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The Uganda Literary and Scientific Society
The Mabira Forest
Bark-cloth making in Buganda
Mutesa of Buganda
Notes on the flora and fauna of a Uganda swamp
The Uganda Journal
THE ORGAN OF THE UGANDA LITERARY
AND SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY
Vol. I. JANUARY, 1934. No. 1.
The Mabira Forest ... ... by CAPTAIN C.
Bark Cloth Making in Buganda ...
Mutesa of Buganda ......
Notes on the Flora and Fauna of a Uganda Swamp ...
The Uganda Staff List for 1895 ...
Native Music ... ...
Acholi Dances ... ......
The Origin of the Payera Acholi ...
A Dry Crossing of the Nile ......
Neoanthropic Man of the Early Stone Age ...
A Corrigendum to Speke's Journal of the Discovery of
the Source of the Nile ......
A Precursor of Krapf and Rebmann ...
R. S. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C.
... by A. D. F. T.
... by J. M. GRAY.
by W. J. EGGELING, B.Sc.
by J. M. G. AND R. A. S.
... by X. Y. Z.
... by R. M. BERE.
... by R. M. BERE.
by E. J. WAYLAND.
by E. J. WAYLAND.
... by J. M. GRAY.
... by J. M. GRAY.
... by H. LYNDHURST DUKE, O.B.E., M.D., SC.D,
THE UGANDA LITERARY AND
There are ho restrictions as to membership of the Uganda Literary and
Scientific Society. Membership is open to all races and to Institutions and
Clubs. No entrance fee is imposed. The annual subscription, which is payable
in advance on 1st July of each year, is Shs. 10 for single members and Shs. 15
for double members. The double membership is introduced for the convenience
of families and entitles two members of a family to all the rights and privileges
of a full member except that they receive only one copy of the Journal.
Members have the right to attend and vote at all meetings and to bring one
visitor (not being a resident of the place) to lectures, and will receive one copy
of each number of the Journal. Additional copies of the Journal may be
obtained from the Hon. Secretary and Treasurer, price Shs. 2/50 per copy. All
subscriptions and contributions to the Journal should be addressed to the Hon.
Secretary and Treasurer, P.O., Kampala. No guarantee is given to return any MSS.
submitted. Articles submitted should be typed on one side of the sheet only
and should not contain matter likely to cause political or religious controversy.
Those submitted by Government Officials must comply with Colonial Office
Regulations; they should either be submitted u.f.s. the Head of Department
concerned or addressed to the Editor, who will submit them to the Head of
THE UGANDA LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC
HIs EXCELLENCE SIR B. H. BOURDILLON, K.B.E., C.M.G.
SIR ALBERT COOK, Kt., C.M.G., O.B.E.
E. J. WAYLAND, ESQ.
MRS. S. S. ABRAHAMS.
MRS. E. G. MORRIS.
THE HON. P. L. FENTON.
T. P. PRIESTLY, ESQ.
J. SYKES, ESQ.
MARK WILSON, ESQ.
Honorary Secretary, Treasurer, and Editor :
E. F. TWINING, ESQ., M.B.E.
Representative in Great Britain :
E. B. HADDON, ESQ., 3 Cranmer Road, Cambridge.
N.B.-The Society's Postal Address is P.O., Kampala.
The Uganda Literary and Scientific Society was founded in 1923 by, the late
Judge Guthrie Smith, Mr. Alan Hogg and Mr. E. J. Wayland. The headquarters
of the Society was at Entebbe, and its activities, which consisted of the reading
of papers and the delivery of lectures, were confined almost entirely to Entebbe.
The support given to the Society was therefore limited and the membership
never exceeded seventy.
Nevertheless, some forty-eight lectures were given, not only by local
celebrities, but also by distinguished visitors. A glance at the list of lectures
shows that a very wide field was covered in the choice of subjects and that the
names of lecturers were in themselves a guarantee of quality. Unfortunately,
however, the little band of organizers either dispersed or became too busy with
their own rapidly developing activities to devote their time to the Society, and
whenever the Secretary proceeded on leave it was difficult to find anybody to take
his place, with the result that subscriptions were not collected and lectures were
not arranged. In 1928 the regular activities of the Society to all intents and
purposes lapsed. The Society owes a great debt to Mr. Wayland, who has,
almost without break, been Honorary Secretary since 1923. Although it must
have been disappointing to him to see the Society wane, he managed to conserve
the assets hoping for a better day, and he kept it just alive by an occasional
lecture from a distinguished visitor.
In June, 1933, fresh interest was shown in the old Society and it was felt
that by moving the headquarters to Kampala, and through the issue of a Journal
it would obtain a wider support and fill a much needed want. In July a large
number of people were circularised and the support promised was sufficient
to warrant a revival. On the 19th September, His Excellency the Governor
attended the first lecture, which was on "Gold" by Mr. Wayland, the Director
of Geological Survey. The next lecture* was given by Captain Pitman, the
Game Warden, on "Reptiles," on the 11th October. On the 28th November,
Judge Gray read an abridged but most interesting paper on Mutesa, the full
text of which appears in this number of the Journal. Finally, on the 8th
December, the Right Reverend Lord Bishop of Uganda, who is shortly retiring,
delighted a large audience with "Uganda in Transition during the last 33 years,"
which was in fact an epitome of the changes which have taken place before
his eyes during his stay in the country.
A further monthly programme of lectures is being arranged for in Kampala
in 1934, and it is hoped that occasional ones will be given in Entebbe and Jinja.
Owing to the uncertainty -of the movements of those who have promised to
lecture it is not possible to produce a definite programme long in advance.
It is also hoped that the Society will embark on other activities and the
possibility of holding an Arts and Crafts Exhibition in 1934 is being considered.
It was originally intended to hold such an exhibition in December, 1933, but in
order not to interfere in any way with the Uganda Publicity Photographic
Competition the proposal was dropped for the time being.
Having dealt with the history and other activities of the Society it is
necessary to say a little by way of introduction to the first number of the Uganda
Journal. In several British Territories a periodical is produced dealing with
matters of scientific interest, and one of our neighbours, the Anglo-Egyptian
Sudan, produces in "Sudan Notes and Records," an excellent journal which we
might well try to emulate. The aim of this Uganda Journal is to collect and
publish information which may add to our knowledge of Uganda and to record
that which in the course of time might be lost. To be a success it must at
one and the same time appeal to the interest of members of the Society and
bring to light information which is not otherwise readily available. While
statements contained in the Journal should not always be accepted as authoritative
it is hoped that serious students will find in some of the articles items of interest
which may give them a new line on which to pursue their studies.
In view of the fact in the financial year of the Society ending
30th June, 1934, members will only receive two numbers, it is intended to
make the first two numbers rather larger than the successive ones. The
intention is that a normal number of the Journal will be published
quarterly consisting of about sixty pages of reading matter and ten or twelve
The Journal will be in two main parts, one -containing three or four long
and substantial articles, the other containing a series of short notes. It is hoped
that these notes will become a useful and popular feature of the Journal. There
are many people in Uganda who from time to time acquire pieces of interesting
information which may not be suitable for long articles, but which could make
interesting notes, and it is hoped that members will draw upon their memories
for such items and submit them in note form. It is of course essential, if the
Journal is to fulfil its purpose, that all members should be regarded as potential
contributors and the Journal will fail if the editorial committee are dependent
upon the same contributors for every number. All members are asked to give
their support by sending in contributions. The submission of a contribution
does not, of course, mean that it will necessarily be published, but in the
early stages it will not be necessary for contributors to enclose a stamped
and addressed envelope with their article. All articles must be received by the
Editor at least two months before the date of publication and photographs or
maps for which blocks have to be made must be received at least three months
before the date of publication. The owners of the photographs are offered the
blocks at half cost price after the Society has had the use of them.
In future numbers it is intended that there should be a correspondence
column, and it is hoped that certain statements contained in this issue will
evoke mild controversies.
From the financial point of view a regular edition of not less than 300 is
essential. At the time of going to press the membership of the Society is 104
single and 68 double members, which means an edition of 172 copies. The
Committee is confident, however, that the publication of the Journal will bring
increased support and they have therefore embarked upon an edition of not
loss than 300 copies.
The Mabira Forest.
By CAPTAIN C. R. S. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C. (Game Warden, Uganda).
The Mabira Forest, roughly 120 square miles in extent, is situated in the
Kyagwe Saza of the Mengo District of Buganda, in the vicinity of the Victoria
Nile, and between that river and the Sezibwa.
It is probable that the majority of the immigrant residents of Uganda have
never heard of this forest, and many Kampala folk would stare in amazement
were they told that within forty miles of the metropolis can be found conditions
very similar to those prevailing in the great Equatorial "Rain" Forest of Central
Africa. Not only this, but the existence of all-weather roads enables motor cars
to be taken into the heart of the forest, which presents a spectacle no one
should miss-in fact a visif is really part of one's education.
Without, I hope, becoming too technical I shall endeavour briefly to describe
the forest, its history, its inhabitants and its wild life.
The Mabira, florally and faunally, is West African, actually it is a now-
isolated, easterly extension of the Equatorial "Rain" Forest, what is sometimes
termed a forest "island" when dealing with the forest, as distinct from the
savannah, flora and fauna.
In a remote past the "Rain" forest extended in places very nearly as far as,
if not right up to, the east coast of Africa, and forest "islands" still remain in
Southern Abyssinia and to the south of Mt. Elgon in Kenya Colony (the
Sir Harry Johnston, in his comprehensive work, "The Uganda Protectorate,"
published at the beginning of the century, has drawn attention to the fact that
in part of Southern Abyssinia and on the western slopes of Mt. Elgon, and also
in Kyagwe of the Buganda Kingdom, were to be found natives of definite
pygmy affinities, and he has recorded that Uganda in the first instance was
probably peopled by pygmies.
It is evident that in recent times the greater part of the region south and
west of the Victoria Nile and west to the Congo border, and possibly in addition,
extensive areas further east, were part of the "Rain" forest. One has only to
witness present-day ruthless forest destruction to appreciate the pace at which
de-forestation can be accomplished.
It is interesting to learn that within a few miles of Kampala are to be found
traces of a people known as Nakalanga who are undoubtedly of pygmy origin.
In the past, on account of their hunting proclivities, they were also called
Ba-teemba, i.e., "people of the nets."
Unfortunately, Sir Harry Johnston does not appear to have placed on record
a great deal about the Kyagwe pygmy strain, and nowadays the highly civilised
Baganda seem to find distasteful the suggestion that they have any connection
with a pygmy stock, so reliable evidence is well-nigh impossible of acquisition,
In other words, the Baganda are ashamed of their poor relations, so what in Sir
Harry Johnston's day was accepted as fact, is now relegated to the realms of
This is not an isolated instance of deliberate endeavour to cut adrift from
the savagery of the past, for not long ago python worship and crocodile worship
seem to have been indulged in freely, while at the end of last century many of
the Baganda readily ate elephant and hippopotamus meat, which at the present
day is simply not done.
In the world-famous "Lutembe" we have a relic of crocodile worship; and
recently a European planter in Kyagwe came across numerous well-beaten trails
leading through dense jungle to a python coiled around a pile of eggs, to which
had been made offerings of eggs, vegetables, coffee berries, groundnuts, pieces of
coloured cloth, cents, etc. But let any one enquire about python worship,
past or present-and, in the terminology of the film world, overwhelming
surprise is at once registered, coupled with studied ignorance.
Careful enquiry has, however, elicited a certain amount of fairly authentic
information on the subject of the Nakalanga. Personally, I have come across
an undersized and primitive type of native in the scanty settlements to be found
here and there in the heart of the forest.
I have been told that historically there is no knowledge of a dwarf tribe
though whole families of Nakalanga were known not long ago, and it is believed
that a few families still occur.
In Kyagwe more Nakalanga are found than anywhere else in the country,
and the existing Nakalanga type, generally speaking, is a result of fairly frequent
The present-day erudite Muganda, scornful of association with humble
origin, will tell one that the Nakalanga is an accident, in fact the joke of a
forest god. Superstition, which equally should be relegated to a primitive past,
is invoked to confute the laws of heredity.
A south-eastern portion of the forest is said to be the abode of the god
Nakalanga, and is called by his name. In old days this god was worshipped by
the local populace. Nowadays if the dwellers in Kyagwe have four or more
children, the god is responsible for number four being a Nakalanga-this is the
This is of course a simple way of refuting humble origin, and it is curious
that in 1904 when the first provisional survey of the Mabira was made, the
blue print is marked Mabira-Nakalanga Forest. It rather seems as if the whole
locality at that time was known equally as Mabira or Nakalanga. The name
Mabira is indicative of forest, and I imagine that Nakalanga referred to its
association with the dwarf type or Nakalanga which peopled it. I have
questioned many individual Muganda on the subject of the etymology of the
expression Nakalanga, in the hope of ascertaining that it refers specifically to
a type and not a tribe, but I am afraid with little result.
Individuals unfamiliar with Kyagwe have variously understood Nakalanga
as referring to "a great forest" or "a dwarf people." If further questioned in
regard to the half-pygmies and pygmies of the western border, they have
invariably referred to them by their tribal names, and not generally, as one
would expect, by the term Nakalanga. The Mabira pigmy tribal name was
possibly lost in a dim past.
The Government survey of 1909 refers only to a small portion of the forest
in the south-east of the Mabira region as Nakalanga.
A great stumbling-block in one's quest is the fact that within the last
twenty-five years the population of Kyagwe has been subject to various alien
influences, and in consequence, reliable inhabitants of long-standing acquainted
with its history are few and far between. Most of the population of the huge
island of Buvuma were moved into Kyagwe when that island had to be evacuated
on account of sleeping sickness. It is true that fifteen years later they were
permitted to return whence they came, but many remained behind. Latterly,
Bagishu in increasing numbers have been settling in this country-and so
forth. That the prevalence in Kyagwe of a very definite dwarfish strain is direct
evidence of a pygmy association I do not question for a moment.
As regards fauna and flora, the Mabira is unquestionably West African
forest-and "Rain" forest at that, as opposed to savannah. It is accepted
without demur that in common with certain forest regions in South Abyssinia
and in Kakamega, south of Mt. Elgon, that it was once linked with the
equatorial "Rain" forest, and accordingly the claim that it was previously
inhabited by true pygmies seems to me beyond argument. It is rather
entertaining that the educated Muganda should treat the whole matter as a
jest, an ingenious method of disowning an inconvenient ancestor.
The Mabira Forest came into prominence early in the present century at a
time when the exploitation of wild rubber in Africa had developed into a highly
paying proposition, though as far as this particular forest is concerned it never
fulfilled its high expectations.
At one time nearly half-a-million wild rubber trees (IF'niuma elastica)
were being tapped, but the prohibitive cost of clearing exceptionally dense forest
to get at individual trees coupled with the disappointingly poor yield per tree,
with the added difficulties of transportation to the coast of the finished article,
combined to render the somewhat haphazard method of tapping vast quantities
of trees spread over extensive areas highly unprofitable, and this in spite of the
fact that" rubber had on occasion commanded a price as high as Shs. 12 per lb.
Compare this with the miserable 4d. per lb. or less the commodity now
The East Africa and Uganda Exploration Syndicate, who had had interests
in Uganda as early as 1900, obtained the lease of the Mabira Forest, on the
advice of Dr. Cuthbert Christy, in June, 1906; and the Mabira Forest (Uganda)
Rubber Company, Ltd., was formed to operate the concession.
The Company was formed actually -as a rubber-producing company, but
the term "rubber forest" is scarcely applicable anywhere in the Mabira, although
it had been anticipated eventually to attain an annual output of 500,000 lbs.
from the wild rubber. These expectations were never realized and it was not
long before the Company had to turn to cultivated imported species for its
supplies of rubber. There also occurs in this forest the spurious rubber
Funtumia latifolia. The heaviest stands of F. elastica opened up for tapping
averaged about 120 trees to the acre.
James Martin, familiarly known as "Martini" to many of the older residents
of the Protectorate, an Administrative Officer of the early days who had had
an amazing career, was one of the first managers. If one can believe all one
is told, Martin's debut in Africa was being ship-wrecked at Zanzibar in company
with a crew of free-booters. He was too mild for his companions, and in
consequence, unpopular. He then got a job with the Sultan of Zanzibar, whose
army for some time he commanded. Subsequently he obtained employment
in the British East Africa Company under the late Sir Frederick (then Mr.)
Jackson. He was at first posted to the Rift Valley and later moved to Uganda,
and at one time was magistrate in Entebbe.
Dr. Cuthbert Christy, in addition to being a company promoter, was an
African explorer and scientific naturalist of distinction. He lost his life in the
Congo in 1932 most tragically, being gored by a wounded buffalo and lingering
on painfully for three days before death mercifully put an end to his sufferings.
He was under the impression that one day in 1906 he saw a bongo in the
early morning hours at the edge of a forest clearing. With diffidence I suggest
that he saw no more than an adult harnessed antelope (bushbuck) magnified
by the mists of early morn. At any rate since then there has never been a
trace of such a beast in the Mabira.
Originally the whole area of the forest was included in the Company's
concession, but latterly the actual forest has been given up and the Company's
holding reduced to a specified total acreage represented by seven widely-
The vicissitudes of "planting" have seen in turn the abandonment
of the wild for cultivated (introduced) rubber, of ceara rubber, of the more
profitable para rubber, and of Arabica coffee (unsuited to the excessively wet
conditions). Now Robusta coffee appears to be the main foundation on which
the Company's fortunes are based, and if one can judge from extent of crop
alone, and ignore the vital factor of prices for produce, there should be fine
prospects for the future. In the event of rubber returning to a-price of
6d. per lb. considerable profit should be assured.
I am indebted to the Conservator of Forests, Mr. N. V. Brasnett, for a
general description of the forest, "which is a compact block and was tapped for
rubber in the days when wild rubber was a practical commercial, proposition. It
presents an imposing appearance on account of the fine height, growth and
girth of many of its trees.
At one time all the trees between 18 inches and 18 feet in girth contained
in four strips running through different parts of the forest and making up 126
acres in all were enumerated and measured. The enumeration sheets showed
an average of over 75 trees per acre composed of 50 different species, of which
Elephant havoc in a banana shamba. [Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
Paw-paw trees smashed by Elephants at front door of hut.
[Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
Hill in the Mabira Forest. [Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
Robusta Coffee, Rubber and typical forest. [Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
the valuable cabinet woods Entandrophragma angolense, E. cylindricum and
E. utile ("Miovu" and "Mukusu"), and Lovoa Brownii ("Nkoba") between
them averaged 0-8 trees per acre, and Maesopsis Eminii ("Musizi") 2-2 trees
Among the other species were Albizzia spp., Markhamia platycalyz
("Nsambya"), of which some magnificent examples occur (these were all in
full flower, August-October), Celtis spp., Maba abyssinica ("Mpimbyi"),
Chrysophyllum spp., and other sapotaceous trees, while a tree called "Lufugu"
which has so far escaped identification was the commonest. Xylopia Eminii
("Nsagalanyi") growing about 30 ft. is very prominent in the underwood."
Although a fair quantity of valuable timber trees of huge size occur the
cost of exploitation of any one species is unlikely to be profitable, as nowhere
is found a definite stand of a particular type, and one probably has to move
a mile or two to find the next of a kind suitable for felling.
Species of valuable mahogany occur sparingly, also numerous types of wild
fig, some of immense size.
Traces of the wild rubber tapping remain plenteously in many parts, trees
frequently shewing the transverse cuts more than twenty feet above the ground.
Forest giants with immense buttressed bases, typical of trees lacking tap
roots of sufficient strength and depth, and which in any case are a necessity to
keep erect trees of excessive height and top-heavy super-structure, are, of
Beautiful flowers of every hue are common according to season-particularly
lovely are mauve Thunbergia sp. near the streams, and a dark-foliaged creeper
with scarlet flowers of an exceptionally vivid colour. Pink and scarlet balsams,
scarlet cannas, purple acanthus (at the forest fringe) and a host of other
flowering shrubs and plants add to the beauty of the place.
Many parts of the forest are subject to seasonal inundation, and there
occurs vegetation peculiar to the swampy conditions.
The dark humid forest abounds with all manner of fungi of strange shapes
and odd colours.
Growing out of the ground in dark, damp places is found a peculiar reddish
type of everlasting flower, two to three inches in diameter, which is a species
of root-parasite (Thonningia ugandensis).
There must be dozens of varieties of ferns, some in the depths of the forest,
others- in luxuriance amidst the undergrowth at the edge, and still others high up
on the forest trees.
The curious parasitic, large-leaved plant, popularly known as "elephant's
ear" and not unlike a cabbage, a common feature of the forest trees and
the rubber plantations, is in reality a species of fern. It is not surprising that
marvellous orchids, usually at great heights above the ground, are not
On the forest fringe where the Company's plantations are situated the
rainfall is not as heavy as one would expect.
During a residence of a few weeks it appeared always to be raining in certain
parts. of the forest, especially in the low-lying valley of the Musamiya River,
and it is possible that in a rather restricted locality the annual fall may be as
much as 80 inches; but generally 70 inches would be exceptional, and I believe
that the plantation records indicate an annual average of about 65 inches only.
The forest, of course, attracts rain and at the same time makes rain. It is
very curious to watch the forest literally smoking immediately after rain, as
condensation above the forest at once takes place, and small wisps of mist rise
everywhere out of the trees to form solid clouds which float away, usually to
return in dense masses later.. If one happens to be in the forest while this
condensation is going on, one finds actually a certain amount of precipitation
taking place from the misty cloud masses which are forming. Camping under
such conditions is not exactly attractive. The forest is so dense in most parts
that one can stand in it during torrential rain without getting soaking wet.
Many varieties of mosquitoes abound in the forest, and the "mbwa" fly-a
species well named "damnosum"--occurs in its myriads and viciously bites at
In time, however, one gets accustomed to the persistent activities of this
little pest; but I have been informed that there are places in the Mabira region
in which this minute nuisance makes human settlement impossible.
There is not a great range in temperature, and the climate generally
resembles that of the more humid parts of the northern shore of the Victoria
Nyanza; the nights are apt to be stuffy, and electrical activity often excessive.
Some of the electrical storms experienced in the forest present a wonderful
spectacle, but are very terrifying and awe-inspiring-the lightning being
particularly frequent and vivid.
The forest's West African association is very noticeable in the fauna, and
amongst the mammals there are curiously strange species such as the potto, the
pangolin or scaly ant-eater, and the brush-tailed porcupine. The potto is a
nocturnal species of slow lemur which has several quaint characteristics, though
as a pet, on account of its timid, unfriendly habits, it is uninteresting. I have
read that it is capable of little mischief with its small teeth, but all the specimens
I have handled-and they are several-could bite fiercely, inflicting deep and
extremely painful wounds. They are very powerful, and in attack amazingly
quick. They bite to the bone, and before relinquishing their grip indulge in a
good gnaw. It is impossible to make them release a hold, and short of killing
the vicious little fighter, one has to let it wreak its wicked will before it lets go.
It's an odd little beast, with short woolly fur and comic stumpy tail, quite out of
proportion to everything else; big, staring eyes, dilating at night to almost wholly
pupil glowing like orbs of fire. It looks rather like an animated "teddy bear."
It climbs with agility, and is equally at home walking upside down like a sloth.
