wajangala !
LEADER: Amaso galinga etabaza.
CHOIR: Wajangala! eby'enyumba tebitotolwa. Wajangala!
It may be translated thus:-
CHOIR : Wajangala! Matters of the house cannot be told.
LEADER: He has an exceedingly beautiful forehead.
CHOIR: Wajangala Matters of the house cannot be told.
LEADER : His eyes are like the light from the lamp.
CHOIR: Wajangala! Matters of the house cannot be told.
This kind of music is exactly the same throughout Africa, and it is used by both
primitive and civilised natives.
Invitations to hear music were very common. If the head of the family had
any tribal feast, or what may be termed an entertainment, he used to invite his
neighbours and relatives who lived far off from his village. He would tell his guests
the day and the time when the entertainment was going to take place and they would
gather at the appointed time and then begin the entertainment according to the
arrangement of the householder. They would usually dance until the break of day.
It was considered a very pleasing thing if the wife of the householder danced and
the partakers of the feast would strain their voices to the utmost in order to please
her. After dancing it was the custom to give a gift of some sort to the person who
was generally considered to have danced best. The presentation took place in the
presence of all the people taking part in the music. The gift was voluntary and was
awarded without distinction of sex.
Entertainments did not consist of dances only in many tribes and sometimes
dancing did not take place at all. They used sometimes to sit down and then in-
troduce another kind of music in which dancing was not included: this type of music
is represented by the Toro-Bunyoro music called "enanga". This kind of music
was very sweet, even sweeter(from the native point of view) than the music of the
Sirens which fascinated the Greek heroes who tried to venture beyond the Pillars
of Hercules. Women used to strain their exquisite voices in such a way as to
make one think that it was a choir of gods. Men would sit quietly and listen at-
tentively to the music in the same way as we do to the music produced by gramo-
The dances in different parts of Africa differ according to the customs of the
tribe but they are really based upon the same principles. The difference in shaking
certain limbs makes the stranger think that they differ widely in their principles.
Take for instance the difference between the dancing of pastoral and agricultural
people : the pastoral people always danced by the movement of their arms in order
to show how the horns of their cattle were shaped. Cows with long horns were
considered to be of great beauty while cows with short horns were thought of as
miserable creatures. The agricultural people danced by the movement of their
(2) Instrumental Music amongst Africans is represented by (a) the musical wind
instruments of the Baganda called "ndingidi" (b) the musical bands of Toro, Bu-
nyoro, Ankole and Buganda called "makondere" (c) the nanga, a kind of violin used
by the the Nilotics and by the pastoral people living in the south-west corner of
Toro (Basongora) (d) the njenje, a kind of harp used by the primitive people inhab-
iting Ruwenzori and also by the Bwamba, a tribe of Pigmy descent.
Of these musical instruments which I have just mentioned I will give a vivid
description only of makondere and nanga, because they represent the whole group
of musical instruments played by Africans throughout Africa. I have witnessed
their performance several times and have often enjoyed the sweet music produced
from them. It would not be right for me to describe African native music which
I had read of only in books and which I had never heard being played or sung.
The makondere produces some of the sweetest music to be found in Africa. The
instruments producing it are:-
(a) the bugles, (b) a very big drum, (c) other small drums.
The bugles are made from the long necks of gourds and these gourd necks
are covered with the skin of a kind of lizard known as "nswaswa" in Uganda.
There are nine bugles and each bugler has to produce one note only and each note
differs from the others. These nine notes, when combined together, form a har-
mony. The music is played in the open air so as to give a chance to everybody
who wants to partake of the music. The drum-major stands in the centre of a circle;
the buglers and the people playing the small drums walk on the circumference. The
dancers also walk on the circumference, and jump up and down according to the
beat of the drums. When the first circuit is finished, it is the duty of the drum-
major to give a sign to stop or to continue according to the length of the song.
When the first song is finished it is the duty of the buglers to begin another song.
Men and women dance together to this type of music.
The makondere music in reality is like the imaginary "music of the spheres"
which Shakespeare alludes to in his Merchant of Venice. According to the ancient
system of astronomy the Earth was the centre of the Universe and planets and stars
revolved around it one within the other. It was believed that there was on the
upper surface of each sphere a Siren who went round with the sphere "humming a
single sound and note". There were eight spheres and later on the number was
increased to nine. The nine notes together formed a harmony. This is true also of
makondere music; the drum-major represents the earth, while the nine buglers re-
present the nine spheres on which the Sirens sat.
When the sounds of all these musical instruments are combined together, no
human words can express the emotions which Africans feel when they are taking
part in it. They jump merrily according to the beat of the drums and the notes
of the bugles. This type of music is always played in moonlight when everything
is silent and hearkening to it.
It must be understood that this type of music is possessed by the Paramount
Chief (Mukama) alone, but all the people, whether nobles or peasantry, are allowed
to take part in the sweet music, for it is not the property of a certain individual
but of the state.
The nanga of the Nilotics, or of the Basongora, is constructed on the same
principle as the European violin. It is shaped like one part of a cask when halved.
The strings run from one end of the instrument, which is of wood, to the other.
Before the tune is played on this instrument, the performer must see whether the
sound that each string produces is good or not. At one of the ends there is a key,
which regulates the sounds. There are six strings altogether on the nanga. When
it is stretched the musician thrums it with her fingers and produces the music
she intends to play. The musician speaks certain flowing words which coincide
with the music produced by the nanga. The music is very pleasant and the people
listening to it seem to be stunned by its power. This type of music is usually
played by women, who do their best to excite the emotions of the hearers.
African native music has not changed since the coming of Europeans to Africa.
Where the music is still produced, it employs the same ancestral airs and European
music seems not to have influenced it at all. This is because the so-called educated
Africans do not seem to bother about their native music when they leave school.
Those modern Africans, who aspire to compose music, compose it according to the
European fashion and model which they have been taught in their respective schools.
In course of time the African native music may be lost altogether, if steps are not
taken by the educationalists to teach this native music, as they now teach European
music, in the schools.
As might be expected European music has been introduced into Africa, for as
the Christian Missionaries influenced the life of Africans so much in other ways it
was only natural that certain types of European religious music should be imposed
on the Africans. The history of African Missions contains much about African
native music, both ancient and modern, and it is probably true that some missionaries
know certain native airs better than the pupils whom they are trying to teach on
European instrumental music is very limited in Africa. Although there are
many wind and string instruments imported into Africa annually, yet an African has
little chance of gaining knowledge of these instruments An example of this lack of
knowledge of European instrumental music may be taken from Makerere College
in Uganda. Out of one hundred and fifty students in 1935, only about eight had a
little knowledge of playing the piano or organ. All of these eight had been
educated in Church Missionary Society schools and not one came from other
schools. This shows that music is not so thoroughly practised in certain schools
as one would expect from seeing the word "Music" written in large letters in their
time tables. With the exception of the K.A.R. band and a few bands in certain
missionary schools European wind instruments are not very common in Uganda.
There is indeed a very big difference between European music and African
native music. The application of European music to the African variety would
lead to the invention of another music differing from the originals. In this invented
music the good and bad qualities of both systems are likely to appear. Therefore
it would probably be inadvisable to join the two together. Since European re-
ligious music has been the type of foreign music which Africans have effectively
adopted, those natives who have tried to compose music in their mother tongues
have taken that type as their model. I grant that this type of music is harmonious
and that it can be effectively performed without the help of musical instruments,
but to the African ear it lacks rhythmic and melodic interest. I would say that
rhythm is one of the natural qualities which an African possesses although it varies
greatly in individuals and it would be difficult to say whether there is real rhythm
in African native music. But by copying European music an African may ruin his
natural rhythmic sense and this would be a very serious loss indeed.
We are living in a time when modern inventions are tending to break down
natural customs, but it seems to me quite possible, and certainly desirable, for the
African to retain what is worthy in his own art while absorbing what is best in the
artistic principles and ideals of other races.
The Black Forest Pigmies.
By (THE LATE) PETE PEARSON.
Four years before I ever came in contact with them, I had heard of the Pig-
mies both from Europeans and natives. The latter fear them very much, and with
good reason, and always speak of them with bated breath.
The Bambuti, as the natives call them, inhabit the Black Forest of the Congo
River Basin, or, more particularly the part adjoining, the Ituri Forest, so called after
the river of that name; this latter has its source in the mountainous Bulega hills
which form part of the dividing shed of the Congo and Nile basins. These hills,
overlook Lake Albert and the river Semiliki, the real parent of the Nile.
The Bambuti are nomads and, in common with all other tribes of the Black
Forest, are cannibals. Their average height is 4 feet, 2 inches; they are of a light
bronze colour, and beautifully formed in figure, but with very ugly faces and the
same curly woolly hair as the African negro. Among all the hundreds of Bambuti
men and women I have met, I have never seen one with even pleasant features,
not even among the babies and children. Their brows in general are what are
called beetling, their faces are broad, nostrils wide and lips extraordinarily thick.
They are wonderful hunters, their chief means of sustenance being meat. The
forest abounds with elephant, monkeys, lizards, and small antelope, upon which they
live, and there is also a larger animal, the okapi, resembling a mule in size and
shape, but with brown and white stripes on the body; this latter animal is very
Editorial Note.-This article was submitted to us by Mr. V. D. Van Someren, B.Sc.,
who writes as follows :-
"This authentic, and perhaps unique, account of that strange tribe of men inhabiting the
Congo Forest forms the substance of a letter written to my brothers and myself several years
ago by one of the best known of East African white hunters, the late Mr. Pete Pearson. It
is one of the few of his writings still extant.
Pete Pearson, whose untimely death was mourned only a few years ago, was in charge
of the Elephant control work of the Uganda Protectorate Game Department, and was hence
brought into intimate contact with the Bambuti or Pigmies of the Congo Forest; the results
of his stay amongst them are contained in this article, written in his own inimitable style,
and forming a unique first hand record of their ways of life. We had the privilege of know-
ing Pete Pearson as an intimate friend, as he often stayed with my father and mother in Jinja,
and in England, when his big game yarns, once he could be started, were of such interest as
only a hunter in everyday contact with the East African game animals could make them. It
is worthy of record that Pete accompanied the present King on his African safari."
rare. Every Pigmy is armed with a small bow, barbed and poisoned arrows, and
a spear of his own length, with a blade of 9 inches by 2 inches wide, very similar
to those seen among the Baganda. They lie in wait by waterpools and tracks
used by the game, and kill either with an arrow or a spear, whichever is best suit-
ed to the animal encountered; they rarely kill elephants, perhaps because their
spear is not large enough or the poison of their arrows sufficiently deadly to kill,
except after many days. If they should happen to be fortunate enough to kill an
elephant the whole tribe, sometimes a hundred in number, build their huts in a circle
round it and remain there until it is all eaten, which may take them a week.
Their huts are built in a manner similar to other African huts, but are com-
posed of leaves instead of grass, since no grass grows in the Black Forest.
They are round, about 4 feet in diameter and 2 ft. 6 inches in height, with a small
door i8 inches square, through which they crawl on hands and knees. They are
continually on the move, following the rivers up and down, occasionally staying in
one place for as long as a month.
Sometimes their diet is varied by a change to bananas and sweet potatoes,
which they obtain from the ordinary natives who live in the Black Forest, trading
meat in exchange if they happen to have been in luck. On the other hand, if the
hunt has not been successful, and they feel they would like some bananas, they
help themselves from the natives' shambas, the latter never daring to say them nay;
in fact the sight of one Bambuti standing in a native shamba is sufficient to send
the whole native population to their huts screaming, only to emerge again when
they are satisfied that he has taken what he wants and himself away again, so
great is the dread the ordinary native has of the Bambuti and his poisoned arrows.
Strange to say, the Bambuti, while vindictive and revengeful, live quite amicably
with the ordinary natives who inhabit the Black Forest. These latter, of course, live
in villages and have shambas where they grow bananas, sweet potatoes and other
crops similar to those of the natives in Uganda.
The pigmy dress is composed of a belt wound round the waist, with a piece of
barkcloth, about i foot wide by 2 feet long, which is attached to the belt in the middle
of the back, brought down between the legs, and fixed again to the belt in front;
this is the dress for both men and women. They are otherwise quite naked, but
occasionally one may be found with a brass wire bangle.
When travelling, the women, in common with those of other African tribes,
carry all the loads and do all the work, the man-the Lord of Creation apparently
--carrying only his spears and his arrows! The men only of course do the hunting,
in which they excel, and they are able to shin up a tree with little less agility than
a monkey, and can swing from tree top to tree top in a similar manner.
When tracking an animal through the forest it is a treat to be with them and
watch them-a dozen of them will make less noise than the animal tracked, while
the ordinary native attempting to follow in the same track is like a brass band in
comparison I have had as many as a dozen in front of me tracking an elephant,
and if it was not for getting occasional glimpses of them through the undergrowth,
I would have been prepared to swear there was not a soul in front. All this is
done without any apparent effort, and since they do not even watch where they
place their feet it gives one an uncanny feeling, making one very grateful they are
tracking something other than one's self. Thus one can quite imagine why the
ordinary natives fear and hold them in respect, since to have a gentleman of this
calibre tracking one through the forest, with the amiable intention of seeing how
far he can drive an arrow or spear through one's ribs tends to make one look upon
him with anything but love! But, when one dare not show hate and cannot in
nature show love, the compromise is a sickly grin, which is what I noticed on the
face of an ordinary African native when confronted by a Pigmy. What the Pigmies
thought I never knew, but they seemed to carry themselves with supreme indiffer-
ence. I used in fact to admire the little imp and the way in which he would walk
alone, with the air of a prince, into a native village, although all knew him for one
who had often made depredations on their shambas and was in all probability con-
cerned in the matter of the women who left the village to go for water and never
returned If he himself had not actually committed the deed, he would most cert-
ainly have partaken of the repast in which the missing body formed the pidce de
The first time I saw the Pigmy was in the Black Forest, on the banks of the
Semiliki River, at the foot of Mount Ruwenzori (or the Mountains of the Moon).
I had shot an elephant that I had found splashing and drinking in the river, and,
having shot him, I returned to my tent, which was pitched in a native village. Since
all I wanted of the beast was the ivory, I told the natives they could have the
carcase. Needless to say every native in the village turned out for the feast, even
to the babies in arms, and likewise the people of every village within some hours'
walk turned up to share it.
Some hours later I was sitting in my tent taking a well earned rest, when three
very excited natives came running up to me, screaming that the Bambuti had come.
After some trouble I elicited the fact that six Bambuti had come on the scene
of the feast, where about a thousand natives had assembled to take part in the orgy
of cutting up the elephant. The sight of these six small imps had been quite enough
for this large number of people to rush screaming into the forest, and take up posit-
ions behind trees, watching from afar while the imps proceeded unconcernedly to
help themselves to meat; hence the three very excited natives had come running
to me to ask me for assistance to get rid of the undesirables.
This is one of the misfortunes of belonging to the ruling caste in Africa; all
the positions of honour, namely those of extreme danger, are conceded to you with
an abandon and generosity there is no denying! I naturally felt a shyness to intrude
where a thousand others feared to tread, and so I began to temporise. In the end,
however, curiosity, or perhaps the feeling of the ruling caste, became uppermost,
and I decided I would venture and see what was happening. I went apparently un-
armed, but had slipped my revolver inside my shirt. Going thus, with empty hands,
I made up my mind that if there was going to be any trouble, I would endeavour
not to be the chief instigator, or, if there were to be any funerals, to do my best to
avoid being best man of the ceremony.
I set out accompanied by the aforesaid three, who preceded me until we got
near the spot. Then I noticed scores of natives on either side of me peering ahead
through the forest in the direction where I knew the dead elephant lay. When my
three worthies on enquiry elicited the fact that the Pigmies were still there, I
caught myself wishing the contrary! However there was no turning back now, so I
signalled, to the three natives that we would proceed to the spot. Since they show-
ed no inclination for that, but silently faded away before my eyes into the forest, and
none of the scores about could be persuaded to accompany me, I proceeded alone.
When I came upon the elephant all I could see was three small heads sticking
up from inside its tummy, just like three small chickens sticking out of an immense
egg in which they had apparently hatched. With trepidation, which these small
chickens did not appear to notice, I walked to the spot, and, as I approached, one of
them let go a piece of entrail on which he was gorging, proceeded to climb out of
his position in the tummy, got down to mother earth and came towards me with an
expansive grin and outstretched hand, his whole body being covered with blood and
filth. We shook hands to a running accompaniment of language from the chicken,
now turned out to be one of the famous Pigmies of the Congo Forest. I could form
no idea of what he was saying, and he was in the same position as regards my own
ebullitions of language. Since he seemed to have a lot to talk about, I shouted for
someone to came forward who knew the language, to interpret for me. After a while
a native could be seen approaching without any haste, though I have a suspicion he
was being propelled from further back by greater numbers.
When he arrived I found that he could talk to the Pigmies, but could not talk
any language that I could understand, so there was another wait for someone to
come forward who would translate from him to myself. Eventually he came and
we got down to business. The Pigmy took the floor, and thanked me most grate-
fully for shooting the elephant and thereby providing him and his five friends with
a feast. The five friends had by this time extricated themselves from inside the
elephant and got down to the ceremony of handshaking and greeting; of the latter
they had none for my interpreters, which may have been an oversight, or perhaps
they were supposed to take theirs for granted. In any case the interpreters did not
seem at all offended at not being greeted, but rather in fact relieved not to be in
The Pigmies rattled on in this strain for some time until my position was quite
unenviable, as I had already given the carcase to the natives. Looking around me I
could not see any of the natives beyond the two interpreters, and this rather annoy-
ed me, so many hundreds of them behaving in this cowardly manner; so, turning to my
interpreter, I gave him my opinion of the tribe and told him to tell the Pigmies that
as far as I was concerned they could have the meat, as the people to whom I had
already given it were too cowardly to fight for their own. They must do as they
pleased, but the tusks were mine, and I wanted them, and was quite prepared to
make six dead Pigmies in the process of keeping them. I do not know what the
interpreter said to them, but there were renewed expressions of goodwill, accompani-
ed by more handshaking. When they returned to the orgy inside the elephant I
retired to my tent again. I heard later that after the Pigmies had eaten their fill, they
withdrew to the forest, and the natives came into their own again.
The following day, when I was out hunting again for elephant, one of the native
guides who was in front tracking stopped and informed me that there were Bambuti
ahead. I pushed on a little, and came across my six acquaintances of yesterday
standing in the tracks. How long they had been in front I cannot tell, since none
of us could understand them, but after much discussion and gesticulating I gathered
that they desired to track the elephant for us. I acquiesced, and they brought me
up without a hitch to two elephants, which I shot, after which there was much
rejoicing. That day we formed an alliance; I was to proceed into the Black Forest
where elephant abounded; they were to track and find elephant, and I was to kill
it and keep the ivory, they the meat.
The alliance lasted a year and was beneficial to both sides which carried out
their part in the agreement in full, making a year of profit and harmony for each.
The Pigmy, like other nomads, has no home industries, living a hand to mouth
existence and not being troubled with any of the comforts of a home. The ground
is quite good enough for him to sit upon, and, with the aid of a skin got from some
animal in the chase, to sleep upon.
Apart from the aforesaid skins, and a few earthenware pots traded or stolen
from the agricultural native, I have seen no other evidence of wealth among the
Pigmies. They appeared quite happy and contented with their lot, and in fact, if
it was not for the continuous and heavy rains that fall in the forest, they would
have dispensed with the hut as well.
I never learned a word of their language, and in fact I doubt if they had one,
any more than the monkeys whom they resemble. A certain mode of communication
they had of course, which resembled a succession of gutturals or clicks.
Our only meetings were when hunting, and then, as we were both following our
own calling, we grasped one another's meanings by looks and gestures.
As you can see by all this, the Bambuti are really a simple people, and not
much higher than the beasts which keep them company in the Black Forest of the
The Perfect Tense in the Eastern Bantu
By E. B. HADDON.
This article is part of an investigation into the construction of the Bantu
languages with which I am occupied, and, since it is more or less complete in it-
self, I publish it in the hope that it may prove of value to others now investigat-
ing the Bantu languages, and excite interest in those who have not yet appreciated
what still remains to be done in the study of this group of languages. I am hope-
ful that some Bantu speaking native will make a study of the grammar of his own
language. Bantu languages are full of subtleties-how subtle they are I am only
just beginning to realise-and any attempt to confine them within the framework of
grammar designed for the Greek tongue, which was adopted by the Romans, and
into which our own language has been forced, is liable to failure. Certain terms
are necessary for definition, but these terms must be our servants, not our masters;
if we have given forms incorrect labels, then we must start re-labelling.
