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|The building of the Kenya and Uganda...|
|Baganda folk-songs: A rough...|
|Early treaties in Uganda,...|
|Notes on the birds of the riverain...|
|With the 4th (Uganda) K.A.R. in...|
|Insects which alter the landsc...|
|Sir Richard Burton and the Nile...|
|The life of Rwot Iburaim Awich|
|Extracts from "Mengo Notes"...|
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Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Table of Contents
The building of the Kenya and Uganda railway
Baganda folk-songs: A rough classification
Early treaties in Uganda, 1888-1891
Notes on the birds of the riverain rorests of Karamoja and north-east Uganda
With the 4th (Uganda) K.A.R. in Abyssinia and Burma
Insects which alter the landscape
Sir Richard Burton and the Nile sources
The life of Rwot Iburaim Awich
Extracts from "Mengo Notes" - V
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
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THE UGANDA SOCIETY
SUBSCRIPTIONS.-The annual subscription (expiring 30th June) for
ordinary members and institutional members is Shs. 10. A double subscription
of Shs. 15 entitles two members of a family to all the rights and privileges of full
members, except that they receive one copy only of each issue of the Society's
periodical. Any member who has reached the age of 55 can become a life
member by paying a lump sum equal to the amount of ten annual subscriptions.
A member who has not yet reached the age of 55 can join for life by paying the
same sum plus the number of subscriptions by which the age falls short of 55.
The annual subscription for associate members is Shs. 2/50. Associates are
admitted to lecture meetings and may use the library; but are not entitled to
receive the periodical, to vote, or to borrow from the library.
Bankers' Order forms may be obtained from the Secretaries. Completed
Bankers' Orders should be sent to the Society in the first place, not direct to
Members are requested to keep the Secretaries fully informed of changes of
PUBLICATIONS.-The Uganda Journal, the organ of the Society, is pub-
lished half-yearly, in March and September. Back numbers of most issues of the
Journal, and of certain other publications of the Society, can be supplied as
advertised on the back cover of the current issue.
The chief aim of the Journal is to provide a medium for the publication of
historical, literary and scientific matter relating to Uganda and its peoples.
Material offered for publication should be sent to the Honorary Editor at the
Society's address. Contributions in the form of short notes or records, as well as
longer articles, are invited. Authors will receive twenty separate copies of their
contributions free of charge: additional separates may be obtained at a cost of
ten cents a page if ordered at the time when the manuscript is submitted. The
Editor can arrange for manuscripts to be typed.
The Society is ready to consider entering into arrangements with other
institutions for exchange of publications.
MEETINGS.-Meetings, at which papers are read by members or visitors,
are held periodically in Kampala. Notices of meetings are sent to those members
living in or near Kampala and Entebbe; and to other members by request. A
member wishing to read a paper should communicate with the Secretaries. The
Society reserves the right to publish, in whole or in part, any paper read at a
LIBRARY.-The library contains over 1,600 books and periodicals, chiefly
on African subjects, with a number of English newspapers and reviews. It is open
to members: Monday to Friday-10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.;
Sunday-10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. Books may be borrowed against a deposit of
Shs. 20, not more than two volumes being taken at one time. Members resident
away from Kampala can borrow by post, on application to the Honorary Librarian.
ADDRESS.-The Society's Rooms, which include reading and lecture rooms
and the library, are situated in the old Sikh Barracks, at the corner of Nakasero,
and Kyagwe roads, Kampala. The postal address, to which all communications
should be addressed, is:
THE UGANDA SOCIETY,
Rules for the use of the library are as follows:
1. The library is open to ordinary members and associate members for
reading at the hours announced in the Journal and on the Notice Board.
2. Books should not be returned to the shelves after use. They should be
left on the table by the door.
Ordinary members are entitled to take books on loan under the following
3. A member wishing to borrow books from time to time is required to
pay a library deposit of Shs. 20, to be retained by the Society until the member
signifies his wish to discontinue borrowing. The money will then be refunded.
4. Deposits should be paid to the clerk in the office (or posted to the Hon.
Librarian); a receipt will be given.
5. The Librarian is authorized to prohibit altogether, at his discretion, the
removal of certain valuable books, or books in constant use. Such books will be
clearly labelled. Current unbound periodicals are on no account to be taken away.
6. Books taken on loan by Kampala members may be retained for not
longer than two weeks in the first instance (three weeks will be allowed for members
who live more than twenty-five miles from Kampala). An extension of this
period may be granted by the Librarian at his discretion.
7. Not more than two volumes may be taken or retained by a member at
8. The catalogue number of the book, the name of the author, and the name
and address of the borrower must be entered in the loan book by, or in the
presence of, the clerk.
9. Within reasonable limits, the cost of outward postage to up-country
members will be defrayed by the Society.
III. LOSS OR DAMAGE
10. A member who loses or damages a book will be expected to defray the
11. A member who fails to make good the loss or damage of a library book,
or to return a borrowed book after a second reminder, will forfeit the whole or
part of his deposit, and also his right to borrow further books from the library
until his full deposit is renewed.
The library is open to members at the following hours:
Monday to Friday .. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday .. .. 10a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
Members are reminded that if a wanted volume is not to be found on the
Society's shelves, it may be possible to borrow it from some other Library in East
Africa. There is now close contact between the Uganda Society and similar
bodies in Kenya and Tanganyika, making such facilities possible.
Up to date there has been little response to the appeal for photographs and
books. Members are urged to give the Library first refusal of any books or
collections of photographs. Old records are becoming increasingly scarce, and
of more and more interest, with the present rapid development of the Protectorate.
The Society's register of addresses cannot be kept up to date without the close
help of members, who are urged to write immediately upon their transfer to some
The Uganda Society was fortunate in being able to purchase a certain
number of books from the late Clement Gillman's library of early German works
on the East African territories. These are now available to members.
The Society is indebted to the following for gifts of books: Dr. Eggeling,
Messrs. Hopkins and Thomas, the Uganda Government and Makerere College.
Special thanks are due to Sir John Gray for a copy of Major E. A. T. Dutton's
delightful Lillibulero. The Royal Geographical Society has been good enough
to send us a number of duplicates from its collection, and this gesture is deeply
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
Published on behalf of
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
AMEN HOUSE LONDON E.C.4
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY HEADLEY BROTHERS
109 KINGSWAY, LONDON, W.C.2; AND ASHFORD, KENT
The Building of the Kenya and Uganda Railway
By G. C. WHITEHOUSE 1
Baganda Folk-Songs: A Rough Classification By E. K. K. SEMPEBWA 16
Early Treaties in Uganda, 1888-1891 By SIR JOHN MILNER GRAY 25
Notes on the Birds of the Riverain Forests of Karamoja and North-
East Uganda By J. M. WATSON 43
With the 4th (Uganda) K.A.R. in Abyssinia and Burma
By J. C. WORKER 52
Insects which Alter the Landscape By W. VICTOR HARRIS 57
Sir Richard Burton and the Nile Sources By J. N. L. BAKER 61
The Life of Rwot Iburaim Awich By REUBEN S. ANYWAR 72
Extracts from "Mengo Notes"-V 82
The Total Eclipse of the Sun, Uganda, May 1947 By J. R. CRABBE 99
The Water-clearing Roots of Courbonia By W. J. EGGELING 100
Fire-making by Friction -By J. M. WALLACE 102
Nile Perch in Lake Albert -By T. P. MARGACH 105
Epiphytes in the Budongo Forest -By W. J. EGGELING 106
The First School in East Africa 115
Tribal Nicknames 115
"The Anatomy of Lango Religion and Groups" (By T. T. S. Hayley)
By A. C. A. WRIGHT 119
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA
By G. C. WHITEHOUSE
AS a party to the Slave Trade Conference at Brussels in 1890, Great
Britain undertook to co-operate actively in the suppression, on land and
on sea, of the Traffic in Slaves.
The position was laid down with clarity and force in a letter from the
Foreign Office to the Treasury dated December 1890:
"The coast is the outlet of the sea-borne Slave Traffic. The interior is
the source from which it springs . experience has shown . that no
ships or coast police can effectually stop the Traffic, and that the remedy
is . the establishment of interior stations and the construction of roads,
and more especially railways, which will provide cheap and safe transport."
"It is believed that there is only one mode of action which would have
a practical effect; the construction of a railway from Mombasa to Lake
"As the railway will pass through a sterile region, and have in a great
part of its course no lateral feeders, the hope of its becoming eventually
remunerative can only rest on the prospect of the gradual civilization of the
dense population surrounding the Lake District."
"Their Lordships should take into consideration the important fact that,
if the sea-borne Trade is extinguished through being attacked at its source,
the expenditure on the ceaseless work of a squadron watching its outlet would
no longer be required, so that economy might, from this point of view, be the
eventual result of the grant of the subsidy."1
In another letter the Foreign Office pointed out that the establishment of
a railway would deal a death blow to exportation or importation by caravan.
Sir Guilford Molesworth, reporting in 1899 after a considerable part of the
railway had been constructed, confirmed that this opinion had been correct,
that all up-country caravans travelled as far as possible by railway, and that
the terrible march across the Taru desert was already a thing of the past.
Thus even in 1899 it was possible to note the civilizing influence of the
railway. The tribes in contact with it had already begun to trade and were
already demanding European goods. Traders were beginning to settle round
the different stations, and at Voi there was a flourishing bazaar.
Until the end of 1890 the Imperial British East Africa Company had
borne unaided the expense of administering a sphere of influence of over
750,000 square miles. In December 1890 Sir William Mackinnon, Chairman
of the Company, addressed a letter to Lord Salisbury pointing out that the
1 The expenditure on the squadron was estimated at from 105,000 to 110,000
2 UGANDA JOURNAL
most effective means of fulfilling the obligation undertaken by the Government
at the Brussels Conference for the Suppression of Slavery were those which
had been specified in the Act, namely the construction of railways and the
substitution of "economical and rapid means of transport" for the system of
carriage by men. In March 1891 the Foreign Office intimated their readiness
to settle the details of a grant, and the directors of the Company consulted Sir
John Fowler and General Sir E. Williams, R.E., respecting the character and
cost of a railway, bearing in mind the capital at the disposal of the Company.
Later, in April 1891, Sir Guilford Molesworth was likewise requested to
make a report. These three eminent engineers submitted reports drawn up
without any examination of the country and based on the scantiest information
gleaned from maps and books of travel. Sir Guilford Molesworth estimated
that a railway might be constructed and stocked for an average cost of
2,700 a mile; Sir John Fowler estimated the length of the railway at 570 miles
and the cost at 3,166 a mile; and General Williams submitted an estimate
of 3,400 a mile. Their reports dealt with the probabilities of obtaining an
inexpensive railway, the difficulties to be overcome, and with estimates of
In July 1891 the Treasury asked for an estimate of the cost of a
preliminary survey. The figure given was 20,000. In December Captain
Macdonald, R.E., left Mombasa with an expedition, which returned in Novem-
ber 1892. The cost of the reconnaissance was 19,710. During this survey,
the party marched 4,280 miles and projected a possible route for a future line
between Kilindini (the inner harbour at Mombasa) and Port Victoria on
The work done by Captain Macdonald was of great value. His map,
the first general map to be compiled of this portion of Africa, was made under
great difficulties. There was only one small caravan track through the whole
length of the country, examination of routes off that track had to be made
through unknown country where there were no paths and practically no
inhabitants; where often water was not to be found; and where food supplies
were unobtainable except at Machakos, Kikuyu and Mumias-300, 340 and
600 miles, respectively, from the coast. Examination of the different routes
at any distance from these centres was a matter of extreme difficulty, because
all the food for a caravan of several hundred porters had to be carried. Any
delay beyond the exact periods for which food could be taken would have
resulted in the starvation of the men. The estimated cost of the railway
based on Macdonald's reconnaissance was 2,240,000 or 3,409 per mile for
the 657 miles. It was to be located with a limiting gradient of 1 in 66 (except
for four short stretches where the gradient was to be 1 in 40); a maximum
curvature of 573 feet radius was to be allowed and, as it was "intended in
the first instance for light traffic and the banks and cuttings mostly low ", the
formation width was reduced to 121 ft., both for banks and cuttings. The
permanent way was to be of flat-footed steel rails weighing 50 lb. a yard, with
steel trough-sleepers weighing 70 lb. each. It was estimated that there would
be thirty-one bridges of importance, the four largest each having one span
of 100 ft. and two spans of 40 ft., the others being chiefly 20 ft. or 40 ft. span.
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA RAILWAY 3
Permanent staff quarters were only to be provided at Mombasa, Kikuyu and
Port Victoria. At other stations the buildings were to be of sun-dried bricks
with grass thatching.
In April 1895 a committee consisting of Sir Percy Anderson, Sir Montagu
Ommanney, Sir Alexander Rendel, Sir John Kirk, and Col. Colvile sat at the
Foreign Office to consider the question of railway communication with Uganda.
They gave careful consideration to Captain Macdonald's report and
estimate, and proposed modifications which, they anticipated, would reduce
the cost of constructing the 657 miles from Mombasa to the Lake from
2,240,000 to 1,755,000, or 2,700 a mile. The principal alterations by
which this economy was to be effected were, firstly, a reduction of the gauge
from 31 ft. to 3 ft.; secondly, a reduction of the weight of rail from 50 lb.
to 35 lb. a yard; and, thirdly, limitation of the supply of rolling stock to the
The committee's report was presented to both Houses of Parliament,
and in August 1895 a Bill was passed authorizing construction of the railway.
In the following month a committee composed of Sir Percy Anderson, Sir
John Kirk, Sir F. L. O'Callaghan, Sir Montagu Ommanney and Sir G. L.
Ryder, with Sir Alexander Rendel as Consulting Engineer, was instituted to
supervise the undertaking.
After several meetings this committee came to the conclusion that, unless
immediate economy was the governing condition, it would be injudicious to
construct a very light line in country such as that to be traversed. They
recommended that a substantial line should be constructed, that the gauge
be increased to one metre, and that the rail weight be restored to 50 lb. per
yard as originally recommended.
On further examination it became evident to the committee, that detailed
survey might modify considerably the conclusions of the officers who had
made the 1892 reconnaissance. The ascent from the coast had been found
to be more expensive than was anticipated, and recent reports on the
meteorological conditions had raised doubts regarding the sufficiency of the
bridging allowance. As regards the difficult country beyond the Mau range,
it was recognized that, in the absence of detailed survey, there must be a
large element of uncertainty. In view of all these factors the committee
recommended that a sum of 3,000,000 should be provided for the construction
of the railway.
The Uganda Railway (Consolidated Fund) Bill came before the Committee
of the House on 3rd July 1896. There was considerable opposition and
Mr. Labouchere, editor of Truth, remarked that he had always protested and
would always protest against this great waste of public money. One of his
reasons for opposing annexation was that he knew perfectly well that directly
they annexed some wretched miserable jungle in the centre of Africa they
would be "called upon to build a railroad to it. He denied that Uganda,
admitted to be worthless at this moment by successive governments, would
ever be made valuable by the building of a railroad to it. He denied that
there were products which could be brought to the coast with any possibility
of advantage." The Africans were a lazy people: "If an African could get
4 UGANDA JOURNAL
another African to work for him he did so, and if they really wanted to carry
out a system of large crops they had better not only allow, as they did at
present, domestic servitude, but establish the slave trade with all its horrors."
The resolution was carried by 255 to 75. At the second reading on
28th July Mr. Labouchere again opposed the bill and made some very wild
statements in moving a resolution "That this House is of the opinion that
no further public funds should be voted for making this railway until more
clear and definite estimates of its costs are presented." The second reading
was passed with a majority of 153. In the House of Lords, during the
second reading, Lord Rosebery said, I believe that, great as your expenditure
has been for putting down the slave trade on the coasts of Africa, vast as are
the efforts that you have put forward for the abolition of that horrible traffic
all over the world, you will never have struck a blow at it so fatal and direct
as by the construction of this railway which the Government has set on foot."
Truth, in the issue of 20th August 1896, referred to as one of the silliest
exploits of the session the voting "of three millions for a railway in Uganda.
It will never pay its running cost, still less the interest on the cost of
construction. Imports will be trifling because the inhabitants have nothing
with which to pay for them. The pretence that the railroad will be a means
of diminishing slavery is sheer hypocrisy, and how anyone can venture to put
it forward, in view of the fact that we allow slavery in Uganda and Pemba,
would be surprising were it not that the ultra-jingoes, whose dream is to peg
out claims for futurity in the jungles and swamps and forests of Central Africa,
have ever sought to carry into effect this insane policy; now by posturing
as Christians eager to spread Christianity, now as anti-slavery men anxious to
put an end to slavery."
In November 1895 the Chief Engineer and his party left England and
work commenced on Mombasa Island on llth December 1895.
Two survey parties were placed in the field and no time was lost in
locating the first few miles so that construction works could be started when
the first gangs of Indian labourers arrived. Arrangements for these had
already been made by telegraph before the engineering staff arrived in the
The first party staked out the line from the coast up the Rabai Hills
and onwards to Voi River. When about 40 miles had been located, and
preliminary lines run for 100 miles, it was decided, on the recommendation
of the Railway Committee, that the limiting curve should be increased to
800 ft. radius, and the maximum grade reduced to 1 in 66. These decisions
were followed as far as Nairobi (Mile 325), but from Nairobi to Lake Victoria
the maximum gradient had to be increased to 1 in 50, although the greater
limiting curve was retained. These alterations changed the character of the
railway, as estimated in the reconnaissance report, as well as the proposed
economies recommended by the Foreign Office Committee of April 1895.
The second survey party was shortly moved to Kibwezi at Mile 195
where a difficult section of country was expected to occupy much time. This
party had been instructed to locate back to meet the first party which they
joined in October 1897, the 195 miles having thus taken twenty-two months
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA RAILWAY 5
to complete. The dense nature of the bush for nearly the whole of this
distance had made work very laborious and trying. The survey was next
carried on to Nairobi, this section of 130 miles taking twelve months to
In October 1896 a third survey party was despatched to Kikuyu to stake
out the line from the Athi plains to the summit of the Kikuyu escarpment
and to study the best descent into the rift valley. As a result of these
examinations a line some ten miles to the north of the original reconnaissance
was finally selected.
By the end of 1898 the whole of the survey and demarcation had been
finished as far as Longonot and reconnaissance had been made over the Mau
to determine the feasibility of a shorter and more direct route to the most
eastern point of Lake Victoria. The coastline of the lake had been examined
for harbours between Port Victoria (in Berkeley Bay, south-west of Mumias)
and Port Florence (now Kisumu) by means of a steel boat, carried up in
sections, with the result that the latter harbour was found to have nine feet
of water close to the shore. At this time the country between Nakuru and
Port Florence was quite unknown; it was also uninhabited inland from the
shore of the lake. No European had passed through the Nyando and Kedowa
valleys, probably the first case on record in which engineers working on the
construction of a great railway had been the first white people ever to explore
the country through which it passed. By January 1899 three survey parties
were working in the rift valley and on the Mau.
The survey party which worked between Longonot and Nakuru had
comparatively easy work because the country is open and the descents long
and easy, so that the maximum gradient had only to be fitted to the ground
in the most economical manner. A detour of nearly seven miles had to be
made round Lake Elementeita, the line passing to the west of the lake. At
Nakuru the ascent of the Mau (the western escarpment of the rift) may be
said to begin but these are only the foothills of the main range which rises
much more abruptly beyond. The section between Mile 459 and the top
of the Mau at Mile 489 was, in many respects, the most difficult portion of the
whole survey. The whole slope of the mountain was covered with dense
forest and much cut up by numerous ravines so that the selection of the best
line was a matter of considerably difficulty. The forest was so dense that it
took sixteen months to stake out this thirty miles.
The third survey party started at Mau Summit and ran preliminary lines
to Port Florence on Lake Victoria. The main difficulty in this section was
the crossing of the Kedowa, which narrows to a gorge with formidable
precipitous sides and a rapid fall. The whole survey of 584 miles was
completed to the Lake in May 1900, by which date rail-head had reached
The surveyors' difficulties can be appreciated when it is realized that
during the whole time they were in the field all the parties, except that working
in the Kikuyu country, had to depend on the coast for food and all other
supplies. Everything had to be head-loaded and in addition to carrying food
supplies and stores from the nearest point that the transport department
6 UGANDA JOURNAL
could deliver them there was all the work of moving camp and clearing bush.
While the three survey parties were at work on the Mau there was a bad
famine in the Kikuyu district and no food was obtainable. Food for 500 men
had therefore to be supplied from the coast, a distance of 480 miles, of which
about 300 were covered by rail. At the end of the line supplies were packed
in 60 lb. loads and carried by mule cart to the foot of the range, a distance of
nearly 200 miles. Here a depot was formed from which the various survey
parties drew their supplies with their own porters.
To turn from survey to construction, the Managing Committee at the
Foreign Office had decided that the railway must be open in the shortest
possible time, and that although a substantial line would eventually be needed,
heavy works must not delay the advancement of the rails if such obstacles
could be passed by temporary lines. The instructions were to locate temporary
lines round all bridges, large culverts and rock cuttings, as near to the site
of the permanent works as possible. When the earth-work porters arrived at
these points it was decided which line should be taken in hand, the decision
generally depending on number of labourers available at the time and whether
there were sufficient of them to complete the permanent works without
delaying the progress of the plate-laying.
Temporary bridges were in all cases built before the permanent structure
could be begun. The first of these bridges was from Mombasa Island to
the mainland, and was a low level timber bridge on piles, one-third of a mile
long. The bridge was begun in April 1896 and finished in ninety-one working
days. It remained in use for thirty-five months until the completion of the
steel viaduct. The other three temporary bridges crossed ravines which would
not allow the use of sleeper cribs at a lower level.
The longest and most important of the temporary diversions was that
laid out between Mile 362 and Mile 375 where the permanent line is taken
down the face of the escarpment. Here it was decided to use rope inclines
to overcome the descent of 1,522 ft. to the bottom of the rift where a surface
line could be constructed with a 1 in 30 gradient to Mile 375. The descent
was divided into four separate sections, the uppermost of which was 1,657 ft.
long, measured horizontally, with a difference in level of 229 ft. and a
maximum gradient of 1 in 7. The next incline was 1,094 ft. long in horizontal
length, with a fall of 453 ft. and a maximum gradient of 1 in 2. Between
this incline and the next, 155 ft. of level line where wagons could pass was
just sufficient to allow any necessary shunting; and this led in turn to the
third incline which was 1,415 ft. long with a fall of 682 ft. and a maximum
gradient of 1 in 13. The fourth and last section had a length of 1,640 ft., a
fall of 158 ft., and a maximum gradient of 1 in 7. The top and bottom
inclines were worked by gravity, all the load being down-hill, but for the two
middle sections power was used. Because of the gradients in the two middle
inclines, carriers were necessary. The trucks ran on to these from a platform
at the top, and at the bottom the carrier went into a pit where the loaded
wagon was detached and the empty one put on ready for the ascent.
The inclines were in use for twenty months while the permanent line down
the escarpment was being built; they were closed on 4th November 1901,
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA RAILWAY 7
having worked extremely well during this whole period, without accident.
The construction of the inclines materially helped and hastened the completion
of the line by enabling a large force of men to be put on the heavy works of
the Mau eighteen months earlier than would otherwise have been possible.
Rails were laid 300 miles ahead, i.e., to within 20 miles of the terminus, before
the permanent line down to the rift bottom was finished.
The Mau escarpment is less abrupt than the Kikuyu, but the work here
was so heavy that a great deal of carefully located line had to be set out
round each of the twenty-seven viaducts required on the ascent and descent
of the escarpment. These viaducts crossed ravines varying in depth from
45 to 115 ft. and because the ravines came frequently in pairs the temporary
lines had to be located on the bank of the first until the bottom was nearly
reached, where a reversing station was put in and the line carried across and
up the other side at the same gradient of 1 in 30; and so into the second
ravine in similar manner. There were three sets of these reversing stations
in the ascent of the Mau and three sets on the descent to the Lake-twelve
reverses altogether. About 100 miles of temporary line were used in the
construction, primarily because of the decision of Her Majesty's Government
that the first locomotive should reach Lake Victoria at the earliest possible
date. It is estimated that these temporary lines hastened that date by two
years, and the enormous saving that they made in executing the permanent
works can be readily appreciated when one considers the size of the labour
force which would have been necessary to get rations and materials
(including sand, water, cement and lime) to the sites if this work had not
been done by the railway itself. During the construction of the bridges and
culverts on the Mau ascent the average length of haul for stone was 20 miles
and for sand 78 miles; west of the Mau the average haul for sand was 34 miles.
Nearly all the labourers employed on the construction of the line were
brought from India. An agent, with an office and staff, was appointed in
Karachi. He had charge of the recruiting of coolies, artizans and subordinate
officers, and was purchasing agent for all food and materials which came from
India. There was a branch office in Lahore, the principal recruiting centre,
coolies being engaged in the surrounding villages and sent to Karachi in
special trains to catch specially chartered steamers of the British India Steam
Navigation Company, which was retained to do all the sea transport at a fixed
rate per head. Shortly after recruiting began, plague broke out in India; this
seriously interfered with construction work and delayed the advancement of
the railway very considerably. After much negotiation with the Government
of India, recruiting and emigration was again allowed under very stringent
rules, the chief of which was the formation of a quarantine camp at Budapore.
This camp was laid out and built by the Uganda Railway, and a Medical
Officer and staff were kept there to supervise the coolies and see that they did
not move outside the precincts of the camp which was completely encircled
by a wire fence. Before any native of India could leave the country he was
obliged to spend fourteen days in the Budapore camp. When the steamer
was ready, those who were to start were taken to the coast by a special train
which ran on to the pier. They were transferred to the steamship without
8 UGANDA JOURNAL
any communication with the people on shore. The coolies were examined
again on board, by a Government Medical Officer, and any man not in perfect
health was returned to the quarantine camp. These arrangements were most
successful and although nearly 37,000 men were brought from India, no case
of plague ever appeared after landing, though on one occasion plague broke
out on board the steamship between Karachi and Mombasa. The passengers
on this ship were quarantined on an island to the north of Mombasa and
were not allowed on to the mainland until all fear of infection had passed.
A total of 35,729 coolies and artizans were brought over from India,
together with 1,082 subordinates-36,811 persons in all. Recruiting expenses,
including the maintenance of the agent, the upkeep of the segregation camp,
fares to port of embarkation and (on return) from port to place of enlistment,
and steamship fares, amounted to 254,588. The pay of the labour while in
transit, between the time of enlistment and the date of commencing work, and
on the return journey, totalled 107,350. In all, therefore, recruitment may
be said to have cost the railway about 362,000.
On engagement, each coolie signed an agreement with the Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs. The contracts were for three years at twelve rupees
per month with free rations and a return passage to the place of enlistment at
the cost of the railway. The coolies received half-pay while in hospital, and
free medical attendance.
The first agreements were made without any clause regarding task work
and in consequence great difficulty was experienced in getting any results at
all when the men were engaged on earth-works. This matter was represented
to the Government of India, the agreements were altered, contract rates were
fixed by which the men could earn slightly over their monthly pay by hard
work, and after this there was no more difficulty. The contract rates varied
from 61d. per cubic yard for earth to about Shs. 2/2 for solid rock.
The payment of the coolies presented a problem because each had to be
paid separately and an account had to be kept of all his earnings. A method
had to be found to avoid measuring each man's work and eventually the
following procedure was adopted. The coolies arrived at work in batches
of 25 (later increased to 50) under a Jemadar or headman who was responsible
for them in everything. Each gang was given a certain length of earth-work
which, when completed, was measured. Details were given to the Jemadar.
The Jemadar was responsible for keeping a record of the time worked by his
gang and for dividing up the amount due in proportion to the work done by
every coolie. A pay roll was then made out for the sum due to each man,
and the payments were made individually. They were witnessed by an
Officer of the Railway. The process involved an enormous amount of clerical
work, but was the only method by which complete control could be kept over
the Indian subordinates and which ensured that the coolie received the wages
due to him.
Recruitment was continued steadily from December 1895 until March
1901 when it was estimated that by the time the men 'then at work had
completed their three years' contract the line would be finished. The
indentured coolies began to return to India in 1899. The maximum number
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA RAILWAY 9
employed in any one month was in April 1901 when there were 23,090 men
at work. The average strength of the coolie labour force for each of the seven
years 1896-1902 was:
1896 I 1897 I 1898 I 1899 | 1900 | 1901 | 1902
5,297 I 7,458 | 15,512 | 18,720 I 22,248 | 15,981 | 8,569
When employed on advance works, the men lived under canvas because tents
were easily moved, but when large gangs were working on bridges and heavy
earth-works, likely to take several months to complete, temporary labour lines
were built of timber framing covered with corrugated iron, each holding
150 to 200 men.