On its hefty bull neck there are about half-a-dozen sharp projections from the
cervical vertebra; with these it endeavours to frighten an aggressor who may
endeavour to seize it by the back of the neck. It jerks its head backwards
dealing blows with the sharp points. On the forefeet it has fingers with nails
and the forefinger is almost lacking, being represented by a mere stump. The
digits of the hind feet are also furnished with nails except on the index, where
the nail is replaced by a long claw. These curious little creatures subsist on wild
Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica).
[Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
[Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
Pangolin, or Scaly Ant-eater when frightened. [Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
[Photo. by C. R. S. Pitman]
fruits, vegetable matter, insects, grasshoppers, moths, millipedes, lizards,
nestling birds, etc., etc. They rarely if ever drink, apparently obtaining
sufficient moisture from the food they eat.
The pangolin, scaly ant-eater or scaly manis, is an antediluvian object,
thickly covered with sharp, overlapping scales-actually matted or compressed
hair-and attaining a maximum weight of seven pounds. It has an overpowering
and unpleasant smell, is an active tree-climber, coils up into a tight ball as a
means of defence, and has an awkward galloping gait. Sometimes it moves all
four legs independently, but when desiring to move fast it resorts to its climbing
action, when the hind feet are brought simultaneously up to the forefeet. At
times it can run and climb with remarkable agility. Its powerful feet equipped
with long, sharp claws, enable it to dig with extreme rapidity. Its weird
cylindrical, tapering tongue covered with a sticky secretion is specifically adapted
for obtaining white ants in quantity from excavations dug into termite heaps,
these insects constituting its staple diet. Its long, flattened tail is powerfully
prehensile; at the tip, on the under surface, is a finger-like process which is
evidently sensitive and serves several purposes. With the tip of the tail curled
round one's finger, the pangolin will easily support its whole weight. It has
no teeth, so cannot bite, but when being handled care must be taken not to
allow the hand or fingers to be entrapped when it suddenly rolls into a ball,
as serious damage may result. It is a difficult species to keep in captivity on
account of its almost exclusive diet of termites and other small insects.
The brush-tailed porcupine and the potto, both West African species, each
reach the eastern limits of their range in the Kakamega Forest, south of
The common porcupine occurs in the neighbourhood, but not in the true
forest, where it is replaced by the brush-tailed species, which in appearance is
more like a glorified rat than a porcupine.
Although this species was known to occur within the Uganda Protectorate,
especially in Kyagwe, from where quills were once brought me from a specimen
caught by dogs and eaten by some of the local populace, as far as I am aware
there are no authenticated records of specimens having been collected. The
National Collection at South Kensington contains no Uganda examples.
Within the last two years a long series has been collected in the Kakamega
Forest, resulting in a new race being described at the British Museum (Natural
History). A pair recently obtained in the Mabira where the species is evidently
not uncommon are probably referable to the Kakamega race, which differs in
certain respects from the various races described from further west.
The male weighed eight, and the female five, pounds.
The straight, somewhat pig-like tail is terminated by a tuft of diminutive,
whitish, hollow quills, which make a perceptible rattling when shaken; the body
generally, and the back particularly, is covered with small, flat quills a few inches
in length, and out of the centre of the back there usually grow twol or three of
the long cylindrical, normal type of porcupine quills. In diet, it is almost
exclusively vegetarian. The local native name is "Sekeso."
In and about the forest both the common and harnessed varieties of bushbuck
occur, and there will also be found elephant, buffalo, water-buck, bush pig in
abundance, a rare type of red duiker, innumerable "Ntalaganya" or blue
duiker-a tiny antelope having a maximum weight of about ten pounds, guinea-
pig like tree hyrax which after dark make the forest resound with their discordant
cries, red-tailed monkeys with quaint white noses and an attractive chirruping
cry or whistle, black mangabeys-another type of monkey associated with forest
of exceptional humidity, many types of squirrels,, giant rats totalling two-
and-a-half feet from nose-tip to end of tail, wild cats, genets, leopards of huge
size and remarkably dark pelage, and occasionally lions. Not long ago a man-
eating pair of lions were killed under dramatic circumstances, one of them: being
accidentally trapped in a native hut and burnt. This is not a complete list.
There are of course many others, and the smaller the mammals, usually the
less known are they and more likely to be interesting.
One of the most beautiful birds is the forest guinea fowl, quite unlike its
cousin of the savannah, as it has lovely bright blue plumage, well spotted, paler
blue and a curious, black, velvety tuft of feathers or crest on its head. Its tail
is relatively long. It is found in flocks which wander a great deal. These flocks
are frequently seen early and late on the forest roads and tracks. The grotesque
looking black-and-white hornbill occurs in abundance, and in the morning and
evening at certain times of the yean drives one to distraction with its incessant
raucous croaking. The secretive tambourine dove is heard everywhere, its
pleasing rapidly-uttered purring cry, reminiscent of a small child who is pretending
to be a motor-car. The brilliantly plumaged turacos or plantain-eaters, often
referred to as "louries," are found in great variety. They are all noisy, but their
cries are not unattractive. In some it is individual, in others it is a communal
chorus; in one species it resembles the alarm note of a cock-pheasant; some have
glorious crimson wings and green plumage, others are blue generally, and others
deep blue and crimson. Unless one is an ornithologist on particularly interested,
a long list of birds or their descriptions is apt to pall, so I shall confine myself
to reference to the more interesting or prominent varieties. A few. eagles, owls
and other birds of prey also occur; barbets and woodpeckers, species which
nest in trees, are found in abundance and in great variety. Many species of
sunbirds resplendent in their lovely metallic plumage, including the largest and
loveliest-Cinnyris superbus-are plentiful. Forest finches, waxbills, robins,
thrushes, chats, and various skulking sombre-hued species, though not so much
in evidence, are generally plentiful. Gorgeous little kingfishers flash along the
pathways and clearings in sunshine like animated amethysts. In the streams
small mud-fish and tiny fry-like types are found sparingly. Black crabs are
common. Toads and frogs, as is only to be expected under the prevalent
conditions, are ubiquitous. Amongst the frogs are found several species of
tree-frogs peculiar to the Mabira Forest; there is also the curious plathander with
huge, fan-like webbed feet and minute, beady eyes.
It is the snakes, however, more than any others of the vertebrate fauna
which emphasise the Mabira's West African affinity. The puff-adder-a savannah
type-does not occur at all, but this does not mean that the large vipers are
absent, for there are found the Gaboon viper-Bitis gabonica-and the
rhinoceros-horned viper-Bitis nasicornis-both ol which are particularly deadly,
the former growing to an exceptional size. One gigantic specimen brought to
me wrapped in a pig-net and tied to a stout pole was 5 ft. 8J inches in length
and weighed 18 lbs. (its stomach was empty). Its horned head was 4* inches
long and 41 inches broad: its diameter was 6* inches and its girth 141 inches.
Its wicked fangs exceeded 1J inches. Another specimen weighed 10 lbs. The
rhinoceros-horned viper or river-jack is a markedly smaller species with a total
length rarely exceeding 3 feet, and a maximum weight of about 4 lbs.
Both species when their coats are old and a change of skin is imminent are
extremely dingy in appearance, but in their new raiment they are.the most
amazingly coloured snakes in Africa. The top of the head of the Gaboon viper
is mainly clay colour, in the river-jack it has a wide black javelin-shaped mark
pointing forward. The former is covered with broad, flat, papery scales like the
puff-adder; in the latter they are small and very rough, especially along the back,
The coloration of the former is a mixture of dark and light browns, purple,
yellow and crimson; along the back is a series of pale yellowish, elongated
rectangles. In the latter there is a mixture of crimson, olive and velvety-black,
and down the back a chain of nicked, bluish oblongs divided longitudinally by a
Both species are particularly deadly, the toxin they secrete being both nerve
and blood destroying-a rare combination.
Snake poisons are normally either one or the other; if dealing with cold-
blooded creatures it will be the former, if warm-blooded such as rodents and
birds, the latter. Both these snakes are true "Rain" forest species. It has
been suggested that their remarkable coloration acts as a warning; but, as for
the greater portion of their lives they are extremely shabby in appearance; it is
more likely that the bizarre jumble of colour after a change of skin is really
protective to a certain extent. It does not warn but blends most effectively
with the light and shade, the dark and pale fallen leaves of the forest background.
The Mabira cobra-Naia melanoleuca, the black-lipped cobra, which more often
than not is called a "black mamba," is another forest species, the savannah
representative being the black-necked or "spitting" cobra-Naia nigricollis.
The Mabira cobra does not exceed a few pounds in weight, and the largest
examples handled were not much more than five feet. In colour this snake
above is a highly glossy black like polished glass, and blue-grey below, with
several broad bands of yellow or creamy across the throat. It is exceedingly
poisonous and extremely active. The huge vipers on the other hand are very
sluggish, but when roused amazingly quick in attack.
A species of green mamba-Dendraspis jamesonii-is not uncommon,
though one specimen only was obtained. Thereby hangs a tale, for the six-foot
example brought to me was scarcely injured, save for a few taps across the back,
and to my horror was casually looped over a stick without bond of any
description, and when placed on the grass began to move away As soon as
its neck was pinned to the ground it struck repeatedly at the stick holding it
down. Its captor stated that he was afraid to damage the creature too much
in case he lost the promised reward! The green and black mamba of South
and Eastern Africa, representing different phases of the same snake, does not
occur in Uganda. The Uganda mamba is a snake of extreme slenderness with
big, benign-looking eyes, but possessing highly poisonous fangs situated so far
forward in the jaw that they appear to be right under the serpent's nose. The
colour is bright grass-or yellowish-green for the anterior third, greenish with
black between the scales for the medial third, and black with a bluish bloom
like one gets on a plum for the basal third. I have reason to believe that
Uganda species attain a length of as much as 10 feet.
The four above-mentioned species are the outstanding deadly kinds, and
are all typical of the "Rain" forest.
The python is common, and the late Sir Frederick Jackson records a skin
measuring twenty-two feet which had been obtained from a specimen killed
in the Mabira forest.
One of the commonest snakes is a harmless, creamy-bellied, black species-
The back-fanged or mildly-poisonous snakes do not appear to be common,
and are represented mainly by the boomslang or tree-snake-Dispholidus typus,
and the hissing sand snake-Psammophis sibilans. The boomslang is usually
green or brown in Uganda, though elsewhere it has other colour phases, and
has a very big eye, and rarely exceeds five feet in length: superficially it is
very like the mamba. There is a harmless species, jet-black above and below,
with a very blunt snout and big eye, resembling the boomslang, which also
occurs and of which I obtained a five-foot example. The hissing sand snake
may reach nearly six feet and is generally brownish or olive above, and yellowish
below: it is quite harmless, but the boomslang is dangerous. Several of the
smaller harmless species which have recently turned up in a Mabira collection
have not previously been recorded east of the Ituri and Semliki forest region
of the Belgian Congo: this also applies to a species of hinged tortoise.
Night-adders occur probably more plentifully than one imagines: and there
is also a species of Atractaspis-a slender, shiny-black viper with narrow head,
addicted to burrowing, deadly, and unexpectedly alert and quick in attack. It
has an unpleasant habit of feigning death when frightened-a regular trap for
The harmless earth snakes of the genus Typhlops are found everywhere.
They are not unlike the English slow worm or blind worm, reach two feet in
length and are highly polished in appearance. Some are fatter than one's
largest finger. They eat insects. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but
the foregoing notes embrace the more important species.
It is hoped that this brief description of the Mabira Forest and its animal
and vegetable kingdom associates will serve as an incentive to those who are
unaware of its existence, though near at hand, to make its early acquaintance.
I am confident that a visit will amply repay the trouble.
Bark-Cloth Making in Buganda.
By A. D. F. T.
If it cannot be said of the plantain of Buganda that it has been put to the
manifold uses claimed by Pliny for the papyrus of Egypt, or by Prescott for the
Agave Americana of the Aztecs, it is probably only because it has not been tried.
I have no doubt it would make quite good paper, and I know it makes efficient
mackintoshes, because I once had one. But then the Baganda did not need
paper till they made the acquaintance of the modern product, and there was
always the bark-cloth tree to furnish clothing by a process simple, quick and
inexpensive. As it is bark-cloth we are concerned with at the moment, I will
say no more about the banana. But I have always felt that it has been rather
thrust into the back-ground by its more romantic sisters, though its uses are
probably no less numerous or valuable, and I could not resist this chance of
putting in a word for it.
It is probable that the Baganda brought with them to Uganda the art of
making bark-cloth, and it has been fostered by them ever since; but it was not
till the reign of Semakokiro, probably towards the end of the 18th Century, that
they covered their nakedness, inadequately concealed by skins, with bark-cloth,
which they adopted as a national dress. In the reign of Mutesa (1857-1884), that
remarkable person allowed certain favoured people to substitute cotton clothing
for bark-cloth, but it was abandoned by the general public in favour of European
materials only in comparatively recent times. Yet even to-day it is very
commonly used as clothing by women of the upper classes in their homes, and
generally by the poorer people.
As blanket, mattress, shroud, bundle-wrapping and so on, it is invaluable.
And Europeans, attracted by its rich shades of red-brown and its texture, employ
it for panelling, cushions, chair seats, blotters, calendars, and such other things
as an imaginative mind may suggest. They even employ those on which
patterns are described (ntone)* as wall decorations.
It was Zakaliya who first showed me the method of making bark-cloth.
Awakened early one morning on safari by the wood-pecker tap of his mallet as
it came across the quiet valley, mingling with the lowing of cattle and the sound
of women's voices as they hoed their fields, I got up to investigate. Picking my
way along a narrow path between walls of dew-drenched elephant grass, cheered
by the jolly song of a black chat, I presently emerged into a clearing. There he
was, squatting in a low thatched shed open on three sides, hammering a bark-
cloth (olubugo) on a log which stretched the 18 feet of the shed's length. The
*With a black dye obtained from a plant called by the Baganda "Muzukizi" (Hypoestes
disreputable remains of a brown felt hat sat on his head, his face was spattered
with latex from the beaten bark and his hands moved only quicker than his
tongue. Two. merry eyes twinkled when he saw me. "Good morning, Sir, you
are up early this morning," he said, laying down his mallet, his old face creasing
into a thousand wrinkles of a toothless but altogether charming smile. "My
luck's in to-day that you should come and visit me." "But mine will be in too,
Zakaliya, if you will tell me how you do your work," I replied. Now, Zakaliya
was not only an artist in his trade but a born showman, and it was a lucky fate
that led me to him. Not only did he like describing the process of bark-cloth
making, but he enjoyed the superiority which the telling gave him in the eyes of
the curious, who by this time had gathered round. "That I will he exclaimed.
And, prompted by occasional questions, he shewed me in the next day or so the
mysteries of an art centuries old. "Of course," he began, "I am making only
a small bark-cloth and working on it myself. I began at 7 o'clock and should
finish by 12. This came off a small tree; but if I had taken the bark of that tree,"
pointing to one 12 inches in diameter and uniform in thickness to a height of ten
feet, where it branched, "I could get two bark-cloths, and others yield three or
even four. And sometimes two or three of us work together on a big bark cloth.
Well, suppose we begin with the bark removed from the tree and ready for
converting into cloth (oku-komaga). I first begin beating it on the underside
with this mallet-the esaka-whose face, as you see, has big grooves," holding
up a mallet with a 9-inch handle and a head shaped like a mill-stone, 6 inches
across and 3 inches deep. "When the underside has been beaten twice, the
upper surface is then beaten twice. That is, the bark is laid on this log" (the
mukomago, made usually of the Muzanvuma tree1, which resembles the silver
birch, or sometimes of the Omugwe tree2 or even an old Kokowe3), "and then hit
with a mallet backwards and forwards from one side to the other, the mallet
changing hands in the middle of the cloth and every square inch receiving
attention." He started with it rolled up at his feet and gradually unrolled it as
he beat, pushing it over the log away from him rather as a sewing machine
moves on material as it is sewn. When he had beaten it on both sides, he folded
it in half and beat it again using more force; and before he had finished with
esaka the bark was folded into four thicknesses. Then the next mallet with
finer grooves, etenga, came into use and the bark-which had begun to assume
the appearance of cloth-was folded yet again into eight thicknesses. Zakaliya
then hit with greater force and the cloth rapidly increased in width. The process
was then reversed as the bark-cloth was gradually unfolded and the beating
progressed. Small sections of cloth were folded into pads and beaten with great
energy, and the unfolding went on steadily.
It is now that more men are called in to help if they are available, since
a big bark-cloth will cover the whole of the log.
When the cloth has been beaten as much as is good for it, and all moisture
is expressed, it is spread in the sun for 5 to 15 minutes, according to the
strength of the sun. It then has its final beating (ku-tula) with the third and
1. Sapium Mannianum, Benth.
2. Ficus sp.
8. Ficus Eryobotrioides, Kunth.
last mallet (nzituzo) whose grooves are the finest of all, the bark-cloth being
opened out entirely for this beating. All mallets are made of Nzo4, a very hard,
tough, white wood. Incidentally, these last for years and when not in use
are kept carefully tied up in old bark-cloth. One beating on each side
completes the third stage, and the cloth is then spread in the sun for some
hours to dry out thoroughly.
Next day it is left in the sun all day to be coloured, since the colouring is
done purely by the sun, except in Buddu where the process is helped by
steaming. It is true that the Njeruka Mutuba produces a very light, almost
beige-coloured cloth, but mainly the varying shades of red are obtained by
leaving the cloth in the sun for varying periods-several days in the case of the
very dark red cloths.
When the colouring process is completed, the cloth is left out in the night
air for a couple of hours, from about 6 o'clock to 8 o'clock, to get damp. Next
morning it is folded into a strip about 8 or 9 inches wide and kneaded with the
hands and fingers for a couple of hours, by which time it should be soft and
ready for sale, after tears have been mended with bark fibre and any necessary
patching has been done.
As I was looking on, several people came to buy from the stock in Zakaliya's
house. One, a man from Buddu, knew how they made bark-cloth there and,
with frequent promptings from Zakaliya, he described the process to me. The
best bark cloths, it appears, come from Buddu in Masaka district, and the next
best from Mawokota in Entebbe district. The very best bark-cloth is always
steamed. When the bark is removed from the tree it is put in a big
earthernware pot containing water but separated from the water by a grid of
sticks so that the bark does not actually touch the water. It is then steamed
for an hour or so; and the making (beating) thereafter occupies a week, a little
beating being done each day. This is supposed to improve the colour and
possibly the quality. "Does not really dark-red bark cloth-the kimote5-come
from Buddu ended our friend triumphantly.
"What I want to know, Zakaliya," I asked, "is how many kinds of bark-
cloth tree there are--only the one?" "No, two" answered a bystander, instantly
regretting his temerity. Turning on him, Zakaliya looked him up and down
scornfully, and at last said; in effect: "Poor fool do not try and shew off when
you know nothing about it. Bark-cloth is made principally from various kinds
of Mutuba6 tree. The best is undoubtedly Nembe, next I should put Namalombe,
then possibly Ntesa. There are very many others such as Se-tuba, Sango,
NdEwagi, Kampindi, Namweruka and Ntawebwa, to mention a very few.
Bark cloth is also made from the Kokowe tree, but that is used only for children;
and also from a tree called Kirundu7 which yields a cloth suitable for bags. But
neither is much good." Turning back to me, he proceeded: "Bark is removed
4. Teclea nobilis Delile.
5. So called from a man named Timothy, corrupted into "Kimote," who came from
Kanabulemu. "Kimote" cloth is synonymous with Sango cloth.
6. Ficus spp.
7. Antiaris usambarensis, Engl.
from a tree for cloth-making only when the tree is in full leaf and the sap is up,
then the bark comes off easily. A tree's life is about 20 or 30 skinnings or
more if the tree is looked after: that is, bark can be removed every year from
one tree for 20 or more years if desired. The first bark ever taken off a tree
is called kitentegere, and it is inferior to subsequent takings, which are called
musala. To-morrow, Sir, if you come back," added Zakaliya, exhausted more
by talking than by work, "I will shew you how to take the bark off the tree
(oku-subula)." After a pause, "I have been making bark-cloths since Mwanga's
reign," as if to convince me that, anyhow, after 40 years he should know
something about it.
The next day at about 5 o'clock in the afternoon Zakaliya conducted me to
a tree he had especially selected. With a matchet he began by scraping the outer
covering of the grey bark (bikuta). Then, propping against the tree his ladder
(nkandago), resembling an inverted wish-bone with three rungs, with a pad
tied at the apex to prevent it from damaging the tree, he cut with a sharp
knife round the piece of bark he wished to remove: first across, top and bottom
(oku-sala), then longitudinally (oku-tyemula). He next cut from a bunch of
bananas a section of the stalk, sharpened it, and inserting it in the incision
made with the knife, proceeded to peel the bark (oku-soka). After detaching
it with the pointed stalk (kikolokomba) as far up as he could reach, he caught
hold of the bottom edge with both hands and gave it a sharp tug outwards
(oku-wewa) and thus completed the operation. The bark lay at our feet looking
like a trimmed python skin 9 feet 6 inches in length, 18 inches wide, and
one-eighth of an inch thick. The scraping of the outside bark was completed,
and the sappy under-surface (obulebo) was also then scraped (oku-wala). The
whole was then rolled up, wrapped in banana leaves and put away for the
night. The bark from the second half of the tree was then dealt with. As
it would not be turned into cloth for a day or so (the bark must not be kept
more than three days) it was not scraped, but rolled up, the outer surface
outside, tied up in leaves and put away.
Then came the treatment of the tree, which I shall describe now, though
it was carried out directly the bark was removed and before the final scraping.
The white exposed part (omubiri omuto) has to be protected against the sun.
This protection consists of wrapping green banana leaves, with part of the
midrib removed, round the tree from top to bottom (oku-sabika) so that no
part of the tree's surface is exposed. In rainy weather this covering is left on
for three days; in dry weather for four. When the covering is removed, if the
tree looks dry, it is plastered with wet cow-dung, and dry banana leaves (sanja)
are tied in such a way as to hang down on the side exposed to the sun to form
a shade (oku-wembera). The cow-dung is left on until it comes off of its
"Now I have told you about bark-cloth making" said Zakaliya as we sat
smoking, his thin legs tucked away on one side, an old bark-cloth covering his
spare body, and his hat a little more disreputable than before. "But it
takes practice. You can hit more or less as you like for the first beating on
each side, after that you must be careful not to hit too hard, otherwise you
will tear the cloth. I thought you had done so once when you took the mallet.
I will remember to send you the piece you worked on, and since you insist on
paying for it, it will cost you 3/-". The cloth which began as a piece of bark
9 feet 6 inches long by 18 inches wide and one-eighth of an inch thick is now 10 feet
6 inches by 7 feet 4 inches of tough cloth as thick as strong brown paper.
It is as stiff as calico with the dressing in it, but with use it would become as
soft as flannel. Bark-cloths cannot be washed, but then they are cheap, so
If, however, you are particular, you can always disinfect them by smoking
them as you might a flitch of bacon.
My thanks are due to Mr. N. V. Brasnett for kindly naming the trees mentioned
in this article.
Mutesa of Buganda.
By J. M. GRAY.