In the course of my investigation into the origin and nature of the Initial Vowel
in Ganda and kindred languages, it very soon became apparent that the Class Pre-
fix in Bantu, with the exception of the Mu-Ba-Class, and to some extent the Bu-
Class, which for the time being, pending further examination, I place in a separate
category, frequently represented, not, as we thought, a descriptive, a sort of Ad-
jectival Prefix, but the relation of the Noun to persons, or the relation of objects to
each other, with the exception of K-, which usually has the value of 'kind', 'manner',
etc. In other words, my investigations attacking the problem from a different
angle, confirmed the work of Mlle. Homburger. (1) But I owe also a deep debt
of gratitude to Mrs. Ashton (2), who first showed that -a with the n of associat-
ion, (n+a=na) expressed (a) agency, and (b) various ideas of association and dis-
This value for n, of association, added to Mlle. Homburger's value of genitivee',
covers, as far as I am aware, all the implications of n, and enabled me to trace the
significance of the locative -ni on the one hand, and on the other to confirm Mlle.
Homburger's work on the N Class, and the series of words which in Ganda and
Nyoro prefix Na- or Nya-.
1. L. Homburger. Les Prdfixes nominaux dans les parles Peul, Hausa et Bantous.
2. Mrs. E. 0. Ashton. Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, Vol. VII, Part 4, 1935.
As a Class Prefix, N represents the association of things, or persons, to each
other, whilst Ma- (I find it convenient at present to attach the vowel) represents a
number of ideas, which include 'physical contact', 'a number of things together', and
'position (place at which)'.
Mrs. Ashton had noticed (2) the Derived Forms in Swahili, -a+na= -ana;
-ika+ na= -ikana; ama+ na= amana; and it was clear that if there was any relation
at all between Class Prefixes and the formatives of Derived Verbs, then ma-, which
describes a state, might also form a Derived Verb and in practice is a widely used
Stative expressing the taking up of some position, and also in a few Verbs expresses
association in Swahili and probably in other languages also.
At the same time there seemed to be no logical reason, if some of the Class
Prefixes denoted a state, why they should not also act as Tense Prefixes describing
the state of the Subject Pronoun of the Verb. And when this theory was put to the
test, some interesting things came to light, because one was constantly running up
against -li-, and one had either to treat it as a Class Prefix, or as the stem of the
Verb 'to be', or recognize that there were two uses of -li in Bantu, and for reasons
which are outside the scope of this article I have decided to treat li- as a formative,
assigning to I the value of 'in respect to', and 'length' or 'distance'. Now it is quite
obvious that there is, in Ganda, a considerable difference between li- and lu-, but
the difference may lie, to a great extent, in the different vowel values of -i and -u
combined with the two values for 1-, because, if we turn to ki- and ka-, we find much
the same sort of thing in their relation to ku-; I admit that ka- has probably become
ki- in some languages, but, where both forms occur in the same language, there is a
My first experiment was with the Static -ika, 'to be doable', or, 'to be done'.
I knew -ka- as a formative of a Perfect Tense in Swahili, and as the formative of
a Past Tense in several languages. Encouraged by this I looked at the Passive,
and saw that the common -bwa formative in Ganda could be correlated with Bu-, or
the Passive -wa with the U- in Swahili; but in Nyoro the Passive can be either
-bwa or -wa, and in Gishu -iwa (-ewa) despite the presence of the Bu- Class Prefix,
so that the connection between the Class Prefix and the Passive is not proven,
though it is suggestive. I had some little success with -ila (-ira) for, if one equates
-la with li-, in the sense of 'in respect to', one has the value of the Applied Pre-
positional Verbs, but the significance of the Perfect -ile, so commonly found in
Bantu, seemed to be quite outside the laws governing Bantu, which I had just begun
to see is constructed in a more comprehensively logical way than I had hitherto
recognized. The difficulty was this. First, there was the extraordinary regul-
arity with which all Verbs in the Infinitive form end in -a (with the two common
exceptions, -li, 'be', and -ti, 'say') and I felt that there must be some good reason
for this. Secondly, the Subjunctive form, invariably I think, ends in -e, and this stem
is sometimes used as a Future, in particular in the Negative Future. The -e stem
is also the common form for an Imperative when joined with the Objective Pro-
noun, or often as a more polite form of Imperative. Accordingly I thought of the -e
stem as probably indicating that the action or state had not yet begun. But there
was this objection; that in all the Bantu languages with which I am concerned, we
find Nouns such as omusibe, 'a prisoner'; omufumite, 'a wounded man'; miume, 'mes-
senger?, 'apostle'; and if one looked at them one saw that musibe, basibe, meant 'tie hinm
up', 'tie them up', etc., i.e. an Imperative converted to a Noun, which seemed extremely
unlikely. On the other hand the authorities seemed to agree that these words are
related to the Passive, which would be quite reasonable if one could only get rid of
the w in Swahili and the more difficult combination -bw- commonly found in Ganda.
However there are so many idioms in both Ganda and Swahili in which the Act-
ive form is used where one would expect a Passive, that I was prepared to accept
this view. I noted that mtume in the sense of 'apostle' was explainable, or could
describe a messenger after he had been despatched, but not so easily refer to a per-
son whose occupation was that of a messenger. At this point it became still more
evident that research into vowel values was necessary. Without going into details
or recounting the researches of other workers, the facts seem to be, (a) that -e has
been given the value of a Passive in the formation of a certain type of Noun; and,
(b) that my own work showed that -e is used, in some languages, as the formative of
a Particle of Reference instead of -o, or as an alternative to -o (e.g., in Ganda as the
Relative Particle referring to the Object of the Verb, as in omuntu gwenjagala. It
is not a common form, but is found also in Gishu). Now, whereas the Particle of
Reference in -o is universal as a formative to Nouns which describe the action of
the Verb (efumbiro ekigambo, neno, kitendo) I should have been warned by the infre-
quency of the -e form, and not attempted, as I did, to see whether the Subjunctive
Stem really was in some way connected with this value for -e. With this in my
mind, I wrote to various friends in Uganda, and received answers which did not
take me any further on this line of thought, though their replies were very helpful,
and being busy with other matters I had to lay this investigation on one side.
This was in the summer of 1935, and at the end of that year, whilst making
a brief study into the structure of Karanga, (3) I found that the Rev. F. Marconnes
had recognized the value of -na in what he terms the Sociative and Collective
Derived Verb -ana, and -ma in what he terms the Permanent or Stative form -ama,
or -ima. I give these dates because it shows that the same line of thought is being
followed by different workers in different languages. It is difficult, when one is
working in many different languages, not to absorb other people's theories, which
one may have only half understood, and then produce them as one's own theory;
one's mind works unconsciously, and it is not at all easy to determine how much one
has been influenced by the writings of others.
Preoccupation with other activities kept me off this work till April of this
year, when, by chance, whilst thinking about -ka- as a Perfect in Swahili, and its
further use as a Consecutive meaning 'and then', I remembered the two values of -ika,
'be done', and 'be doable', and I saw that if one gives -ka- the latter value, it can, with
a small change of meaning, come to be used as a Future, implying what is doable,
can be done or will be done.
Let us see how this value for -ka- applies in Ganda. Apparently it is only used
in such phrases as kankole, meaning 'I will just do so and so (and then I will come)',
etc. In Nyoro -ka- is used as a Prefix in the Far Past, the 'not yet' and the 'never,
S., Rev. Francisque Marconnds, S. J. Grammar of Central Karanga. (Witwatersrand Univ.
conjugations, and clearly here -ka- is a Perfect. I believe that -ka- has given some
trouble in Ruanda, and, speaking generally, I am under the impression that the
rules for the use of -ka- in Swahili are applicable to -ka- in Ruanda. In Swahili -ka- is
frequently used as a Perfect; it is used as a Narrative, which may be either a con-
secutive use, or, as I am beginning to think, a Perfect (as in Latin, veni, vidi, vici),
and, thirdly, with the Subjunctive stem with a Future implication. In this third
use the force of-ka- is frequently 'go and then'. Meinhoff correlates -ka- with the Ur-
Bantu Verb root -ka, 'go'; that is, the -ka- is used as an Auxiliary Verb, which gives
us another value for -ka, and may be the explanation of the 'doable' value expressed
by -ika, which we find in many Bantu languages. In Nyanja the particle -ka- is also
correlated with ku-nka (or ku-muka), 'to go,' but an analysis of the uses of -ka- in
this language appears to me to show that there may well be two elements, one
derived from the implication of going, and the other of a completed state, though,
as I do not know the language, I am not competent to express a decided opinion.
A cursory glance at Zulu shows that -ka- is not employed, though Doke (4) states
that ka- is used as an alternative form of the Negative, Present and Perfect, the
significance of which I must leave to experts in that language to determine, though
I might hazard the suggestion that it has something to do with State.
My next observation concerns the formative -e. We term this the Subjunctive
Stem, but, if we give this stem the value corresponding to -ika, we find that the-e
Stem takes on a new significance. If thought of as a Perfect, we find a ready
explanation for the series, omusibe, mtume, etc.; -e describes the state of the person
in exactly the same way as -ika is a Neuter-Passive; and, in the function ofa Sub-
junctive, it describes what will be done. A further example is the Swahili mkate,
'a piece of bread', or 'loaf', denoting what has been cut, or is divisible. This
Perfect of the simple form of the Verb has been noted in several languages, and
is described as a contracted form. At the same time Werner remarks that some
writers have preferred to regard the Perfect Stem in -ile as a Derived Verb. It is
noteworthy that the usual termination of Perfect Stems is -e, a notable exception
being the -idza, -edza -dza, forms in Ganda, and accordingly it seems reasonable to
argue that -e is a Perfect form.
Let us assume, for the moment, that the Perfect in -e of the simple stem is a
contraction, and we shall see that its occurrence in many languages has not been
In Swahili the use of the 'Negative Subjunctive', in such a phrase as Nilim-
tafuta nisimwone ('I looked for him but did not find him'), is seen to be a literal
translation of the English; we have in fact found the missing Negative Perfect. We
can now see why -nge- (5) denotes what is possible, whilst the same -nge-, in the
Mombasa form -ngeli-, can be used for what is past and done with; or why -siye-
may express either 'before' or 'may not have already'. The combination ka- ... -e
always denotes something to be done. In Nyoro the Negative Near Future
uses the -e stem, tintere, 'I shall not beat'; the Far Past, the same form, ntatere,
'I did not beat.' There is an extraordinary similarity between Nyoro and Swahili, so
4. Prof. C. M. Doke. Tert-Book of Zulu Grammar. p.p. 156,157.
5. I know that -nga is not a Verb, but I suggest this formative behaves as one.
that arguments based on these two languages may not be confirmed by other Bantu
languages, but I note that Ganda has a Negative Near Future in this form, and, of
course, there is the series omusibe, etc., and there may be other evidence, videe
kankole above). If this -e stem with the two implications, a Perfect, and an action,
or state, not yet begun, is a fundamental fact in Bantu, and not, in the case of the
Perfect, a contraction, it must have been inconvenient. But on the other hand one
can argue that it is equally inconvenient to have the -ika form with its two mean-
ings, or a -ka- formative with two meanings, and as one observes, all these three
are capable of expressing almost exactly the same notion.
The question now is, "What do we know about the 'Modified' Perfect ?" We
can see quite clearly that if we postulate a Perfect in -e, the Derived Verbs -ila,
-ya, -sa would form Perfects -ile, -ye, -se; -ila we know as an Applied (Prepositional)
Derived form, and -ya and -sa as Causative or Intensive forms (I include -sa be-
cause of the series of Verbs in -ka, which, whatever the reason may be, in Ganda
make the 'Modified' Stem by changing -ka to -se, e.g. -luka, -tuse, in the same way
as Swahili Verbs in -ka make a Causative form in -sha, e.g. -waka, -washa); and I
think it is very probable that the so-called Perfect Stem is nothing more or less
than the Perfect of some Derived forms which implies intensive action. This would
explain the idiomatic use of the Perfect Stem in Ganda, e.g. Ompade! 'What a
nice present you have given me !' The Causative frequently has an Intensive force,
as is seen in the Double Causatives, and the Double Applied forms mayalsoimply
intensive action, and, if we remember that these terms are just labels, and not always
good labels, I see no difficulty, except the novelty of the idea, in assuming that the
Perfect Stem has been borrowed from a Derived Verb. This is merely another
way of saying that Verbs in Ganda form the Causative by changing the final -e of
the 'Modified' form into -a. (6) Whether this is accidental or has some significance
which will assist in the elucidation of other Ganda and Nyoro 'Modified' forms, I
do not know; they are certainly complicated and further work is required before
we can understand all the different forms.
As a natural corrollary, if the Perfect Stem is indeed borrowed from a Derived
Form, it follows that this practice took place very early in the history of the Bantu
languages; otherwise the practice of the Causative-Intensive Verbs forming the
Perfect from a further derivative would not be so wide-spread.
Whether this view is accepted or not, it seems quite clear that there is a form
of the Verb in -e which is sometimes a Subjunctive, and sometimes a Perfect, and
that this latter implication has not always been recognized in Swahili or in Nyoro
and some of the languages belonging to the Nyoro group.
There is another matter not directly concerned with this enquiry, which I
think may be of interest also. We saw that -ika helps us to determine the value
of-ka-, and from the analogy of ma- and -ma it is worth while considering whether
-ika or -ka- can assist us to understand ka-, but we must also bear in mind that the
Verb Suffix must end in -a, so that -ika is derivable from ki-, ka- or ku-, if it is true
that there is any connection at all between a Class Prefix and a Verbal Suffix.
6. Orabtree. Elements of Luganda Grammar, p.128.
In Ganda Ka- (i) serves as a Diminutive; akana, etc.
(2) is used as the Prefix in a small group of words, such as
Kabaka, Katikiro, Kabona, Kaima, etc.
(3) is used as the Prefix to the names of some hills.
Let us take these three uses in detail.
i. The Diminutive Ka- is found in Ur-Bantu. We have now to make up our
minds whether it has the inherent meaning of smallness, or, as I think, expresses
variance from the norm, in other words a different state, which by common accept-
ance has been given a diminutive value. There is enough evidence as to the value
of K expressing 'kind', or 'manner' to cause one to think that ka- expresses a dif-
ferent kind of state. As a logical sequence, Ka- may also express 'dear little'.
2. The use of Ka- as an honorific Prefix is unusual. I am not competent to say
whether it is unique in Bantu languages or not, but it is rare. I think it is safe to
regard Ka- as a Prefix, and not part of the stem. I am advised that it can have
nothing to do with the Diminutive, although one might be tempted to think on the
lines of English of 'the dear King'. The words have no Initial Vowel, a circum-
stance which is peculiar to a number of words in Ganda which can only, at the time
of speaking, refer to one person; i.e., Proper Names of People, such as Kitange, etc.
I believe the Ka- represents a state different from the norm, in this case an honorific
title formed from a root or stem. (c.f. the Zulu use of ka- as formative of Adverbs
from Adjectives and Relative stems) (7).
3. A correspondent suggests that the ka- in place-names is in agreement with
Kasozi, e.g., Kasozi ka-mpala, the hill of impala. I am not, at present, happy about
this; somewhere in the back of my mind I have the feeling that ka- expresses 'place
of,' but I cannot put my finger on its origin, or decide whether this interpretation
is the outcome of long acquaintance with its use in this sense. There is an elusive
and apparently invariable Possessive ka, about which I know very little, which
may account for this Prefix used in place-names in many different parts of Africa.
It would be an extremely useful piece of work if someone were to collect place-
names and classify them, as has been done in England and elsewhere.
7. Doke. op. cit., p. 572.
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda.
By C. R. S. PITMAN.
Genus PROSYMNA Grey.
Prosymna is a remarkable Tropical and South African genus whose members
exhibit certain pronounced characteristics which should assist in its ready identi-
On the short maxillary bone are seven or eight teeth increasing in size poster-
iorly, the first tooth minute and the hindermost very large, strongly compressed
and blade-like. The palate is practically toothless.
As these snakes are addicted to burrowing the head is not distinct from the
neck, the snout is much depressed and projecting slightly with an angular horizontal
edge, and the eye is rather small with a vertically subelliptic pupil. The body is
cylindrical, and the tail which is short ends in a horny spine.
One species (possibly two) occurs in Uganda, but as there are no authentic
records from the Protectorate of the West African Prosymna meleagris, although
it has been obtained in the Southern Sudan on the Blue Nile, it is preferable to
omit this species from the Systematic List, and even its provisional inclusion is
PROSYMNA AMBIGUA STUHLMANNI Pfeffer.
Grey-spotted Coppery Snake.
(Plate VIII, Figs, I and 2: Coloured Plate (H), Fig. 2).
Native names-None known.
Distribution--According to Schmidt:- "It appears to be a species of the South
and East African Subprovince, ranging into the Eastern Sudan. It has not been
reported from the savanna of Cameroon and Togo." Sternfeld has recorded it from
the island of Zanzibar. It appears to be widely distributed in the savanna of Tropical
and South Africa. Its range includes Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika Territory,
Nyasaland, Rhodesia, Zululand, Portuguese East Africa and the N.E. Belgian Congo.
The typical race was described from Angola.
Occurrence in Uganda-In the Uganda Protectorate this is evidently a rare
species, the only known records being two specimens collected in 1932 at Serere,
in the Teso District, by Mr. G. W. Foster. It is probably of fairly wide distribution
and is likely to occur anywhere in the savanna. It has also been obtained at Bu-
koba which, though extralimital, is close to the Uganda border.
Description-This is a small, burrowing species which rarely attains a foot in
length; Boulenger gives 255 mm. in which the tail of 27 mm. is contained approxim-
ately nine-and-a-half times. Loveridge records (1928) specimens from Tanga-
nyika measuring respectively 340 and 225 mm.; and (1933) two others, both males,
of 205 (175+30) and 130 (i 12+ 18) mm. In these last two the tails are respectively
just under and just over six times the total length. Sternfeld's Bukoba example is
quoted as being 25 cm. (250 mm.). Specimens obtained by the American Museum
Congo Expedition measure 252 (tail 36) mm., female, and 298 (tail 48) mm., male,
the tail ratios being respectively "14 and "16.
Schmidt describes this species as having "the typical habitus of burrowing
forms, with the shovel-shaped rostral, small eyes, cylindrical body, and short tail."
He also records:- "The extended hemipenis is remarkable in being unforked, and
longer than the tail by at least ten millimeters. It is obviously 'telescoped' when
withdrawn, as is indicated by the transverse folds. Its great relative length may be
due to a reduction in tail length undergone by this form with the adoption of bur-
Prominent characters include:- rostral very large and broad: snout much
depressed, projecting, with angular horizontal edge: eye rather small with vertically
subelliptical pupil: horizontal suture from nostril to loreal: head not distinct from
neck: body cylindrical, short: scales smooth or keeled with apical pits: anal entire:
tail short, ending in a horny spine: subcaudals in 2 rows. Scales in 15 or 17 rows,
the latter in typical ambigua from Angola: ventrals 133-152: subcaudals 19-34.
In Foster's Teso examples, both males, the scales are in 15 rows: ventrals 140
and 148 : subcaudals 28.
Boulenger gives the coloration as "blackish above, each scale usually greyish
in the centre; lower parts whitish or brown", a description which is evidently
taken from a spirit specimen.
The coloration of the Congo examples is "bluish grey above and below, each
of the dorsal scales with a lighter grey spot." Stuihlmanni, apparently, does not differ
in coloration from the typical race.
Loveridge (1933) emphasises that he is "unconvinced that the name ambigua
is the correct one to apply to East African snakes" and suggests that Congo and
East African examples which have fifteen scale-rows should be separated from
the Angolan which have seventeen. He also draws attention to the unsatisfactory
character of a ''rounded snout", the chief claim of Prosymnna variabilis to specific
rank, for in juveniles the rostral is not so angular as in the adults, and he further
records:- "Obviously the rounded snout is ancestral and its shovel-like development
is correlated with subsequent adaptation to burrowing habits."
Habits-There is practically nothing on record concerning the habits of this
interesting little species which is probably exclusively an insect-eater. Loveridge
obtained a specimen "in sandy debris among the rotten roots of a fallen tree, lying
fifty feet from a stream; owing to prolonged drought the ground was dry and dusty
at the time."
Genus SCAPHIOPHIS Peters.