All the labourers were supplied with free rations, the principal items
being flour and rice. When the labour force was at its maximum the weight
of food to be distributed was between 600 and 700 tons per month and a
special department under two officers was created to take charge. This
department had to receive the food consigned from Karachi, keep a proper
balance at the various depots along the line, and be responsible for the
distribution to the men. Great difficulty was at one time found in obtaining
food of good quality from India and so much trouble was experienced in the
case of flour that corn mills were erected at Kilindini and wheat was purchased
in England and ground at the coast as required. The mills had to be kept
running night and day over a long period and later, when it was found possible
to make yearly contracts for the supply of all rations, a large stock of wheat
was always kept in reserve as a security against any bad flour that the
contractor might import.
The railway was built in such a way that the rail-laying was always as
far ahead as possible and, as has been shown, temporary lines were used
extensively in order that the line might be served as much as possible by its
own transport. Even so, there was always a large amount of work to be
done in feeding the survey parties and the large force of men employed on
the forward earth-works, while large quantities of tools, explosives and
materials had to be forwarded. In 1895 the only means of transport in the
country was by Swahili porters from the coast and Zanzibar, and the numbers
of these available were very limited. They carried a load of 60 lb. in addition
to enough food for ten days, which weighed another 15 lb., and their average
journey was twelve miles a day. In order, therefore, to feed the 500 men
who were employed on the surveys on the Man at an average distance of
200 miles beyond the railhead, a force of at least 1,000 porters would have
The difficulty of finding adequate transport was due to the tsetse fly
which killed nearly all domestic animals within 260 miles of the coast.
Donkeys were tried as pack animals, but seldom made more than one journey,
and in one caravan of 121 donkeys sent from Mile 17 to Mile 328 in December
1896 only one returned the following April. Altogether, 800 donkeys died.
Camels were imported but succumbed almost before they started; and native
bullocks, as well as bullocks imported from India, were tried also. These
worked for a time, but 580 died out of a total of 640. Mules were then
10 UGANDA JOURNAL
obtained from the Cape, and afterwards from Cyprus, and though the mortality
was over 50 per cent. when working in the fly belt, they proved the most
successful transport animals tried. When the rails reached the Lake terminus
and the transport department closed down, there were 450 mules in good
condition remaining from the 800 purchased. They were sold at only
25 per cent. below their original cost.
The mules were used three abreast in a two-wheeled cart carrying a load
of 1,000 lb. The carts, most of which were built at Woolwich Arsenal, had
gun-carriage wheels; they proved well-adapted for the trying work they had
to do on the service road constructed alongside the railway.
To ensure that law and order was maintained among the very large
force of men employed, a police force was organized as one of the earliest
departments of the Railway. This force was uniformed and drilled, and was
armed with Martini-Henry rifles. As the number of labourers grew so the
police force grew in proportion, until a maximum of 400 constables was
reached. The force was maintained, at this strength, until the completion
of the line when it was handed over to the Protectorate Government. Two
officers were lent by the Indian Government to drill and superintend the force,
which was recruited from the indentured coolies brought over from India.
This force not only kept order amongst the large gangs of workmen, it was
also employed to protect the various camps from hostile natives, and to provide
escorts through unknown country.
In the early days the Police Superintendent was made a magistrate for
the trial of railway cases, but as the labour force increased this was found
to be unsatisfactory, and a magistrate with first-class powers was appointed
to try cases under the Indian Penal Code which had been applied to the East
African Territories by an Order in Council.
The size of the labour force necessitated, ample hospital accommodation,
and a large medical staff consisting of five English doctors assisted by ten
assistant surgeons, was lent by the Indian Government from the Indian Medical
Service. The sanitation of the stations and camps was carried out by about
250 men of this department who were continuously at work. An ice machine
capable of producing one ton of ice a day was installed at Kilindini and gave
a sufficient supply to the hospital at the coast as well as for the daily use of
the staff. Condensed water was supplied to this hospital from the railway
condensing plant. The number of men in the hospitals for the month of
April 1901, when the labour force was at its maximum, was 1,103 out of
23,090. This was about the average except during outbreaks of malaria, but
during the construction of the first 200 miles as many as 75 per cent. of the
men were in hospital for a short time. The total number of deaths for the
seven years ending 31st March 1903 was 2,493, an average of 357 annually
out of a force of about 11,000 coolies.
To round off this account of the early work of construction, it may be of
interest to give some details of the main types of works carried out and of the
type of equipment used. On the original line from Mombasa to Nakuru and
thence to Port Florence, the total number of viaducts, bridges and culverts
was 1,414. The first and longest was the Salisbury Bridge at Mile 2 across
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA RAILWAY 11
the arm of the sea that divides Mombasa Island from the mainland at Makupa.
This bridge consisted of twenty-one spans of 60 ft. and five spans of 12 ft.,
carried on columns 2 ft. in diameter screwed into the sandy bed of the
channel to an average depth of 20 ft. About three-quarters of the screwing
was done by hand with capstans and windlasses, and the remainder by
hydraulic screwing gear. The bridge was finished and opened for traffic
within two years of the date of starting. Other bridges were built at Tsavo,
Voi, Derajaani, Masongoleni and Mbulula.
Between Mile 200 and Mile 358 (the summit at Kikuyu), a large number
of 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10 ft. arch culverts had to be constructed. All masonry
work was in Portland cement. The eight viaducts in the descent of the
Kikuyu escarpment totalled 2,967 ft. in length, with an average height
of 63 ft. Between Mile 370 and Mile 460 only four major bridges had to
The twenty-seven viaducts on the ascent and descent of the Mau
escarpment were built in the United States and erected by contractors, the
foundations being laid and the holding-down bolts fixed in position by the
Railway. The nine viaducts on the ascent had a total length of 4,857 ft.
with an average depth of 74 ft., while the eighteen in the descent totalled
6,994 ft. with an average depth of 57* ft. In the descent of the Mau there
were two spans of 60 ft. across the Nyando river on masonry piers and
abutments, and seven bridges (each of three spans of 40 ft.) between Miles 531
and 553. The Kibigori bridge at Mile 5581 had two spans of 60 ft. on cast
iron cylinders sunk 18 ft. below the bed of the river.
A form of culvert which was found very useful was the elliptical steel
pipe, 4 ft. by 2 ft. These were designed for the special purpose of making
embankments without the delay of completing them in masonry. They were
made elliptical for economy in space, to reduce freight on the journey from
England to Mombasa.
The permanent way consisted of 50 lb. rails, generally 30 ft. long, laid
on steel trough-sleepers weighing 70 lb. each. Creosoted Norwegian pine
sleepers were at first tried but were found to be too soft, particularly on
curves, allowing the railroad to spread. The plate-laying force varied from
800 to 2,000 men, who lived in tents and moved camp every 10-15 miles as
the work advanced; they also erected all temporary bridges. Plate-laying
began on the mainland in August 1896 and the first locomotive reached the
terminus at Port Florence on Lake Victoria on 20th December 1901, a total
distance of 584 miles covered at the rate of 109 miles per year.
There were 41 stations on the line separated by an average distance of
14 miles, the longest interval being 301 miles. The original coastal terminus
was at Kilindini but in 1900 an extension of two miles into Mombasa was built.
Water for the locomotives was at first condensed from sea water, a large
condensing plant being erected on the shore near the pier. Later, a 70 ft.
well was sunk in the station yard, sufficient to serve three trains a day. A
small station building was provided at all stations, the standard house
consisting of three rooms with a veranda in front. These houses were built
of corrugated iron sheets on a wooden frame, raised on masonry pillars
12 UGANDA JOURNAL
3 ft. off the ground; a kitchen and a latrine were built behind. Where water
was available, water tanks were provided.
At Kilindini, stores were landed on a pier which gave a length of 300 ft.
with 4 ft. of water at ordinary low tide. The rise and fall was 12 ft.
Materials and stores were sent out from England in chartered steamships of
5,000 to 8,000 tons, and were discharged into 100-ton lighters belonging to
the Railway. About fourteen lighters were in regular use, with a steam
launch to tow them backwards and forwards.
Kilindini pier was originally built of creosoted Oregon pine, but shipworm
caused great damage and in the first three years the greater part of the work
below high water had to be renewed. This had been foreseen but, owing to
lack of stone on that side of the island, the great delay that would have been
caused by waiting for an iron pier from England, and the heavy demurrage
charges that would have been incurred, timber had to be used. When the
railway was extended to the Mombasa side of the island, ballast quarries were
opened up and the work of filling the timber pier with coral was at once put
in hand. This made an excellent pier, requiring practically no expenditure
on maintenance. Vessels were unloaded at the rate of 400 to 450 tons per day.
Great difficulty was experienced in providing a water supply in the first
325 miles; indeed in the first 100 miles only two stations, Mazeras at Mile 16
and Maji Chumvi at Mile 35, were provided with tanks. Moreover, the water
'at Maji Chumvi was frequently so salt that it could not be used. To overcome
the water shortage between Mazeras and Voi every train had to be provided
with a water tank wagon carrying 10 tons of water. The same arrangement
was necessary between Simba and Kiu where the rise is 1,510 ft.
The water tanks were all supplied by steam pump, which forced water
from the nearest stream through 21 in. galvanized wrought-iron piping. In
the case of Mazeras, the water had to be pumped four miles, over a head of
400 ft. A dam was built'three miles up the Mtoto Andei river at a sufficient
elevation to deliver the water by gravity. After the tanks at this station were
filled the 21 in. piping was carried alongside the line for sixteen miles to
Kenassi to fill a tank 15 ft. in diameter and 20 ft. high. From Nairobi to
Port Florence a gravity water supply was obtained for all stations except the
last two, where steam pumps were erected. The point of intake varied from
three to nine miles from the stations.
The Officers' Quarters at Nairobi, and the European Hospital, were built
on a small ridge about a mile from the station and consisted of five houses
built of stone and brick, roofed with Mangalore tiles. The quarters for the
Subordinate Staff, 104 in number, were laid out in parallel lines about a
quarter of a mile from the station. They were built of wood and iron. A
stand-pipe water supply was provided, and a surface drainage system installed.
The sanitary work was the responsibility of a special force of Indians. African
drivers, firemen, fitters and coolies were housed on the banks of the Nairobi
river about half a mile from the shops, where another water supply was pro-
vided. All the Railway quarters were under the charge of a Sanitary Inspector
whose duty it was to see that the sanitary work was done properly. Every four
miles along the line there were huts for the maintenance gangs. They were
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA RAILWAY 13
built of corrugated iron sheets on an iron frame and were arrow-proof. In
districts where trouble was to be expected from the indigenous population the
huts were surrounded by a fence of thorns and barbed wire. In waterless
districts each house had a 400 gallon tank sunk alongside the line; these were
filled twice a month by a water train specially run for the purpose.
In November 1898 the question of steamers on Lake Victoria was
referred to the Committee in England by the Chief Engineer. Mr. O'Callaghan,
remarking on the report, wrote, "The general alignment of the railway,
having its terminus at Port Florence, having now been decided upon, it
appears that early consideration should be given to the question of facilities
for the transport of Passengers and Stores to their destination beyond the
railway. The promontory which separates Ugowe Gulf from Berkeley Bay
is reported to consist of cultivated and populous districts-but for connection
with Uganda proper no road can compete in cheapness and speed with
steamers on Lake Victoria. Considering the glutted state of British workshops
it seems none too soon to decide on the description and number of steamers
to be placed on the Lake." It was estimated that designing, preparing
specifications, calling for tenders and selecting contractors would take
twenty-six months and Mr. O'Callagan recommended that, in view of the
distances to be travelled, it would be advisable to have three steamers instead
of the two recommended by the Chief Engineer. The matter was referred to
Lord Salisbury together with a recommendation that a survey should be made
of the Lake; the survey, if undertaken, to be made on behalf of the Uganda
Protectorate. Eventually three steamers were placed on Lake Victoria; they
were the "William Mackinnon", Winifred" and "Sybil ". The last two
were capable of 10 knots carrying 150 tons of cargo, and had cabin accommo-
dation for ten first-class passengers and ten second-class. They were built by
Messrs. Bow McLellan & Co. of Glasgow, to the designs of Sir Edward Reed,
and were re-erected and launched at Port Florence by the Railway Administra-
tion. The first service was between Port Florence and Entebbe.
All the rolling stock for the railway, both carriages and goods stock,
was imported from England. It consisted of 204 carriages of different
types for passengers, and 950 wagons of different types for the carriage of
There were altogether 92 engines on the line, 36 of them being American
locomotives obtained from the Baldwin Works at Philadelphia after it was
found that engines could not be obtained from England within a reasonable
time. These American engines were put into service alongside 34 English
engines; all of them went through the rough work of construction; and
all of them had an equal share over the last 200 miles where the road-bed
was not consolidated, ballast scarce, and derailments frequent. The following
figures, covering the four-year period 1899 to 1902, shows that there was
little to choose between the two types :
1 Originally contracted for, in sections for transport by porters, by the I.B.E.A.
Company. The sections were scattered along the road from the coast for some five
years. Ultimately assembled and launched by the Railway staff at Port Victoria in
14 UGANDA JOURNAL
34 English 36 American
Cost landed in Africa (each) ... 2,262 2,170
Total miles run ... ... ... 2,420,789 2,015,473
Time spent in shops ... ... 6% of life 4% of life
Cost of repairs per mile ... .. 296 pence 2-1 pence
Fuel consumption per mile ... 37 lb. 41 lb.
During the first two years, Welsh coal was used as fuel, then (mostly)
Indian coal and later, after 1901, a great deal of wood. The cost of fuel
consumed showed a difference of about 0-57 pence per mile in favour of the
English engine, so that, taking fuel and repairs together, there was a small
difference of about 0-29 pence per mile in favour of the American.
Because the Uganda Railway was built not as a commercial speculation
but for political necessity and the development of East Africa and Uganda,
the rates and fares were fixed at a moderate standard.
Passengers' fares were:
1st class ... ... ... 3d.
2nd class ... ... ... lid.
Intermediate class ... ... Id.
3rd class ... ... .. Id.
There were originally only five classes for goods, and a special down rate
of Id. per ton per mile for all goods other than those of the 4th and 5th classes.
The classes were:
per ton mile
1st class-Building material, etc. ... 21d.
2nd class-Foodstuffs ... ... ... 3d.
3rd class-Furniture wares, etc ... ... 5d.
4th class-Ammunition, firearms, etc. ... 16d.
5th class-Ivory and spirits ... ... ... 20d.
The line was opened, in sections, as completed. The first section of
100 miles to Voi was opened for goods traffic on 15th December 1897, and
for passenger traffic on 1st February 1898. The whole line to Port Florence
was opened for goods traffic on 15th January 1902, and for passengers on
1st March 1902. The gross earnings from public traffic for the year 1900
were 65,895; for 1901-80,602; and for the fifteen months ended 31st
March 1903- 115,313. After the publication of these figures little more was
heard of the original complaint that the railway would not pay.
The total cost of the Railway up to the 31st March 1903 amounted to
nearly 5,400,000, or, for the 584 miles, 9,240 per mile, divided up as follows :
Administration ... ... ... ... ... 760
Surveys ... ... ... ... ... ... 140
Land ... ... .. ... ... ... 38
Earth-works ... ... ... ... ... ... 2,061
Bridge-works ... ... ... ... ... 1,362
Level crossings, etc ... ... ... ... ... 27
Telegraphs ... ... ..... 105
Permanent way and ballast ... ... ... 2,614
Stations and buildings (including workshops) ... 950
Plant and stores ... ... ... .. ... 298
Rolling stock ... ... ... ... ... 836
Jetties ... ... ... . ... 49
THE BUILDING OF THE KENYA AND UGANDA RAILWAY 15
From the beginning of the work in December 1895 until March 1903 the
late Sir George Whitehouse, K.C.B.,1 was in charge, first as Chief Engineer,
later, when the line was opened for traffic, as Manager and Chief Engineer.
The Consulting Engineers were Messrs. Sir A. Rendel & Son and Robertson.
At one time or another a total of 106 Europeans were employed.
1 Sir George Whitehouse, the father of the author of this paper, was born on
26th July 1857. After studying engineering at King's College, London; and becoming,
at the early age of twenty, an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, he practised
in many parts of the world. He played a prominent part in the construction of the
Bolan Railway in North-West India, receiving the thanks of the Government of India;
and was concerned with railway construction in Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.
During his service with the Uganda Railway he was created K.C.B. in 1902 and, on
leaving East Africa, became, in 1904, Chief Engineer of the Central Argentine and of
the Buenos Ayres and Rosario Railway.
Sir George Whitehouse retired in 1910. He died in November 1938, at the age
Mr. C. G. Whitehouse's sources of information for the preparations of this paper
were principally diaries and notes, and reports of the Uganda Railway Committee, left
by his father.-[ED.]
BAGANDA FOLK-SONGS: A ROUGH
By E. K. K. SEMPEBWA
1. Songs concerning Historical Happenings.
H ARPISTS used to sing about events of historical importance, before the
Kabaka or chiefs, to the accompaniment of the bow harp. As an
example, we have "The Battle of Nsinsi":
Olutalo olwe Nsinsi lwatta abantu!
Tetwalulaba twali bato twali balenzi,
Olwatta sebo, onolwogera; Sirwogere;
Onolwogera; Sirwogere, lwatta abalenzi!
(During the battle of Nsinsi so many people fell!
We did not witness it, we were young, we were lads;
We missed an historical event.
"You will tell me the cause of my father's death";
"I will not"; "You will"; "I will not."
So many people fell!)
2. Songs of the Succession Ceremony (Okwabya Olumbe).
Much singing, drumming and dancing goes on during this ceremony, for
two nights at least. All sorts of songs may be sung, but most of them are
of the following type:
Kanyimbe nyo Omwami awulire, repeated several times.
(Let me sing loudly so that my master may hear.)
Kansitule empina ekirenzi,
Ekyalya banange kyamalawo dda,
Ebyalo bino byali seta.
(Let me dance like a young man,
That which ate my friends finished them all,
These villages were at one time full of people.)
After the heir has been installed, the grandchildren of that family through
the line of the daughters-Abajwa-clean up the place and strew the floor
of the house with fresh grass. As they work they sing the following song:
Mbuzi yange, yerimbika,
Mbuzi yange, yerimbika ku mugongo.
Mbuzi yange Kireretu ja oyere embuga;
Magunda tagana, Magunda tagana,
Magunda nze nayera mbuga Magunda mbu I
Kireretu ja oyere embuga.
BAGANDA FOLK-SONGS: A ROUGH CLASSIFICATION 17
(My goat will cover me,
My goat will cover my back.
My goat, Kireretu, come and sweep the court-yard;
Magunda wander about, but for my part I shall sweep
the front court-yard !
Kireretu come and sweep the court-yard.)
3. Songs concerning Witchcraft and the Witch-doctor.
When you consult a witch-doctor, his diagnosis may be that you are
possessed by a spirit (Lubale) and that this spirit is responsible for your
trouble. He may suggest that the spirit be summoned and persuaded to
speak. A musical evening is held, and the client is made to sit on a bark-cloth
in the midst of the people present. The following is the type of song sung
to summon the spirit:
Obuliba bwe mondo, bwamulema,
Obuliba bwe mondo bwamulema okuwungula.
(He could not dance with the skins of the wild cat.)
When the spirit is saying farewell to everybody present, it usually starts
a song, or the witch-doctor starts it:
Mukube mu ngalo, Nkyayandayanda
Omugenyi agenda Nkyayandayanda.
(Clap your hands,
The visitor is departing.)
4. Songs connected with Marriage.
There are songs to warn young suitors:
Bwalaba omulungi nga oyo agoberera
Nagenda nawe, katugende
Wozi agenda n'ekibambulira.
(When he sees a pretty girl he falls for her,
"I will go with you, let us go,"
Not knowing that he is going with a girl
with fiery temper.)
A girl shortly to be married may sing to her friends saying good-bye to
them. She leads the song, sometimes dancing at the same time, while her
friends join in the chorus:
Ai negendede, Mawanda;
Ai negendede, Mawanda;
Bayite tata nsibule, Mawanda;
Ai negendede, Mawanda;
Kitange yantunda dda, Mawanda;
Mange yansera dda, Mawanda;
Ai negendede, Mawanda;
Ai negendede, Mawanda.
18 UGANDA JOURNAL
(Oh, I am gone,
Oh, I am gone.
Call my father that I may say farewell to him,
Oh, I am gone.
Father has already sold me,
Mother has received a high price for me,
Oh, I am gone.)
The parents may lead a song in the presence of their family warning the
girl to be careful with her tongue:
Ebyomunju muno ebyomunju, Wajangala;
Ebyomunju tebitotolwa, Wajangala;
Bampe akaliba ntulire ebigambo, Wajangala;
Ebyomunju tebitotolwa, Wajangala;
Awaba sali waliwo obufumbo, Wajangala;
Ebyomunju tebitotolwa, Wajangala;
Awaba japani waliwo emirego, Wajangala;
Ebyomunju tebitotolwa, Wajangala.
(Family secrets should not be given away,
Pass me that skin that I may sit down and converse,
But the family secrets are not to be given away.
Where there are beautiful clothes the marriage is firm,
But where the clothes are poor there is always trouble,
Still family secrets should not be given away.)
5. Songs about the Kabaka.
There are numerous songs about the Kabaka, the Kabaka's mother,
the Kabaka's household, and so on.
6. Songs on Popular Topics.
For example, there is a song about the Gossage Cup Final, with special
reference to Mutimba, our goal-keeper, and Sebanakita.
7. Songs of Men and Women at Home.
Men are known to be more afraid of famine than anybody else in the
home. The size of the potatoes a man eats for his meals is decided by his
wife when she ties up the raw potatoes in the banana leaves for cooking.
The man and the woman have fixed places at meals, and the leaves must lie
in a particular way when spread out for the meal. Now, it so happened
during a famine, that a certain woman always placed small potatoes before
her man and herself ate all the large ones. As the man is not supposed to
make obvious complaints to his wife about food, this poor fellow, who
was a harpist, took his harp and paid a visit to his brothers-in-law, to whom
he played the following song:
Adidemu obujenjegere atade gyendi;
Adide gasekimpanika atade gyali;
BAGANDA FOLK-SONGS: A ROUGH CLASSIFICATION 19
Mulabe bwenkoze baganda bange ;
(She has picked out the small ones and placed them
She has picked out the large ones and placed them
Behold how thin I am growing, brothers,
Behold how thin I am growing!)
The brothers, when they heard this, advised their sister not to starve her
husband. She followed their advice, the man soon grew fatter, and his song
took on a different shape.
Women are known to be more afraid of death than men. The songs the
women used to sing at home often reveal this fear of death.- Here is one:
NAfude nyabo sinalaba wenatula
Natula wa, emagombe eterimwa lumonde !
(Woe is me for I have not discovered a resting place;
Where shall I rest since potatoes do not grow in the grave.)
8. Songs about War.
When thinking of war, songs like the following would be sung:
Agalirala mu nkolimbo!
Okwogera njogera omweru takira mudugavu;
Agalirala mu nkolimbo!
(Imagine sleeping among the nkolimbo (a kind of pea)!
When all is said, the pale one is no better off than the
Imagine sleeping amongst the nkolimbo!)
Abasiba embuzi basibira bwerere,
Laba Sematimba ne Kikwabanga.
(Those who keep goats and fatten them waste their time,
Look at Sematimba and Kikwabanga.)
9. Songs for Children.
This group includes songs sung by the children themselves, singing games,
and cradle-songs or lullabies.
Children, being for some reason exceedingly disposed to vex their hearts,
need much soothing. I have read somewhere that in the highly civilized
country a good many mothers were in the habit of going to the nearest
druggist to quieten their offspring. In our primitive or less advanced society
another expedient has been resorted to from time immemorial, and that is
the cradle-song or lullaby.
Babies show an early appreciation of rhythm. They rejoice in measured
noise, whether it takes the form of words, music, or the jingle of a bunch
20 UGANDA JOURNAL
The commonest lullaby in Buganda is:
Mwana wange wesirikire
Ba! akaliga kanywa taba.
Tulo tulo kwata omwana
Bwotomukwata nga oli mulogo.
Wavuvumira leka okulira
Mwana wange wesirikire
Ba! akaliga kanywa taba.
(My baby stop crying;
Ba the sheep smoked a pipe.
Sleep, Sleep take hold of the baby;
If you don't you are a witch.
Mr. Beetle stop buzzing,
For the baby must sleep.
My baby stop crying;
Ba the sheep smoked a pipe.)
When teaching a child to walk you might hold his fingers, and sing as
you moved about the yard:
"Gundi" olitambula di?
Lwa jjo Iwa jjuzi.
(You, whoever you are, when will you be able to walk ?
To-morrow or the day after.)
The children themselves had a vast store of odds and ends of fascinating
short songs, connected with various things.
Thus, if one of their number was found guilty of stealing from a friend,
the whole group would sing the following song about him:
Kabbira bamutema ekyambe
(Mr. Thief was cut with a big knife
When attempting to escape.)
When children come out to play in the morning and find that someone
had not washed his face properly, the first to spot this may start the following
song as a hint to the party concerned:
Mageregeze yayise wane
(Mr. Dirty-face passed here
And Mr. Dirtier-face followed.)
Similarly, when a child is discovered by his friends with a missing tooth, the
rest may sing a song to tease him.
An example of a singing game is the one of the child coming quietly
behind his friend and imitating a drummer just above his friend's head. The
BAGANDA FOLK-SONGS: A ROUGH CLASSIFICATION 21
other children then sing a song to warn the victim and everybody looks about
to make certain that he himself is not the victim.
Children also have a funny way of counting amongst themselves, from
one to ten, and do it to a tune:
Ka nemu ka nabbiri, kafumba mwanyi katta konkome
malangaje, kanakwale, ofumba otya ku lugyo ?
The words of this childish song hardly possess a connected meaning at
all; the counting, however, is done by saying them aloud with the accent at
the marked syllables:
Ka nemu ka niabbiri, kafumba mwanyi katta konkome
malangaje, kanakwale, ofumbai otya ku lugjo ?
(One, two, he who boils coffee beans killed the proud
lizard; Mr. Partridge, how do you manage to cook on a
piece of broken pot? There is your ten !)'
10. Songs associated with Twins.
In Buganda there used to be a lot of fuss about the birth of twins. A
number of ceremonies had to be gone through and numbers of taboos
observed. Dances were held and many songs sung. The following was
sung during the visit of Ssalongo and Nnalongo (the father and mother of
the twins), with their children, to Ssalongo's parents. It was sung both by
the guests and the hosts. Ssalongo and Nnalongo announced the arrival of
the twins to their grand-parents, and the grandfather and his party welcomed
them to his house:
Ssalongo and Nnalongo: Nanyinimu weryowe tuleta;
Nanyini muno weryowe,
Nabaliwo mweryowe tuleta;
Nabali wano mweryowe,
Grandfather and party: Nyini muno mwali tamanyi kubola ng'anda
Abana bano mwebaze muno mwemwabobwe.
Ssalongo and Nnalongo: Nanyinimu weryowe, etc.
Wasswa ono, Babirye ono,
Nnakato ono ne Kato ono.
Grandfather and party : Wusi Iwa Ssalongo!
Wusi Iwa Nnalongo!
Sewasswa kazala balongo,
1 Compare the English: "Two, four, six, eight, Mary at the cottage gate; Eating
cherries off a plate; 0. U. T. spells out goes she."-[ED.]
(Father and mother :
Grandfather and party :
Father and mother :
Grandfather and party :
Our host be prepared, we are bringing forth;
Our host be prepared,
We are bringing forth your twins.
And the rest of you present be prepared,
We are bringing forth your twins.
Your host is at home, and cannot ignore his
The place to which these children have come
is their home.
Our host be prepared, etc.
This is Wasswa, and there is Babirye.
Here is Nnakato and Kato is here too.
Good luck to Ssalongo !
Good luck to Nnalongo !
To Sewasswa the father of the twins,
The father of these boys.)
