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Table of Contents
The Lwoo People
A short History of Pinderpest with Special Reference to Africa
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda
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Back Cover 2
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The Uganda Journal.
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
Vol. V. JULY, 1937. No. 1.
The Lwoo People ... ... ... ... .. ... by J. P. CRAZZOLARA.
A Short History of Rinderpest with -Special
Reference to Africa ... ... ... ... ... by R. W. M. METTAM.
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda, (Part IX) .. ... by C. R. S. PITMAN.
... ... ... ... ... by C. W CHORLEY.
... ... ... ... ... ... by J. P. BIRCH.
THE UGANDA SOCIETY.
SIR PHILIP E. MITCHELL, K.C.M.G., M.C.
H. JOWITT, EsQ.
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The Lwoo People
By THE REVEREND FATHER J. P. CRAZZOLARA.
The Lwoo language family is made up of the following tribes;
i The J Lwdo 1 of Kavirondo (Kenya) on the north-eastern shores of Lake
Victoria (Kisumu; 417,00ooo).
2 The Jd Pddh1la north west of Kavirondo in Budama district (Tororo; 52,000).
3 The Kumamn or Adum north east of Lake Kioga (Lira; 50,000).
4 The Lajo north west of Lake Kioga (Lira; 150,000).
5 The Jo-pa-Lwoo in northern Bunyoro (Masindi 6,000).
6 The Acooli west of the Lajo (Toci river) and between Somerset Nile and
the Agoro mountain group (A.-E. Sudan) (Gulu; 180,000).
7 The Aluur and Jo-naam, i. e. riverains, north of Lake Albert and West of
the Nile in Uganda and Belgian Congo (140,000).
The following are in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.
8 The Pari (by neighbours called Lokior3 or Beri) on and round Lepf6ol (on
maps Lafon) Hill; some 40 miles east of Mongala (Torit 6,000).
9 The Anywaah on the upper Sobat in the Sudan and Abyssinia (45,000).
io The Coll. (Shilluk) stretching 200oo miles north east of Lake No (confluence
of Bahr el Ghazal and White Nile) mainly on the left bank of the Nile
11 TheJo Lwoo with three closely related groups as neighbours, i.e.
the Ti rior Cat east and north west of Wau Bahr el Ghazal
the Demen or Dembo district (together about 25,000).
12 The Boor (alias Belane or Belanda, Rodi, Booj) to the south of Wau on
the Sue river (5,000).
1 Names in first place are given in each tribe's language; the number of inhabitants are
2 The last two groups are Lwoo-speakingbut not of Lwoo origin.
It has been suggested that there are possibly other groups of the same family
as, say, to the south of Kavirondo the Kisii, or in Tanganyika; I cannot venture
an opinion on this. The twelve above groups I had the opportunity of visiting
myself and of obtaining examples of their languages. In Bunyoro, Toro and far-
ther south, Urundi, etc., there are doubtless several Lwoo groups dispersed among
the Bantu peoples; they no longer speak Lwoo.s
Why call them "Lwoo?"
It seems quite certain that the common and collective name of this biggest of
the "/ii" tribes was and, rightly, should still be Lwoo. We are forced to that con-
clusion, if we consider the following facts:
a) One can hardly consider it a mere accident when one finds that three out
of the above twelve numbers bear the name Lwoo (Nos. I, 5, 11). If we take for
instance No. i1 and No. i we have the first, less one, and the last members to se-
parate from the main group; they are the farthest distant from each other. As for
the time at which either started its independent existence from the main group they
are separated possibly by two centuries, there cannot be any particular connection,
the name must have been a common one since their origin or before they separat-
ed. It must also be added that these three Lwoo groups show no closer, say linguis-
tic, relations to each other than to the rest. From the following it will appear that
these definitely retained the common name, if they did so, because they were far
distant from each other and there, each in its place, represented the original group
among alien tribes.
With regard to the three called Lwoo groups a special circumstance has to be
pointed out. In all the three cases we find other smaller groups attached to the
main Lwoo group who have quite different names. Thus the neighbours of the
Western Wau, Lwoo are the Turi, Demen, and Boode. The neighbours of theJo-
pa-Lwoo (Bunyoro) are, apart from the Banyoro, etc., the Acooli, the Laijo, and the
Al.uur. The neighbours of the Jo Lwoo (Kavirondo) are the Jo-padhola (Budama).
The rather limited number of present-day Lwoo-called groups is a natural sequel
of the process of division. As a matter of fact we shall find that generally the
Lwoo group will not pretend to the exclusive right to such name; they will, on the
contrary, readily admit that all are actually Lwoo, that the other groups are their
b) The way they came to be called by different names can easily be traced
and understood. A smaller group of people of a greater Lwoo unit has, naturally,
everywhere its own distinguishing name at home, although they remain Lwoo all
the time. Now, if such a particular group happened to move to another part of the
country at some distance, although remaining in the neighbourhood of their former
kinsfolk, where they were forced by circumstances to uphold a proper existence and,
in short to go their own way, they had very naturally also to keep to their particular
name. They themselves would instinctively feel such a need in order to distin-
3 The Lwoo, in this large sense, with the Jdij and the Naadh (Nuer) form the Jii or Jo
tribes (jii or )o meaning people in these languages) and make part of the so-called Nilotics.
guish themselves from the main group from which they were, let us say,.poiitically
separated. Even more so would neighbours who came in contact with them, per-
haps in warfare, of necessity make a difference between such a trouble-causing
group and the main group, to which they ultimately belonged, but who were evid-
ently unconcerned. Thus there can be no doubt that the bulk of the invaders of
Uganda, the Aluur and Acooli together with the main group that reached Bunyoro,
were called Lwoo,
The chief independent group which separated from the latter are the Acooli;
some of these had separated already at Pukwac and some came from Bunyoro.
These separated groups continued to live on very friendly terms with the former;
but with regard to the risk of expansion and development the Acooli were naturally
left to themselves. They were, however, likewise Lwoo. Their name of "Lwoo"
seems to have been dropped early by their neighbours. The Lago called them
either Alira (Cf. Driberg, The Lango p.28) or, later, Gay or Lo-gar. The Aluur have
for a long time identified them with the Lalio, who caused them much trouble
and came from that direction, and have called them Laijo or, later, Jo-gai. All agree
that it was through the Egyptian slave dealers who knew the Shiluk or Shuluk
(Collo) that the name Shuli (certainly related to the Shiluk; c.f. Samuel Baker and
Emin Pasha and old maps), was introduced and eventually became Acooli after 1870.
The latter are quite aware of this and admit their old name Lwoo. It is also note-
worthy, and logical, that the Acooli call the Jo-pa-Lwoo commonly Lo-bka, i.e. peo-
ple of beyond the Somerset Nile, thus using as if by instinct a particular term for
people who make part of the Lwoo family like themselves. As for the language
spoken by them they still use the remarkable phrase: Alok6 l6k Lwoo d "Why I
have spoken in plain Lwoo!" i.e. in our language or similar phrases.
c) The Jo Lwoo of Kavirondo are another interesting instance in our case. A
modest group of them, a hundred and fifty years ago, detached, again from the
main group of the Lwoo, either from Bunyoro or, more probably, from the Lwoo-
Acooli group to the north, moved in a north eastern direction round Lake Kioga
and settled south east of the same near the Banyuli. There were two chief groups
theJo-p'-Adhola and theJo-p'-Uwiny, called after two headmen or leaders Adhola
and Owiny; they called each other with these names respectively. When the Jo-
p'-Uwiny separated and moved on to the north east of Lake Victoria they found
themselves detached from the o-Padhlla and surrounded completely by Bantu tri-
bes; it was the moment to recollect their old original name and assert themselves
as "Lwoo" in front of aliens. Note that for the Jo-Padhola they are still theJo-p'-
Uwiny and vice versa.
In a similar way the Jo Lwoo (Wau, Bahr el Ghazal) represent their big tribe
in that country and are, therefore, called Lwoo, while the smaller groups with dif-
ferent names are detachments from this, living independently in its neighbourhood.
d) Among the Aluur the name Lwoo has been retained in a peculiar way.
This group of the Lwoo separated at Pukwac, crossed the Nile and went inland.
They soon reached a place called Aluur; thence moving on they started being call-
ed Aluur. The Aluur, as other groups, developed to a great extent by absorbing
defeated and conquered tribal elements in the course of migration and develop-
iients. Among the rest of the Lwoo, as a rule, such elements were "adopted' in the
various clans and treated as equals and disappeared; only tradition knows, in some
cases, that a particular group or clan originated from such elements. Among the
Aluur these became Aluur like the rest. But while all are Aluur the members of
the reigning clan are addressed asJo Lwoo, a title to which the rest of the people,
the Iwak, are not entitled. This custom is in more than one way instructive.
In several particular instances we find "Lwoo" used as a distinguishing term
for clans or for other smaller groups. The effect of such distinctions is, that the
group not so designated appears to be of different origin. Thus the jo kaal, royal
clan, they are the Jo Cwad, of Pa-Omool declare themselves to be Pa-Lwoo and their
war cry (nyiy mwoc) is Palwoo yee! on the other hand the reigning clan of Padibe wan
Jo Lwoo k6 declare that they are not Lwoo people by origin. The reigning clan of
Umya-Anyima likewise Jo Cwid, call themselves also "Pa-Lwoo". Again we have
two names of the Lira, the Lira Palwooand the Lira Amyl groups of Patoijo district.
In this case the distinction cannot mean that the other group are notJo Lwoo; they
are to all appearance.
e) Here a last interesting instance of the kind:-I passed a short time among the
Pari of Lepf6ol Hill. I asked some old men whether they knew the name "Lwoo".
They said that name did not exist among them. The Acooli, however, are known
to them asJo Lwoo. When I told them that the Acooli had a phrase of "speaking
Lwoo" they started laughing and said that the Pari used an identical phrase, i. e. A
ke dn dwdjokedhdk Lwdo! "Did I not speak Lwoo! or "ibd winyjb dzdk Lwdo ?" "Do
you not understand (our)! Lwoo?" We have to note that the Pari have been complet-
ely isolated for at least two centuries and before they lived with the Anywah. They
have lost the memory of their original name, but the unconscious tradition expressed
in such phrases is eloquent enough. In the same way the Boor (Bahr-el Ghazal)
call their language Dhe Aluo.
The explanation of the fact that the Collo, Anywah, and Pari are not called
"Lwoo" is probably this. They arrived in their country together with the main
Lwoo group and had, therefore, to use their particular name, to which they stuck
then, even after the departure ofthe rest. The Pari separated later from the Anywah
and used also their accustomed name.
If we consider the various ways in which the term "Lwoo" is still in use and
its frequency, and if we further take into consideration the circumstances of its
suppression elsewhere, we can hardly come to any other conclusion than that the
name "Lwoo" was the original name and is nowadays the most appropriate one for
the whole tribe. No other name can possibly be found which might be suggested
to take its place.
"Lwoo" will in the following paper be taken for the whole group as explained
above, unless the context requires a restriction.
The MIGRATION and DIVISION of the LWOO
The assertions made in the present paper are all based on my own observa-
tions and enquiries, made on the spot. I have spent twenty odd years among the
Acooli, Aluur, the Collo, Shilluk, and Naadh, Nuer; to the rest of the groups I have
The combination of the traditions of the various Lwoo groups makes it jps-
sible to-day to trace their migration and development by starting from their place of
origin and by following them on their migrations up to near enough their present
position in Central Africa.
The Lwoo group or tribe will probably take its place among the biggest groups
of Africa, when its remarkable history of development has been more fully estab-
The following pages are intended to be a contribution towards the establish-
ment of its importance. Old theories about the "Nilotics" will have to be rectified
to a large extent, as will be seen from the following account.
The land of origin of the Lwoo must be sought somewhere in the region of
Rumbek or south-east of it (Bahr el Ghazal district). From roughly this part ot
the country the Boor declare to have come. They were evidently the first group
to separate taking a westerly direction.5 Their present country on the river Sue,
midway between Wau and Tombora, round the Raffili falls, is probably nearer to
the original country of the Lwoo than any other of these groups. The Boor say
simply they came from the east, while all the others have a story of more complex
What caused the Lwoo to leave the original country was in all probability a
strong pressure from the neighbours. To the east and north were Jaaij and Naadh,
all good fighters, developing strongly and trying to extend. To the south there must
have been other strong groups possibly the Azande who hindered the Lwoo from
developing in their direction. Whether there was actual and positive pressure
exercised against them, or only the clear impossibility of the acquisition of land for
the increasing population of the Lwoo, which caused these to move, cannot be
said; possibly both causes contributed. All the Lwoo together resolved to leave
the country in search of a better one. The Boor separated from the main group at
once and moved westwards. The others moved in a north-westerly direction;
they had to avoid the big swamps north of Shambe. There must have been a
strong force behind them which caused them to take the direction of such unfavour-
able swampy territories. Concerning the country of origin the C3llo say it was
far to the south and near a "big water." About the "big water" we may infer that
a large river or possibly some big lake connected with the Bahr el Gebel, like so
many north and south of Shambe, with good fishing opportunities, would be quite
sufficient to leave a deep impression on the people; an impression which nostalgic
imagination most probably would later cause to become identified with the picture
of a former home.
2. Opposite the confluence of the Bahr el Ghazal and the Bahr el Arab,
about the point of 29030' E. Long. and 9 N. Lat. lies a now scarcely populated
country which is called "Nyika9" by the inhabitants of the surrounding country, the
5 According to a JCllo tradition two sons of Nyikago, Boor and Anooio, were in opposition
to their other brother Daak and, therefore, separated. Nothing further is known about
them. Is there any possible connection between this Boor and the Boor group, Anooijo
and Anywah ?
Raadh. A Naadh name "Nyifkaij' does not exist and they declare it to be cot lka
i.e. a Collo name. We are familiar with Nyikaaijo, the first leader of the Collo.
As the Collo declare that they came from the west, from some place on the river
Bahr el Ghazal, which they call Palugo, where they, coming from somewhere
in the south, made a temporary stop, we may well assume that they refer to this
place. The distance of this place from the Collo country, a hundred and fifty
miles, amply explains why the Collo have forgotten its precise position. It is at
this place that an event took place which is characteristic of the Lwoo peoples
and is met with innumerable times in the course of their history, an act of rivalry
between the leaders, near relations. Such rivalry among the Lwoo did not gener-
ally become the cause of war it was the cause of separation. Rivalry and quarrel,
a murder is mentioned, caused a group to separate from the main group and
move in a south western direction; their leader is called Dimo by the Collo. These
become the ancestors of the Jo Lwoo, Turro, Demo (from Dimo) and Boode, who
stretch nowadays east and north west of Wau, living side by side with each other
and making together about 30,000 people. As they live alongside the Jaaij, who
are quite a match for the Lwoo, they had little opportunity to develop a la Lwoo.
Dimo had a quarrel with Daak, a son of the leader of the Collo.
3. The said country Nyikaij, is not big enough for even a smaller group;
besides they found the country at large occupied by the Naadh. They therefore
decided to move on. The whole group started moving down the river Palugo
on its right bank until they reached the point of junction between the Palugo and
Bahr el Gebe, 95 miles west of the present Malakal. This place has remained
impressed upon the memory of the Collo under the name Wipac (starting point
of home country). Here they crossed the Bahr el Ghazal and moved hence on the
left bank of the Nile and entered the present Shilluk country at Papfo6jo.
According to Collo tradition they entered their country together with the wale
Giilo, i. e. the sons or followers of Giilo, the leader of the Anywah. The country
was occupied by the Jaaij. The conquest of the country was a long business. Many
Jaaij became Collo, others as prisoners, others voluntarily and later. 6 Now the
Collo and the Jaaij live on good terms. The bulk of the Jaaij are said to have at
least crossed the Nile to the right bank where they are still, leaving the left bank
to the Callo. It is noteworthy that only the eighth successor of Nyikaaijo, namely
Tugo, reached Pacoodo, about the centre of this long stretch of country, and erect-
ed there his residence; it has ever since been the residence of the kings of the
An important fact is that according to Collo tradition, it was the above mention-
ed Tugo who was first installed with full ceremonial, (dr.ny is the Collo term),
as king of the Collo (rank podi colb). Nyikaajo' and his next sucessors were
only subordinate chiefs orjago, evidently in accordance with the political organ-
ization of the original big group of which they made part before the separation.