Scaphiophis is another remarkable Tropical African genus represented by one
species in which the spade-like rostral and the valve like closure of the jaws are
modifications derived from its burrowing habits. The development of the rostral
is so accentuated that it constitutes a veritable beak.
SCAPHIOPHIS ALBOPUNCTATUS Peters.*
(Plate VIII, Figs. 3 and 4: Coloured Plate (H), Fig. 3).
Native names-None known.
Distribution-Tropical Africa, ranging around the borders of the Equatorial
Forest from the Lower Congo to Tanganyika Territory, Kenya and Uganda, and
from the Guinea Coast and Dahomey to the Sudan, Abyssinia and Eritrea. It is an
interesting distribution, as according to Schmidt (1923):-"Most of the forms with
a forest-border distribution do not reach the Abyssinian Subprovince."
Occurrence in Uganda-There are at present only two records, i.e. Serere in the
Teso District of the Eastern Province, and "Bussu" (a forest locality near Jinja), of
the occurrence in Uganda of this highly specialised, rare, burrowing snake. Method-
ical collecting and investigation however are likely to reveal that it occurs through-
out the northern and eastern savanna, and probably also in the short grasslands
and savanna of Ankole, Masaka District and Northern Buganda.
Description-This species attains a maximum length exceeding 5 feet, though
normally it varies from 3 to 5 feet. Boulenger and Stern field each give total measure-
ments of 96o mm., the former quoting a tail length of 16o mm., which constitutes
one sixth of the total.
The scarcity of this species in Uganda is adequate reason for the absence of a popular
UGANDA SNAKES VIII.
I. Prosymna ambigua stuhimanni (Dorsal vmew).
2. Prosymna ambigua stuhtmanni (Lateral view).
3. Scaphiophis albopunctatus (Dorsal view).
4. Scaphiophis albopunctatus (Lateral view).
5. Dasypeltis scaber.
Loveridge records in a series of eight Tanganyika-collected examples that
the largest male measured 1,155 (949+206) mm., and the largest female ,o017
(88o+ 137) mm., the tails respectively representing approximately four-and-a-half
and six-and-a-half times the total. He also mentions a Dahomey snake recorded
by Chabanaud (1916) as being i,61o mm., (5 ft. 2.4 ins.) in total length.
In a series of seven obtained by the American Museum Congo Expedition the
largest male measures 984 mm., and the largest female 1,367 mm., this being re-
corded as "an exceptional size". The tail length in three males ranges from -18 to
*19 of the total, and in three females from -14 to "16.
According to Schmidt (1923):- "The development of the rostral for burrowing
reaches an extreme in this species. The lower jaw closes with with a valve-like
precision, and the mental has a projection, with a horn-like tip, which fits into
a corresponding emargination of the rostral. The upper labials are reverted and
project well below the labial border."
This snake's most noteworthy characteristic is the sharply-pointed, almost
beaked, snout, a feature which is absent in any other African solid-toothed (aglyph-
ous) species, though it is present in the back-fanged (opisthoglyphous), sharp-
snouted snakes of the genus Rhamphiophis and to a less extent in the back-fanged
Prominent characters include:- the short head, rarely distinct from the neck:
broad, beak-shaped, hooked snout: rostral very large, with sharp horizontal edge,
concave inferiorly: nostril a curved slit between two nasals: eye moderate with
round pupil. Body elongate: scales smooth with apical pits: ventrals rounded: anal
divided : tail moderate or rather short: subcaudals in 2 rows (or the anterior
single). The maxillary teeth are very small. Scale rows 21-25: ventrals 185-240o;
In the Congo examples Schmidt emphasises:- "The sexes are very distinct in
number of ventral plates, 185-189 in males, 216-224 in females." Also:- "The sub-
caudals in males are 64-69, in females 58-66."
Loveridge (1928) records that in two Tanganyika males the ventrals "are 192
and 197 (194 in a British Museum specimen from the Dodoma District), as against
a range of 185-189 in Schmidt's Congo series; in the single female they are 216
as against 216-224 in the Congo examples. Caudals in males 71-73 as against 64-
69 (Congo); in female 54 as against 58-66 (Congo). It would rather appear as if
Tanganyika Territory snakes may form an easterly race with more ventrals and
caudals in the males than is the case with Central African examples." It will be
interesting to ascertain to which group Uganda specimens belong.
Boulenger gives the coloration as "Pale brown above, uniform or spotted with
black, or with whitish dots; lower parts white." In life Loveridge's Tanganyika
specimens were "uniformly greyish, in alcohol they are greyish brown; no trace of
the white or black spotting of the West Coast forms." In the Congo examples
"The two smaller specimens are nearly uniform brown above, lighter beneath, with
scattered light spots above. The adults are greyish brown with numerous black
scales above. The head shields are brown, spotted with black." Poster's Teso
specimen is mainly greyish: a large adult from Bussu is a very pale brownish
heavily marked with black above. The general coloration-curiously weak and life-
less-of several spirit specimens personally examined is suggestive of a creature
which spends most of its life in the dark.
Habits-With the exception of its burrowing propensities practically nothing
seems to be known about the habits of this interesting species. One of Loveridge's
Dodoma specimens was caught in the kitchen of a dwelling house. His snakes "did
not eat in captivity, but drank deeply." There appears to be nothing on record
concerning the diet of this snake, but in common with other burrowing forms it is
likely to be an insect-eater. When the extension of the Uganda Railway from
Tororo to Mbulamuti was under construction I was informed that a greyish or
yellowish snake of fair size was occasionally found deep down in termite heaps; it
is possible that the snake was Scaphiophis albopunctatus.
Legend-In Uganda nothing has yet been ascertained about any superstitions
concerning this species, though in Tanganyika the remarkable snake sect regards
it as highly poisonous and insists that the skin of a native who has been bitten by
one will turn the same grey colour as the snake! A special medicine, a concoction
of vegetable matter, etc., is used to counteract the "evil" effects of the bite. Lover-
idge's informants (snake-men) had never been bitten by this species. He doubts
"if this snake would bite unless very much provoked."
In the Systematic List on a previous page the subfamily containing Dasypeltis
scaber is quoted as Rhachiodonlinae, but according to the accepted rules of scientific
nomenclature a subfamily name must be derived from that of one of the genera it
contains. In consequence Rhachiodontince of certain authors cannot be upheld, and
has to be replaced by Dasypeltince, this subfamily containing but a single genus
The principal attributes of the members of this subfamily are:- only a few teeth
on the posterior part of the maxillary and dentary bones and on the palatines; some
of the anterior thoracic vertebrae with the hypapophyses much developed, directed
forwards, capped with enamel. The head is small, not or scarely distinct from the
neck; eye moderate, with vertically elliptic pupil. Body cylindrical or slightly
compressed and elongate; scales so strongly keeled as to be rough, with apical pits;
the scales on 3 or14 lateral rows oblique and with more or less distinct serrated
keels; ventrals rounded. The tail is moderately long, and the subcaudals are
in 2 rows.
In the solid-toothed colubrids or Aglyphs this subfamily and its single genus
are unique, though they are paralleled in the back-fanged colubrids by the opistho-
glyphous subfamily Elachistodontince and its single genus Elachistodon (containing
a single representative) of Bengal-an egg-eater with ridge-like processes extending
into the throat, a fine rear-fanged match for the fangless Dasypeltis of Africa.
The subfamily Dasypellince is restricted to Tropical and South Africa.
* Vol III, p. 136.
Genus DASYPELTIS Wagler.
This is another extremely interesting and widely distributed African genus
which ranges from South Africa as far north as Sierra Leone (West Africa) and
Sennar (Anglo-Egyptian Sudan). It is represented by two species-Dasypeltis
scaber of the savanna and Dasypeltis macrops which replaces it in the Rain Forest.
The former is found in bewildering variety and combination of colorations and
markings, and in the past various subspecies, no longer recognized, have been
created on the basis of certain distinctive colorations and patterns. The principal
claim of the members of this genus to notoriety is the fact that they are exclusively
egg-eaters and in consequence have developed structural adaptations in keeping
with their specialised diet. Without undue elaboration these can be enumerated
as:- few and ridiculously small teeth (large teeth would naturally be liable to inter-
fere with the swallowing of an egg, and in the case of thin-shelled ones almost
certain to pierce them prematurely): broad scales on the throat (also found in the
night adders): exaggerated hypapophyses or projections from the vertebrae, which
actually have penetrated the gullet and serve the purpose of teeth by muscular
action being brought to bear on the egg so as to break it and enable the contents
to be swallowed: and an extensible fold in the skin of the lower jaw, invisible when
the snake is not feeding, which allows eggs-sometimes as large as hens' eggs-
to be taken into the gullet.
DASYPELTIS SCABER (Linnaeus).
African Egg-eating Snake, Egg-eater, Rough-skinned Snake,
or Rough-keeled Snake.
(Plate VIII, Fig. 5: Coloured Plate (H), Fig. 4).
Native names-Called "Meema" by the Bakiga; and "Kiiri" in Lusoga, but this
name requires confirmation. So far no distinctive Luganda name has been ascert-
ained, which is surprising. Natives of Bunyoro informed me that they call the
viper-mimicking variety "Fulafundoo," which is suspiciously like "Bulabundo," the
Bagungu name for the puff adder.
Distribution-A widely distributed African species ranging from the Cape
Province in the extreme south northwards to the Belgian Congo, Liberia and Sierra
Leone on the west, and on the east thorough Portuguese East Africa, Tanganyika
Territory, Kenya Colony, Zanzibar, Somaliland, Abyssinia, Eritrea, Uganda, and
the Sudan (Blue Nile) to Upper Egypt (Fayum) and S. Arabia. It is a savanna
snake which is absent from the Rain Forest, where it is replaced by Dasypeltis
macrops, a species which is not known to occur in Uganda.
Occurrence in Uganda-This snake is more or less ubiquitous in Uganda,
being absent only from the higher altitudes and more arid regions. It is found at
all altitudes from the lowest, about 18oo feet, to 7500 feet above sea level, and it
appears to have penetrated most, if not all the Uganda "rain" forests and forest
islands, including some of the Sese and other northern islands of the Victoria
Nyanza. Specific localities include Bugala Island, Kome Island, Damba Island,
Buvuma Island, Bussi Island, islets near Entebbe, Entebbe, Kampala, Jinja, Serere
(Teso), S. W. Kigezi (6000-7500 ft.), S. Ankole, Lake Edward and Lake George
(3000 ft.), Lake Albert (2,000 ft.), Victoria Nile, Albert Nile, Bussu (near Jinja),
Mabira Forest, Budongo Forest and Lake Nabugabo.
Description-Large examples rarely exceed 3 feet in length, though I once exam-
ined a uniformly black female near the eastern (Kenya) slopes of Mt. Elgon, which
was just short of 3 ft. 6 inches. The females average bigger than the males. Out
of dozens examined in Uganda the largest, a female, is 383 (tail 5) inches, the tail
being contained in the total approximately seven-and-a-quarter times. The biggest
Northern Rhodesia example, personally collected, is 332 (tail 42) inches the tail
being contained about seven-and-a-half times in the total. Other personally collected
specimens are as follows:-
Total Tail Total length to
Locality. Length. Length. Sex. tail length.
Inches. Inches. Times.
Uganda 331 4i 7 approx.
,, 291 42 M 61 (a little over)
Rhodesia 28 32 -
Uganda 28 34 F 71 approx.
S215 31 F 5s
,, 201 3 F 5 ,,
,, 20 31 F 51 ,
,, 161 2 F 5
i5: 25 M 53
,, o I Juv. 5 ,,
,, 9 i Juv. 6 ,,
,, 9 I Juv. 6 (nearly)
Boulenger's maximum is 760 (tail 105) mm., the tail being contained seven-and-
a-quarter times in the total.
In a Congo series of eleven collected by the American Museum Expedition
(1911-1913) the largest female (var. palmarum) measures 789 mm., and the largest
male (var. palmarum) 512 mm., the tail length of the females being uniformly -13
of the total, and in the males varying from -16 to -18: another female (var. scaber)
measures 557 (tail 76) mm., the tail being "14 of the total.
Loveridge (1929) quotes 867 (763+104) mm. as the largest in the United States
National Museum, the total length being eight-and-one-third times that of the tail.
The same author (1928) mentions the largest of two Tanganyika females as being
785 (640+145) mm.; and (1933), in a series of four, quotes the largest, a female, as
804 (72o0+84) mm., and the smallest as only 224 (190+ 34) mm.
Prominent characters are emphasized in the respective notes on the subfamily
Dasypeltinae and the genus Dasypeltis, so that it is unnecessary to repeat them in
detail, but the main distinguishing features are:- the ridiculously minute teeth: the
small head almost narrower than the wide thick neck: the broad scales on the throat:
the extensible fold in the gape of the lower jaw: the strongly keeled scales which
on the flanks are serrated and rough: and the undivided anal. The pronounced
gular pouch enables large eggs to be swallowed, for the lower jaw opens nearly
two inches on an extensible fold of skin. Also, once the internal organs are removed
and the interior of the body investigated, it is impossible to mistake this snake on
account of the enamel-capped projections (hypapophyses) of the vertebral bodies,
inclined down and forward, which are situated in the gullet. Scales in 21-27 rows:
ventrals 185-263: subcaudals 41-94.
This interesting snake is so variable in coloration that it is almost impossible
to describe, but it should always be readily recognisable, whatever its colour, by
the prominent characters previously mentioned. In my own experience I have
come across specimens of all sizes in a bewildering variety of colours, ranging
through almost every conceivable shade and combination from dirty whitish to
light salmon and rich rufous, olive, bright brown, sepia and black, with or without
markings. Some of the more characteristic colour phases are recognized as only
varieties by certain authors, though others have conferred on them subspecific
status. It is now generally accepted, however, that the innumerable colour varieties
all represent one and the same species, D. scaber, and their separation into races is
Boulenger's careful descriptions provide a basis for further detailed remarks:-
"Pale olive or pale brown above, uniform or with dark brown spots, usually
disposed in three longitudinal series; a A-shaped dark marking on the nape, preced-
ed by one or two on the head; the latter may be broken up into spots; upper labials
with brown vertical bars; belly yellowish, uniform or dotted or spotted with brown
A. Vertebral spots elongate and more or less confluent into a zigzag vertebral
band; a black stripe along upper surface of tail; belly spotted with blackish.
B. A dorsal series of large squarish or rhomboidal dark spots, separated by
light intervals, alternating with a lateral series of spots or cross bars; belly spotted
or dotted only at the sides. (C. scaber, L.).
C. Pale reddish brown above, with the markings very much effaced. Inter-
mediate between B and F.
D. Dorsal markings as in B, but ventrals edged with blackish.
E. Dorsal spots confluent with lateral ones, forming cross bands; belly spotted.
(D. medici, Bianc.; D. fasciolata, Peters).
F. No spots or markings of any kind. (C. palmarum, Leach; D. inornata,
Adult and juvenile coloration does not seem to vary much. The three most
conspicuous Uganda varieties are uniform black, uniform rufous to brown of varying
shades often with faintly perceptible darker markings, and whitish to dull brownish
with a confluent line of blackish vertebral rhombs; all three and their numerous
intergradations are found wherever this species occurs in the Protectorate. For
instance examples from Entebbe, Mabira Forest, Budongo Forest, S. W. Kigezi,
Lake Nabugabo, and the eastern shore of Lake Albert, at altitudes varying from
2000 to 7500 feet, are all described in my field notes as "reddish-brown, rough skin".
From the same localities numerous uniformly black specimens have been collected,
and also the variety which appears in its several forms to mimic the night adder.
A few descriptions taken at random include:- "Brown, black and fawn; creamy below":
"Brown with viper-like rhombs along the back; dark bars on flanks": "Brown,
with darker bars or chevrons dorsally": "Eye, very deep brown with vertical
pupil. An extremely handsome variety. The belly is blackish or grey-black, the
edge of each ventral shield of course lighter. General colour light earth brown,
with conspicuous blackish rhombs or diamonds at regular intervals along the back,
from each of which a chain of blackish, lighter edged marks lead down each flank.
Behind head a large black chevron with point to head. Immediately behind
head, and practically part of the head, two broad black bars slanting bodywards-
actually the arms of a chevron which merges into the dark coloration of the head.
Head blackish, but under a lens very dark brownish: on it delicate patterns of
pleasing symmetry outlined in very pale brown: the snout regularly patterned. In
centre of head, between eyes, broadly heart-shaped, isolated pattern, pointing back;
similarly outlined lateral bars, also fairly broad, flanking 'heart' and slanting back.
Labials well marked dark brownish": and "Uniform rich pinky-brown above, head
brownish; no spots or markings; buffy-pink below; pinky-brown belowhead; pinkish-
brown on last two scale rows along flanks; sharply spined end to tail."
Loveridge (1928) refers to "some all-black specimens, others uniformly brown,
brown with white specklings above and delicate rose-pink below; another was iron-
clad grey with a single row of brick-red dorsal spots, and yet another form taken
at Kilosa (Tanganyika) mimics the coloration and markings of the Rhombic Night
Adder (Causus rhombeatus)."
A Northern Rhodesia specimen, personally collected, was "slender and rough-
scaled, dark brownish, with a chain of viper-like black rhomboids down the back,
half-markings along each side. Lips, throat and sides of head with conspicuous
It will be agreed that the coloration in distinctly bewildering. The coloured
plate depicts one of the viper-mimicking forms, and is drawn from a specimen con-
siderably faded from immersion in alcohol.
Habits-The Egg-eater is quite the most interesting of the African harinless
snakes, for it subsists exclusively on eggs which are seized whole and then broken
in the gullet against the enamel-capped projections previously described, the contents
being swallowed and the broken shells ejected through the mouth. Fitzsimons
(1932) gives an excellent account of how the Egg-eater feeds:- "It has teeth in its
jaws, but they barely cut the gums because they are now a hindrance to the snake's
egg-swallowing proclivities. But upwards of thirty bony processes jut down from
the lower part of the backbone of the neck and cut through the gullet. These are
heavily tipped with enamel, and are, in point of fact, a saw. An Egg-eater, with
a head only the breadth of a human forefinger, can swallow whole a hen's egg....It
is truly a wonderful process. Slowly the jaws of the snake envelop the egg until
the reptile's skin appears as thin as the finest tissue paper. Seemingly it is imposs-
ible for the snake to get the egg into its throat unbroken; but it does so neverthe-
less. When safely lodged in the neck, a few bony projections at the base of the
gular teeth prevent the egg from slipping down too far. If this should happen the
snake would choke, because it could not then bring its saw-like teeth to bear upon
the shell. The bony saw is now brought into operation, and the egg shell soon
collapses. The contents of the egg are then swallowed and the crumpled shell
spat out". The saw-like processes are brought into play by muscular action com-
bined with manipulation of the sinuous body. The largest specimen I have come
across was killed in a fowl-house near Mt. Elgon. Fitzsimons mentions that an
Egg-eater tried to swallow a turkey's egg and died; another died after fruitlessly
trying to break an ingested china-nest-egg; yet another, a smallish one, "essayed to
swallow a duck's egg, with fatal results to itself". The stomach contents of dozens
of these snakes personally examined have been restricted to the yolk of eggs and
sometimes a few small pieces of egg-shell: all authors seem to agree that this spec-
ies is exclusively an egg-eater. In Tropical Africa, and particularly in the Equator-
ial African habitat of this species, certain of the smaller birds are breeding in every
month of the year. There is no winter in Uganda, and, thanks to two rainy seasons
and the generally equable climate, D. scaber is not only active throughout the
twelve months, but is able any day of the year to obtain its specialised food in
In its numerous colour variations, the strikingly conspicuous rough scales
tend to give the Egg-eater a sinister aspect, though in reality it is the most docile
of snakes, and even under extreme provocation it is difficult to induce it to bite.
Natives sometimes recognize it as harmless. It is partially aquatic and swims with
ease, and is frequently found coiled cosily inside weaver bird nests suspended from
trees growing in the water along the shores of rivers and lakes and their numerous
islands and islets. The first time I ever put my hand into a weaver bird's nest in
Uganda, on an islet off Entebbe, I felt, instead of the eggs I had expected the coils
of a snake. I was in a canoe at the time and the nest overhung the water. The
nest was cautiously broken off from its retaining stem, and, with the aid of a pad-
dle, submerged in the lake, when out popped a two feet specimen of D. scaber, pale,
pinkish-buff in colour; in the course of the next week more than half-a-dozen Egg-
eaters were discovered in nests in weaver colonies along the lake-shore. D.scaber
is to a great extent arboreal.