11. Enfumo Songs.
This class of song combines both folk-tales and folk-songs, and should
appeal to all who care for literature. For it is said that "the folk-tale is the
father of all fiction, and the folk-song is the mother of all poetry ".
These enfumo were told at night to the children, at home by the fire.
They were taken seriously and each tale and song had a moral. They were
never told by day, the most likely reason being that the old people wished
such knowledge to be imparted at a time when the children's attention would
be less attracted by other things. These tales were meant to be remembered;
they were sung because words rhythmically arranged take, as a rule, a firmer
root than prose.
Because I do not know how to read," says a certain Greek folk-singer,
"I have made this story into a song so as not to forget it."
Here, then, are three songs of the enfumo type:
(i) Kiyiri. This was sung by a girl who was very difficult to woo but
who in the end was subdued by a young man who became a snake called
Mpiri or Kiyiri, and blocked her way when she was returning from the well
with her sisters. The Kiyiri turned into a boy afterwards and carried off
Kiyiri vawo mpite, Kiyiri omulangira;
Babuliranga mama, Kiyiri omulangira;
Nti, omwanawo gwoyagala, Kiyiri omulangira;
Ekiyiri kimutute, Kiyiri omulangira;
Kiyiri, Kiyiri, Kiyiri omulangira.
(Kiyiri let me pass-Kiyiri the prince;
Please tell my mother-Kiyiri the prince;
That your beloved child-Kiyiri the prince;
Has been taken by the Kiyiri-Kiyiri the prince;
Kiyiri, Kiyiri, Kiyiri the prince.)
BAGANDA FOLK-SONGS: A ROUGH CLASSIFICATION 23
(ii) Ani oyo ? This song was sung by a beautiful girl called Nsimbi-
erade who was hidden away up in a muvule tree, during the absence of her
father, by her step-mother, who had an ugly daughter. The two girls had
been friends, so the one left at home used to wander about calling out
"Nsimbi-erade", until she came to this muvule tree and heard the reply
coming from the top of the tree. The father returned just in time to save his
daughter from starvation.
Ani oyo, ani oyo, akoma ku muvule ?
Ku muvule kuliko Nsimbi-erade,
Nsimbi-erade muwala wa Maddu.
Kitange agenda nga anada,
Aligenda okuda nga luwede ng'enze.
(Who is there, who is there, who is that touching the
Up on the muvule lies Nsimbi-erade,
Nsimbi-erade, the daughter of Maddu.
Father walked away as if he would return soon,
Now he will come back to find me dead and gone.)
(iii) Bululi. This song refers to a grown-up girl singing about her boy
O! Bululi, luleba mukwano,
0! Bululi jangu.
Omuto muto, omutono Bululi,
Bululi, Bululi jangu.
Ompitira biki Bululi;
Bululi, Bululi jangu?
Ontengeza nyo nyabo, Bululi,
Gwe nsingo bisera deri.
O! nze mama ndabye obulungi,
Obulungi bwa sebo nyabo bweyampa.
Nze'no Nabululi seguya kumpita.
Obulungi buntegeza nyabo;
0! Enkuba ebindude.
Nsuta Bululi kankube olutamba;
O! Bululi awulire.
Omuto omuto, omutono mukwano
Gwe maso malungi-jangu.
Ompitira biki gwe Bululi;
Bululi, Bululi jangu?
Ontengeza nyo nyabo, Bululi,
Gwe nviri bulange jangu.
0! nze mama ndabye obulungi, etc.
(Oh! Bululi, dear friend,
Oh! Bululi do come.
My dear, young and tiny Bululi;
Bululi, Bululi do come.
Why do you call "Bululi,
Bululi, Bululi do come"?
You cause me endless trouble Bululi,
You of that beautiful neck, leave me alone.
Oh how I must suffer because of my beauty !
My father's beauty passed on to me by my mother.
" I Nabululi, I don't care at all for your summons."
I am enduring much because of my beauty (I am
Oh! it is likely to rain.
I praise Bululi, let me play the banjo;
Oh! I wish Bululi would hear.
My dear young and tiny Bululi
Of the beautiful face-do come.
Why do you call Bululi,
Bululi, Bululi, do come"?
You cause me endless trouble Bululi,
You of the lovely hair-do come.
Oh how I must suffer, etc., etc.)
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891
By SIR JOHN MILNER GRAY
IN the first volume of Sir Edward Hertslet's Map of Africa by Treaty,
pp. 376-378, there appears a schedule containing a list of treaties with
African chiefs which were in the possession of the Imperial British East Africa
Company. The list was first printed in Africa No. 4 (1892)--"Papers
relating to the Mombasa Railway Survey and Uganda ". Included in the list
are the following treaties:
No. Date of Treaty Names of Chiefs Tribes or Districts
56. May 1888 Mazamboni (and two others) Undussuma
57. do. Uchunku for Antari Wanyankori and
58. do. Mbiassi of Kavalli and eight Between Ituri River
others and Nyanza
59. do. Bulemo Ruigi Unyampaka and
60. do. Bevwa and Ulegga Ukonju and Semliki
61. do. Bevwa and Kakuri Busongora
68. 2nd February 1890 Kimangichi Elgon
70. 25th March 1890 Wakoli Akola
75. 26th December 1890 King and Chiefs Uganda
76. 10th December 1890 Mbekirwas Busoga
In the present paper I do not propose to deal with the treaties concluded
in 1890 and 1892 between Mwanga of Buganda and Captain F. D. Lugard, as
I have no further light to throw on them than is given in the Rise of Our East
African Empire and other works dealing with the affairs in Buganda during
those years. But little has so far been recorded regarding the treaties which
were concluded at about the same date by the chiefs of other districts which
now form part of the Uganda Protectorate.
The following extract from the first annual report of the Directors of the
Imperial British East Africa Company tells us how Hertslet's treaties Nos. 56
to 61 came into the possession of the Company :
"In May 1889 Mr. H. M. Stanley, on his way to the coast, came into
communication with the chiefs of many states through which he passed, and
obtained from them the cession of their sovereign rights respectively in
consideration of the protection he accorded them against the attacks of the
King of Unyoro. All these rights Mr. Stanley has patriotically transferred
to the Company, and your Directors deem this a fitting opportunity to
acknowledge with gratitude the valuable services rendered to them on all
occasions by the illustrious explorer. The states and territories thus brought
into affinity with the Company are Mpororo, Ankori, Kitagwend(a),
Unyampakado [sic], Ukonju, Undussuma, the Semliki Valley and the territory
between the Albert Nyanza and the Ituri River" (Fox-Bourne, The Other
Side of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, p. 181).
In 1889 Stanley was engaged in effecting the relief of Emin Pasha and
in escorting him down to the east coast of Africa. Afterwards he gave an
26 UGANDA JOURNAL
account of that expedition in the two volumes of In Darkest Africa as well as
in his Autobiography and in a report which he wrote to the British Consul-
General at Zanzibar and which is printed in Africa No. 4 (1890). Strange to
say, on only one page in all those three above-mentioned works does Stanley
ever use the word treaty in connection with any of the territories mentioned
in the Directors' report. In addition to Stanley, other members of the Emin
Pasha Relief Expedition wrote about their experiences in that Expedition, but
it is equally remarkable that none of them makes a single mention of any
such treaty or treaties. None the less there is enough in those writings to
show that pacts of a kind were in all probability concluded between Stanley
and the chiefs of certain of the territories in question.
It will be remembered that Stanley made his way up the River Congo
and its tributary, the Aruwimi, through the Ituri forest to the southern shores
of Lake Albert, where he made contact with Emin Pasha. Thence, he
proceeded by way of the foothills of Ruwenzori through Ankole. Crossing
the Kagera, he entered Karagwe in what is now Tanganyika Territory and
marched to the east coast.
According to Stuhlmann (Mit Emin Pascha ins Herz von Afrika,
pp. 385, 386, 688) the family of Mazamboni, the chief referred to in Treaty
No. 56, originally came from Buganda. In December 1887, the Emin Pasha
Relief Expedition made its first contact with him. That first encounter was
unfortunate. Mazamboni's people disputed the Expedition's passage through
their country and this led to bloodshed. Later, friendly relations were
restored. On 29th May 1888, Surgeon T. H. Parke describes how the
Expedition went to the assistance of Mazamboni and a chief called Mpigwa
(referred to in Treaty No. 58), "Mr. Stanley having arranged to assist these
chiefs in a tribal feud which they have been carrying on with some of their
neighbours" (Personal Experiences in Equatorial Africa, p. 234). Prior to
that, however, a much more interesting event had taken place on 15th April
1888. Stanley gives a flamboyant account of it in In Darkest Africa, Vol. I,
pp. 358-361; Parke describes it as follows:
Mazamboni is the chief of all the surrounding neighbourhood. In order
to thoroughly seal our friendship, which had advanced without interruption
so far, we were obliged to perform the rite of blood-brotherhood'. Jephson
was selected to be the martyr in the good cause of the Expedition.
Mazamboni and he sat down on the ground, facing each other, and with their
legs extended; Jephson's right leg was then elevated, so as to rest on
Mazamboni's left; Mazamboni's right leg was steadied on the top of Jephson's
left. Marabo, a Zanzibari, who understood these ceremonies, then procured
one of my lancets, and made a small incision on the inner side of Jephson's
left knee, and one of similar dimensions on the corresponding side of
Mazamboni's right knee. When the blood flowed, some salt was rubbed
into either wound, a few mysterious signs were made, Marabo made a few
appropriate remarks and the ceremony was concluded; we were all united in
the bonds of eternal friendship" (Personal Experiences, p.213).
As a sort of footnote to his version of the ceremony, Stanley tells us
that "Mazamboni, though undoubtedly paramount chief of Undussuma,
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891 27
seems to be governed by an unwritten constitution. His ministers also are
his principal kinsmen, who conduct foreign and home policy even in his
presence, so that in affairs of government his voice is seldom heard". The
names of two of these ministers appear in Treaty No. 56. Of these, Katto
is described by both Parke and Stanley as Mazamboni's brother, and Kalenge
as his "cousin" (Darkest Africa, Vol. I, pp. 410, 413, Vol. II, pp. 108, 361;
Experiences, p. 270).1
Treaty No. 58 contains a long list of chiefs ruling territories between the
Ituri River and Lake Albert. The following are brief particulars regarding
their relations with the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition:
(1) Mbiassi of Kavalli is frequently mentioned by both Parke and Stanley
and was of a considerable assistance to the Expedition in many ways.
Stanley calls him Mbiassi, of the tribe Ba-biassi, chief of the district Kavalli"
and also says he was "commonly called Kavalli by his people, after his
district" (Darkest Africa, Vol. I, pp. 364, 372).
(2) Mwite is mentioned by Stanley as having been despatched on 25th
February 1889 "to stir up his refractory people, who for the last four days
have sent us no food" (Darkest Africa, Vol. II, p. 145).
(3) Malai is mentioned on more than one page of In Darkest Africa as
having supplied porters to the Expedition.
(4) Ruguji's history is given in In Darkest Africa, Vol. II, p. 362. He
was born in Bunyoro in about 1819, but had left the country because of the
exactions of Kamurasi. He likewise supplied porters to the Expedition.
(5) Musiri appears in the text of Treaty No. 58 under an alias. On
18th March 1889 Stanley recorded that "the redoubtable Rudimi, chief of
Usiri, has at last joined our confederacy" (Darkest Africa, Vol. II, p. 158).
Other pages in Stanley's book record that "Musiri" raided the cattle of
Mazamboni (cf., Treaty No. 56) and Gavira (cf., (9) Mpinga, below), and that
in 1888 he defeated Kabarega's banasura (Darkest Africa, Vol. I, pp. 409-410,
412; Vol. II, pp. 361-362).
(6) Komubi is stated by Stanley to have been "chief of the Eastern
Balegga ". In December 1887 he had resisted the progress of the Expedition.
On 25th April 1888 he "frankly came to express contrition and sorrow that he
had mistaken us for Kabba Rega's bandits, and to surrender his country wholly
into my hands, and his life, if I so wished it" (Darkest Africa, Vol. I,
(7) Katonza, like Komubi, had at first opposed the Expedition. On 25th
April 1888 he made overtures to Stanley-and got the reply "that we would
think of his message" (Darkest Africa, Vol. II, p. 372), but on 12th May
Parke describes him as "a friendly chief" (Personal Experiences, p. 426).
On 17th May Stanley mentions that he was also called Kyya-nkondo and
had suffered from raids by Kabarega (Darkest Africa, Vol. I, p. 401).
(8) Mpigwa was "chief of Nyamsassi" and supplied porters to the
Expedition (Darkest Africa, Vol. I, p. 401).
(9) Regarding Mpinga, Parke tells us that "the name of the chief of
1 Stuhlmann (op. cit, p. 688) tells us that Mazamboni and Katto both died at the
end of 1891 of small-pox.
28 UGANDA JOURNAL
the Bavira (Babira) is Mpinga. He bears the hereditary title of Gavira"
(Personal Experiences, p. 217). On 14th April 1888 Gavira "proclaimed
from a hill that the land lay at our feet ". Two days later "he and his tribe
begged for friendship similar to that which was established with Mazamboni
(cf., Treaty No. 56); we were only too willing to accede-the conditions being
that he should be hospitable to the Expedition on its journeys through his
country" (Darkest Africa, Vol. I, pp. 362, 364).
There is no mention of any actual treaty-making with any of the above
chiefs in the accounts by members of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition.
Furthermore, unless the words "friendship similar to that which was estab-
lished with Mazamboni" are intended as a cryptic reference to such a ceremony
there is no reference to the making of blood-brotherhood between any of the
nine chiefs and any member of the Expedition but, for reasons which will
appear later, silence in regard to this matter does not necessarily mean that
no such ceremony or ceremonies took place.
In In Darkest Africa, Vol. I, p. 370, Stanley states that during his halt
at Kavalli from 18th April to 25th April 1888 "several hundred natives from
the districts round about paid us friendly visits, and the chiefs and elders
tendered their submission to me. They said the country was mine, and
whatever my commands might be, would be promptly done." When Stanley
returned to Kavalli's in March 1889, he mentions that "altogether fifteen
chiefs have submitted to our stipulation that they shall cease fighting with
one another" and that he acted as arbitrator in several cases, to which certain
of the nine above-mentioned chiefs were parties. One of these cases was
between Kavalli and Katonza and another between Kavalli and the father of
Kavalli's sixth wife. Mpigwa was a party to yet another dispute (Darkest
Africa, Vol. II, pp. 158, 365).
Treaties Nos. 60 and 61 may be considered together. The Bevwa of
the first of these treaties appears to be the same person as the Bevwa of the
second treaty. "Ulegga is a place name, and not a personal name. When,
in June 1889, the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition was at long last setting out
on its journey down to the east coast, Stanley records that we were promised
the submission of all of the Wakonju (Bakonjo) and Wasangora (Basongora)
if we entered into treaty or agreement with them, and I accept the offer ".
On 17th June 1889 Stanley records a meeting between "Bevwa, chief of our
Wakonju", and Kakuri, the second chief referred to in Treaty No. 61.
Kakuri was in fact a petty chief who had taken refuge on one of the islands
in Lake Edward' because of the raids of the banasura of Kabarega. After
being assured by Bevwa that Stanley was "a true son of the Wanyavingi"
(Banyabingi-see Nyabingi by M. J. Bessell, Uganda Journal, Vol. 6, p. 73),
Kakuri rendered assistance to the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition in a number
of ways (Darkest Africa, Vol. II, pp. 262, 315-316, 325-326).
According to Stanley, on 29th June 1889, Bulemo Ruigi, the chief
mentioned in Treaty No. 59, despatchedd messengers to place his country
at our disposal with free privileges of eating whatever gardens, fields, or
SI think this island must be that referred to by Mr. E. A. Temple Perkins in
"Island Elephants Again" (Uganda Journal, Vol. 11, p. 38).
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891 29
plantations offered, only asking that we would be good enough not to cut
down banana stalks, to which moderate request we willing consented (Darkest
Africa, Vol. II, p. 325). Though he sent messengers, Bulemo Ruigi appears
to have been reluctant to make the personal acquaintance of Stanley and his
companions. On 2nd July Parke records that "the King, Bulemo Ruigi, was
to have called on us to-day, but has not yet arrived" (Personal Experiences,
p. 447). He also tells us that on the following day the Expedition proceeded
on its way and entered the district of Ankole.
On 22nd July 1889 Buchunku (Uchunku) A sweet-faced gentle looking
boy of about thirteen or fourteen years old, a true Mhuma with the Abyssinian
features ", and a member of the royal clan of Bahinda, met the Emin Pasha
Relief Expedition at Byaruha (Viaruha) in Ankole. He had been deputed by
Ntare of Ankole to make blood-brotherhood with the leader of the Expedition.
The ceremony took place the next day, as described by Stanley in In Darkest
Africa, Vol. II, pp. 348-350. Parke has also given an account of the ceremony
and we are indebted to Mr. F. Lukyn Williams for particulars of it which
were given to him by Byeziga, who in 1934 was the last surviving member of
Buchunku's party. In his articles on "Blood-brotherhood in Ankole" and
" Early Explorers in Ankole ", both of which appeared in The Uganda Journal,
Vol. 2. Mr. Lukyn Williams has given us some valuable information-regard-
ing the event.
Stanley tells us that the ceremony was curtailed and thus "relieved
of the repulsiveness which accompanies it when performed among the
Congo tribes". According to him, as a result of having gone through the
ceremony, "I was publicly recognized as a son of Ankori, with right of
residence, and free access to every plantation in the kingdom. Furthermore,
he swore in his father's name, for so he was commanded, that all white men
entering Ankori must have a recommendation from me, and then such kindness
would be shown to them as would be shown to me personally. Only the
cattle, goats and weapons are exempted, over which the king even has no
right." Stanley also tells us that "the ceremony passed off with considerable
dclat. The Zanzibaris, Soudanese, and Manyuemas were all under arms ready
to salute the Prince with a few discharges from their rifles, at the face of the
hill, about 400 yards away. The Maxim was also in order to assist with its
automatic action." Byeziga told Mr. Lukyn Williams that he stood afar
off because they "feared the Bazungu like lions"! (Uganda Journal, Vol. 2,
For reasons which will appear later, Parke's account of the ceremony
must not be omitted. It reads as follows:
"The sanguineous scratch was on the arm in their case; two volleys
were fired by No. 1 company, three cheers were given,. and the action of
the Maxim gun was displayed. Our chief should certainly by this time
have an exceptionally select supply of blood in his veins, for it would be
difficult for himself even to enumerate the quantity of kings, princes,
and sultans with whom he has performed blood-brotherhood" (Personal
Experiences, p. 459).
30 UGANDA JOURNAL
We learn from Mr. Lukyn Williams that the immediate reaction of Ntare
to these events was one of satisfaction, "even though the ceremony was not
performed in a formal manner ". But at a later date public opinion held that
the maimed rites rendered the ceremony a nullity. As Mr. Lukyn Williams
informs us (Uganda Journal, Vol. 2, pp. 40, 41, 200, 201), "there is no doubt
however that the ceremony was not binding and that the Banyankole never
looked on it as binding. They were prepared 'to make Omukago (blood-
brotherhood) in the ordinary way, as Ntare was as afraid of Stanley as Stanley
of him. Each was an unknown quantity to the other. The needs of the moment
were no doubt satisfied with the ceremony as performed, but the Banyankole
distrusted, a man who never completed the ceremony and would not have
been surprised to see him return later to devastate their country.
There is a saying current now which possibly originated from this event:
Okanywana ogwaha nkorora ogutahama ?
(Did you make blood-brotherhood on the elbow which is not permanent ?)
Okanywana ogwaha murundi ogutahama ?
(Did you make blood-brotherhood on the leg which is not permanent ?)"
A few days after the ceremony Stanley crossed the Kagera into what is
now Tanganyika Territory, and from there the Expedition made its way to
the coast at Bagamoyo. On 6th December 1889 Stanley crossed to Zanzibar
and at the end of the year sailed for Egypt where he set to work to describe
his recent experiences in In Darkest Africa. In April he arrived in London
and at the end of that month produced six documents to the Directors of the
Imperial British East Africa Company. These documents were Hertslet's
Treaties Nos. 56-61. Treaty No. 56 reads as follows:
"This is to certify that we, Mazamboni, Katto, and Kalenge, Chiefs
and Elders of the tribe of Bandussuma, occupying and owning the
territory of Undussuma, do hereby cede to Bula Matari (or H. M. Stanley),
our friend, all rights of government of the said district, and we hereby
grant him or his representatives the sovereign right and right of govern-
ment over our country for ever, in consideration of value received, and
for the protection he has accorded to us and our neighbours against
Kabba Rega and his Warasura.
In witness, whereof we have declared in this moon (May 1888) that we
have made this gift to him, in the presence of all our people and his white
companions; and we call upon all concerned to observe the rights of
Bula Matari (or H. M. Stanley), his representatives or assigns."
(Signed) "THOS. HEAZLE PARKE, Surgeon, Army Medical Staff.
ROBT. HENRY NELSON.
A. J. MOUNTENEY JEPHSON.
W. G. STARS, Lieutenant, R.E."
Reference back to the already-cited writings of Stanley and Parke shows
that the ceremony of blood-brotherhood between Mazamboni and Mounteney
Jephson was performed on 15th April 1888 and not in May 1888, the alleged
date of Treaty No. 56.
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891 31
Treaty No. 58 is in the same words as Treaty No. 56. The grantors
are Mbiassi of Kavalli and the eight other chiefs already mentioned, who are
described therein as "Chiefs and Elders of the tribes of the Wahuma, Bavira,
and Balegga, occupying and owning the territory between the Ituri River and
the Nyanza". Once again the date of the treaty is given as "this moon
(May 1888)" and the four witnesses to the document are the same, though
they sign in a slightly different order. As seen, Stanley's and Parke's personal
narratives suggest that the majority of these chiefs came to some sort of
agreement with Stanley in or about April 1888, but the redoubtable Rudimi,
chief of Usiri ", did not join "our confederacy" until 18th March 1889.
The parties to Treaty No. 60 are described therein as Bevwa and Ulegga,
in behalf and by the authority of the Chiefs and Elders of the tribe of Bakonju,
occupying and owning the territory of Ukonju and Semliki Valley". The
treaty follows the same wording as the two previously mentioned treaties-
even down to the date (May 1888) and the witnesses are the same, signing in
a somewhat different order. Ulegga is the name of a district and not a
personal name and "Bevwa" reappears in Treaty No. 61, in which "Bevwa
and Kakuri, by authority and in behalf of the Chiefs and Elders of the tribes
of Basongora, occupying and owning the territory of Usongora ", are recorded
as having ceded to Bula Matari in language similar to that in the other treaties
their sovereign rights to Usongora "in this moon (May 1888)", Parke and
his three companions being witnesses to the transaction. As already seen,
the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition did not make contact with Kakuri until
June 1889 when "Bevwa, chief of our Wakonju ", acted as an intermediary
Bulemo Ruigi is recorded in Treaty No. 59 as contracting "in our own
behalf and in that of the Chiefs and Elders of the tribe of Kitagwenda, occupy-
ing and owning the territory of Kitagwend(a) and Unyampaka". He is
recorded as having made precisely the same cession as the other chiefs "in
this moon (May 1888) ". Once again Parke and his three companions attested
the document. Actually, it was not until the latter days of June 1889 that
the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition reached Kitagwenda and it is doubtful
whether Bulemo Ruigi himself ever had any personal contact with any
European member of the Expedition.
The Ankole treaty is Treaty No. 57. In certain respects it is somewhat
differently worded to the other treaties. It reads as follows:
This is to certify that we, Uchunku, Prince of Ankori and Mpororo,
by authority and on behalf of my father,1 Antari, the King and the Chiefs
and Elders of the tribe of Wanyankori, occupying and owning the territory
of Ankori and Mpororo, do hereby cede to Bula Matari (or H. M.
Stanley), our friend, all rights of government of the said districts, and we
hereby grant him or his representatives the sovereign right and right of
government over our country for ever, in consideration of value received,
1 Buchunku was not a son of Ntare, but was a member of the Bahinda or royal
clan. He was put forward as one of the claimants to the throne of Ankole after
Ntare's death (Sir Apolo Kagwa, Basebakabaka, p. 333). In 1901 he was a party to
the Ankole Agreement as chief of Mitoma.
32 UGANDA JOURNAL
and for the protection he has accorded us and our neighbours against
Kabba Rega and his Warasura; and in token thereof we endow him
with the spear of Antari, and his son, the heir of his power.
In witness whereof we have declared in this moon (May 1888) that
we have made this gift to him, in presence of our people and his white
companions; and we call upon all concerned to observe the rights of
Bula Matari (or H. M. Stanley), his representatives, or assigns."
(Signed) THOS. HEAZLE PARKE, Surgeon, Army Medical Staff.
A. J. MOUNTENEY JEPHSON.
ROBT. HENRY NELSON.
W. G. STAIRS, Lieutenant, R.E."
Here we are upon more solid ground. Uchunku and Stanley made
blood-brotherhood on 22nd July 1889. With regard to the purported cession
of Mpororo, Emin Pasha has described the frequent cattle raids of the Banyan-
koli into that district (Schweitzer, Emin Pasha, His Life and Work, Vol. II,
pp. 187, 197), and Stanley himself was informed that Ntare had made the
district tributary to himself some few years previously (Darkest Africa, Vol. II,
p. 343). Though Emin more accurately described Mpororo as a "no man's
land ", there were therefore some grounds for Ntare's claim to the overlordship
of it and consequently for Stanley's reference to Mpororo in this document.
But much to which reference is made in In Darkest Africa is not "so nomin-
ated" in the treaty as subsequently drawn up.
What then shall we say to all these things? None of the six treaties
purports to have been executed by any of the chiefs whose names appear
therein and in the majority of the documents the vague date which is assigned
to them, is clearly proved to be inaccurate. "Ulegga" in one document is
evidently a fictitious name and it is doubtful if Bulemo Ruigi and Stanley
ever met. On the other hand, we do know of two occasions when members
of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition made blood-brotherhood with chiefs
mentioned in two of the treaties, Mounteney Jephson with Mazamboni, and
Stanley with Buchunku. We also have Parke's authority for the statement
that Stanley had performed the like ceremony with a number of other chiefs.
Finally, there is Stanley's own statement that during his long halt at Kavalli's
he adjudicated in a number of disputes between chiefs whose names appear
in certain of the treaties.
The conclusion one reaches is that the six documents, which Stanley
showed to the officers of the I.B.E.A. Company in April 1890, were memor-
anda of certain transactions which in the majority of cases had actually taken
place. The memorandum which speaks of a treaty concluded with Ulegga
would indeed appear to have no more evidential value than a memorandum
of a transaction entered into by Sarah Gamp's friend, Mrs. Harris, but certain
of the other memoranda would appear to have some foundation in fact.
None the less, these memoranda were clearly not written at or about the time
of those transactions or even so near to those times as to justify one in
holding that, at the time of writing, the details of these transactions were still
fresh in the memory of the writer and were accurately set out by him in
those memoranda. If, as external evidence clearly shows, the dates of the
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891 33
transactions are wrongly given in the documents, there is likewise no guarantee
that the documents are correct in other matters of detail. Two of the docu-
ments-and very possibly more-are records of transactions which were in
reality pacts of blood-brotherhood and which, if carried out with the proper
formalities, would be regarded in native eyes as binding. Though primitive
African society had no clear conception of those rules of conduct which have
come to be recognized in modern Europe as forming part of the law of nations
it none the less had its conceptions of more or less positive rules of conduct
which regulated inter-tribal relations and which contained the germs of what
we call international law. In so far as those rules could be called positive,
they had a distinctly compulsory character which was proclaimed by the
members of all tribes, who were ready to attest their conviction that such
rules were binding upon them as having the force of law. Amongst those
rules of conduct none was more binding or supported by stronger sanctions
than the pact of blood-brotherhood, which in African eyes bore -a close
resemblance to the European conception of a treaty of alliance. The pact
doubtless had other implications as well, but it is unsafe to generalize as to
these and I must leave discussion of such possible implications to others better
acquainted with the customs of the tribes concerned.