A great deal has been written at one time or other by travellers and
missionaries regarding Mutesa of Buganda. One therefore owes an apology for
attempting to add to what they have already said. Previous writers have
described his failings and his vices. They have also been aware of the better
and finer traits in his character. But the general impression left after one
has read their works is that of an absolute ruler of a sycophant race, a man of
regal bearing but a superlative egoist, always capricious and at times revoltingly
cruel. In this paper I have not the slightest intention of attempting to defend
Mutesa but I wish to show that during his reign the kingdom of Buganda was
confronted by political problems, the like of which none of Mutesa's
predecessors had ever had to face. I also will endeavour to estimate the measure
in which Mutesa himself was responsible for their solution.
For reasons, which were party geographical and partly political, the
Baganda were for many centuries practically isolated from the world which
lived beyond the immediate vicinity of the central lakes of Africa. About the
end of the eighteenth century the barriers began to crumble. Cloth from the
coast first reached Buganda in the reign of Semakokiro, who died at the close
of that century (Kagwa-Basekabaka p. 88); during the reign of Semakokiro's
grandson, Suna, the first non-native of Africa arrived at the royal Lubiri. The
first of these arrived about 1848 (Speke-Journal, p. 154). Others followed in
his wake in search of ivory and slaves. They appear to have been a not wholly
unattractive band of ruffians. At times for purposes of gain they were ready
to stoop to much that was cruel and revolting, but they were at all times ready
to take their lives in their hands and generally scrupulous in observing what
in some respects was a remarkable code of honour. At least one amongst
their number was a man of considerable force of character. Wholesale executions
were at times almost the order of the day during Suna's reign. The average
Arab or Swahili trader in Buganda was doubtless not over squeamish in regard
to such matters and self-interest restrained him from raising any protest.
Ahmed bin Ibrahim, however, felt impelled to raise his voice against this
butchery. On one occasion he rose on his feet and told Suna that both he
and his victims had been created alike by Allah, that to Allah alone he owed
his kingdom, and that it was a grievous sin before Allah to destroy those whom
he had created. No previous king of Buganda had ever been addressed in
such language, but Suna was struck by the bold rebuke. He asked to be told
something more of this strange creed which was no respecter of persons.
Several conversations ensued between him and Ahmed bin Ibrahim, who
proceeded to expound some of the elementary principles of Islam to the King
(Kagwa-Ebika, p. 104). For a time Suna was an eager listener. He was
impressed by what he was told and his faith in his old beliefs was shaken, but he
was not converted. Ahmed bin Ibrahim returned to the coast. Suna's interest
in Islam does not appear to have long survived his instructor's departure.
Certain of the Zanzibar traders were guilty of extremely high handed conduct
in their dealings with the Baganda. Suna thereupon expelled them from the
country and refused to allow caravans to proceed beyond the banks of the
Kagera River (Speke-Journal, p. 265).
In 1857, Suna died of smallpox whilst leading an expedition into Kiziba
(Burton-Lake Regions, II, 188; Rehse-Kiziba, p. 263; Kagwa-Basekabaka,
p. 123). He had some one-hundred-and-fifty recognized wives and left behind
him over two hundred children (Kagwa-Empisa, pp. 65-71). Of these latter,
sixty-one were sons of sufficient age to be deemed eligible candidates for the
throne. One of these sons was Mutesa. His mother was a certain Gwolyoka
of the sheep clan. She did not occupy a prominent position in Suna's household:
nor does she appear to have been one of his more favoured spouses. When
Mutesa was still a child, she gave offence to her lord and master by committing
a trivial breach of etiquette and was promptly sold as a slave to a Swahili trader,
who was in Buganda at the time and who carried her off to the coast. Before
her departure she entrusted her child, Mutesa, to another wife of Suna,
Muganzirwaza, of the elephant clan, the Queen-Mother who figures so largely
in the works of Speke, Stanley, Mackay and others. Mutesa appears to have
had a strong affection for his real mother and many years afterwards sent a
special mission to the Sultan of Zanzibar with a request that she might be
discovered and sent back to him (Munno (1915), pp. 115, 116, 160). He also
had a very real affection for his foster-mother, whose clan adopted him and
assumed responsibility for his upbringing. That education appears to have
been conducted along the lines recommended by the elder Mr. Weller as being
so eminently successful in the case of his son. The possibility of Mutesa ever
taking his father's place upon the throne of Buganda seems to have been regarded
as extremely remote.
Mutesa was aged about eighteen, when Suna died. His selection was not
due to any personal merit displayed by himself. Neither was it the result of
any wish expressed by his father.
After selling the mother into slavery, Suna appears to have displayed not
the slightest possible interest in the son. Mutesa owed his position to palace
intrigue. The details thereof are too long to set out. Suffice it to say that
Suna's Katikiro and the leading members of Mutesa's adopted clan found it
convenient to choose Mutesa as king in preference to all other candidates
(Kagwa-Basekabaka, p. 126). The Katikiro, with the assistance of the
Kasuju-the hereditary guardian of the king's sons-so staged matters that
the clansmen and backers of the rival candidates were powerless to resist or
offer any effective protest to Mutesa's nomination. Sixty-one of the sixty-three
possible rivals of Mutesa were rounded up and put to death (Philippe-An Ceur
de l'Afrique, p. 23). The two survivors of this holocaust were infants and
therefore not reckoned as dangerous. Both outlived Mutesa. One, Mayinja,
was put to death in the civil war of 1888 (Kagwa-Basekabaka, p. 65). The
other, Mbogo, was, for a brief period during the civil wars following on Mutesa's
death, recognized by the Mahommedan party as king of Buganda, but
subsequently formally renounced all claim to the throne in favour of Mwanga
and died at a good old age in 1921.
Outwardly, the opening year of Mutesa's reign very much resembled those
of his predecessors. The Katikiro, who had placed him on the throne in the
hope that he had found in him a pliant tool for his own ends, had the inevitable
disillusionment which had befallen so many Katikiros before him. In a few
years' time the young man decided that he was old enough to look after his
own affairs and dismissed his benefactor with ignominy. There were the usual
raids into the territories of adjacent rulers. Inside the Royal enclosure there
were the usual conspiracies against Mutesa himself. Suna's prohibition on the
entry of Arab and Swahili trading caravans was continued. Mutesa was therefore
left untrammelled by what may be called foreign affairs and was able to pursue
the same life as many of his predecessors had pursued. We depend for the
story of these early years upon native tradition, but that tradition confirms
the impressions of Speke and Grant. The portrait of Mutesa is not a favourable
one as compared with that of Suna. His father had been a warrior from his
childhood's days. Mutesa was fond of the chase, but left to others the leadership
and dangers of the raids which he set on foot, being, however, very insistent
upon a rigid account to himself of all the spoils of such raids. Suna's interest
in matters theological had not apparently descended to his son. To all outward
appearance, Mutesa was just a conceited, pleasure-seeking, and impossible
young man, who had become intoxicated with the wine of absolutism.
Such was the first impression that any visitor to Buganda would have
obtained of Mutesa at this date, but there was something more below the
surface. The prohibition placed upon the entry of traders into Buganda was
not in those early days unreasonable. Until Mutesa really felt secure in his
kingdom, it was undesirable to have foreigners in the land, who not only
might lend their retinues and their weapons to rival claimants for the throne
but also might actively stir up rebellion for their own ends. In 1860 the embargo
was removed (Speke-Journal, January 7, 1861) and the leader of the first
caravan informed Mutesa of the presence of Europeans at the southern end of
Lake Victoria. In the guise of traders or emissaries t6 brother rulers various
of Mutesa's spies found their way south to spy upon this new race of men.
Their reports were satisfactory and Mutesa decided to extend to the Europeans
a cordial invitation to visit his kingdom.
A number of mixed motives appear to have prompted this invitation.
Curiosity was undoubtedly one. Another was doubtless a desire to achieve
notoriety as having achieved a record, which none of his predecessors had had
the opportunity to achieve. But there seem to have been other motives which
were not born of a mere fleeting whim. Speke and Grant have both narrated
at length the story of their sojourn in Buganda. They each of them describe
him as a selfish and irresponsible young man with one or two amiable traits
as well as many others which were revolting and cruel. Both inveighed against
him because his appalling egotism prevented him from concentrating for any
length of time upon any rational topic of conversation, but in so doing, they
did not do him entire justice. Neither Speke nor Grant had any great mastery
of any African language. It was somewhat difficult to maintain a prolonged
conversation, when all intercourse had to be through the medium of an indifferent
interpreter. Mutesa realized this disadvantage and, in order to get into more
direct communication with his visitors, went so far as to learn a little Kiswahili-a
fact which at least shows that he was capable of concentrated application to
matters of more than momentary interest.
Both Speke and Grant inveighed in particular against Mutesa's continuous
procrastination in his promises to expedite their journey down the Nile. But
a very good motive underlay this procrastination. Speke was continually
seeking information in regard to Petherick, the British Consul at Khartoum,
who had undertaken to proceed up the Nile to meet him. Mutesa had heard
some vague rumours of a European traveller, who was exploring the countries
to the north of Buganda. These rumours in actual fact referred to a Maltese
named Debono, a none too reputable individual of whom Consul Petherick had
a great deal to say. The reports, which came to Mutesa's ears regarding the
activities of Debono and his agents, were none too reassuring. Debono
maintained an armed post at Faloro in the Acholi country and his men waged
more or less perpetual war on the countryside. A number of Bantu traditions
recited that the lake regions had once been invaded by a light-skinned race,
who had crossed the Somerset Nile and overthrown the existing rulers of the
land. There was a distinct fear in the minds of Mutesa and his advisers that
history might repeat itself. If Speke were to get in touch with this mysterious
European trader, he or the trader might return and overrun the land with their
firearms and the days of Mutesa's reign would be speedily numbered.
Furthermore, when Mutesa decided to annul the prohibition on the entry
of foreign traders, he was none the less firmly resolved that his country was
not going to be used by such traders as a thoroughfare. He was resolved that
Buganda should be the terminus of their trade route and that monopoly of
distribution of their wares-and in particular of firearms-to countries adjacent
to his own should remain in his hands.
There was considerable method therefore behind Mutesa's apparent
procrastination and his attempts to induce Speke and Grant to make their
way home by way of Busoga and the Masai country (Speke-Journal,
March 3, 1861). Eventually, however, he succumbed to the importunities of
his visitors and despatched them on the road along which they desired to proceed,
possibly hoping that Kamurasi of Bunyoro or else the Nilotic tribes to the
north of Bunyoro might effectively bar the way. As we know, after further
delays at Kamurasi's court Speke and Grant made their way down the Nile
to Gondokoro, where they met Baker and his wife.
The next news, which reached Mutesa, was that Mr. and Mrs. Baker had
reached Kamurasi's court. This news was none too reassuring-more especially
when it was followed by the news that Debono's freebooters had followed in
Baker's wake and but for Baker's personal intervention would have made
Kamurasi a prisoner (Baker-Albert Nyanza, pp. 369 et seq). Whilst he bore
no particular affection for Kamurasi, Mutesa did not want to see the country
of his hereditary enemy entirely overrun by a band of marauders. He wanted
Bunyoro as a buffer state between himself and the "Turk" slave traders.
Spies were sent in the guise of emissaries to pay Baker a complimentary visit
and to learn what was really happening in Bunyoro. (Baker- op. cit., p. 368).
It was undoubtedly with the profoundest relief that Mutesa heard from
these spies that Mr. and Mrs. Baker had returned whence they had come.
Mutesa's desire to close his country to "Turk" traders from Khartoum received
the cordial support of the Zanzibar traders, who naturally did not want to
have competitors in the market. They poured cold water on any project
for permitting a "Turk" caravan to enter Buganda and painted their rivals
in the worst possible colours. Rumours of the misdeeds of these latter, which
were no doubt exaggerated threefold in transmission but none the less had
a very dark and solid substratum of fact, convinced Mutesa that the Zanzibar
traders were right in their advice. He therefore did everything he possibly
could to encourage the importation of firearms by giving the Zanzibar traders
increased facilities for trading in slaves and ivory.
Shortly after the departure of Speke and Grant, Mutesa had a serious illness
(Kagwa-op. cit., p. 138). Hitherto he had led an extremely active life. The
enforced sedentary life, which he was compelled to lead for a number of months
after this illness, seems to have had a considerable effect upon his character.
It was at this stage of his career that the selfish and rather repulsive overgrown
schoolboy of Speke's days became the man with something more than fleeting
glimpses of his responsibility as the ruler of a large and populous kingdom. His
trade in firearms brought him into close touch with his Arab and Swahili
visitors and he learnt that they could do more than supply him with cotton
goods and firearms. His conversations with them showed him that they had
a civilisation and a creed, which were better than anything then to be found
in Buganda. He resumed once more the lessons in Kiswahili, which he had
begun during Speke's visit, and also started to learn Arabic. His instructors
were a certain Muley bin Salim and a certain Ali, nicknamed by the Buganda
"Nakatukula." They found him an apt and intelligent pupil endowed with
a splendid memory. He not only learnt to speak Kiswahili well and Arabic
tolerably well, but also expressed a desire to learn to write in these languages.
It will be remembered that at this date Kiswahili was invariably written in
Arabic script. An old and tattered Koran which had been left with Suna by some
trader, was found somewhere in the royal enclosure and brought to Mutesa,
who proceeded laboriously to learn to transcribe the characters appearing in it.
(Kagwa-Basekabaka, p. 139; Long-Central Africa, p. 120).
These elementary attempts at calligraphy led on to enquiries about the
contents of the book. What his instructors told him attracted him. He
mastered some of the elementary principles of Islam. His royal office was
too much wrapped up with the old religious cults of his country for him to
shake himself entirely free of his pagan ideas, but at this stage of his career
he adopted many of the outward forms of Islamic ritual. By 1867 the new
religion had found such favour with him that he introduced an official calendar
on Islamic lines. His zeal carried him so far that he declared it to be a criminal
offence for his subjects not to greet him or each other in Arabic fashion and
with the appropriate Arabic words. He brooked no opposition from the
stalwarts of the old beliefs. Twelve of his subjects, who failed to comply with
his edict, were put to death. The influence of the Zanzibar traders increased
and several of the Swahili amongst their number were appointed to chieftainships.
(Kagwa-Ebika, p. 106).
In 1869 Mutesa's neighbour and rival, Kamurasi of Bunyoro, was gathered
to his fathers. According to invariable custom several of Kamurasi's innumerable
sons proceeded to fight each other for the vacant throne. On this occasion
the strife was prolonged and embittered by the intervention of the ivory traders
"Each aspirant sought the aid of the traders. This civil strife exactly
suited the interests of the treacherous Khartoumers. The several companies
of the slave-hunters scattered over the Madi, Shooli,* and Unyoro countries
represented only one interest, that of their employers, Agad and Co. Each
company, commanded by its independent vakeel, arrived in Unyoro, and
supported the cause of each antagonistic pretender to the throne, and
treacherously worked for the ruin of all, excepting him who would be able to
supply the largest amount of ivory and slaves. The favourite sons of Kamrasi
were Kabba Rdga and Kabka Miro, while the old enemy of the family, Rionga,
the cousin of Kamrasi, again appeared on the scene. The companies of
Aboo Saood supported all three, receiving ivory and slaves from each as the
hire of mercenary troops. (Baker-Ismailia, p. 284).
But the ivory hunters were not the only people to take advantage of this
fratricidal war. Mutesa saw the opportunity of weakening the power of his
country's hereditary enemies by fomenting strife and by endeavouring to secure
the throne for his own nominee. He decided to support Kabugumire and sent
an army to his aid. The Baganda found Kabarega supported in considerable
strength by the ivory traders, who had built themselves a fort. Though they
were only armed with spears the Baganda attempted to storm the position.
The traders easily repulsed the assault with their firearms. One of Mutesa's
favourite chiefs was mortally wounded and the Baganda incontinently fled.
Therefore Kabarega secured the throne of Bunyoro. (Kagwa-Basekabaka,
The failure of this expedition gave Mutesa serious grounds for reflection.
There was not only the resulting loss of prestige. The ivory traders had managed
to make their own nominee ruler of Bunyoro. They had also shown by their
superior weapons and marksmanship that they might prove formidable allies
of their nominee and a serious menace to Buganda. Having burnt his fingers
badly, Mutesa decided to make a complete volte face. Kabugumire had fled
to Buganda. He was told that his presence was not wanted and retired to the
Chopi country on the north banks of the Somerset Nile, where he was murdered
by certain adherents of Kabarega. A conciliatory embassy was sent to the
new ruler of Bunyoro to express Mutesa's congratulation upon and entire
approval of his selection (Bikunya, p. 69; Fisher, p. 161). Learning his lesson
from the defeat of his ill-equipped army, Mutesa decided to arm as many of
his fighting men as he possibly could. Trading caravans from Zanzibar were
encouraged and large quantities of firearms imported. By 1871, Mutesa was
able to place in the field over a thousand men armed with guns. (Baker-
Ismailia, p. 264). In the previous year he had received information that certain
of the Khartoum traders wished to visit his country. The Zanzibar traders
raised a protest, but Mutesa decided to allow the Khartoumers to enter Buganda.
These visitors received a rude shock after their experiences with the petty chiefs
in the Acholi country. They brought with them little or no stock in trale
for purposes of barter. In so far as business was concerned they were hopelessly
outbid by the Zanzibar traders. Mutesa's previous suspicions of them were
confirmed. Throughout his life he never gave anything away without receiving
its equivalent or more than its equivalent in return. He gave them clearly to
understand that they were not wanted. They "slunk back abashed and were
only too glad to be allowed to depart. They declared such a country would not
suit their business; the people were too strong for them." (Baker-Ismailia,
p. 264; Mr. Churchill to Earl Granville, Nov. 18, 1870 (State Papers) ).
Though he dismissed the Khartoum traders with ignominy, Mutesa was
shrewd enough to realise that they might still prove a formidable danger to his
independence. He had sufficient wisdom to realise that the slave dealers had
an organisation and a discipline, which might easily outmatch his thousand
firearms. He therefore looked round him for assistance. The hereditary enmity
between his people and those of Kabarega and of other neighboring rulers
made a confederation out of the question. The Zanzibar traders had, however,
told him of the power and influence of their sovereign, Seyyid Barghash,
Sultan of Zanzibar. At their suggestion he resolved to send an embassy to
endeavour to conclude some form of alliance with him and to ask for shipbuilders
to be sent to him. The embassy was also entrusted with another purely personal
mission, which discloses one of the more pleasing traits in Mutesa's character.
Vague rumours had reached him that his mother, who had been sold into slavery
some fifteen to twenty years before, had been discovered down at the coast. The
emissaries were therefore charged with the task of finding her and bringing
her back. They were given a large quantity of ivory as a present to the Sultan
of Zanzibar and also a young elephant, which actually reached the coast, and
was sent by Dr. Kirk to Bombay. The embassy, however, failed in its object.
The members thereof were two years in their journey to and from the coast.
On their way they were plundered of most of their ivory by the Wanyambo.
They failed to find Mutesa's mother. Seyyid Barghash received them with
great courtesy, but failed to realise the fact that they came with a serious
offer of an offensive and defensive alliance. The emissaries were sent back
laden with gunpowder, guns, soap, gin and brandy and a polite message to
their master. David Livingstone met them at Tabora on their return journey.
Two at least of the members of the caravan entered the explorer's service. One,
Majwara, was with Livingstone when he died, and was one of that little
band of faithful servants, who so devotedly carried their dead master's body
to the coast. (Munno (1915), pp. 115, 116, 160; Waller-Last Journals of
Livingstone, II., 176; J. A. Grant in P. R. G. S. XLII., 268).
The return of this embassy from Zanzibar more or less coincided with
another event, which filled Mutesa with a certain amount of alarm. In 1872
Sir Samuel Baker arrived in Bunyoro with an armed force and formally annexed
the country in the name of the Khedive of Egypt. Baker left behind him
a name amongst the natives as the one great and good administrator under
the old Egyptian regime. But Kabarega had suffered much at the hands of
other of the Khedive's servants and subjects; he also firmly believed that, on his
former visit to Bunyoro, Baker had tried to bewitch him, when he accidentally
dropped some cigar ash in some coffee which Baker offered him to drink. It
is not surprising therefore to learn that Kabarega attacked Baker's camp at
Masindi and eventually forced him to retire fighting a costly rearguard action
all the way to the Nile. (Baker-Ism'ailia, passim; Fisher-Twilight Tales of
the Black Baganda, p. 161).
Mutesa received the news of these events in Bunyoro with mixed feelings.
It was not unpleasing to him to hear that his hereditary enemy had become
involved in a war and that his royal residence had been burnt. But "jam
proximus ardet Ucalegon" is a tag which would have had a strong appeal
to him. If Baker's Forty Thieves burnt Kabarega's enclosure today, Mutesa's
enclosure might share the same fate tomorrow. Mutesa therefore decided that
he had better intervene. He sent a force six thousand strong into Bunyoro
and instructed the commander to get into touch with Baker. In his Ismailia
Baker treated this as a demonstration of Mutesa's friendly disposition towards
the Egyptian Government and of his desire to rid Bunyoro of the "cowardly
and treacherous Kabarega." But, when he reached Foweira a few years later,
Dr. Felkin was informed that a very different motive had prompted the despatch
of the expedition. Rionga, the chief of the Chopi district on the banks of the
Somerset Nile, mistrusted Baker as much as did Kabarega and sent an urgent
message to Mutesa to send troops to aid him in attacking Baker. The six
thousand men were accordingly despatched, but delayed on the road. Rionga
tried to keep Baker with him by outward professions of friendship, but Baker
withdrew to Fatiko in the Acholi country before the Baganda arrived. When
Mutesa found that his men had arrived too late, he sent a message to Baker
to inform him that they had been intended to assist him in his war against
Kabarega (Wilson-Uganda and the Egyptian Sudan, II., 41-2). Felkin's
authority for this story is admittedly that of a single informant, but it receives
corroboration from Baker himself. It is somewhat significant that the spokesman
of the envoys, whom Mutesa sent to Fatiko, was one of the Zanzibar traders.
Equally significant is the fact that Baker was informed that Mutesa "begged me
to visit him as soon as possible, as he had only one desire, i.e., 'to see my face'
and that 'he did not wish for presents.' (Baker-Ismailia, p. 447). The
man whom Emin Bey subsequently described as the most arrant beggar of
all African potentates whom he had ever met, was not likely to decline gifts
without good reason. When we remember the length of time during which
Arab traders, Speke, Grant and subsequent missionaries were involuntarily
detained at Mutesa's court, it seems clear that Baker was to be invited into
a trap. Mutesa wanted a valuable hostage as security against future Egyptian
aggression. The trap, however, failed, Baker sent one of his soldiers, who
had formerly served under Speke, in his place and shortly afterwards himself
resigned his post under the Egyptian Government. (Baker-lamailia, p. 449).
Charles Gordon succeeded Baker in his post of Governor of the Khedive's
Equatorial Possessions. He brought with him to the Soudan an American
named Chailld Long, who has written two different accounts of his experiences
in the Khedivial service. These two accounts differ in a large number of important
details and in many important respects are not corroborated by contemporary
evidence from other sources. They have therefore to be accepted with a
considerable amount of reserve. According to Long himself he was personally
instructed by the Khedive behind Gordon's back to make his way to Uganda
and to obtain from Mutesa a treaty ceding his country to the Egyptian
Government. Whether this is correct or not, the fact remains that in April, 1874,
he set off with five other persons and a horse from Gondokoro and in due course
arrived-horse and all-at Mutesa's court. It cannot be denied that this was
a remarkable achievement carried through with a very inadequate equipment.