6 It was probably at that time that the Rweeij group of the JA A were divided. To-day
we find one part of the Rweeij north of Lake No and west of the Collo. The other part is on
the right bank of the Nile, opposite the Collo, and on the right bank of the Bahrel Zeraf,
which flows here into the Nile. Frequent communications are going on between them.
Tugo was a direct descendant of Nyikaaio. He was peculiarly successful in his
wars of conquest and organization. He established Pacoodo as his residence and
was there created mEth or Rwoot of the remaining Lwoo groups. From this fact it
becomes evident that the original group of the Collo was a minor section of the
main Lwoo tribe and had, therefore, only the right to a Jago (sectional chief),
while the main group with the royal dynasty moved on, led by the Rwoot. This
is in complete accord with another Collo tradition. In the newly invaded country
quarrel and rivalry for leadership soon started again. Nyikaaijo and in particular
his son Daak seem, according to Collo tradition, to have been of rather difficult
disposition. This time it is said that it came to real fighting between the group of
Nyikaaio and the group of Giilo; this latter represented evidently the whole main
group. The Collo say that the group of Giilo was much more numerous and in
the ensuing fighting the Collo were badly defeated.
We must consider it a consequence of this their unfavourable condition that
the small group and in particular the clan of the Jago had to rely upon their own
small resources and upon personal courage. This explains their small initial pro-
gress in conquest and how their leader was satisfied to be only a Jago. This
explains also why the ultimate royal clan has acquired such a high social position
among the rest of the Collo and its head, the seth, an almost deified one. The
personal exertions of members of this clan and their head Tugo, and the latter's
shrewd gift of organisation have contributed to its final success. Another import-
ant circumstance must have been the great number of subdued people who became
the baia Nsdth, i.e. the slaves of the king. Nowadays there are many who became
baija 7seth for economical reasons and voluntarily. It has been suggested that the
origin of the royal dynasty of the Collo may have been something like that of
the Avangora, among the Azande. But, while tradition about the Avangora royal
clan and its origin is common knowledge among the Azande, Collo tradition does
not contain the slightest clue which could serve as base for a similar theory; on the
contrary the history of the Colla royal clan and dynasty, is told as the one indivis-
ible story of the Collo group.
Here is a last minor addition which bears some interest for inter-tribal con-
nection. In the western part of the Colla country, and particularly in Tuujo, we
find the clan of water Turo, dispersed in small groups. A traveller of this clan is
treated with signs of peculiar friendship whenever he reaches a group of his clan.
They say they belonged properly to the Turo group who make part of the Jo Lwoo
of the Bahr el Ghazal. They originally followed Nyikaago on account of one of his
wives who was of their clan and encouraged them to remain with her. They still
hold themselves to be different from the Collo.-Another village of Tuuijo is called
Anydago (of Nyibanyo district). Can this Anyaago possibly be taken to have a rela-
tion with Anywaa(h)? Of relations of these kinds there may be several; their import-
ance is evident for the purpose of co-ordination.
4. The main group of the Lwoo under Giilo, as Collo tradition says, was not
satisfied with the conditions of the new country; they, therefore, decided to move
on, leaving Nyikaaio and his group behind. They crossed the Nile to its right bank
and followed the Sobat river upwards. They reached the present Anywaah country.
What are now called the Anywah established themselves there. They have always
remained in some contact with the Collo. I am afraid that I have never paid a visit
to this tribe, so I have to leave details to others and content myself with indirect
news, i.e. traditions of other groups which refer to the Anywah. These traditions
are quite sufficient in so far as their relations with the whole group is concerned.
The country is quite level and without natural boundaries. It is difficult to say how
long the whole group remained here together. From tradition it appears that at
least four times successive groups of Lwoo started from here; these were theJo Lwoo
of Uganda in general, then the Jo Pajik, then part of the Pari, and the last the small
group of Koor of the Pari group.
5. The Pari is a peculiar small group; they number about 6,000 and live close
together at the foot or on the slopes of a small rocky hill which rises out of a plain
to a height of a hundred metres; one hour and a half is sufficient time in which to go
round the hill and the town. The people stand physically and linguistically closer
to the Colla than to the Acooli. Their importance lies in their link-like position
between the north and the south. It has been suggested that they are at present about
in the territory from where the Lwoo separated and emigrated, partly to the north,
and partly to the south.
What about this theory?
It was a plausible theory which had however to be put aside in view of the
results of more recent inquiry. The majority of the people of the Pari declare that
they have come from Anywaa. They know of one group led by Amaija which
came and found the country inadequate and went back soon. The distance of the
Anywaa country from Lepfol6 (the Lafon hill of the maps) is taken to be conclusive
of the fact that no contact has ever existed. The country lying between is a big
swamp during the rainy season and a large waterless tract during the dry season :
it is impassable.
One small group of Pari is called Pugari. These declare that they arrived first
at LepfO61, and separated from the Shilluk directly and came along the Nile under
the leadership of a certain rwoot Dimmb. One is tempted to ask whether they came
from the present Shilluk country or whether this Dimmo had a connection with
the Dimmo mentioned above in Nyikaij country ? When asked about the Acooli,
whom they call Jo Lwoo, they professed to know nothing about their going to the
south. They have, however, a tradition about the Paraljk (as they call the people
of Pajjk on the Uganda boundary). They say that the people of Para-jok came
from the Anywaa country before them; they stopped at LepfOtl at a place called
Ajibi. During the first night their leader Ajibi died; they therefore started moving
on again immediately the next day. Among their own group a quarrel 50 years ago
caused the group of K9ar 7 to leave the place. They reached the Pajok group and
stopped with them. Eight years later they turned back to Lepfool at the instant
request of the Pajok who regretted the weakening of their group. They suppose that
they descended from the Jo Lwoo coming naturally from the Anywaa country, long
7 They are known as Lo-Kooro, a name given by neighbours to the whole group of Plri
nowadays, besides Beri, a misspelling of Pari.
6. Padjk is that part of the large Lwoo-speaking group of the south-east which
lies nearer the direction from which they all claim to have come. As for their place
of origin they indicate without the least hesitation Anywaa; this is asserted by all
clans in general, though they do not pretend to have come together. The reigning
clan, called Ywaayd, which of course is accustomed to identify itself with the
name of Paj3k, came relatively late from Lokooro, as they say, and settled here
about. They found here already other Lwoo people, the Pagaya with their "woot;
they now all speak Acooli and are of course connected with them. Of the other ten
clans I could make out that several came from the south, some even from Laka
(Bunyoro). These latter evidently emigrated much earlier with the main Lwoo
group and it was in consequence of secondary movements, in the course of develop-
ment, that they arrived at Pajok, coming from the south. It must be noted that
there are here, besides the Pajok, many more Lwoo-speaking groups, for instance
the Ob65, who have partly become exclusively Lwoo-speaking, who state frankly
that their forefathers were either Lajo, Lotuho, Aru-Lokoyo, or Madi. This shows
that the people are alive to their origin and are trustworthy informants. By the
people of Pajak we are furthermore assured that the Acooli came before them and,
of course, came also from Anywaa. The Pajok people, the old and the new-comers,
must be considered as precious guardians of the tradition of the wanderings of the
Acooli, on which they are actually very explicit; they are living near to the way the
first group had to pass. The Pajok people have always been in contact with the
people at Lepf6ol.
7. The further one goes to the south the weaker becomes tradition. I have
however verified that the Acooli in particular are keenly interested in the story of
their ancestors. I have found some of them more interested than the rest, going
personally to Pajok from far away in order to hear the story of their ancestors from
the people of Pajak, who are considered to be nearer to the direction from which
they came and to know things better, Another had come for the same purpose two
hundred miles by cycle to Lepfool, during my stay there. Such people will of
course enlighten fading traditions. The important fact is that every Acooli knows
precisely in.which direction he has to go in order to obtain information on these
According to the Acooli and in a lesser degree the Aluur tradition the main
Lwoo group, to which all belong, came from Anywaa, (Patiko tradition mentions
explicitly Nywdgi. They came probably via Lepfool, touched and passed the Bari 8
country and then on between the mountains East of the Nile and well out of sight
of it. They reached the Acaa river in the present Madi country and on passing the
mountain ridge ahead came within sight of the Nile. They followed the line of
mountains which forms the valley of the Nile and reached the famous mountain
group Kilak9 South of the river Ayugi. In the opinion of the people the migrating
8 "Baar" is the general term in the mouth of the Acooli informer, when he points to the
direction from where their ancestors came.
9 Kilak has taken various forms in the traditions of the people. Some consider it to
have been the first stopping place in the present Acooli country; this is almost generally
admitted. According to others it has also become the venue of important events told in
particular traditions. Others again go further and declare Kilak to be a female ancestor who,
under the direct influence of Jok, became the mother of famous men.
group made a halt at one or the other place, say for one season, in order to
investigate the country and the quality of the soil, as they were admittedly in
search of a suitable country. A longer stop seems to have been made on Mt. Kilak,
or may be at some distance from and in sight of it. Possibly the stay here was
longer than elsewhere. From such a place messengers were sent in various direc-
tions to report on the country and the possibilities of settling there.
8. It was apparently at Kilak that a heavy quarrel started, a quarrel which
has had far reaching consequences and has ever since been deeply impressed on the
minds of the descendants of those implicated as being the event which has so
largely decided their future. All traditions touch on this event. The persons con-
cerned were two sons of the king, the Rwoot. The Rwoot and father of these men
is in several cases given as Oluum, others speak of a woman Nyilaak or Kilaak
who by some mysterious man became mother, according to others grandmother, of
these children. These brothers are according to all traditions Laboijo and Gipiir,
who are sometimes called Nyaboyio or Nyiboijo or even Nyabwoijo and Nyipiir.
Another brother was the ancestor of the kings of Bunyoro whose name must be said
to be unknown; Cebami (Kyebami) or Kamrasi are sometimes given; but all agree
that one brother became Rwoot of Bunyoro. The Aluur, who may be taken as
authentic informants on this particular point add Tifool. Other royal clans, such
as the Atyak and Payeara, add several other names, as it would often seem, to serve
special purposes. The two brothers implicated in the quarrel were, according to
Acooli tradition, Laboijo and Gipiir; or Nyipiir and Tifool according to Aluur tra-
The Story of the Quarrel. (a)
(Told by A. Mrda)
Gip'ir o the son of Oluum, one day found an elephant in his field making havoc
of it. He seized the first spear at hand and went and hurled it at the elephant; the
elephant went off with the spear sticking into his body. The spear happened to be
Laboijo's. Laboijo asked for his spear, when he heard what had happened, he in-
sistently continued to ask for the return of his spear. Gip'fr offered another one
in its place or declared himself ready to pay for it, but to no avail since Labojo
merely insisted: 'An amito gfoia' (I want my spear). Gip'ir resolved to pursue the
elephant and to recover the spear at all costs.
He prepared food for the journey (peak) and resolved not to return, without
the spear. He had to walk hard and spent ten nights at large before he could find
the elephant. At last he reached a dense forest, where numerous elephants lived.
He met with the spirit Lubaga in the form of a big female elephant (Min lyec) who
was looking after her children. This Lubaja could turn into elephant or man at
will. This Min Lyec had extracted many spears already from the body of its off
spring and had laid them aside. So she came to GipT'r and asked him severely, why
he had come to their sanctuary. He explained frankly that he had come in search
of his spear which some elephant had carried off. He was asked why he had
speared the elephant. He said that he had found the elephant devastating his field.
10 In Aluur tradition Gipiir is replaced by Tifool (also called Sifool) and Laboijo by
(a) c.f. Uganda Journal Vol. II, p. 245.
T'he M'n Lyec declared that he was not to blame in this case; but had it have
been that he had speared his child, the elephant, wantonly, he would not have left
the place alive. The M'n Lyec went for the spears and brought back a big bundle;
he showed them one by one to Gipiir who, after having sorted them, recognized
his own at last. It was given back to him and he was allowed to go home.
GiplTr explained to Lubaija how he had no provisions left and would be unable
to reach his distant home safely. Lubaja generously provided him with ptk,11
(food for the journey). Lubaga had mixed burjok beads, instead of millet grains,
with beans. GipTir took the bag of provisions and left for home. On the way he
discovered the precious beads which he carefully laid aside and ate the beans. He
arrived home and quickly returned the spear to Laboyo saying : "My brother I
have now found the spear; take it." Labojo expressed his satisfaction at once
again recovering his spear whose loss had so troubled him, but Gipfir thought how
he had had to risk his life in search of the spear ; had not Lubaja kindly helped
him, he would have died of starvation.
The day after his arrival he, Gipir, sat selecting and threading his beads be-
side his hut. The hut of his brother was near; the wife of his brother observed
him from afar. Then she came nearer and stopped beside the granary to look at
the pretty things she was now seeing for the first time. She had a child with her
who picked up a bead, without its mother even observing it and put it into his
mouth and swallowed it. Gip'lr alone had noticed it. Gip'ir's turn had now
arrived to prove as inflexible as his brother and thus to gain his revenge. GipTir
asked for his bead which the child had swallowed. The mother asked him to wait
until the child's bowels returned it. She brought a wer lacje nme ker, a royal
wooden plate, for the child to void in. The excrements were searched for the bead,
but nothing was found. On the next and third day the search was likewise with-
out result. Gip'iir now with more insistence asked for his bead. Laboijo brought
the child to Giplir and told him to rip up its belly: "ryzk i~ wokq." Giplir refused
and said to Laboijo that that was his business: an aryeko gira kdo, in ays ryEk giri.
Then Laboijo ripped up the child, extracted its bowels and found the bead. It
was consigned to Gip'ir who expressed his satisfaction on having again the bead
whose loss had so affected him.
The old Oluum, their father, on seeing what Laboijo had done to Gipir for a
spear and what the latter, had done in his turn, to the former, ruining a human life
on account of a lost bead, was horrified. He declared openly that it had now be-
come almost impossible to live together. The question was not settled at Kilak.
9. In the meantime it had been decided to move on again southwards along the
Nile, following the line of mountains. After some days they reached Wat LotoD 12
the present Pukwac. Here the elders started discussing the case of the two bro-
11. PEkE means ready made provisions for a journey; it consists of beans and millet
grains boiled in water, dried and carried in a bag.
12. Wat LatoI is called Wat hEE by the Lonaam and Alnur; sometimes Wat Pubugu is
used; it is a good landing place for boats and about 20 miles north of Lake Albert. Here the
first period of migration ended.
others. Neither would admit being in the wrong and the question could not be set-
tled. At last GipTir said challenging his father: "All right! if you suggest that I am
wrong; I shall run into the river and be drowned, unless Lubaija saves my life again
as he did once already, in which case I (with my adherents or family) shall reach
the other side of the river." He then threw himself into the river which divided in
front of him, so that he could pass over safely-pi okwtke, okato bka ca. When
passing across the river he threw an axe (Laton, hence Wat Latoij) into the earth of
the river bed as a sign and swore that the river should not be crossed or recrossed
again either by Labogo or Oluum nor by himself. Whosoever tried it would surely
to. Tifd6l, according to Aluur tradition, went far inland, after having cross-
ed the Nile; his descendants became rulers of the country, like the Bacwezi (or as
part of them according to Bunyoro tradition) and are now represented by Tandia
in the Logo country, Lwoo is still spoken, so I am told, at the king's residence,
although the country is Logo-speaking. Nyip'ir crossed the Nile, according to all
traditions, and became the ancestor of part of the Aluur, i.e. the Kooro. Laboijo,
according to Acooli tradition, separated from the main group and took his way in a
north eastern direction and settled. His people moved inland under his successors,
but slowly and this part has ever since been considered as their country. The main
group, under Oluum according to some traditions, moved further to the south and
crossed the Somerset Nile 25 miles from WatLatoa, and entered Bunyoro territory.
What happened in Bunyoro ?
THE LWOO IN BUNYORO
The BACWEZI problem.
1 I. The arrival of the Lwoo migrators and their invasion of Bunyoro is a pro-
blem which can be solved, as it would seem, satisfactorily by comparing the history
and traditions of both peoples which seem to establish such an event. We have
both the Lwoo problem of Bunyoro and the Bacwezi problem there.
One living outside Bunyoro among the Acooli and Aluur can state the follow-
(a) All agree that the main group of the Lwoo which arrived at Wat Latoj
moved on and entered Bunyoro. Bunyoro is called "Loka" by the Acooli
and Aluur and this term will be used here in my paper.