Though, as already suggested, the legal value of the documents as
documents of title may have been very small indeed, the Imperial British East
Africa Company decided that they would accept Stanley's assignment to them
of all his rights under them. Accordingly, on 29th April 1890, Stanley
executed six transfers of "all the said sovereign right and right of government
over the said country, and all other powers and rights conferred upon me by
the said concession and grant ". On 2nd May the Secretary of the Company
wrote to the Foreign Office with a request that the Government "may be
pleased with as little delay as possible" to declare a Protectorate over the
territories ceded to the Company in virtue of the Treaties ". It so happened
that this request reached the Foreign Office whilst the British Government
was in the midst of somewhat complicated negotiations with the German
Government over a number of East African questions, including the delimita-
tion of the respective spheres of interest in the two states. The Foreign Office
therefore replied on 8th May that it was "desirable that the existence of these
Treaties should not be made public at present ".
The officers of the Imperial British East Africa Company might be
enjoined to silence but there was no muzzling of Stanley himself, who at this
date was still an American citizen. On 5th May he addressed a meeting at
the Albert Hall and stated that "we have extended British possessions to
the eastern end of the Congo Free State, having acquired many thousand
square miles of territory for the assistance by force of arms and other con-
siderations against their enemies, the Wara Sura ". For a day or two the
significance of this statement appears to have escaped notice, but on 8th May
the Pall Mall Gazette referred to it and commented upon the "inexplicable
want of readiness to recognize the full significance" of Stanley's action. This
paragraph led to a question in the House of Commons by Mr. Bryce on the
following day. The Government's reply was that "it is understood that
34 UGANDA JOURNAL
Mr. Stanley made certain engagements on his own behalf with native chiefs
in the interior of Africa, but they were not made under any authority of Her
Majesty's Government" and that the Government was "not in a position to
give the House any information upon this subject".
Naturally, the German Government was also inquisitive. In an agree-
ment concluded between the two Governments in 1886 it had been
agreed that the line of demarcation of the respective spheres of interest of
Great Britain and Germany to the east of Lake Victoria should terminate
where the first degree of south latitude struck the east shore of that lake
(Hertslet, Vol. I, p. 305); and Germany inferred from this provision that she
would be left with a free hand to the south of the lake. On 2nd July 1887
Lord Salisbury had instructed the British Ambassador at Berlin to assure the
German Government there was no cause to apprehend" that the Emin Pasha
Relief Expedition would be used as a means of interference with the territory
under German influence" (Hertslet, Vol. III, pp. 888, 889). It was therefore
only to be expected that the Wilhelmstrasse should ask for further informa-
tion regarding Stanley's treaty-making activities. On 14th June 1890 Lord
Salisbury informed the British Ambassador at Berlin that "Mr. Stanley's
treaties, according to the map which was furnished to me by Sir William
Mackinnon, only extended to the latitude 1" S., or some 20 or 30 miles beyond
it. Her Majesty's Government had therefore no title to advance which would
countervail the claim which the German Government based on the fact that
this region was in immediate rear of their own" (Africa No. 5 (1890), p. 1).
With that reply the Wilhelmstrasse appears to have been satisfied.
But the Foreign Office was not altogether happy about the documents
which Stanley had handed over to the Imperial British East Africa Company.
Even after the Anglo-German Agreement of 1890 had definitely placed the
territories referred to in those documents within the British sphere of influence
Lord Salisbury hesitated to take any action upon them. It was not until
18th July 1891 that the Company received the Government's decision. The
Company was then informed that Lord Salisbury was not entirely satisfied
that Stanley was empowered to transfer his rights under those documents to
third parties. The Company was therefore requested to get the transfers
ratified by the chiefs themselves.
In the meantime there had been more treaty-making in different parts
of what is now the Uganda Protectorate. At the end of 1889, Mr. (after-
wards Sir) Frederick Jackson had been sent up by the Company in charge
of an expedition to Lake Victoria. Jackson has fully described the incidents
of that expedition in Early Days in East Africa. At the end of the year he
reached Mumias, whence he turned north to explore Mount Elgon. In
February 1890 he got in touch with Kimangichi, "the chief of a small settle-
ment of former cave dwellers, who were then living mostly in scattered huts
on the sloping lower spurs of the mountain ". According to Jackson,
"Kimangichi was, without exception, the most intelligent nice-mannered and
friendly savage chief I have ever met, and we all of us agreed that he was
a first-rate fellow ". On 28th February 1890, as "chief of Sasura, Elgon ",
he put his mark to a printed document whereby he placed himself, his
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891 35
territory and people under the protection of the Company. As an endorse-
ment by Jackson to the document shows, the contents thereof were first of all
read over and explained to Kimangichi, but that was by no means all that
took place on that occasion.
"At his request," Jackson tells us, "before we parted, I became his
blood-brother, and eleven years later, in 1901, took advantage of it by
acquiring his spear. I had sent Baraka to collect birds round his settlement,
and by him sent my brother a suitable present, with strict injunctions to tell
him, in the event of his wishing to send me a return present, I should prefer
and value his spear more than anything else, and I have it now" (Early
Days, p. 248)
Clearly, therefore, Kimangichi regarded himself as having entered into
a very binding and lasting pact and was ready at all times to honour his bond.
From Elgon Jackson returned to Mumias to discover that the notorious
German, Karl Peters, had opened his mail, read his letters and, on learning
their contents, had decided to forestall Jackson in Buganda by pushing on
into that country. On learning what had happened, Jackson decided to
follow him. On 25th March 1890 he reached the headquarters of the well-
known Musoga chief, Wakoli, and concluded a treaty with him in the same
form as that concluded with Kimangichi. On 14th April he reached Mengo
but, for the reasons which he sets out in his book, did not conclude a treaty
with Mwanga. Instead, he returned to the coast with two envoys of Mwanga,
who were deputed to ascertain from the consular representatives of Great
Britain, France and Germany what was the international situation in regard
In the meantime, Captain F. D. Lugard had received instructions from
the Company to make his way to Buganda and arrange a treaty with Mwanga.
In his Rise of Our East African Empire, Vol. II, pp. 579-580, Lugard has
this to say about treaty-making:
"The tribes of the interior, for the most part, are ignorant of the
nature of a written contract. This being the case, so far as I personally
had a share in treaty-making-and it was small-I adopted the method
which adopted the best parallel to our ideas of 'sacred bond in black
and white'. This is the custom of blood-brotherhood, which other
writers besides myself have testified to be the most binding form of
contract possible among savage tribes. The chief having stated his
undertakings in a formal speech, delivered by his most powerful auxiliary,
and my native headman having similarly announced my pledges (dictated
by myself), I reduced the whole to writing in the form of a treaty, and the
chief made his mark upon it, being told that this was the European
method of confirmation. The ceremony was made as public as possible;
the leading men of the district attended, and in some cases neighboring
chiefs from a great distance were present, and included themselves in the
contract, one chief being chosen to go through the ceremony for all. . .
1 Jackson also brought down to Mombasa Wakoli's Katikiro and seventy of his
followers. He described the position of the I.B.E.A. Company in Busoga as being
36 UGANDA JOURNAL
In Uganda (sc., Buganda), the case is different. There the people
.most fully understand the nature of the written contract, and consider
nothing as absolutely final and binding unless put on paper. They are
very clever and every clause of the treaty made was discussed for several
days amongst themselves before it was presented in baraza for the signa-
ture of the king or chief. . ."
Lugard reached Wakoli's on 7th December 1890, and was well received.
At Wakoli's special request Lugard made blood-brotherhood with him.
"Marching thence," as Lugard tells us, "we passed through Mbekirwa's
territory, and I made blood-brotherhood and a treaty with him (which was
translated and explained sentence by sentence) on the understanding that he
should collect and send me food to Uganda, for all reports agreed that there
was famine and starvation in that country. Wakoli had also promised the
same." The treaty with Mbekirwa was subsequently printed in Africa No. 4
(1892) and reads as follows:
"Mbekirwas Sultan having this day made blood-brotherhood with
myself, F. D. Lugard, Captain 9th Foot, acting on behalf of the Imperial
British East Africa Company as their Representative, understands by
these ceremonies that he is the sworn friend and ally of the British, whose
protection he accepts, and whose flag he will fly; that he will supply
them with food; that they are free to settle on his land, and that he will
help them to the utmost of his power in case of difficulty or trouble.
Both parties being now on terms of brotherhood undertake that they
will to the utmost of their power prevent their people or followers from
stealing from or in any way molesting one the other, and will amicably
settle any difficulty arising as is right between brothers. And the said
Mbekirwas undertakes and promises to accept or fly no other flag than
that of the Imperial British East Africa Company, and to make no Treaty
with or to allow no other Europeans to settle in his country without the
knowledge or consent of the above Company."
"For the Imperial British East Africa Company.
(Signed) "F. D. LUGARD, Captain."
"Read over and explained and translated to Mbekirwas and
agreed to by him."
(Signed) F. D. LUGARD, Captain 9th Foot.
"Signed this 10th day of December, 1890."
(Signed "F. D. LUGARD, Captain."
As Mr. D. W. Robertson tells us,1 the real name of Mbekirwa was
Mubikirwa, Chief of Buyende. In 1892, when Lugard sent Captain W. H.
Williams into Busoga, the latter reported Mubikirwa as "contumacious" and
as having run away when Williams approached his place (Africa No. 2 (1892),
p. 93). Mubikirwa died in 1899, but his brother, Mubikwa, was still living
at Buyende in 1936.
1 Historical Considerations contributing to the Soga System of Land Tenure, p. 15.
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA. 1888-1891 37
From Buyende, Lugard made his way across the Nile into Buganda. On
26th December 1890 he concluded a treaty with Mwanga in the circumstances
which he himself has described in the second volume of The Rise of Our
East African Empire. In June 1891 he set out from Buddu for Kavalli's at
the southern end of Lake Albert, taking with him Kasagama, who had sought
refuge some time before in Buganda when his own country, Toro, had been
overrun by the banasura of Kabarega of Bunyoro. The primary object of
this journey was to endeavour to enlist Emin Pasha's former troops in the
Company's service. Lugard proceeded by way of Ankole, the Katwe salt
lake, and the foothills of Ruwenzori, thus travelling more or less in a reverse
direction along the same route as had previously been traversed by Stanley.
At the time of setting out Lugard had, however, no knowledge of any treaties
alleged to have been concluded by Stanley. The Foreign Office request to
procure the ratification of the transfer to the Company of Stanley's rights
under those treaties was not received in London until over a month later.
Therefore, in his subsequent proceedings, Lugard acted in entire ignorance of
the fact that any such treaties as Stanley alleged had been made.
On 30th June 1891 Lugard met "Birinzi" (Bireri), an uncle of Ntare of
Buganda, who had been specially deputed by Ntare to make blood-brother-
hood. The ceremony was performed the following day. "With Bireri," as
Lugard tells us, "there came Ntali's chief councillors, saying that the king
held himself solemnly bound by all they undertook in his name. . I
made a very formal ceremony, drawing up all the Sudanese in a hollow square,
which I had cleared of grass and bushes. I greatly pleased them by consenting
to go through the full ceremony according to their own rites, and I founded
upon our mutual pledges the treaty which I submitted to England. I had
this treaty read and most carefully translated to them. . I gave him a
flag and a copy of the treaty, and promised him the protection and alliance
of the Company. We exchanged presents and the ceremony was complete"
(Rise of Our East African Empire, Vol. II, p. 160).
The treaty reads as follows:
I, Bireri, the son' of Ntali, King of Ankole, and successor to his
title, having been sent by my father Ntali to make blood-brotherhood
and conclude a treaty with Captain F. D. Lugard, 9th Regiment, D.S.O.,
acting solely on behalf of the Imperial British East Africa Company,
having been fully authorized by Ntali to act in every way as his repre-
sentative, all my acts and undertakings being binding on him; whereof
Zacharia Kagolo (signatory as witness to this Treaty) and Ali, Somali
headman, the envoys to Ntali from Captain Lugard, and those present
who have been sent with me from my father's capital are witnesses. I,
therefore, Bireri, having this day made blood-brotherhood with Captain
1 Mr. Lukyn Williams informs us in The Uganda Journal, Vol, 2, p. 206, that
Bireri was an uncle, and not a son, of Ntare. Lugard describes him as a nice-looking
and intelligent boy ". It may well have been Bireri's apparent youth which led Lugard
into error. The Treaty calls Ntare's plenipotentiary Bireri, but Lugard calls him
"Birinzi" in his book. I think this must be a printer's error, which has been over-
looked. "The treacherous Chief of Birinzi ", who was distinctly another person, is
referred to a dozen pages earlier in Lugard's book.
38 UGANDA JOURNAL
F. D. Lugard, do undertake, in the name of my father, that he and his
successor shall be friends of the British. He himself does acknowledge
that his territories are under British suzerainty, in recognition whereof
I have this day accepted on his behalf the flag of the Company as a
symbol of their authority. And I do hereby undertake to do all in my
power to prevent the import of arms and ammunition in British Territory
from the south, viz., into Uganda, Unyoro and the countries to the north ;
and to seize such powder as I may find being carried through my country
for the purpose of sale to those countries, and to deal severely with those
who bring it. And I agree not to allow any Europeans to settle in my
country except the British; and to inform the Resident at Mengo, or the
nearest British Representative, if any European, not in the Company's
employment shall enter or pass through my country. And towards the
Company and all its employees there shall be entire friendship from me
and all my people, and they shall be welcome to pass through my
country, or to build in it; and all facilities shall be given them for
buying food, and for peaceful passage through my country and for
trading and settling; and the enemies of the Company shall be my
enemies. And these things, I, Bireri, son of Ntali, undertake on behalf
of Ntali, King of Ankole, and in token thereof I have attached my mark
to this Treaty.
And I, Captain F. D. Lugard, 9th Regiment, on behalf of the
Imperial British East Africa Company, do, in return for these promises
and undertakings on the part of Ntali, King of Ankole, hereby promise
to him and his successors the friendship and protection of the said
Company so long as they abide by the terms of the Treaty."
"Signed this 1st day of July, 1891, at Nabusossi in Ankole."
(Signed) "F. D. LUGARD, Captain, 9th Regiment.
BIRRI, his x mark, son of Ntali of Ankole."
(Signed) "W. GRANT, Imperial British East Africa Company."
Interpreters and witness:"
(Signed) ZAKARIA KAGOLO, Sub-Chief in Uganda.
YAFETI, his x mark, Sub-Chief of Uganda and
Mr. Lukyn Williams tells us that amongst the Banyankole "Lord Lugard
is remembered as having kept his pact in Omukago (blood-brotherhood)."
Ntare also honoured his bond. Very shortly after the conclusion of the
treaty he destroyed a large Arab caravan which was coming from the south
with powder (Uganda Journal, Vol. 2, pp. 41, 206).
From Ankole, Lugard made his way to Lake Edward. He discovered
that certain people in this region owned allegiance to "a chief named
1 Yafeti Byekwamba was an elder kinsman of Kasagama. He had at one time
been a page at the court of Mutesa and subsequently a minor chief in Buganda. He
became a convert to Christianity in 1886. Lugard originally offered the throne of Toro
to him, but he renounced his claim in favour of Kasagama, becoming instead chief of
the Mwenge division of Toro. He died in 1897.
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891 39
Kakuli", that is, to the person named in the document which had been
produced by Stanley and which purported to cede the sovereignty of Busongora
to Bula Matari. But Lugard found that the status of Kakuri's people was
"a very low one" and that "their chief means of livelihood is, apparently,
by obtaining salt (surreptitiously) from the Salt Lake ". Lugard therefore
made no attempt to conclude a treaty with Kakuri (Rise of Our East African
Empire, Vol. II, pp. 166-174).
Continuing on his way, Lugard reached the foothills of Ruwenzori,
where he erected a stockade which he named Fort Edward. As he tells us,
"the people of Toru continued to come in daily to welcome their king,
Kasagama, and bring us food. It was here, close to our stockade, that I
wished him to settle for the present and as his people joined him he began to
build his village. I made a treaty with him" (loc. cit., Vol. II, p. 187).
That treaty was in two parts. In the first, Lugard on behalf of the Company
granted protection to Kasagama and his subjects and authorized him to fly
the Company's flag "as a sign of that protection ". The second part of the
Treaty reads as follows:
"I, Kasagama, who am the son of Nyaika, the last King of Toru,
whom Kabrega drove out and conquered, having now been brought back
to my father's country, and made King of Toru by the British, do
hereby bind myself by the following Treaty, which has this day been
made between Captain Lugard, acting on behalf of the Imperial British
East Africa Company on the one part, and myself and Yafeti, my
cousin, on the other part:
ClauSe 1. I acknowledge that Toru and all its dependencies,
including Usongora and Bukonju, and the countries which come under
my rule hereafter, are entirely under the British Company, and I and
my successors hold ourselves bound to obey all orders and instructions
of the Company's representative in these countries in all matters what-
Clause 2. No Europeans shall be allowed to settle in Toru or its
dependencies without the express permission of the Company's agent.
Clause 3. I will do all in my power to prevent the importation of
arms and powder into my country, or through it into other countries
through the British sphere of influence.
Clause 4. I engage to preserve the elephants in my country and to
prevent their destruction by any tribe whatever. I recognize the
Company's exclusive right to kill elephants, and hold all elephants in
my country as the Company's property.
Clause 5: All arms in my country shall be brought to the European
Resident for registration.
Clause 6. So far as may be possible, and at all the discretion of
the Company's agent, the expenses of garrison, etc., to which the
Company may be put for the safety and protection of the country, and
expenses for its development and improvement, shall be defrayed out
of the finance and resources of the country.
40 UGANDA JOURNAL
Clause 7. There shall be no slave raiding or slave catching in my
country, and my subjects shall not raid slaves in other countries, and
import them into my territory."
"Signed this 14th day of August, 1891, at Fort Edward."
(Signed) "On behalf of the Imperial British East Africa Coiqpany.
F. D. LUGARD, Captain, 9th Regiment.
KASAGAMA, his x mark, King of Toru.
YAFETI BYAKWBYAMBA, his x mark."
(Signed) "W. GRANT, Imperial British East Africa Company."
"Interpreters and witnesses: "
(Signed) "ZAKARIA KAGOLO.
On 25th August Lugard pushed on to the Semliki and the shores of
Lake Albert. On 7th September he reached Kavalli's where he found Selim
Bey, the leader of Emin's former Sudanese troops. On 13th September
Lugard and Selim Bay entered into an agreement, which was drawn up in
English and Arabic, for the enlistment, subject to the approval of the Khedive
of Egypt, of the Sudanese troops as members of the armed forces of the
Company. The next month was spent at Kavalli's in making preparations
for the despatch of the newly-enlisted troops and their innumerable followers
and dependents to Buganda.
On 19th September 1891 Lugard made two treaties. Both were drawn
up on a printed form provided by the Company for the purpose. In that
form the Company granted to the chief therein named and his people the
protection of the Company in exchange for the cession of the sovereign rights
over the territories administered by such chief. At the same time he made
blood-brotherhood with the chiefs in question.' Stuhlmann (Mit Emin
Pascha, p. 566) travelled over the same ground two months later and was
not only informed of the ceremonies of blood-brotherhood, but was also
shown by the chiefs the duplicates of the treaties.
The first of these treaties was made with Mugenyi Bakebwa, chief near
Semliki", who at the same time became Lugard's blood-brother. A note
appended by Lugard to this treaty gives certain additional particulars. It tells us
that Mugenyi's country extended "along hills on western bank of northern
Semliki, viz., Mboga, etc. Formerly chief of South Unyoro till driven out by
Kabrega. This territory is now resumed by the Company and Kabrega ousted."
The second treaty was made with "Katonzi. chief near Albert Nyanza ".
who is evidently to be identified with Stanley's Katonza in Treaty No. 58 and
who became Lugard's blood-brother. Lugard describes him as "the biggest
chief of the Kavalli plateau" and tells us that the assistance, which was
1 In his Rise of Our East African Empire, Vol. II, p. 221, Lugard says he made
blood-brotherhood with Kavalli, Katonzi and Mugenyi. In his earlier report from
Mengo, which is dated llth January 1892, and is printed in Africa No. 2 (1893), p. 5,
he states he made blood-brotherhood only with the last two chiefs above mentioned.
It should be observed that the territories comprised in these treaties were at this date
within the British sphere of influence and remained in that sphere until the Anglo-
Belgian Agreement made at Brussels in 1910.
EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1888-1891 41
rendered subsequently to the treaty by Katonzi's canoe men in ferrying
Lugard's expedition and the Sudanese across the Semliki, was "beyond
praise" (Rise of Our East African Empire, Vol. II, pp. 227-228). In a note
to his own treaty with this chief, Lugard tells us that his territory was "on
west shore of Albert Lake, and to Semliki and around Kavalli. Formerly
chief of large area now included in Southern Unyoro. This territory has now
been resumed by the Company and Kabrega ousted."
On 3rd October 1891, just before setting out on his return to Buganda,
Lugard concluded a similarly worded treaty with Kavalli, who was of course
Stanley's Mbiassi of Kavalli in Treaty No. 58. A few days later Lugard made
his way back to Fort Edward and the newly established headquarters of
Kasagama. There he found De Winton, who "had followed on our track
through Ankoli with his little party of but fifty men; yet he was everywhere
welcomed with almost goodwill: food was brought to him gratis, and he
found nothing but friendship and cordiality:" and thus further proof was
given that Ntare of Ankole was at all times ready to honour his bond.
Leaving De Winton in charge of Fort Edward, Lugard and his party set out
for Buganda. On 28th November 1891 he entered the district of Kitagwenda.
As already seen, the chief of this district was Bulemo Ruigi, who appears in
Hertslet's Treaty No. 59 as having ceded Kitagwenda and Bunyampaka to
Stanley. In his subsequent report to the Imperial British East Africa Com-
pany (Africa No. 2 (1893), p. 10), Lugard tells us that this district was "a
country (like Toro) conquered by Kabrega. . I was met by envoys from
its king, Ruigi, professing friendship and asking for peace. I therefore
reassured him, telling him that he should retain his country, but would, as in
old times, regard Kasagama and not Kabrega, as his suzerain chief. This,
he said, was what he desired. The people, however, fled, and though I did
all I could to reassure them, they were scared at the size of the expedition.
I have not a good opinion of this man, Ruigi, and as Kitagwenda, I am
informed, has long been the high road for the Baziba traders to bring powder
and arms to Unyoro, etc., I determined to divide my remaining four companies
(sc., of Sudanese troops) (equal to three numerically) into two companies each,
and to build two forts in Kitagwenda, with the object of closing the roads by
which powder is brought into these countries."
STo this one may add a postscript. On 3rd March 1894 Kasagama con-
cluded a fresh treaty with "Roddy" Owen of Grand National fame, acting
on behalf of the British Government. During the preliminary negotiations
leading up to that treaty Owen undertook to recognize that "Kasagama's
country will include Torn, Usongora, Kitagwendas [sic] and their depend-
encies ". Owen's treaty was in its turn superseded by the Toro Agreement
of 1900.. "Bulemo Katambala" affixed his mark as a party to this last-
mentioned agreement, which recognized Kitagwenda as forming one of the
administrative divisions of Toro and bestowed a certain area of land on
Bulemo as chief of that division. Then, seven years later, the Rukurato
(council) of Toro petitioned that Bulemo should be deposed because of his
incompetence, and their request was granted, Bulemo being allowed to retain
the lands bestowed upon him under the agreement.
42 UGANDA JOURNAL
From Kitagwenda Lugard proceeded on his way to Buganda. On 30th
March 1892 he concluded a fresh treaty with Mwanga and the chiefs of
Buganda, the full text of which can be found in Africa No. 2 (1893), pp. 96-99.
Three months later he set out for the coast in company with Major Macdonald.
On the way he was overtaken by Mr. F. C. Smith of the Church Missionary
Society, who was intending to start work at Wakoli's headquarters in Busoga.
The rest of the story can be told in Macdonald's words:
"The march was then resumed, and soon we were camped in the
Company's enclosure at Wakoli's, and warmly welcomed by that friendly old
chief. . On leaving Wakoli's the chief accompanied us some distance,
and, after many good wishes for our safe arrival at Mombasa, turned back
on what proved his last journey. For near his capital, while actually talking
to Smith, one of the mission porters shot him through the body. The assassin1
was instantly torn to pieces by Wakoli's infuriated followers, and Smith would
undoubtedly have shared the same fate had not the mortally-wounded heathen
chief restrained his men and taken Smith under his protection. The whole
of the Waganda who formed the mission caravan were, however, speared,
and Smith, for his greater security, was imprisoned in Wakoli's house.
For several days the wounded chief lingered on, and then died, enjoining his
people, with almost his last breath, to protect Smith and remain as heretofore-
friends with the Europeans. Smith had now for some days a very anxious time,
and, indeed, was in peril of his life until Williams, himself scarcely recovered
from a bad attack of fever, hastened to Usoga and rescued him from his
dangerous position (Soldiering and Surveying in British East Africa, pp. 93-94).
Wakoli was remembered by all Europeans who met him for his lavish
hospitality and his friendliness to his guests. Yet chiefly he ought to be
remembered because even with his dying breath he was ready to keep the
pact which he had made with Lugard by doing all that lay in his power to
save the life of a fellow countryman of his blood-brother.
News of this tragedy did not reach Lugard till many months later. In
his Rise of Our East African Empire, Vol. II, p. 580, he says: "I know that
all or most treaties (so called) made in Africa will not bear so close an
investigation: I am concerned only with those in which I had a hand." At
the time of penning those words I think Lugard must have had particularly
in mind the treaty-making activities of the notorious German explorer, Karl
Peters, and of certain of Peters' compatriots. One has only to read Peters'
own book-New Light on Darkest Africa-and the reports received by the
British Consul-General at Zanzibar, to know that the treaties brought back to
Europe by certain Germans were, in the never-to-be-forgotten words of a one-
time German Chancellor, "scraps of paper ". But I do feel that enough has
been written by me to prove that from the very outset of his African career the
future author of The Dual Mandate was bent on practising the gospel which is
preached in that book and that he thus afforded an outstanding example to
others of that sympathy and understanding which in tropical Africa all members
of a government service should show towards those committed to their charge.
1 According to some account the shooting was not deliberate but was due to
gross clumsiness in handling of the gun.
NOTES ON THE BIRDS OF THE RIVERAIN FORESTS
OF KARAMOJA AND NORTH-EAST UGANDA
By J. M. WATSON
THE riverain forests of Karamoja afford an excellent opportunity to study
a wide range of bird life within a small compass and with little or no
inconvenience to the observer. The large shady trees, the most outstanding
among which are Acacia albida, Acacia tortilis, Terminalia brownii and
Ficus gnaphalocarpa, and the thick heavy undergrowth along the river banks,
provide an abundance of food and a variety of lodging for an innumerable
host of birds, ranging in size from the handsome White-headed Touraco to
the small and dainty Wattle-eyed Flycatcher.
As the following notes include some birds which are not uncommon in
the gardens and environs of Kampala and Jinja I trust they may be of interest
to a wider range of bird enthusiasts than to those only who have the fortune
to visit north-east Uganda.
The attention of the bird watcher is not infrequently first drawn to his
quarry by the nature of its song, and I have therefore divided the fourteen
birds included in the following list into classes according to their musical
1. SONGSTERS OF UNDOUBTED MERIT
WHITE-BROWED ROBIN CHAT (Cossypha heuglini heuglini).
I consider this bird to be one of Uganda's finest vocal performers.
Certainly I know of no better songster in Karamoja or north-east Uganda,
although there may be other candidates for this
honour from regions west of the Nile. Its call is
sweet, clear and not unduly shrill. Its song, which
is long and varied, always commences in a soft
and plaintive mood, gradually increasing in power
S-until the whole neighbourhood resounds to its full
and open notes.
Among its musical accomplishments mention
White-browed Robin Chat must be made of its powers of mimicry and there
is considerable evidence to show that it is not
averse to borrowing from the works of other avian composers including,
according to Jackson, three species of Cuckoo and the Green Pigeon.
Early morning and evening are its usual times of singing, although not
infrequently it continues its performance far into the night. It appears to be
a bird of temperament, for on some days it remains hidden in the thickest of
bushes while on others it will sit on a low branch in full view quite uncon-
cerned. In Kampala it would seem to have lost much of its fear of the open
for it is there one of the commonest of garden birds.
It is about eight to nine inches long and is thrush-like in shape and build,
44 UGANDA JOURNAL
The black crown, with white frontal band extending over the eye, the rich
rufous chest and abdomen, and the rufous rump and tail (except for the
black central tail-feathers) are all striking characteristics which ensure the
rapid identification of this bird.
SPOTTED MORNING WARBLER (Cichladusa guttata guttata).