This species is occasionally preyed upon by cobras, and Loveridge had one in
captivity eaten by the tree snake, Thelotornis kirtlandii; the same author also ment-
ions that an East African hedgehog, Atelerix a. hindei started to eat a fairly large
and well-conditioned Egg-eater which had been placed in the same cage.
Corkill (1935, p. 18) states, "This snake is nocturnal", but Uganda experiences
indicate that in the Protectorate it is mainly diurnal; the same author also records:-
"Like the two dangerous vipers, Cerastes cornutus, the Horned Viper, and Echis
carinatus, the Carpet or Saw-scaled Viper, when excited, it makes a rasping noise
by.rubbing its coils together", which is most interesting. Ova found in a Mabira
Forest specimen in September measured 26 x 17mm.; recently hatched juveniles
were obtained in S.W. Kigezi (6500 feet) at the end of June. According to Schmidt
(1923, p. ioo), "The eggs in a large female from Niangara, Belgian Congo (Novem-
ber), are very large and entirely fill the body cavity, so that one ovary is anterior
to the other; the ends of the eggs are pressed in, making them nearly cylinders....
The eggs, 5+6 in number, measure 13 x 23 mm."
Loveridge once took seventy-five ticks off a single Egg-eater, an abnormally
The Opisthoglypha, or back-fanged (sometimes called rear-fanged) snakes re-
present the second division-consisting of a series of subfamilies-of the Colubridce,
and are frequently referred to by the term "back-fanged colubrids". Cork-
ill (1935, p. 19) enumerates briefly:- "As a rule these snakes have the tail proport-
ionately shorter than the Aglyph colubrids. Many have angular heads and vertical
pupils. They have venom glands yielding a venom that in most species is not very
poisonous to humans, and also have grooved enlarged teeth, that is, poison fangs.
In most species these are situated below the eye at the back of the mouth."
The predominant subfamily, the Boigince (formerly known as Dipsadomorphine)
is the only one which occurs in Africa, and in Uganda is represented by twenty-
These reptiles are not normally included among the dangerous snakes and are
usually referred to as "mildly venomous" where mankind is concerned. They do
not strike with intent to use the fangs, for the venom-conducting teeth can only be
engaged or embedded if the snake deliberately advances its jaws in the "chewing"
motion utilized in obtaining a firm hold or in swallowing the prey.
The snakes of the back-fanged division have a less-developed poison-ejecting
apparatus than those of the deadly Proteroglypha, and they appear to have little
desire to use their fangs in self-defence. Some species have a pair of grooved
fangs, others several of them. These fangs are provided with an open groove,
from the base to the tip, for the flow of the venom, and this groove does not con-
stitute the almost enclosed channel, which is the case in the Elapidce family of the.
The toxicity of their venoms-though in one at least (Dispholidus typus) it is
distinctly powerful-is considerably lower than that of the Elapine or Viperine
snakes, but it is swift in action and strong enough to paralyse the prey.
According to Corkill (1935):- "The venom glands are homologous with the
salivary glands of man and salivas of all snakes, fanged and otherwise, are in all
Fitzsimons (1932) referring to the Opisthoglyph Dispholidus typus says that
"weight for weight, the venom of the boomslang was equal in its toxic or poisonous
power to that of the cobra", although this claim is not supported by the results of
more recent researches in South Africa The same author also records:- "Other
snakes of this back-fanged group were also tested and found to be exceedingly
Human fatalities, if any, in Africa seem to be unrecorded, but there is no
doubt that some of the larger Opisthoglyphs should be handled with caution until
reliable evidence is available concerning the quality of the poison secreted. At the
same time the rear-fanged snakes need not be given a bad reputation : they are in
a different class from reptiles with lethal poison, which deliberately seek to use it
during fright or in defence.
Quoting from Ditmars:- "The observations upon this patient's symptoms (bitten
by Dispholidus typus) proved conclusively that the poison of at least some of the
rear-fanged snakes is not essentially a neuro-toxin, which type is largely active in
paralyzing nerve centres, and produces a little blood destruction. As the boomslang
feeds frequently on warm-blooded prey a poison of the hemolytic type is highly
effective. Such poisons, however, are usually slow in subduing cold-blooded prey.
Further investigations of poisons of the rear-fanged snakes may demonstrate that
the ratios of the toxic elements of their venoms greatly vary. Owing to the com-
paratively small amount of venom which such reptiles secrete, the difficulty in
extracting it, the small size of many of the species and the failure to include them
among the 'deadly poisonous' snakes, investigators have not been attracted to
investigations of such types. For years they received scant or no recognition as
actually poisonous snakes".
The Opisthoglyphs are of course closely related to the fangless colubrids, and
vary much in size and build: some are mainly arboreal. They prey on various
species of lizards, chameleons, frogs, toads, birds, occasionally birds' eggs, small
mammals, insects (such as locusts and beetles) and sometimes on each other.
Genus TARBOPHIS Fleischmann.
The distribution of the snakes of this genus, in addition to Tropical and North-
eastern Africa, extends as far as South-eastern Europe and South-western Asia.
The majority of its members are small, rarely attaining a length of 3 feet,
though Tarbophis obtusus (which may be found in North-eastern Uganda) is known
to reach nearly twice this size. The conspicuously coloured Tarbophis semiannul-
atus is believed to occur in parts of Uganda.
In ail the members of this genus there is present in the upper jaw a pair of
enlarged, grooved fangs, situated below the posterior border of the eye, and the
anterior mandibular teeth are strongly enlarged. The head is broad, and usually
very distinct from the neck, and the eye, which is of moderate size, has a vertically
elliptic pupil. The oblique scales are smooth with apical pits, the ventrals rounded,
and the subcaudals in 2 rows.
In habits snakes of the genus Tarbophis are mainly terrestrial.
TARBOPHIS SEMIANNULATUS (A. Smith).
African Tiger Snake.
(Plate IX, Fig. I: Coloured Plate (J), Fig. 1).
Native names-None known.
Distribution-Tropical Africa at altitudes ranging from sea level to 5000 feet.
A savanna species, which is common in parts of Northern Rhodesia, Portuguese
East Africa, Nyasaland, Tanganyika Territory and Kenya Colony, and is also re-
corded from the "Zanzibar Coast" and from Loanda in the South-western Congo.
Occurrence in Uganda -There is no authentic record yet of the occurrence in
Uganda of this conspicuously marked species which has been included-provision-
ally-in the Uganda list on the strength of descriptive information received from
localities in southern Ankole and the Mubende District. It may also occur in parts
of Karamoja. Extralimitally, in Tanganyika Territory, it has been obtained in
Smith's Sound at the south-western extremity of the Victoria Nyanza.
Description-This is a snake which rarely exceeds 24 feet in length. Boulenger
gives a total length of 700 mm. in which the tail of 12o mm. is contained not quite
six times. Loveridge (1933) quotes a male measuring 555 (450+ 105) mm., the tail
being slightly more than a fifth of the total. Examples (not sexed), collected
personally in Northern Rhodesia, measured 311 (tail 5), 271 (tail 44) and 20 (tail 3)
inches, in each of which the tail is contained a little more than six times in the total.
Loveridge (1928) also refers to a specimen 3 feet in length all but three-quarters of
an inch, and to two females each of 2 feet 6 inches.
Prominent characters include:- head distinct from the neck: moderate eye with
vertically elliptic pupil: smooth, oblique scales with apical pits: rounded ventrals:
divided anal: moderate tail; and subcaudals in 2 rows. In some specimens the
breadth of the back of the head combined with the narrowness of the neck gives a
viper-like appearance. Scales in 19 rows: ventrals 201-242: subcaudals 51-83.
UGANDA SNAKES IX.
Crotaphopeltis hotambwsa hotamberia.
From its typical coloration this snake derives its popular appellation of "Tiger".
Boulenger's description, evidently from faded spirit material, is:- "yellowish or pale
brown above, with 24 to 34 dark brown or blackish transverse rhomboidal spots or
cross-bars on the body; head without any spots or markings; yellowish white
Northern Rhodesia examples are described in my field notes by the name
"Black-barred Rufous Snake," an apt description of the handsomely contrasting
coloration. In detail is noted:- "broad head: large triangular black spots along the
back". The general coloration is recorded as "bright rufous to smoked salmon,
below paler," and also "pinkish buff to pallid chestnut." There should in con-
sequence be little difficulty in recognizing this distinctively hued species, but I have
recently seen a specimen from Arusha in Tanganyika Territory in which the black
markings are completely absent and their lack cannot be attributed to the dull
coloration associated with the proximity of change of skin.
Habits-This species has an extremely vicious appearance, and in my limited
experience it lives up to its looks, for, when interfered with, it becomes most ag-
gressive. It will not be necessary to repeat in the detailed notes of each "mildly
venomous" back-fanged species, that the snakes of this group are mostly innocuous
to man on account of the poison-conducting fangs being set so far back in the jaw
that they can only be brought to bear on the small creatures on which they prey
after their victims have been seized, and also owing to the venom, which may .be
highly toxic, being present in such tiny quantity as to constitute no danger to a
human being. The opportunity, however, is taken to stress this point when dealing
with the first of the "back-fanged" snakes. A Northern Rhodesia example con-
tained the remains of a young bird: in a stomach examined by Loveridge were
found a palm gecko and some larval parasites (on the intestinal wall). This snake
is sometimes infested with endo-parasitic worms. Specimens obtained by Loveridge
(1929) in Tanganyika "were captured in dry scrub country on reddish volcanic soil"
or in "absolute sand"; he also records :- "they are nocturnal, emerging after sunset".
In Northern Rhodesia, where there is a well-defined winter, specimens obtained
during the cold season were active during the daytime, but the majority were ob-
tained during the latter part of the rains. Although mainly terrestrial in habits it
is not unusual to find this snake in bushes and low trees. Breeding females ex-
amined have contained six to ten eggs.
Genus BOIGA Fitzinger.
The genus Boiga is widespread, occurring in Tropical Africa, Southern Asia,
Papuasia and Australia. It contains more than twenty species, only two of which
are found in Africa, both being represented in the Uganda List.
The snakes of this genus are mainly of large size and the majority exceed a
length of 4 feet while several species, including one of the African, attain as much
as 7 feet. In habits they are highly arboreal. In the upper jaw there are two or
three enlarged, grooved fangs. The head is rather broad and very distinct from
the neck, the eye moderate or large-the latter being the case in the two African
species-with vertically elliptic pupil. The posterior nasal is more or less deeply
concave. The body is usually strikingly compressed (laterally), a feature which
is particularly conspicuous in the African Boiga blandingii. The scales are smooth,
somewhat oblique, with apical pits, and the vertebral row is generally much en-
larged. As is the case in most arboreal species, the ventrals, laterally, are obtusely
angulate (keeled). In the African forms the tail is fairly long. The subcaudals
are in 2 rows. Some of these attributes constitute good distinguishing characters
for the African members of this genus.
BOIGA PULVERULENTA (Fischer).
Blotchy Tree Snake.
(Plate IX, Fig. 2: Coloured Plate (1), Fig. 1).
Native names None known.
Distribution This is a species which is found throughout the Equatorial Rain
Forest and, in the western areas, is well known.
Occurrence in Uganda -Although this forest species undoubtedly occurs in most
of the lower-lying humid forests and forest "islands" of the Protectorate, the first
and only known Uganda record is as recent as 1933- from the Mabira Forest, where
it is believed to be fairly common. Organised comprehensive investigations are
certain to reveal that it is a widespread species wherever conditions are suitable.
Description-Boiga pulverulenta is one of the smaller representatives of the
genus, although the largest, a female, obtained by the American Museum Congo
Expedition, out of a series of twenty-nine, reached 1210 mm. (nearly 4 feet), the
biggest male being o82 mm. In this series the tail length varies from -21 to "24 of
the total. Boulenger gives a maximum length of 850 (tail 185) mm., in which the
tail is contained a little over four-and-a-half times. The Mabira example has a total
length of 231 inches, the tail (4. inches) constituting about a fifth of the whole.
The prominent characters are enumerated in the detail of the genus and need
not be repeated. In addition, in this species, the anal is entire. The sexes are not dis-
tinguishable by tail length. Scales in 19 rows, in the larger examples the vertebral
row being conspicuously enlarged: ventrals 240-269: subcaudals 105-126. In the
half-grown Mabira example there are 243 ventrals and 105 subcaudals.
The coloration is :- "Pinkish-brown above, with brownish head. Broadly barred
laterally and irregularly with dark grey and black, with pale creamy spot in the
widest part of each lateral. Indistinct, fine, greyish cross-bars between the broader
.ones give the general effect of a series of lateral rhombs. Below, delicate pinkish-
grey thickly specked with brown, with a tendency to form dark lines at the ventral
edges, these lines being more conspicuous beneath the tail." Schmidt (1923) in
describing the American Museum Congo series quotes H. Lang :- "Coloration, in
life, reddish brown above, head darker brown. Irregular dark grey lateral bars,
wider in the middle, extend from the vertebral line to the venter, tipped above
and below with black. A cream-colored central spot in the broad portion of each
lateral bar. Faint, narrow, grayish crossbars between the wider ones, disappearing
posteriorly. The wider crossbars are usually alternate, sometimes confluent on the
back. Venter pinkish grey, heavily dotted with brown which forms two lines at the
inner edges of the ventral edges of the ventral angle. These lines are more distinct
beneath the tail". This description does not differ materially from that of the Uga-
nda specimen which also agrees with Schmidt's claim that it "appears to be entirely
uniform throughout its range". It is not necessary to quote Boulenger's description
which is evidently based on somewhat faded spirit material, but the following addit-
ional remarks of Schmidt's are well worth recording:- "The coloration is very uni-
form in the series, but exhibits every degree of fading in the lateral ocellar rhombic
markings. Where these are entirely obsolete, their position is still indicated by
a row of vertebral black spots and another at the edge of the venter, representing
the ends of the rhombs".
Habits-With the exception of its being mainly arboreal there is little on re-
cord concerning the mode of life of this species. The Mabira specimen was very
amiable in disposition; it was obtained in the course of clearing dense undergrowth
from a rubber plantation adjoining, and more or less surrounded by forest. It is
recorded that a Congo specimen taken in June contained well-developed eggs measur-
ing 29 x i I mm. Like its relative B. blandingii, B. pulverulenta probably includes
small birds in its diet.
BOIGA BLANDINGII (Hallowell).
Black and Yellow Tree Snake, Black Tree Snake or Brown Tree Snake.
(Plate IX, Fig. 3: Coloured Plate (1), Fig. 2).
Native names-Luganda, '"Tema-nkima"-a name which suggests an as-
sociation with monkeys and certainly refers in some connection to its arboreal
habits. This large, dark-coloured snake is also, quite naturally, confused with the
black-lipped cobra, and in consequence is often referred to as "Nehuweira". In
Lunyoro it is also known as "Nchuweira" being confused with both the blacklipped
cobra and the black-necked "spitting" cobra (brown variety).
Distribution-This is another Equatorial Rain Forest species which ranges
easterly into Uganda. In the Cameroon-Gaboon region, as well as in the Ituri, it
is abundant. Boulenger's "Zanzibar" record is remarkable.
Occurrence in Uganda-This large tree snake is known to occur in the lake-
shore forests in the neighbourhood of Entebbe and Kampala, and in the Budongo
Forest in Bunyoro; in these localities it is evidently fairly common. It has also
been collected (in the past) at "Bussu", a forest area near Jinja. No doubt it will
eventually be found in most of the lower-lying, humid forests of the Protectorate,
and probably on some of the Sese and other northern islands of the Victoria
Description-The largest specimen on record appears to be Sternfeld's (1910)
250 cm., no locality given, which is the equivalent of 8 feet i inches. An Entebbe
example is 7 feet 4 inches, the tail of 20 inches being contained nearly four-and-a-
half times in the total length. Two Budongo Forest specimens measure respectively
72 (tail 1i6, tip of tail missing) and 581 (tail 14) inches ; in each of these the tail is
approximately a quarter of the total length. In a series of twenty collected by the
American Museum Congo Expedition, the largest, a female, is 2290 mm., and the
largest male 2180 mm. The tail length varies from -21 to -25 of the total. Boul-
enger quotes a maximum of 2200 (tail 500) mm., in which the tail is four-and-two-
fifths of the total.
Prominent characters include:- the big, wide head and narrow neck: fairly
large eye : concave rostral: large nostrils in deep pits: laterally compressed body
which is exaggerated in the larger specimens: smooth scales narrow and elongate,
the vertebral row much enlarged: ventrals keeled laterally: moderately long tail:
anal either entire or divided: and subcaudals in 2 rows. In most descriptions of
B. blandingii the anal is said to be divided, but, out of the previously mentioned
Congo series of twenty, the anal is entire in fifteen. In the large Entebbe example
the head is considerably compressed posteriorly, and, combined with the sharply
concave rostral, presents a bulldog-like side view: the anal is entire: and the pupil
appears to be more circular than elliptical. Mid-body scales in 23 rows: ventrals
240-274: subcaudals 120-147. In two Uganda specimens the ventrals and sub-
caudals are respectively (male) 204 and 122, and (female) 257 and 124. The color-
ation is very variable, with two distinct phases: in some specimens it is black gener-
ally, the throat and anterior portion of the venter yellow: each ventral bordered
with black on its posterior edge, the border increasing in width until the yellow is
crowded out: the posterior two-thirds of the venter uniform black. Other speci-
mens are brownish, with more or less distinct wide cross-bars, confluent anteriorly,
alternate posteriorly, on the vertebral line. This is taken from Schmidt's (1923)
notes on the American Museum Congo series, and makes it unnecessary to quote
at length from Boulenger's description. The juveniles are often highly coloured in
alternate drab and pale zones and bear little resemblance to the sombre-hued adults.
An Entebbe example agrees very well with specimens from the Ituri region,
as well as with the description given by Schmidt: the eye is very dark brown,
practically black. The detailed description is worth quoting:- "Above, generally,
blackish, with remarkable bluish-velvet bloom or lustre, giving a particularly hand-
some suede effect in sunlight when seen at certain angles. Head, blackish. Below
head and anterior 15 ventrals, deep creamy to pale yellow: subsequently ventrals
edged more and more broadly with black, and flanked similarly broadly till within
twelve inches of tail, thence to vent, and onwards to tip, completely greylsh-oi'
bluish black. Five upper (posterior) labials very deep and broadly edged black poster-
iorly; otherwise they are a pale, dull creamy. Lower labials very narrowly edged
black (sutures)". Boulenger inter alia records "black bars on the posterior border
of the upper labials, the one on the penultimate labials extending on the temple
to the eye; ventral and subcaudals yellowish to dark olive, with or without a
darker edge". He also mentions "some specimens nearly uniform black".
In a "black" specimen from the Budongo Forest, after a brief immersion in
spirit, the general colour is "a somewhat dull black, posteriorly almost a dead
black"; and the ventrals on posterior two-thirds and subcaudals are "a glossy or
rather satiny blue-black". A "brown" specimen from the same locality is thus de-
scribed :- "Above generally a glossless suede brown (almost light earth brown) with
dark pepperings on the head. The vertebral scales mainly and conspicuously hex-
agonal. An irregular blackish line separating base of the head from the neck.
Large, darker brown rhombs, darkly edged, alternately situated on either flank.
Fairly large eye. Posterior labials with broad, black edge, posteriorly. Below
head, whitish; ventrals anteriorly parchment yellow, posteriorly and subcaudals
very pale grey-brown, peppered blackish." The coloured illustration depicts the
"black" form. *
Habits-Although in the heading to this species B. blandingii is described as
mildly venomous, as far as I am aware, it has never been tested for extent of stor-
age capacity of venom, nor yet for the toxicity of the poison it secretes.
The majority of African back-fanged snakes are generally regarded as harmless
to man on account of either low toxicity of venom, or minute storage, or inability
to open the mouth wide enough to bite a human being directly with the poison-
conducting fangs. But this Boiga is a large snake, probably with a fairly big stor-
age capacity for its venom, and, when aggressive, it can open its jaws to such an
extent that it might be possible for it to strike with its large, grooved back-fangs.
At any rate I would not recommend anyone to take unjustifiable risks when handl-
ing live specimens until more is known about the quality of the poison secreted.
That it is an object of particular dread to the natives is incontrovertible, but this
means nothing as it is confused with the deadly cobra. On the other hand the
species may well be lethal to mankind.