No doubt if personnel and equipment had been more adequate, Long would
never have achieved his object. In the light of subsequent facts it seems clear
that the party would have been refused admission to the country.
At the very first audience, which Long had with Mutesa, thirty men were
seized at a given signal from the King and done to death in sight of his visitor.
"The scene," said Long, "as revolting as it was unexpected, froze me and my
companions with horror." (Long-Central Africa, p. 106). There can be no
doubt that it was a carefully thought out plan designed to produce the effect,
which it did produce. With all his reckless disregard for human life, Mutesa,
as missionaries and other travellers testify, did not as a rule order executions
to take place in his presence. The human sacrifices, which were ordered from
time to time to propitiate offended deities, always took place at some secluded
spot. Political offenders and ordinary malefactors were usually haled forth
from Mutesa's presence to meet their doom. It is significant that the only
Europeans, who were regaled by Mutesa with these appalling holocausts, were
both of them emissaries of the Khedive. The executions witnessed by Long
were something more than mere displays of omnipotence by a revolting egoist.
They were calculatedly designed to impress Long with what might be the fate
of any man who incurred Mutesa's displeasure.
On July 19, 1874, a day which he has variously described as the day of
or the day before his final departure from Buganda, Long produced a document
to Mutesa-and requested him to sign it. Mutesa, who was proud of his newly
acquired calligraphy, affixed his signature in Arabic. Long then went on his way
rejoicing with the precious document preserved in a place of security. That
document was a treaty whereby the entire headwaters of the Nile-including
the kingdom of Buganda-were ceded to the Egyptian Government. (Long-My
Life in Four Continents, I., 157; Central Africa, p. 306).
Long has preserved in his books a discreet silence as to the precise
circumstances in 'which Mutesa was induced to sign this document. The
intermediary between Mutesa and Long had been an Arab trader from Zanzibar,
who out of self-interest would not have been likely to take any part in the
transaction if he had been aware of the actual contents of the document.
Furthermore, throughout the whole of Long's visit Mutesa had manifested
his nationalism in a manner most unusual for an African ruler. He had most
ostentatiously displayed a white and red banner, which he had declared was
the national flag of Buganda, and had insisted on its being carried wherever
Long's Egyptian flag was carried. There can be no doubt whatever that Mutesa
was not in the least aware of the purport of the document, which he signed.
None the less Long reported that "Mteza, King of Uganda, had been
visited and the proud African monarch made a willing subject; and his country,
rich in ivory and populous, created the southern limit of Egypt." All of which
information would have given both Long and the Khedive far greater cause
for self-congratulation, if Mutesa had really been aware of what he had purported
to do. The treaty was a veritable scrap of paper. Doubtless the incident of
signing the document was completely forgotten by Mutesa within a very few
hours of its occurrence. At any rate subsequent to signing Mutesa continued
to rule in the same autocratic way as ever, oblivious of Khedives and other
Nevertheless Long's achievement led the Khedive to develop grandiose
schemes for the annexation of the whole of Africa as far south as the Equator.
For a time, at any rate, Gordon was filled with the same enthusiasm for a
Greater Egypt, which he believed might be instrumental in destroying the slave
trade. He mooted an ambitious project for opening up Central Africa and
expanding the Khedive's dominions by "concentrating myself in the south
near Kaba Rega, and trying to do the only thing, which will open Africa, viz.,
coming down on the coast at Mombaz Bay, north of Zanzibar ..... I hope
the Khedive will let me do it. It is the only mode of helping these countries."
(Birkbeck Hill--Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, p. 68). It was a remarkable
scheme born of a very imperfect knowledge of distances and geography. It
completely overlooked the political rights of the Sultan of Zanzibar, which
Gordon had heard of as "a large place, (which) is near Mombaz." (Ibid). He
had apparently not heard that the Sultan claimed to exercise very real sovereign
rights over Mombasa and the adjacent coast.
In order to carry out his plan Gordon decided that he must obtain a
permanent footing in Mutesa's territory. He therefore proposed "to get the
Nile communication open to the Lake, to start Chippendall on the Lake, to
put boats on the Victoria Nyanza, to say goodbye." (Birkbeck Hill-op. cit.,
p. 78). With this object in view he decided to send an expedition to consolidate
the position which Long had apparently gained in Buganda. The Khedive
had proposed to send two sheiks to teach Mutesa the Koran. A magnificent
coach was also despatched from Cairo to be delivered to the Khedive's supposed
vassal. It was too cumbersome a present to be delivered at once. Perhaps if
it had reached its destination, Mutesa would have written to acknowledge receipt
in words similar to those in which he accepted another present from Gordon
himself a few years later, namely, "You sent me sometime since the saddle
and bridle for a horse; I have no horse and would thank you if you.would send
me one." (Long-My Life in Four Continents I., 164; Central Africa, p. 132;
Gessi, p. 79; Birkbeck Hill-op. cit., p. 160).
Gordon decided to entrust his mission to a Belgian named Ernest Linant
de Bellefonds. At the same time he despatched another officer, Romolo Gessi,
to hoist the Khedivial flag at Magungo on the shores of Lake Albert (Gessi-
p. 316). Linant was given an escort of seventy men and supplied with a
number of carpenters to build a house on European lines near Mutesa's residence.
A Mahommedan sheik also accompanied the expedition. Linant was to have
started in the last days of 1874, but was delayed by illness. He met with
further delays en route and did not reach Mutesa until the following April.
(Birkbeck Hill-op. cit., pp. 58, 60, 106; Long-My Life in Four Continents,
I., 164). Linant's reception is best given in his own words:-
"The King is standing at the entrance to the reception hall. I approach
and bow low to him & la turque. He holds out his hand, which I press. I
immediately perceive a sunburnt European to the left of the King, whom
I imagine to be Cameron . . I address the traveller, who sits in front
of me on the left of the King: 'Have I the honour to speak to Mr. Cameron?'
'No. Sir; Mr. Stanley.' (Stanley-Through the Dark Continent, I., 204,
I do not propose here to give any account of Stanley's expedition other
than to say that he was despatched to Africa on a journey of exploration under
the auspices of the proprietors of the Daily Telegraph and the New York Herald.
Nor do I propose to discuss Stanley's general character. Both in his lifetime
and after his death he has had innumerable critics. Not all of them have been
entirely just, but there is no denying the fact that Stanley had not a few failings
and faults. Whilst in Buganda he appears to have shown considerable tact
and regard for the feelings of his hosts and left a remarkably good name behind
him amongst a people who are prone to be extremely critical of foreigners.
Of one side of his character there can be no possible doubt. Stanley was a
man of very strong and very earnest religious convictions. There was an
almost child-like simplicity about those convictions, but they were there and
they were very genuine.
One must be left to imagine what were the feelings of Mutesa when he
learnt that two armed parties were advancing to his capital from two different
directions and that a third party was threatening Bunyoro. Certain of his
advisers urged him to refuse admitance to both. Others were in favour of
his receiving one party and not the other. Mutesa, however, decided to receive
both. As Linant chose to go by the name of Abdul Aziz, Mutesa may well have
classified him as a Turk. On the other hand, he was well aware that Stanley
was of the same race as Speke and Grant. He may therefore have thought
that he could play Stanley off against Linant. At any rate he realized the
impolicy of offering serious opposition to either party. He decided to allow
both men to enter his country. He took, however, one precaution. As he did
not want the arrival of both men to coincide, he gave instructions to his outlying
chiefs to delay the approach of Linant until after the arrival of Stanley by
those passive methods of outward ceremony and courtesy, which contemporary
writers describe as so dear to the hearts of the Baganda.
The result was that Stanley reached Mutesa from the southern end of Lake
Victoria five days before Linant. Though he little knew it at the time, those
five days had great consequences both for Mutesa and for Buganda.
The story of Stanley's visit to Buganda has been so often told that it is
unnecessary to retell it at any length here. Stanley was much struck by
Mutesa's intelligence and, whenever opportunity offered, led the conversation
round to the subject of Christianity. Linant, who was a Calvinist, was present
at several of these conversations and displayed a sympathetic interest in
Stanley's efforts to convert Mutesa. Eventually Stanley penned his memorable
letter to the Daily Telegraph calling for missionaries to come to Uganda and
water where he believed he had planted. The letter was entrusted to Linant,
who subsequently returned to Moogie where he met Gordon. From Moogie
the letter was despatched to London and in due course was published in the
Telegraph to meet with the response which is so well known.
Stanley genuinely believed that he had sowed seed in good ground, but
external evidence shows that he was duped by Mutesa-in the light of after
history one must say splendidly duped. It is only by appreciating this fact
that one can realise the heart-breaking difficulties which confronted the very
earnest band of missionaries who answered Stanley's call.
From his conversations with Muley bin Salim Mutesa had already
appreciated the fact that Islam had loftier ideals than had that strange medley
of animism and hero worship, which constituted the religion of his people.
His few conversations with Stanley showed him that Christianity had ideals and
held out hopes, which were even greater than those of Islam. But his early
upbringing, and the fact that much of the religion of his people centred round
his kingship made it impossible for him to divorce himself utterly from the
ancient beliefs of his country. If upon one occasion he showed himself disposed
to favour Christianity and upon another Islam or Iaganism, such disposition
was not the result of any temporary conviction. The motive therefore was
Nothing illustrates the truth of the foregoing better than an incident
which happened within a very few days after Stanley's memorable letter was
penned. That letter was handed by Stanley to Linant on the shores of the Lake
Victoria. Stanley then set sail to circumnavigate the lake. Linant stayed
six weeks longer at Mutesa's court. During that time he was requested to
build the first brick building which was ever constructed in Buganda. This
building was a mosque. One is led to wonder what were the feelings of Linant
after the very recent and earnest conversations which he had witnessed pass
between Mutesa and Stanley. As he chose to style himself Abdul Aziz in
front of the natives, he perhaps rather invited this unconscious piece of sarcasm.
Linant attempted to comply with Mutesa's request, but was not entirely
successful in his efforts at brickmaking. He was unable to bake his bricks and
left the mosque in an unfinished condition. (Kagwa-Basekabaka, p. 147;
Schweitzer, I., 33).
Linant's visit was marked by one other incident, which hardly evidenced
that change of heart in Mutesa in which Stanley so genuinely believed. One
day Mutesa picked up a gun, which Stanley had given him, and, bidding Linant
watch, deliberately fired at one of his many wives, blowing her head off. He then
turned to Linant and asked him if he did not consider him a good marksman. It
was an unusual act of ferocity on Mutesa's part. He never attempted any
such act in the presence of Stanley. As in the case of Gordon's other emissary,
Long, the outburst appears to have been deliberate and done for the special
purpose of impressing an emissary of the "Turk" government. (Long-My
Life in Four Continents, I., 165).
Linant in fact did not find favour with Mutesa for many reasons. He
refused to cooperate with Mutesa in an expedition against the Bavuma.
(Birkbeck Hill, p. 178). At a later date Stanley proved more obliging. Linant's
refusal is to his credit but it did not enhance his popularity. But this refusal
was not the only ground for his unpopularity. Though he found Linant "a very
agreeable man" Stanley could not but observe "that there was a vast difference
between his treatment of his men and the manner in which I treated mine,
and that his intercourse with the Waganda was conducted after exactly opposite
principles to those which governed my conduct. He adopted a half military
style, which the Waganda ill brooked, and many things uncomplimentary to
him were uttered by them. He stationed guards at the entrance to his courtyard
to keep the Waganda at a distance, except those bearing messages from Mtesa,
while my courtyard was nearly always full of watongolehs, soldiers, pages, and
children." (Stanley-op. cit., I., 206).
As the accredited agent of the suzerain power, Linant felt he must exercise
some measure of outward authority. As neither Mutesa nor his people realized
that they were subject to any suzerainty whatever, they failed to appreciate
the necessity for this outward display. They still more intensely disliked the
presence in their country of a camp of armed foreigners. It was therefore with
considerable relief that they saw Linant and his men take their departure.
After an absence of four months Stanley returned to Mutesa. He assisted the
Baganda in a campaign against the Bavuma. To his credit it must be said
that in the hour of victory he restrained Mutesa from a wholesale massacre of
the defeated islanders. In the intervals of campaigning and of other distractions
he renewed his religious conversations with the King. Mutesa showed such
enthusiasm that with the help of one of his followers, Dallington Muftawa, he
prepared an abridgment of the Bible in Kiswahili. Mutesa and many of his
chiefs read the abridgment with avidity. Stanley was persuaded to leave
Dallington behind to act as a Bible reader until such time as the European
missionaries should arrive to confirm the King and his people in the Christian
faith. (Stanley-op. cit., I., 297-415).
At the end of 1875 Stanley departed from Buganda to make his way by
way of the Congo River to the west coast of Africa. Mutesa viewed his
departure with real regret, but not for the reason which Stanley fondly believed.
His outward profession of Christianity was not due to any sound sense of
conviction or even to any momentary access of religious fervour. It was very
calculated and very deliberate. It was clear to nim that the time was not
far distant when Egyptian troops might endeavour to establish themselves in
his country. The chain of posts, which Gordon had established in the Acholi
country, was ominous. Gordon's attitude to Kabarega gave great grounds for
uneasiness. The armed escort, which Linant brought into the country, had
behaved in a high-handed manner and Linant himself had treated him somewhat
cavalierly. For whatever may have been the faith of a few of the Khedive's
servants, the Egyptian government stood in Mutesa's eyes for Islam. The
Zanzibar traders were also Mahommedans. Whilst they were commercial rivals
of traders from Khartoum, Mutesa had learnt that co-religionists often stuck
to one another when it came to a dispute with a person not of their faith.
The mission to the coast had come to nothing. The Sultan of Zanzibar had
neither given nor promised any practical assistance to Mutesa. On the other
hand, Stanley had done what Linant had declined to do, namely, assist in a
punitive expedition against the Bavuma. He had shown himself to be a leader
of men, and like the Zanzibar trader, this remarkable man's chief topic of
conversation seemed to be his religion. The Zanzibar traders had proved useful
when Mutesa had shown an interest in their faith. Stanley was obviously a
far greater man than any Arab trader. If all his countrymen were like him,
a profession of interest in their religion might enlist the aid of invaluable allies
against Egyptian aggression. As I have already said, Stanley was splendidly
duped. Neither he nor his duper could have dreamt what the result of such
duping would be for Buganda.
Dallington, the boy whom Stanley left behind, was little more than seventeen
years old. He had been a pupil of the Universities Mission in Zanzibar.
(Stanley, I., 75). In addition to his duties of Scripture reader he acted as
Mutesa's secretary, and conducted Mutesa's diplomatic correspondence in a
misspelt and ungrammatical English upon odd scraps of paper left behind by
Stanley, whereon he wrote laboriously in a sprawling hand. He was left
alone for eighteen months in a strange land. His position was by no means
easy. Not only large bands of pagan diehards but also the Zanzibar traders
showed marked disapproval of his evangelical work. None the less Dallington
to the best of his ability carried out the task entrusted to him by Stanley. When
European missionaries did ultimately arrive in the country, they were surprised
to find what he had achieved despite innumerable handicaps.
Conversation with Dallington confirmed Mutesa in his opinion that he had
done well to invite Christians to his country. As a native of Zanzibar, Dallington
had learnt something of the strength of the British Government. When in
the past other nations had caused trouble with the Sultan of Zanzibar, the
British Government at Bombay had intervened and matters had been righted.
The same Government might well be induced to come to Mutesa's aid.
On his return journey Linant had been attacked by Nyamuyonjo, a nominal
vassal of Kabarega, who ruled over the district of Bunyala (the modern Bugerere).
Linant had an escort of the Baganda at the time with him, but they promptly
deserted him-not out of cowardice but with a strong sense of satisfaction in
seeing a very unpopular guest in difficulty. (Stanley, I., 443). Gordon resolved
to send a punitive expedition against Kabarega in the belief that he had
instigated this attack. At the same time he decided to send an Italian, named
Romolo Gessi, in a steel boat to explore Lake Albert. Finally, he announced
that "I want to push on to the Lake (Victoria Nyanza) to hoist the flag, and
enable the Khedive to claim its waters." (Birkbeck Hill, p. 150). The two
first of these plans were put into execution at the beginning of 1876. The
punitive expedition came to little. Kabarega fled directly Gordon appeared on
the banks of the Somerset Nile and Gordon made no attempt to penetrate into
Bunyoro in pursuit. Gessi circumnavigated Lake Albert, meeting with a hostile
reception whenever he put close in shore. (Gessi-pp. 99-139).
Intelligence of these expeditions reached Mutesa before they had actually
started. Dallington was commissioned at once to send a letter to Stanley to
beg him to return and also another letter to Gordon. His letter reached Gordon
at Labor and reads as follows:-
"To Sir Canell Gorlden. February 6th, 1876.
"My dear friend Gorden hear this my word be not angry with Kavarega
Sultan of Unyoro I been head that you been brought two manwar ships
but I pray you fight not with those Wanyoro for they know not what is
good and what is bad. I am Mtesa king of Uganda for if you fight with
governor you fight with the King. I will ask you one thing but let it
may please you all ye Europeion for I say if I want to go Bommbey
if the governor and if the governor of Bommbey refuse me to past, will
I not find the other road therefore I pray you my friends hear this my
letter stop for a moment if you want to fight put ships in the river nile
take west and north and I will take east and south and let us put wanyoro
in to the middle and fight against them but first send me answer from this
letter. Because I want to be a friend of the English. I am Mtesa son of
Suna King of uganda let God be with your Majesty even you all Amen.
Mtesa king of uganda
February 6th, 1876."
(Birkbeck Hill, p. 160).
Gordon, who once described Mutesa as an "abib" or slave, decided to
take no notice of this letter, but it contained a great deal of sound sense.
The writer warned Gordon to keep his hands off Bunyoro and further warned
him that, if he continued in his purpose, there, would be an appeal to Bombay.
If the Bombay Government did not intervene, Mutesa would enforce his request
by some "other road." If Gordon wished to keep, on good terms with Mutesa,
let Bunyoro be treated as a buffer state.
Having decided to disregard the letter, Gordon now resolved to put into
execution his plan of securing Lake Victoria for the Khedive. For this purpose
he proposed to dismantle a 108 ton steamer, which had been placed on the
Victoria Nile and carry it overland to the Lake. (Birkbeck Hill, p. 172). He
decided to go personally to Mruli, where the Somerset Nile debouched from
Lake Kioga and thence overland to the Ripon Falls, and after hoisting the
Khedivial flag on the Lake to return back by the Nile to Mruli. If possible, he
wished to avoid trouble with Mutesa but was resolved to carry out his plans,
whether Mutesa liked it or not. In order to have a base for his operations he
sent his advance force of 160 men under Nuehr Aga and Mohamed Effendi to
establish a stockade in Bulondoganyi, a district which actually lay in Mutesa's
For various reasons Gordon delayed his own advance. In August, 1876,
he received the somewhat surprising information that his advance party was
not in Bulondoganyi, but had proceeded at Mutesa's request to his capital,
Rubaga. Gordon's commentary on receiving this news was "As it is Mutesas'
own wish, I will let the 160,soldiers stay there. It is his own fault. I wished
him to preserve his independence, and therefore chose the Nile route, viz.,
Urondogani and Cossitza (Ripon Falls). But now Mtesa has the garrison at his
capital, a very few men will suffice for those places, as I can make him a
prisoner if he is troublesome. You see, also, I secure all the Zanzibar trade;
and in fact he has virtually given up his independence . . I know what
he will be at, viz., trying to seduce the officers and men to go and attack his
enemies." (Birkbeck Hill, p. 178).
It may be that Gordon accurately guessed one of the motives which
prompted Mutesa to invite the enemy inside his gates. But it seems clear it
was not the only motive. If he was to have an armed body of foreign troops
in his territory, it was preferable to have them at the capital, where possibly
he might be able to cope with them, rather than on the outskirts of his kingdom,
when the task of dealing with them in case of hostilities would be much more
Nuehr Aga and his men arrived at Rubaga and constructed a zeriba. They
were accompanied by a large body of porters, who had been recruited in the
Acholi country. Mutesa persuaded Nuehr Aga to discharge these porters on
the strength of a promise that he would replace them by as many Baganda
porters as might be required. This promise was never fulfilled. Excuses were
made from day to day for the non-fulfilment, but the porters never appeared.
Without them the Egyptian troops were immobile. (Birkbeck Hill, p. 181).
Their commander tried to be overbearing, and to bluster, but he found the
attitude of the inhabitants very different to that of the tribes further to the north.
The Egyptian flag was hoisted over the zeriba. This was answered by the
hoisting over the royal enclosure of the same flag, which Mutesa had previously
displayed when Long had visited the country. The Egyptian Commander
instructed Mutesa to haul it down. He was told that the flag was the flag
of Christianity and would not be hauled down. (State Papers-Lieutenant
Shergold Smith to Dr. Kirk (enclosed in letter of Dr. Kirk to Lord Derby,
Nov. 28, 1877). This gave Nuehr Aga to think. It was clear that Mutesa had
served out firearms to a number of his subjects and that a great concentration
of fighting men was taking place. Nuehr Aga's own troops were none too well
disciplined. He had to depend for his supplies upon the country. The
recollection of Baker's disastrous retreat from Masindi in the face of a far
less redoubtable enemy was all too recent. The Aga therefore deemed it unwise
to insist in his demand. He may not have been aware that on each occasion,
when he visited Mutesa, a couple of men were told off to stand behind him
and each member of his escort to pinion them at the least sign of hostility. It
was, however, very apparent to him that the whole of the countryside was
under arms. Great fires were kept burning every night and the Egyptian troops
were in constant fear of an attack (Ashe, p. 115).
Nuehr Aga had other evidence that he was dealing with the most Christian-
for the time being-King of Buganda. Just before his arrival certain Baganda
converts to Islam had scoffed openly at Mutesa's sudden fervour for Christianity.
They had refused to eat meat, which had not been killed according to Islamic
rights, and announced that Mutesa was a mere pagan Kaffir. Such treasonable
utterances were speedily silenced. Mutesa's bodyguard of professional
executioners were sent into the countryside to search out all those who professed
and called themselves Mohammedans. Some two or three hundred managed
to escape by joining Arab caravans and making their way to Zanzibar. Others
concealed their faith, but some seventy were arrested and put to death at one
of the places of public execution. (Nicq., p. 225; Kagwa-Basekabaka, p. 149).
Relies of this massacre still lay about the countryside when the Egyptian troops
arrived (Schweitzer, I., 33).
The situation was critical for several weeks. It is a matter of surprise
that the Egyptians and Baganda did not come to actual blows. The credit for
this was due partly to Mutesa himself and partly to that Ahmed bin Ibrahim,
who many years previously had given Suna his first introduction to Islam.
Ahmed bin Ibrahim realized that retaliatory measures on the part of Gordon
would put an end to the Zanzibar trade in Buganda. He acted as interpreter
between Nuehr Aga and Mutesa and there can be no doubt that his tactful
and conciliatory conduct saved the situation at more than one critical moment.