This thrush is a bird which is more often heard than seen as it is of a
very shy and retiring nature. It appears to have a predilection for the thickest
and most impenetrable thorn bushes (particularly
Acacia pennata-a bush which must have proved
the ruination of many a shirt) which grow along
the river banks. It is a particularly fine and varied
songster but its voice lacks the depth and quality
of the Robin Chat. It performs chiefly in the
morning and evening, but I have frequently heard
it singing in the heat of the mid-day. I do not Spotted Morning Warbler
think its range extends west as far as Kampala or
Jinja, but the visitor to Moroto who takes the trouble to walk up the Lia
River from the station is almost bound to make its acquaintance sooner or
It is about seven inches in length, its tail somewhat long in proportion to
the rest of the body. The rufous rump and tail first attract attention. Indeed
this is frequently the only view of this bird which the observer obtains. The
under parts are pale, bordered on either side by a broken line of black which
breaks up into oval spots on breast and flanks. The rest of the body is
fawn-brown; the head carries a white superciliary stripe with small white
plumelets round the eye.
GREAT LAKES KURRICHANE THRUSH (Turdus libonyanus centralis).
This bird is widely distributed throughout Uganda although, up to the
time of writing, I have not recorded it in Karamoja. It is, however, common
in Teso and in the valleys of the. Imatong Mountains
and I feel certain therefore that it must occur in the
range of hills on the western boundary of Karamoja.
In Buganda it is known as "Bukamagoyo" and is
a frequent inhabitant of the banana gardens. Its
song is certainly not as long or varied as the first
two species on my list and, owing to the fact that it
is inclined to repeat itself, is somewhat monotonous.
Nevertheless the notes of its short song are pleasantly
Kurrichane Thrush rich and clear, and very thrush-like in quality; it
is indeed a true thrush and closely related to the
English throstle. It is, I think, of sufficient merit to include in the first category
of songsters as I feel certain its voice would attract the attention of a discerning
listener. The bird spends much of its time on the ground hopping about on
BIRDS OF THE RIVERAIN FORESTS 45
the carpet of leaves foraging for insects and worms. The disturbance caused
by its scratching among the dried vegetation is often the first sign of its
presence, but sooner or later it will come into view perching for a short while
unconcernedly on a low branch.
About nine inches in total length, the most conspicuous feature of the
bird is its bright yellow bill. The upper parts are olive-brown; under parts
white with a heavily streaked throat. The sides of the lower breast and
flanks are washed with orange-rufous. Its whole appearance is very thrush-
like and one authority has likened it to a female English blackbird.
2. PERFORMERS OF VERY LIMITED RANGE BUT OF TONAL
In this class I include a few birds which are conspicuous by their ability
to produce clear and pure notes but owing to their limited vocal range cannot
be classified with the real songsters.
UGANDA BROWN-THROATED WATrLE-EYE FLYCATCHER (Platysteira cyanea nyanzae).
This small restless flycatcher is common among the forested banks of
of the Agoro River flowing down from the Imatong Mountains. Although
I have not seen it in Karamoja I feel certain I have heard
it at Loyoro in the north-east of the District, and possibly
at Moroto. At the latter locality there is room for doubt
as I may have mistaken its "song" for that of the Batis
Flycatcher. The call of the male is very characteristic
and it must be familiar to many a Jinja gardener. It
consists of four clear plaintive notes, widely separate in
pitch and running down the scale. There is always a Und, Brown-throatd
considerable pause between each note, and the whole wattle-eye Flycatcher
series of four is uttered over and over again in a maddenly monotonous
This flycatcher is about five inches long, with upper side glossy blue-
black with a white longitudinal wing band. The under side is also white and,
in the males, there is a conspicuous blue-black crop-band. The characteristic
feature in both sexes is the prominent scarlet eye-wattle. The female differs
from the male in having the crop-band replaced by a patch of rich chestnut
which embraces the throat and chest. The upper parts are grey rather than
black. She is a poor songster, her cry being in the nature of a short harsh
SOUTHERN SULPHUR-BREASTED BUSH SHRKE (Chlorophoneous sulfureopectus
This small shrike would probably pass unnoticed were it not for its very
distinctive call, but the few minutes spent in searching for it will be amply
repaid when finally it comes into view. It is an extremely beautiful bird.
46 UGANDA JOURNAL
The call consists of four clear notes, almost reed-like in their quality,
the first three short and rapid, the fourth long and drawn out. This is
undoubtedly its usual performance but on one occasion
at Amudat in south-east Karamoja I traced to this bird
a call consisting of some eight rapidly whistled notes
running down the scale. It appears to be particularly
vocal in the months of March and April.
It is about seven inches long. The head and mouth
are grey, but the forehead and the conspicuous eye-stripe
are yellow, and there is a black band through the eye.
hern S eaed The rest of the upper parts are olive green. The under side
Southern Sulphur-breasted .
Bush Shrike is a gloriously bright yellow with a conspicuous wash of
orange-red on the chest. The bird is an inhabitant of the
upper branches and is not always easy to distinguish among the green foliage.
However, once it begins calling it can quickly be traced as it will remain
stationary for some considerable time slowly piping its somewhat pathetic
SUDAN BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE (Oriolus monacha rolleti).
This bird is possibly one of the most common of the inhabitants of the
riverain forests. As its food consists of insects as well as fruit it finds ample
supply among the branches of the acacias and fig trees,
and it is seldom seen, therefore, on the ground. It is a
restless bird, flitting from one tree to another uttering as
it flies a single flute-like note. It has, however, a range
of calls, most of which are a variation oh the whistled
theme "tickle-trout". One such variation is almost
conversational in tone and somewhat reminiscent of a
parrot endeavouring to say "pretty-poll ". Then again
there is the loud, powerful "wee-u" which not-
infrequently heralds its approach. Sudan Black-headed Oriole
The most conspicuous features of this oriole, which
is about nine inches long, are the black head and chin, and the brown-red
beak. The back is greenish yellow, the yellow being most pronounced on
the nape. The wings are duller.
It is widely distributed throughout Uganda and is particularly numerous
among the Cedrela trees at the Agricultural Station at Bukalasa; it no doubt
frequents the gardens of Kampala.
3. PERFORMERS CURIOUS AND QUAINT
Under this head I include two birds whose songs would undoubtedly
be classified as music were it not for the pathetic efforts of the female birds
who, incapable of letting well alone, attempt to improve on the songs of their
mates by the addition of metallic rasping notes, thereby ruining the whole
BIRDS OF THE RIVERAIN FORESTS 47
SLATE-COLOURED BOUBOU SHRIKE (Laniarius funebris funebris).
I have not heard or seen this bird outside Karamoja, but it is extremely
abundant there. It is a shy bird and seldom exposes itself in the open
but, despite its retiring habits, it is easily traced
when once it begins to call.
The call of the male is a mellow, bell-like
"cuck-oo" but, unlike the cry of the European
cuckoo, both notes, which are uttered in rapid
succession, are of the same tone. The reply
of the female, which is forthcoming so rapidly
that there is scarcely a pause between her
cry and that of her mate, consists of a single,
high-pitched rasping note which is difficult
Slte-coloured Boubou Shrk to represent on paper. The combined effort
may be described, possibly, as "cuck-oo(m)-pheet(f); cuck-oo(m)-
I believe the male is also responsible for a low, harsh, croaking note
which does not appear to require an answer from the female. There is also
a series of strident, whirring notes of which I assume the male to be the
author as the typical cry of the female can, on occasions, be heard as an
The musical repertory of both birds is considerable and I find it difficult
to ascribe many of their queer tickings, gratings and hissings specifically to
the male or female. One performance, which is due to the female, is an
extremely realistic representation of a clockwork spring running down.
The male and female birds are very similar in appearance, a fact which
adds to the difficulty of distinguishing between the calls of the two sexes.
The male is about seven and a half inches long. The general colour is deep
slatey blue shading into black on the head, wings and tail. The typical power-
ful bill and feet are black. The female is slightly smaller and paler in colour.
ABYSSINIAN GONOLEK (Laniarius erythrogaster).
The Gonolek or Red-breasted Shrike is as much at home in the gardens
of Kampala as among the riverain forests of Karamoja. It is a most striking
bird in its livery of red and black (black head and back,
crimson under parts) and it must be familiar by sight if
not by name to almost all Uganda residents. Although
of a somewhat shy and retiring disposition, many are the
days when it deserts its usual habitat of thick bushy
undergrowth and boldly comes forth into the open. At
Amudat on one occasion I watched a pair pursuing each
other from one branch of an open tree to another, quite
regardless of my presence near at hand. Like the preced-
ing species, the male is characterized by his fine flute-like Abyssinan Gonolek
call (" phee-uwei" is a poor representation). The female replies at once with
a harsh cheering note which has been well described by Sir F. Jackson "as a
48 UGANDA JOURNAL
fair representation of a quick tearing of a piece of calico ". The speed with
which the female responds to the call of its mate is quite extraordinary, and
were it not that I have seen both birds performing close at hand I would
find it difficult to believe that the combined call was not the production of
one and the same bird.
4. NOISY, SQUEAKY AND METALLIC CHATTERERS
COLONEL GRA'S CRESTED FRANCOLIN (Francolinus sephaena grantii).
This is a bird of the dry and arid thorn-bush country of which Karamoja
is largely typical; nearer Kampala it is found in Buruli county of Buganda,
where similar conditions prevail. It is by no means
confined to the neighbourhood of rivers and frequents
cultivated land, especially the stubbles after harvest.
In Karamoja, however, most, of the cultivation is con-
fined to the fertile soil bordering the river bank,
consequently the bird is particularly abundant in these
localities also. It is a small francolin, only some twelve
to thirteen inches in total length, but despite its small
size, it is certainly the noisiest of its tribe, calling
throughout the day (particularly if there is cloud about)
Colnel Granc'n and, when the moon is up, not infrequently far into the
night. Its cry has a very definite metallic ring and can
be fairly well represented by the words cheenk-keen-keen-cheenk-keen-keen-
cheenk" and so on almost indefinitely. The "cheenk" is high pitched and
squeaky while the "keen is lower in tone and shorter.
The bird can immediately be distinguished from other species of
francolins by the dark helmet-like crest and the white eye-stripes above and
below the eye. The under parts are chestnut, with grey-brown markings in
the centre of each feather, the lower back and rump
browner. The cheeks, sides of neck and lower throat
are light buff, patterned with triangular chocolate spots.
The rest of the under parts are buffy brown.
RftPPEa'S LONG-TAILED GLOSSY STARLING (Lamprotornis
Of the birds so far described, this is undoubtedly the
most garrulous. It is by no means confined to Karamoja
but in general it prefers the drier parts of the country.
It has been recorded from Ankole, Mubende and Toro
as well as many places east of the Nile.ppels Long-taled
RUppell's Lon i-taled
In some of the riverside rest camps in Karamoja it Glossy Starling
is as tame as the African pied wagtail.. It is seldom seen
by itself but is usually in small parties, and is seldom if ever silent. Restless
and ever on the move, it spends much of its time on the ground in search of
BIRDS OF THE RIVERAIN FORESTS 49
food. Nothing comes amiss to it, be it termite, harvester ant, or the remains
of the dog's dinner.
It is at once distinguished from all other purple-blue glossy starlings by
its long graduated tail which must represent nearly half its total length
(possibly fourteen inches). The almost white iris is another very notice-
SUPERB GLOSSY STARLING (Spreo superbus).
The third and last member of the noisy group is another species of
glossy starling and one of the most startling in colouration of the whole
starling family. Although possibly more at home
among the thorn-bush than among large shady
trees, nevertheless I include it as riverain because
invariably a party of these birds is to be found near
any river, enlivening the woods with their squeaky
notes or hopping and running about in the shade.
The short whimsical song of the Superb Starling
is not by itself unattractive and I am inclined to
include it in a higher musical category. Unfortun-
ately it is seldom permitted to perform solo and when
Superb Glossy Starling twenty or thirty of these birds are gathered together
the resultant noise can only be described as hideous.
It is the bird which first catches the eye of the traveller immediately on
entering Karamoja, and many are the occasions on which I have been asked
by visitors for its identification. It has been dubbed, not without reason, the
"Union Jack Bird". The upper parts are metallic glossy blue, except for
the crown and sides of the head which are black. The throat and chest are
of a similar metallic colour while the rest of the under parts are brick-red.
There is a narrow bar of white separating the red from the blue.
5. VULGAR CALLERS
Under this heading I include two members of the Musophagidae or
Plantain-eater Family. The name plantain-eater is somewhat of a misnomer
as the two species now under discussion inhabit a countryside much of which
is barren of anything approaching a banana. The arrangement of the toes
of plantain-eaters is unusual, the fourth toe being turned forward or back-
ward at will. This enables the bird to run and scramble among the branches
of the trees in a peculiarly squirrel-like manner.
WHITE-CRESTED TouRAco (Turacus leucolophus).
This noble and handsome bird is a true dweller of the thicker forests
bordering the water-courses of Karamoja, and avoids the neighbourhood of
thorn scrub and open country. It is not uncommon in northern Bulemezi
and on one occasion I observed a pair fly across the summit of Walusi Hill,
50 UGANDA JOURNAL
a few miles east of Bukalasa. It is not however a bir
and is therefore absent from the wetter parts of
Its call differs from that of all other plantain- 4
eaters by commencing with a shrill vulgar, almost
laugh-like aloo" which is immediately followed
by a flow of loud, harsh, low-pitched notes,
which can be represented by the sound "kwaak,
kwaak ", etc. When a small party of these birds
is calling in unison the noise they produce is very
considerable and it is this commotion which first
strikes the ear of the traveller who pitches camp
in a woody glade at the foot of any of the numer-
ous mountain massifs in Karamoja.
The white head and crest, with a contrasting
black forepart, is the most arresting feature of
this bird, which is about sixteen inches long. The
crimson, tail dark blue, and under parts grass-green.
d of the true rain-forest
wings are purple and
WHITE-BELLIED GO-AWAY BIRD (Corythaixoides leucogaster).
Like the two glossy starlings which I have already mentioned, this species
is as much at home in the thorn-bush as among the massive figs and other
large trees adorning the river banks.
The birds are usually found in pairs, following one another from tree to
tree. The cry consists of a single note, if such a noise can be placed in the
note category. To me it resembles a nasal gaarn "; others have likened it
to the bleating of a sheep.
The bird bears a superficial resemblance in size and shape to the more
familiar Grey Plaintain-eater but the gay chuckling cry of the latter is quite
unlike the coarse bleat of the former. The Grey Plantain-eater is a past-
master at aerial clowning, a talent which the Go-away Bird cannot claim to
possess to any marked degree. The two birds overlap in north-east Uganda
and I have observed both species associating together on the banks of the
Tcudi-tcudi River in northern Karamoja.
The most conspicuous feature of the Go-away Bird is the large black
elongated crest which is depressed in flight but which is immediately erected
on alighting on a branch of a tree. The general colour of the bird, including
head and neck, is ashy grey to brown with the under parts white. The two
central feathers of the tail are grey, the others appear darker with a broad
intermediate band of white. The total length is about twenty inches. I am
not certain why this comic creature has been dubbed the "Go-away Bird".
Possibly there is a resemblance between a nasalized "go-away" and its cry,
particularly if the accent is placed on the way ". I believe it has been accused
by hunters of warning the quarry of their approach, and entreating it to get
away before it is too late.1
1 It owes its name to its near relationship with Corythaixoides concolour, the Go-
away bird of South Africa, which really does make this remark.-[ED.]
BIRDS OF THE RIVERAIN FORESTS
6. MADDENING CRIERS
SOLITARY OR RED-CHESTED CUCKOO (Cuculus solitarius).
If any bird deserves the sobriquet "Brain-fever Bird" surely the claims
of the Solitary Cuckoo should receive every consideration. It possesses only
one redeeming feature-it spends only half the year in
Uganda. This year (1947) it arrived at Moroto on
3rd January and it called incessantly from that date
onwards until the end of May, when I noted a definite
decrease in the frequence of its calling. At the time
^ $ of writing (15th June) all of these birds appear to have
left for the south. It is just over a week since I heard
Everybody in Uganda must be familiar with the
whistled call of the Solitary Cuckoo, which is so well
described by the onomatopoetic Baganda name of
S "Se-ku-ku", or the Dutch "Piet-myn-vrow". The
Solitary Cuckoo monotonous three notes, tending slightly to descend
the scale, with the first note somewhat longer than the
following two, are seldom varied, although at times the tempo is increased and
the pitch heightened as though the bird was in a fit of anger.
A little patience is often required to discern the bird as it is a frequenter
of the topmost branches. There it will sit immobile, making every endeavour,
by the persistent repetition of its monotonous call, to drive its hearers mad.
Whether Solitary Cuckoos have ever achieved this object I am not in a
position to say, but it is recorded by Jackson that they rendered sleepless so
many of his Chief Secretary's nights that their numbers had to be reduced.
The bird itself is possibly not so familiar as its cry. In general appear-
ance it bears a strong resemblance to the European cuckoo, although somewhat
smaller; it is about twelve inches long.
In colour it is dark grey above, with the tail purple-black tipped with
white. The throat is blue-grey, the chest rufous-chestnut with slight indica-
tions of blackish cross-barring. The rest of the under parts is pale buff banded
The following works have been freely consulted:
Bainerman, D. A. 1930-1939. The Birds of Tropical West Africa, Vols. I-V.
Crown Agents, London.
Bates, G. L. 1930. Handbook of the Birds of West Africa. John Bale,
Sons and Danielson, London.
Jackson, F. J. 1938. The Birds of Kenya Colony and the Uganda Protec-
torate, Vols. I-III. Gurney and Jackson, London.
Priest. C. D. 1929. A Guide to the Birds of Southern Rhodesia. William
Clowes and Sons, Ltd., London.
WITH THE 4TH (UGANDA) K.A.R. IN ABYSSINIA'
By J. C. WORKER
THE last few days of August 1939 found Bombo full of rumours and
hectic preparations for something which was bound to come off this
The 4th (Uganda) King's African Rifles, like the rest of the British Army,
had everything on paper and that was about all. We were below strength in
personnel (both European and African), equipment, and all the other para-
phernalia of war. Also, just to help matters, "A" Company was having a
little showdown with the Merille in Turkana and B Company had been
sent from Bombo to help out.
Rumour became fact. Reserve Officers and African Ranks were called
up, and several Europeans from the Uganda Platoon of the Kenya Regiment
were posted to the Battalion. War stores, ammunition, etc., were sorted out,
and what remained of the Battalion left for Nairobi. There C Company
detrained and was sent off to Garissa and Bura on the river Tana, to be
joined later by "A Company from Turkana. "D Company and Battalion
H.Q. went on to Mombasa, preceded by B Company from Turkana.
When "D" Company and Battalion H.Q. arrived at Mombasa they
expected to be met by B Company, but B Company had been pushed
off to Garsen, also on the Tana, about 150 miles from "C" Company at
Garissa. Things were a bit muddled at Mombasa but eventually we settled
in, with the Europeans sleeping at Government House and messing at the
Manor and Palace Hotels, and the Africans being accommodated in the
Allidina Visram High School near Nyali Bridge. On the trip down many
Europeans from the Kenya Regiment had joined us and we were now more
or less up to strength in European personnel.
The Battalion was now stretched over hundreds of miles, with "A"
Company in Turkana, B Company at Garsen, C Company at Garissa
and "D ", H.Q. Company and Battalion Headquarters at Mombasa. After
a' few weeks in Mombasa it was decided to move the Mombasa troops to
Malindi, and working parties were sent forward to build a camp. This camp
was made near the landing-ground and we moved in to find a first-class place
ready for us.
After a few weeks at Malindi we were joined by C Company, and the
Battalion was ordered to return to Mbagathi, one half going by train via
Mombasa the other half by road via Garsen, Bura, Garissa and Thika. This
trip was very interesting but personally I don't remember travelling on anything
resembling a road until nearing Nairobi. If there was a road it hadn't been
used for years and there was plenty of game to be seen, both large and small.
THE 4TH (UGANDA) K.A.R. IN ABYSSINIA AND BURMA 53
Mbagathi, that beautiful Aldershot of East Africa, just too far away
from Nairobi to make walking into town a pleasure, holds memories only of
hard work, training and refitting.
By this time, early 1940, the East African Forces had grown out of all
recognition and it was decided to do manoeuvres in the area around another
Kenya beauty spot, Isiolo. The Battalion entrained at Nairobi for Nanyuki,
and then began a three-day march to Isiolo. The troops, who had been issued
with boots for the first time about a week previously, didn't enjoy this walk,
and the boots were not popular. Mount Kenya is a beautiful sight but I
doubt if it was appreciated by anyone as we marched round it. The training
was tough, but all went well until one night it rained and we were completely
flooded out of camp when a small river, ordinarily about two feet deep, came
down in flood. That ended training for the time being and next morning we
left for Mbagathi via Nanyuki.
In April 1940 rumours of Italy's entry into the war reached us, and we
eventually left Mbagathi in the middle of the night en route for Mombasa
and the Tana. This time B and D Companies went forward to Malindi
and Garsen, and the remainder made camp on the Malindi side of the Nyali
In June, Italy declared war and the Mombasa Detachment moved forward
to Malindi. B and D Companies were now at Garsen, dug and wired
in, and all set for the Italian Army. "A ", C and H.Q. Companies were
around Malindi. In August we were relieved by the 3rd Nigerian Regiment
and moved by road.to Mitubiri, another Kenya health resort near Thika. A
few weeks in Mitubiri and then off up the Garissa road to Bura. Christmas
1940 found the Battalion back in Mitubiri, again training hard for the big
push. Off again, this time into enemy country on the Kismayu road, "A"
Company going forward to Kolbio, and the remainder digging in at a place
we called Red Ridge. The first day on the ridge an Iti plane came looking
for us and then turned back and bombed A Company's ration trucks, on
their way in to collect rations and water. We were now in the wide open
spaces, our water had to be brought to us in water-tankers and forty-gallon
drums, and the ration was one gallon per day per person. After a few weeks
on Red Ridge the big push commenced, but for some unknown reason we
were ordered back to Bura, where we sat on the side of the road for days while
the rest of the East African Force went forward.
Eventually we made a move across the wide open spaces, finishing up at
Wajir and making camp just outside the Fort. Great excitement! The
Battalion was ordered to get to Bardera on the River Juba, to have a crack
at the Iti. Off we went and at the first night's halt were ordered to stay put
and await further instructions. Everyone was on his toes, but when the first
wire came in the middle of the night it took hours to decode and then only
read, "All Units will indent for twenty-five Flit Pumps at once." The only
excitement was when an enemy (which turned out to be some camels) got
shot at; and then we were ordered to return to Wajir. Wajir was the worst
spot we had been in, and we were glad when we left; it was even dangerous
to drink water there.
54 UGANDA JOURNAL
Our next move was a mad dash across country into Abyssinia in support
of the South Africans, whom we caught up just after they had captured Mega
in southern Abyssinia. The South Africans moved out and we took over
the town and fort. On again, this time to Yavello, quite a large Iti station
complete with barracks and aerodrome. From Yavello the Battalion had its
first real crack at the Iti, who got beaten up at Soroppa; here its first medals
were won, a D.S.O., M.C., D.C.M. and a couple of Military Medals.
The rains had started in southern Abyssinia and there began a nightmare
journey to Finchoa and Alghe to which the Iti had retreated. We made roads,
pushed and pulled our transport and eventually did reach Alghe, but by this
time the Iti had had it on this sector and we were more or less stuck in the
mud, so back over that dreadful road again to Yavello. After a short rest
we were on the move again, this time to Neghelli, the largest Iti town in
southern Abyssinia. The Battalion now split up, C Company going back
to Yavello to look after the locals, D Company going forward to Adola to
do the same, and the remainder of the Battalion staying on at Neghelli. This
state of affairs continued from July 1941 until the end of December 1941,
when we were relieved by the 1st K.A.R. We then returned to Kenya and
went into camp at Yatta.
More rumours, and this time we were off to have a go at the Japs. We
sailed from Mombasa in March 1942, our destination being "Top Secret."
This was a great experience for the Askari, the majority of whom had never
before seen the sea or an ocean liner. There were some sorry sights when
the ship began to roll, and the Askari just could not make things out. One
who was being ill over the side of the ship, when asked what he thought about
it all, replied that it was like the morning after an ngoma. Eventually we
arrived at Colombo in Ceylon to the great surprise and consternation of all
concerned. The next day we disembarked and entrained for Anuradhapura,
a large pilgrim town in the centre of the island. We left Colombo only just
in time; a couple of days later the Japs bombed it and did a fair amount of
damage to ships in the harbour, as well as to the landing jetty.
Our arrival at "Anu" was, like a lot of things which happened to us in
Ceylon, unprepared, and we parked ourselves in the wide open spaces. The
transport laid on for our baggage was our first introduction to bullock-carts.
After a few days there was a great deal of sickness in the camp and it was
found to be cholera. Off again towards the north of the island, parking down
beside the road in virgin forest just outside the village of Killinochi. Here
the Battalion split up, D Company going forward to Jaffna on the north
coast and "A" Company going forward about ten miles along the
Nothing much happened for several months until more troops arrived,
and we settled down to (more or less) peacetime routine. We moved about
all over the island doing training and spent a few months at such places as
Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Galee and Horana. There are some pretty and
healthy spots in Ceylon but we were never stationed in any of them.
In the middle of 1943 other units of the 11th (East African) Division began
to arrive and training began again in earnest. During the period May 1943
THE 4TH (UGANDA) K.A.R. IN ABYSSINIA AND BURMA 55
to December 1943 all ranks were sent back to East Africa for a well-earned
leave, as most of the troops had had no leave since before the war. The
Askari didn't have much time for Ceylon and the locals were a little afraid
of them. The Askari proved himself a good mixer and, despite language
difficulties, managed to forge ahead and get what he wanted.
By the middle of 1944 the llth Division was ready for anything and
the Battalion left Ceylon for India en route for the Japs. We landed at
Chittagong, and entrained for Dwohazari, south of Chittagong, making camp
at a place we called Kazi Camp, a few miles outside Dwohazari, on virgin
land, to keep away from disease. The name of the camp explains itself and
we were pleased when the time came to leave it.
Our next move was towards the Japs and we travelled by rail, river
steamer and road, via Chittagong, Dimapur, Kohima, Imphal, to finish up
at Palel. Our transport and stores were now cut down to a minimum and
we moved forward from here on foot. The march to forward positions was
a miserable affair as it rained the whole time. The road was not too bad as
far as Tamu and just before we reached there we smelt our first Jap. Tamu
was surrounded by dead Japanese; they hung in trees and under every bush.
The road now petered out to nothing better than a track and far worse than
that from Yavello to Alghe in Abyssinia. It was raining heavily and it took
about a week for what little transport we had to do the first twenty-five miles.
After that it was decided to dump the transport and use mules.
During this period our rations and stores were air-supplied and we saw
our first air-drop. An open piece of ground is selected as a dropping-zone
and then one waits for the planes. When they arrive they circle round a
few times and then things begin to happen. Bags of posho and rice are
dropped free and only important things, such as medical supplies and
ammunition, come down by parachute. Each time the plane comes over
the dropping-zone as many packages as possible are pushed out and
you must keep your eyes open to avoid being hit. We had several fatal
The Battalion camped at Mile 25 on the Tamu-Kalewa road for a few
days preparing for its first crack at the Jap. On 18th August it marched
out in an individual role with as its objective Mawlaik on the Chindwin,
down the Kabaw Valley (the Valley of Death). The Battalion put up a grand
show and after many weeks of fighting against the country, the Japs, and the
elements, their objectives were reached. Large casualties were inflicted on
the Jap but the Battalion casualties were also high.
This hike on foot from Mile 25 to the Chindwin was short as hikes"
go in Burma-a matter of a mere hundred miles or so. But considering it
was over rough tracks, hills, valleys, swollen rivers and through virgin jungle;
that it was raining most of the time; and that wide-awake fighting Japs were
watching every yard, it was a great feat.
The Chindwin was crossed by any means available, including home-
made rafts, and the Battalion worked its way down the east bank towards
Kalewa, which was later captured by other units of the llth (East African)
Division. At Kalewa the Engineers put up the largest pontoon bridge in the
56 UGANDA JOURNAL
world-across the Chindwin. We finally took up positions about twelve miles
east of Kalewa, forming a bridge-head for the relieving British division to pass
through on its way to Mandalay. On 18th December 1944 the task of the
Battalion was finished, the Quartermaster arriving with a two-month's supply
of drink rations, cigarettes, soap, blankets, and a change of clothing.