(b) Most of the present Acooli clans (of Lwoo origin) and many Aluur clans
claim to have come from "Loka" at an early date.
(c) A large portion of northern Bunyoro has ever since remained in the
possession of Lwoo people (Jo pa Lwoo),
(d) The separated groups, the Acooli-Aluur Jo pa Lwoo and Banyoro, have
always lived on friendly terms, each feeling himself at home in the other's
country and movements to and fro have continued ever since up till now;
in fact, tradition never mentions wars. All this is most significant.
(e) Acooli and Aluur generally and unhesitatingly declare that the rulers of
Bunyoro and Buganda are of Lwoo origin.
(f) The history of various sub-tribes of the Acooli, etc., mentions many in-
stances where the injured party of a ruling dynasty took refuge in Bunyoro
or referred the dispute to the Mukama of Bunyoro. His judgment was
never enforced but often respected. Many ruling families among the Acooli
and Aluur declare to have received the royal insignia and with it the royal
dignity from this Mukama.
There are riddles in all these facts which call for solution. All such riddles
are however easily solved if the above facts are taken and combined together, and
especially if (e) can be taken as proved. All the above mentioned facts, which are
indisputable, certainly give support to that assertion but I, for my part, had always
been inclined to ascribe such assertions to the very common inclination to boast.
In order to settle these questions I payed a short visit to Bunyoro (Masindi).
It was quite sufficient to disperse all my doubts. From my little experience I had
expected North Bunyoro to contain a small collection from the Lwoo tribe in gene-
ral; I found there Atyak, Lamogi, Amysel, etc. Just as it is claimed by the Acooli
that nearly every clan is represented there. Even more surprised was I to find there
wadi Nywagi, i.e. an "Anywaa" clan. Quite recently I asked here in Arua, a young
man were he came from. After a few questions, I found out that he was an Aluur
from the Belgian Congo, on Lake Albert, and that he belonged to a small clan of at
most 2oo members called pdnyikad6. Now remember that Nyikaijgb is the na-
tional hero of the Collo and Panyikaago is the name of a big district of Lwak in the
What then was the connection ?
The same man told me that his clan, were biitd i.e. the royal clan, and came
from Loka. He said he had heard that their ancestor was Nyabogo and they were
brothers of the Rwoot of Bunyoro or with Kabarega's successors, as they said.
Another clan I found was the Wadi Cwad; they are said to be very numerous and that:
there are many among the Banyoro, in Toro, etc. These have, of course, adopted the
language of the people among whom they live. I was moreover told that the rulers
of Bunyoro were Wadi Cwdd as well. That was all new to me and very interesting.
Afterwards I was told by an important person of the Bunyoro royal clan that the
Wadi Cwdd had become the "Bacwezi".
Mr. J. M. Gray in his paper "The Riddle of Biggo" (Ug. Journal II. p. 232)
says: "...those mysterious Bacwezi, who figure so largely in the historical traditions
of Bunyoro. These Bacwezi were a light skinned race, who invaded Bunyoro from
the north and ousted the ruling dynasty. According to legends they were a marvel-
lous people,"-and he refers to some marvels attributed to them. It is extraordin-
arily interesting. There is the problem of a Lwoo invasion in Bunyoro and there is a
Bacwezi problem in Bunyoro, and in Bunyoro there are numerous Lwoo and yet r16
more Lwoo speaking people who are clan members of the "Wadi Cwdd" i.e. "Ba-
cwezi" in Lunyoro. Here the two problems become complementary. One has just to
have a look at the list of the "Babito" (bito is a typical Lwoo word) and one finds
mostly common Acooli names among them, mostly slightly disguised as Winyi, for
Owiny, Olimi for Oluum, Kyebambe for Cebami, and Ocaki, Oyo, Cwa, and is not the
present king of Buganda called Daudi Cwaa? It seems so evident; one cannot ex-
plain the problem of the Lwoo invasion in Bunyoro other than by the Bacwezi tra-
dition, and the Bacwezi problem cannot be explained other than by the Lwoo inva-
What had happened?
The main group of the Lwoo who entered Bunyoro represented certainly a fear-
less and determined little army who, taking their lives in their hands, had fought
their way through on a march of over a thousand miles in a few years, as we can
reasonably assume, had broken down most probably even strong resistance and who
fell at length unexpectedly upon Bunyoro. The sudden rush prevented or over-
came all resistance and the Lwoo had become the masters of the country before the
people as a whole were aware of it. In order to prevent organized resistance, they
had to occupy bigger centres if possible, at once. Within a few years they had
conquered probably most of Bunyoro, Toro, Buganda, and beyond it. The people
submitted quietly and this submission furnished them with a problem. They took
probably as many war prisoners as they liked and all cattle, as Bunyoro tradition
would suggest and the ordinary practice of the tribe would lead us to believe.
That the arrival and the deeds of such irresistible invaders should have impressed
the people is more than natural. Psychologically it can easily be understood how
a people that had not even had time to rise in defence-one does not hear of hard
fighting, only of defeats-were disposed to explain their crushing defeat by attri-
buting marvellous qualities to the invaders. Of the first Omucwezi king Ndahura
K. W. says in "the Kings of Bunyoro-Kitara" (Ug. J. III. p. 158) "the king Ndahura
(Omuchwezi) fought against many countries and defeated them." He then distributed
his fabulously big country (loc. cit. 159, d) to his men and moved finally further south
into Tanganyika territory and disappeared. His son Wamara succeeded; after
many years he moved away and disappeared also.
A name Ndahura is unknown to me, but may be a Lwoo name; Wamara may
be the same as Omara. From the above mentioned article about the kings of Bun-
yoro I expected more. Ndahura is said to have been an Omucwezi, a Cwaa member.
But is it possible that the author is unaware of the relationship of the dynasty with
the Lwoo ? Every Lwoo knows about it. Now the above quoted history of the
dynasty simply ignores it. These are riddles. How is it that "the sons of the Aba-
tembuzi" came to be called "Abacwezi;" and again "the sons of the Abacwezi"came to
be called "Ababito?. These can hardly be the last words which the distinguished
author ought to be able to furnish to history.
The fact is that wade Cwdd or Ba-cwezi are found in many parts of the country
and far beyond it. This would be an indication that Lwoo groups had been employed
in various parts for the support of the new rulers. Most of them, if not all, have
by now been assimilated by the Bantu people of the country. Investigation in those
parts should be based on translated Lwoo clan names. The Lwoo part of Bunyoro
would certainly be able to furnish the key for them.
The invasion of Bunyoro has always been supposed to have come from the
north, from north east, possibly from Abyssinia or Somalia; one speaks of"Hamites."
The term Bacwezi has been thought to be connected with "Shoa" in Abyssinia. This
theory is looked upon more favourably even in high circles in Bunyoro: it looks
almost as if they were ashamed of their ancestors, of those who procured them the
throne. No "Bacwezi" comes from "Cwdd", of whom there are plenty in Bunyoro, all
over the country; there is a Cwad district of Kitgum. I have found Pdcwdd as far
north as Lepffdl. One must be deliberately blind to overlook the connection Cwad-
Bacwezi. The Lwoo element is evident whenever historical records are at hand.
K. W. (loc. cit. 160) says: "' .....a lady Nyatworo," (also Okwerogabi,) "of the Ba-
kwoyo clan, daughter of a Labongo, a Lango man, "was the mother of Isingoma
Mupfuga Rukidi" etc. The wade Kwonga (Ba-kwonga clan) are numerous among
the Lwoo of Bunyoro, but there were no Lango across the Nile at that time. Again,
one wife of Wamara was Iremera of the Ba-nywagi (Anywaa) clan. Is is not
interesting to find members of the Anywaa-clan in the Bunyoro royal family ? The
Basita clan is likewise mentioned; I was told that Basita was the Lunyoro for Patiko.
The Disappearance of the Bacwezi
Another Migration Period.
The Lwoo invaders during the reigns of two of their leaders had over-run the
whole country, ousted the chiefs and replaced them with their own men, possibly
with headmen of various clans. They seem to have in this way conquered a vast
territory, extending far beyond the normal boundaries of Bunyoro, as far as Ta-
nganyika, Urundi, Congo, etc. (Cp. loc. cit. under Ndahura.) The people they had
thus subdued greatly outnumbered them. The inevitable consequence of this state
of things, when it became permanent, would be the absorption of the conquerors,
(the Lwoo), and their national disappearance, which experience has shown to have
been the case. The Lwoo had professedly come in search of a suitable country of
settlement for their own development; but the predicament they were in now was
honourable suicide; it was perhaps the condition which had caused them ori-
ginally to start migration.
After the first heat of fighting had passed and they had time to reflect, they
recognizedtheirunfavourable condition. Such knowledge little by little became gene-
ral. As they evidently had pushed on into Tanganyika, etc., so they had in the
meantime very probably sent emissaries over the Somerset Nile to the north to
investigate that country and report; the report had been favourable and the con-
clusions were at hand. K. W.'s narrative (p. 159) conveys the impression that
under the second Bacwezi King Wamara the dissatisfaction with the existing
conditions in the newly conquered country was growing among the Lwoo.
Significantly it is said that "soothsayers from beyond the Nile" (were they emissar-
ies ?) announced that the king's people would have to leave the country. The
disposition of the bowels at sacrifices also spoke clearly and repeatedly to the same
effect. At last Wamara "seeing his people and his wives being disobedient" call-
ed his (abacwezi) brothers and gave instructions for leaving the country. Thus
the bulk of the large fighting force which had first backed theirchiefs on their glori-
ous campaigns was now to leave the country.
As a matter of fact a part of the Lwoo remained behind, determined to main-
tain the position they had acquired. It was again an amicable separation of Lwoo
groups. When Wamara with the elders decided to leave, there seem to have been
dissensions at the last moment. The Bunyoro writer (loc. cit.) says: "The Muka-
ma Wamara, whilst on his journey, remembered that there had been no king left
on the throne. He then debated with his elders"... It seems as if the king with
his headmen had not expected a large number to remain behind. The remaining
group, however, were resolute to maintain their positions and so asked the retiring
head of the royal dynasty to give them a king from his clan. None of his men
accepted, so they remembered that Kyoma, the brother of Wamara, had begotten
twins by a Lwoo woman (Nyatworo) whom he later sent home. These twins we e
chosen by the withdrawing royal clan to succeed to the throne. These children
would otherwise not have been entitled to the throne, as they were not sons of the
king himself; they were, however, members of the royal clan, in the Lwoo Lan-
guage "bito" orjo-bito (lo-bito). It is, therefore, quite correct to say that the Bacwezi
kings were succeeded by the Babito kings or Babito dynasty. This dynasty has
kept its position and its kings are still reigning in Bunyoro and Buganda. In the
eyes of the people of the country this voluntary withdrawal of the undisputed con-
querors was apt to produce the impression that the "Bacwezi had mysteriously
disappeared; nobody had driven them away."
Wamara is said to have followed his father Ndahura to the south. Certain-
ly that looks probable in view of Acooli tradition. If the head of the royal family
had gone to the north, we should expect to meet there a centre of influence in the
course of history and we should not find clans in the Acooli country who cared to
trace their royal dignity to the royal dynasty of Bunyoro. On the other hand it
would be interesting to know whether the Lwoo who moved to Tanganyika have
By now all disappeared. This would be a most interesting question for residents
of Tanganyika to investigate. It is in general known that "Nilotic" invaders are
represented among the ruling families there.
The Bunyoro author speaks about "Bacwezi" who withdrew to the south, where
nearly nothing is known about them nowdays. He does not, however, mention
that a very heavy contingent moved to the north, beyond the Somerset Nile, where
they took possession of a vast territory which has ever since remained theirs.
To summarise briefly:- One gets the impression that the Lwoo had originally
only one royal family and what has been said of the successors of Nyikaaijo of the
Calla confirms it. In Uganda it is a fact that the royal families either trace their
pedigrees directly back to that one royal family-Laboijo one finds always mention-
ed-or the royal dignity is based on the royal insignia having been received from
the Bunyoro-Lwoo royal dynasty.
Why the last family came to be called Bacwezi remains to be explained.
It may be that the Cwai clan had in some way been prominent in Bunyoro at
its conquest and so its name was popularly applied to their rulers. But this cir-
cumstance may provide a reason why the name Bacwezi was so soon dropped. The
royal clan has actually no proper name, unless we take "Bito" to have been origi-
nally such a name, while it is now simply taken to mean "royal". It may also be
mentioned that the bushbuck (Acooli: roda) is the totem of all the kings who de-
rived from this royal family and no king can eat r6da meat. is
Thus a big (or possibly the main) group of Lwoo (Bacwezi) recrossed the So-
merset Nile. They were probably greatly increased by the many prisoners of war
from the last phase of migration in Bunyoro, whom they had absorbed or adopted.
They certainly went with much cattle. Although we have to assume that a big
group moved north and opened up that country, subsequently such movements to
the north, and sometimes back from the north again, have never ceased up to the
present date. There has never been any obstacle to it; always the best relations
existed between these two main groups of the Lwoo. Some people had probably
settled very soon on both sides of the river. Big groups, however, pushed soon to
the north and north-east until they reached strongly occupied and defended coun-
tries in the mountain regions of Mt. Or63m, etc. They occupied now the country
definitely. Here they met the group of peoples which are still simply called "Laijo"
by the neighbours to the north west and south west; they are the Layjo-Dyai or
Laijo-Aje, the Topotha, Karimjoij and Tezo. The Lwoo met next with the Laijo-
dyal group. As the places of permanent water, so important during the rain season,
were few and in the country newly occupied by the Lwoo, so conflicts soon started,
as the Laijo-dyay were themselves dependent absolutely on the same water places
for the dry season. The Laijo, etc., live quite comfortably in their far-off savanna
country during the rain season. When rains stop, the rivers soon dry up, and they
have to keep on moving from one water place to another and remove far from
their villages or homes. Only with big expenses water has recently been procur-
ed by the Uganda Government; before there was always danger of frictions.
The effect of this impact was a far reaching one. The new places remained
in possession of Lwoo groups; but as the place was narrow, especially with regard
to water supply, and the groups many, so part of them had to leave. The tribes
which remained in the country are Lard, Pdtta~3, Cwdd etc. Liira was next to the
Lanjo and so we hear from Driberg ("The Lango", London) that there was often
fighting between them, and the Lwoo were called "Alira" by the Lango. From here
one group after the other left, either in a south western or in a south eastern direct-
ion. To the former belong Payura, Paraboio, Laboio Puraia, etc. From Payara in
particular it is said that they came from Liara (with whom they are related) to Mt.
Arebe, then to Mt. Anyigi and to Mt. Kweer; it was here under their king Looni
that Payira met Patiko under king Aflko (at Mt. Goma). Pattko, together with the
future Pawet, little by little had come from Pukwac to Mt. Palee, Acca and Mt.
Gana. The present Acooli country was, as the Acooli assert, apparently uninhabit-
13 This totem is explained normally in the following way. Once the king went into
the grass to relieve nature. Suddenly the barking noise of a r'da quite near him frightened
him away, while he was not yet ready and his sudden appearance among his people under
such circumstances made him ashamed. He then solemnly protested that no king should
ever eat the meat of that insolent beast in the future-roda onywaro rwoot (the bushbuck
has made a fool of the king).
ed; it was occupied little by little mostly from Lwoo people coming from N. Bunyoro.
One group separated from the said Lwoo group in the L'ira region and moved in
a south eastern direction; this seems to be the more logical theory. This group
seems to have been led by two prominent persons Adhola and Owiny. They moved
south east and turned round the eastern shore of Lake Kioga; then they moved
south and settled eventually besides the Banyuli in Budama, rather as their guests. 14
It is supposed to have happened 150 years ago. The Lwoo or, as they called each
other and were called there, the Jo p'Adqhla and the Jo p' Uwiny soon developed
greatly. The Banyuli, rather afraid of their fearless and enterprising new neigh-
bours and friends, suggested a territory at some distance for their free development.
Here they developed and extended at the expense of their other neighbours
enormously. Fifty years later a further separation became necessary. While the
Jo p'Adhola remained in their newly occupied country, theJo p'Uwiny or, as they
now call themselves, theJo Lwoo moved southwards, reached Lake Victoria and
occupied the territory round Kavirondo Gulf. These latter have developed extra-
ordinarily and are now the biggest of the various Lwoo groups in Central Africa.