This snake appears to be associated directly with forest away from which it
is never found. It is thoroughly at home in the tree-tops and ascends to consider-
able heights: I saw one specimen killed in the fork of a forest giant at least seventy
feet above the ground. It does not shun human habitation, and on the outskirts
of Entebbe frequently enters houses. The seven feet four inches specimen previ-
ously quoted was killed on an open verandah as it was gliding towards one of the
rooms. All specimens examined which contained food had been feeding on weaver
finches the size of sparrows. Some stomachs also contained parasitic worms of
more than one species. This snake is also a host for ticks. Although its skin has
If funds permit the "brown" variety will be included later on a supplementary plate,
not yet attracted the attention of that branch of the leather industry which utilizes
reptile skins for commercial purposes, it is one of the species, probably on account
of its fairly large size, which the Advisory Committee to the Imperial Institute
recommended in 1933 as "worthy of consideration" in the future.
Genus CROTAPHOPELTIS Jan.
Boulenger (1896) in his Catalogue includes in one genus, Leptodira, nine
species of snakes from such widely-separated localities as Tropical and South Africa,
and Tropical America. Subsequently the sole African species-which has now been
augmented by a few additional species and races-primarily for territorial reasons,
was allotted to a separate genus, Crotaphopeltis. Prominent features in the repres-
entatives of this genus include:- the pair of enlarged grooved teeth (venom-con-
ducting fangs) situated just behind the vertical of the posterior border of the eye :
head distinct from neck: eye large with vertically elliptic pupil: body cylindrical
(degeni) or moderately compressed (hotambaeia): scales smooth or faintly keeled,
with apical pits: rounded ventrals: divided anal: moderate or rather long tail: and
subcaudals in 2 rows.
Owing to an unfortunate oversight the members of this genus, in the System-
atic List printed on a previous page, are identified with Leptodeira, a name applic-
able to a Tropical American genus.
CROTAPHOPELTIS HOTAMBCEIA HOTAMBCEIA (Laurenti).
Herald Snake, Red-lipped Snake or White-lipped Snake.
(Plate IX Fig. 4: Coloured Plate (1), Fig. 3).
Native names-The Baganda appear to have no name exclusively allotted to
this species, while the Banyoro refer to it by the term "Nchuweira," which strictly
speaking is their name for the black-necked (spitting) cobra and the black-lipped
Distribution-Widespread throughout Tropical and South Africa as far north
as Senegambia and the Southern Sudan up to about the latitude of Khartoum, but
absent from the Western Forest itself and its eastern extensions. It is found at
all altitudes from sea level to 6,500 feet.
Occurrence in Uganda-This species is more or less ubiquitous and is only
absent from the higher elevations, the humid forests and the more arid regions of
the Protectorate. It is found on some of the Sese and other large northern islands
of the Victoria Nyanza, but is absent from the elevated swamps and highlands
(6000 to 7500 feet) of the Kigezi District.
Localities from which it is known include Entebbe, Kampala, Jinja, Mjanji,
Bukakata, Sango Bay, islets off Entebbe, Bussi Island, islets at the entrance to Mur-
chison Bay, Serere (Teso), Bagungu region (N.E. Lake Albert), Victoria Nile near
Murchison Falls, Tonya-Kaiso flats (on the eastern shore of Lake Albert), eastern
slopes of the Ruwenzori Range up to 6,500 feet, and the Albert Nile.
Description-Although stoutly built it is unusual for this species to attain a
length of 2 feet, though plenty reach between 22 and 232 inches. A female per-
sonally collected in Northern Rhodesia, however, measures as much as 26 (tail 3)
inches, the short tail being a little less than a ninth of the total, and Loveridge
(1928) has recorded :- "occasionally individuals may be found which are over 3
feet." Another Northern Rhodesia female is 23 (tail 2') inches, the tail being
contained in the total just over nine times. Boulenger's maximum is 610o (tail 90)
mm., the total being about six-and-three-quarters times that of the tail.
Loveridge (1933), referring to Tanganyika material, gives the largest male as
573 (500+73) mm., and the largest female 570 (500+70) mm., the tails respectively
being a little over, and not quite, an eighth of the total. His smallest is 150(130+ 20)
mm. Of thirteen specimens obtained by the American Museum Congo Expedition
in the Sudanese Subprovince the largest male measures 587 mm., and the largest
female 623 mm.; the tail length in the males varies from "13 to *14 of the total, and
in the females from i i to *13. An Entebbe specimen is 231 (tail 34) inches. Pro-
minent characters include :- the somewhat flattened, short, broad posteriorlyy) head
distinct from the neck, which is apt to give a viper-like appearance: fairly large
eye with vertically elliptic pupil: body compressed horizontally and somewhat
triangular: scales more 'often faintly keeled than smooth: anal entire: tail short,
almost stumpy: and subcaudals in 2 rows. Scales in 19 rows: ventrals 141-180:
subcaudals 29-54. In Uganda material the ventrals range from 163 to 169, and the
subcaudals from 34 to 42.
Boulenger gives the coloration as:- "Brown, olive, or blackish above, uniform
or with whitish dots which may form cross-bars; a black band on the temple, usually
connected with its fellow across the occiput; belly whitish."
Loveridge (1928, p. 55) correctly emphasises that "The South African name
of red-lipped snake for this species is somewhat of a misnomer for East African
specimens, as the lips are white in every individual I have seen." In all Uganda
material examined the lips have been invariably white.
In coloration the American Museum Congo series "is very uniform and ap-
parently distinct from degeni, for the lower scale rows, though pale are never yellow
and the black postocular mark is always present, though its distinctness varies.
Two juvenile specimens have many of the scales white-edged."
Loveridge (1933, P. 247) referring to Tanganyika specimens records:- "In the
Ukerewe Island snake the throat is deep black while in No. 30219 from Mwaya
the underside of the tail is black." He also refers (1928) to a specimen in which
the whole of the upper head, including the upper lip, is black.
Corkill (1935, Notes on Sudan Snakes, p. 19), refers to a pale local form in
Kdrdofan which is known in the vernacular as the "white snake."
Northern Rhodesia examples, personally collected, varied considerably in col-
our, being generally brown, olive, greyish-green or blackish; below dull whitish;
the head above conspicuously black.
Entebbe and Lake Albert specimens vary generally as much as those from
Northern Rhodesia, but the coloration is usually brighter, the blackish head not so
conspicuous, and there are often fine transverse bands of white speckling. The
general coloration in Uganda is usually a handsome olive green, greenish olive
or yellow-green olive, while the white markings are always well in evidence in the
juveniles, sometimes being freckled all over the upper surface. The white of the
ventrdls irregularly, and often conspicuously, invades the flanks; in some specimens
between the scales is dark.
Habits-In Corkill's experience (1935, p. 19) this snake "is common round houses
in gardens and trees, on rocky ground and near wells": in my own it appears to
have a definite association with water or damp localities. In parts of Northern
Rhodesia it is much in evidence during the wet season when toads, on which it preys,
are abundant. A very large example of the common toad, Bufo regulars, was found
in the stomach of an Entebbe specimen. Loveridge (1928) records:- "Habitat outside
rain forest, chiefly at low altitudes"...... "Frequent tents, outbuildings or rubbish
heaps in search of mice and toads which constitute their principal food"; and:-
"They were beneath the bark, or in cavities, of fallen logs on the edge of dry forest."
He also mentions that they can be very savage and are "nocturnal in habits; when
disturbed they flatten their heads till the white lips can be seen from above; the
body is also depressed and flung about spasmodically, giving the reptile a very
viperish aspect." This is an excellent description of C. hotambaia when annoyed,
for it really is a most truculent, vicious species which is ready to bite at the least
provocation. Fortunately it is not harmful to man, and, according to Loveridge, a
captive specimen which he had bit examples of Rhamphiophis rostratus and Psam-
nidphis sibilans, which subsequently exhibited no ill-effects.
In addition to toads, this species also preys on frogs, mice and other small
rodents, but its main diet is amphibian.
Eggs were found in Northern Rhodesia females examined during the rains;
the number varied from six to twelve (6+6). A Congo example obtained by the
American Museum Expedition "in July contained 5+8 eggs, measuring 20 x 8 mm."
Loveridge records nematodes and liver cysts in a specimen he examined. In
October, 1933, a curious case of mortality was noted on an islet in the Victoria
Nyanza at the mouth of Murchison Bay; a large crocodile had emerged from the
water, walking with its body evidently raised above the ground, and, where it
decided to sun-bathe, it came to rest on a specimen of this snake which could
not escape and was suffocated !
Fitzsimons (1932) mentions a freak with two heads which "lived at the Snake
Park, Port Elizabeth, for a year and ate with both heads, the food passing into a
single stomach. When one head was given a frog, the other head fought with its
mate for the prey."
CROTAPHOPELTIS DEGENI Boulenger.
(Plate IX, Fig. 5: Coloured Plate (I), Fig. 4).
Native names-None known. Neither the Baganda at Entebbe, nor the Banyoro
along the eastern shore of Lake Albert, could give me an exclusive name for this
Distribution-Tropical Africa, north of the Equator, in the immediate vicinity
of the northern shore of the Victoria Nyanza, the north-eastern shore of Lake
Albert, and the Albert (and White) Nile as far north as the Southern Sudan.
Occurrence in Uganda -Evidently quite common in the lake and river localities
mentioned in the preceding paragraph, but undoubtedly not easy to obtain and gen-
erally overlooked on account of its habits, which are described later. A male and
a female-types -were obtained at Entebbe by Degen in 1905 (or 190o6) and de-
scribed by Boulenger in i906. Since then no other specimens turned up at Entebbe,
in spite of frequent and occasionally exhaustive expert search, until 1935. The
circumstances of the re-discovery are decidedly romantic and worth recording, the
acquisition of the specimen being sheer chance. A marauding hippopotamus had
been shot one night near some gardens on the Entebbe peninsula and the huge
carcase was lying at the water's edge. I took a visitor from England to have
a look at the great brute before it was cut up for distribution amongst the hungry
mob of natives who had collected, and the onlookers had been there fully an hour-
and-a-half when a native was seen hitting at something in the trampled coarse grass.
Telling him to desist if it was a snake I went over to inspect, and saw coiled up be-
low the tough grass stems a small dark snake, very attractively coloured, which
was unfamiliar to me. I picked it up and on superficial examination felt sure I had
captured a specimen of the long lost Degen's snake-and so it was.
A few weeks later it was found to be plentiful along the north-eastern shore of
Lake Albert at Butiaba, Tonya and Kabanda (all in Bunyoro District).
Description-The Entebbe specimen, a male, personally collected, measures 191
(tail ig) inches, the tail, which is short, being contained in the total about ten-and-
-a-half times. A half-grown Kabanda example is 16 (tail 2) inches, the tail being an
eighth of the total; another from Kabanda was too battered to measure accurately.
Prominent characters include:- the rather long head not distinct from the neck:
vertical pupil: cylindrical body: smooth scales: divided anal: and short tail. Scales
in 19 rows: ventrals 170-178: subcaudals 32-40.
The coloration of the Entebbe snake, which had recently sloughed, is particul-
arly beautiful. "General coloration blackish or very dark greenish-olive, with a
lovely sheen or lustre giving a handsome blue-black appearance. Below, a vivid
deep yellow, paling slightly along the median ventral line: the yellow invading
irregularly the dark flanks: subcaudals a duller shade of yellow: the posterior
labials yellow: chin, throat and wholly below head to junction of throat and neck-
dead white: eye, blackish olive". The beautiful coloration began to fade immediately
after death and three hours later exhibited little resemblance to that of the hand-
some living creature: after immersion in alcohol the colours further changed to
dull yellow, quite pale, and dull blackish or greenish-olive generally, while the top
of the head faded to dull, dark brownish. It was the glorious indigo lustre, con-
trasting with the vivid deep yellow flanking the ventrals, which made me realise
the moment I saw the snake that here at any rate was a species new to me.
Loveridge (1933, p. 249) describes a specimen of Crotaphopeltis (formerly
Leptodeira) hotambaeia tornieri from Kigogo, Tanganyika, as being "iridiscent blue-
black", the hue which was so conspicuous in the live Entebbe degeni.
Schmidt (Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. His., Vol. XLIX, 1923, p. 109) suggests:-
"Critical examination of a series of L. degeni with hotambaia from the same region
may reduce degeni to synonymy, although Werner (1913, p. 28) has maintained
the distinctness of attarensis". But Schmidt (1923, p. io8) also mentions:- "Boulenger
(1915, p. 628) regards attarensis as synonymous with L. degeni from Uganda (as
suggested also by Werner), in which case there can be no possibility that it is a
subspecies of hotambaia, although unquestionably closely related". Flower (P.Z.S.,
1933) referring to Crotaphopeltis degeniremarks, "which, as L. attarensis, was made
known from the White Nile in 1907".
Both at Entebbe and in the localities along the Lake Albert shore Crotaphopeltis
degeni and C. hotambaria hotambaeia are found together; neither the adults nor the
juveniles bear any resemblance to each other; they differ markedly in habits and
disposition, and degeni most certainly is not a subspecies of hotambaia. That
attarensis is a synonym of degeni is probable.
Habits-Unfortunately, lack of opportunity has prevented my investigating
the habits of this interesting species to the extent I would have wished. Its habitat
appears to be associated directly with a distinctive type of swamp, or semi-swamp,
conditions. The Entebbe example was obtained on dry land, at the water's edge
(in a bay of the Victoria Nyanza), below a tangled mat of coarse creeping water
grasses, growing on rather sandy soil. The Butiaba, Tonya and Kabanda records
are all from similar localities, where there are extensive areas of permanent or
seasonal swamp combined with sandy soil. These snakes are evidently nocturnal
and emerge at night to hunt their prey, and, as their haunts along the Lake Albert
shore are often close to human habitation, many are killed amongst the settlements.
C. degeni is probably exclusively a frog-eater, and the stomachs of all specimens
examined have contained examples of frogs. The Entebbe snake had eaten no
less than four small frogs, one only recently swallowed, which were in progressive
stages of digestion. A snake directly it has finished sloughing is usually extremely
hungry and sets forth as soon as possible to satiate its appetite-evidently this
specimen had done so.
UGANDA SNAKES X.
i. Amplorhinus nototwnia.
2. Trimerorhinus tritaniata multisquamis.
3. Dromophis lineatus.
4. Rhamphiophis rostratus.
5. Rhampiophis oxyrhynchus.
6. Rhamphiophis rubropunctatus.
In disposition degeni is as amiable as hotambieia is vicious: the former looks
inoffensive and is so, while the latter also acts up to its appearance. Examples of
degeni that I have caught and handled have never attempted to bite. Loveridge
(1928) referring to L. hotambwcia records:- "Vicious and ready to bite on the least
provocation; on the other hand L. degeni is most docile."
Genus AMPLORHINUS Smith.
This is a Tropical and South African genus represented by two small species,
one of which occurs in Eastern Africa.
Prominent features include:- maxillary teeth gradually increasing in size, foll-
owed by an enlarged grooved tooth (poison fang): head distinct from neck: mod-
erate eye with round pupil: cylindrical body: scales smooth or feebly keeled, with
apical pits: rounded ventrals: moderately long tail: and subcaudals in 2 rows.
AMPLORHINUS NOTOT/ENIA (Gunther). *
(Plate X, Fig. 1: Coloured Plate (J), Fig. 2).
Native names-None known.
Distribution-The savannas of Tropical Africa from the Southern Sudan
(Bahr el Ghazal) and Somaliland to the River Zambezi, at altitudes ranging from
sea level to 5000 feet.
Occurrence in Uganda-This little species is believed to occur in Karamoja,
though so far there are no authentic Uganda records. As it is known from both
Tanganyika Territory and Kenya Colony, as well as from the Southern Sudan one
would expect it to turn up in the Protectorate, but, being of such small size, it is a
species which is easily overlooked. Specimens have been obtained at Lokitaung
and Lodwar in Turkana (west of Lake Rudolf) in the Great Rift Valley, not far
from the Kenya-Uganda border, but at an altitude a few thousand feet lower than
that of adjacent Uganda.
Description-A small species with a maximum length of about 16 inches.
Sternfeld (1910) quotes a specimen of 40 cm. (just over 151 inches) but omits to
state the locality. Boulenger gives a total length of 355 mm. in which the tail
(85 mm.) is contained a little more than four times. Gunther's type (P.Z.S., 1864)
is recorded as 14- (tail 33) inches. Loveridge (1928, p. 55) quotes a Tanganyika
specimen of 300 (tail 1o0) mm., the tail being approximately a third of the total.
Of three Northern Rhodesia examples personally collected the largest is 12J (tail
No "popular" name distinguishes this little snake.
Prominent characters include:- an enlarged, grooved tooth on either side
posteriorly in the upper jaw: head distinct from neck: eye moderately small with
round pupil: body cylindrical: scales smooth with apical pits: ventrals rounded: anal
divided: tail moderate: and subcaudals in 2 rows. Scales in 17 rows: ventrals 154-
187: subcaudals 58-98.
According to Gunther the coloration of the type is:- "Greyish-brown: a deep
brown band commences on the crown of the head, it being darkest and serrated on
the anterior part of the body; it becomes fainter posteriorly, and is accompanied
by a series of black dots on each side, which disappear on the tail. A brown line
runs along the third outer series of scales, from the middle of the length of the body
to the extremity of the tail; belly brownish-yellow marbled with brown". Boulenger's
description of course covers a greater range in coloration:- "Greyish or pale brown
above, with two series of small blackish spots connected by a dark vertebral line;
the spots and bands unite on the occiput and nape and form a more or less marked
zigzag band; a dark streak on each side of the head, passing through the eye; tail
with three dark stripes; whitish or pale brownish below, spotted or speckled with
Field notes concerning a Northern Rhodesia specimen, personally collect-
ed, read:- "Grey-brown speckled darker; blackish and yellowish behind head."
Habits-Specimens collected in Northern Rhodesia during the winter season
were active during the day. Loveridge (1933, p. 250) found one of these snakes
"resting on the horizontal branch of a fallen tree in dry miombo forest." The local-
ities in Northern Rhodesia in which examples were obtained are extremely arid
during the dry season and liable to inundation for a lengthy period during the wet.
So small a snake can only prey on tiny creatures. Loveridge found the tail of a
small species of gecko in the stomach of one of his specimens. In disposition the
species is amiable and in my experience does not attempt to bite.
(To BE CONTINUED.)
"Futki" and Some Other Elephants.
By H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.
This is really the story of an episode in the life of "Futki", Uganda's only
transport elephant, when for a short time in 1909 she did something to introduce
Uganda to the pomp and pageantry of the East.
But Futki was not an isolated phenomenon. For forty years past many plans
had been discussed and some concrete attempts had been made to utilize trained
elephants in the development of central Africa.
It must have been with the embassy to the Sultan, the arrival of which at
Zanzibar Sir John Kirk reported in October, 187 i, that Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda
sent down a tame young African elephant. Seyyid Barghash gave it to Sir John
Kirk, and "He was marched through the streets of the island completely tame
and docile, helping himself to sweetmeats from the shops and otherwise making
himself obnoxious in a most civilized way"-(Lugard. The Rise of Our East
African Empire, Chap. XIX). Sir Bartle Frere saw it in Zanzibar early in 1873; it
was then 6 feet 6 inches high and as capable of labour as an Asiatic elephant of
the same size. It was sent to Bombay as a present to Sir-Philip Wodehouse and
from him passed to an Indian potentate, Sir Salar Jung.
About i877 the Government of India presented the Khedive of Egypt with six
elephants, and it seems to have been these which were passed on to Gordon, then
Governor-General of the Sudan. When, on 15th October, 1877, Gordon returned
to Khartoum from hunting down the slave-traders of Kordofan, he was salaamed
on arrival at the palace by the six elephants which had recently reached Khar-
toum. Of these elephants five were of Asiatic and one of African origin and, in a letter
dated 13th September, i878,("Unpublished Letters of C. G. Gordon". Sudan Notes and
Records, 1927), Gordon remarks that they had reached "Gondokoro and the Lakes".
They had marched all the way from Cairo, 3,300 miles, swimming the Nile six
times, and were much frightened of the wild elephants.
Writing from Lado on 25th December, 1881, (Emin Pasha in Central Africa,
page 390), Emin reported that three of these elephants were then at Makraka; that
their attendants had been sent back to India by Gordon; that the Shilluk were un-
satisfactory substitutes; and that he had not succeeded in procuring any young
wild elephants, though he still believed that elephants would go far to solve the
porterage difficulties of the southern Sudan. Some of these elephants are said to
have reached Dufile, but all eventually died.