Together with other units of the Division, we were flown out by plane to
a rest-area in Assam. This was a great experience for the Askari who had
never been in a plane before. Most of them were a little "windy" about it
but by this time were willing to try anything once. Everything went off
according to plan and without accident, and all arrived at our new camp in
Although we didn't know it, the Battalion's travels were nearly over. A
few months later it moved to Ranchi, and while it was there, in strict training,
the Japs decided they had had enough.
INSECTS WHICH ALTER THE LANDSCAPE
By W. VICTOR HARRIS
MOST insects are ephemeral creatures, seasonal in their occurrence, appear-
ing for a time in considerable numbers like midges or cabbage-white
butterflies and then passing away. Bees in their hive are a more permanent
institution, but it is man and not the bee who has provided the neat white-
painted home. Among the few insects in Europe with permanent homes of
their own making are the wood-ants, whose settlements are marked by mounds
of soil, but so inconspicuously in most cases that they hardly influence the
scenery, and are noticed only by those who seek them. In short, we are
aware of insects only when they sting us, eat our crops or catch the eye with
a touch of colour or rapid movement.
Across the African continent, from the southern edge of the Sahara desert
down to the Tropic of Capricorn, there is a family of insects which does leave
its mark on the countryside. They are the Termites or White-Ants, and they
build mounds of earth which in comparison with the size of the builders more
than equals anything man accomplished before the days of reinforced concrete.
Few travellers in tropical Africa who have committed their impressions
to paper have failed to refer to white-ant hills. In Purchas his Pilgrimes, pub-
lished in 1625, we read that in the Gambia "the ant-hills are remarkable, cast
up in these parts by Pismires, some of them twenty foot in height, of compass
to contayne a dozen men, with the heat of the sun baked into that hardnesse
that we used to hide ourselves in the ragged toppes of them when we took
up stands to shoot at deere or wilde beasts ".
The shape and size of white-ant hills varies with the kind of soil and
the amount of rain. In the dry, almost desert, conditions of Somaliland,
northern Kenya and northern Nigeria, tall steeple-like mounds are found, up to
thirty feet high. In countries with a higher rainfall the ant-hills become more
and more rounded in outline, varying in size from a haycock to a massive dome
thirty feet high and sixty feet across the base. Such giant
mounds are restricted to an area of Central Africa embracing
south-eastern Belgian Congo, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland
and the southern parts of Tanganyika. Much of Uganda is
dotted with bright red ant-hills about seven feet high, the
same in diameter at the base, and roughly conical in shape.
With such masses of earth occurring over wide areas, in
places as many as twenty to an acre, the countryside takes
on a new aspect. The large rounded domes generally rise
from flat plains covered in grass and the effect is heightened '
by clumps of trees growing on their summits-little islands
of woodland in a rolling sea of grass. Elsewhere the more irregular ant-hills
are bare of vegetation and stand out conspicuously as masses of raw red soil
against the general greenness of a tropical vegetation.
58 UGANDA JOURNAL
All this is the work of insects, none of whom reaches half an inch in
length. In fact, the workers of the commonest species are no more than a
quarter of an inch long. Each hill forms the home of a colony of termites.
Inside, past a hard thick crust of cemented
earth, there is a maze of labyrinthine
corridors, intercommunicating chambers for
food stores, nurseries and dormitories, and
finally the nerve centre of the colony, the
'. queen's chamber. Here in a thick-walled
cell the queen termite, a grossly swollen egg-
producer, lives with her consort, tended by hordes of workers and a guard
of strong-jawed soldiers. Other workers are busy in mine-shafts below the
ground digging out the finer particles of the sub-soil and bringing it up to add
new pinnacles to the mound or repair the defences. These shafts go down
six or more feet, their walls smoothly plastered to offer no obstruction to
the earth-carriers. When extensions to the mound are in progress to meet the
needs of a growing population, or when some ant-eating animal like the
pangolin or the aadvark has breached the outer defences and exposed the inner
chambers, then there is tremendous activity among the workers and the shafts
have to cope with a rush of soil-carriers.
The ant-hills are thus made of soil which has been brought to the surface
from some distance below ground-level. It is selected soil, consisting of fine
particles chosen by each worker as it collects its load. Then these particles
are cemented into position with saliva, and in some cases with digested soil
from which the worker termite has extracted all vegetable matter. The hills
differ in consistency and to some extent in chemical composition from the
surrounding surface-soil, a difference easily appreciated in those areas where
the colour of the sub-soil is of a different colour from the top-soil. In young
termite-hills the soil is raw, and only after weathering has taken place do
they become colonized by weeds and grasses. Steep-sided mounds do not
weather in the same way as the rounded domes, their soil washes down over
the ground exposing a fresh raw unweathered layer which does not support
vegetation. The haycocks and domes lose less of their weathered soil and so
they gradually become covered with plants-first weeds and grasses, then shrubs
and creepers, and finally trees.
A mound in a flat grassy plain is a place where antelope and zebra bulls
can stand on guard over their grazing families, and where birds of prey can
rest and still keep a look-out. Thus droppings collect, and these not only help
to form soil but contain seeds of plants to grow there. If the plains are
under water during the rains, these mounds enable their plants to avoid
being drowned, and when fires sweep the plains towards the end of summer,
again the plants on the mounds escape. As with time the mound thickets
grow in size, so the country changes from open plain to a kind of woodland.
Dry' woodland covers much of Central Africa. Mile upon mile of the
same mixture of tree and shrub gets very monotonous, except where broken
by clumps of quite different plants growing on the termite mounds or around
their bases. In this case the change is not due so much to position, but to
INSECTS WHICH ALTER THE LANDSCAPE 59
the fact that the soil of the mounds is different from that of the surrounding
country. The mound soil is finer in texture and holds moisture for a longer
time, it is also richer in mineral plant foods, including lime, because it has
been brought up from below the leached top-soil. So we find islands of quite
a different type of vegetation, denser and greener, which, as they become
numerous, add variety to the African "bush ".
No account would be complete without a reference to the small mounds
which are numerous in some areas of mountain grassland, and in certain
types of swampy grassland. These mounds resemble giant stalkless mush-
rooms, or rounded boulders one or two feet in diameter and rather less in
height. They are usually grey or drab in colour and stand out conspicuously
against the short green grass during the rains, or the dusty blackness of the
earth after the annual grass-fires. The particular hardness of these mounds
is due to the fact that they are made from soil which has been digested by
the worker termites and, though originally top-soil, has lost all its vegetable
matter and so dries like a brick. Long stretches of the Great North Road
in southern Tanganyika are surfaced with pulverized mounds from the
surrounding grasslands. These mounds give the grasslands a speckled
appearance, particularly when viewed from the air. In parts, they are so
numerous as seriously to reduce the grazing.
The larger termite-mounds are not without their uses. They provide a
good surfacing material for tennis-courts. While still inhabited by termites
they are opened up and the damp inner soil used as pottery clay. Old dome
mounds are frequently a source of lime nodules which provide a road-making
material where rubble is scarce, or even lime for burning. In native gardens
they form perches for youths who pass the daylight hours scaring birds from
the ripening grain, and whose little shelters give a false air of dense settlement
to the peasants' farms.
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S l- I I I
SIR RICHARD BURTON AND THE NILE SOURCES
By J. N. L. BAKER
(Reprinted from The English Historical Review, Vol. LIX, No. 233, January 1944,
with the permission of Messrs. Iongmans, Green and Co. Ltd.)
THE following account of the personalities concerned in the last stages of
the discovery of the sources of the Nile, gives a prominent place to the
unfortunate quarrel between Sir Richard Burton and J. H. Speke. The details
of the quarrel, and their relationship to the actions and views of other lead-
ing explorers and theoretical geographers, have not hitherto been discussed.
The controversy lasted nearly twenty years until H. M. Stanley finally showed
that Speke's claim to have discovered the source of the Nile in 1857 was fully
justified. Without an understanding of it much of the history of the "Nile
Quest"' has little meaning.
The discovery of the snow-capped mountains of Kilimanjaro and Kenya
by missionaries in East Africa in 1848 and 1849 respectively, and the Zambesi
expedition of Livingstone in 1856 together mark a turning-point in the history
of the exploration of Central Africa.2 The revelation of a great river system
hitherto almost entirely unknown and unsuspected had apparently confined
the possible limits of the Nile sources to some point north of the Zambesi.
The snow-covered mountains revived theories of the classical world and
indicated a probable source for the Nile somewhere near the equator. Taken
together these events seemed to make possible an immediate solution of the
Nile problem which had confounded explorers and theoretical geographers
for more than one thousand years.
This promise was not fulfilled until 1876 when H. M. Stanley thoroughly
explored Lake Victoria. The delay was not due to lack of effort; Living-
stone, Stanley, Burton, Speke, Baker, Petherick, and others were actively
engaged in a solution of the problem. But their efforts produced a violent
clash between theory and fact, and personal rivalries were allowed to distort
such facts as were made known.
At the outset evidence, collected with great care in East Africa, was
treated as suspect in England. It was said that the missionaries, Rebmann
and Krapf, could not have seen snow on mountains so near to the equator.
One theoretical geographer, J. M'Queen, believed them and accepted their
mountains as the source of the White Nile. Another, W. D. Cooley, had
long before postulated a great lake in Central Africa. The missionaries had
also reported a great lake "of such portentous size and such unseemly shape,
representing a gigantic slug, or perhaps even closer still the ugly salamander,
1 Sir H. H. Johnston, The Nile Quest (1903). This is the only comprehensive
history of the subject. It deals in general terms with the controversy.
2 Places referred to in the text are marked on the map opposite.
62 UGANDA JOURNAL
that everybody who looked at it incredulously laughed and shook his head ".1
Cooley accepted this lake as proof of his own theories about Central African
hydrography and not as evidence of new discoveries. But Sir Roderick
Murchison, then President of the Royal Geographical Society, who also had
his own theories about the question, not only disbelieved the story of the
missionaries but enlisted Livingstone to support him. Livingstone addressed
the Royal Geographical Society in December 1856 and referred to some
mountains he had discovered on his Zambesi expedition as follows:
They are masses of white rock like quartz, and one of them is called
"Tabacheu" which means "white mountain". From the description I
got of its glittering whiteness, I imagined that it was snow; but when
I observed the height of the hill I saw that snow could not lie upon it.
The President interjected:
"The Society will observe that this fact has an important application,"
and later suggested that "it may prove that the missionaries, who believe
they saw snowy mountains under the equator, have been deceived by the
glittering aspect of the rocks under a tropical sun".2
When, therefore, Burton and Speke began their East African expedition in
1857 to settle the question of the Nile sources, controversy had already begun
to cloud the issue. Nor was the atmosphere improved by the personalities
of the two men. Speke the naturalist, surveyor and sportsman, was an ill-
matched companion for Burton the linguist, scholar and diplomat. They
had already been together in Somaliland. Of that expedition Speke said: "I
thought I had paid enough for a public cause in the Somali country without
having gained any advantage to myself." The same expedition had given
such a shock to Burton that his nerves were affected throughout his subsequent
East African journey. Yet he apparently approved of Speke for he invited
him to join the East African expedition at no cost to himself: this promise
was not fulfilled. In East Africa Speke was troubled by a recurrence of
ophthalmia, a complaint from which he had suffered in childhood; and both
men were attacked by fever. It is not surprising, therefore, that they quarrelled
on the journey; that Burton refused to explore Lake Tanganyika fully, or
opposed Speke's proposal to visit Lake Victoria, or refused to accept Speke's
views on the results of his journey to that lake. When he got back from
Victoria, Speke said: "Captain Burton greeted me on arrival at the old
house, and said he had been very anxious for some time past about our safety,
as numerous reports had been set afloat with regard to the civil wars we had
had to circumvent, which had impressed the Arabs as well as himself with
alarming fears. I laughed over the matter but expressed my regret that he
did not accompany me, as I felt quite certain in my mind I had discovered the
source of the Nile. This he naturally objected to, even after hearing all my
reasons for saying so, and therefore the subject was dropped."3 Of the same
incident Burton wrote: "I soon found the subject too sore for discussion."4
1 J. H. Speke, What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (1864), p. 156.
2 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, i. 244.
Speke, op. cit., p. 370.
4 Burton, The Nile Basin (1864), p. 9.
SIR RICHARD BURTON AND THE NILE SOURCES 63
So began what Burton called "the unfortunate rivalry respecting the Nile
sources" which was "fanned to a flame by the enmity and ambition of
'friends '". The flames were, in fact, there long before this particular
Speke was right in saying that Burton accepted most of his facts, both
in print and otherwise.2 Burton's lengthy Lake Regions of Central Equatorial
Africa was an expression of his own opinions.3 Of Lake Tanganyika he
said: "A careful investigation and comparison of statements leads to the
belief that the Tanganyika receives and absorbs the whole river system . .
of that portion of the Central African depression whose watershed converges
towards the great reservoir." "May not the Tanganyika, situated, like the
Dead Sea . maintain its level by the exact balance of supply and evapora-
tion ? "4 The meaning is quite clear: this lake, for the discovery of which
Burton and Speke shared the credit, could not be a source of the Nile.
Of Lake Victoria Burton wrote: "The most remarkable feature of this
region is the fresh-water sea which forms its northern boundary. It is known
throughout the African tribes as Nyanza." The lake lies open and elevated,
rather resembling the drainage and the temporary deposit of extensive floods
than a volcanic creation like Tanganyika. . The altitude, the conforma-
tion of the Nyanza lake, the argillaceous colour and the sweetness of its
waters, combine to suggest that it may be one of the feeders of the White
Nile."5 Later on he contradicted this last statement, arguing that "a
longitudinal range of elevated ground" lay to north of the Nyanza, and that
this drained northward to the Nile and southward to the lake.
Thus, leaving aside the question of Lake Victoria, on which Burton spoke
with two voices, one can say that he rejected, without ambiguity, a possible
Nile source in Lake Tanganyika. Livingstone, in 1857, was less definite when
he suggested that "this lake is the watershed between the Zambesi and the
Before continuing the history of the controversy it is desirable to com-
plete the narrative of events. Speke and Grant were sent to East Africa to
settle the problem of Lake Victoria, and on their return in 1863 Speke claimed
that he had proved his earlier contention. "Inform Sir Roderick Murchison
that all is well . and that the Nile is settled": so ran his telegram from
Alexandria. In his book he refers to "the established fact that the head of
the Nile is in 3' south latitude, where, in the year 1858, I discovered the
head of the Victoria Nyanza to be ". Speke gave an account of his dis-
coveries, and conclusions, to the Royal Geographical Society in June 1863.
1 Ibid., pp. 6, 7.
s Speke, op. cit., pp. 319 (footnote) and 370.
3 Journal of the R.G.S., xxix. (1859). A different version was published in two
volumes in 1860 with the title The Lake Regions of Central Africa. The preface
contained an attack on Speke.
SBurton, Lake Regions of Central Equatorial Africa, p. 237.
5 Ibid., pp. 271, 274, 276. The first of these quotations was changed in the 1860
edition to read: "This fresh-water sea is known throughout the African tribes as
6 D. Livingstone, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa (1857), p. 476.
7 J. H. Speke, Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (1863), p. 468.
64 UGANDA JOURNAL
In September 1863 news was received of Livingstone's discoveries west
of Lake Nyasa. He showed that this lake was not connected with Lake
Tanganyika and declared that west of Tanganyika the drainage was to the
north-west, adding, as a speculation: "whether the water thus drained off
finds its way out by the Congo or by the Nile has not yet been ascertained ".'
Yet Livingstone accepted the claim of Speke, and wrote of "the grand dis-
covery of the main source of the Nile which every Englishman must feel an
honest pride in knowing was accomplished by our gallant countrymen, Speke
and Grant ". It should be noted that this was not a complete acceptance
of Speke's view. Speke claimed to have discovered "the head" of the Nile:
Livingstone admitted only "the main source": and, as his other observations
show, he was ready to find other sources" west of Lake Tanganyika or even
farther south. Nevertheless, he must be counted as a supporter of Speke on
the main issue.
In January 1864 Speke's Journal was published, to be followed later in
the year by his What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile which
contained an account of his earlier journey with Burton and was to some
extent a reprint of articles which had appeared in 1859 and 1860 in Black-
wood's Magazine. In March 1864 Sir Samuel Baker discovered Lake Albert
and appeared as a champion of Speke: but he did not get back to Khartoum
until May 1865 by which time Speke was dead. Arrangements had been
made for a debate on the problem of the Nile between Speke and Burton at
the British Association meeting in Bath on 16th September. On the previous
day Speke met with a fatal accident.3 The debate was thus impossible, but
Burton's side of the argument appeared .first in a paper read to the Royal
Geographical Society on 14th November and later in a small book, The Nile
Basin. The latter included Burton's paper and a violent attack on Speke
In his paper Burton concluded: "That the Tanganyika is the western
'top-head' or reservoir-not source-of the Great Nile and that the Bahari-
Ngo, which supplies the Tubiri, is the eastern, I have little doubt."4 Lake
Victoria, once "the most remarkable feature" of the region now became
"that preposterous feature". Here, then, was an almost complete change
of view on the part of Burton, and an alliance between Burton, the practical
explorer, and M'Queen, the theoretical geographer, against Speke, now dead.
This strange turn in events is explained in part by the old quarrels between
1 D. Livingstone, Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi (1865), p. 532.
2 Ibid., p. 6.
3 Details of the proposed debate are given in A. Geikie, Life of Sir Roderick I.
Murchison, ii., 268, where it is said that "Speke came in from a friend's house in the
country to reply to a paper by Captain Burton which he knew would be antagonistic ".
The paper was deferred and Speke went back to meet his death by "incautiously
pulling his gun at full cock after him in getting over a stone wall ".
4 R. Burton, The Nile Basin, p. 65. The Bahari-Ngo lake was shown on contem-
porary maps as lying to the north-west of Mount Kenya. The Tumbiri river flowed
-from the mountain to the lake and out of the lake, as the Tubiri, to join the Nile about
Lat. 4 N. Werne, in 1841, identified this river with the White Nile. Burton (Lake
Regions of Central Africa, ii., 217) stated that "little authenticity" could be attached
to the Tubiri. The river is now known as the Assua.
SIR RICHARD BURTON AND THE NILE SOURCES 65
the two men. Though Burton wrote, "I do not stand forth as an enemy of
the departed," he insinuated that Speke wanted all the credit for himself and
stated that he attempted to veto expressions of opinion contrary to his own.
He maintained that Speke's mind "could not grasp a fact ", that he did not
know the use of words, and that he had borrowed from Burton's work
without acknowledgment. Thus within two months of Speke's death Burton
had more than taken his revenge for what Speke had said: that Burton knew
nothing of astronomical surveying, of physical geography, or of collecting
specimens of natural history "; that Burton gave him a cheque out of public
funds" which "was not credited" in Speke's account; that Burton's nerves
were on edge throughout their expedition; and that Burton was guilty of
"not keeping faith with their porters ". This melancholy story need not be
Speke must sharesome of the responsibility. His works contained loose
statements, dogmatic assertions based on little evidence, and guesses which, if
shrewd, and, as it turned out, correct, were no more than guesses. He also
attacked Petherick, British Consul in the Sudan, for what he supposed was
a failure on his part to help. him. The attack was both ungenerous and
unjust. Petherick did his best to keep his side of the bargain. The Govern-
ment, however, were apparently influenced by Speke's words and dismissed
Petherick from his post. In this incident the Royal Geographical Society
were not entirely free from blame. They trusted to the supposed expert
advice of Francis Galton, the Hon. Secretary, backed by Samuel Baker, and
then hoped, in the words of the President, that Petherick had not lost his
appointment through any misunderstanding.' The final result was unfor-
tunate, for Petherick did not forgive Speke. He suggested that the Sobat
and not the White Nile might issue from Lake Victoria.2 He, too, had
changed his ideas, for he had already indicated that the Sobat rose in about
latitude 9" N., and Lake Victoria was south of the equator.3 Petherick
became an ally of Burton.
Theoretical geographers generally did not like Speke's views. M'Queen
had always opposed them. But his review, which Burton republished and
for which he must, therefore, share responsibility, was not only a violent
attack on Speke as a geographer : his whole character was assailed. M'Queen
had at least the courage to publish it while Speke was alive. His own view
was that the Nile rose in the snow-capped mountains discovered by the
Another opponent was A. G. Findlay. In 1859 he had argued that
Lake Tanganyika had a northern outlet and had written to Burton on the
subject while Burton was in West Africa. Burton now reproduced some of
Findlay's arguments and Findlay returned the compliment some three years
later in a paper On Dr. Livingstone's Last Journey and the probable Ultimate
1 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, vi., 177; vii., 47; viii., 150. Petherick was
supposed to have participated in the slave trade, but the charge seems to have rested
largely on gossip in Cairo.
2 Ibid., xi., 246.
3 Map in J. Petherick, Egypt, the Sudan, and Central Africa (1861).
66 UGANDA JOURNAL
Sources of the Nile ". In this he expressed "a long-standing conviction that
Lake Tanganyika would some day prove to be the southern reservoir of
the Nile ".x
Sir Roderick Murchison, once doubter of Speke, and later his champion,
now began to hesitate. When Speke and Burton read their papers to the
Royal Geographical Society in June 1859 he said: "I am disposed to think
that he (Speke) has indicated the true southernmost source of the Nile."2 On
22nd June 1863, at a meeting of the same society arranged to meet Speke
and Grant, Murchison, as President, "with great difficulty forced his way to
the chair ", but would not begin "until Captain Speke had been placed on
his right hand and Captain Grant on his left". This done, he stated that
Speke "has gone and accomplished the great deed, and has followed the
Nile from its sources to its mouth ".3 But in November 1864 when Burton
read his paper, Murchison hoped "that Dr. Kirk or some gentleman like
him, might be induced to go to that portion of the globe and clear up the
doubts that still hang over the question of the sources of the Nile".4 In
January 1865 he wrote to Livingstone about his future work, suggesting an
exploration of Lake Tanganyika. "Various questions might be decided by
the way, and if you could go to the west, and come out on that coast, or
should be able to reach the White Nile (!), you would bring back an unrivalled
reputation, and would have settled all the great disputes now pending."5 To
this Livingstone replied: "I should like the exploration you propose very
much, and had already made up my mind to go up the Rovuma, pass by the
head of Lake Nyasa, and away west or north-west as might be found practic-
able." It was this undertaking which kept Livingstone in Africa despite
endless failure and lack of means. Stanley called it "an overscrupulous
fidelity to a promise that he had made to his friend Sir R. Murchison ",6 and
added, "The friend to whom he had given his promise, had he but known to
what straits the old man was reduced, would long ago have absolved him."7
Thus Murchison had not only wavered in his allegiance to Speke: he had
actually started Livingstone on a new search for the Nile. Further, in June
1867, after Findlay's paper, he had "still a well-founded hope that his friend
Livingstone was yet pursuing his adventurous journey into Central Africa
there to settle definitely the great problem on which Mr. Findlay had thrown
so much light".* Finally, at the British Association meeting in the same
year, when Sir Samuel Baker, President of the Geographical Section, had
asserted that within the last few years we have determined the great reservoirs
of the Nile and have proved that the river . is the offspring of two great
causes-the vast equatorial reservoirs, the Victoria and Albert lakes and
1 Proceedings. R.G.S., old series, xi., 232.
2 Ibid., iii., 353.
3 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, vii., 213, 214.
4 Ibid., ix., 8.
5 The letter is printed in W. G. Blaikie, The Personal Life of David Livingstone
(1880), p. 349.
6 The Autobiography of Sir Henry Morton Stanley, ed. by Dorothy Stanley (1909).
7 Ibid., p. 269. Livingstone's age was 57.
8 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, xi., 251.
SIR RICHARD BURTON AND THE NILE SOURCES 67
the sudden rains of Abyssinia",' Murchison could only refer to "the great
problem now in agitation, whether the vast Lake Tanganyika is or is not a
great southern water-basin of the Nile".'
With such equivocation it is little surprising that the masterful Burton
gained the ear of the Royal Geographical Society so that when Stanley went
out to find Livingstone he carried with him a letter from that body suggesting
he should explore the northern end of Tanganyika. Had Burton known the
response he would hardly have counted Livingstone as an ally. Stanley met
Livingstone on 10th November 1871. Shortly afterwards the two men set
out for Lake Tanganyika. The journey was briefly reported in Stanley's
Journal: "After exploring together the north end of Lake Tanganyika, and
disproving the theory that the lake had any connection with the Albert Nyanza,
we set out from Ujiji, on 27th December 1871 . ."3 Later the story was
elaborated by Stanley in a paper to the British Association in 1872: "At
the time of his proposing to Dr. Livingstone a journey . to the northern
end of the lake (Tanganyika), the Doctor was almost sure that the Albert
Nyanza and Tanganyika communicated with each other. . As soon as
Mr. Stanley mentioned to him the interest and importance attached to this
question, he lost no time in preparing for the journey. Previously, as he had
stated, he had not regarded the subject as of any importance, the central line
of drainage (i.e., the Lualaba) having absorbed all his time and means."4
Yet Livingstone, if not on the side of Burton, was by now against Speke.
He, too, had changed his views. Writing under the date of 18th August 1870
he records in his diary: "I am a little thankful to old Nile for so hiding his
head that all 'theoretical geographers' are left out in the cold. With all real
explorers I have a hearty sympathy, and I have some regret at being obliged,
in a manner compelled, to speak somewhat disparagingly of the opinions
formed by my predecessors. The work of Speke and Grant is part of the
history of this region, and since the discovery of the sources of the Nile was
asserted so positively, it seems necessary to explain, not offensively, I hope,
wherein their mistake lay, in making a similar claim. My opinions may yet
be shown to be mistaken too, but at present I cannot conceive how. When
Speke discovered Victoria Nyanza in 1858 he at once concluded that therein
lay the sources of the Nile. His work after that was simply following a fore-
gone conclusion, and as soon as he and Grant looked towards the Victoria
Nyanza they turned their backs on the Nile fountains . they might have
gone west and found head-waters (as the Lualaba) to which it can bear no
comparison."5 A year earlier, in a letter to Sir Thomas Maclear and Mr.
Mann, he refers to the expedition of Miss Tinn6 who "must inevitably, by
1 British Association Report, 1867, p. 110.
2 Murchison was a staunch supporter of Livingstone, and it is possible that his
own views were influenced by those of Livingstone. During the long silences of
Livingstone between 1867 and 1871 Murchison maintained the view that the explorer
would reach either the Atlantic coast or the Nile, thus solving the problem of its
sources. Geikie, op. cit., ii., 247.
s Autobiography, p. 273.
SBritish Association Report, 1872, pp. 213, 214. The Lualaba was the Congo,
though Livingstone thought it might be the Nile.
5 Last Journals of David Livingstone, ed. H. Waller (1880), ii., 51.
68 UGANDA JOURNAL
boat or on land, have reached the head-waters of the Nile. I cannot conceive
of her stopping short of (Lake) Bangweolo." She did not do so because Speke
and Grant had, "honestly enough, of course, given her their mistaken views"
that they had already discovered the sources of the Nile in Lake Victoria.1
Livingstone was present when Burton read his paper in November 1864, but
while he confirmed Burton's view that Lakes Tanganyika and Nyasa were
unconnected, he specifically denied knowledge of an outlet of Lake Tangan-
yika, and added that he did not suppose any one else had such knowledge.2
Even Sir Samuel Baker was claimed as a supporter of Burton despite
his vigorous and generous references to Speke in 1865." His biographers
are incorrect when they say that "on the return of Baker (in 1865) . no
doubt was felt among reasonable and reasoning people that . the mystery
of the Nile sources was practically solved."4 In 1867 Baker suggested to
Murchison fresh plans for "the best method of settling this great question of
the ultimate watershed of the Nile ".5 This suggestion was made in the same
year as Baker declared that the problem was settled, and actually some
months before his remarks to the British Association referred to above.