12 Just one word about the so different kingship systems found in the various
Lwoo countries. Why such a highly organized system of government under one
sovereign king in a big territory in the Shilluk country, in Bunyoro, Buganda, Ur-
undi, etc. on the one hand, and on the other hand innumerable small groups with
their independent kings as among the Acooli, Aluur, etc. We can say in short the
latter system is more corresponding not only to the Lwoo character in particular
but to the character of the Jii or Joo tribes in general. Whenever they can afford
it, i. e. whenever the conditions allow it, we shall find that individualism reigns
sovereignly. We can hardly speak at all of chiefs among the Nuer; the Denka
indulge in similar systems. Among the Acooli we find that originally independ-
ent groups in good numbers were, in the course of time, physically or morally forced
to join others; the example of Bunyoro had some influence without doubt. The
twenty to thirty remaining independent little kingships were of about the same size;
none of them had sovereign rights of any kind over the others, in spite of some
assertions, as of Bunyoro and Payiira, to the contrary. The same system, if indul-
ged in by the Collo (Shilluk), would have meant suicide in face of the strong enemy
from whom they had to wrestle the country: they simply could not afford to indulge
in individualism. More so it was true in the Bantu countries where a relatively
small group of Lwoo had imposed their rule and were kings of a big strange con-
quered population, Closer observation will, however, find that the essential lines
of ruling were much the same. These latter conditions were also responsible for
the good relations which have always reigned between Bunyoro and the separated
Lwoo to the north.
Problems in Connection with the Lwoo Migration.
There is more than one question to which an answer would be desirable in
connection with the above account of migration. The chief one refers to the ap-
proximate date of the periods of migration. Another would be the methods by
which the various Lwoo groups developed. The question about the country of
origin is solved by the above narrative.
14. Details for these and the following account I owe to Rev. Mill Hill Fathers from various
places, especially Nagongera and Yala.
About the Time of Migration,
From the preceding account it results that there was only one important wave
of migration; all traditions confirm it. Later immigrations into the present Acooli
country did take place, but they were small and just served for the development of
the various Acooli groups whom they joined. Later migrations ofLwoo groups, as
the JoPajok and Pari, were part of the original group who stopped with the Anywaah
while the main group moved on, and then moved later.
At which date, in which century, did this migration take place? In order to
answer this question we have to consult genealogical tables so far as they exist.
GENEALOGICAL TABLES from Various parts.
I. Col0l Kings
2 Daak i
3 Caal 1
4 Ocollo 2
5 Dowaat 4
6 Buoc 5
7 Abudhok 6
8 Dhokoth 6
9 Tugo 8
o1 Okon 9
ii Nyadwai 9
12 Muko 11
13 Kudit io
14 Nyatho il
T6 Anei 15
17 Akwot 15
18 Awin 15
19 Akoc 17
20 Nyidhok 15
21 Kwatke 17
22 Ajai 20
23 Kuikon 21
24 Yoor 19
25 Kur 20
26 Fadiet 21
27 Ayoke 24
(A. Lagara +)
4 Kilak (f)
i6 (E.Aiiker .)
T7 (Y. Odida)
Mr. J. M. Gray in Ug. J. II.
p. 231 says: "Kyebambe Namu-
tukula, the sixth of the seventeen
rulers of the present Babito dyn-
asty of Bunyoro..." I am rather inclined to accept this statement, evidently based
on old and various traditional sources, than the quite recent list with 26 names
(Ug. J. III. p. 155). Where has suddenly sprung up that new tradition ?
Notes to the lists. i. The numbers after the names of the (I.) Collo list refer
to respective fathers; ex.g. 14) Nyatha i means that Nyatha was the son of i
Nyadwai. 2. A name in brackets at the head of a list, or a name without number,
refers to members of doubtful existence or who are said to have died in the country
of origin. Names in brackets at end of the list refer to rulers established under
modern conditions, while the old rwoot is still alive. Artificial names hardly serve
In order to be able to read or interpret the above tables, some important
observations are required. i. First of all we have to remember that the source for
these lists is pure memory; generally no kind of records exist. In more recent
times the graves of kings were marked by planting trees on them. The conse-
quence is that neither the numbers nor the sequence of names is quite sure. Generally
if one consults, say, five persons, who are believed to be competent, one will
obtain five different lists. The same result is often obtained by asking the same
person at various periods; unless the list is by now written down and produced.
The written lists of this kind are hardly more assuring. This is quite natural.
2. Genealogical tables are obtainable only from important families. Such members
have, however, in same cases come to the conviction that the longer the list the
better their case and so, out of the dark and legendary tradition, they find means
to glority their dynasty by additional members. Thus I took down a pedigree of
the Atyak royal dynasty. As I wanted to check its accuracy I asked an old com-
petent person about the written names. He protested in the case of four
successive kings saying that they were not fathers and sons but four brothers only
one of whom had been king, It is difficult to say who is right; peculiar motives
for their statements are possible on both sides. An example of this kind is, in
my opinion, the above mentioned case of the Bunyoro list. 3. Another real factor
may be responsible for the length of a list, as in the case of the Call. The Collo
have two peculiar customs in connection with the a th or king. The rule for the
succession to the throne is that "the candidate to be elected must be the son of an
actual king; he need not be the son of the last deceased one." Thus out of 26
kings only eight succeeded their fathers ; in other cases we find a son separated
from his father by four intervening kings. Nyakwac, on the other hand, had four
sons who became kings in succession; one of them, Nvidhok, was his fifth successor.
By this way the number of rulers is, naturally, greatly increased when compared
with the, for the rest, common system that a son of the deceased king has to
become king even if he were still a baby, for which case the la-gwok-ker (guardian
of the throne) is provided for the actual ruling. Another important Collo custom
requires that no king dies a natural death; in the last moment he must be
suffocated. This custom is open to abuses. On the other hand, would-be
candidates were a continuous secret danger to the life of the king; and nothing
would ever come to light.
The Collo list I take for a good (not quite sure) one with regard both to
number and to sequence. There exist no kind of records for the support of memory.
The Patiko one may be a good one also (perhaps too long); Patiko alone is said to
have in the past always cared for a memorial record of its kings. I could not
find other satisfactory pedigrees among the Accoli. The above given Aluur table
t hold for good reasons to be a good one also. The shorter ones of PdrP may ~h6t
easily be taken to be correct; because they are short. Other pedigrees which I took
down never surpass the number fourteen. Various pedigrees taken of Payira's
royal dynasty differ widely; Payiira is not alone in this regard. We shall have to
be satisfied with reasonably "arranged" and thus settled genealogical tables.
From the various tables, considered under their special circumstances, we may
infer that sixteen or seventeen is a nice, rather big, average number of rulers to fill
out the period between the end of migration and now. If we fix the date of mig-
ration between 1600-1650, it cannot be far from truth. The space of three centu-
ries is more than sufficient to allow the various groups to develop up to the present
state. The time of migration itself did not last more than a few years; perhaps not
half a dozen. According to tradition the one leader who started moving arrived in
Uganda, stops are supposed to have been made for one or the other rain season in
various places. Possibly they wanted to provide some corn or food and, still more,
to test the soil and investigate a country for an eventual settlement.
An investigation of the ways by which the originally relatively small group
increased and developed into several big groups would certainly produce interest-
ing and valuable historical material. Investigations have especially to be made with
regard to those groups of Lwoo who were absorbed or assimilated by the conquered
tribes in Tanganyika and the Congo, not to speak of the Uganda Protectorate.
The above are the outstanding points about the migration of the "LWOO" from
somewhere in eastern Bahr el Ghazal Province to Nyikang, on Bahr el Ghazal river;
then through the present Shilluk, Anywah, Bari countries to Mt. Kilak, Wat La-
tong (Pukwac), and Bunyoro and their final settlement. It shows us a people who,
for the sake of independence and liberty, abandons its native country and fearlessly
marches thousands of miles through hostile countries with great success in search
of a good and vast enough territory that allows them to develop according to their
wishes and needs. It is, partly as result of its experiences from wandering, a people
furnished with large views and alertness, which respects cleverness and ability
without ever being servile; a people with a frank, fearless and independent char-
A Short History of Rinderpest with
Special Reference to Africa
By R. W. M. METTAM, M. SC., M.R.C.V.S.
It may not be generally known that cattle plague, better known by its German
name Rinderpest, which is again ravaging the herds of this country, is a compar-
atively new disease to Africa.
Previous to 1864 the disease was only known to exist in Egypt where it was
repeatedly introduced by cattle coming from Turkey, Asia Minor, Russia, and
the Balkans. It is probable that about this time the disease spread to the
French Sudan and was responsible for the great epizootic which raged through
West Africa, in the following year. Native tradition in West Africa, however,
dates the first appearance of Rinderpest many years earlier and lays the blame on
Indian and Persian traders for its introduction.
There is very little doubt that Rinderpest did not appear in East Africa until
much later than 1864.
The first recorded outbreak occurred in Somaliland in 1889 and it is generally
said that the disease followed the introduction of cattle from India and from Aden
for the provisioning of the Italian army during the first expedition to Abyssinia.
Once established, Rinderpest spread like wild fire over the whole of East Africa,
reaching Lake Tanganyika towards the end of 1890. In the meanwhile the Nile
valley as far as Khartoum had been infected by cattle during the British
campaigns of 1884-1885; it was held that the disease was introduced by animals
purchased in Russia and other Black Sea ports.
At any rate by I890 the disease was assuming panzootic proportions and was
about to sweep the entire length and breadth of Africa; eventually it was only held
up by energetic measures when it reached Cape Colony in the far South.
The devastation resulting from the disease was terrible. Lugard was actually
in East Africa at this time and he describes the misery and suffering that were the
lot of the pastoral tribes, such as the Masai and Bahima, many of whom were left
starving and destitute as the result of the extinction of their large herds, for the
mortality was generally over 90%, and, in some areas, not a beast survived, Accord-
ing to Lugard, the "Bahima were gaunt, half starved and covered with skin disease",
and, "not only had they no crops of any sort or kind, to replace the milk and meat
which formed their natural diet, but many were unable to accommodate themselves
to such a change, and all were completely ignorant of agriculture." Many perish-
ed in large numbers with their animals. In Masailand the story was the same.
Lugard continues "never before in the memory of man, or by the voice of tradi-
tion, have cattle died in such vast numbers; never before has the wild game suffered.
Nearly all the buffalo and eland were gone." He deplored the immense loss of
animal life and appalling human suffering and misery since they could have been
prevented if ordinary precautions had been taken in the first instances.
This grim picture indicates the insatiable nature of the disease and the colossal
loss of life or property that attends an uncontrolled epizootic.
The worst was not yet over. After decimating the herds of equatorial Africa
the pest swept south and was reported by Sharpe at the northern end of Lake
Nyassa in July 1892, i.e. within two years of its appearance in the country now
known as Kenya.
In its headlong rush many species of game were practically exterminated in
addition to cattle losses. Buffalo, eland, warthog, and wild pig were the chief victims,
but bush-buck, reed-buck, kob, and giraffe also suffered heavily. Peculiarly enough
Lugard mentions wlidebeest and water-buck as being immune At present both
these animals are regarded as being susceptible, particularly wildebeest which are
often found dead or dying from the disease in the Masai reserve, even at the present
time, whilst a water-buck was readily infected at the veterinary laboratorory in
Entebbe. Sharpe also records the great destruction of game in Nyasaland.
It must be admitted, however, that at least in Uganda water-buck are seldom
infected naturally although they appearto fear the disease for they have been observ-
ed to trek away from rinderpest infected places. One herd which was observed
moving from north Singo (where rinderpest existed) towards lake Wamala (where
it did not) numbered well over the 280 animals counted.
The losses amongst susceptible game were general throughout Africa-in
Uganda hundreds of dead kob were lying in one plain near the R. Mayanja in Singo
whilst in another part of the country great herds of these animals were so severely
attacked that dozens of the wretched and dying creatures would stand, heads lower-
ed pitifully and too exhausted to move even when touched by an observer.
Local hyaenas became fat in those days.
The Zambesi was reached in 1896 and within a short time the country now
known as Southern Rhodesia was invaded,
Control measures were instituted, but they only stimulated serious unrest
amongst the Matabele, who eventually broke out into open rebellion and mas-
sacred several European colonists. In Southern Rhodesia over 1i million cattle
succumbed to the plague.
Desperate efforts were made to protect the cattle of the Transvaal republic,
but late in 1896 an outbreak was diagnosed at Mafeking, and within a short time
the Transvaal, Natal and Bechuanaland were all widely infected.
Strong cordons of armed police were placed along the Orange River by the
Government of the Cape of Good Hope and a wide neutral zone, depopulated of all
susceptible animals, was established along the Cape Colony and Orange Free State
border. All efforts proved abortive and the disease pushed its relentless way
towards Cape Town. The loss of life was appalling. It was estimated that over
z~ million cattle were destroyed.
Such a devastating epizootic was frightening to both Europeans and Natives,
especially the latter, who tended to break in all directions nullifying thereby all
attempts at quarantine and other control measures.
Financial expenditure was great.
The determined measures adopted to check the spread of the disease is inst-
anced by the case of the Cape Government which erected a barbed wire fence
extending from the border of Bechuanaland to Basutoland and thence along the
Cape-Natal border to the Indian Ocean, a distance of well over 1,ooo miles.
It was disheartening, therefore, when an active focus of the disease was found
to the south of this line and it is tragic to read that the disease was introduced into
the Cape Colony by human agency. Apparently the Kaffir leader of a span of trek
oxen found on the road side a sack containing dried meat and also a pair of blood-
stained trousers. Although he realized that he was breaking quarantine regulations
he proceeded to don the trousers and consume the meat.
To his surprise and to the horror of the authorities the trek oxen under his
charge developed Rinderpest and thus the invasion of the Cape Colony was
accomplished despite all precautions.
It became apparent to the various South African Colonies that, as it was
impossible to check the disease by quarantine measures alone, active prophylactic
immunisation should be attempted. In those days the science of bacteriology was
still in its infancy, but the Cape Government acted boldly and invited the great
German scientist, Robert Koch, to investigate the disease. In February, 1897, a
method of protection by the use of bile of recovered animals was introduced,
and within a year 2 million animals had been immunised. Towards the end of 1898
the disease was completely stamped out from the country south of the Limpopo
river. Unfortunately it was re-introduced in 90 o by cattle purchased in German
South West Africa and sent to the Cape Colony and Free State to restock the
farms at the cessation of the Boer War. By prompt measures the disease was again
got under control and in 1903 the country was declared to be free. Since then the
Union has remained uninfected but the Government still anxiously watches the ebb
and flow of the disease in the territories further north.
It is reckoned that in two years 54 million cattle were carried off south of the
Zambesi river, a figure which represents more than double the present cattle
population of this country.
Considerable consternation existed in South Africa towards the end of the late
war when Rinderpest spread through Southern Tanganyika in the wake of the re-
treating German forces. A commission of veterinarians was sent by the authorities
of the Union to the New Langenberg district of Tanganyika to create a belt of
immune cattle as a protective barrier. Fortunately this step proved adequate, and
the disease died out.
Nevertheless, the holocaust of 1889-1903 is still remembered by the older
Boer farmers and their generosity to Veterinary research is the result of their
appreciation of the complete eradication of this pest from the Union.
The disease does not now exist south of the central Tanganyika railway. It
has become enzootic in a great part of East Africa where it periodically flares up
in virulence and is always likely to assume serious proportions.
There are several interesting features about this South African outbreak which
might be mentioned here.
One is the galaxy of scientific talent that came from Europe to help the various
Governments to combat the disease. The name of Robert Koch has already been
mentioned and his efforts were crowned with brilliant success. Though time has
modified his methods, yet his results form the basis of our knowledge of the im-
munology of this disease. Other well-known workers were Bordet, Danysz, Kolle,
Turner, and, last but not least, Theiler, whose recent death is an irreparable loss
to tropical medicine.
Another interesting point, and one which has never been adequately explained,
though innumerable theories have been advanced, is that the wave of Rinderpest
over South and Central Africa was sometimes followed either by the complete ex-
termination of tsetse fly in large fly belts or by a great reduction in their numbers.
Possibly the disease killed off all the cattle and game so that the tsetse fly
were actually starved to extinction. Some of these belts never reformed but, unfor-
tunately, others survived and are now slowly but steadily extending.