Meanwhile an experiment was being made elsewhere. The International African
Association, the inspiration of King Leopold II of Belgium, which later became the
Congo Free State, utilized the route from the East Coast for a number of its earlier
expeditions to the Congo Territory. In 1879 four Indian elephants, one of which
had been used by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) when in India, were
purchased and brought over from Bombay. They were put ashore on the mainland
and were marched to Dar-es-Salaam. From here the expedition-elephants, pack-
donkies, porters and askaris-under the command of Capt. F. Falkner Carter set out
on 2nd July, 1879, Mpwapwa being reached on 3rd August. Here its troubles
began, for the best elephant quietly died without warning, undoubtedly from over-
work and under-nutrition. Whenever a porter decamped or was sick, his load went
on to the elephants which, instead of a normal 700 lbs., were at times carrying
1,700 lbs. each. The expedition eventually reached the Association's station at Kare-
ma on the eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika with two elephants. Only one survived
at the end of the year and that seems soon to have passed on. Carter and a
companion, Cadenhead, were returning to the Coast when, on 24th June, i88o,
they were killed by natives in an unprovoked conflict. (See Proceedings of Royal
Geographical Society, 1882. "The Elephant Experiment in Africa").
Transport being almost the most difficult problem confronting the British
Administration during its early years in Uganda, it was but natural that the possib-
ilities of the elephant as a transport animal should come up for examination.
Lugard (Rise of Our East African Empire) reviewed the matter at length, but
concluded that the elephant was not of great use as a transport animal. He pointed
out that it is delicate, requires well trained attendants, demands special arrange-
ments as regards fodder and is thus not really "worth its keep".
Sir Harry Johnston, however, took up the idea with enthusiasm. An offer to
value a captured young.elephant as the equivalent of one thousand hut taxes (Rs.
3,000) had produced three baby elephants from Buganda by the autumn of 1900.
They were brought into Entebbe, where the Residency grounds, with various buck,
zebra, wild pigs, hippopotamuses, monkeys and a chimpanzee, were already assum-
ing the appearance of a Zoological Gardens.* They quickly became tame and affect-
ionate but, being too young to take solid food, all died, the result apparently of a
diet of cow's milk.
More encouraging results were obtained in Toro. Here, the Mukama, Daudi
Kasagama, succeeded in organizing the capture of five half-grown elephants which
already had small tusks; and R. Baile, the Collector at Fort Portal (who died at
Kisumu, i5th March, 1901), met with a good deal of success in taming.them. The
first three sent to Entebbe died on the road, undoubtedly from maltreatment by
native drivers. Another seems to have reached Entebbe, but this, with the one
remaining in Toro, appears to have died soon after. However, having proved that
sizeable elephants could be captured, the Foreign Office was prepared to provide
handsomely for the establishment of an elephant farm, and koonkies (tamed Indian
elephants) were to be imported for training purposes. But Johnston's immediate
successors did not share his optimism and nothing was in fact done.
* See also, Uganda Journal, Vol. IV, p. 36.
Fig. 1. Futki wading ashore at Entebbe on first arrival.
(Oriqinal in possession of Transport Section, P. W.D. Kindly lent by W. D)lcon, Esq.).
Fig. 2. Futki and her mahout somewhere in
(Oriqinal in the Entebbe Club album).
When Sir Hesketh Bell arrived in Uganda in 1906 he soon realized that devel-
opment was being starved for want of transport facilities; and with characteristic
enterprise and imagination he determined to put the utilization of elephants to a
practical test by importing an Indian elephant. It was to be used experimentally
for transport purposes, particularly in connexion with forestry and survey work,
and was to assist in training captured African elephants. Owing to the abundance
of elephant grass, which, so it was understood, was the natural food of elephants,
upkeep would, it was represented, be a negligible factor. A docile female, in per-
fect health, thoroughly broken to transport, accustomed to firearms and hunting
and a good traveller, was required to put the problem to the test; and the search
for this paragon of an elephant began in the course of 1907.
Bombay and Burma were scoured in vain, but at length, through the good
offices of the Government of Eastern Bengal and Assam, Futki-aged 45 years, 7
feet 3 inches high, weight about 8o maunds, highly trained, perfectly staunch, and
a good shikaree and koonkie-was located at Jalpaiguri and was engaged to fill the
vacant r6le. But it was now March, 1908; and it was deemed unwise to move her
until the next cold season. She eventually set sail from Bombay on 4th January,
1909, and arrived at Mombasa on the 16th.
Meanwhile Uganda was learning a lot about the incidental expenses of eleph-
ants. A mahout and a grasscutter accompanied Futki, and the bill-fodder for
Futki; rations for her attendants ; jute for ropes; two howdahs; and railway, ship-
ping and steamer charges--was several pages long, before Futki left her native land.
And indeed Uganda would probably have accepted gladly any reasonable offer for
Futki on Bombay pier.
When, however, it was realized in Uganda that the long awaited elephant was
indeed afloat, all was excitement. The railway had to prepare a special elephant
truck. Was it safe to convey her through the tsetse fly area around Voi? A special
mosquito net would doubtless protect her from the risk; but this refinement was
obviated by running the train through the danger zone at night.* Could she be
accommodated on the S. S. "Clement Hill", and would the ship's crane lift her? It
was a triumph of transportation when she waded safely ashore at Entebbe on 25th
January, 1909 (Fig. i).
Early in February, Sir Hesketh Bell started on what proved to be his farewell
safari in Uganda. On the previous night Futki was sent on from Entebbe and was
secreted in the elephant grass on the outskirts of Kampala. Here the Governor
met her next morning, and, mounting, made a ceremonial entry into the town. The
effect of this display was immense; and onlookers can still recall the enthusiasm of
the crowd which thronged every foot of the way.
Rumour has embellished the performance; it is said that Futki never regarded
herself as properly prepared for a state occasion until she had 'spliced the main
brace'-which perhaps accounts for the nautical flavour of another story, that the
Reference to the reports of the Elephant Experiment of 1879 would have shown that the
Indian elephants then employed were quite unaffected by fly.
central figure of the ceremony suffered from a terrestrial equivalent of mal de met,
on account of the motion of the howdah. What is more certain is that the process-
ion encountered a telegraph line, causing the occupants of the howdah to descend
somewhat hurriedly before resuming their progress.
Futki proceeded as part of the Governor's entourage to Mubende; through
Kakumiro to Hoima; and thence (while the Governor crossed Lake Albert to pay
what must have been almost the last official visit to the Mboga area, which was
soon to be transferred to the Belgian Congo) to Fort Portal, where Sir Hesketh
Bell arrived on 8th March.
Everywhere Futki's progress caused a sensation. The party returned by way
of Mubende to reach Entebbe on March 27th; but, as a reminder that elephants are
delicate beasts, at Mityana, the mahout went sick and, in fear that Futki would
expire in inexperienced hands, the Indian grass-cutter was rushed out from Entebbe
by rickshaw to take charge. Sir Hesketh Bell left Uganda a month later, and,
being transferred as Governor of Northern Nigeria, did not return.
Futki seems never again to have taken part in any public function or indeed
to have done any further useful work. Her mahout, who held a key position in
the elephant industry, propounded the theory that she was quite untrained for any
form of activity other than that of ceremony and hunting. In this contention he was
ably seconded by Futki, who quickly terminated the one tentative effort to employ
her in transport work by the simple expedient of bursting the improvised harness
with which she was attached to a Public Works Department cart. Thus Futki and
her mahout assured for each other a leisured existence; and in the precincts of
Government House, Entebbe, she lived a life of serenity in the enjoyment of perfect
Meanwhile the Government, in an atmosphere of growing disillusionment, was
brought into regular contact with Futki by the need of issuing special warrants
to pay for her rations; for far from being satisfied with a diet of elephant grass,
she consumed 20 lbs. of uncooked rice, 800 lbs. of banana leaves and an issue of
sugar-cane each day.
The fact is that Futki, like 'Jumbo', though in a different manner, was a victim
of the mechanical age. Between the time that she had been bespoken and her
arrival, THE motor-van and THE motor-car had reached Uganda. The first trip by
motor ever made from Entebbe to Kampala was performed by THE motor-car, a 16 h.p.
Albion, on 5th June, 1908. Piloted by Capt 'Bob' Hill, with Sir Hesketh Bell, his
Aide-de-Camp, Capt. Burton and the Chief Surveyor, R. C. Allen, aboard, it 'mopp-
ed up' the 23 miles to Kampala, despite previous heavy rain, in under two hours,
the return journey occupying a mere 105 minutes. It is reported to have behaved
admirably, climbing to the top of Nakasero Hill with a load of five persons without
difficulty; and at the end of the day 56 miles had been run with a consumption of
three pints of petrol and four gallons of paraffin.
Thus was it demonstrated that improved roads and motor vehicles offered the
most promising solution of Uganda's transport problem; and thus was Futki's fate
sealed before ever she set foot in Africa.
Futki quietly munched her way into the New Year. At last Karl Hagenbeck
relieved the Uganda authorities of their 'white elephant' at a break-up price, and
her African adventure ended on 8th March, 191o, when, still accompanied by her
mahout, Shiek Munshi, she was hoisted on board the S. S. "Herzog" at Mombasa
en route for Hamburg Zoo.
What Futki did in the Great War is not known; but doubtless she performed
her part with that dignity and good temper which seem at all times to have char-
acterized her actions during her short stay in Uganda.
By N. V. BRASNETT.
Much is written about erosion in these days and many false ideas are current
in regard to it. Erosion is a universal and natural process by which soil is form-
ed and rejuvenated and by which the contours of the land surface are altered.
Soils are built up by the slow wearing down of previous land surfaces to form new
ones, but the process is such a slow one that, for all practical purposes, stable soil
conditions and a tendency towards improvement rather than retrogression in plant
cover can normally be looked for.
What is usually meant by erosion is accelerated erosion due to interference
with vegetation. This was defined by the 4th British Empire Forestry Conference,
1935, in the following terms:-
"Erosion results from the misuse of the surface covering of the earth,
whether it be by the destruction of the forest which covered it, by the misuse
of arable or pasture land, by bad methods of cultivation, by burning or by
There is probably no one who does not recognize as erosion the wash that
occurs on cultivated slopes during a rain storm. As soon as the soil is saturated,
little trickles of water wear tiny channels which grow deeper and wider as the rain
continues. Down these channels flow the fine particles of the tilth to be deposited
as silt at the base of the slope. Eventually spectacular gulleys cutting deep into
the sub-soil may result; and from this the name 'gulley erosion' has been given to
this particular form (Fig i).
Not everyone, however, appreciates that erosion may go on without any very
noticeable outward signs. Large flattish areas of land are liable to what is known
as 'sheet erosion.' During rainy seasons they may become partially inundated
from time to time and, though little movement is apparent in the water, neverthe-
less the loose light soil and dead vegetable matter on the surface are carried off.
This is a more insidious form of evil than gulleying and more difficult to recognize.
It is commonly supposed that the worst erosion occurs under conditions of
high rainfall, but this is not usually true. In Nigeria, for instance, there is less
erosion in the area where 360 inches of rain fall in a year than where the rainfall
is only io inches a year. This is probably due to the fact that in moist situations
the root systems of small plants are very dense and never completely die out,
whereas in drier conditions they are sparser and die back in the dry season, leaving
the soil with nothing to bind it. With a high rainfall too surface covering is natur-
ally dense, difficult to destroy and replaces itself rapidly.
Erosion is a progressive evil. Once the topsoil which contains the nitrogen
and organic matter has been removed the subsoil, which has a far lower capacity
for absorbing water, is exposed. Rain falling on this rushes down more rapidly
than before, carrying with it subsoil which is deposited on richer lands in the vall-
eys, destroying their value also. This water which used to sink down to feed
underground springs causes floods in the the wet seasons (Fig. 2), followed by
rapid drying up of the unreplenished springs in the dry seasons. The exposed
subsoil does not encourage the growth of fresh vegetation and so is likely to be
unprotected against the wash of the next year's rains.
Wind as well as water plays its part in erosion and tremendous quantities of
good soil are blown away. The bitter comment of the Middle West farmer, "Uncle
Jake will be along soon; his farm has been blowing by for a week", was no exagg-
eration during the great dust storms of 1934. The powdery top soil lifted from
a vast acreage of ploughed prairie land was carried hundreds of miles to the
The building up of top soil which can be removed so rapidly in these ways is
a very long process; exactly how long we do not know. It is rarely of great
depth; in fact the average for the United States of America is said to be 7 inches.
It is on this layer of top-soil that agriculture depends and the undecomposed sub-
soil beneath it is a very poor substitute.
The effects of erosion do not constitute a new phenonemon in the world,
though, now that a greater proportion of the land surface is subject to use and
misuse, they have become more general.
The kingdom of Persia was at one time the mightiest power in the eastern
world. Its revenues were derived mainly from the rich lands of Mesopotamia,
watered by the finest irrigation system the world has yet seen, a system with
which even the great works in the Punjab of today cannot compare. The break-
down of this system and the consequent ruin of the country is attributable more to
the destruction of forests on the hills and neglect of the catchment areas of the
Tigris and Euphrates than to the damage done by the Moghul invaders. A nation
can recover from defeats by human enemies if its water supplies and soil remain
to it. Canals can be repaired if the springs are still capable of yielding a steady
flow and new crops can be grown in fields ravaged by war alone. But from
persistent misuse of the covering of the land, resulting in interference with the
climate, lowering of the moisture content of the soil and loss of topsoil to the sea
there is no recovery.
Darius, the King of Kings, did not build his palace at Susa in the middle of a
desert, nor did his enemies make a desert round it, but the ruins of it stand
in one today. Rich Mesopotamia is a dreary wilderness and the Hanging Gardens
of Babylon are gone.
Good illustrations of dust storms in America appeared in The Times Weekly Edition
of August 6th, 1936.
Other examples could be cited from history, but, turning to modern times, the
recent soil surveys carried out in the United States of America provide food for
serious thought. It is estimated there that some 35,000,000 acres of land have
already been destroyed by misuse and that, of a total of 350,000,000 acres now
under cultivation, 125,ooo,000 acres have lost all or almost all their surface soil,
while a further 100,000,000 are in process of doing so. Before the survey was
undertaken, an estimate had been made that the total figure of erosion losses
from fields and pastures was 1,500,ooo,ooo tons of soil a year. This was derided
as being an alarmist's exaggeration but the survey found that the actual loss
is a great deal more. There are few data available from British Empire sources
but an investigation has been made in Nyasaland (Fig i.). In the highlands
there losses averaging 858 cubic feet of soil an acre annually were proved.
When this sort of thing goes on it might be asked how it is that there is any soil
left in the world. The answer of course is that care is taken of it and that in the
temperate regions, where the greatest development has taken place in the past, the
danger of erosion is not so great.
In many parts of the tropics and sub-tropics, including much of Africa, the
bulk of the land was somewhat scantily populated until comparatively recent times.
The inhabitants were divided into numerous kingdoms and tribes which were fre-
quently at war with one another. They had little medical knowledge and both they
and their stock suffered from high infant mortality and from periodic epidemics of
disease. These causes prevented any rapid increase in the number of people or
cattle. The inhabitants had little in the way of transport and grew locally what
they could to supply their comparatively simple needs. This meant that there was
plenty of surplus land and they were able to evolve a system of farming which
depended on surplus land. They practiced shifting cultivation which, under the
circumstances that existed, was a sound system of crop rotation. Small patches
were carved out of the forest or bush and the resulting debris burnt to manure
the ground. Food was grown in these plots for a few years and, as soon as
diminished yields showed that the soil was becoming impoverished, they were
abandoned. The plots were small, both because they had to be cleared with
indifferent hand tools without mechanical assistance and because it was unwise to
tempt enemies with a large display of crops in one place. They were generally in
dense bush because the soil was more fertile there and because they were less easy
for enemies to find. The result was that, when they were abandoned, these plots
rapidly reverted to jungle, both through shoots from the root stocks left in the
ground and through seeds poured in by the surrounding bush. In this way land
which had been farmed for a few years was put under a long resting rotation of
bush and became completely rehabilitated. When it was required again it carried
a heavy stock of wood for use as fertilising ash.
The advent of European influence has altered conditions very rapidly. Inter-
tribal wars and raids have been stopped; organisation, transport and medical assist-
ance have decreased the effects of famines, epidemics and infant mortality. Educ-
ation, propaganda, taxes and trade goods have stimulated the production of greater
quantities of food and also of crops which can be sold and shipped abroad. Ploughs
have been introduced to accelerate the breaking up of land and a terrible number of
axes have been supplied by England and America. The results are increasing
A*'. 4 J
Photo. C.B. Bisset. (1928).
Fig. 1. Gulley erosion in Nyasaland, originating from
a small drain in a coffee estate, abandoned
Photo. C.B. Bisset.
Fig. 2. A river bed in the dry season in Karamoja, Uganda. Lack of
forest in the catchment area causes a wet season torrent.
Population, more cultivation, expanding production and prosperity. But what of
the soil ? The old system of shifting cultivation is breaking down because there is not
enough land for the long jungle manure rotation. Plots are cultivated for longer
periods, until the top soil has been exhausted, washed away by rain, blown away
by winds or burnt up by the tropical sun. They are then rested for a short period,
but, as the roots of the original bush have been grubbed up to permit of ploughing,
as there is no bush around to seed them, and as the exposed subsoil does not
facilitate growth, the plots are not reclothed with bush. They stand for the most part
exposed, with a little coarse grass struggling for existence against the voracious cattle
which can find no grazing elsewhere. So accelerated erosion goes on.
The cattle too are increasing in number with the assistance of European
veterinary knowledge and, on account of the greater population and more stable
conditions, the nomadic habits of the -larger cattle-owning tribes have had to be
modified. The result is that the areas on which cattle are maintained are overgrazed.
A striking example is given by Dr. Gorrie in his Use and Misuse of Land. The
Navajo Indian Reservation of 16,ooo,ooo acres in the Colorado basin was allotted to
the remnants of the Navajo tribe in 1868, at the end of the Indian wars. The
people then numbered some 8,ooo and for many years they flourished. Today their
population of 47,000 persons, owning over i,ooo,ooo head of cattle, is on the verge
of starvation. "The whole reservation has literally been turned into a desert by
the cumulative effects of overgrazinig; once productive valleys are cut to pieces
by ugly gullies; corn fields and squash patches formerly irrigated by the simple
method of flood-water farming are rendered valueless because the water-courses,
large and small, have become wild and uncontrollable; slopes and valleys that pro-
duced abundant forage are given over to worthless weeds or bare ground because,
deprived of the vegetative mat that once held back the water and filtered it into the
soil, they now act as roofs over which the water flows in sheets to the gullies.
Because of overstocking, and an undue proportion of goats, the browse cover has
been nearly destroyed. The pifion, that valuable nut bearer, whose great crops
have been one of Navajo's income producers, is gradually disappearing because the
goats destroy the seedlings and the mature trees are consumed as fuel."
This was written of New Mexico but, if one or two strange words were altered,
it would sound remarkably like what is happening in parts of Africa. The reference
to the goats, for instance!
There can be no doubt that the soil constitutes the main capital of a country.
Crops obtained by good farming, which means keeping the land in unimpaired
condition, represent legitimate interest on capital. When these crops are obtained
by methods that exhaust the fertility of the soil, and leave behind them land of no
agricultural value, they merely represent liquidation of capital.
The old tropical methods were not devised for high rates of production and
new ones have to be adopted when production rises. Governments and Agricultural
Departments all over the world are aware of this and of the methods that should
be adopted. The danger lies in the time which has to elapse before securing their
universal adoption, and in effecting the change-over before increased production
has destroyed too large a proportion of the land.
America, for instance, has constituted a Soil Erosion Service and has started
regional land planning based on aerial surveys. In the course of this planning
forests which remain on water catchments and steep slopes are set aside for
protection, provision is made for re-afforestation of denuded slopes and areas to be
planted as shelter belts to break desiccating winds are selected. The co-operation
of farmers is secured, land unsuited to cultivation is withdrawn from it, range plans
for the prevention of overgrazing are drawn up and the use of strip crops, rotat-
ions, terracing, etc., is taught. Much of the work is done on a co-operative basis
and major remedial works, such as gulley control, are carried out by the State.
In countries where the evils of erosion have not gone so far prevention, which
is so notoriously more economical than cure, can be carried out by existing serv-
ices and by the education of farmers.