Another ally of Burton was C. T. Beke, an explorer of repute in the
mountains of Abyssinia. As early as 1846 he had put forward a view that a
branch of the Nile rose in the Mountains of the Moon, which he regarded as
lying parallel to the east coast. This river, he thought, ran through a lake
which he identified first as the hypothetical lake of Cooley and later as
the "salamander" lake of the missionaries. He modified his views to
meet the discovery of Lake Victoria by Speke, and finally adapted them to
the Tanganyika theory of Burton. Thus he was able to say: "Whereas in
the map inserted in the Sources of the Nile I marked Tanganyika as being
within the 'not impossible' limits of the basin of the Nile, I am now inclined
to place this lake within the probable limits of that basin, and to make it, in
fact, the upper course of the Giant River of Egypt."6
Even with all this support, direct and indirect, and with his success,
Burton was not satisfied. He read another paper to the Royal Geographical
Society on llth December 1871 in which he "repeated his conviction that
the so-called Victoria Nyanza is not a lake but a lake region ".r At the same
meeting Mr. Trelawny Saunders, who had supplied Speke with a map of
East Africa for his great journey, based on the ideas of M'Queen, referred
to "that fabulous piece of water, Lake Nyanza" and "hoped that the time
had arrived when people would no longer submit to that great blot on the
map of Africa which had resulted from Captain Speke's errors ".
1 Blaikie, op cit., p. 398. Lake Bangweolo is part of the Congo river system.
2 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, ix., 9; cf., Blaikie, op. cit., p. 348, where Burton
is described as "a gentleman from whose geographical views he dissents ".
3 "I feel the deepest satisfaction in being able to substantiate the main points of
his discoveries." Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, x., 21 ; cf., S. W. Baker, The Albert
N'Yanza, Great Basin of the Nile (1866), ii., 303-308.
4 T. D. Murray and A. Silva White, Sir Samuel Baker (1895), p. 108.
5 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, xi., 250.
6 Burton, Nile Basin, p. 47.
7 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, xvi., 129.
SIR RICHARD BURTON AND THE NILE SOURCES 69
Thus within seven years of Speke's death, prejudice, jealousy and ignor-
ance had combined to discredit his work and deny the validity of his theories.
But the hopes of Saunders were not to be fulfilled. On 13th March 1872
Livingstone wrote to Murchison: "Tanganyika is of no importance in con-
nection with the Nile except in a very remote degree,"' and spoke of "no
inducement to spend all in patching up Burton's failure ".2 In the autumn
of the same year Stanley announced to the British Association the result of
his own and Livingstone's exploration of the northern end of Lake Tanganyika,
which was that the lake had no outlet to the North. Stanley had, however,
come very much under the influence of Livingstone. I am becoming steeped
in Livingstonian ideas upon everything that is African, from pity for the
big-stomached piccaninny, clinging to the waist-strings of its mother, to the
missionary bishop, and the great explorers, Burton, Speke and Baker," he
had written in his Journal in 1871.3 Thus Stanley accepted Livingstone's
belief in a southern source of the Nile,' while rejecting, as did Livingstone,
Burton's view of a source in Lake Tanganyika.
Two voices were raised in protest. One was that of Grant, who had
never wavered in his support of his former colleague. Grant was, of course,
an interested party, but he seems to have received little of the abuse that was
heaped on Speke. At the British Association meeting of 1872 he argued
that Livingstone's Nile was really the Upper Congo and "that the great
traveller had under-estimated the westing he had made in his longitude ".
The second voice was that of a German, Dr. E. Behm, who produced a great
body of technical evidence to show that the Lualaba was, in fact, the Congo.
But not all the theoretical geographers were convinced. Galton thought the
case not proved. Findlay abandoned his view of a northern outlet of Lake
Tanganyika but "did not think the question of the disposal of the waters of
Tanganyika was yet settled". Grant, however, on hearing Behm's paper,
" felt convinced that these sources of Dr. Livingstone had nothing whatever
to do with the Nile ".5
In the same year a relief expedition was sent to East Africa under
Lieutenant Cameron, and with it Sir Henry Rawlinson, then President of the
Royal Geographical Society, sent a letter to Livingstone, which included the
following: "Of course the great point of interest connected with your present
exploration is the determination of the lower course of the Lualaba. Mr.
Stanley still adheres to the view, which you formerly held, that it drains into
the Nile; but if the levels which you give are correct, this is impossible. At
any rate, the opinion of the identity of the Congo and Lualaba is now becoming
so universal that Mr. Young has come forward with a donation of 2,000 to
enable us to send another expedition to your assistance up that river. . ."
1 Ibid., p. 435.
2 The failure doubtless refers to Burton's partial exploration of Lake Tanganyika.
3 Autobiography, p. 274.
4 See the map in H. M. Stanley, How I Found Livingstone (1872), p. 449. Accord-
ing to his wife, "Stanley had grave doubts of this theory . but for Livingstone's
sake, he wanted it treated at least with respect (Autobiography, p. 287).
5 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, xvii., 32.
6 Blaikie, op. cit., p. 450. The letter is dated 20th November 1872.
70 UGANDA JOURNAL
Cameron arrived in Africa to find that Livingstone was dead. He wisely
decided to try to solve the problem raised in Sir Henry's letter, and in due
course was able to write (in 1874), I have been fortunate enough to discover
the outlet of the Tanganyika, which is said to flow into the Lualaba," and
"I can also say almost positively that the Lualaba is the Congo."1 Soon
afterwards, in March 1875, when Clements Markham, then Secretary of the
Royal Geographical Society, accepted Cameron's results, Galton said, "we
must all sympathize with the disappointment Captain Burton must feel, owing
to a singular piece of ill-fortune, that his own expedition which discovered the
lake, was deprived of the honour of discovering its outlet "."
In November 1875 the news was published that Stanley had circum-
navigated Lake Victoria. Grant, who read a paper to the Royal Geographical
Society on the work of Stanley, said he thought the public would recognize
the injustice of Speke's critics and "will not fail to accord to him that place
in their opinions which he may have lost for a time ".3 Baker, at the same
meeting, declared as he had always supported Speke's view it was a proud
moment to him to find that it. had been verified almost to the letter by
Mr. Stanley ".4 Burton, however, saw in Stanley's work a justification of both
parties-" those who believed that the Victoria Nyanza of Speke was a single
lake and those who were of the opinion that the area covered by it consisted
of one great lake and several smaller ones". He still believed that "the
Lukuga would be found to be the ultimate source of the Nile"5 and
expressed his'heartfelt sorrow that his old companion, Speke, had not been
present at this great meeting. No man would have been more delighted to
see the corrections which Mr. Stanley had made with regard to his wonderful
discovery of that magnificent water that sent forth the eastern arm of the
Nile."' Thus Burton had boxed the compass. Lake Victoria, once a most
remarkable feature ", became a "preposterous feature" and, finally, "that
magnificent water ". But Burton could deceive no one but himself, for Stanley
had been quite explicit. "This letter ", he wrote, "solves the great question,
'Is the Victoria Nyanza one lake or does it consist of a group of lakes ?'
. . Livingstone, in his report of the Niyanza consisting of five lakes, was
wrong. Speke, in his statement that the Niyanza was but one lake, was quite
correct. But I believe that east of the Niyanza, or rather north-east of its
coasts, there are other lakes, though they have no connection whatever with
the Niyanza; nor do I suppose they can be of any great magnitude, or extend
south of the equator."7
In June 1876 came the report of Gessi's partial circumnavigation of
Lake Albert. Baker, commenting on this journey, wrote: "the great success
of the present is a result entirely due to the pioneers Speke and Grant, who
1 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, xix., 75.
2 Ibid., p. 262.
3 Ibid., xx., 39.
4 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series xx., 47.
5 The Lukuga was the river connecting Lake Tanganyika to the Congo. Thus
Burton was merely persisting in his view of the Tanganyika source.
6 Proceedings, R.G.S., old series, xx., 50.
SIbdi,, pp, 144, 151.
SIR RICHARD BURTON AND THE NILE SOURCES 71
first opened the road to the Nile sources."'' Gessi's work was completed by
Stanley, who recorded in his Journal: "The Victoria Nyanza I found to be
one lake. ... The Tanganyika had no connection with the Albert Nyanza;
and at present it had no outlet.2 There now remained the grandest task of
all, in attempting to settle which Livingstone had sacrificed himself. Is the
Lualaba . the Nile, the Niger, or the Congo ? He himself believed it to
be the Nile, though a suspicion would sometimes intrude itself that it was the
Congo. But he resisted the idea. 'Anything for the Nile, he said, "but I
will not be made black man's meat for the Congo.' "3
How the problem was solved by Stanley is well known. But a brief
reference must be made to the final stage of the Nile Quest ". On 5th May
1890 Stanley gave to the Royal Geographical Society an account of his rescue
of Emin Pasha, and told of the connection between Lakes Edward and Albert,
and of the discovery of Mount Ruwenzori. In this way the whole story of
the Nile was revealed. Sir Richard Burton, now "much broken in health ",
was visited by Stanley and his wife in July 1890. Stanley notes: I proposed
he should write his reminiscences. He said he could not do so, because he
should have to write of so many people. 'Be charitable to them, and write
only of their best qualities,' I said. 'I don't care a fig for charity; if I write
at all, I must write truthfully, all I know,' he replied."4 Stanley found him
writing a book called "Anthropology of Men and Women ". He had a very
shrewd comment to make. "What a grand man! One of the real great
ones of England he might have been, if he had not been cursed with cynicism.
I have no idea to what his Anthropology refers, but I would lay great odds
that it is only another means of relieving himself of a surcharge of spleen
against the section of humanity who have excited his envy, dislike, or scorn.
If he had a broad mind, he would curb these tendencies, and thus allow men
to see more clearly his grander qualities."5
Burton died in Trieste on 20th October. He had lived to learn the whole
truth and to see his own views shattered. It is perhaps idle to speculate on
the course of African exploration had he acted differently. His failure to
support Speke, and his later opposition to him confused the issue if it did not
delay a solution to the Nile problem. Even without the severe, but not unjust
verdict of Stanley, Burton is condemned by his own words. Referring to a
paper by Cooley he described it as "a most able paper which wanted nothing
but the solid basis of accurate data "., His attack on Speke, and the theories
he put forward to support it both-failed because they, too, lacked that solid
1 Ibid., p. 473.
2 This statement is incorrect: the outlet, the Lukuga, had been discovered by
3 Autobiography, p. 319.
4 Ibid., pp. 423-424.
5 Ibid., p. 424.
6 Lake Regions of Central Equatorial Africa (1859), p. 3 ; cf., T. Wright, Life of
Sir Richard Burton. (1906), ii., 192. It was eminently characteristic of Burton to make
statements which rested on insufficient evidence. . This was one of the glorious
man's most noticeable failings." In the controversy with Speke the author takes the
side of Burton to the extent of maintaining that Speke behaved badly throughout.
THE LIFE OF RWOT IBURAIM AWICH
By REUBEN S. ANYWAR1
I HAVE decided to write a short account of the life of the great chief
Iburaim Awich, because I know that there are many people, both young
and old, who know very little about him, and in particular know nothing
about the way he ruled. There may even be some elders who will learn
something of the events of the time when Awich was in power.
Iburaim Awich was the fourth child of Rwotcamo2 Labwor, of whose
male children the names of six are known, namely Ajongo, Abara, Labongo,
Awich, Abuya Lakarakak and Acara. The genealogy of this family can be
traced back a very long way. It originates with a man named Lwo who
came from Shilluk in the Sudan with his people and settled on the hill called
Kilak. When Lwo died he was succeeded by his son Okello, and from that
time the order of succession of reigning chiefs was:
Okello-Labongo I-Owiny I-Ipiri-Kipiti-Kideni-Labongo II-
Lutwa-Ayira-Owiny II-Onguka I-Lyet-Onguka II-Loni-Lubwa-
Rwotcamo-and so to Awich.
Loni was the first of the line of famous chiefs; he was an outstandingly
wise ruler of his people and guardian of those rites designed to ensure good
harvests and fertile women. When- he died, his son Lubwa succeeded him,
and afterwards Lubwa left his son Rwotcamo Labwor to rule over the Paira
(Payera) people. (The name Paira comes from the chief Ayira.)
Rwotcamo married many wives, of whom the names of only seven are
known. First there was the mother of Ajongo and his brother Abara;
second Aledo, the ceremonial wife who was installed with Rwotcamo-who
did not bear any children but who was called by the courtesy title "Mother
of Lam"; third the mother of Labongo and his sister Abice; fourth Acan
the mother of Awich, who had three children, namely Akidi, Awich and
Laro; fifth the mother of Abuya Lakarakak; sixth a Munyoro girl, the
mother of Labibi; and seventh a Cobo girl, the mother of Acara.
Awich's mother was a slave girl given to the Paira by the people of
Palaro when soliciting help against the people of Atiak. The Palaro
persuaded the Paira to join them against the people of Atiak, and Acan the
mother of Awich was accepted as a slate. It was in the course of that
fighting that Ode of Alokolum, Paira, was killed.
Rwotcamo was a great and famous chief throughout the whole of Acholi.
He it was who was chief of the Paira at the time when Sir Samuel Baker came
to Oceco hill in the country of the Patiko people in the year 1872.
It came about, however, that a feud arose between the Labongo people
and the Paira on account of a certain Labongo woman named Adwe who
had been seized by the Paira, and the Labongo as a result sent spears and
1 Translated from Acholi by J. V. Wild.
2 Rwotcamo or Rwocamo is the commonly used abbreviation for Rwot Ocamo;
a rwot is an Acholi chief.
THE LIFE OF RWOT IBURAIM AWICH 73
Madi hoes to Rwot Ogwok of Padibe soliciting his help against Rwotcamo.
In those days Ogwok was the friend of the Nubis who lived with him at
Padibe, and the Labongo hoped that Ogwok would send the Nubis to kill
Rwotcamo. Ogwok duly approached the Nubis with this suggestion and the
Nubis, agreeing, set out via Pajule. Ogwok, seeing this and realizing the
danger to Rwotcamo, for he knew the reputation of the Nubis, sent a messenger
to warn Rwotcamo, for he was fond of his father's cousin.
Rwotcamo at the time was on the way back from the ancestral shrine at
Pawatomeru, and the Nubis came upon Rwotcamo and his attendants on
the road. Seeing the Nubis, the attendants ran away and left their chief
to face the Nubis alone. The Nubis seized Rwotcamo, killed him, and
cut off his head, and from that day to this Rwotcamo's head has not been
It is common belief among the Paira that the Nubis gave the head of
their chief to Ogwok, who put it in the royal drum of Padibe; [this is a
legend which I have investigated with great care, and I have come to the
conclusion that it has no foundation in fact, for reasons which follow.
It appears that the killer of Rwotcamo was a Padibe man called Cakai
of the clan Pulwal, who earned the killer-name Lukiramoi for the deed, but
that Rwotcamo's head was cut off by a Nubi and taken by the Nubis to their
camp at Lacic near Padibe: thence, after careful preparation, it was put in a
box, wrapped in white cloth, and sent to Khartoum. Farajala Asumain, now
living in Gulu, was a child at the time and remembers something of the
I think this account is probably true. Other writers have suggested that
the skull was placed in the ceremonial drum of the Paira which had been
seized by the Padibe. This, however, can be discounted, since no ceremonial
drum of the Paira was ever captured by the Padibe, who never even fought
in the rwot's enclosure of the Paira.1 On the occasion when Rwotcamo was
killed there was no fighting, and the incident occurred on the site of an
abandoned village when Rwotcamo and his attendants had left Gojani
Pawatomeru after attending the shrine.
Nor can I agree that the ceremonial drum which is said to have been
seized by the Padibe afterwards circulated by way of marriage until eventually
it returned to Awich's2 enclosure, because it was not the custom for
ceremonial drums to form part of a marriage dowry-they were held in far
too much respect and reverence.]3
, Rwotcamo was killed in the year 1887.
When the Labongo heard of Rwotcamo's death they again asked the
Paira to join them against Ogwok, the Rwot of Padibe, a circumstance which
made the Padibe accuse the Labongo of double dealing, since it was only a
short time before that the Labongo had called on the Padibe to help them
1 i.e., where the ceremonial drum was kept.
2 See footnote on p. 77 of Vol. 10, No. 2, of the Uganda Journal.
3 This passage and three others in square brackets are additions by Mr. Anywar
to his original article published in the Acholi Magazine-of which this is a transla-
74 UGANDA JOURNAL
against Rwotcamo. As they say in the proverb, "Two wooden dishes killed
The upshot was that the Padibe, with the Nubis to help them, fell on the
Paira and Labongo, and slaughtered them in great numbers. By that time
Ajongo had been given the chieftainship in place of his father Rwotcamo.
The Paira now began to consider seriously the possibility of choosing
Labongo to succeed his father Rwotcamo in the chieftainship, because he was
an upstanding lad developing well. Before he could be installed, however,
he was poisoned while on a visit to the Anaka country in the year 1888.
When Labongo died Awich was chosen as chief, and installed in the year
when the locusts first came, that is in 1888.
The installation of Awich into the chieftainship aroused interest not only
throughout the whole of Acholi, but in Bunyoro as well, the Mukama Kabarega
sending a representative named Munyala with a double-headed spear, a
wooden dish, and a drum, together with countless cowrie shells. The Bunyoro
called him Abok, signifying friendship and love.
The Palaro, Lira, Puranga, Pajule, Atiak, Chua, and Paimol brought
ivory, and the Labongo provided huge quantities of flour and simsim for the
feast. The following table shows the names of the men sent as official repre-
sentatives of clan groups:
Clan Group Representative(s)
Puranga Odor and Olunyacuga
Labongo Abwor, Angwe, and Obita
The Paira elders who were present to perform the necessary ceremonies
East Paira: Dula, Ocia, and Lapaca.
West Paira: Ojuka, Lanana, Atanga, Laboke, and Luluka.
In 1889, shortly after Awich became rwot, Atoro the Rwot of the
Labongo came to Awich and suggested that they should make a raid on a
certain field of beans where the Padibe were harvesting the crop, and as a&
result the Paira and the Labongo joined forces and attacked the Padibe; at
that time Latigo Luyang was Awich's general. They surrounded the bean
field, cut off the line of retreat to the hills, and killed the Padibe in great
numbers, Awich earning the killer-name of Lutanymoi in the course of the.
This was the time when the Nubis, hearing of the Arabs coming down
from the Sudan, took to flight and made for the Nile. The Nubis had heard
1 Wer aryo oneko Oboni. Oboni was an unfortunate man who worked for two
chiefs and took tales from one to the other until eventually he was killed by one of them.
THE LIFE OF RWOT IBURAIM AWICH 75
that the Arabs, who came from the Sudan to Odupele (Dufile), were armed
with guns and were unbeatable. Another rumour which was current con-
cerning them was that they anointed themselves with a preparation which
rendered them immune from attack, even from gunshot. The result of these
rumours was that the Nubis were in a state of panic.
[These "Arabs" were, in fact, people known as "Muno Pudumugila"
(Donagla), followers of the famous Arab prophet the Mahdi, who caused so
much trouble in the Sudan during the years 1881-1898. Though the Mahdists
had been repulsed in 1885, they returned later to the southern Sudan and,
following the course of the Nile southwards, in 1888 attacked Emin Pasha's
garrisons in the Equatorial Province.
In 1879 General Gordon had ordered the Nubis at Padibe, Pajule, and
Parabongo to retire to Odupele (Dufile), as he could not be responsible for
their protection otherwise. The majority of them went to Dufile. But in
1880 Nubian soldiers were again stationed at Padibe, Pajule, Parabongo,
Patiko and Pabo.
The Nubis at Patiko and Pabo gradually got into difficulties. Their
clothes were all worn out and they had to sew and wear the skins of
game. Their bullets, too, were finished and they used blue beads packed on
gunpowder as a makeshift. The Acholi had grown tired of supplying them
with food daily for so many years, with the result that the Nubis started
seizing it, burning villages and killing their inhabitants in the process.
Such behaviour naturally roused the country against them, and in 1888
Awich's people gathered together and fought the Nubis in the valley of the
Akworo near Oceco fort by the hill called Ajulu. Many of the Nubis were
killed in this encounter, and they lost all their guns and women; the survivors
escaped to Pabo. When the remnants reached Pabo they heard all about
the Dumugila (Donagla) which frightened them still more, and they made
tracks for Odupele as quickly as possible to join their companions.]
After the second affray with the Padibe, Awich turned his attention to
the Paibona, who were questioning his authority. Hearing in 1899 that the
Paibona had sent for Langalanga (Major Delm6-Radcliffe) he summoned
his forces, surrounded the Paibona, burned their villages, killed people in great
numbers, and generally threw them into utter confusion. Langalanga arrived
to find the villages of the Paibona charred and deserted, and searched for
Awich without success.
From the time of his accession in 1888 until the Paibona affair in 1899,
Awich had not travelled far afield. His first visit to the western Paira was
probably the time when he went to Alero for the funeral ceremonies of his
father's sister Lak, the mother of Ayere. From Alero he went to settle a
dispute between Latongapeti, brother of the father of Rwot Lagony of Koich,
and Jago Obura son of Atanga, Paira Pudyek, who were then in the Goro
country on the Pajaa side, quarrelling about a watering place on the Pudwang
river. Awich ordered Lagony to join him at the river Lapono and, when they
met, Awich took a spear and bent it, saying, "Let no son of the Paira ever
again raise the spear of war against the Koich; from now on there shall
be friendship and intermarriage between you." Lagony did the same, and
76 UGANDA JOURNAL
so the friendship between the Paira and Koich peoples was begun. Awich
then returned to his home in eastern Paira.
In 1893 Colonel Colvile defeated Kabarega, some of whose people got
away with their guns and entered the Acholi country through Pajaa. They
stayed for a while at Alokolum, and later some went with Kabarega to Lango
and some went to Rwot Awich in east Acholi. It was known to the new
Government that Kabarega was in Acholi, at Alokolum, in 1898 [waiting for
Okelomwaka (father of Rwot Anderea Olal) to return. Okelomwaka had
been sent with about fifty soldiers to Omdurman (Khartoum) to call the Arab
Dumugila to Kabarega's assistance against the troublesome English, but when
the party arrived at Pumila in the country of Panyikwara (Fanyiquara), Bari,
north of the river Atepi, they were quartered a little apart like strangers.
When Okelomwaka saw how they were guarded it seemed to him that their
death was being plotted, and he fled, returning to Acholi two .years later in
the year 1900. Kabarega's soldiers who had accompanied him never came
back, and their fate remains unknown.]
When Langalanga was sent to Nimule in 1899 he started to investigate
the matter of Kabarega's followers, and visited western Paira in the course of
his inquiries. Ogwang Lubuc of Pudyek was sent to Rwot Awich with
instructions to send Kabarega's followers away and surrender their guns, but
Awich took the line that if a man sought sanctuary with you then you could
not betray him without calling down curses on your head, and refused to
comply with the order. This was recorded against Awich, the new Govern-
ment interpreting his attitude as one of general hostility. Langalanga tried
to arrest Awich without success, but Captain Harman eventually caught him
Awich was tried by Langalanga at Nimule, found guilty, and imprisoned
in Kampala for two years.
When Awich was released in 1902 he went to Hoima and there met the
Rev. A. B. Lloyd, a missionary. Mr. Lloyd's teaching found a response in
Awich, who told Rwot Chua about it on his return to Alokolum, and these
two chiefs later sent Ojigi Ajimu, Otong Lupwamoi, and two other young
men to go and bring Mr. Lloyd to Acholi.
When Awich returned home in 1902, Mr. F. A. Knowles and Captain
Harman reinstated him as chief, on which occasion Awich gave a great feast.
During his imprisonment Abuya Lakarakak had acted in his place.
Mr. Lloyd answered the call from Acholi, and went first by himself to
Awich in eastern Paira.1 The second time he brought with him African
teachers, and in 1904 the first church was built, the site chosen being on Keyo
hill, at that time the centre of all those Acholi clans who accepted Awich's
Mr. Lloyd invited all the Acholi chiefs to come to Keyo and bring with
them two children each to attend school. Many chiefs came and built their
camps on Keyo, but the Rwot of Atiak and the rwots on the hills east of the
Aswa did not accept the invitation. Rwot Ogaba of Pajule came but did not
1 An account of this visit, by Mr. Lloyd himself, is given in Extract (35) of
"Extracts from Mengo Notes in the present number of the Journal.-[ED.]
THE LIFE OF RWOT IBURAIM AWICH 77
stay to build his rest camp. Awich christened the Keyo settlement Laparanot,
meaning that the area suffered much from famine.
Later on, a Government officer, Mr. Talbot Smith, established an admin-
istrative station on Keyo and lived there for a year. After a short time,
however, the hostility of the Acholi towards the Europeans, which took the
form of plundering and other acts of terror, combined with excessive lightning
on Keyo hill, caused the station to be abandoned, Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Smith
going away and the settlement dispersing.
After Awich had returned home he became involved in a further incident.
A certain Arab from Abyssinia, who owned a donkey, a Martini rifle and a
pistol, came to stay with Awich, and sold the pistol to Awich for his protec-
tion. The Arab wished to go to Nimule, and Awich chose Lawala Lutyamoi,
Oryen, Lango Lupwamoi, Latong Acalo, Walamoi and Ocure to escort him
on his way in the traditional manner. When this party arrived at the river
Acaa (Aswa), they found it in flood and, although they managed to get the
Arab across, the donkey had to be left behind, and was sent back to Rwot
Awich. After crossing the Aswa the escorts provided by Awich took the Arab
to Rwot Owor of Palaro, who in turn provided escorts to take him to the
It is said that the escorts provided by Rwot Owor, either on the orders
of their rwot or of their own accord, attacked the Arab, killed him, and hid
his body. In the course of the struggle the Arab cut Labongo-cai's hand with
a knife, and the party remained in the bush to treat it for fear of trouble. The
Arab's gun was taken from him.1
Later, when the river subsided, Rwot Awich sent Ocaka with the donkey
to follow the Arab to Nimule. However, when Ocaka reached Nimule he
was closely interrogated about the Arab, and told how Awich had arranged
for escorts and how the river had prevented their taking the donkey with them.
Ocaka was arrested and put on remand at Nimule, while the fact of the
Arab was being investigated. When these inquiries failed, a search was made
for the weapons. A man named Aluca of Patira was in due course arrested
because he was found in possession of a gun bought in Alur. When Aluca
saw what was in the wind he stated emphatically that the gun was not his,
but belonged to Rwot Awich. Awich was arrested, taken to Nimule, and also
denied all knowledge of the gun. He was taken to Gulu and charged before
the "Bwana Abucingo" (Mr. Sullivan); when Awich heard Aluca tell his
story in court he struck him to the ground, and when Mr. Sullivan went to
intervene Awich turned on him in anger and knocked him down too. For
knocking a European down Awich was fined two head of cattle, which he paid.
From Gulu, Awich was taken back to Nimule where they said the case
would be finished before "Bwana Bens" (Mr. D. L. Baines); however, on
arrival at Nimule, Awich was imprisoned at once, and then sent to Kampala
for the case to be tried, which was done in January 1912.
So ended the reign of Rwot Awich. His son Eliya Aliker was appointed
to succeed him in 1912. In 1913, when the Kitgum boma was opened and
the Paira people divided into eastern and western sections, the eastern section
1 This would appear to be only the case for a defence.-[J.V,W.]
78 UGANDA JOURNAL
remained under Eliya Aliker and the western section was given to Yona Odida
in January 1914.
Awich remained in Kampala for eight years and was released in Novem-
ber 1919. He arrived in Acholi in December and was sent to live in the
Kitgum boma because it was feared that if he returned to Laguti it might
cause the Paira to agitate for his return to power, and so undermine the
authority of Rwot Aliker and his brother Odida. When Aliker died in 1933
Awich was still in Kitgum; he did not go to Laguti until 1938, remaining
there urtil his death in 1946.
Awich, although he made mistakes, was a wise chief. He realized the
difficulties of controlling a country the size of that inhabited by the Paira,
and established a system of small chieftainships for the Paira clans. These
minor chiefs would bring matters of importance to Rwot Awich to a decision;
they were war leaders, and could gather men quickly around Awich if he
wanted them for battle or any other purpose.
In Awich's enclosure was a body of soldiers all armed with guns, some
of which had been bought from the Nubis, and some from the Banyoro in
exchange for ivory. At the time when the boma at Gulu was established,
Awich had at his call an enormous number of soldiers.
Awich's influence was not confined to the Paira, but extended to many
other Acholi clans. He would, for example, on occasion send his chief wife,
Liira,1 with the ceremonial stick or spear, to settle a dispute among them. As
a result, all the Acholi people trusted him, and frequently sent him presents
of ivory or slaves, or the first ears of the new harvest.