Experiments have shown that Rinderpest virus has apparently no specific
deleterious effects on the tsetse fly population, and disappearance of these insect
pests from certain areas of Southern Africa during the last years of the nineteenth
century must be connected with some factor of vital necessity to the existence of
the fly, and that, most probably, was lack or absence of suitable food.
The disease in its rush across Africa did not spare the western part of the
continent. By 1893 all the British, French and. German Colonies were affected.
The mortality was well over 90%, but in places cattle were completely exterminated.
Rinderpest originally came from Asia and was spread throughout Europe in
historic times by nomadic hordes of savages and, later, by the frequent movements
of great armies. Like typhus and other diseases Rinderpest was an inveterate camp
follower and appalling losses occurred during the great wars of the 17th, i8th, and
19th centuries. In those days an organised commissariat was practically unknown
and an invading army lived on the country through which it passed. No steps
were taken to prevent dissemination of contagious disease with the result that dur-
ing the Napoleonic wars nearly the whole of Europe was infected with Rinderpest.
Even as late as the great war of 914-1918 the disease caused considerable anxiety
and made its grim presence felt, especially in Russia, Siberia, the Balkans, Hun-
gary and Poland. As would be expected the Bolshevik revolution was a favourable
time for a "flare-up." The disease has recently been energetically dealt with in the
U.S.S.R., and there are now only a few infected foci in Europe, namely in Turkey,
but it is only a question of time before these are cleaned up.
In 1920, however, the whole of western Europe was considerably alarmed by
an outbreak of Rinderpest at Antwerp. Infection was introduced by a shipment of
cattle purchased in India on their way to South America. The disease was not at
first recognized by the port authorities and it soon began to make its presence felt.
Local cattle became infected by contact with the sick animals and outbreaks occur-
red at Namur and other inland towns some distance from Antwerp. A commission
was at once formed and after thorough investigation revealed 130 centres of infec-
tion. Very energetic measures were enforced and in 6 months the disease was
Great Britain has always been singularly free from this disease since she has
never been a great importer of continental cattle. Serious outbreaks occurred at
different periods, especially during the 18th century, but the last one was in 1865
when 500,000 cattle valued at 4 million pounds sterling succumbed.
Enough has been written to show what a devastating disease Rinderpest
is. Not only are cattle and game reduced to the point of extinction, but the lot of
the unfortunate cattle owners becomes miserable in the extreme.
Semi-starvation or famine and ruination stare them in the face. There is no
wonder that at the present time they soon seek help when the disease appears
in their midst, for progress of science has evolved methods of active immunisation
which confer life-long immunity.
Infected foci are energetically dealt with and cattle in danger of becoming in-
fected are immunised as early as conditions permit.
Control is not always easy because, even when there are no active centres of
infection, the disease may be kept "simmering" in game. In a country like Uganda,
where large herds of buffalo are widely distributed all over the country, the disease
may be carried long distances by sick animals and this explains its unexpected
appearance in districts far removed from the original outbreak.
It is most unlikely that anything approaching an epizootic such as occurred 40
years ago will ever occur again. Recurrences here and there must be expected until
the time arrives for the complete eradication of the disease from Africa.
It is regretted that owing to an unavoidable delay in
the production of the Coloured Plates they have not
arrived from England in time for inclusion in this number.
A Guide to the Snakes of Uganda.
By C. R. S. PITMAN.
Genus NAJA Laurenti.
The Indian cobra is so well-known from literature and narrative that it is
excusable for one to associate the cobras exclusively with Asia. Actually, Africa
is the great centre of cobra distribution, and the Asiatic (or spectacled) or Indian
cobra-known formerly as "Cobra-di-Capello"-and the gigantic (in length) Indo-
Malayan king cobra or hamadryad, which has been known to attain the almost
incredible length of 18 feet, appear to represent but a northern and north-eastern
extension of this fearsome group.
The cobras, as members of the genus Naja are popularly styled, are of such
importance that I intend to emphasise their attributes both generally and individ-
ually, and in consequence repetition of some of the remarks appearing on earlier
pages will not be out of place.
There are at least eight full species of African cobras, certain of which differ
amongst themselves to such an extent that possibly a few subspecies or races are
admissible. Four species are known to occur in Uganda.
In the African continent the cobras range from the arid North coast to the Cape
the regions between these boundaries being their true headquarters. The repre-
sentatives of this genus appear to be most adaptable as they are to be found at all
altitudes at which snake life occurs from sea level to 7,500 feet (occasionally even
higher), and seem to be equally at home in the Rain Forest and in the semi-arid
desert. From true desert, of course, they are absent.
In Uganda the cobras are almost ubiquitous and there is considerable overlap
in the ranges of the three principal species which occur: in certain localities all three
may be found together. Particularly interesting is the fact that so far, in spite of
exhaustive collecting, no species of cobra has been obtained in the elevated regions
(6,000 to 7,500 feet) in South-western Kigezi in the neighbourhood of Lakes
Bunyonyi and Mutanda. Faunally and florally these are curious localities which
have evidently not yet recovered from comparatively recent volcanic devastation,
and in consequence merit comprehensive scientific investigation.
Amongst the prominent characteristics of these snakes is the pair of highly-
developed, permanently erect grooved fangs, or poison-conducting teeth, set in the
forward portion of the upper jaw. Also, there are one to three small, faintly grooved
teeth near the posterior extremity of the maxilla: the mandibular teeth are nume-
rous and fairly large, the anterior being the longest. The head is not, or but
slightly, distinct from the neck; the eye is moderate or rather large, with a round
pupil; the body cylindrical; and the smooth scales, disposed obliquely in 15-25,
rows (usually more numerous on the neck), without pits. The ventrals are rounded;
the tail moderate; and the subcaudals, all or the greater part, in 2 rows.
On the whole the representatives of this genus are large, often somewhat mas-
sive, snakes 6 feet being the average size of several species. Though relatively
massive, the cobras are speedy, active and agile, and in addition are apt to be
inquisitive and insolent. They are also extremely intelligent, a fact which prob-
ably explains why these deadly species are the favourite stock-in-trade of Indian,
African and Arab snake-charmers.
Amongst members of the prominent Uganda trio (which will be detailed in due
course) seven and eight feet measurements are by no means uncommon, up to nearly
9 feet is known, and it is believed that on occasion the astonishing total of twelve
feet has been reached.
Unless disturbed a cobra has the appearance of many of the harmless snakes;
it is only when annoyed or cornered or scared that it erects its hood. Because
these snakes do not go about with hoods erect and swaying in the spectacular
manner portrayed in pictures it is usually exceedingly difficult to convince
members of the immigrant community of the local existence of cobras, which
they delight to refer to as "mambas." An angry or startled cobra will spread a hood
two or three times the normal diameter of the neck by erecting its long cervical
ribs either side of the body, as Loveridge says, "in the same way as a man might
raise his arms." The hood-spread of most African cobras, however, is not nearly
so pronounced as in the Indian cobra.
Although there are other species which do so, it is the cobras which normally
indulge in rearing up from the ground upon the least provocation and remain poised.
According to Corkill (1935):- "The aggressiveness of the snakes of this genus,
their lethality, their size and quickness, the impressiveness of the swaying raised
body with the expanded hood and the ability to spit their blinding venom, all con-
tribute to give the cobras that degree of pre-eminence amongst snakes which
gained for them the Pharaohs' brow, and an apotheosis which Oldham (Oldham
C. F. The Sun and the Serpent) has shown to have been practically universal in the
Very interesting information on the subject of the habits of cobras will be
found in Snakes (1932) by F. W. Fitzsimons. The following is reproduced, with
the usual acknowledgments:- "some cobras delight to bask on the water in the sun,
with their hoods expanded. When lying thus they often partly support their bodies
on the water-plants"......"The cobras are more cannibalistic in their feeding
habits than any of the other species of snakes in the park. They feed
chiefly on Schaapstekers (Trimerorhinus) and Grass Snakes (Psammophis),
but they do not hesitate to attack and devour other species of snakes......
and sometimes the Puff Adder"...... "The cobra usually seizes its victim and, hold-
ing grimly on, continues to inject venom until its prey has become inoculated with
sufficient to induce paralysis of the nerve centres."......... "When a cobra seizes a
rat it usually holds it in its jaws. The victim struggles for a moment or two and dies"
......"It takes a larger quantity of Adder venom to cause death than is the case
with the venom of the Cobra or Mamba. The venom of these (latter) snakes is a
neurotoxin or nerve poison. It poisons the nerve centres controlling the lungs,
causing the latter to collapse. At the same time it paralyses the inhibitory nerve
which regulates the pumping of the heart, resulting in a wild and rapid beating of
that organ. A singular fact in regard to cobra poisoning is that, for some time
after the lungs have collapsed and the victim has ceased to breathe, the heart is
still beating"......"A cobra is able to inject many times a fatal dose of venom"...... "The
cobra has a bold, independent nature, and will not put up with any sort of indignity"
......"Cobras also swallow eggs, but only on occasion. In these instances the eggs
are swallowed entire, and the corrosive properties of the gastric juices dissolve the
shell"......A Cape cobra which died was found to have a china nest-egg in its
Fitzsimons also describes graphically a case of cobra bite:- "The victim
(a woman) was in a state of collapse a few minutes after being bitten. All feeling
had gone from her leg (she had been bitten in the calf), general paralysis was rap-
idly setting in, difficulty in breathing and inability to speak were being experienced.
Slowly she sank into insensibility; but some twenty minutes or half-an-hour later-
after the serum had been injected-the lady opened her eyes and gradually recover-
ed consciousness. From then on she rapidly recovered......but it was a couple of
days before the bitten leg got right."
These comprehensive and extremely interesting notes by Fitzsimons can of
course be amplified considerably. According to Lieut. Colonel F. P. Mackie, I.M.S.,
Director of the Haffkine Institute, Bombay, referring to the Indian cobra:- "The
minimum fatal dose of cobra venom is about 15 milligrammes (about i/5th grain)
and the snake gives from 5-10 lethal doses at one bite... Death from a cobra bite
has occurred in as short a time as 20 minutes, but may be delayed as long as 30
Although far from being the general rule it cannot be denied that certain of the
African cobras can on occasion be decidedly aggressive. An aggressive, venomous
species often becomes so excited that its poison-gland actuating muscles begin to
contract prematurely thereby wasting what may sometimes amount to considerable
quantities of venom. If an irritated cobra, with its anterior portion reared up in
menacing posture, is closely observed, this spilling of the venom may be noticed as
a dribbling, almost frothing, at the jaws.
Fortunately, cases of snake-bite amongst human beings in Africa appear to
be the exception rather than the rule, which is remarkable in view of the wide
distribution and abundance of a large, active species like the cobra., According to
Major S. S. Flower:- "in twenty-five-and-a-half years spent in Egypt and the Sudan
I met no instance of the death of a human being having been caused by a cobra."
Professor Bethencourt Ferreira has also commented on the few cases of poisoning
caused by cobras in Africa.
*(This was written more than ten years ago.-C.R.S.P.).
,Ater the strike cobras hang on and "worry" or "chew" on the bitten area at the
same time squirting into their victims a succession of discharges of poison. The
several actions which take place in the course of a bite are described in detail by
Corkill (1935) :- "When a venomous snake strikes, the biting muscles compress the
gland and thus cause venom to be forced along a duct to the canal commencement
at the base of the fang, and thence into the bitten tissues in much the manner of a
Although it is known that a cobra can raise the anterior half of its body off
the ground, and there are claims that it may even be as much as two-thirds, nor-
mally it cannot strike with accuracy when more than the anterior third is raised:
the direction of the stroke is usually forwards and slightly upwards though natural-
ly downwards when striking at a small animal on the ground.
"Spitting" has been described exhaustively on previous pages, so there is no
need to elaborate here this curious phenomenon, though it must be mentioned that
on occasion each of the prominent Uganda trio have been known to resort to this
unpleasant method of defence; in consequence it is essential to take all necessary
precautions, i.e. the use of goggles and gloves, when handling live specimens of any
of the Uganda cobras.
Corkill (1935, p. 33) records:- "Three snakes which had spat in the eyes of
natives were also secured; one was an Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje) and the other two
were Black-necked Spitting Cobras (Naja nigricollis)".
Cobra venom being mainly neurotoxic in action, cobras in consequence subsist
primarily on cold-blooded prey, though they will consume freely small rodents and
chicks, and on occasion will take hens' eggs. In the wild state they are possibly
not so cannibalistic as when in captivity. Cobras when hunting for food are often
attracted to the vicinity of human habitation, so it is surprising that there are not
more fatalities. These snakes are expert swimmers, and some species are to a
certain extent arboreal: they are oviparous, i.e. lay eggs.
Some of the larger species in their various colour phases resemble each other
closely, so that identifications on colour alone are not infallible; for instance in the
Lake Albert region specimens of Naja nigricollis and Naja haje are superficially
alike, elsewhere Naja melanoleuca and Naja nigricollis may resemble each other, and
Also, a skin unaccompanied by the head is useless for purposes of identification.
These large cobras provide handsome skins which in certain West African
localities are being exploited commercially for the fancy leather industry, while
other species have also attracted attention and are listed as 'worthy of consideration.'
Cobras generally in Uganda seem to be known by the vernacular names
"Nchuweira", "Nsuweira" or "Nsuweila", which apparently refer to the curious
habit of hood distension: in some localities they are called "Mpiri" or "Mpili".
NAJA HAJE HAJE (Linnaeus).
Egyptian Cobra, Brown Cobra, Black Cobra,
Banded Cobra or Rock Cobra.
(Plate XIII, Fig. 3: Coloured Plate (0), Fig. 1).
Native names-Although there must be various names applicable to this cobra
in the different parts of Uganda in which it occurs, so far the only designations
ascertained are the widely-used "Nchuweira", "Nsuweira" or "Nsuweila" of the
Baganda, and "Mpiri" or "Mpili" in the Lake Albert region of Bunyoro.
Distribution-According to Ditmars (931) the qualification "Egyptian" to the
popular name is most misleading for:- "This common snake has the widest range of
any cobra in Africa. On the north coast it occurs in Morocco, thence generally
eastward into Egypt-except in the coastal area of Algeria. In ranging over the
northerly areas, where it is the only, but a frequent species, it carries the range of
Naja throughout the continent-except the absolutely sterile, central desert portions.
It is, however, particularly numerous in the countries bordering the Sahara. South-
ward it extends through easterly Africa all the way to Natal." In South-East
Africa, however, it is rare.
Schmidt in his report on the collections made by the American Museum Congo
Expedition (Bulletin, American Museum of Natural History, Vol. XLIX, 1923, pp.
126-127) offers a most entertaining explanation concerning distribution. "The
occurrence of Naja haje in this part of the Sudan (Botanical Subprovince) is of
considerable interest. There is no satisfactory record of this species from Togo or
Nigeria or the arid interior of Cameroon.......If Naja haje does not range through
the Sudanese Subprovince, its distribution is a peculiar one, reminiscent to a
degree of Varanus griseus.
The extension south in East Africa to Zululand and west in North Africa to
Morocco indicates a relatively recent migration from lower Egypt as a center; for
had it spread from any center in the Savannah Province, it must inevitably have
possession of the Sudan. On this hypothesis, Faradje (N.E. Belgian Congo) re-
presents a western outpost of its range in the Eastern Sudan."
It is also found sparingly in Southern Palestine and in parts of Arabia. With
the exception of Egypt and the Sudan in which two territories this species is
evidently plentiful, Naja haje on the whole is uncommon.
Occurrence in Uganda-The precise limits of distribution of this species in
Uganda are uncertain but it is known to occur not uncommonly along the low-
lying north-eastern and eastern shores of Lake Albert respectively in the Bagungu
region and on the Tonya-Kaiso plain, so that one would expect it to be present on
the Semliki flats at the southern extremity of this lake. It is probable that Naja
hajs occurs throughout the more arid portions of the Northern Province, particu-
larly in parts of Gulu and Chua, and in Karamoja, but so far there is no tangible
evidence, though one is inclined to associate the numerous reports of a large brown
or blackish snake with this species. Extralimitally, included in its range in Kenya
Colony is the Great Rift Valley. Detailed data are scanty but it would appear
that Naja haje, which prefers hot and dry localities provided water is not scarce, is
a snake associated with the lower altitudes, and is only common at about 2,000 feet
and under, while its haunts normally are unlikely to exceed the 4,000 feet level.