Mutesa had a bodyguard who were dressed in military uniform and armed with
guns and who were spoiling for a fight, but Mutesa still had fresh in his
memory the disastrous attack by the Baganda on the slave traders in Bunyoro
in 1869. He had also seen the reprisals meted out to Kabarega when he had
attacked Egyptian troops and was shrewd enough to know that any aggression
on his part might be visited with the same consequences. He therefore kept
in check his own fire-eaters, but it required a strong man to do so. For several
weeks his men and the Egyptian troops faced each other, in danger every moment
of an incident, which would let slip the dogs of war. The Egyptian troops were
confined to their zeriba more or less in a state of siege. Their supplies ran
short and were only replenished by Mutesa on sufferance. He had, however,
the wisdom to see that, if the garrison was actually reduced to starvation, they
might take matters into their own hands and forage for themselves, thus making
bloodshed inevitable. He therefore ordered them to be supplied with food
but kept them on very short commons. Some of the garrison deserted. Nuehr
Aga realized that he had got himself into a hopeless position. He therefore
decided to leave his men and return to Gordon and make a clean breast of the
whole affair. Mutesa allowed him to depart unmolested and entrusted to him
a letter for Gordon penned by Dallington, the contents of which were "a jumble
of bits of prayers, etc., and keeps repeating he is the King of Uganda, etc.,
and the greatest king in Africa." (Birkbeck Hill, p. 181).
When Gordon received Nuehr Aga's report, his comment was "Mtesa
has annexed my soldiers: he has not been annexed himself." (Birkbeck Hill,
p. 181). He at first resolved to proceed personally to Rubaga, extricate the
troops, and post them in Bulondoganyi. But later hearing that "Mtesa's court
is as full of etiquette as the Pekin court," he decided to entrust the task to a
Silesian doctor, named Eduard Schnitzer, who became better known to the
world as Emin Pasha. By training Emin was a doctor. By inclination he was
a naturalist and a botanist. He was bespectacled and not of at all imposing
appearance. Therein he stood in striking contrast to Gordon's previous emissaries
to Buganda. A less military looking individual could not possibly be imagined.
Recently he had publicly professed his conversion to Islam. Thereby he excited
the ridicule of his superior officer, and Gordon's correspondence at this date
is full of contemptuous references to him. What Gordon and Emin himself
did not fully realise was that the mission, with which the latter was now
entrusted, was not only extremely delicate but attended by considerable personal
risk. Little as Gordon was able to appreciate the fact at the time, Emin,
the one and only European who ever established friendly relations with
Kabarega of Bunyoro, was pre-eminently fitted for the task.
Emin reached Mruli in July, 1876, and started at once for Buganda with
an escort of only six soldiers. Mutesa had been forewarned of his approach. A
band of five hundred men had been despatched to the frontier apparently with
orders to refuse him admission to the country. Emin got into communication
with this party, who temporised by informing him that he must wait at the
frontier pending the receipt of instructions from Mutesa. Emin grew impatient.
After several days' delay the leader of the Baganda informed Emin that he
would not be allowed to enter the country without Mutesa's special permission,
and that, without such permission, no porters could be supplied to him. Emin
then decided to put on a bold front and announced that he would continue his
advance whether he received permission or not. The commander of the
Baganda outpost was apparently without any definite instructions and did not
like to assume the responsibility of a clash of arms. He further realized that
Emin's escort was not at all formidable and therefore could easily be dealt
with if it proved troublesome. Moreover, the curious European, who spent all
his spare time in camp botanising did not seem very dangerous. He therefore
offered no opposition when Emin struck camp. Emin met with further
difficulties on his march and it took him twelve days to reach Rubaga.
(Schweitzer, I.-30; 31).
Mutesa had in the meantime decided to receive him. But he was very
soon given to understand that it was still the Most Christian King who reigned
in Buganda. On his arrival he was greeted with the following missive penned
"To my dear friend, I thank be to God for bringing you home safety.
Therefore I send Chambalango my chief to see you now how you do and thank
be to our Lord Jesus Christ to be thy shield." (Schweitzer-I., 32).
From time to time during his sojourn he received other letters in a like
vein. When he interviewed Mutesa, he was invited to embark on a religious
conversation extolling the merits of Christianity to the disparagement of those
of Islam. Mutesa, who had hitherto been rather proud of displaying his
knowledge of Arabic, relapsed entirely into Luganda and conducted all his
interviews with Emin through the medium of Ahmed bin Ibrahim. As long
as Mutesa insisted on diverting conversation to religious topics, it was difficult
to arrive at any arrangement for the withdrawal of the Egyptian troops. But
he suddenly changed his attitude. The Zanzibar traders were becoming alienated
by. his aggressive profession of Christianity and a wild rumour reached the court
that all Christians had been expelled from Zanzibar. Mutesa thereupon altered
his tone and expressed his entire satisfaction with the tenets of Islam. Emin
had done some doctoring whilst he was at Rubaga and thereby made a favourable
impression on the Baganda. Mutesa decided there was no guile in him and,
acting on the advice of Ahmed bin Ibrahim, decided to allow the Egyptian
garrison an unmolested passage out of the country. (Schweitzer, I. 32-39).
On August 31, 1876, the Egyptian troops quitted Rubaga for Mruli, where
they met Gordon. News took a long time to travel down the Nile to Cairo
in those days. When the Khedive heard the first report of the occupation of
Rubaga, he telegraphed Gordon his congratulations and conferred upon him the
order of the Medjidieh. The telegram reached Gordon after the evacuation of
Buganda. "This is dreadful," he wrote, "for it is obtained under false
pretences." (Birkbeck Hill, p. 196). He had in fact already before the receipt
of the Khedive's telegram decided to make the best of a bad business and had
on August 30, written to Mutesa proposing a treaty recognizingg the independence
of the country of Uganda and offering to take his ambassadors (I) down to
Cairo" ibidd, p. 183). Mutesa's reply was a jumble of prayers and requests for
arms and ammunition, but said nothing about the treaty ibidd, p. 192). It was
really not necessary that it should be mentioned. He had clearly demonstrated
the worth of the document, which Long had persuaded him to sign in 1874,
and all question of annexation of Buganda by Egypt was at an end.
Gordon now turned his attention to Kabarega, personally leading an
expedition to Bunyoro. This did not serve to allay Mutesa's fears, but he
had by now received the news that the European missionaries, whom Stanley
had promised to send, were on their way from the coast. He eagerly awaited
their arrival, not from any anxiety to hear more of the doctrines, which he
knew they would teach, but because he thought they were like all other
missionaries whom he had previously encountered. He had sized up the Arab
missionary fairly well. Mutesa realized that an Arab's religion meant a great
deal to him, took up a great part of his life and that he could often be a zealous
proselytiser, but he also saw that his Arab visitors had time for other more
mundane matters. They could trade and buy ivory and slaves. They were
ready to supply firearms and ammunition in exchange. Mutesa appreciated their
superior knowledge and realized that both he and his people could learn much
from them. He was therefore ready to tolerate their religious zeal and to
display a certain measure of outward willingness to accept their creed in exchange
for the other more worldly advantages, which they could bestow upon him. It
was in the like spirit that he prepared to receive the first European missionaries.
The first party of the missionaries were despatched under the auspices
of the C.M.S. The first to arrive in the country were Shergold Smith and
C. T. Wilson. The former had been a naval officer but had been invalided out
of the service with the sight of one eye badly impaired as the result of illness
contracted whilst engaged in the suppression of the slave trade on the west
coast of Africa.
Such was his anxiety to have the missionaries at his side that Mutesa
despatched a special fleet of canoes to convoy them and innumerable letters
urging them to "come quickly." In the course of their voyage the missionaries
put in to the island of Ukara at the southern end of Lake Victoria. They were
attacked by the inhabitants with a shower of stones and poisoned arrows.
Wilson was wounded in the arm by a poisoned arrow. Smith was struck by a
stone in his 'best eye,' but despite his pain had the presence of mind to put
the helm about and get his ship out of range. Blinded as he was and suffering
acutely, he then proceeded to suck Wilson's wound to get the poison out of
the arm. The remainder of the voyage was without incident and on July 2, 1877,
the missionaries presented themselves to Mutesa. (Wilson-I., 100, 191).
Shergold Smith wrote an account of this first meeting with Mutesa. The
letter is somewhat pathetic reading. It begins "This was our reception. I could
not see, so my report is that of ear" and closes with the words "Eye says,
you must stop." On the first day Mutesa was most enthusiastic, but on the
following day "from some cause he seemed suspicious of us, and questioned
us about Gordon, and rather wanted to bully us into making powder and shot,
saying: 'Now my heart is not good.' We said we came to do as the letter
told him, not to make powder and shot; and if he wished it, we would not
stay. He paused for some time, and then said 'What have you come for-to
teach my people to read and write?' We said, 'Yes, and whatever useful
arts we and those coming may know.' Then he said, 'Now my heart is good;
England is my friend. I have one hand in Uganda and the other in England.'
He asked after Queen Victoria, and wished to know which was the greatest,
she or the Khedive of Egypt. The relative size of their dominions were
explained to him, and referring to our letter, I said how desirous England was
that his kingdom should be prosperous." (The Victoria Nyanza Mission, p. 53).
After this conversation Mutesa decided that the new-comers might be useful
to him and allowed Shergold Smith to return to the southern end of the lake
to fetch the remainder of the contingent and more stores. At the end of his
journey Smith penned a letter to Dr. Kirk, Consul-General at Zanzibar, reviewing
the political situation in Buganda and concluding with the words "If you could
exert your influence to prevent the annexation of Mtesa's dominions to
Egypt, I shall be much obliged. I see by a letter from Colonel Gordon that
he speaks of this as already completed, saying 'Mtesa has annexed himself.'
Though it is not the case yet, it shows which way the wind blows; and I can
see no greater harm to civilisation than the inroad of Mahommedan ideas."
Some eighteen months before he had received this letter Kirk had had to
protest on behalf of the Sultan of Zanzibar against the Khedive's unwarrantable
annexation at the suggestion of Gordon of the Sultan's mainland territories at
the mouth of the Juba River. That protest had been successful and the
Egyptian army of occupation had been recalled. Kirk therefore gave a
sympathetic ear to Smith's plea for Buganda. He forwarded the letter to
Lord Derby, then Foreign Secretary, who in due course notified the Khedive
that any attempt to encroach on Mutesa's dominions would meet with the
same disapproval on the part of the British Government as had the Khedive's
previous attempt to annex the Sultan of Zanzibar's dominions. (State Papers
-Dr. Kirk to Lord Derby, January 7, 1878). Shergold Smith's brief visit to
Buganda was therefore not without good fruit.
After Shergold Smith's departure from Buganda, Wilson was left alone
for many months. He was soon to find that Mutesa's enthusiasm for
missionaries quickly waned. When Smith failed to return with the stores,
which Mutesa doubtless hoped would include a few kegs of powder and some
guns, Mutesa began to bully Wilson and to demand that he should produce
arms and ammunition or at least assist in the procuring of these articles.
When Wilson refused, Mutesa showed his resentment by cutting off supplies of
food and trying to evict him from his house. (Wilson-I., 112, 113). In the
little Wilson published concerning these solitary months he has tried to make
light of his experiences, but it is clear he encountered many difficulties and
hardships. To Mutesa's suspicious mind a foreigner who chose to settle in his
land and neither to trade nor to fight must be there for some very sinister
At the end of 1876, wearied in his almost single-handed fight against the
slave trade and against the corruption and misgovernment of the subordinates
on whom he had to rely, Gordon returned to England "with the sad. conviction
that no good could be done in those parts, and that it would be better had
no expedition ever been sent." Though Kirk's despatch had not then arrived,
Gordon was doubtless surprised to find that his activities in the region of the
Central Lakes had received some notice in England. He was asked to call at
the Foreign Office and, as a result of an interview, promised that, if he returned
to the Soudan, he would not go back to the lakes (Birkbeck Hill, p. 210). In
1877 he returned and in pursuance of his promise decided to attempt to enter
into friendly relations with the rulers of Bunyoro and Buganda. He entrusted
Emin Pasha with this mission. Emin first visited Kabarega and concluded
arrangements with him, which appeared to augur well for the future. From
Bunyoro he proceeded to Buganda.
Mutesa knew nothing of Shergold Smith's letter to Kirk or of the effect
which it was likely to produce. Still less did he know of Gordon's change of
policy. For him the Egyptian menace was still a very lively one. He stipulated
that Emin was to bring no soldiers into the country (Schweinfurth, p. 68). He
furthermore took great pains to conceal the fact that there was already another
European at Rubaga. It was not until five days after his arrival that Emin
became aware that Wilson was also at Mutesa's court. The two met in Mutesa's
audience chamber and Emin started to take Wilson to his house. On their
way they were stopped by messengers, who told them that Mutesa desired
each to go to his own house and not remain together-a command with which
Wilson deemed it prudent to comply. The two only had one other opportunity
of meeting. Wilson asked Mutesa's permission to go and visit Emin at his
house. After some hesitation Mutesa consented but told Wilson that he must
go at once and that an escort would accompany him. Mutesa apparently wished
to prevent Wilson having 'any opportunity of communicating with Gordon
and possibly of complaining of the treatment which he had received. But
Wilson outwitted him. He had his letters already written and slipped them
into one of Emin's boxes when his escort were not looking. (Wilson-I., 112-
116; Schweitzer, 1., 57-59).
Emin spent three months with Mutesa. He subsequently complained that
he found great difficulty in getting his host to talk business. Emin tried to
obtain permission for himself to proceed with an escort to be supplied by
Mutesa to the Mufumbiro Mountains and thence to Zanzibar. Mutesa's fixed
policy of not allowing his country to be a thoroughfare made that impossible
and the proposal only served to arouse his suspicious (Stuhlmann-p. 195).
Emin was also instructed to try and induce Mutesa to send an embassy to the
Khedive. He was put off by Mutesa announcing the fact that he was sending
an embassy to England or else to Zanzibar. Emin then proceeded to enlarge
upon the possibilities of developing an ivory trade between Buganda and
Khartoum. Mutesa became more interested and finally, on Emin promising
to act personally as his commercial agent and on his assurance that the Khedive
would send him magnificent presents, agreed to send a deputation to Khartoum.
(Schweitzer, I., 57-65).
Certain events had in the meantime happened, which explain why Wilson
and Emin had no further opportunity of meeting and also disclose a motive
for Mutesa's changed orientation in his policy. On the last day of 1877 news
reached Buganda that Shergold Smith and his colleague O'Neill had been
murdered at the southern end of the lake. Their bodies were never found. If
Shergold Smith needs a memorial other than his own work, I would fain
inscribe thereon the words written by certain of his brother officers to
commemorate an officer of the sister service, who lies in an unknown grave far
away in the Antarctic-" Hereabouts lies a very gallant English gentleman."
The news of this calamity filled Mutesa with considerable alarm. He allowed
Wilson, whom he had kept virtually a prisoner, to leave the country to enquire
as to the fate. of his comrades and to rescue the stores of the mission
(Wilson, I., 114-117). For the moment it appeared to Mutesa as if the road
to Zanzibar was closed. If that were so, commerce with and assistance from
Zanzibar or England would be out of the question. He therefore felt compelled
to negotiate through Emin with the Egyptian Government. At the same time
he resolved to reopen the road to the east coast and for that purpose sent a
punitive expedition to the south of the lake, which ravaged the island and district
where the European missionaries had met their fate. (Kagwa-Basekabaka,
On hearing of the death of Smith and O'Neill the Church Missionary
Society decided to send another party to strengthen the hands of their solitary
representative in Buganda. The route from the east coast had already proved
costly in more ways than one. The climate had claimed one of the original
band as a victim and others of the party had been compelled by illness to drop
out on the way. The carriage of stores on porters' heads was wasteful and
expensive and there was the constant risk of interruption on the lines of
communication. Until the interior was connected with the coast by railway-a
proposal first mooted by Wilson in 1882 in a paper showing remarkable insight
into the political and commercial possibilities of such a venture (Wilson, I., 339)-
the Nile route offered decided advantages over the east-coast route. According
to reports received by the Society the Soudan was efficiently policed. Steamers
were available for the transport for a great part of the distance. It was
reckoned that a journey from London by the Nile to Buganda would cost 500
less per head than by the other route (Felkin-p. 858) and would also take
at least two months less to complete. Gordon, who was a strong supporter,
albeit a strong critic, of missionary enterprise, had offered to defray all the
expenses of any missionaries travelling through the Soudan and to give them
every assistance on their way. The Society therefore decided to send their
reinforcements to Buganda by way of Khartoum.
Wilson had in the meantime returned to Buganda, where shortly afterwards
he was joined by Alexander Mackay. They broached the question of the
admission of their colleagues to the country. The project caused Mutesa
great uneasiness. These Europeans had not so far came up to his expectations
in regard to commerce, arms, or ammunition. Now they were asking him to
open a door which he definitely desired to keep closed. Were they and the
Egyptians in league? The Zanzibar traders said they were. Mutesa more
than once told Mackay of his mistrust of Egypt and even spoke of going to
fight Gordon. Mackay at the time wrote home to say "I have had some stiff
arguments with him on this point." (Mackay, p. 102). Those arguments did
not serve to allay his suspicions. Wilson, however, with his long experience
of Mutesa was able to explain that the newcomers were in no way the servants
of the Egyptian Government. Mutesa agreed to let them enter the country
and in anticipation of their arrival once more displayed a strong Christian fervour.
This fresh contingent of missionaries reached Rubaga on February 14, 1879.
Three days later two more missionaries arrived from the south. These were
Father Lourdel and Brother Amans of the Order of the White Fathers, which
had recently been founded by one of the greatest of modern liberationists,
Cardinal Lavigerie. It was almost by an accident that the first Catholic
missionaries reached Uganda from the south instead of from the north, and
that accident had a very important effect upon the fortunes of the mission in
Uganda. A Catholic mission had for many years been established in Khartoum.
The southern limit of the Apostolic Prefecture's boundary had been in latitude
four degrees south. Until communication was opened up with the lake regions
by Gordon no opportunity had occurred for endeavouring to establish mission
stations in Equatorial Africa. In 1878 Monsignore Daniel Comboni, the head
of the mission, resolved to establish posts on the shores of both Lake Victoria
and Lake Albert. Gordon placed one of the Government steamers at his
disposal for this purpose. The Vatican, however, had in the meantime decreed
that this mission field should be allotted to Cardinal Lavigerie and Monsignore
Comboni abandoned his project. (Gessi, pp. 175, 223). One very much wonders
if Catholic missionaries under the tegis of Gordon would have been allowed to
enter the country.
As it was, Father Lourdel and his companion did not enter Buganda under
the most favourable of auspices. They had violated an unwritten law by entering
the country without the King's permission. This act naturally aroused Mutesa's
suspicion, and he refused to see them for several days. Fortunately for them,
at this date a Swahili named Toli was attached to Mutesa's court as bandmaster
and drill instructor of his personal bodyguard. Earlier in life he had been a
sailor and had travelled in one of the Sultan of Zanzibar's ships to Marseilles.
He assured Mutesa that he knew they were Frenchman and vouched for their
characters. Mutesa than decided to receive them and after an interview
consented to allow the remainder of their party to enter the kingdom. (Nicq-
The rest of the White Fathers arrived in due course under the leadership
of Father Livinhac, who subsequently became Vicar Apostolic of the Nyanza
diocese and ultimately Superior General of the Order. It very soon became
apparent to Mutesa that these newcomers were people apart from the other
band of missionaries. They were habited differently. They spoke a different
language and the doctrines they taught were different. Unfortunately certain
members of the two bands had a personal difference of opinion in front of
Mutesa himself. No doubt each of the protagonists regretted the incident as
soon as it had taken place and the story thereof is a thing of the past best
consigned to oblivion-more especially as the other members of the two societies
lived on quite friendly terms and frequently rendered each other mutual assistance
and acts of courtesy. None the less the fact remains that Mutesa very quickly
perceived that the two bands of missionaries were not likely to combine together.
It was a position of affairs which gave the King the liveliest possible
satisfaction. He soon learnt that the land from which the French missionaries
hailed was apparently as powerful a country as England. The Englishmen had
failed to come up to his expectations. They declined to produce arms and
ammunition and now they appeared to be leaguing themselves with Gordon and
the Egyptians. The French might prove less disappointing. They had come
from the south and apparently had no connection with or interest in Gordon.
Their friendship seemed therefore to be worth cultivating. At the same time,
just as it had been advisable to guard against a possible alliance between the
Zanzibar traders and their co-religionists from Khartoum, it appeared to Mutesa
advisable to ensure that the French and English missionaries did not form an
alliance. It was for that reason as much as any other that Mutesa took a
particular delight in inviting the members of both missions and the exponents of
Islam to embark in those theological discussions, which the missionaries of both
faiths report as having taken place so frequently at this date.
When the White Fathers arrived, Mutesa was seriously debating the despatch
of a deputation to England under the aegis of one of the C.M.S. missionaries.
When Shergold Smith had informed Dr. Kirk of the position of affairs in
Buganda, the latter had written Mutesa a letter of kindly advice. Kirk had
warned Mutesa of the inadvisability of any act of aggression on his part against
the Egyptian troops and had at the same time assured him that, provided Mutesa
abstained from any act affording a casus belli, he would do his best to secure
the intervention of the British Government, if any attempt was made by Egypt
to interfere with the independence of Buganda. Mutesa was much impressed
by this letter and late in 1878 or early in 1879 despatched a mission to Zanzibar
to thank Kirk for his advice and also "for keeping the road open to the coast,"
a line of communication on which Mutesa had learnt to set great store. (State
Papers-Dr. Kirk to Lord Salisbury, October 15, 1879).
Kirk's letter led Mutesa to consider taking the more important step of
getting in direct touch with the British Government. When the contingent
of C.M.S. missionaries arrived from Khartoum, it was suggested to him that
one of the missionaries should escort the embassy to England by way of the Nile.
The proposal at once aroused Mutesa's suspicions. Doubts arose in his mind
as to whether the missionaries, or Gordon, or the Khedive would allow his
delegates to proceed beyond Egypt. The timely arrival of the White Fathers
suggested to him the idea of diverting the intended embassy from England to
The subject was broached to Father Livinhac with a request that either
he or one of his confreres should escort the delegates to France to arrange that
Buganda should be placed under French protection. Father Livinhac had
received definite instructions from his Superior not to intermeddle in local politics,
but the request was put forward in such circumstances that anything but a very
diplomatic answer might have seriously jeopardised his own personal safety and
that of his colleagues. He therefore replied that he was unable to spare a
member of his mission to accompany the delegates, but that, if application
was made to the French Consul at Zanzibar, that officer might be able to make
the necessary arrangements. At the same time he wrote both to the Consul
and to Cardinal Lavigerie acquainting them with what had transpired. The
latter got in touch with the responsible French minister and urged that Mutesa's
offer should be accepted. He was thanked for his interesting information and
the interesting documents supporting his arguments. Thereafter the latter
were in due course pigeon-holed in some office in Paris. The time was not
favourable for mooting schemes of colonial expansion. Recent attempts to form
settlements in Indo-China had cost the French much both in men and money
and public opinion in France was asking whether these colonial ventures were
really worth while. (Philippe-pp. 50, 51, Nicq, pp. 158-155).