A small example of the disadvantages of a late start in anti-erosion measures
is the offer of the Government of Bihar and Orissa to lease suitable and compact
areas of forest belonging to private owners. The Government is prepared to pay
the cost of management and an annual rent and to share the profits, if any, with
the owners. This is going to cost the Government a considerable annual sum, but,
if the need had been realized some years ago, the land could very probably have
been acquired for little or nothing.
Forestry appears in the forefront of any anti-erosion measures but, as the
evidence of a forester on the subject is liable to be suspect, I will quote an agricult-
Speaking to the 4th British Empire Forestry Conference, the Director of Agri-
culture, Basutoland, said:-
"Trees are the best agents for slowing down water flow, and the slow-
ing down of wind velocity near the surface of the earth. If we can slow down
our water velocity we naturally check erosion, and if we can slow down the
wind velocity near the surface of the earth we not only check erosion but we
Besides large scale planning, and major operations which are best carried out
by Governments, there are many simple things which every individual cultivator
can do to safeguard his land. A number of tropical crops, such as cotton and tobacco,
grow well under the shade of fig trees, easily established from cuttings, which
protect the soil and conserve its moisture. Instead of the now unattainable
jungle manure rotation, rotation of agricultural crops and artificial manuring with
materials which are ready to hand can be adopted. Where cotton is grown, the
seed is often of little commercial importance because of the cost of transport
to markets, but it is an excellent fertilizer and of great value if returned to the soil.
The difficulty of finding sufficient grazing for cattle can be overcome by providing
a proportion of stall feed, a process which makes more cattle manure available. The
Indore Institute in India has evolved a system by which all waste vegetable matter,
such as weeds, can be converted into valuable compost with the use of quite a little
cattle manure. A very rough and ready adaptation of this system, in which a little
totton seed is also introduced into the pits, enables a tree seedling nursery oh
rather poor soil near Kampala to be maintained in a state of excellent fertility.
Cover crops and mulching afford very efficient mechanical protection to soil and
help to conserve moisture.
Simple terracing and contour draining can be carried out without any great
expenditure and such easy measures as planting crops and piling waste material
across slopes instead of up and down them can have excellent results. The follow-
ing observation is quoted from the United States Department of Agriculture Circul-
ar No. 347, written by Mr. H. G. Meginnes:-
"For a plot in a cultivated cotton field in which the rows paralleled the
slope......... the rate of soil erosion exceeded 195 tons per acre for the two
years. For a cultivated cotton field in which the rows paralleled the con-
tours.........soil eroded during the two years totalled 69 tons per acre".
Leaving strips of grass or bush uncultivated across slopes reduces wash and
quite narrow wind belts of trees and bushes on the edges of fields reduce wind
erosion and evaporation. Avoidance of burning, which exposes soil and wastes
organic matter which should be incorporated in the soil, is another important pre-
caution which should be taken to safeguard fertility.
Reverting to the definition of erosion as resulting from the misuse of land it
follows that the only anti-erosion measure which should be necessary is wise use
of land. On a large scale, by economic planning, Governments can ensure that
land is not made available for uses to which it is totally unsuited, but they cannot
ensure that it will be used wisely for the purposes to which it is suited. This can
only be done by the individual farmer. Any man who cultivates an acre of land
can ruin the soil on that acre, and, if he does so, he is depriving posterity of part of
its heritage and is actively endangering the future of his race.
Mwanga-The Man and His Times.
By (THE LATE) T. B. FLETCHER.
It is no easy matter to deal with the life of a man about whom so much has been
written as about Mwanga; and much of what is on record about him should never
have been written. Few knew either the man himself, his environment or the
circumstances in which he was placed. While I hold no brief for Mwanga, I re-
peat again what I have often said-Mwanga may have sinned; yet at the same
time he was a man who was sinned against.
Many years ago, I read a novel by Charles Reade. In that novel, It is never
too late to mend, there was one sentence which took hold of me-"Put yourself in
his place". This is what I now propose to attempt in regard to the man Mwanga,
considering the man himself, the times in which he lived and the environment in
which he moved. My acquaintance with him was from 1893 until 1899, when he
left the shores of Buganda. During that time I was constantly in and out of the
Lubiri, seeing much of what went on in that enclosure.
Mr. Fletcher, of the Church Missionary Society, died at Namirembe on 18th January,
1936, at the age of 65. The party of missionaries of which he was a member reached
Kampala on 18th December, 1893, and he stayed the course in Uganda long after his con-
temporaries had been compelled to quit the field- for he was in light harness to the time of
He took a worthy part in the Sudanese Mutiny operations-joining the force which was
investing Luba's Fort on 3rd November, 1897. There he assisted with the wounded, and
when, on 11th December, Pilkington was killed in action leading the Baganda porters who
were cutting down the banana gardens which flanked the mutineers' fort and furnished their
food supply, Fletcher took over command, beat off a party of the enemy and completed the
work of destruction. In February, 1898, as interpreter, lie accompanied Lieut. Scott's flying
column for the disarmament of the Bunyoro garrisons. He is mentioned for good service
rendered in Major Macdonald's despatches. His death leaves one more gap in the thinning
ranks of holders of the Uganda Mutiny medal.
He will perhaps be best remembered to a more recent generation for the many years
prior to 1928 during which, usually alone, he manned the mission station at Kasaka, Gomba.
Few incidents in his later career can be isolated as worthy of record. His accomplish-
ment lay rather in the spoken than the written word. He had that common touch which
often surmounts the barriers between African and European where greater erudition may fail.
Few probably have succeeded to the same extent in interpreting to the common people of
Buganda the simple essentials of the European point of view as informed by Christianity.
A sympathetic obituary notice by a former President of the Uganda Society, Sir Albert
Cook, appears in the Uganda Herald of 22nd January, 1936.
The present article had been submitted by Mr. Fletcher, before his death, to the Editor
of the Uganda Herald, by whose courtesy it is here published.-Editor.
Mutesa, his father and predecessor, died in October, x884, when Mwanga, the
chosen successor to the throne was a youth in his late teens or early twenties.
Previous to his accession Mwanga had spent the larger part of his life away from
the Capital, living at some distance, as distance was accounted in those days, away
from the new movements and the new civilization, which were rapidly appearing
in and around Mengo. As a youth much of his time was spent at Golola in the
County of Gomba, fifty miles from Mengo, and for a few years prior to his being
called upon to succeed to the throne he lived at Nkanaga in the County of Butambala,
which is still more distant. At both places he was entirely surrounded by pagan life
and thought. For a short period only was he in contact with the missionaries and
Arabs at Natete. So short was the time, and at a period of such unrest in the country,
that no good results could be expected.
Mwanga's temperament is somewhat difficult to describe. He was nervous,
suspicious, fickle, passionate-a man whose one desire and object in life was to live
his own life to the full. Self in all its many and various aspects was his guide.
There need be no wonder that he was suspicious, fearful and untrustful, when one
realizes what had taken place at the commencement of the two previous reigns-
wholesale disposal of all who might have possessed any claim to the throne of
Buganda, and security in any position hanging upon a very slender thread.
At the commencement of his career as Kabaka, Mwanga was surrounded by a
number of factions: natives of the old school; natives of a more progressive type;
the Arabs and Swahilis; and two religious bodies--Protestant and Roman Catholic-
all of whom were viewing with each other to obtain the leading place in the
country. Outside Buganda events were taking place of which Mwanga was duly
informed, and each party magnified the importance of those events and their possible
effect upon the advancement of its own particular ideas or objects. The members
of each faction were bitterly opposed to the members of all the other factions,
each placing before Mwanga the weak points of the others, with one object only-to
obtain the powerful sympathy and assistance of a ruler who was a despot and whose
person was regarded by the rank and file in the country as almost divine. If such
a state of affairs had occurred in the days of former rulers, it would not have lasted
more than a few days, for there were many ways at the disposal of the ruler of Bu-
ganda to rid himself of those whom he considered undesirables. Mwanga was very
differently placed, for in the past any faction which had appeared in the country
was purely native and internal. Now, however, all the factions with one exception
were connected in one way or another with influences outside the boundaries of
the Kingdom of Buganda.
To a man of the disposition and character of Mwanga, this fact was a cause of
suspicion and jealousy. "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown". Certainly
this was all too true of Mwanga, causing him in the early years of his reign to
commit terrible deeds, which were imitated by others. The Lubale Cult under the
old 'Barons', the feuds of the Protestants, the Roman Catholics and the Muhamm-
adans, who were all at variance with each other, were the natural result. One
has only to read the letters of the early missionaries, either Protestant or Roman
Catholic, to realize this fact. Even the names adopted by the various factions indicate
much. They called themselves by the names not of the faith or religion professed,
but of the nations from which the faith had been brought into the country: the Pro-
testants-Ba-Ngereza-English; the Roman Catholics-Ba-Fransa-French; the
Muhammadans-Bawalabu-Arabs or Swahilis.
Here we have a ruler, whose knowledge of things and affairs outside his own
country was non-existent, faced with confusion, a confusion strengthened by
the fact that none of the leaders of the contending factions were of Baganda
nationality. The Protestants were missionaries of the Church Missionary Society
from England. The Roman Catholics were members of the White Fathers Mission
from Algiers. The Muhammadans were Arabs and Swahilis from the Coast. The
Arabs made effective use of the events which were taking place elsewhere in
Africa to further their own plans, and advocated the exclusion of the white man,
knowing full well that as the white man obtained power and influence in the
country their trade as slave-dealers would be doomed.
What were the movements which were taking place outside Buganda which
would give grave cause for suspicion in the mind of Mwanga ? While there
may not have existed at that time a postal system, news did travel, and sometimes
very quickly. First, there was to the north of Buganda the occupation by the
Egyptians of the southern Sudan. On the south and south-east the Germans
were assuming a Protectorate, to be called German East Africa, over what is now
Tanganyika Territory. On the east, at the Coast, the reduction of the power and
the sphere of influence of the Sultan of Zanzibar was proceeding, and from the
west came rumours of the work and travels of H. M. Stanley in the Congo terr-
itory; whilst, on the very near east, Thomson was making his journey-"Through
To a person with no knowledge and no width of vision, it would appear that
Buganda was being menaced from all points of the compass. Again, the missionar-
ies and the traders who were in the country were present as guests of the Kabaka.
A question which would arise in the mind of Mwanga at the time was:- "Had these
guests no ulterior motive?" Disinterested kindness was unknown to the native
In 1888 the Christian parties were driven out of the country by the Muhamm-
adans, aided by adherents of the old religion, and Mwanga was deposed. Prior
to this event there was one terrible deed enacted and the thought of having
inspired that deed haunted Mwanga to the end-the murderof Bishop Hannington
at Luba's in Busoga in October, 1885. Attention to the facts which led up to this
tragedy will give some idea of Mwanga's attitude. From time immemorial tradition
had been handed down from one generation to another that, one day, conquerors of
Buganda would appear from the east through Busoga. Notwithstanding the fact
that the Bishop was advised not to take that route and also that Mackay had sent
canoes from Buganda to Kavirondo to meet him, the Bishop proceeded through
Busoga and was murdered by the orders of Mwanga.
A few years ago, in company with a son of Bishop Hannington, Paul Hanning-
ton who was District Commissioner at Entebbe, I had a long conversation with one
of the leaders of the business who had been sent by Mwanga to the chief Luba,
The conversation took place at Kasaka in Gomba and the individual in question
was Gideoni Ntanda, who will be known to many of my readers. Many years
previous to this conversation, I had also talked with both Mwanga and Luba about
this tragedy. I thus learned of the impression which had been given by the fact
of the removal of the Bishop's remains to Buganda for re-burial. The Bishop had
had been murdered by Mwanga's orders in the country of Busoga and his remains
were buried in Kavirondo, but re-buried on Namirembe in Buganda some years
later. With the tradition referred to above in his mind, Mwanga was confused in
his thoughts. Mackay, who had laboured for years in Buganda, died at the south
end of Lake Victoria and was buried there. Bishop Parker, who died when on his
way to Buganda at Msalala, Usukuma, was buried there. The remains of both
these leaders were left in the place where they were buried. Why were the remains
of this other Bishop re-buried in Buganda ? The idea of one who was not only not
of the clan but not even one of the nation being buried, or rather re-buried, on butaka
land, was to the men of the old regime unallowable, and such an act could only be
attributed to some ulterior motive. This feeling was very much in the minds of
many of the old 'Barons' with whom I spoke about the killing of Hannington.
The deed having been committed, Mwanga and his advisers appear to have lost
all control of themselves. For two years intermittent cruel persecution was carried
on, and not only did those who professed the Christian faith suffer but also the
Muhammadans. Islam too has its roll of martyrs.
After his deposition, in 1888, Mwanga fled the country and took refuge at
Bukumbi at the south end of Lake Victoria. During his absence two of
his brothers, both of whom came to an untimely end, occupied the throne in turn.
-Meanwhile the adherents of the two Christian parties, finding Buganda unbearable,
went en masse to Kabula, forty-five miles west of Masaka, and at that time
in the Kingdom of Ankole. During their stay there Buganda itself was in a state
of chaos and confusion, the rival princes Kiwewa and Kalema being in conflict as
to who should occupy the throne. The condition of affairs in Kabula, also, was
causing anxiety to the refugees, who were split into two parties. To have two
leaders in a small community was unlikely to prove a successful arrangement, and
to facilitate a peaceful settlement the Protestant and Roman Catholic parties event-
ually united to ask Mwanga to return and promised him their common support.
Under the leadership of Nyonyi-Ntono, a combined force set out for Mengo.
The leader was killed in an affray en route, the late Sir Apolo Kagwa being ap-
pointed his successor. Mwanga had meanwhile established himself on Bulingugwe
Island near Munyonyo and, at length, early in October, 1889, as a result of a
combined operation Kalema was put to flight and Mwanga re-entered his Capital
and was once more proclaimed Kabaka, only to be driven out again a few weeks
later. Hearing now that a European agent of the Imperial British East Africa
Company, who was none other than the late Sir. F. J. Jackson, was at Mumias,
Mwanga invited him to come to his aid. But Jackson had orders not to enter
Uganda and it was not until he heard that a go-ahead German-Karl Peters-had
slipped past him and was on his way to Mwanga that he decided to disobey his
orders. Jackson arrived at Mengo in April, 1890, to find that Mwanga had already
recaptured his Capital by his own efforts. He did not enter into any treaty with
Mwanga but envoys were appointed to accompany him to Mombasa in order to obtain
more information about the complicated political situation. One of the envoys is
still with us-Samwili Mukasa, late Kangawo. While all these events were taking
place in Buganda, the Governments in Europe had settled the whole question,
placing the country of Buganda within the sphere of British influence.
In December, 1890, an event took place, which, so I learned in conversation
with Mwanga some years later, made confusion in his mind worse confounded. A
trading Company's party or caravan arrived, a fully equipped armed force, and
within six weeks Capt. Lugard was followed by Capt. Williams with reinforcements.
During the early days of Capt. Lugard's stay the Baganda continued at varia-
nce among themselves. It was only by the assistance of Lugard and his force that
the Muhammadan party was finally defeated at Kijungute in North Singo, and
it is an undeniable fact that the country was saved by the aid and assistance of
the Imperial British East Africa Company. It was not long, however, before jealousy
between the two remaining parties manifested itself. The Roman Catholic party,
to which Mwanga had given his support, attacked the Protestant party in Mengo.
The Officer of the Company took the side of the Protestants, and with his aid they
were victorious. It was in this action that the Protestant party lost its leader,
Sembera Mackay, whose grave is at Natete close to the Church there.
On March 3oth, 1892, Mwanga placed himself unreservedly in the hands of
Lugard and a treaty was drawn up in which the protection of the Company was
acknowledged. In the following year a provisional agreement was drawn up
between H. M. Consul-General, Sir Gerald Portal, and Mwanga. In 1894 Uganda
was proclaimed by Col. H. E. Colvile, a British Protectorate. Now that a strong
power was in the country, independent of all factions, internal peace reigned until
July, 1897, when Mwanga vacated his throne and left the country, after a somewhat
feeble attempt to regain his old position and power.
In considering the situation prior to Mwanga's flight one must remember that
he had never been favourably disposed to the establishment of any authority which
restricted him in any way. His early training and environment, the course of
action he took in the early years of his reign, the religious persecutions, the blood-
shed carried out by his orders, all caused him to be ever an unknown quantity to
a very large portion of his people. He represented what was then to all appearances
a small body, who were against Christianity and civilisation in any form. As it
has been most truly said-"he finally ranged himself against his own country, as
one of its foes."
With a character and disposition, such as I have described, Mwanga was in-
evitably the cat's paw of others. His own particular friends were his real enemies.
Of these latter, there were three distinct parties. First there were the old 'Barons',
men who were opposed to any rule other than despotism and all that that word means.
Yet at the same time it is difficult not to have a sympathetic feeling for these giants,
for such many of them were physically and politically. They did not hide their
feelings and sentiments and one cannot but admire their openness and tenacity of
purpose. Then there were the men who were absolutely against any restrictions
6n their doings or desires, whether in private or public. These men, younger in
years than the old 'Barons,' would pamper and advise Mwanga with all the plausibil-
ity at the disposal of a Muganda. Finally there was a party far more dangerous
than either of the other two. Many of this party were leaders in the country. They
played a double game-running with the hare and at the same time hunting with the
hounds. I have no wish to revile the dead but I have no hesitation in saying that
if the members of this third party had been true and faithful in private, especially
when in company with Mwanga over beer, the power and influence of the other two
parties would have failed and the Kabaka would not have taken the line of action
he did on July 6th, 1897, becoming not only his own enemy, but also the cause of
great trouble in his country.
In a man of the type of Mwanga, lacking any outlook beyond his own small
country, with no idea whatsoever of self-discipline, without regard for life or pro-
perty as long as he achieved his own end a man with a guilty conscience which
was with him all his life the various movements which took place so rapidly
produced confusion in a weak and undisciplined mind. To steer a straight course
through a time when such radical changes were taking place a man needed to be
the possessor of a strong character, a firm will and a wide vision. These char-
acteristics Mwanga did not possess and hence he died an exile. But, as I have said,
though he may have sinned, yet also he was sinned against, especially by his own
The Blackness of the African Skin.
By R. N. T. W. FIENNES.
Dr. Loewenthal chose a subject of exceptional interest for his 'Note', which
appeared in the October, 1935, issue of the Uganda Journal, but it is impossible to
allow some of his statements and conclusions to pass unchallenged.
It may be teleology to say that the African is endowed with a black skin in
order that he may withstand better the heat of the tropical sun; but we have a
perfect scientific right to put the matter in this way......"The African can with-
stand the effects of the tropical sun better than the European; therefore, as a hypo-
thesis, let us consider that it is in part due to the colour of his skin". Let us
examine this hypothesis.
There are three separate disorders of man, connected with the sun's rays, and
there are three different types of ray to be considered as the possible cause of
these disorders. The rays are Ultra-Violet rays, Infra-Red rays and Heat Rays;
and the disorders, which are quite distinct from each other, are:- burning of the
skin, sun-stroke and heat-stroke.
As Dr. Loewenthal admits, these rays can penetrate thin white skin as far as
the dermis, which contains such vital structures as blood vessels, nerves, sweat
glands and so on. They can here cause burning of the skin in one of two different
ways; either they produce an intense flow of blood, which exudes in the form of
serum from the vessels and causes blisters; or else they directly kill certain skin
layers, causing those above them to peel. In either case the skin may be lost, and a
serious sore may result, over a large area of the body.
Under the influence of these rays, pigment is laid down in the upper layers of
the skin of the White Man, and further trouble is prevented. But unless the expos-
ure of very white skin to these rays is performed gradually, considerable discom-
fort can be caused.
Although Dr. Loewenthal speaks with some disregard of anatomical exactitude
about the Ultra-Violet rays, which must pass through muscle, bone, and so on and
so forth, in order to reach the spinal cord, for the purpose of causing sun-stroke,
yet the spinal cord is very superficially situated in the body; and it is easily attack-
ed by various types of ray. But I have not before heard it suggested that Ultra-
Violet rays can cause sunstroke, nor, as Dr. Loewenthal shows, do they appear by
their nature capable of doing so. But the Infra-Red rays, and even to some extent
the ordinary light rays, can very easily reach the nervous system; and these rays
are usually supposed to be the cause of sun-stroke. I do not know why Dr. Loe-
wenthal ignores them.
The Infra-Red rays are used by doctors and masseurs for the treatment of
deep-seated injuries of joints and muscles. They have a great curative effect, prob-
ably by simply inducing a greater flow of blood to the part exposed to the action
of the rays. Infra-Red rays, like the colour rays, are entirely absorbed by a dead
black surface and entirely reflected by a dead white surface.