Description-Corkill (1935, P. 24), referring to the Sudan, records:- "At Atet on
Sixth May, 1932, Dr. J. Bryant shot an Egyptian cobra measuring 7 feet 5 inches
(2260 mm.) in length and with a maximum girth of 9 inches. For the species this
is enormous and probably constitutes the published record." On 2Yst November,
1928, I obtained a huge specimen measuring 8 feet 6 inches and massive in pro-
portion on the Lake Albert flats several miles north-east of Butiaba which by no
means constitutes a record, for in the same region, as well as on the Tonya-Kaiso
plain further south, specimens of similar size and larger have from time to time
been observed personally. These are truly terrifying monsters.
From the arid Barotse Valley (Zambezi) in Northern Rhodesia I have receiv-
ed reports of the occurrence of gigantic "brown cobras" measuring as much as o1
feet, which if in reality cobras are almost certainly referable to Naja haje. Refer-
ring to Tanganyika specimens Loveridge has recorded that they attain a great
size and that the adults average 6 feet. A South African example measuring
7 feet 8 inches (230 cm.) which was used in connection with investigations into re-
lative toxicity of venoms is described as "exceptionally large". From all the above
data it will be realized that the Egyptian cobra does attain extraordinarily large
dimensions. Though Naja haje is more massive than Naja melanoleuca, the latter
probably fairly frequently attains a length rarely reached by the former. At pre-
sent there is no conclusive evidence available to decide which of the two cobras
N. haje and N. melanoleuca ranks next in size to the mighty king cobra or hama-
dryad. Boulenger's greatest measurement is i18o (tail 290)mm., barely 4 feet, in
which the tail is contained in the total about four times.
A Giza (Cairo) series of fifteen measure from 1245 to 1940 mm., eleven ex-
ceeding 1500 mm. (4 feet it inches), and the two largest being a male 1940 mm.
(6 feet 44 inches) and a female, 1803 mm. (5 feet 1 inches). There is nothing note-
worthy in the size of the Faradje (N. E. Belgian Congo) example, a female, i335
mm., the tail being 15 of the total, obtained by the American Museum Expedition.
Werner (1908 p.6i) refers to Sudan specimens of ij m. (approx. 5 feet 9
inches) and 2 m. (approx. 6 feet 7 inches). Loveridge (1928) had in captivity a
series of eight, from the Shinyanga region, Tanganyika Territory, all of which "were
over 6 feet long".
Scale-rows 21.23 across the neck, 19-21 midbody: ventrals 191-221: subcau-
dals 51-74 (as many as 8o in a juvenile).
Conspicuous characteristics will be found included in the detailed descriptive
note on the genus: in addition it can be mentioned that there is no appreciable
neck: the anal is entire: the tail fairly long: and it is distinguished from Naja
UGANDA SNAKES XIV.
i. Dendraspis angusticeps.
2. Dendraspis jamesoni kaimosae.
3. Causus rhombeatus.
4. Causus resimus.
5. Causus lichtensteinii.
nigricollis, which it often closely resembles, by the presence of two or three smaller
scales (suboculars) between the eye and the upper labials, and by the sixth or
seventh upper labial which is in contact with the postoculars being the largest and
deepest. In N. nigricollis the suboculars are absent, while the third upper labial is
the deepest and the sixth and seventh upper labials are not in contact with the post-
This is a snake of variable coloration: according to Boulenger:- "Yellowish or
black above, uniform or with darker or lighter spots; lower parts yellowish with a
brown or black band on the neck, or dark brown to blackish; head sometimes black-
ish." This author further describes three varieties, as follows:-
"A. Brown above, yellowish beneath, with or without brown spots.
B. Dark brown above, with yellowish spots; dark brown beneath.
C. Blackish brown above and beneath."
Corkill (1935) mentions some interesting colour variations, an unusual one being
"lemon-yellow barred heavily with russet and black"; another is "melanotic." A
Kenya example is olive-grey above with a broad brownish-black patch, not extend-
ing to the lower side, behind the neck, and somewhat farther back another broad
blackish band which extends all round the body, between these there is a lighter
space with few black spots. According to Ditmars (1931) :- "Moroccan examples
are commonly blackish-brown."
The huge specimen obtained on the Lake Albert flats was of a dark brownish
colour above with a good deal of interstitial black; below dull yellowish with occasio-
nal darker dull markings along the flanks; head dark brown almost to blackish ; eye
brown. The predominant coloration in these snakes is brown, and the scales are
dull and lustreless.
Habits -As previously mentioned N. haje appears to prefer hot and dry localities
where water is not scarce. In Egypt it is only found near water, and is common
in gardens and fields; sometimes it enters houses. In the Sudan, according to
Corkill (1935):- "It seems to prefer the neighbourhood of houses or old ruins" though
"it may be encountered in practically any form of habitat. It is largely nocturnal
like most snakes."
Ditmars (1931, p. 167) records:- "As a captive this snake is alert and dis-
plays considerable intelligence. It cannot endure anything but positively dry and
steadily warm quarters-and under ordinary conditions survives but a few months.
This is in marked contrast to some of the other African species, living in the more
humid area." Also, according to the same author:- "It is a quick, irritable reptile
rearing upon the slightest disturbance and repeatedly striking with sharp hisses.
This is the cobra so often seen with snake charmers in Egypt". It is reported that
on occasion this cobra will "spit", though doubtless in this respect there has been
a certain amount of confusion with Naja nigricollis, the true "spitting" cobra. In
the Southern Sudan it appears to be generally accepted as a "spitting" species, for
Corkill records:- "It makes an aggressive show if cornered and may spit its venom
three or four times from a range of anything up to six feet into the eyes of those
whom it encounters. Arab belief has it that it spits in the eyes of sitting hens to
blind them and induce them to leave their eggs at its mercy."
It is dreaded by natives wherever it occurs, and if the writer had in 1928
known as much as he now does of the "spitting" propensities of Naja haje coup-
led with its local, remarkable resemblance to N. nigricollis nothing would have
induced him to meddle carelessly with a huge wounded specimen as he then did.
Enough of these strikingly large snakes had been observed along the Lake Albert
littoral to excite intense curiosity, and a determined effort was made to secure a
specimen. In spite of their massive proportions these cobras are exceedingly quick
and agile: one was seen to dart into the friendly cover of a large bush and when
followed up was found to be coiled near the main stem. It immediately demons-
trated for a moment with swaying raised head and distended hood, the hood dis-
tension being far more pronounced than in the case of N. nigricollis. By the time
a shot-gun was ready for action the great snake was partially concealed amongst
grass and small shrubs at the foot of the bush. An ill-directed charge of shot broke
its back half-way along the body, the anterior portion, though still attached, glid-
ing away into the tangled vegetation on the far side of and beyond its shelter.
It makes the writer now shudder to think of the liberties taken in searching for the
anatomy of the great brute before it was finally despatched !
Corkill, also, comments on the absence of fatalities thus corroborating the ob-
servations of other authorities:- "There is no authentic record of death in a human
being following a bite from the Egyptian cobra despite its commonness in such
places as Egypt and Palestine, to say nothing of the Sudan......In the Sudan it is
said to kill instantly, that is, presumably in a matter of minutes. This may be so,
and if it is, will account for the absence of such cases from hospital experience, that
is, cases die before they can be brought to hospital. At the same time it is strange
that one can never obtain even a good account at second hand with name, date,
place, etc., in authentication. Perhaps the species for all its display of fierceness
is not so ready to bite as its Indian congener the Cobra-di-Capello (Naja naja naja)
which has a most substantial death-roll lavishly illustrated by the published word."
Naja naja feeds mainly on cold-blooded prey such as frogs and toads, parti-
cularly the almost ubiquitous toad Bufo regularis: it will also eat birds and their
eggs, and in captivity has been known to take sparrows readily. It has further
been claimed that it feeds on small mammals, though there is a possibility that
this claim has been made owing to confusion in identity with the mamba. It
would not however be extraordinary, for several species of cobras freely consume
a variety of small rodents. But, in the case of N. haje experimental tests indicate
that its venom is far more lethal to birds than to small mammals. Loveridge (1928)
mentions eight large Egyptian cobras, all over 6 feet long, caught in Tanganyika
Territory which went on hunger-strike, and "refused to eat food offered during the
month they were at Dodoma prior to shipment."
The same author (1929) remarks :-"The literature of the Egyptian cobra, as
far as East Africa is concerned, consists of a number of isolated records from wide-
ly separated localities. It is difficult to understand why it should be so scarce when
its relative, the black-necked cobra, is so abundant."
Venom-The venom is of course a neurotoxin. Some interesting researches
have recently taken place in South Africa in connection with the relative toxicity
of certain elapine species, and it was ascertained that a fully grown Egyptian cobra
is liable to yield massive quantities of venom. One exceptionally large specimen
of a length of 7 feet 8 inches afforded the equivalent of 0.72 gramme of dried venom
at one "milking", and 0.695 gramme was obtained three weeks later. Such enor-
mous specimens are luckily not common in South Africa, and under natural condi-
tions only a portion of the venom contained by the glands is injected at one bite.
Tests made indicate that in potency the venoms of N. haje and N. nigricollis are much
the same. The desiccated venom of the Egyptian cobra consists of glistening yel-
Legend-Corkill (1935) offers some interesting remarks:- "The species is the
one represented in the royal Ureus of Ancient Egypt, and is generally considered
to be the inspiration of the 'brazen serpent' of Moses. In parts of Kordofan the
head is incorporated in a charm to secure success in hunting." The same author
mentions that the usual Arabic name for this snake means the "father of the
shield", not so much on account of the shape of the spread of the hood, "but rather
because the cobra when excited and threatened or threatening moves its hooded
head from side to side much as a combatant feints and parries with a shield."
Naja haje is the species usually associated with the asp of ancient times.
Note-The handsome skins of this large snake, although not yet collected
commercially, have attracted the attention of the fancy leather industry, and in the
Report by the Advisory Committee on Hides and Skins, Imperial Institute (1933) are
listed as "worthy of consideration."
NAJA MELANOLEUCA Hallowell.
Black-lipped Cobra, Black-and-White Cobra or Black Cobra.
(Plate XIII, Fig. 4: Coloured Plate (0), Fig. 2).
Native names--In the localities in which this species occurs it seems to be more
or less generally known by the Luganda names of "Nchuweira," "Nsuweira" or
"Nsuweila" although there are almost certain to be other vernacular names,
.according to tribe, exclusively applicable: of these, however, so far the only ones
ascertained are "Wakabi" in Lugishu and "Muyirima" in Lukonjo.
Distribution-This is a strictly forest species confined to Tropical Africa. Its
specialised distribution is lucidly explained by Schmidt (1923, pp. 127-128):- "The
range of this species is practically co-extensive with that of the Western Forest
Province of the Botanical Map. It has been recorded from Nyasaland to Uganda
in East Africa, with extreme eastern record from the Kilimandjaro (L6nnberg,
1910, p. 16). Its occurrence outside the continuous forest is probably restricted to
forest islands, as at Niangara, Sese Islands in the Victoria Nyanza, and the Kili-
mandjaro." In greater detail, it is found from the Gambia, Nigeria, Gaboon aid
Guinea in the west, easterly to the Belgian Congo, Southern Sudan, Western
Abyssinia, and Uganda, southerly to Western Kenya, Western Tanganyika and
Nyasaland: it is believed to occur in Northern Rhodesia in the extreme west
adjacent to the Belgian Congo-Angola boundary, and is recorded from Angola. It
extends farther northward on the west coast than nigricollis, occurring in consider-
able portions of the central area where the latter is found, but not ranging into
southerly Africa." There seem to be no records from south of the River Zambezi.
According to Corkill (1935, P. 25), referring to the Sudan Government collec-
tion of snakes: -"No Sudanese specimens are in the collection, but one is exhibited
from Gambeila trading post in Abyssinia which is not far from the Sudan boundary.
Evidence for the existence of the species in the Sudan is provided by the published
statement of Major Stanley S. Flower that he has seen the snake in Mongalla
(Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist., Ser. o, Vol. 7, p. 499, May, 1931)". Further, Boettger
has recorded Naja haje var. melanoleuca from "Sowie am Weisser Nil."
There is nothing extraordinary in the extension of the range of this typical
forest species into Western Abyssinia, a region which in the past was actually
a portion of the "Western" Forest and where are stillto be found reddish-coloured
buffaloes, referred to by Dr. Cuthbert Christy as a "marginal forest" form, a type
which is abundant on the Semliki plain of Uganda adjacent to the great Ituri Forest
region of the Belgian Congo, the home of the brightly coloured dwarf buffalo
of the forest: the "marginal forest" type of course represents an intergradation be-
tween the small red forest buffalo and its mighty, black relative or Cape buffalo of
The range in altitude is similar to that of N. nigricollis, i.e. sea level to about
7,500 feet: unlike N. haje it prefers the forest regions of considerable humidity.
Occurrence in Uganda-As explained in the preceding section, N. melanoleuca
is restricted to the localities in which the forest still exists, or where forest con-
ditions prevailed until recently. It is plentiful in the greater part of Buganda,
Bunyoro and the Western Province, as well as in the lake-shore regions of the
Victoria Nyanza, Lake Edward and Lake George and on the Sese and other
northern islands of the Victoria Nyanza: it is particular abundant at, and in the
neighbourhood of, Kampala and Entebbe.
It is a species so far absent from the extensive collections made by Mr. G. W.
Forest at Serere, in Teso. According to Loveridge (in lit.):- "The Black-lipped
Cobra would appear to be the commonest in the vicinity of the lake(Victoria Nyanza)
and Mount Elgon".
Specific localities from which this snake has been recorded include:- Entebbe,
Kampala, Bukalasa,Jinja, Mjanji, Sipi, Butandiga, Mt. Elgon (up to about 7,000 feet),
Masaka, Nabugabo, Sango Bay, all the Victoria Nyanza lake-shore forests, the
Mabira Forest, all the forests of Kyagwe, practically all the islands and islets in the
Victoria Nyanza (including Kome and Bugala) extending as far as Nkosi Island (the
southernmost of the Sese group), the forests of Western Ankole and Western
Kigezi, the Budongo and Bugoma Forests (both in Bunyoro), the Kibale Forest
(Toro), Katwe, and the Kazinga Channel (3,000 ft., between Lake George and Lake
Edward). Extralimitally, in adjacent Kenya Colony, it is abundant at Kaimosi.
Description-Whereas it is possible that N. haje does on occasion attain to the
greatest dimensions reached by any of the African cobras, undoubtedly it is N.
melanoleuca which frequently measures astonishing lengths. If we accept as accurate
the statement once made to me that a pair of these snakes each approximately
twelve feet in length had been killed and measured in a lake-shore forest in the Ma-
saka district, then N. melanoleuca at least in length will rival the maximum sug-
gested measurement for N. haje quoted on a previous page.
The recorded Uganda maximum is 8 feet 7 inches, a fish-catching example
containing a two-pound silurid fish, which was examined at Mjanji by Mr. P. H.
Burnell of the Kenya and Uganda Railways'and Harbours services. Its greatest girth
was nearly 7 inches, and according to local natives the specimen was about as big
as any they had ever seen. At this Victoria Nyanza port large examples of the
harmless Grayia smithii up to about 6 feet in length occur in abundance and are
confused with the venomous N. melanoleuca.
Schmidt (1923, p. 128) referring to a fine series obtained by the American
Museum Congo Expedition records:-"The maximum length in fifteen males is 2124
mm., in ten females, 1630 mm. No difference in the proportion of tail length to
total can be discerned in the sexes, the range being .16 .19, mean .17". The
biggest male of this Congo material is therefore approximately 7 feet, and the big-
gest female 5 feet io1 inches, the total length being six times that of the tail.
Loveridge (1933) records a male from Tanganyika measuring 1792 (1486+ 306)
mm., and the same author (1936) refers to a Kenya or Uganda male of 2112 (1790
+322) mm. Amongst large Kenya examples one is recorded 7 feet 93 inches
(tail 151 inches) in length. N. melanoleuca is a larger and heavier snake than N.
nigricollis, though not so massive as N. haje.