Finding that Father Livinhac would not immediately comply with his
request, Mutesa reverted to his old plan and requested English missionaries to
take his delegates to England. In June, 1879, three Baganda departed for
Khartoum under the care of Mr. Wilson and Dr. Felkin. In due course they
reached England and were given a reception by Queen Victoria. They returned
by way of Zanzibar and arrived in Buganda early in February, 1881, bringing
presents from the Queen to Mutesa. Mackay and other contemporary writers
suggest that the mission was barren of results. There can be no doubt that
Mutesa was disappointed with its outcome. Prior to the return of his envoys
he had heard of the gracious reception accorded to them by Queen Victoria.
This news so aroused his interest he even proposed to go to England himself
and to leave the Queen-mother to govern in his absence, but his leading chiefs
raised strong objection to this. When this plan was given up, he asked the
missionaries to obtain one of Queen Victoria's daughters as a wife I (Stock, p. 81).
When the envoys finally arrived, it was a grievous disappointment to him to find
that they brought back with them merely the customary presents of courtesy,
which he had previously received from such persons as the Sultan of Zanzibar,
and no practical proposals of alliance. He did not, however, wish to make
any outward display of his disappointment in front of the missionaries and
therefore upon their return dismissed his envoys from his presence in the same
manner as he dismissed any servant or petty chief after reporting that he had
performed some trivial or menial task. (Mackay, p. 210). Afterwards he
promoted the envoys to important chieftainships (Munno (1924), p. 91); and
it is clear that he was very much impressed with their accounts of England,
and realized that the English were a powerful nation, which might render him
valuable aid in time of need. There can be no doubt that it was this knowledge,
which induced him to resist the popular clamour which arose more than once
in his latter years for the death or expulsion of the Christian missionaries.
Whilst the envoys were in England, Mutesa's apprehensions in regard to
Egypt began to be allayed. In 1879 Gordon withdrew the more southerly
Egyptian garrisons. In 1883, a Dongolese carpenter named Mohammed Ali
raised the standard of revolt in the Soudan and as Mahdi preached a holy war
against Europeans and Egyptians alike. Two years later came the tragedy of
Khartoum. Thereafter Mahdiism stood for more than a decade as a formidable
barrier to all intercourse between Egypt and the lakes.
The removal of the Egyptian garrisons from the banks of the Somerset Nile
caused Mutesa such relief of mind that he wrote a letter of thanks to Gordon
(Birkbeck Hill, p. 160). Emin Pasha wrote to suggest that Mutesa should
occupy the abandoned post at Mruli. The Zanzibar traders, who feared that
the occupation of Mruli would divert the slave and ivory trade to the north,
opposed the suggestion and, despite the fact that it was supported by members
of both missions, Mutesa relinquished the idea (Nicq, p. 189). Feeling himself
.rid of this menace, his attitude towards the Christian missionaries underwent
a certain change. They were no longer in his eyes persons to be humoured
in the hope that they might exert their influence in favour of Buganda with the
rulers of their respective countries. The fact that the members of both missions
firmly set their faces against all solicitations to embark in trade did not meet
with his approval. The personal rebukes, which one or two of their number
administered to him, did not enhance their popularity.
All external trade was still solely in the hands of the Zanzibar merchants.
The missionaries not only preached against the religious beliefs of those merchants
but also denounced the traffic in human beings, in which. they indulged. Slaves
comprised a valuable part of the export trade of Buganda and any discouragement
of the traffic might seriously interfere with the imports, which were brought
to exchange for this commodity. Mutesa was therefore prone to lend a ready
ear to anything which the Zanzibar traders might have to allege against the
missionaries: those traders who were in many respects remarkably tolerant
people and had frequently rendered the members of both missions valuable
assistance in times of difficulty. But the denunciation of the slave trade attacked
one of the main pillars of their economic system and converted them into rabid
opponents of all teaching of Christianity. The large ultraconservative element
among the Baganda disliked the radical changes in the established order of
things which the missionaries advocated. They were far too strong a party for
Mutesa to ignore, even supposing he felt the inclination to ignore them. The
result was that except for moments when there was a brief reaction in their
favour, the Christian missionaries underwent considerable hardships and perils.
Attempts were made on the lives of Messrs. O'Flaherty and Mackay. (Mackay,
p. 232). Mutesa must, however, be acquitted of complicity in these attacks.
His superior intelligence and understanding of their superior knowledge and
civilisation and his strong hand more than once protected them from personal
violence when popular feeling ran high. Even Mackay in one of his most
despondent moments could write of Mutesa that "through good report and
evil report he befriended them to the last." (Mackay, p. 467). None the less
the situation became really dangerous for the missionaries. Mr. Pearson of
the C.M.S., was left for several months during 1880 alone in Buganda and
during one of the frequently recurring Mahommedan reactions suffered real
hardships and privation, being more than once on the verge of actual starvation
and dependent for food on the charity of one or two friendly-disposed Baganda.
(Stock, pp. 79-80). Rumours were sometimes spread abroad that the members
of the two missions were combining to hatch some diabolical scheme. On one
occasion Mackay and Litchfield, of the C.M.S., started on a friendly visit to
take some medicine to one of the White Fathers, who had been ill. They were
stopped by an armed mob and forced to return home. An attempt was made
to lodge a protest personally with Mutesa, but he declined to see the missionaries.
(Stock-pp. 71-72). The position became so critical that at the end of 1882
the White Fathers, on the instructions of their Superior, withdrew to the southern
shores of Lake Victoria (Nicq-p. 229). Messrs. Mackay, Ashe, and O'Flaherty
of the C.M.S., remained in Uganda.
On October 18, 1884, Mutesa, who had long been ill, was gathered to his
fathers. Perhaps he was felix opportunitate mortis. The scramble amongst the
European powers for Africa was only just beginning. How he would have faced
this fresh problem, if he had lived, must remain a matter for speculation.
I have omitted all reference to the more unlovely side of Mutesa's character.
His failings and his vices were neither few nor small. It is as well to draw
a veil over many of them. Looking at him in the most favourable light possible,
one cannot ignore his intense vanity, his appalling egoism, and his frequent
paroxysms of ferocious cruelty. One cannot lay claim for him that a faint and
flickering desire to follow the gleam led him to welcome Christian missionaries
to his country or that he ever seriously meditated casting aside his old beliefs
for those which the missionaries offered him. Whilst his intelligence may from
time to time have momentarily convinced him that the doctrines expounded to
him held out ideals more lofty than those he had hitherto known, he never for
one moment thought of renouncing his paganism. His encouragement of
missionary enterprise was purely due to motives of worldly policy. The credit
for such success in the spread of Christianity as was achieved rests with the
missionaries themselves and those few early Baganda converts, who embraced
the new religion at very great personal risk. Mutesa died almost, if not quite,
as thorough-going a pagan as he had been when first he ascended the throne.
Mutesa's claim to be remembered by posterity rests on other grounds. He
saved his country from an Egyptian domination, which could only have had one
or other of two dire results. Either there would have been a complete disruption
of his kingdom and the country would have been ravaged from end to end in
a desperate struggle for the recovery of independence; or else Buganda would
have been immersed in the welter of Mahdiism. Admittedly not all the credit
for saving his country from these evils rests with Mutesa. The Baganda owe
much to Shergold Smith and Dr. Kirk for the preservation of their independence
in these critical years and also to the purely disinterested intervention of Lord
Derby as spokesman of the British Government. It is also true that at certain
critical moments Mutesa leaned for advice upon strangers within his gates and
that without the benefit of their knowledge of the greater and more civilized
world beyond Buganda he would have failed pitiably. But Mutesa had an
extraordinary instinct, which led him to take the best-albeit sometimes not
the most disinterested-advice at the right moment. Wordly wisdom such as
this is not to be despised in the ruler of any race. One other fact, to which
Linant, Emin, and the missionaries testify, must also not be forgotten. During
the greater part of his reign Mutesa was a constant invalid. Yet, great as were
his physical sufferings and subject as he was to caprices, moods, and paroxysms,
which wracked and shook his body, he was never shaken from one steadfast
purpose. In the face of problems and difficulties, with which none of his
predecessors had ever had to cope, he saved his country harmless from the
very real dangers which beset it and handed it on intact to his successor. The
history of Africa is full of instances in which the rulers of one-time-powerful
races have failed utterly before the rising tide of Arab or European civilisation
and have dragged their people down with them. Those rulers, who have
successfully piloted the ship of state through those stormy seas, have been
few and far between. Mutesa was one of that very small band.
Ashe, B. P. ...
Baker, Sir Samuel
Bikunya, Petero ...
Burton, Sir Richard F.
Chailld Long, Colonel C.
Church Missionary Society
Fisher, Mrs. R.
Felkin, R. W.
Grant, J. A.
Kagwa, Sir A.
Nakirayi, and Lwanga, I
Petherick, J. .
Philippe, A. ...
Rehse, H. ...
Sabalangira, Y. G. K.
Schweinfurth, G ...
Speke, J. H ...
Stanley, Sir H. M.
State Papers ...
Stock, Sarah G ...
Wilson, C. T., and Felkin
... ... Two Kings of Uganda.
... ... Ismailia.
The Albert Nyanza.
... ... Ky'Abakama ba Bunyoro.
... ... The Lake Regions of Central Africa.
... ... Central Africa-Naked Truths of Naked People.
My Life in Four Continents.
... ... The Victoria Nyanza Mission.
... Twilight Tales of the Black Baganda.
... ... Journey to Victoria Nyanza and back via the Nile.
... ... Seven Years in the Sudan.
... ... A Walk across Africa.
... Mpisa za Baganda.
Basekabaka be Buganda.
Ebika bye Buganda.
... ... Mackay of Uganda (by his Sister).
I. ... Kabulireyo Sengiri Mpwanyi (Munno (1915)).
... ... Le PFre Simdon Lourdel.
... ... Egypt, the Soudan and Central Africa.
... ... Au Cceur de L'Afrique, Ouganda.
... ... Kiziba--Land und Leute.
... Abaganda abasoka okugenda e Bulaya (Munno (1924)).
... ... Emin Pasha in Central Africa.
... ... The Life and Work of Emin Pasha.
... ... Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile.
... ... Through the Dark Continent.
... ... (Letters from Dr. Kirk to the Secretary of State for
... ... The Story of Uganda.
... ... Mit Emin Pascha ins Herz von Afrika.
... The Last Journals of David Livingstone.
R. W. ... Uganda and the Egyptian Soudan.
Notes on the Flora and Fauna
of a Uganda Swamp.
By W. J. EGGELING, B.8C.
Although a very large proportion of the surface of Uganda is covered by
swamp, very little is known concerning the flora and fauna which these swamps
support. This is chiefly due to. their inaccessibility.
In the case of Namanve swamp in Kyagwe, which stretches from a point
about a quarter-of-a-mile south of mile 9 on the Kampala-Jinja road to the head
of Murchison Bay east of Port Bell, this difficulty is to a great extent overcome.
At Namanve, during the past four years, work has been in progress on a
scheme for swamp afforestation which was initiated by the Forest Department
in 1930-a scheme aiming at the formation of a series of Eucalyptus plantations
capable of supplying the demands of the Kenya and Uganda Railways and
Harbours and other commercial concerns in Kampala for fuel.
In the course of this reclamation work, a main drainage ditch had to be cut
through the centre of the swamp from its upper end to open water, a distance of
nearly seven miles. As this drain passed through samples of all the types of
vegetation comprising the swamp, it opened up the area for observation purposes
in a most satisfactory manner.
In addition, however, to having provided a useful field for the examination
of the plants and animals inhabiting an untouched swamp, Namanve is of special
interest in that it is now possible to study there the reactions of these plants
and animals to the biotic factors of drainage and tree planting, and to watch
the evolution of a plantation flora and fauna from that of a swamp.
The preliminary stages in this evolution are already taking place and will
be briefly discussed, but first we must consider the plant communities present
before drainage began.
The vegetation at Namanve falls naturally into seven main types. These
(1) The Lily Zone.
(2) Fringing Papyrus.
(3) Fern and Sedge.
(4) Limnophyton Swamp.
(5) Papyrus Swamp.
(6) Miscanthidium Swamp.
(7) Palm Swamp.
Of these seven, only the Lymnophyton Swamp does not consist of the
same mixture of plants throughout. We will examine each type and the plant
community or communities it contains.
SCALE.: 11NCi = MILE.
FERN AND SEDGRB AvXicK
FRINGING PAPYR RUS
WATER LtLYZONE. coo ooo
TIZOPICAL RPAN POREQ LAKE SHDOR TYPE
\GA*U4LAs WITv. Sc
/ B Sra. u
NYMP4ALA ZON, (WAsa L Y i'C? UI,)
FIG 2, CHART LUSTRAYING SWAnP UCC,.SS ION.
BoLD LNs low S-TAGS to as SLf AT NAMANVE.)
(1) The Lily Zone.
The Water-lily community is a pioneer community forming a belt twenty
to fifty yards wide round the mouth of the swamp where it meets open water.
It embraces both fixed and free-floating members. The two most characteristic
species found in this zone are the blue or pink flowered Nymphaea nr.
Heudolotii, and the white flowered Sacred Lotus, Nymphaea lotus. Both these
plants have long been introduced into English lakes.
Other interesting plants include Brasenia peltata, Trapa bispinosa, whose
triangular, serrate leaves with swollen red petioles form beautiful symmetrical
patterns on the surface of the water, Limnanthemum niloticum, a gentianaceous
species with yellow flowers, and the hornwort, Ceratophyllum demersum, which
is widely distributed and is found in Britain.
(2) Fringing Papyrus.
Immediately within the Lily zone lies the Fringing Papyrus. This consists
of a narrow belt of Papyrus, five to twelve yards wide, the reeds usually about
ten feet high. With the exception of a few ferns and a stray herb on the peaty
bases of the clumps, and some large-leaved duckweed (Lemna polyrhiza) on the
heavily-shaded water between the clumps only Cyperus papyrus is present.
This community does not develop in situ. It owes its origin to wind-blown
masses of papyrus torn during storms from neighboring swamps. These
floating papyrus islands drift through the Nymphsea zone and finally come to rest
against the fern and sedge belt, or where this is absent, against the Limnophyton
swamp. In the course of time, by the natural expansion of growth and the
addition of fresh masses, a complete papyrus fringe is built up.
(3) Fern and Sedge.
The Fern and Sedge community forms a strip about twenty yards in width
between the Fringing Papyrus and the Limnophyton swamp. In many lake-
shore swamps it does not occur and at present the lines of its development are
not known. In shallow water it can and does arise directly from the lily
community and, perhaps, it only spreads over deeper water from such shallow
But for a saw-leaved sedge, Rhynchospora corymbosa, which forms
isolated clumps twelve feet high by five or six feet thick, all the plants within
this belt are small. By this one feature alone the fern and sedge is readily
picked out from the taller growing communities around it.
The plants forming the belt occur in intimate mixture, their roots so binding
themselves together as to form a thin, compact, floating mat of vegetation.
When walked upon, this mat sways and sags in a horrible manner beneath
one's feet, several square feet at a time disappearing completely below water
should one cease moving even for a moment.
The chief species represented here are the sedges Pycreus Mundtii, Pycreus
sp., Fimbristylis subaphyllus, Cyperus Haspan, and Fuirena umbellata, the
fern Dryopteris striata, and a pink-flowered polygonum, P. nr. serrulatum.
Ditch Vegetation.-Pistia stratiotes (Water Lettuce) and Ricciocarpus natans.
Crested Crane's nest, shewing chick and egg. The young bird is just about to leave the nest in answer to its
(4) Limnophyton Swamp.
As may be seen from the accompanying map by far the greater portion of
Namanve consists of swamp in which papyrus is the dominant species, i.e.,
papyrus swamp and limnophyton swamp. Extending back from the fern and
sedge, however, for a distance varying from three quarters-of-a-mile to a mile,
there is an area in which papyrus colonization is not yet complete, and where
open pools up to thirty or forty square yards in size still occur. At the margins
of these pools and among the papyrus clumps between them is found a
handsome water plant, Limnophyton obtusifolium, which is very similar to the
English Sagittaria. This plant, which has large arrow-shaped leaves and tall
spikes of white flowers gradually becomes suppressed and finally disappears
as the papyrus colonization is completed.
It is the rather open type of swamp in which the arrowhead exists that is
known here as limnophyton swamp.
This swamp contains two distinct plant communities, the Papyrus-
Limnophyton Community-and the Pool community. In the former, Cyperus
papyrus, Miscanthidium violaceum and Limnophyton obtusifolium, (near Entebbe
this is often replaced by a very similar looking plant, Caldesia reniformis) are the
dominant species, the first two forming clumps and tufts six to ten feet high.
Small sedges, ferns and a few unimportant herbs and grasses much commoner
in the slightly drier Papyrus swamp also occur.
In the pools is found once more the lily, Nymphaea nr. Heudolotii, together
with the smaller but otherwise similar Nymphaea nr. zanzibarensis, as are the
pondweed, Potamogeton Riohardi, and a large yellow-flowered bladderwort,
Utricularia Thonningii. On the oozy peat at the edges of the pools is the
spike-rush Eleocharis fistulosa, the rush-like Xyris capensis, and a smaller
bladderwort, U. exoleta, also with yellow flowers.
(5) Papyrus Swamp.
Passing from the Limonphyton swamp to the Papyrus, we enter a type
of swamp in which there is much less standing water and a much greater
accumulation of decaying plant remains above water level. On this peat,
many species of herbacious plants can thrive, given a sufficiency of light, and
as, owing to its habit and mode of growth, papyrus does not cast a dense
shade, the papyrus community is a particularly rich one.
Many species have been recorded here of which we many mention the
following:-Dominant: Cyperus papyrus; frequent to abundant: Miscanthidium
violaceum, Dryopteris striata the climber, Cissampelos mucronata, Dissotis
rotundifolia, a pretty little plant with pinkish flowers; and the grass, Panicum
chionachne. Less common but still frequent: another fern, Dryopteris
thelypteris; the sedges, Fuirena pubescens, Fuirena umbellata, Pycreus Mundtii
and Pycreus sp., two figs, Ficus umbellatus, with large, shining leaves, and
Ficus verruculosa, leaves smaller and more pointed, both suppressed woody
species attaining tree size on drier sites; Mikania scandens, a twiner on the
papyrus stems, and a bramble, Rubus rigidus "Nkenene" whose reddish-orange
fruits taken with cream and sugar make delicious eating.
Other interesting and important species are a pink-flowered balsam,
Impatiens procridioides, two tall reeds, Cyperus latifolius and Trichopteryx
flammida, the bulrush, Typha latifolia, whose leaves are useful for mat-making,
Cyperus Haspan, Rhus glaucesccns, Vigna capensis, Leersia hexandra, Soleria sp.
a climbing fern, Lygodium scandens, common in green-houses at home, the tall
marsh orchids Lissochilus porphyroglossus with pinkish-purple flowers and
Lissochilus paludicolus, flowers yellow, both species attaining eight to twelve feet
in height; the smaller and infinitely more beautiful Lissochilus Wilsoni, a shrub
M.rioa Kandtiana an infusion of the roots of which is sometimes taken by the
Baganda as a cure for stomach troubles, and a small tree with white flowers,
(6) Miscanthidium Swamp.
The Miscanthidium community occurs as isolated patches scattered through
the upper and older portions of the papyrus swamp. These patches, which vary
from a few square yards to several acres in extent, appear to coincide with
areas where the clayey beds which underlie Namanve are nearer water level
than is the case beneath the papyrus, and in the course of the natural elevation
and drying of the swamp through the gradual accumulation of peat they are
constantly increasing in size.
In marshes surrounded by grass or scrub-lands, the Miscanthidium swamp
is a stage further advanced than the Papyrus swamp in the development towards
the climax community-Tropical Rain Forest. Succession proceeds from the
papyrus direct through the miscanthidium, thence by several stages to grasslands
with scrub and finally by further stages to forest. This succession is well
illustrated at the Kanyamusanga swamp to the west of Old Entebbe.
Where a marsh is already completely surrounded by forest as at Namanve,
development through grasslands does not usually take place and the
Miscanthidium swamp is then only an additional and unnecessary stage in the
otherwise direct development of the papyrus to palm swamp.
There are three differences between Miscanthidium swamp and
Papyrus swamp. Firstly, in the former the surface of the ground is roughly
level since the Miscanthidium, which is a true grass, does not form tussocks.
There are, therefore, none of the small pools always found in the papyrus, no
matter how dense it may be, pools seldom more than a foot wide but often
fairly long, which twist about among the papyrus clumps, and which are so
heavily shaded by the herbaceous tangle that they do not support a flora.
Secondly, the Miscanthidium grass forms dense stands eight to twelve feet
high, and casts a heavy shade, often aggravated by the flattening of the stands
by, wind not found in the other community. Lastly, the roots of the
Miscanthidium form a close, solid mat so that there is none of that soft blackish
ooze found below the papyrus.
Owing to the heavy shade, few plants can exist with the Miscanthidium.
The chief species present in the community are the dominant Miscanthidium
violaceum; a number of ferns, chiefly Dryopteris thelypteris, and Dryopteria
striata, with a few Adders' tongues-Ophioglossum probably lancifolium; herbs,
such as the carmine-flowered Otomeria dilatata, Satyrium niloticum (an orchid
one to three feet high with handsome pink flower spikes) both of which plants
are confined entirely to this community, the purple Dissoti8 incana; and a very
few twiners, sedges and grasses.
(7) Palm Swamp.
Between the Papyrus and Miscanthidium swamp communities and the
forest is a narrow belt of Palm swamp. The Palm swamp is generally twenty
yards or less in width, except where a stream passes through, when it widens
out to follow the stream inland.
The flora of the Palm swamp is characteristic. It consists in the main of
water-loving, woody species with an average height of twenty to thirty feet.
The chief of these are the wild date palms, Phoenix reclinata, the large-leaved,
white-flowered Mitragyne stipulosa, Voacanga obtusa, also white-flowered,
Ficus umbellatus, Syzygium cordatum, and where the swamp merges to forest
Raphia palms, Raphia Monbuttorum, an occasional Pachystela, probably
Pachystela brevipes, a very hard-wooded species, and the common Pseudospondias
microcarpa, usually heavily buttressed at the base. Where the swamp widens
out one can generally also find some of the white flowered moisture-loving
Acacia, Acacia Mildbredii.
Below these woody species, the floor consists mainly of bare slimy mud
and open shallow pools. On the side nearest the swamp where light still enters
freely the undergrowth is chiefly Cyperus papyrus, elsewhere it consists almost
entirely of species of Clinogyne including Clinogyne ugandenais, whose split
stems are used by the Baganda for mat and basket making.
Of the above types of swamp only portions of the last three have so far
been affected, or are indeed ever likely to be affected, by the work of afforestation,
and of these too little of the Palm swamp for us to speculate upon. Already,
however, a new community can be recognized in the Miscanthidium areas whilst
the drainage ditches too have a flora of their own.