Dr. Loewenthal points out that more heat is absorbed by the African's skin
than by the European's skin. This is undoubtedly true. He also points out that
this is compensated by a more efficient arrangement of sweat glands in the African
than in the European skin, and that the absorptive power of the black colour is to
some extent offset by the greater greasiness of the skin, which reflects some light
and heat. The argument here is sound and calls for no comment.
However, it does seem worth while to add that the pigment in the skin is laid
down in a definite continuous layer above the dermis, where the important structures
of the skin are situated. Heat absorbed is, therefore, intercepted in this layer,
and owing to the efficient arrangement of the sweat glands is passed no further
into the body: moreover, this hot black layer of skin forms a warm jacket round
the ducts of the sweat glands, and must inevitably in this way help the sweat to
vaporise: the pigment layer will, therefore, play a definite part in the cooling of
the body. In the same way, to cool his wine, the Italian peasant puts it into a
porous pot, and then places it in the sun. From the point of view of heat aborpt-
ion, therefore, it appears that the. black skin is of little if any disadvantage, and
that it may be of definite advantage.
Heat rays are of considerable danger to health and life. But the protection of
the body against them is so efficient, that trouble is comparatively infrequent. The
body is able to regulate its temperature to 98.4 deg. F. with an amazing degree
of accuracy. But, if more heat is taken into the body than it can dispose of, then
come symptoms of heat-stroke, a condition quite distinct from sun-stroke.
Possible Advantages of a Layer of Pigment in the Skin.
The results of what has been said above may be summarised as follows :-
i. Ultra-Violet rays are absolutely excluded from the lower skin layers,
where they can cause considerable damage.
2. Infra-Red rays are largely prevented from entering the body; and the
risk of sunstroke is thereby diminished.
3. Heat rays are absorbed into a definite layer of the skin : and this layer
by promoting the activity of an efficient system of sweat glands, helps to
keep the body properly at its normal temperature.
Other Possible Advantages.
Dr. Loewenthal produces the surprising theory that, countless generations ago,
blackness suddenly made its appearance in the human race, presumably by a process
of mass mutation, which suddenly attacked large numbers of people of both sexes:
it immediately became a dominant genetical factor: and, because it was not defin-
itely harmful, it has persisted ever since. He states that in the light of present
knowledge this cannot be disproved; and, further, that cause for this amazing event
need not belooked for.
I am aware that the Darwinian theory of Variation does not now receive much
support; moreover, I am also aware that there are a number of instances of sudden
striking mutations, which have persisted in the stock affected. In these there has
usually been a demonstrable chromosomal alteration, such as cannot be shown to
have occurred in the Negro races; the chromosomes may become double in number,
or some chromosomes may become split, or some broken, and the broken parts may
behave abnormally in pairing. The cause of the chromosomal alteration is usu-
ally mechanical, and can be imitated by the action of X rays on the germ-cell.
But this is not the normal way of evolution. Big changes in an organism are
the combined result of a succession of small, perhaps insignificant, mutations,
each of which becomes established by the processes of Natural Selection and Sexual
Selection. It is the view held to-day that such relatively insignificant mutations
are continually occurring in the germ cells; but their character is recessive, and so
they cannot become established unless male and female cell meet with the same
mutation; and even so they are unable to survive unless the mutation confers
benefit on the stock. To suppose that a change from whiteness to blackness in the
human race arose quite suddenly in a number pf both males and females is to strain
the bonds of credulity beyond endurance.
It is the generally accepted view of Anthropologists that the black colour is the
more primitive, and that the white skin has arisen as an adaptation to temperate
climates and a moderate sun. This is certainly supported by the almost complete
gradation of colour seen in the racially allied Aryan-speaking peoples, which varies
from that of the darkest Indians to that of the fairest Caucasians, such as the
The colour gradation seen in the Negro peoples is very much slighter, and can
be adequately accounted for by some intermixture of blood, and, in some parts, by
the influence of Sexual Selection. Darwin's Descent of Man should be consulted
on this point.
The Papuans and the Aboriginal Australians, from an anatomical point of view
the most primitive races on this earth, are black; and they may be taken to give a
guide as to the colour of the various types of fossil man, since they resemble them
most anatomically. There is evidence that, where there are lighter skinned peoples
living on the equator, as in South America, they have migrated there within com-
paratively recent times frdm further north; and they are thus not strictly indigenous
to the tropical regions.
The skins of Monkeys and Anthropoid Apes are black, except in small areas,
such as the face of the Mandrill and the hindquarters of Mandrill, Baboon and
Rhoesus. These have been shown by Darwin to be secondary sexual characteristics;
and if Dr. Loewenthal will again refer to The Descent of Man, he will find his
question about the cerulean stern of the Mandrill very fully answered. Both to
Monkeys and Apes, and to primitive Man living in forests, the black colour must
undoubtedly have a value as protective coloration.
Relation of Skin Colour to Hair Colour.
Dr. Loewenthal asks why some horses are one colour and some another.
The answer is that the colour of the coat or hair has no bearing on the colour of
the skin. A grey horse has a black skin, while a brown horse has a white skin.
In the one case the skin absorbs what light and heat are not reflected by the coat;
in the other the skin reflects what light and heat are not absorbed by the coat. It
will not be teleological to suppose that either may be of advantage to the animal.
Hair colour varies in animals considerably with age and sex, and it can be
influenced by emasculation in many cases. Dr. Loewenthal mentions an instance
of coat colour being allied to a lethal factor; there are many lethal factors known in
animals, but few related to coat colour, and, so far as I am aware, none allied to skin
Dr. Loewenthal suggests that the African's colour is related to excessive
activity of the Pituitary gland, acting through some other gland in the body. He
professes to see signs of this in the African's skeleton. Excessive pituitary activity
normally produces giants. How does Dr. Loewenthal account for the forest
Pigmies? Why do not European acromegalics and giants show us a pigmented
skin? Why does the average height of the African not compare more favourably
with that of the European?
Gigantism is a pathological state, in which the bones grow to a great size
and muscles and other bodily tissues are stretched to accommodate them. The
bones are also coarser in texture, the lines of muscular attachment are less
well marked, the epiphyses are widened and the proportionate tensile strength
of the bone is reduced. The Negro bone shows none of these characteristics-
indeed, the relative tensile strength of the Negro bone is greater than that of the
European bone, and the bone texture is a great deal finer. Dr. Loewenthal is
basing his argument on the sole fact of the Negroid prognathism; this is a primitive
feature displayed in the Negro skull, and can be seen in an increasing degree in all
types of Prehistoric man so far discovered; in fact in the Piltdown skull (Eoanthrop-
us dawsoni) it is so marked that for a number of years leading Anthropologists
were divided in opinion as to whether the jaw was to be considered as part of the
undoubtedly human skull, or as belonging to an unknown fossil group of Anthropoid
It is true that the skull of the giant or acromegalic presents, at first sight,
certain features resembling those seen in primitive types of man, but the patholog-
ical condition of the bone is easily detected by the expert.
The secretion of the Thyroid gland is chemically related to the melanins, which
form the skin pigments. This gland is certainly controlled in part by the Pituitary.
But the most important role in pigmentation must undoubtedly at present be assign-
ed to the Cortical gland (Adrenal Cortex). In Addison's Disease, where the
function of this gland is interfered with, pigment is laid down in the skin. There
is considerable other evidence that the Thyroid gland plays an active part in laying
down pigment; and it is surprising that Dr. Loewenthal should deal with the Pituit-
ary and ignore this other important gland.
In conclusion, then, it may said that the Teleologists (?) have a fair case to
present on this subject of the colour of the African's skin. Such evidence as exists
certainly points to the fact that the black skin is of advantage to the African both
physiologically and zoologically. I do not claim that this is irrevocably proved,
but available evidence and sound logic seem to point that way. Proof can only
come from careful and exact experiment.
Until evidence to the contrary is very much stronger, it must be conceded that
the black skin is the primitive type, and cause must be looked for that made man
white, not that that made man black.
Genetically and physiologially, there is very little known about blackness of
the skin; nor of the different shades of blackness. It is a subject worth a long and
detailed study. It has not been possible here to touch even on the fringe of the
little that we do know. The nature of the pigments, their chemical relationship to
substances in the body of the very highest importance, the laying down of these
pigments always in cells of the same embryonic type, the frequent appearance of
pigment in the cells of cancerous tumours of this same embryonic type and their
relation to various glands, all constitute only a small partof what must be considered
in the study of a subject, which at first sight might appear relatively simple.
The Germans are showing that coat colour has a definite influence on the
metabolic rate of horses, and their resistance to disease.
I understand also that the Hollywood doctors are similarly much interested
in trying to discover which are the more passionate-blondes or brunettes.
The Caves of Mount Elgon.
By F. K.
There are numerous caves on Elgon and one of the most interesting, and cert-
ainly one of the most readily accessible, is that situated within the spur on which
Bulago Camp stands. Its entrance is impressive, being some thirty feet wide and
ten feet high, and (during the wet weather) partially hidden in spray from a small
waterfall which drops down on banks of colossal ferns which almost block the
mouth. Just inside the main chamber are flat ledges cut into the rock, which at one
time were used as sleeping berths by the Bagishu (or earlier tribes) when they lived
in this cave hidden from their enemies. The size of the main chamber is, as far
as memory serves, sixty feet by a hundred and fifty in depth. The far extremity
has been half choked by a fall of the roof, but even here there is still a good fifteen
to twenty feet of headroom. Away to the left of this fall, the floor of the cave
drops slightly and leads to a long, narrow tunnel, where the roof becomes so low
that it is no longer possible to stand upright. The writer is unable to say to what
distance this tunnel extends as, on the only occasion on which he ventured to
explore it, his progress, after penetrating some hundred yards, was barred by a very
irate leopard. A hasty retreat, stern first, was therefore beaten. Simultaneously,
the writer's Dietz lamp fell into a pool of water and was extinguished, and an
army of siafu ants attacked the party, turning the cautious retreat into a rout.
According to native legend, this tunnel leads to a very much larger cavern,
full of water to a considerable depth, only crossable by some form of collapsible
boat. How true this is it is impossible to say, but, judging by the slope of the
tunnel and the trickle of water therein, there may well be more than a little truth
in the story. Intending explorers of the cave are, however, warned to go fully
armed and to beware of porcupines, which live there in very considerable numbers.
To return to the main cavern. There are no stalactites or stalagmites, nor
were any rock drawings noticed. Instead, a number of garnet-like stones, embedd-
ed in nests of a fine, scintillating material resembling spiders' webs, reflected the
rays of the lamp in a most fascinating manner. Some of these were dug out but
the sharp, glass-hard, snowy splinters, which formed the nests in which the stones
glowed, did considerable damage to the fingers.
The floor of this chamber is quite flat and soft under foot with the droppings
of bats through the centuries. The view forward from the back of the cave to the
comparatively narrow mouth, especially when the sun is turning the spray of the
waterfall into a continuous and many-hued rainbow, is a sight worth the three-
quarters of an hour's walk from the camp.
Of other caves on Elgon probably the best known is that opposite Sipi Camp,
but this bears no comparison either in size or interest to the one just described.
There remains one other worth mentioning-it lies right on the Kenya border-but
as this does in actual fact require a boat to explore it, it is unlikely that any de-
scription of it will be forthcoming for many years.
By F. LUKYN WILLIAMS.
It was with incredulous amazement that I read on page 283 of the Handbook,
Uganda, the apparently considered declaration that "among the Teso alone, there
is no evidence to show that clans ever existed." Roscoe is then taken to task for
suggesting such a thing in his Bagesu, while no reference is made to his Northern
Bantu wherein he gives the results of some investigations on the subject made
some fifteen years previously.
When stationed in Teso, in 1921-1922, I made every endeavour to obtain what
information I could on the subject of clans by interrogating old and young on all
possible occasions. Those being the days of head porterage, perhaps more opport-
unities offered themselves than in these busy days of motor transport. When vill-
ages were visited I pursued my enquiries. Though I admit that my investigations
were very far from complete it is impossible not to realise from the data collected
that there is very definite evidence that totemic clans existed in Teso. There was
never a man I met who did not know to which clan (atekere) he belonged. In only
a very few cases did a man not know his totem (etale).
In formulating, however, any reasoned idea of the Teso clan system one is at
once confronted with the difficulty, even as Roscoe states, that many groups have
the same clan name while differing in totems, and that some totems even have
different taboos attached to them in different groups. On the other hand many
groups have the same totems and taboos, but differ in their clan names. The question
then is whether the totem groups having the same clan name are independent, or
are merely sub-clans; or whether we should take the totem as marking clan member-
ship and atekere as referring to families in that clan. This question is complicated
by the fact that many clans (atekerin) are found to have three or four totems.
The same clan name appeared in all parts of the country, though in many
cases it tended to be confined to one area. Thus:- The Ikarugwoko clan was found
chiefly in the southern counties of what is now Kumi,--Ngora, Serere, Kasilo,
though it was also found in South Usuku. On the other hand, the Igoria clan was
found in places as far away from each other as Toroma, Koboi, Ngora, Serere,
Bukedea, Kidongole, Tissai, Kokolyo, etc. The Irarak clan was found at Serere,
Akum, Bukedea, Kachumbala, Kapiri, Soroti, Kelim, Katakwi, etc.
As an instance of many taboos under one clan name it is enlightening to take
the Ikarugwoko clan. I came across more than sixty under this head. The com-
monest totems for this clan were amori (oribi), etili (Uganda cob) and edenit (bush-
buck). Other totems also occur, and there are combinations of the above totems
As an example of the difference in taboos for those having the same totem w6
may take the taboos connected with amoriin this clan. The following were all given
by different people as being their especial taboo for amori:-
(i) Men may not eat.
(2) Women may not eat.
(3) Men and women may not eat.
(4) Men and women may not look at it.
(5) Men and women may not touch the skin.
(6) Women and girls may not eat or sit on the skin.
(7) Women and children may not eat or sit on the skin.
(8) Women and children may not touch the skin.
(9) Women may not look at it and children may not eat it.
(io) Women may not touch it.
(i i) Women may not sit on the skin (probably the same as the above).
(12) Women may not look at it.
It is possible that on further investigation some of the above taboos would turn
out to be the same.
In a great number of cases a group was found to have several totems. Very
often an animal totem was combined with non-animal totems. Examples of these
occurred at Serere in the Ikarugwoko clan, viz :-
(i) amori (oribi)-Women and children may not look at it.
(2) akoyit (bone)-Women may not eat.
(3) asimoat (bush)-Women may not step over.
(1) amori-Women may not look at.
(2) aruru (foodstore)-Men and women may not sit on the side posts at
(3) ecomai (tree)-Women may not look at.
(4) asimato (bush)-Women may not look at.
A combination of animal totems was often found. As an example of this, and
of the same totems being used in the same clans, the following occurred at Kaboi,
both under the Ikatekoko and Ikarugwoko clans:-
(i) etili (Uganda cob) Women must not look at any of these. The
(2) amori (oribi) results of the infraction of this taboo were
(3) ekwinyuk (weasel) different in each of these clans; while even
(4) ipo (rabbit) within the Ikarugwoko clan results varied.
In Teso almost every totem taboo is applicable only to women. The results
of the infraction of taboos for the same totem are as variable as a totem is in the
same clan. Each of the following were given in different localities as resulting
from the breaking of taboos against amori under the Ikarugwoko clan:- women
become blind, have sores on the head, have sores on their child's head, do not bear,
bear once only, waste away and their breasts dry up.
i noted down over one hundred and thirty different names of clans (atekerin),
but space does not allow me to give more than the names of those that seemed
most general and were presumably the largest:-
Ikarugwoko Iworopom Imagoro
Ikatekoko Ikoba Ikelimo
Irarak Ipalam Imodoi
Igoria Inyakoi Ipasama
Inomu Imotinga Icak
Idui Ibobolya Igetuma
I leave it for further investigation to decide whether groups having the same
totem, such as amori (oribi), etili (Uganda cob), ederit (bushbuck), epoli (waterbuck),
ekale (reedbuck), amerekek (sheep), emalet (sitatunga) and amointena (entrails), were
originally totemic clans in themselves, but which later, according to the localities
in which they were, formed themselves into groups under one family name for
exogamic purposes; or whether these clan names were those of the original groups,
which, again for exogamic reasons, split up later into totemic families, many of
whose totems happen to be the same as those in other clan groups.
The contact of primitive races with more advanced races usually results in
the abandonment of many primitive customs, which may not even be replaced.
A new generation grows up and the old customs fade as traditions into the past
and are often forgotten altogether.
This was rapidly becoming the case with the Age Grade Festivals (Adwaron,
but called in the western areas Egwarone) which used to take place in Teso every
three years in a cycle of twenty-four. After the Baganda penetration in 1900 these
festivals ceased to be held. When I made my enquiries in 1921, the younger
generation knew little about the rites that were performed on these occasions, and
no doubt to-day very few know them. But, is it possible that the "remarkable adapt-
ability of Africans to new conditions" which have been brought about by contact with
civilisation, bringing in its train economic development and education, is respons-
ible for the obliteration of all traces of clans in Teso? I find it difficult to believe
so. If it really is the case, then surely never was the oft reiterated exhortation
that we should endeavour to gather up the threads of past customs before they
are lost more in need of being acted upon than at the present day.
The Board Game in North-West Africa.
By R. E. PARRY.
I have read Mr. E. J. Wayland's "Notes on the Board Game known as Mweso"
in the July, 1936, number of the Journal with considerable interest because I
saw a similar game being played in S. E. Morocco in August, 1927, when I was
given permission by the French Authorities to enter the 'Insecure Zone'.
Photo : R. E. Parry (1927).
Fig. 1. The game of '," being played by Berbers at Ain Bou Arfa,
S. E. Morocco.
Fig. 2. Pitted Granite Slab from Bibiani, Gold Coast. (Reproduced
by courtesy of the Editor, from The Teachers' Journal,
The photograph (Fig i.) that I took at Ain Bou Arfa, which is situated on the
northern edge of the small Tamlelt Desert, shows the game in progress. Here it
was known as "Sig" which possibly may be a Berber (1) word since I have failed to
trace it as being of Arabic origin, although Arabic is spoken in many of the South
Atlas towns which are situated on the riverine oases along the margin of the great
The 'Board' consists of 48 holes (4 by i2) made in the sand and the counters
most frequently used consist of dried camel droppings (black), iron-stained nod-
ules, or bleached date stones (white).
How the game was played in detail I cannot say but I noticed that four short
sticks were tossed into the air and moves were made according to the arrangement
of the sticks as they fell upon each other after each throw.
A variety of the game is apparently played in the Air Massif by the veiled
Tuareg who use it for purposes of divination.
There the game, which is described by F. R. Rodd, (2) is played with a 'Board'
of 36 holes marked in the sand, although Jean (s) mentions 40. "Each player has 13
counters made of date stones, bits of wood, pebbles or camel droppings. The
object of the game is to surround a pawn belonging to one's adversary somewhat
on the principle of "Noughts and Crosses". The game is called "Alkarhat".
By kind permission of the Editor and the Author, I quote below an extract from
an article entitled "The Inhabitants of the Gold Coast and Ashanti before the Akan
Invasion", by Captain R. P. Wild, which appeared in the Teachers' Journal (Gold
Coast) Vol. VII. No. 2, 1935. This refers to Fig. 2, which is also republished by
kind permission of the Editor and of Captain Wild.
"In 1931 Mr. 0. A. L. Whitelaw of the Gold Coast Geological Survey found
near Bibiani in the Sefwi district, a slab of red granite with a number of circular
depressions or shallow pits on its surface (Fig. 2). It would appear that these
depressions were ground into the surface of the stone. They vary from two to two-
and-three-quarter inches in diameter and from a quarter to seven-sixteenths of an
inch in depth. Two of the edges of the slab have every appearance of having been
ground down and smoothed, but the others have obviously been broken. A study
of the stone suggests, however, that it was approximately square in shape, with sides
of seventeen inches. The surface of the slab shows signs of having been rubbed
down, and it appears that an attempt has also been made to give some regularity
to the saucer-shaped depressions which lie in four more or less parallel rows on its
1. The characteristic Berber tongue spoken in this part of Southern Morocco is Selha.
2. Francis Rennell Rodd. The People of the Veil, (1936), p. 281.
8. C. Jean. Lee Touarey du Sud-Est; L'Air, Paris, (1909), p. 251.