A few Uganda measurements are as follows:-
Locality. Sex. Total. Length. Tail length. Weight.
feet inches inches lbs
Entebbe male 6 61 13
Entebbe 5 11 -
(mouth of Mur-
chison Bay) female 5 8
Mabira Forest female 5 51 11 3
Entebbe 5 4 -
Mabira Forest female 4 3 9
Mabira Forest female 4 o0 8
Mabira Forest juv. fem. 2 o1 4
Mabira Forest juv. male I 11 3
Mabira Forest juv. male i 111 5-
Budongo Forest juvenile i 1ii 3I
Kome Island juvenile 447 (370+77 tail) millimetres
Budongo Forest juvenile 720(610+ o tail) ,,
in addition several large spirit specimens, between 6 and 7 feet in length, col-
lected at Kampala and Entebbe, have never been precisely measured. The data
given, as well as numerous verbal records, do indicate that this is a snake of consid-
erable magnitude. Loveridge (1936) records that a male, in length 6 feet ixo in-
ches, weighed 4 lbs. (stomach empty) when freshly killed.
Scale-rows, 23-29 across the neck, and 17-21 midbody: ventrals
Some Uganda scale counts are as follows:-
Bugala Island (Sese)
25 19 212
23 19 210
23 19 219
23 19 218
23 19 209 6i
- 19 202 68
19 222 63
19 222 64
i9 203 69
23 19 196 53+
lt 19 206 63
lt 19 209 6o
19 198 62
- 19 206 63
The headless skin of a six-foot cobra shot swimming in the Victoria Nyanza
at Entebbe, has, according to Parker (in lit.):- "19 scales across the neck only. A
cobra with 19 scales on bQth neck and body (like yours) has been recorded from
Uganda (Lake Albert) by Sternfeld under the name nigricollis. I regret that with-
out a head it is quite impossible to put a specific name on it." As N. nigricollis does
not occur at Entebbe this skin should be referable to N. melanoleuca. In addition
to the prominent characters detailed in the comprehensive note on the genus it can
be mentioned that the anal is entire, the eye moderate, and that N. melanoleuca can
be distinguished from N. nigricollis by the sixth or seventh upper labial being the
largest and deepest and in contact with the postoculars, while in the latter the
third upper labial is the deepest, and the sixth and seventh not in contact with the
postoculars. N. melanoleuca resembles N. haje in the above-mentioned arrange-
ment of upper labials and postoculars, but differs in the absence of suboculars
which in N. haje separate the eye from the labials.
According to Boulenger :-"Coloration very variable. Sides of head yellowish
or whitish, some or all of the labials with posterior black edge."
Boulenger further describes five varieties some being regarded as subspecies
by certain authors :-
"A. Black, with a lighter angular marking or ring on the hood; anterior
ventral region with yellowish cross-bars alternating with black ones.
B. As in the preceding (of which it is no doubt the young), but with white
dots or edges to the dorsal scales; the white may be disposed in cross-bars.
C. Uniform black (sides and under surface of head excepted).
D. Anterior half of body pale brown above and white beneath, with blackish
annuli, which are broader on the back; posterior part of body and tail
E. Brown above, with small black spots; uniform yellowish beneath."
Although usually N. melanoleuca and N. nigricollis are widely divergent in colo-
ration, at times superficially the two species are much alike, but actually the appear-
ance of the scalation when closely scrutinised is very different, even when N. nigri-
collis is in its blackest garb. In comparison with N. haje, N. melanoleuca differs
notably in having the shields bordering its lips or labials rimmed heavily with black
along their vertical margins.
In the black-lipped cobra the scales are jet-black like-polished glass; in the
"spitting" cobra they are definitely satiny. Loveridge (in lit.) gives a good des-
cription:- "This creature is uniformly glossy black above, the margin of the mouth
barred white and black. On account of its black hue it is frequently miscalled a
Black Mamba. A cobra, however, can dilate the skin of its 'neck' to form a hood,
this a mamba cannot do." In the lake-shore and forest regions enumerated under
"Occurrence in Uganda" this large black snake is almost invariably referred to as
"black mamba" by the European community.
According to Ditmars (1931, p. 171):- "Its glossy surface thus forms a dis-
tinguishing character. Like most of the cobras it has developed racial color differ-
ences. A variety in Central Africa has the anterior half of the body pale brown
and the posterior portion black."
Schmidt (1923, p. 128) gives excellent, detailed descriptions of the typical co-
loration of adult and juvenile specimens:- "The coloration ofNaja melanoleuca is
very distinctive. Adult specimens are entirely black above ; posterior three-fourths
of the venter, black ; throat and sides of the head, light yellow, extending backward
on the venter from 6-15 ventral plates, after which, black crossbands appear, in-
creasing in breadth until the venter is entirely black, usually before the fiftieth ven-
tral. In two specimens the venter is mottled with light colour to the hundred and
In description "A.", for "angular" evidently "annular" is intended.-C. R. S. P.
first and one hundred and thirty-fifth ventral. *In specimens less than a meter in
length, light crossbands, consisting of rows of white-edge scales, are visible (colora-
tion "B" of Boulenger). In both young and adult specimens the light labials (begin-
ning with the second above and the third below) and the lower temporal are heavily
outlined with black, the upper and lower labial sutures corresponding". These
descriptions tally with those of several dozen Uganda specimens of all sizes person-
ally examined, with the exception of the aquatic example previously referred to,
which had a neck count of 19 scale-rows only, in which immediately behind the
head there is a somewhat indistinct broad, rufous-brown band. Also, the cross-bars
on the juveniles are present throughout the whole length of the body and tail, and
though conspicuous are extremely fine. The termination of the tail is often defin-
itely spiked ending in a sharp spine; it is usually whitish and more pronounced in
juveniles. The black of the ventrals has a satiny appearance and is rather a blue-
black, sometimes almost a bluish-grey, rather than the true black.
Habits-The forest association of this snake has been previously emphasised;
also it appears to be partially aquatic, a tendency which the highly polished scales
suggest. According to Ditmars (1931, pp. 170-171)referring apparently to captive
specimens:- "It is quickly stirred to anger and may unexpectedly make a short
rush forward in an effort to deliberately bite... A batch of captives remained quiet
enough, not even rearing to spread their hoods. While stirring them up a bit with
a bamboo stick to make them spread their hoods, I was surprised to see two of them
rear slightly, hiss, and expand in true cobra fashion and come straight at me. I am
inclined, however, to regard this species as the least nervous of the African species
we have had under observation, but having a dangerous insolence when stirred to
anger." The same author also states:- "It does not so eject its venom (comparing
with the 'spitting' cobra) and is less inclined to take a reared pose when threatened,
but this is in no way a redeeming trait." In published records there are many
general references claiming that on occasion this species will "spit" and at the
Zoological Society of London it is always treated with the respect so unpleasing an
attribute inspires. I have been unable to find specific references which associate cor-
rectly identified examples of N. melanoleuca with "spitting", a phenomenon which is
evidently rare, though Corkill (1935, p. 25) mentions:- "Aylmer writing of the species
in. West Africa records that it spits." Nevertheless, following the principle of safety
first,.it is always advisable when in contact with or when handling examples ofN.
melanoleuca to take all appropriate precautions and avoid possibility of disaster.
The remarkable absence of human fatalities in this snake's natural haunts where,
moreover, it is plentiful, scarcely bears out Ditmars' contention of a species "quickly
stirred to anger" followed by aggressiveness.
That it is extremely inquisitive is undeniable, and wild specimens I have seen
have frequently adopted the reared pose, hood distended; also, it is fearless or
inquisitive to a degree of insolence. It is a species frequently seen crossing
roads in the lake-shore and forest regions, and time and again the writer when mo-
toring has seen these cobras about to cross, or having crossed the highway, stop
* The juvenile coloration is depicted in Coloured Plate (W), Fig 2.
and rear up with erected hood. The vibrations produced by a car evidently in-
trigue N. melanoleuca, and a large specimen poised as described most certainly looks
truly terrifying, and is responsible for the numerous stories I have been told of
"threatening" or even "aggressive"-"black mambas".
The newly hatched young and juveniles demonstrate fiercely, hissing loudly,
and are particularly truculent if molested, attacking viciously.
It is curious how rarely one finds food in the stomachs of specimens examined,
and in this connection it is interesting to note that Loveridge (i933, p. 271) refer-
ring to a series of five Uganda and Tanganyika examples mentions :- "Like all the
other members of this series its stomach was empty." The same author (1936),
however, found mammalian remains in four examples, out of a series of twenty, col-
lected in Uganda and adjacent Kenya. Its diet generally agrees with others of the
genus Naja, its prey being mainly cold-blooded creatures. It is expert at catch-
ing fish, swimming actively with grace and ease, and diving when necessity arises.
Silurids up to two pounds in weight are known to have been caught. A juvenile
obtained in the Mabira Forest contained a shrew, a type of mammal usually avoid-
ed by most predator species. A captive specimen kept at Entebbe for many months
took freely dead rats and mice: it was a most docile creature, easy to handle, and
took a great interest in any visitors to its wire-mesh fronted box, rearing up and
expanding its hood in what I am inclined to describe as a friendly attitude! In the
first few months of its captivity this specimen sloughed three times.
Most of the larger specimens harbour a few ticks, and internal pa-asitic worms
are often present. Loveridge (1933, p. 270) records of a Tanganyika specimen :-
"Nematodes (Kalicephalus sp.) and cestodes (Ophiotenia theileri) were in its
N. melanoleuca frequents forest and rocky localities often in the immediate
vicinity of water, and, although an accomplished climber when necessary, seems
to prefer the neighbourhood of the ground. There is little to put on record concern-
ing breeding and ova, for though there must be records, unfortunately only one is
available for reference. Loveridge (1936), on 26th February, obtained a large female
at Kaimosi (Kenya) which contained fifteen eggs, 60 x 30 mm., ready for deposition.
Uganda material examined personally does not help: this species is of course
oviparous, and presumably the eggs are deposited in a suitable locality and cover-
ed with humid, vegetable matter which keeps them moist and by its warmth enables
them eventually to hatch out.
SVenom-The venom like that of other cobras is a powerful neurotoxin, of
which in large examples of N. melanoleuca there is considerable storage capacity.
Note -The handsome skins of this large snake, although not yet collected com-
mercially, have attracted the attention of the fancy leather industry, and in the
Report by the Advisory Committee on Hides and Skins, Imperial Institute (1933) are
listed as "worthy of consideration."
NAJA NIGRICOLLIS NIGRICOLLIS Reinhardt.
"Spitting" Cobra, Black-necked Cobra, Black Cobra or Brown Cobra.
(Plate XIII, Fig, 5: Coloured Plate (0), Fig. 3).
Native names-Generally known in most localities where it occurs by its
Luganda names "Nchuweira", "Nsuweira" or "Nsuweila": in the Bagungu region of
the Lake Albert littoral, in Bunyoro, it is called "Mpiri" or "Mpili": and in the
vicinity of Lakes Edward and George it is known as "Muyirima" by the Bakonjo.
There are almost certainly other exclusive names applicable according to tribe and
locality of which the writer is at present unaware, and it is curous that the
conspicuous and remakarkable phenomenon of "spitting" has not been responsible
for a variety of names in the vernacular.
Distribution-This is a species which, in common with the Puff Adder, Bitis
arietans, is found almost throughout Africa except in the Rain Forest and the
sterile desert. Otherwise it ranges at all altitudes from sea level to nearly 8,ooo
feet. Boulenger's detail of distribution is:- "Africa, from Senegambia and Upper
Egypt to Angola and the Transvaal"; and according to Schmidt (1923, p 129):- "Naja
nigricollis is the most widespread member of the genus in Africa, its range cor-
responding exactly with the Savannah Province. It is interesting that it does not
occur in the southern parts of Cape Colony, where it is replaced by the very
distinct N. flava."
Occurrence in Uganda-For a species which is widespread and in many local-
ities evidently common there are remarkably few data available by which its pre-
cise range can be determined. It is typically a savanna species, and often associated
Specific localities where it has been obtained include:- Serere (Teso), Mbale,
Torbro, Bussu (east of Jinja), Katwe, Katunguru, Mokia (3,400 ft., at the eastern
foot of the Ruwenzori range), the outskirts of the Budongo Forest (Bunyoro), Kiri-
andongo, the Bagungu region (at the N. E. extremity of Lake Albert), Kaiso and
Rhino Camp (West Nile). It is certain to occur in all the savanna country, parti-
cularly from Ankole north-easterly to Buruli, as well as in Northern Uganda.
The respective ranges of the commoner Uganda cobras in many localities
overlap, and in parts of the Lake Albert littoral all three may be found together,
but a great deal more material will have to be collected before the precise ranges
of these three species can be accurately defined.
Description-This is another large cobra though not attaining to the huge
dimensions reached by either N. haje or N. melanoleuca, and it is the smallest of this
Uganda trio. The largest of which I have record, and examined personally, a pair,
were killed in the Trans-Nzoia district (Mt. Elgon) of Kenya Colony; one measured,
7 feet 8 inches, and the other just over, 7 feet, but these measurements are excep-
tional and it would seem that a size in excess of 6 feet is uncommon. A long series
collected in Northern Rhodesia varied from 3 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 6 inches in
length, and one was of remarkable girth : ten of these adults average 4 feet 6 inches.
Boulenger's greatest length is 2000 (tail 300) mm., approx. 6 feet 7 inches, the
total length being six-and-two-thirds times that of the tail. Ditmars (1931, p. 168)
states:- "The species grow to be seven feet." There are no outstandingly large
examples in the series of three obtained in the N. E Belgian Congo by the Ameri-
can Museum Congo expedition, as follows:-juvenile female, 382 (tail 59) mm.;
female, 1298 (tail 190) mm.; male, 1323 (tail 212) mm.: the tail ratios being respec-
tively .15, .15, and .16.
Loveridge records:- (1928) Tanganyika specimens of 68 and 501 inches; (1928,
Smithsonian Chrysler Expedition) "One of these was the biggest cobra I had yet
taken; it taped over 6 feet alive and I feel confident would be about 7 feet dead and
properly straightened out"; also, "Five foot specimens are nothing very remark-
able;" (1929) a Kenya Colony example "possibly a little exaggerated. It measures
2026 (1650+376) mm.," (nearly 6 feet 8 inches); (1933) from Tanganyika, from a
series of seven, "largest male . 1441 (1 195 + 246) mm., biggest female . .
1584 (1312+272) mm.," and, "Four of the snakes taken in December are very
young; they range in length from 347 to 372 mm." Sternfeld (1908) quotes South-
ern Sudan specimens of I m., (approx. 5 feet 9 inches) and 1400 (tail 215) mm.
All these records give a good idea of the average size of the adults. Unfor-
tunately, there is very little Uganda material for reference, and most of that available
consists of skins with the heads attached and so of no use for ascertaining mea-
surements: an example obtained in the Bagungu region on the Lake Albert littoral
measured 45, (tail 7.) inches.
Scale-rows, 19-29 across the neck, 17-27 midbody: ventrals 177-228: subcau-
Scale counts of some Uganda specimens are as follows:-
Locality. Variety. Sex.
Serere (Teso) (A) male
Uganda (B) male
Uganda (B) juvenile
Bussu (near Jinja) (C) female
Bussu (near Jinja) (C) juvenile
Mokia (3,400 ft.),
(E. Ruwenzori) (D) -
Khartoum (Sudan) (A) female
(Turkana, L. Rudolf) (B) male
Scaletrows. Ventrals. Subcaudals.
- 21 185 53
25 23 211 ?
25 21 194 63
25 23 195 52
23 21 182 53
19 17 202 59
- 21 217 59
27 25 216 61
25 25 202 ?
25 23 196 57
Prominent characters are detailed in the descriptive note on the genus: in
addition it can be mentioned that the eye is moderate, the anal entire, and the
absence of suboculars is a diagnostic whereby to distinguish it from Naja haje.
The coloration is absolutely bewildering in variety, as indicated by the diver-
sity of description of various authors, some of whom consider certain varieties
entitled to subspecific rank: in Uganda it is the typical race, nigricollis, which
In the Catalogue of Snakes Boulenger records:- "Coloration very variable" and
describes three varieties as follows:-
"A. Var. MOSSAMBICA, Peters.-Brown or olive above, some or all of the
scales black-edged, the skin between the scales black; yellowish beneath,
the ventrals speckled or edged with brown or blackish; lower surface of
neck with black cross-bars.
B. Var. PALLIDA.-Uniform brown, yellowish beneath; lower surface of
neck brown in the adult; young with a broad black ring round the neck.
C. Forma TYPICA.-Dark olive to black above; lower surface of head and
neck black; subcaudals and posterior ventrals black, the remainder black
Subsequently the same author described two others (D) and (E), the former
as var. CRAWSHAYI.