This latter community we will consider first. It is a community which,
if it were allowed to develop, would soon resemble that which is to be found
in Uganda on the slow moving water at the edges of larger rivers like the
Albert Nile or the Sezibwa. As it is the ditches at Namanve are periodically
cleaned to assist their flow so it is only at their extreme upper ends where
they pass beyond the plantation boundaries, or where there is some temporary
obstruction that the community forms at all. The species comprising it, which
actually grow in the water, are the water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes, Ricciocarpus
natans common on lakes in England, and a small duckweed, Lemna gibba. These
three plants develop with amazing rapidity, all the Pistia at Namanve having
been derived from four rosettes which drifted down to it in 1931 from the
overflow of a native well.
In addition to these plants Limnanthenum niloticum and Utricularia exoleta
are found where the ditch edges resemble the edges of the pools in the Limnophy-
ton swamp. On the banks of the ditches hanging down over the water occur
Hydrocotyle bonariensis, Hydirocotyle asiatica and Hydrocotyle monticola, the last
of which may extend some distance back into the drained Papyrus swamp on
The changes which have occurred in the Papyrus and Miscanthidium areas
since man's interference began appear so far to be due more to the repeated
slashing over of the vegetation, which is necessary to protect the young trees
from becoming smothered, than to the effects of draining.
In the Papyrus areas which always contained a large variety of plants
the changes to be noted are rather in the increased spread of some of the
species than in the appearance of new ones. Where fresh plants have been
recorded, however, it is as a rule from areas where the results of draining are
noticeable and such species are generally speaking well-known dry-area pioneers.
In the Miscanthidium areas, the changes are quite as much due to the
appearance of plants hitherto excluded by the density of the shade as to the
changes in status of the species already present.
DRAINED PAPYRUS SWAMP (after two years of treatment).-Taking the
community as a whole, Cyperus Papyrus is still the commonest species but it
is gradually becoming suppressed through continued cutting back. The chief
reaction has been in the greatly increased spread of the grasses and sedges, all
those previously recorded becoming abundant, locally sub-dominant or even,
over small areas, locally dominant; in the almost immediate suppression of the
woody species Rhus, Myrica, Ficus and Syzygium, and of the Rubus; and on
drier areas in the increased growth of the yellow flowered Legume, Vigna
capensis. This state of affairs is obviously going to be of short duration, for as
soon as Eucalyptus begins to get properly under way, and some of them are
already eighteen feet high two years after planting, the sedges, at any rate,
are bound to become quickly suppressed. Even now some areas look as if they
would shortly contain little else than a tree crop of Eucalyptus robusta with a
ground cover of an umbellifer, Oenanthe Uhligii, which was very rare indeed
in the untouched swamp.
The following are typical of the pioneer species which have invaded the
papyrus community following drainage-Blackjack (Bidens pilosa), Commelina
nudiflora, Alectra communism, Aspilia latifolia and Gynura vitellina.
DRAINED MISCANTHIDUM SWAMP.-Much as in the case of the papyrus
community the first response of the Miscanthidium swamp to the increased light
conditions following repeated slashing has been the great spread of the grasses
and, more especially, of the smaller sedges.
These plants and the fern, Dryopteris striata, none of which were
more than occasional in the untouched swamp are now exceedingly abundant,
and often co-dominant with the Miscanthidium which indeed is in places no
more than frequent. Here, as in the papyrus community, all woody species
and twiners have disappeared, whilst Dryopteris thelypteris which preferred
the cool dark conditions of the dense uncut stands has become rare where
originally it was locally frequent. Dissotis incana, Oldenlandia goreen8is,
Satyrium niloticum, Otomeria dilatata and Ophioglossum nr. lanoifolium are all
much commoner and amongst new comers are Leersia hezandra, Fuirena
pubescent, Cyperus Haspan, a small cordate leaved plant possibly Merremia
emarginata and two orchids, Cynorchis anacamptoides, with small purple flowers,
and a new species of Habenaria not yet named, a plant belonging to the same
genus as the rare Frog Orchids of some English counties. As with the, Satyrium
and Otomeria none of the last three species have yet been recorded at Namanve
from outside the Miscanthidium swamp.
It will be seen from the above list that of the dry-area pioneers which are
appearing in the drained papyrus swamp none occur in the drained Miscanthidium.
This is probably partly because much less peat is formed by decaying
Miscanthidium than by decaying papyrus and so less food is available for other
species, and partly owing to the much greater root competition. Eucalyptus
grows very poorly in Miscanthidium swamp, the best plants being now, after
two years, barely three feet high. It is extremely doubtful if it will ever be
possible to raise a plantation on these areas unless with continued draining the
peat can be completely dried out and intensively cultivated.
As previously mentioned, a new community has appeared within the
Miscanthidium swamp, it first being noticed after about eighteen months
continuous slashing. This community from which so far only four species have
been recorded occurs as patches seldom more than two or three square feet
in area and occupies any damp depression.
The commonest member of the community is a species of Sphagnum moss,
Sphagnum Franeonii among which is found the club-moss, Lycopodium
carolinianum. In some but by no means all of the patches is a very pretty
pink-flowered Sundew, Drosera madagascariensis, and from one patch only has
been collected the fourth species, Disca Eminii, an orchid with flowers of
None of these plants were recorded from any portion of Namanve prior to
draining and slashing and it appears likely that, at any rate at low altitudes,
this community only develops when the normal succession is upset. It has
been found to occur in two other Uganda swamps besides Namanve-at Luzira
and at Lake Nabugabo, on the strip of swampy ground separating that lake
from Lake Victoria. In both these areas the Sphagnum community has arisen
in annually burnt Miscanthidium swamp (i.e., swamps where the fire factor
has allowed light ingress just as slashing has let it in at Namanve). At Luzira
the Sphagnum patches are still small but a fifth species occurs, the small
bladderwort Utricularia subulata.
At Nabugabo the community covers several acres and is much more
advanced. Disa Eminii is common and other species present include Crassula
nr. alsinoides a small herb with white flowers, a sedge Ascolepis capensis, also
white flowered, a species of Syngonanthus, a very pretty plant with' pink flowers,
Vausagesia africanai (a new record for E. Africa), Otiophora pycnostachys, the
orchid Phaius occidentalis, and a new bladderwort clambering up the stems of
the sedges which has been called Utricularia appendiculata. It will be most
interesting to see at Namanve, if and when the Sphagnum community develops
further, how many of these species will appear and in what order.
Turning to the birds and animals inhabiting Namanve, we findthat in the
virgin swamp the Papyrus, Miscanthidium and Palm areas are very poorly
Of nesting birds, there are records of only one or two warblers, a coucal or
bottle bird (Centropus), and one kind of weaver from the papyrus, two kinds
of weaver in the Phoenix Palm, and of no nesting species at all in the
Miscanthidium swamp. The number of birds visiting these communities for
feeding purposes is also small. Birds of prey of several species pass over,
mainly hawking for insects, as too do martins, swifts and swallows in their
season. A few finches visit the grasses and sedges when the seeds are ripe
and sometimes an odd black-headed heron lands to feed. In the phoenix zone,
most of the forest birds can be seen at some time or another, plantain eaters
(Corythcola and Schizorhis) visiting the palms when the dates are ripe, and
forest doves coming to drink.
Of animals, the same thing holds good. Otters (the clawed variety) and
Sitatunga (Limnotragus) are the only two swamp dwelling mammals, and though
probably there are some resident rodents none have been as yet caught or even
The sitatunga roam over the whole of Namanve to feed but during the day
generally rest either in the Papyrus or Miscanthidium, though they can
occasionally be started from the Phoenix belt or from the surrounding forest.
They are typically night feeding .animals which when looking for food may leave
the swamp altogether, although this is less the case at Namanve than in swamps
surrounded by grassland or scrub.
At Namanve, they feed chiefly on the Miscanthidium grass, in the patches
of which fresh tracks can always be found. The calves are apparently dropped
in May and June, at least two were found at Namanve during these months in
1932. Captain Pitman suggests that on the islands of Victoria Nyanza otters
may occasionally help themselves to young sitatunga. There has so far been
no evidence of this at Namanve, and here leopard are a far greater menace.
Their spoor can frequently be seen following up sitatunga trails and twice
remains of buck obviously eaten by leopard have been found. The Otters are
also common. They appear to feed chiefly on the frogs and snails of which
there are many, and also on mud fish. Whilst slashing over papyrus in
August, 1932, some porters came upon an otter cub apparently about a week old.
There may have been more in the litter but if so the parents had already
removed them on the approach of danger. Amongst occasional animal visitors
to these three communities are at least three species of monkey of which a
white-nosed, red-tailed Cercopithecus is the commonest, which visit the palms
for dates and enter the Papyrus community in search of figs; genets; mongooses;
civets, and serval, all presumably looking for frogs and such-like. The leopard
has already been mentioned. One specimen, probably an old male, was started
from the same spot in the swamp at about mid-day for three days in succession.
It appeared to be sunning itself.
In June, 1932, two lions visited the swamp entering from the east and
passing straight through to Bukasa. They succeeded in giving a porter who
4 1,!, I,.
Papyrus Swamp, shewing the variety of species present,
with Ficus umbellatus especially noticeable.
Drained Papyrus Swamp, with two-year-old Eucalyptus.
Drained Miscanthidium Swamp, with Otomeria dilitata,
Cynorchis anacamptoides and Habenaria sp. nov.
- Ut 'l
Miscanthidium Swamp, the vegetation partly cut over.
Note that Miscanthidium violaceum is the only
species to be seen.
came upon them a very severe fright but were not seen again and did no damage.
These must be regarded as very unusual visitors.
Although in the near-lake communities the only animals to be found are
the sitatunga and the otter, birds are much more frequent.
The Lily zone is essentially a feeding area, the lily trotter (Actophilornis)
being the commonest species. Its smaller relative Microparra which is fairly
common on the Kigezi lakes and has been reported from Lake Victoria has not
been seen at Namanve. Other species found here are the shags or cormorants,
(Phalacrocorax), darters, (Anhinga), and, sometimes, ducks. Of the latter,
Whistling teal (Dendrocygna fulva) are commonest, but yellow-bills (Anas
undulata) also occur.
Just as the Lily zone is a feeding ground so is the Fringing Papyrus a
resting ground. After fishing the darters and cormorants retire here to sit
with outspread wings sunning themselves, whilst Goliath Herons, Purple Herons,
Black-headed Herons, and generally one or other of the Egrets Casmerodius or
Egretta can, as a rule be flushed. All these species feed at Namanve in the
Fern and Sedge or Limnophyton areas and with the exception of the Black-headed
heron which builds in trees all may nest. Other birds occasionally seen in the
Fringing Papyrus are the Buff-backed Heron (Ardeola ralloides) and the Green-
backed Heron (Butorides), whilst there is, or was in 1932, a night roost of Tick
birds or Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus) in this zone.
In addition to most of the above, some or other of which can usually be
seen feeding in it, the Fern and Sedge will usually show during migration time,
chiefly in February and March, one or more species of snipe, great, common
or Jack snipe.
It is in the Limnophyton marsh, however, that most species are found.
Herons and Egrets feed here, and perhaps nest, as certainly do Lily Trotters,
Black Crake (Limnocorax flavirostra), Reed hens (Porphyrio definitely, and
perhaps also Porphyrula) and Africa Moorhen (Gallinulla chloropus brachyptera).
In addition rails of several species must occur but have so far escaped observation
while we have only one tentative record of a Dwarf Bittern (? Ard.eirallus
On pools in this area, Pigmy geese (Nettapus) and Spur-winged geese
(Plectropterus) have twice been seen, and round their margins in the early
months of the year have been noted common sandpipers (Actitis Lypoleucos),
Wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola), Green sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), Redshank
(Tringa totanus), a probable green-shank (Glottis nebularius), Curlew (Numenius
arquatus), Little Stint (Erolia minute), the three species of snipe already
mentioned, and a Ringed Plover (Charadrius sp.).
The changes in the animal life of the swamp which have been brought
about by the work of afforestation are so far not very important. Cutting back
of the vegetation and the exposing of small pools and puddles as well as the
opening up of drains has led to a great increase in the number of frogs. Otters
presumably feeding on these have increased, or, at any rate, visit the area
more often. The sitatunga on the other hand has been pushed back with
clearing and except on rare occasions only enters the slashed swamp at night
Among the birds large numbers of black-headed herons visit the drained
swamp, here again attracted by the frogs. Two or three pairs of Hammerkops
have also adopted Namanve as a feeding ground and pace up and down beside
the drains. One pair had their nest in 1932 on a fig-tree close to the main road
near mile nine. Cormorants and an occasional darter sometimes follow the
drains up to the head of the swamp, and small flocks of yellow billed ducks
may be seen upon them from time to time. In November, 1932, a pair of these
ducks nested but the eggs were unfortunately taken. On Lake Naivasha, this
species apparently breeds much earlier in the year than at Namanve.
Other species which have bred in the slashed swamp are weavers, of two
kinds-both nesting in Eucalyptus trees, a Coucal, and a pair of Crested Cranes,
which frequented Namanve in 1932. The Crane's nest which was composed
entirely of dry Miscanthidium leaves was discovered in the last week of June
when incubation was well advanced. It contained three eggs two of which
proved to be unfertile, one being broken by the mother bird before the single
chick emerged. This nest must have been a very early one since the usual
season is August and September.
Occasional visitors to the Papyrus and Miscanthidium areas not noted
before slashing include Snipe, Hagedash, Saddle-Billed Storks, and Open Bills.
These later arrive in large flocks which spend most of the time circling round
and round overhead. When they descend they either perch in surrounding trees
preening themselves, or stalk about the swamp feeding. After a day or two
the whole flock moves on again elsewhere.
Just as the grasses found in the papyrus have spread with cutting so the
number of finches feeding on the grasses has increased in proportion. Large
flocks of several species can always be seen. More hawks too appear to frequent
Although not referring to either the flora or the fauna, one other item
concerning Namanve.may be of interest. In the course of the cutting of a drain
through the Palm belt at the north end of the swamp, a small seam of an
unusual light blue-grey clay was exposed. This clay which is known in Luganda
as "Nsomere" or "Nakasa" is said to be found in only one other locality in
Kyagwe. It may sometimes be seen exposed for sale in Kampala market at
the rate of 50 cents. per lump of about 2 lbs. weight, being eaten by Baganda
women as a sweatmeat. It is slightly sweet, dissolves slowly and is free from
grittiness. It does not appear to be taken medicinally. Men do not eat the
clay, the habit possibly being considered effeminate. There is a proverb which
runs "Kimwa kitole ng'omusajja alya ebumba"-Only a greedy man eats
Drained Miscanthidium Swamp. The orchid Satyrium niloticum amongst
Miscanthidinm violacewn, (with white midribs), and the fern Dr!jopteris striata.
[The Photographs illustrating Notes on the Flora and Fauna of a
Uganda Swamp are by W. J. Eggeling.]
The Uganda Staff List for 1895.
Commissioner and Consul General:-
(1) ERNEST J. L. BERKELEY.
Military Officers for Service with the Soudanese Troops (4):-
(2) MAJOR T. B. P. TERNAN, D.S.O. (Manchester Regiment).
(3) CAPTAIN W. P. PULTENEY (Scots Guards).
(4) LIEUTENANT H. J. MADOCKS (Royal Welch Fusiliers).
(5) LIEUTENANT C. F. S. VANDELEUR (Scots Guards).
First Class Assistants holding a Royal Commission as Vice-Consul for the
Protectorate of Uganda and the adjoining territories (3):-
(6) F. J. JACKSON.
(7) R. J. D. MACALISTER, A.M.I.C.E.
(8) CAPTAIN C. G. H. SITWELL (Manchester Regiment).
First Class Assistants (for transport) (3):-
(9) MAJOR A. F. ERIC SMITH (late First Life Guards).
(10) C. W. HOBLEY, A.M.I.C.E.
(11) GEORGE WILSON.
Second Class Assistants:-
(12) CAPTAIN C. ASHBURNHAM (King's Royal Rifles).
(13) LIEUTENANT WILLIAM R. DUGMORE (North Staffordshire Regt.).
(14) W. GRANT.
(15) G. D. SMITH (Accountant).
Second Class Assistants (for transport) (3):-
(16) F. G. FOAKER.
(17) STEPHEN S. BAGGE.
(18) JAMES MARTIN.
Medical Officers (3):-
(19) ROBERT U. MOFFAT, M.ch., M.B. (Edin.).
(20) WILLIAM JOHN ANSORGE, LL.D., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.
(21) ARCHIBALD D. MACKINNON, M.D. (Aberdeen).
[This contribution has been arranged by R. A. Snoxall from information supplied by J. M. Gray].
Not blazoned in letters of gold in any public place in Uganda, nor carefully
cherished and displayed in a Uganda museum, but as plainly and baldly appearing
in the Foreign Office Handbook, such is the Uganda Staff List of 1895 as it
appears above. Fortunately, however, a certain amount of autobiographical
reminiscences have been left by these earliest officials of the Protectorate, and
it is possible to glean information from the books of other travellers and explorers
in Africa, so that something further than the mere names can and should be
read and remembered by the 527 officials who to-day figure in the Uganda Staff
List, and, indeed, by every inhabitant of the Protectorate.
"Began life in the mercantitle marine. Shipwrecked off Zanzibar, 1882.
Subsequently employed by the Church Missionary Society at Mombasa.
Accompanied Joseph Thomson through the Masai country to Lake Victoria, 1883.
Second in command of the troops of the Sultan of Zanzibar, 1884. Entered the
service of the Imperial British East Africa Company, 1889. Accompanied
Mr. (afterwards Sir) F. J. Jackson to Uganda, 1889-90. With Captain (now
Lord) Lugard in Uganda 1890-2. Joined the Zanzibar Government
Service, 1892. Second class assistant for transport, Uganda, 1894. Afterwards
These brief notes happen to outline the career of James Martin, but they
might also be a modernised authentic synopsis of 12 years of the life of Sinbad
the Sailor and they start off furthermore with the necessary shipwreck! In a
little over twelve crowded years James Martin had been a "little Maltese
sailorman," a soldier, a missionary, a pioneer, a transport officer and a collector,
and all this before most of those who to-day figure in the staff list had been
born and, to quote Sir F. J. Jackson, "it was the more remarkable when it is
considered that he was quite illiterate." Joseph Thomson, the great Scottish
geologist and explorer, who includes a photograph of James Martin as the
frontispiece to his book "Through Masai-land," ascribes the whole success
of his great expedition to the energy and capability of this remarkable man.
When last seen he was buying chillies in Dar-es-Salaam unknown or forgotten
by the younger generation amongst whom he moved and was described by them
as "a filthy old Dago." Yet we have the audacity to state that life in the modern
world moves so fast that there is no time to think and meditate on the past.
Consider Captain W. P. Pulteney, of the Scots Guards, one of the four
Military Officers for service with the Soudanese Troops. Having served in the
Egyptian War in 1882, and seen further service in Africa he joined the Uganda
Rifles in 1895. He soon got his active service in Uganda, for in that very same
year he served in the Bunyoro Expedition and in that and the following year was
also in the Nandi Expedition. He 1899 we find him now Vice-Consul to the
Congo Free State and after serving throughout the South African War 1899-1902
he seems to have disappeared from the History of Africa. His D.S.O., he
received in 1896 and a C.B. in 1905. During the Great War which he began
as a Lieutenant-General, he commanded the 3rd Army Corps, in 1915 received
the K.C.B., the K.C.M.G. in 1917, and the K.C.V.O. in 1918.
For those who wish for information on the engrossing career of the late
S.r F. J. Jackson, he has left a book of his own writing "Early Days in
East Africa," which enables us to form some idea of how a man who arrived
in East Africa for the first time in 1884 could command the expedition of the
Imperial British East African Company to Uganda only five years later and
in 1907 rise to the position of Lieutenant-Governor of the East Africa
Death in action in 1900 cut short all too soon the life of Lieutenant-Colonel
C. G. H. Sitwell, who by his personal influence succeeded in preserving the
loyalty of the Military Garrison in Toro at the time of the Soudanese
mutiny, 1898. Merely one day's motoring now separates Fort Portal from Mengo
and makes it perhaps a trifle difficult for us to imagine the dangers of the
isolated position of this First Class Assistant with his mutinous troops, and to
appreciate at their true worth his services in preserving the loyalty of the Toro
Lieutenant William R. Dugmore performed a like service with the Soudanese
Garrison in Bunyoro, and by his personal efforts probably preserved peace in
Bunyoro where only three years previously there had been war.
With the first Principal Medical Officer of Uganda from 1898-1906 we feel
we have almost personal contact, for his name still heads the list of those old
servants of the Protectorate who are still receiving their richly reserved
pensions and of whom there are only four.
In 1891 Dr. Moffat, together with Mr. G. Wilson, associated themselves
with Dr. Stuart who was the first Scottish Missionary to come to East Africa
and after surmounting inconceivable difficulties at length succeeded in founding
the first mission station in Kikuyu at Kibwezi.
In 1893 he was appointed Medical Officer to Sir Gerald Portal's Mission
to Uganda and saw active service during the Bunyoro campaign and the
By X. Y. Z.
Primitive peoples were satisfied with a scale of five notes only, which are
fairly near the five black notes of our pianos. These five notes provided their
composers with all the material they needed for the expression of their musical
thought. This scale still survives in use in some of the remoter corners of
Europe, such as the highlands of Scotland, and is also found among the
aboriginals of Australia, as well as in Central Africa. In Europe it was
superseded by the Greek scale, introduced during the Greek ascendancy, upon
which the modern European scale is based.
Primitive music, like other primitive creations, is elementary in structure,
seldom rising beyond melodies with which "Round the Mulberry Bush"
might be compared. It consists of continual repetitions of a single musical
phrase, to which there is sometimes added a drone, like the Scottish bagpipes,
which are in fact said to be the music of the Ancient Britons. It has been
maintained by some investigators that the drone occasionally develops into an
elementary second part, but by others this is denied.
It would be interesting if readers of this Journal would contribute to it
an account of any observed facts concerning native Kiganda music. Although
those Baganda who have become acquainted with European music show little
interest in native folk-song, and although the tradition must be expected
to die out, the songs themselves will be preserved, thanks to a series of
gramophone records of them made a few years since.
[Observations on Native music other than the Kiganda will, of course,
By R. M. BERE.
The following is not intended to be a description of the various Acholi
dances but a classification of the different types of dance. The Acholi people are
well known for their dances, which are very varied in type. The songs which
are sung during the dancing are very tuneful, especially in the chief's dance,
Bwola, and Myel Nanga. They usually sing about ordinary everyday subjects,
but there are certain songs which refer to well-known incidents in the past.
Solo dancing in the way which is known to the Baganda is not practised,
all the dances are communal, and everyone learns to dance from early childhood.
The following are the different types of dances:-
(1) Lalobaloba, in which all the dancers carry little sticks. The men form
the outer ring of the circle and the girls the inner ring. There are no drums at
all in this dance and the movements are rather slow and stiff. If a man is pleased
with the dancing of any particular girl he leaves his place in the ring and catches
her right hand, which he lifts above his head. Beer is not made and there are
no special occasions for the dance.
(2) Otoli.-In this, dancers all carry spears and shields. Very large
numbers may take part, groups from different villages advancing in turn upon
the arena from different corners. This dance, though very spectacular on
account of the large numbers of armed men who take part, is not particularly
beautiful as there is no definite form and there is more shouting than singing.
The dance consists mainly in encircling the drums, which are attached to the
post in the middle of the arena. At sunset spears and shields are put down
and Lalobaloba follows.
(3) Bwola.-This is undoubtedly the finest of all the dances and is the most
important. It is the Chief's Dance and is only called by the Rwot. The men
form a large circle and each carry small hand drums (Kitino Bul) which are held
in the left hands of the dancers. In the right hand a short drumstick is carried,
and the movements of the feet are synchronised with the beating of the small
drums. The girls dance separately inside the circle, without drums. The circle
is formed round the chief's four drums (Latong Bul). This'dance has a definite
leader, who moves by himself within the circle; he is the big drummer, (Lagoyo
min Bul) and a very important figure. He sets the time and leads the singing
and is usually one of the few people in the community who is allowed to wear
a leopard skin, which is the chief's special sign.
The dance Bwola can only be held on the following six occasions:-
(a) To honour the building of an Abila, which is a small hut in which
offerings are made to the god Jok.
(b) When in the middle of the year the people have finished their
customary cultivation for the Rwot and a bull has been killed.
(c) On the occasion of chair-taking by a new chief.
(d) During the harvest moon at the end of the year.
(e) At the funeral of the Rwot or a member of his clan, or when
an important person has died whom the Rwot wishes to honour by taking
his dance and drums to his house. This is the only occasion when Bwola
can be held away from the Rwot's village.
(f) On other very special occasions as arranged by the Rwot; beer is
always made and drunk in large quantities.
(4) Myel Awal, or wi lyel.-This is the funeral dance in which the women
wail round the grave and the men, carrying spears and shields, dance much as
(5) Apiti.-The girls' dance in which the men do not take part. Itf is held
when the rains are good in the middle of the year. The girls dance in a line,
not a circle, sing, and move in a sort of shimmy.
(6) Ladongo.-The dance held after a successful hunt while the people
are still away from their villages. This is similar to the common form of
Karimojongite dance. The men and the women face each other in two long lines
and jump up and down, clapping their hands.
(7) Mye Nanga.-The men all sit down, play their harps (nanga) and
sing, whilst the women dance Apiti in front of them. A man usually holds
this dance after marriage or on other occasions after he has made a great deal
(8) Alila.-The now practically obsolete war dance, held on the eve of
a battle. All the dancers are armed and go through the motions of spear
fighting (cobo) and thrusting (two ki ne).
Note on the Origin of the Payera Acholi.
By R. M. BERE.
The ancient history of the Acholi, like that of most other tribes, is somewhat
obscure. The Acholi of the present day are really a collection of small tribes
brought together by the great Nilotic upheaval which is supposed to have
occurred some three or four centuries ago. The most important group, both at
present and in the past, is that of Payera, who alone claim to have lived
always in approximately their present home. The account which the late
Rwot of Payera, Awic, gives of the origin of his line is as follows.
Lwo was the first man, he was without human parents. He sprang from
the ground and it was taken that his father was Jok (God) and his mother the
earth. Lwo's son Jpiti, whose mother is unknown, had a daughter Kilak, who
was never kn6wn to have a husband. At one time, however, she became lost in
the bush for a while, no one knew where she had gone. She came back with
a male child and it was said that the devil was his father. Labongo was the
name given to this child; he was born with bells at his wrists and ankles and
with feathers in his hair. There was something definitely satanic about him,
for he danced all the time and all the time his bells jingled. Labongo married
and had children in the same way as ordinary people in spite of his peculiarities,
and the present Rwot traces his descent directly back to Labongo in an
Lwo's home was at Bukoba, near Pakwach on the Nile. He possessed a
famous axe, the father of all the Nilotic tribes. Near Bukoba he drove his axe
deep into the ground and from the centre there radiated the chiefs of many
tribes. In connection with this legend it is noteworthy that the Shilluk claim
to have originated from the shores of a great lake (Lake Albert) and to have
moved northwards to their present home around Fashoda.
Labongo, previously mentioned as the first of the line of the Rwots of
Payera, is the same man as Isingoma Rabongo Rukidi, the first of the line of the
Mukama of Bunyoro. He is said to be the twin brother of Kintu, the first
Kabaka. The first Namuyongo of North Bugerere is said also to be the son
of this same Rabongo.
The interconnection between the various peoples of this part of Africa is
always interesting and most complicated. It seems strange that two peoples of
apparently such different types as the Bunyoro and the Acholi should have
a common origin, but there is little doubt that there is some quite close connection
between them. The presence of the Nilotic Chopi in Bunyoro points to this
connection and many groups of Acholi, such as Pajule, trace their origin direct
to the Chopi. The Payera are, however, the only Acholi who have any clear
idea of their ultimate origin, however mythical it appears.
Explanatory Note to Genealogical Table.
This is shown to illustrate the article on the origin of the Payera Acholi and
is definitely opera to correction. Kintu is said to be alternatively father, son or
twin brother of Isingoma Labongo Rukedi, who may alternatively be Mpuga.
The alternative origins of this man are given. He is also suggested by another
Banyoro legend to have come from across the Nile, and in the origin of the term
Bukedi, this gives some support to the Acholi account.
The Alur are brought into the picture tentatively and in the hope that some
information will be forthcoming. It is merely suggested that the Highland Alur
and the Lowland Alur have some connection. The Lowland Alur show a far
closer Acholi affinity.
There should be room in this picture for the ancestry of other paramount
GENEALOGICAL TABLE OF RWOT OF PAYERA.
BANYORO ACCOUNT. ACHOLI ACCOUNT.
Kilak (female) married Satan.
Kintu or Kimera.<--(Twin Brothers). >Isingoma Labongo Rukedi.
I I I
KABANBARGO AYERA. AZ f A R
and the BABITO (hence AZIRI of ALURU.
YEB ii Ongoka.
'S KABOYO. I
Sui I I
Okwil of Lubwa. Odyek. g
I O Mula of Okoro. Jnnam.
GO. Kamulasi Tito Winyi Yona Odida Yasoni Lugaa Awach I
DaudiChwa (Mukama of (Mukama of Alikaird.1933 (Present (Rwot of Succeeded by Jalowo late Anderera Ali
(Kabaka). Toro). Bunyoro). (BRwot). Rwot). Ongom. Awach). (Y. Lugaca). ultan. Sultan.
A Dry Crossing of the Nile.
By E. J. WAYLAND.
On the Sudan-Uganda border at about E. 32 1', N. 3 35', near Nimule,
the Nile makes a very sharp turn to the north-west and maintains that trend
for a great distance. In more ways than one this is a particularly interesting
stretch of a fascinating river, and the most unexpected thing about it is that
some seven miles below the Fola rapids, at a point about one-and-a-half times
that distance from the Nile bend, it provides a dry crossing.
I first saw this from the air in 1930. My friend, who was piloting me,
expressed the view that the Nile has an underground channel at the point in
question; but this I could not accept, so we dropped down a few hundred feet
to obtain a closer view. What appeared at a greater height to be rock now
revealed itself as vegetation, grey because it had been burnt; and we concluded
that here was a temporary blockage due to the jamming of a group of floating
papyrus islands, such as one sees so frequently on the Nile between Lake
Albert and Nimule.
Early this year, 1933, I was again in the Madi country, but this time on
terra firma, and at the ruined Belgian Post at Yamba, some fourteen miles
from Nimule but on the Uganda side of the river, I was told by one of my
porters that not far away was a place where one could walk over the Nile dry-shod.
I asked if the crossing was rocky and he replied that it was not, adding that the
water went underground at that spot. From my knowledge of the physiography
of the valley this seemed impossible. Moreover, the Nile below the Fola rapids
is a powerful, wide and swiftly flowing stream which, owing to a relatively
recent uplift of the land, is now unremittingly engaged in cutting its channel
through an earlier bed. I had forgotten the supposed papyrus blockage seen
from the air three years before, and as I frankly did not believe my informant
I offered him a certain reward if he could show me where I could cross the
Nile dry-shod without the assistance of a man-made bridge or without stepping
from stone to stone. So we started off; I full of curiosity, he full of joy, for the
reward was virtually his already.
I crossed the Nile as my informant said I should: dry-shod in all conscience I
for there was at no spot any danger of getting one's feet wet, the difficulty was
to prevent them from being burnt.
The dry crossing is a blockage some 1,200 feet in length and about 370 feet
across and occupies the entire width of the Nile at that place. Its surface
consists of soft soil with a very high percentage of vegetable matter, supporting
an herbaceous land flora, but no papyrus. It is edged on its upstream side
Detail of the south-east end of the dry crossing. [Photo. by E. J. Wayland]
The dry crossing, looking north-west (down stream). [Photo. by E. J. Wayland]
The north-west (down stream) end of the dry crossing. [Photo. by E. J. Wayland]
with a broken line of tree trunks (for the most part boles of palms) leaning steeply
upstream and thus recalling a raked blockage. Apart from being soft and
powdery the ground is unyielding, except near the right bank where it responds
to the foot as a mattress does on a spring bed; but there is so little danger of
going through into the water below that elephants cross over the surface, as
some fresh spoor clearly indicated.
About 570 feet upstream of the usual path over the crossing and extending
for a length of seventy-five feet an oily-looking pool breaks the dry surface, and
from time to time ugly swirls appear upon it, and immediately downstream of the
path is a much smaller pool of a similar kind, while in line with this at the
downstream end of the blockage there is an exposed channel along which water
can be seen swiftly flowing. It would appear that the main course of the Nile
under the blockage is by the right bank.
The natives say that the blockage is not permanent, that there have been
several at different times in the same place; and that they appear during famines
and last for several years; it is further maintained that their formation is in
no way related to the height of the river. On my pointing out that there was
no famine in West Madi at the time, I received the reply that the present
blockage started in 1930 and that famine conditions would have been in existence
then and now had it not been for efforts of the Administration directed toward
the spread of cultivation and the stocking of famine stores. I was also told
that men from the Sudan were daily crossing over to Madi to purchase food.
I asked why it was thought necessary to burn the vegetation on the surface
of the blockage while that on the steep banks and beyond was not burnt, but
I obtained no satisfactory reply. Why and how this blockage forms I am
uncertain, and prefer for the time being to offer no definite solution.
Neoanthropic Man of the Early Stone Age.
By E. J. WAYLAND.
Among the remarkable prehistoric finds in Kenya that have been foreshadowed
by discoveries in Uganda is that of Chellean or pre-Chellean neoanthropic man;
not that his bones were found in Uganda, as they were by Leakey at Kanam,
in Southern Kavirondo, in 1932 (indeed, they have not yet been searched for
on this side of Lake Victoria), but in August, 1930, a hollowed-out digging stone
made of phyllite was discovered at a depth of about 16 feet below a strongly
marked and widely developed Chelleo-Acheulean horizon at Nsongezi, on the
The Chelleo-Acheulean horizon is one of peculiar interest, for it marks an
oscillation in the second pluvial period, during which the waters declined and
lacustrine and other sediments were exposed as dry land, upon which early man
roamed, fashioned his weapons and hunted. When the lake rose again, the
then tool-littered land-surface was slowly silted over with about 50 feet of
false-bedded sands and clays. The digging-stone was found in quite undisturbed
well bedded sandy clays in a shaft that had been dug through the Chelleo-
Acheulean horizon, so that there can be no doubt that this remarkable relic was
in situ. Its discovery was very disconcerting and came as something of a shock,
for it upset one's ideas of the order of things, and although I wrote to several
distinguished authorities about it at the time, I refrained from publishing the
news in print until 1931 0) when the controversy over the age of Oldoway man,
whose vast antiquity has since been disproved,c2) was directing attention to the
possibility of Homo sapiens as the maker of Chellean tools in Eastern Africa.
This digging-stone is by far the oldest ever discovered in Africa or elsewhere.
(1) Nature, Vol. CXXVII., Dec. 12, 1931, pp. 1008-1004.
(2) Annual Report, Geological Survey, Uganda, 1932, paras. 65--72.
A Corrigendum to Speke's Journal of the Discovery of the
Sources of the Nile.
By J. M. GRAY.
The object of this note is to endeavour to save others from following a will
o' the wisp, which I was led to follow as the result of a passage in Speke's
Journal of the Discovery of the Sources of the Nile. The passage in question
is to be found on page 17 of the original edition of that work, which reads: -
"Colonel Rigby now gave me a most interesting paper, with a map
attached to it, about the Nile and the Mountains of the Moon. It was written
by Lieutenant Wilford from the "Purans" of the ancient Hindus .....
This, I think, clearly shows that the ancient Hindus must have had some
kind of communication with both the northern and southern ends of Lake
Wilford's paper was published in 1801 in Volume III of Asiatic Researches.
Unfortunately neither Rigby nor Speke were aware of the fact that in Volume VIII
at p. 249 of the same periodical Wilford had been compelled to acknowledge
that, at the time of writing his original paper, he had been the victim of a very
elaborate imposition. He had told a pundit of his acquaintance something about
ancient European mythology and had informed him that he was anxious to find
out whether the Hindus were acquainted with the same stories. In course of
time the pundit sent Wilford extracts from what purported to be the Puranas,
which Wilford translated. Afterwards Wilford discovered that the pundit had
invented certain of the legends and had gone so far as to falsify the manuscript
by erasing the original name of the country appearing therein and substituting
Egypt. He had also removed some leaves from the original manuscript and
replaced them by others of his own composition, which he thought would suit
the theories which he believed Wilford wished to expound. As soon as he
realized the manner in which he had been victimised, Wilford very properly
made public acknowledgment of the fact that he had been hoaxed. No blame
attaches to him or to Rigby or Speke for what is unfortunately a very misleading
paragraph in the Journal of the last mentioned.
A Precursor of Krapf and Rebmann.
By J. M. GRAY.
The missionary J. L. Krapf and his colleague Rebmann are generally credited
with being the first Europeans in modern times to obtain tangible information
about the Central African Lakes. Recently I had the opportunity of reading a
journal, which was kept between the years 1824 and 1826 by a British Naval
Officer and which discloses the fact that Krapf and Rebmann were anticipated
in their information by about a quarter of a century.
The writer of this journal was a certain Lieutenant James Barker Emery,
who was Civil Governor of Mombasa during the temporary British Protectorate
of 1824-1826. The journal of which I have a transcript, affords highly interesting
reading. Administrative officers may, perhaps think that some of the problems,
which confronted the writer, bear a very strong resemblance to the problems
which confront themselves to-day. The chief point of interest to people in
Uganda regarding Emery is that in the course of his dealings with the Arab and
Swahili population of the coast he learnt that "a very large lake exists in the
interior, its banks thickly studded with buildings, lying nearly due west of
Mombasa." The information was obtained nearly thirty years before Rebmann
and Erhardt published the famous "slug map," which led to the explorations
of Burton and Speke. Emery's informant was a certain Fumoluti, the ancestor
of the Sultans of Witu, who caused so many international complications at the
end of the nineteenth century. At one time Emery proposed to lead an expedition
to this lake and thence to the West Coast. He was to be accompanied by
Fumoluti's son, another Arab, and two Wa-Swahili. The expedition was to
have started from Ozi at the mouth of the Tana River and to have made its
way up to the source of that river and thence to the lake. Fulomati's son
professed to know the route and to have great influence with the tribes which
would be encountered along it. Emery's opportunity, however, never came.
The British Government withdrew from the Protectorate in 1826 and Emery
was invalided to England.
Subsequently Emery communicated such information as he had in regard
to the interior of Africa to "the comparative geographer," W. D. Cooley. This
gentleman is now chiefly remembered as a voluminous armchair critic of all
contemporary African explorers. He demonstrated, for instance, by an elaborate
process of deduction that Kenya and Kilimanjaro were only the figments of the
imagination of Krapf and Rebmann. Emery's information naturally did not
fit in with Cooley's preconceived and immutable theories. Cooley poured cold
*water upon the reports supplied to him by Emery and it was no doubt due to
Cooley's attitude that Emery did not further attempt to make that information
In conclusion it is not without interest to note that Emery, who was born
in 1795 and was in 1826 sent to England "suffering from an impaired digestion
and great debility obviously brought on by a long residence in the unhealthy
island of Mombasa," lived until 1889.
By H. LYNDHURST DUKE, O.B.E., M.D., SC.D.
"The night has a thousand eyes" so runs the song: here in Uganda it
has also quite a formidable number of tongues. Mammals, birds, and even
reptiles contribute, and there are noises that are soothing and seemly and
noises that, quite definitely, are not.
To the dweller in headquarters-be it "backwater" or "hub"-the noises of
the night are those commonly associated with our civilization. The true voices
of the wild seldom reach his ears, the lion's throbbing roar, the cry of the
tree hyrax, the rustle of elephants round the camp and many another sound
that comes in from the spaces beyond the log fire, reminding the drowsy traveller
at once of the snugness and the frailty of his flimsy tent. Instead there is
the all-night gramophone, the neighbour's wireless, his dog, cat, or baby, and
at regular intervals his fowls calling the hour; a beer racket in the suburbs; and,
in the small hours, the homely crow upon the roof.
But there is one "wild" noise, proper to the forests of East and Central
Africa, that comes to town from time to time, a noise utterly unlike any of
these familiar disturbances, and that is the harsh metallic note of Basil the
Superbat. Basil is a sleep-destroying menace compared to which the Ancient
Mariner's albatross was a mere havering amateur. His full official designation is
Hypsignathus monstrous. He is known also, euphemistically, as the hammer-
headed bat, but the authority, quoted below, who makes this generous concession,
wisely qualifies' it by adding that our subject "is much better pictured by its
scientific name, which refers to the enormously swollen nasal region of old males,
the monstrously developed pendulous lips, the grotesque ruffles around the .nose,
the warty snout, and the hairless split chin." As all this only refers to the
front end of the creature, there's no getting away from it, "monstrosus" barely
conforms even with the low standards of veracity expected of zoologists.
Basil is an out-size fruit-eating bat, perfectly harmless and innocent of all
Vampire taint reminiscent though he is at times of the active phase of Bram
Stoker's monster. He is also. quite distinct from the common "fruit bat" that
haunts our gardens, a dainty little creature with a head like that of a tiny fox.
Basil is bizarre in his ugliness, a creature after Dord's own heart, eerie
and mysterious. In design he rivals, nay outpoints, the famous gargoyles of
N6tre Dame. His head is some four inches long and in shape half hippo,
half horse, and from his nose stands out a pair of wrinkled naked sense organs
that help perhaps tb keep him straight. He has, be it frankly conceded, neat
little ears, but his eyes are shockingly exopthalmic and look exactly like two
black boot-buttons sewn on to the light-coloured fur of the entirely expressionless
face. The chest is powerfully built to support the great wings which in the
adult attain a spread of nearly three feet; and, bat-like, he has a useful
assortment of claws at various convenient points about his person.
Basil starts feeding soon after dark. He eats fruits of various kinds and
is especially addicted to guavas and certain kinds of wild fig. On the dorsum
of his tongue he carries a beautiful little diamond-shaped patch of roughened
mosaic which acts as a rasp. He snatches mouthfuls of fruit while still on
the wing, and returns again and again until the fruit drops off. The American
naturalists state that the fruit is also sometimes plucked and taken to a
convenient stance in; a tree hard by and there devoured. After a time he hangs
himself up in a tree and starts honking, while his friends and admirers flap
about round him and enjoy themselves.
Within the strong chest, under the breast bone, lies a large cartilaginous sac
with thick walls, connected with the wind-pipe-obviously his sound box. Once
one of these creatures starts its postprandial soliloquy in a tree in one's
compound it may be relied upon to carry on without a break for an hour or
more, when it may perhaps move on a little and start another performance.
Sometimes two or more collaborate with exasperating persistency. The noise
usually begins shortly after everyone has gone to bed, and consists of one metallic
note constantly repeated.
The American Museum Expedition to the Congo in their report devote
several pages to Basil, his habits, internal arrangements and various gadjets. The
following brief excerpt may be of interest, if only to show the impression our
friend made in the minds of these distinguished scientists.
"Every evening, shortly after sunset-about 6-15 to be exact-some of
them would be seen crossing the stream to the south bank, not in a flock but
single, in straggling fashion. Entering the trees on the far side they would start
at once to call. Each individual gave a loud pw6k or kwak, repeated at short
intervals, say of one-third to half-of-a-second, though occasionally several notes
would be emitted in very rapid succession.
This noise would continue without serious interruption till 10 or 11 o'clock,
to be taken up again at intervals later on, but ceasing by half-an-hour before
daylight. During this performance their utter lack of fear was amazing.
Neither talking, rapping on the trees, lighting a lantern, nor even firing a gun
could induce them to cease their calling . . In no other mammal is every-
thing so entirely subordinated to the organs of voice."
Shade of Xantippe, what an overwhelming indictment is conveyed in this
It must be remembered in reading this extract that the Americans met
Basil on his native heath, undisturbed by man. In contact with civilisation
he becomes in many ways a much more sophisticated creature, and very soon
learns to discern good from evil.
When the noise starts, turning a deaf ear uppermost-if one is lucky enough
to possess a really defective organ-may be sufficient for the strong-minded, but
a light sleeper hasn't much chance. Fortunately, however, there is to hand
another remedy which in its application combines grim urgency with the thrills
of the chase. Take a '410 collector's gun-it makes so much less noise than a
12 bore-and a torch, and, not forgetting the permit to "shoot within the
township," softly approach the tree wherein hangs Basil. Turn on the torch
and holding it along the barrel with the left hand so that it illuminates the
foresight, sweep the gun round until you pick up two little glowing points of
light-his boot-button eyes. Remember that he is upside down and aim an inch
or so above the lights, and if all goes well Basil will drop with a gratifying
thud at your feet. Number 8 ammunition is excellent.
In his fur there are usually a few athletic wingless spider-like insects
which in their humble way offer excellent sport to the entomologically minded,
for they are amazingly quick on their feet. Indeed, what with Basil himself
in all his weirdness, the thrill of the sudden flash of his eyes in the torch light,
the shot in the dark and the answering chorus of outraged dogs, and finally
the hunt for parasites in his thick fur, you feel, with the Village Blacksmith,
as you return in triumph to your comfortable bed, that "something attempted
something done has earned a night's repose."
11TH DECEMBER, 1933.
In connection with the study of the periodicity of locust outbreaks there
is one minor subject which has received little attention, namely, records of past
outbreaks. Though the collection of such references is of academic rather than
practical interest, it is not improbable that by this means many interesting
side lights would be thrown on conclusions arrived at in other ways, and at
least the course of earlier occurrences of locusts might be traced with more
confidence than at present.
Such references as these are scattered through the travel and other
literature dealing with East Africa. The undersigned would greatly value the
help of your readers, particularly those well versed in African travel literature,
who can supply references.
Two difficulties are confronted at the outset, namely, uncertainty in many
cases regarding the species of locust in question, and again the impossibility
of knowing whether any information of value can be gleaned until material in
sufficient quantity is in hand.
Notwithstanding all this a collation of such references appears to be worth
attempting, and should anything meriting publication result, perhaps you will
consent to open your columns for a short article on the subject.
In every case the title of the publication and page will suffice.
H. B. JOHNSTON,
Chief Locust Investigator,
Imperial Institute of Entomology.
IMPERIAL INSTITUTE OF ENTOMOLOGY,