According to Corkill (1935, p. 25) the common form in the Sudan where this
species is widespread is "black.....with the heavy white bands across the throat."
The American Museum Congo examples represent the variety pallida of Bou-
lenger, but Schmidt (1923) notes:- "This does not seem to represent a subspecies."
Ditmars (93 t, p. 168) gives an excellent description of certain colour phases:-
"This is one of the dull scaled cobras, that is the scalation is satiny, not polished.
A blackish example has the luster of the surface of a gun barrel......One variety
is blue-black without any markings whatever above, although a pair of large crim-
son blotches of quite startling contrast show beneath the hood when this is spread
and the snake faces an opponent. At Nairobi an olive-colored form is found with
yellow markings beneath the hood. This cobra varies into brown and Loveridge
says that at Longido there is a salmon pink variety. With olive, brown or any of
the lighter hued examples there is a black band across the throat, within the lower
portion of the hood, this band six to seven scales wide. It is this marking which
gives the serpent its name-the black-necked cobra. Black, or dark olive speci-
mens show red or yellow patches under the hood and these may be as bright as the
markings on a butterfly's wing."
Loveridge (in lit.) refers to "rather greyish or brown (often black and some-
times pink in Tanganyika)...Its throat is usually banded with pink, chrome or black".
The same author (1928) refers in greater detail to the wide range of coloration
which occurs in East Africa :- "At Nairobi an olive-colored form with lemon-yellow
markings on the throat: the commoner slaty-black variety also occurs there. Young
ones are greyish or slaty-grey with pink bars on their throats. At Longido* the
usual type is uniformly salmon-pink above, and either without markings of any kind,
or with a black band, seven scales wide, on the throat. Two Mombasa speci-
mens were a slaty or slightly greenish-grey above, their bellies dirty white with
indistinct, or isolated, smudges on the ventral scales and a highly iridescent brown
band fourteen scales wide on the throat. A Mwanza specimen entirely black
above, and mottled white and black below, but without any gular banding: another
in Mkalama entirely black both above and below." Again (1929), Loveridge in re-
ferring to a Tana River (Kenya Colony) specimen records:- "The colour of this
snake is the most remarkable of any cobra I have ever examined; doubtless in life
it was uniformly bright pink, with a complete black collar (I I to 12 scales in width)
around its 'neck'." About two dozen adults from the Northern Rhodesia plateau
personally examined, were "uniform and rather handsome lead-grey (or bluish-grey)
above, dull brownish or dull chestnut-brown head, silver-grey (satiny) belly with
jet-black (glossy) single throat band sometimes as much as three inches in depth,
below which there are, though not invariably, creamy bands or mottlings."
As far as can be ascertained at present N. nigricollis in Uganda occurs gen-
erally in brown forms with or without interstitial black : in the northern areas
adjacent to the Sudan it is probable that a black variety is found: along the Lake
Edward littoral the prevailing coloration of the adults is uniform very dark brown,
almost black. A specimen from the Budongo Forest (4,500 ft.) is described in my
field notes as:- "Brown above, interstitial black; dull whitish below, mottled grey-
ish and grey-black."
According to Loveridge (1936) this "rare red variety" is also found at Kibweziin
Kenya Colony. C.R.S.P.
(To BE CONTINUED.)
By C. W. CHORLEY, F,Z.S., AR.P.S.
We are all of us attracted by the unknown; there is about it a glamour, an
atmosphere of fascination, which leads us to delve into its dim depths with the
lingering hope that a rift in the murky curtain will be our reward.
To one of those superior beings who, we believe, inhabit the celestial regions,
it must be pathetic to see the poor little human mites on this planet struggling
until they finally discover one day the composition of the atmosphere in which
they live; no wonder the Ancients endowed the waterspout with supernatual qual-
ities and gave it the foremost place among the evilly inclined spirits the ruler of
A waterspout with its long black tentacle reaching half-way to the lake and
suspended from a lowering festoon cloud resembles the arm of an octopus seeking
its prey; it is a most enthralling and fascinating sight, descending lower and lower
and all the while growing larger and larger till it reaches the water. The accom-
panying roar grows louder and louder as the whirling black spiral revolves faster
and faster, throwing off streams of loose water and snatching upward spray and-
foam from the surface of the lake. Still more water whirls aloft as the black des-
cending tube meets the rising column from the lake. Amidst increasing noise and
turmoil the hissing column born of the rain-cloud meets its fellow rising from the
lake in violent impact; any heavy bodies in the immediate vicinity are either
thrown away forcibly from the column or else whirled aloft in great spiral sweeps
under centrifugal force, only to descend again almost at once through the centre
of the column at terrific speed back into the lake.
As this black mass of whirling water reaches maturity, the revolving column
begins to thin out about halfway between the cloud and the lake and becomes less
and less substantial until a gap has-grown-between the pillar, the lower half being
born back to the lake and the upper part slowly whirling and withdrawing into
the lower surface of the black cloud.
A waterspout at night makes a peculiar resounding noise, which has a terrifying
effect and makes one want to run for one's life.
These waterspouts can be seen on Victoria Nyanza during the months of
March and April and September, and October, mostly in Roseberry Channel, Da-
mba Channel, Kagagi Gulf and in the open waters east and south of Sesse. As
many as ten spouts have been observed on the horizon at one time during these
(Photo C.W Chorlev .
Waterspout in Damba Channel, Victoria Nyanza, Uganda.
Y; -,: -;: ,
. .. : .
B - -- :~ i
_;_ - _,- ...... .,,
,o ." - oo. :_ ,
; _.- .. .
.....- . ,- ..
.- :- ---.
':- ; -- "-; ' -'._ -'
~~(Poo ..W . :.,.-, -, .
....sou ""Z "'mb .'.n l "".-ri _:. za U ::- -
(Photo. C.W. Chorley.)
Waterspout, Kagegi Gulf, Victoria Nyanza, Uganda.
(Photo. C.W. Chorley.)
"Nsoke" Charm, Victoria Nyanza.
(Photo. C.W. Chorley.)
Five sets of Lukwata Charms.
(Photo. C.W. Chorley.)
Witch-doctor's charm who lived on Buyovu island.
Are waterspouts dangerous? It is still an open question. It has been stated
that ships have been lost at sea when they have come in contact with a waterspout.
A part of a conoe was shown to me at Lwazi Island a few years ago, which was said
to have been destroyed, with the loss of five fishermen, by a waterspout.
There are two kinds of storms on Victoria Nyanza; the Cumulo-Nimbus (Cu-
Ni)., a mountainous mass reaching from about 1o,ooo to 25,000 feet in height in
the form of towers and anvils generally having a veil or screen of fibrous texture
(false-cirrus) at the top; the base causes the local showers of rain with occasional
hail. The other type of storm cloud is known as Mammato-Cumulus (M-Cu), hav-
ing a mammillated surface, the last stage of Cumulo-Nimbus. In the first type of
storm, a following air-current may be warmer than the air forming the supply in
front of the storm. In this case, the rain line has the characteristics of a warm front
with low clouds, which gives us a continuous rain or drizzle; in the second, the
reverse may happen; the following current being colder than the one overtaken.
This has the characteristics of a cold front with squally rain, with a falling tempe-
It is the second type of storm cloud or testoon cloud that is liable to form a
Actually, a waterspout is a mild form of tornado, having a central column of
rarefied air, which becomes condensed into a visible sheath. The general idea of
a waterspout is that the water is drawn out from the sea or lake; this is erroneous;
when a waterspout passes over the lake it causes a disturbance resulting in a slight
upward rise in the water surface below it, but the long visible column, often half
mile in length, which dips down from the cloud is entirely composed of vapour
condensed out of the inflowing air. The cloud is drawn down towards the lake by
the reduction of pressure produced by the rapid whirling of the air, the downward
dip is only an apparent and not a real descent of water.
The spout, which appears to drop or descend from the cloud through the ma-
terial of which it is composed, is all the while ascending. The prevailing shaped
funnel tapering downward in the waterspout tends to increase the pressure of the
air near the surface of the water. Above the surface the absence of friction and the
lower pressure allows the vapour which is expanding in the centre to whirl rapid-
ly and extend to the side. Lower down the centrifugally rotating air is met by
increasing inward pressure and is so confined to a narrow space, while outside the air
moves gently towards the centre cone. An example of this may be seen in a bath
of water. When the plug is taken out, the water descends through the hole, where
a flow of water may be seen whirling rapidly immediately around the hole.
Early writers asserted that waterspouts were dangerous, that they descended
from the clouds and put their heads into the water to swallow up anything that tame
within their reach. Various superstitions are associated with waterspouts. Reli-
gious charms, sprinkling of vinegar, striking of bells, clashing of cymbals, blowing
of whistles, beating of drums and the firing of guns, were all utilised to frighten
away this awful demon.
The Baganda, Basesse and Bavuma are much given to superstition and have
implicit faith in charms; the charms are made of almost anything they choose to
select, the most common consisting of horns filled with powder. If these are very
large they are kept in huts. Small charms are tied to canoes. The greatest
object of superstitious dread is a sort of water-spirit which is supposed to inhabit
the lake and to wreak his vengeance upon those who disturb him. The name of this
spirit is Lukwata and he is able to communicate with Nsoke (Waterspout) by means
of his own special priest, a witch-doctor who lived on one of the islands, Buyovu in
Sesse and was held in nearly as much awe as his master.
Forecasting Weather. Sir Napier Shaw.
Fusiform Clouds. R. E. Parry, Uganda Journal.
Observer's Handbook. The Royal Meteorological Society.
By J, P. BIRCH.
In the Madi country South of Nimule there was formerly a thriving Iron In-
dustry. Now that hoes may be cheaply bought from local traders, this industry
has declined, being kept alive largely by the demand for Native hoes for marriage
dowries. No dowry is complete without them, trade hoes not being accepted. The
Native hoe is now rarely used for cultivation. It is extremely heavy and is de-
scribed by Sir Samuel Baker as resembling the Ace of Spades.
The chief remaining centre of the industry is in the hills North and West of
Mt. Otze, among the Metu clan. The description given was taken from a forge seen
working at Aya, a village in a secluded dip high in these fantastic hills.
The Smithy is an ordinary hut roof supported on columnar stones about two
foot long set vertically. The spaces between the stones are not walled in. Sus-
pended along the slope of the roof over the fire is a shield of split cane woven and
plastered with cow dung. This is to keep the sparks from the thatch but it also
seems to act as a very effective draught to remove the combustion gases.
In the centre of the smithy is a clay mound resembling an ant hill. This con-
tains the furnace which is fed with charcoal from an opening in the top. The bel-
lows are of the common type, two black earthenware bowls with stems about a foot
long. They resemble large tobacco pipes. The stems converge into an earthen-
.Ware funnel which feeds the blast to the base of the furnace. The bowls are
covered with soft skin through the middle of which is passed a light rod. This is
worked' rapidly up and down, usually one man holding each rod and sitting on the
ground. In an outdoor forge, one man may handle both rods, varying the monotony
of the work by humming a dance measure and keeping time with his feet.
The ore used in this part is a low grade Laterite, common in the surrounding
hills. It is collected and stored in large heaps in the smithy for use as required.
For smelting it is placed in the heart of the furnace and covered with glowing char-
coal. A lump of crude iron as large as a man's fist is obtained from a full day's
work. This product is very impure and granular. Lumps of iron from the first
smelting are buried in the slag heaps until required. Further smelting is carried
out in a forge similar in principle but less elaborate, the furnace being just a
shallow depression in the ground, probably not covered by any roof. Here the iron
is again treated until, by a process of trial, it is considered fit to be worked. The
anvil is close at hand and is a hard flat stone the hammer being another stone of a
convenient size and shape to hold.
The articles produced are not highly finished. The most interesting are the
hoe, already described, and the harpoon for hippo, a heavy spear head with a single
barb and an eye to carry the line after the harpoon is detached from the shaft. It
is fairly usual to see tools being worked up from the scrap of worn out hoes, etc.,
and some of the smiths can make good copies of tools with which they are not
familiar. All scrap iron is as jealously preserved as in European countries at the
Although it is rare to see a forge where the actual smelting of the ore is prac-
tised nowadays, the constant occurrence of heaps of black vesicular slag, the most
copious product of the forges, shows how widespread was the former practice of
the industry over the District as a whole.
To The Editor, The Uganda Journal.
I6th January, 1937.
On p. 11 Vol. III of the Journal in his most interesting article on Kiganda
drums Mr. Lush makes the statement that the whereabouts of "Busemba" if it
still exists is not known. It will interest him, I am sure, as well-as other readers
to know that what is almost certainly "Busemba" is at present in the Fitzwilliam
Museum in Cambridge.
During the course of my last leave and whilst on a visit to the Museum
I was informed by the Curator that there was a most interesting Kiganda drum in
the collection which owing to the fact that it contained the bones of a dead man
was known as "the Drum of Death."
I drew his attention to the passage in Mr. Lush's article and the implica-
tion of the proverb "Ajukiza Busemba, ye agikuba" which he agreed had probably
given rise to the story that the drum contained the bones of a dead man and with
a real interest tinged with excitement I made my way to the glass case and beheld
the drum which had appeased the ghstLof Kimera.
I could not take a photograph of the drum but as far as I remember it
looked very venerable and something like "Timba" in shape.
R. A. SNOXALL.
NORTH-WESTERN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS, EVANSTON, ILLINOIS.
March 29, 1937.
I read with interest in the July 1936 number of The Uganda Journal the paper
by Mr. Wayland entitled "Notes on the Board Game, known as 'Mweso' in Uganda."
If separates of this paper are available, I should like very much to have one for
It is rather a pity that Mr. Wayland relied on the somewhat outdated paper of
Dr. Culin for his information concerning this game in the New World. He might
be interested in two papers, one in Man (July 1929), and the other in the Journal
of the Royal Anthropological Institute (January-June 1932), in which much new
evidence concerning the distribution of this game among the Negroes of the Islands
of the Caribbean and Dutch Guiana is presented, and the details of the playing
rules also given. One matter that might be worth considering in possible future
studies of the game is whether or not more than one form is present among a given
people. Both in the New World and West Africa I have discovered this to be the
case, and even, among the Hausa of Northern Nigeria,-the restriction of one form
of the game to women as against another as played by men.
You might also be interested in the fact that a student of mine, Mr. Maurice
Mook, on the basis of the literature, was able to discover more than ninety varieties
of this game on the continent of Africa alone, Unfortunately this study is not
.available in published form.
Very sincerely yours,
(Sgd.) MELVILLE J. HERSKOVITS,
Professor of Anthropology.
The Uganda Journal,
VITHALDAS HARIDAS & Co., Limited
General, Managers for UGANDA (KAKIRA) SUGAR WORKS, Ltd. (Incorporated in Uganda)
Associated Firms (1) KENYA SUGAR LIMITED (Incorporated in Kenya),
(2) Nile Industril and Tobacco Co., Ltd. (Incorporated in Uganda).
SUGAR Manufacturers, GINNERS and COTTON Merchants,
And Tobacco and Cigarette Manufacturers.
IMPORTERS and EXPORTERS
KAKIRA SUGAR WORKS :-Holding about ii,ooo acres of land, mostly under
cultivation, at mile 9, Jinja and Iganga Road. Employing about 5,000
Africans, 200 Indians, Europeans, Mauritians. About 36 miles of Light
Railway. Water supply to the Factory by means of pumping plant on
TELEPHONES: Kakira Factory 125; Jinja Office: 29, 121, 79.
P. O. Box 54, JINJA (UGANDA).
RAMISI SUGAR WORKS and PLANTATIONS:-AT RAMISI ESTATE (Digo
District) near Mombasa. Box 158, MOMBASA.
UGANDA-(1) Bukoboli, (2) Busowa, (3) Bubinga, (4) Kamuli, (5) Mbulamuti,
(6) Kakira, (7) Kabiaza, (8) Butiru, (9) Kabiramaido, (10) Pilitok, (1l)Amaich,
(12) Aboki, (13) Chagweri, (14) Batta, (15) Jaber and (16) Kalaki.
KENYA- Malikisi. TANGANYIKA-Ruvu and Kiberege.
Other Plantations totalling about 4,000 acres Freehold Land.
1, BUKOBOLI. 2, BUSOWA. 3, BUKONA. 4, WEIBUGU.
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