He also had his wizard (ajwaka) who at the time for sowing would
perform those rites which were necessary to ensure good harvests throughout
the whole Acholi country.
The custom of offering meat to rwots started in the time of Awich's
father, Rwotcamo Labwor. The Patiko, Palaro, Atiak, and many other clans
learnt this traditional offering from Rwotcamo at the foot of Ajulu hill in
1872 when many Acholi clans had gathered there under Sir Samuel Baker.
The settlement of blood disputes by the payment of girls in compensation
also started at about the same time, and Awich extended the custom.
Awich is also famous as the man who called the European teacher, Mr.
Lloyd, to bring the Christian religion to Acholi. The many trials and tribula-
tions which Awich suffered at the hands of the Europeans made him reluctant
to embrace Christianity himself, but he did not altogether forget about Christ,
and in 1943 he accepted the faith and was baptized with the name Iburaimu,
together with his wife Adye, who took the name of Cara (Sarah).
In the first prayer book written in Acholi, the Rev. Lloyd gave Awich's
name as Kabaka Awich.
Awich married many women, but the following are the names of those
who are well known:
Liira, who was his first wife; Alweny, his chief wife, who was installed
with him at the time of his accession; Malian Acomo, the mother of Eliya
1 There appears to be a discrepancy here, Liira was Awich's wife before he was
made rwot, and not therefore his chief" wife, who was Alweny.-[J.V.W.]
THE LIFE OF RWOT IBURAIM AWICH 79
Aliker, Yona Odida, and Yaconi Lugaca; Cara Adye, the mother of Jabuloni
Rye and Willson Ogwang.
Awich was the father of many male children, whose names are here given
in the order of their age:
Omonybalamoi, E. Aliker, Labwor, Y. Odida, Y. Odong, Lajuba, Icaya
Okwera, P. Oryem, Manace Lacona, Y. Lugaca, T. Opwonya, Langol,
J. Amanya, E. Ogwen, A. Ojul, J. Rye, P. Lumwa, Okello Lwelwet, Opiyo,
Onek, Willson Ogwang, Luganya, Kibwota, Oryang.
Of these male children, some died, namely, Aliker, Labwor, Lajuba,
Opwonya, Rye, Lumwa, Lwelwet, Opiyo, Onek, and Luganya.
Awich died on the 22nd July 1946, at the Lacekocot dispensary, and
was buried at Lacekocot in the compound of Rwot Yona Odida, his son,
now County Chief of Aswa. The District Commissioner sent an Assistant
District Commissioner, Mr. J. V. Wild, to the ceremony to represent Govern-
ment. Awich was buried at about five in the evening, the Rev. J. Issoke
(a Munyoro) and the Rev. A. O. Latigo (an Acholi) officiating.
The funeral ceremonies were held on the 28th September 1946, the Patiko
and Paico peoples attending with their ceremonial drums and trumpets.
Many representatives from various parts of the country came to eat the last
feast of Rwot Awich. The Mukama Tito Winyi of Bunyoro sent his elder
brother to join the Paira at the ceremonies just as they had done long ago;
this emissary was George N. Kabarega who was accompanied by his inter-
preter, Alfaire Kabliteka, and the guardian of his enclosure, Dwarire, a man
corresponding to an Acholi ajwaka or wizard. They remained at Lacekocot
for a week and then returned to Bunyoro.
On the day when the people gathered at the grave, Mr. J. M. Ross,
District Commissioner, Acholi, who was on tour in the neighbourhood,
On the 29th September the Banyoro swore in Rwot Yona Odida with
the oaths of Bunyoro as the true Rwot of Paira in succession to his father,
Awich Abok Lutanymoi son of Acan.
I think Awich must have been aged 86 when he died. In 1859, at the
time of Rwot Abuga of Atiak, there was a battle between the Palaro and
the Atiak, the year being fixed by many events well known to the Acholi.
In that year Awich's mother was given to the Paira as a slave in the dry
season, and she gave birth to Awich in the following year, which must there-
fore have been 1860.)
Mr. Anywar, who was trained at Makerere, is at present a master at the
Gulu High School. He was the first Honorary Secretary of the Acholi
Association, founded in 1944, and took a leading part in the production of
the first number of the Acholi Magazine, published by the Association in
June 1946; this article of his on Awich was in fact written in 1945 as a
contribution to the Magazine.
As an Acholi and a man of Payera, Mr. Anywar has had the advantage
of the closest contact with Acholi elders and has made the most of it by
80 UGANDA JOURNAL
cultivating their confidence; he has travelled extensively throughout the
district in the course of this and other historical research.
Mr. Anywar's article aroused considerable interest and called forth much
comment and criticism on the basis of which and of further research Mr.
Anywar is now preparing a full-length biography for independent publication.
The main interest of the present translation is, perhaps, the opportunity it
offers of early comparison with Mr. Bere's article' on the same subject, which
Mr. Anywar had not seen when he wrote his account.
The two pictures of Awich naturally differ in some respects, and it is not
surprising to find that Mr. Anywar views his subject more sympathetically
than did Mr. Bere. As the latter had access to the official records of the time,
his stern judgment of Awich as a man who "misused his power, mistook the
omens and missed his opportunity, so bringing himself to a rather humiliating
end" must be accepted as substantially correct; nevertheless, without going
all the way with Mr. Anywar, whose account of Awich's arrest and imprison-
ment or deportation in 1912 is clearly incomplete, there do seem to be some
grounds for the view that Awich was a little unfortunate in his first contacts
with British administration in 1898-99.
Mr. Bere, in his outline of Acholi history,2 speaks of Awich as having
been a thorn in the side of peaceful administration from the time when he
succeeded his father, that is, from 1888, but as he himself points out in his
next sentence, no serious attempt was in fact made to administer the Acholi
until 1898, when Awich had been in power for ten years. During that period
Awich had ruled in the vacuum left by the disintegration of Egyptian rule
and the departure of Emin Pasha, and his experience of strangers was
mixed. Some, like Baker, were good, and some, like the Arab slavers, were
bad, but in neither case did they stay.
Since no approach had been made to him by the new government at
that time, it was natural in 1893 for Awich at least to tolerate in his domain
his kinsmen, or followers of his kinsmen, from Bunyoro, who were being
harried by further invaders; and Awich's view of the new government must,
to say the least of it, have been coloured by the accounts he received from
the men to whom he gave sanctuary. Such was the position when Macdonald
travelled through the north-east corer of what is now the Acholi district
Although Mr. Bere, in his article on Awich, states that Macdonald left
Kampala in 1898 with the twofold object of securing the northern areas by
treaty and, if possible, of rounding up the Sudanese mutineers and Kabarega,
I can find in the official report of the expedition3 no evidence that Macdonald
was aware of the existence and importance of Awich or that he was anxious
to do anything but avoid the body of mutineers, estimated at four hundred
rifles and said to be at "Logoloum" (Alokolum); he did in fact withdraw
his garrison from Gule, south of Rom, to Karamoja because he was anxious
about his western flank. As I see it, Macdonald's expedition was a piece of
1 Uganda Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2, p. 76.
2loc. cit., Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 7.
3 Africa No. 9 (1899).
THE LIFE OF RWOT IBURAIM AWICH 81
valuable reconnaissance, but not a piece of serious treaty-making or a deter-
mined offensive against mutineers; and it was not therefore calculated to
impress an influential chief.
In the circumstances, even if Macdonald did send messengers to Awich-
and there is no sign from his official report that he did so specifically-it is
not unnatural that Awich should have elected to ignore them, and to sit on
the fence for a while.
Given that this first approach to Awich in 1898 was somewhat ineffective,
it follows naturally that Major Delmd-Radcliffe's bland request to Awich by
messenger in 1899 to surrender the mutineers-unaccompanied by any display
of force-should have been refused, and that Awich having started off on the
wrong foot should have eventually found himself in really serious difficulties.
A more perspicacious man might have realized at the outset the intentions and
the stability of the new government, but Awich had, I feel, some excuse for
not doing so. No doubt Mr. Anywar's researches will throw further light on
this critical period when Awich's attitude towards the incoming British was
in process of formation.1
1 It has been learned with sincere regret that Mr. Anywar died at Gulu on 13th
November 1947, while this article was in the press. He will be greatly missed not
only in Acholi but in Uganda as a whole.-[ED.]
EXTRACTS FROM MENGO NOTES "-V
" /-EOGRAPHICALLY the Acholi tribe lies immediately north of
J Bunyoro. Numerically they are described as 'the largest and most
important tribe in the Nile Province'. Several of their chiefs have visited
Uganda; Awich or Owitch, the leading Acholi chief, was a prisoner in
Uganda for the two years 1900-1902.' Two of the Acholi chiefs accompanied
Col. (then Major) Delm6-Radcliffe to the coast in 1901. They were impressed
at the time with what they saw of Christianity in Uganda, and left with a
promise from Col. Delm6-Radcliffe that teachers should be sent to their
country. When Mr. Lloyd recently visited the country [see Extract (35),
following-ED. Uganda Journal] he was again and again urged to send teachers
The country of the Acholi lies to the east of the part of the Nile between
Nimule and the Victoria Nile. It is bounded on the north by a line drawn
east from Nimule; on the east by the Lango country; on the south by the
Victoria Nile; and on the west by the White Nile.
The country, though visited by several European explorers, as Sir Samuel
Baker, Emin Pasha and others, has never yet been fully explored and mapped.
When the countries of Uganda and Unyoro were surveyed by the late Col.
Vandeleur and Col. J. R. L. Macdonald the Nile Provinces were practically
inaccessible, except in the immediate vicinity of the Nile itself. In 1899
Sir Harry Johnston requested Major Delm6-Radcliffe to undertake a survey
of the Nile Province. His map of the Acholi country was published in the
Geographical Journal, February 1903. In several important details this later
map differed from its predecessors. It was the first to mark accurately the
course of the Nile from the rapids about Dufile to the Albert Lake. Though
the original spelling is for the most part adhered to in this map, Col. Radcliffe
pointed out that, in many instances, the letter P should replace the letter F.
Thus Fajao should-be Pajao; Foweira, Pawera; Fatiko, Patiko; and so on.
Where, however, the names were already well known, the spelling has been
The name by which the people are known is Acholi, originally written
Shuli: but in the country itself they are called Ganyi, and the language is
The country slopes gradually upwards from the Nile, and is in parts
mountainous, several of the peaks rising to a height over 4,000 ft. The
country east of the Nile is thus very much healthier and more habitable than
the Nile valley itself. The chief rivers are the Asswa, variously written Aswa
and Acha, which flows through the country from south-west to north-east; the
Koholle, which flows into the Victoria Nile near Foweira; and the Ayuge
1 An over-estimate. Awich was not captured till 1901 and was back in Acholi in
March 1902.-[ED. Uganda Journal.]
EXTRACTS FROM "MENGO NOTES" 83
and Unyama, which flow north-westwards in a parallel course and join the
White Nile at Nimule.
The principal places in the country are the two Government stations at
Nimule and Wadelai and, on the Victoria Nile, Foweira and Fajao. Mr.
Lloyd sends the following interesting description of the country and its people :
Briefly to describe the country, short grass, undulating stretches of fine
open country, with here and there a majestic peak breaking the monotony;
in parts magnificent tropical forests. Along the banks of the Nile the land
lies low, and the heat is intense; but away inland to the east, on the uplands,
the climate seems to be all that could be desired.
Game is plentiful: Uganda cob, water buck, reed buck, oribi, elephant,
rhino, giraffe, a few buffalo, lions and leopards very plentiful, and other animals
of the cat tribe.
The old men and chiefs adorn themselves with iron or ivory rings round
ankles and arms, with a tiny skin apron worn in front. The lower lip is
pierced, and through the hole is pushed a rod of pointed glass, usually a piece
of a broken bottle, rubbed smooth, about four inches long, or else a piece of
polished wood or iron. This gives a most curious effect, especially when the
wearer is angry when he will draw it up and thrust it out upwards like the
sting of a hornet. The ears are also pierced at the top, and brass wire rings
The young men, the bucks of society, are much more elaborately orna-
mented. They, too, wear a small skin apron around the waist, and the glass
spike from the lower lip, but the head dress is their distinguishing feature.
This consists of a curiously worked cone of matted hair, with beads neatly
stitched in a pattern round it, and an empty cartridge case stuck in the top.
Old gun caps are also fastened into the base of the cone, and are polished
bright, giving quite a gaudy appearance. This hair cone is held on to the head
by a string of cut shells round the back of the head, and a long iron pin pushed
right through the cone into a matted mass of hair underneath. Ostrich and
parrot feathers are often stuck into the hair at the back, and give a very wild
appearance to the wearer. Right on the crown of the head, just behind the
cone, a curved spike of ivory is fastened to the hair, the point bent towards
the front. These spikes vary in length, some I saw being probably six inches
long and others not more than two. Brass and iron rings are wound tightly
round the biceps of the arms, and also round the wrists and ankles. Thick
brass and copper rings are worn on the fingers and thumbs..
The little boys wear a very becoming waistband, made of woven strings
of grass reaching to the hips. They have nd other ornaments unless they
happen to be the sons of chiefs, when they wear big iron rings on the ankles.
The chiefs and the well-to-do people, who constantly visit the European
settlements, all aspire to cast-off soldiers' coats, and in a short time one becomes
acquainted with most of the regimental uniforms of the British Army. How-
ever torn and discoloured they may be, they form the state dress of the
'upper ten' in Acholi land. The women's dress consists of a series of
ornaments, for no cloth or covering is worn by them. A mass of beads
round the neck, artistically arranged so as to form a high collar at the back,
84 UGANDA JOURNAL
similar to those of the Elizabethan period; ears pierced with brass and
copper wire, inserted all round the lobe, looking rather like a string of hooks
and eyes; arms and wrists encased in spiral wire; and a string of beads round
the waist, from which hangs in front a tiny fringe of grass-made string, with
a similar but much larger fringe hanging down at the back like a tail; these
constitute the Acholi women's dress. A few of the older women wear a long
leather apron at the back, reaching to about the knees. The hair is allowed
to grow long, and is matted and twisted after Nubian fashion. Red paint,
mixed with fat, is smeared all over the body, and gives a most wild appearance.
The little girls are similarly adorned, but not so profusely.
The men always go about with their bows and spears, and look far more
ferocious than they really are. Many of them wear the horrible wrist knife,
so well known amongst the tribes to the north, but never seen farther south.
This knife is a circular blade, fastened on to the wrist, over a leather padding.
In time of peace the sharp edge is protected by a leather shield. But one can
quite understand most ghastly wounds being given by this instrument, the
blade of which is always kept sharp.
A peculiar knobkerrie is also carried. This consists of a long stick with
a thick ring of iron at the end, fastened on by shrinkage and weighing possibly
two pounds. The indentations made by this weapon on the cranium of people
are quite a common sight in every village.
On the whole one would call them a fine race physically, but not warlike.
Probably if they had a leader they would make a fighting tribe. But unfor-
tunately there is no one chief who governs the whole country. Awich is
nominally the paramount chief, but of the twenty-three lesser chiefs, three-
Ugwal, Agole and Allagoin the chief of Koitch-are independent. Each small
district has its own little king, or head chief, and their fighting energies have
been wasted in inter-tribal skirmishes, in raiding the neighboring Bukedi
country, and in raiding one another.
They build very fine houses, on the principle of those of the Nubian
soldiers. A circular wall is made of strong stakes, covered with mud, about
four feet high. From this wall is built up a bee-hive shaped roof, with grass
thatch arranged in long circular ridges. Sir Harry Johnston describes and
illustrates, in the second volume of The Uganda Protectorate, this peculiar
method of thatching. The houses are kept very clean inside, and no grass
is strewn on the floor. Morning and evening the lady of the house can be
seen sweeping out the whole establishment with a grass-made broom and, as
very little fire is burnt in the house, the place is kept beautifully clean and
healthy. The villages are usually built with a stockade, the houses all being
close together with an open courtyard in the middle.
Being a corn-consuming race, they all have their grain stores, tiny wattle
and daub huts, set up on piles about two feet from the ground and covered
with a grass thatched roof. Muwemba (millet seed) is the staple food;
potatoes are very scarce; but ground nuts are plentiful. Bulo, a very small
kind of millet, is largely used in some districts. As cultivators, the Ganyi
people are most diligent. All the young men and women set off at daybreak,
with their hoes and cooking pots and food for the day, tramp away to the
EXTRACTS FROM "MENGO NOTES" 85
distant fields, and there they spend the whole day. All the cultivation is done
right away from the houses. Towards sundown you see them returning home,
playing on their pipes and singing merrily, forming one of the pleasantest
sights in Ganyi. It is not a common sight in Africa to see men and women
toiling side by side in the fields and it is one to be thankful for, for it surely
indicates something better than the prevailing idea of the slavery of the woman.
Like almost all African tribes they have a vague belief in the power and
presence of evil spirits. Before each house are erected little devil-huts, as in
so many parts of the continent, and one big hut, set apart for the favoured
spirit of the tribe. The latter is neatly built, with fine dried grass on the
floor, in the centre of which is a curious iron spear, stuck into the ground
blade uppermost. The blade is about two inches long, with two or three
barbs, one or two inches in length. Into this hut no stranger may intrude;
even I was not allowed to enter. In the other smaller huts are placed pots
of honey, grain, and other propitiatory offerings. A dead stick with several
branches is planted by the side, and on this are hung trophies of the chase,
antelope skulls and horns, heads of lions and leopards, giraffe skulls and
rhino horns; all these are regarded as sacred.
In the centre of the large courtyard of each village there is a great wooden
erection of rough seats, raised one above the other, at the bottom of which is
a place for a fire. On these seats, in the early morning and again late in the
evening, all the warriors of the village collect with their chief to discuss the
affairs of the day. To one side of the courtyard innumerable stakes are driven
into the ground, and to these the cattle are tethered for the night. Although
the country is admirably adapted for the grazing of huge herds, and most
chiefs have many head of cattle, they cannot be called a cattle-loving people.
They have obtained their cattle by constant raids on the Bukedi, and retained
them merely as a source of wealth, seldom using the milk but keeping them
especially for bartering for wives, one wife costing from five head of cattle.
Brass wire and beads constitute the coinage of the country. Blue beads
are the fashion in the west, and white in the east, but even here fashions are
One thing that I particularly noticed was the great care that the women
take of the children, especially with regard to cleanliness. In the early
morning the child is washed from head to foot with warmed water, a practice
very unlike that of the Baganda and Banyoro, who subject their little ones to
a cold douche, straight from their little beds. The tiny children are carried
about on their mothers' backs, perched on a kind of trapeze suspended from
the woman's neck. A stout leather covering protects their little backs from
the fierce rays of the sun, and over the little one's head is placed half a gourd,
to act as a sunshade. The result of all this care is that the child grows up
sturdy and well-favoured, and the horrible skin diseases so common among
most African tribes are seldom seen here. Jiggers, too, are conspicuous by
their entire absence.
The precautions taken by the householders to guard against immorality
among the young men and women form another striking feature of the Acholi
people. The young women are shut up in their houses shortly after dark,
86 UGANDA JOURNAL
and the young unmarried men have to live in curiously constructed houses,
erected on piles many feet above the ground, the entrance to which consists
of a circular hole, not more than a foot in diameter, to reach which they have
to climb a rough wooden ladder. After the occupants have retired for the
night, fine sand is sprinkled round the base of this ladder, the object being to
enable them to detect the slightest footprint of any who might attempt to
enter or leave the house. The custom has evidently been derived from the
Bakedi, as it disappears towards the west of the Acholi country."
(Uganda Notes, March 1904, pp. 31-35.)
By A. B. LLOYD
"I propose very briefly to give the main details of my journey (to
Acholi). I crossed the Victoria Nile half way between Pajao (generally
written Fajao on maps) and Paweri (or Foweira) at a place called Miyeri.
The boat in which we crossed was a very tiny one of the 'dug-out' order,
and it was a long weary business getting everything across. The current was
frightfully strong, and the little craft was spun about in a very alarming style.
I hardly dared to hope that everything would get across safely. The mule
was especially troublesome, and would insist in trying to get into the small
boat. Once indeed he succeeded (fortunately quite close to the bank) in
getting both his forefeet in, with the natural result that the boat capsized.
It took from 8 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. to get everything and everybody safely across.
Another big river stopped us next day, not two hours from the Nile, and we
had to send a man off to the nearest Ganyi village to beg the chief to come
and help us. The following day he returned with the chief Ojigi and about
a hundred men. A long rope was fastened to a tree on -either bank, and
then the Ganyi men carried the porters' loads across on their heads, swimming
with their legs, and holding to the rope with their right hand. Two or three
times the man missed his hold on the rope, and then down went the load into
the water. Nearly everything was soaking when we got into camp, and it
was some days before all was dry again, as we were getting rain every day
and nearly every night.
When we were all across we had two hours' march to a village called
Alokolumu of which Ojigi is the chief. At first the people seemed shy, and
kept out of the way; but when they saw my tent pitched in the midst of the
village, they came up to me and commenced chatting. Their language is
quite different from Lunyoro, and is not a Bantu language at all. I should
imagine it is closely allied to Kinubi, as spoken by the Nubian soldiers of the
Uganda Protectorate-a very simple and primitive tongue. Fortunately I
had with me a Ganyi man who knew Lunyoro, and I was therefore able to
make myself understood.
My chief aim in this journey was to reach the capital of the biggest chief,
EXTRACTS FROM "MENGO NOTES" 87
whose name is Awich, or Owich, for he it was who had sent urgent messages
to me begging for teachers, and for a visit from myself.' It will be under-
stood, then, that my pleasure was great when I learned that Ojigi was himself
an under-chief of Awich.
I told him what had brought me there, and where I was going; and he
immediately said that he had longed for teachers to be sent, that he might
He could not understand, he said, how it was that teachers had never
crossed the Nile, and yet they had been right up to the river. He had heard
long ago that the Banyoro and the Baganda had learned to worship the white
man's God, and they too wanted to be taught to do the same.
We stayed there seven days, and every day crowds of people came to
visit me, many from very long distances, and all wanted to be taught. From
early morning till late at night they sat around my tent, men, women and
children, perfectly friendly and in real earnest about learning to read. It
made one feel ashamed to think that for all these years they had been neglected
and left to their own idle superstitions and heathenism, when all the while
many of them must have longed for something better.
The week spent at Ojigi's village was fully occupied with talking to
people, giving out medicine, and occasional lantern shows at night-seven
days of bright and happy service. On the eighth day, leaving Alokolumu we
tramped for many hours over the beautiful hills, through numerous villages,
and across many rivers, to the large village belonging to the chief Lugweta.
We had one unfortunate mishap on the way. The man who was carrying
the food box, containing the necessaries for the day, while crossing one of
the tiny streams slipped on a rock and fell, to the utter destruction of all the
contents. Lugweta, a fine looking old man, came out to meet me, apologizing
for his people, many of whom had run away fearing I might have come to
make war on the village. I thanked him for his hearty welcome, and asked
him to send out at once to the runaways begging them to return, and assuring
them that there was no danger. I told him also that I would buy all food
needed from his people, at a fair market price. To this he strongly objected,
saying that it was not their custom to sell food to their visitors. He next
busied himself in collecting great quantities of flour, which he brought to me,
with the additional present of a fine fat-tailed sheep. I returned the compli-
ment by presenting him with a quantity of cloth, more than the value of what
he had brought; with this he was greatly delighted. After the formalities of
reception were over, he came and sat in my tent with several of his under-
chiefs, and I told him plainly what my mission was to their country. He
listened intently, as did all who were with him, asking many questions, finally
saying that he and his people were ready and anxious to be taught about the
one and only true God. It was late at night when they left my tent, and one
felt quite sure that some impressions had been made upon their poor dark
souls. We were delayed considerably in our start next morning for the next
1 It is clear from this that Awich asked the C.M.S. to send missionaries to Acholi
at least as early as 1903. The implication in Bere's article on "Awich" (Uganda
Journal, Vol. 10, No. 2, p. 78) is that he did not begin to ask for missionaries till
1904.-[ED. Uganda Journal.]
88 UGANDA JOURNAL
big village, as many had come at daybreak for medicine. It proved to be a
most terrible journey, more than eight hours long, that is to say, close upon
thirty miles. One large river, the Aswa (or Asswa), had to be crossed twice,
and in each place it was up to our necks, with a swiftly-flowing current. More
than one porter was swept off his feet in crossing, and was submerged together
with his load; while the mule took one mighty plunge into mid stream, before
I was aware how deep the water was, the consequence being that when we
arrived at the opposite bank we were all wet and thoroughly miserable; and
as if to show their sympathy with our dripping condition, the heavens poured
forth a deluge of rain.
We passed through many villages, in one of which we fell in with one
of Col. Delm6-Radcliffe's interpreters, who most kindly escorted us a long
distance on our journey. We struck up a friendship which finally ended in
his returning to Hoima with me.
The place at which we camped was situated in the district of Patiko (or
Fatiko), under the chief Daweli. Unfortunately he was not at home, but his
under-chief was most kind to us, supplying all our needs.
The following day we reached Acholi, under the chief Obona' a nice old
man, who at once expressed his delight at my arrival. It appears that he had
heard long ago of my coming, and had made every preparation for my recep-
tion. He began by presenting me with a fine bull, with which to make a
feast of rejoicing. As soon as my tent was pitched we were surrounded by a
crowd of people, eager and inquisitive to examine all my possessions; and it
was not until curiosity was satisfied that I got the least chance of explaining
why I had come. And then, with the setting sun for a background, the
chief and several hundred of his people sitting before my tent, I once more,
by the aid of an interpreter, told 'the old, old story' of our Saviour's dying
It was dark before I had finished, and then the old chief began to tell me
his story. It ran something like this: "I am an old man; I have seen many
Europeans in the Ganyi country, but the greatest of them all was the man who
called himself Baker Pasha. He had with him his wife, and he built a house
on the hill over yonder, and there he lived for many months. I went to him
as a young man, and became his personal servant. He used to tell us many
things, and we loved him because he talked to us; he was kind and helped
us in our sorrows, and fought against our enemies. He tried to teach us, and
then was taken from us, but not before he had become a veritable father.
We loved him and his wife, and we love their memory still, because they were
kind to us. And now you have come. You tell us that you are a teacher,
you have allowed us into your tent and slown us all your things, and have
spoken to us with loving words. Will you stay with us and be our teacher
always ? We will listen to your words; we will eagerly seek to be taught by
you. I am old; but I look to my son: he was born when Baker Pasha was
with us; he is strong, and will quickly learn wisdom. When I am dead, he
will be chief; for his sake stay and teach us. I have said my words.'
The old man's pleading was touching in the extreme, and one could not
but feel that here was a grand open door. But my time was precious, for I
EXTRACTS FROM "MENGO NOTES" 89
had still far to go. I promised him another visit on my return; and next
morning, after a hearty farewell, we set off for our next camp.
We pitched the tent in another thickly populated district, close to the
stockade of a large village, under a clump of magnificent fan-palm trees. The
village is called Ogwanyi, and is situated at the foot of the magnificent hill
upon which Sir Samuel Baker's old station was built. It is a lovely country,
thickly covered with groves of fan-palms. The river Unyama flows between
this village and Baker's old station, and is at this time of the year in full
flood, it being the wet season, and impassable. The old houses, built thirty
years ago, are still visible; the walls having been built of stone, have resisted
the ravages of the African climate. The place seems to be held sacred by
the natives, and all speak of its former inhabitants with reverence and affection.
The village in which we camped was governed by an under-chief, the big
chief of the district, Awin, being at the time at Nimule. His second-in-
command provided us with plenty of food, and another bull was brought for
a feast of welcome. Over-tired with the long march, I had soon to seek
my bed, and had but little opportunity of speaking to the natives. But
the three young teachers who were with me had not let the chance pass, as
I found out afterwards, and had spoken freely of the religion they had come
We were off early next morning, and after battling with many difficulties
on the road, felling trees to cross rivers, tramping for hours through pouring
rain, urging the porters along, we at last reached the biggest village we had yet
seen, belonging to Olia. This chief is a prince, a tall handsome man, with
an intelligent and bright face. He welcomed me in a kind but stately manner,
dressed in a bright red uniform. He invited me to put my tent in the large
open courtyard before his house. Then, after a little while, he came in great
state to visit me, accompanied by many of his under-chiefs and people. He
proceeded to ask me innumerable questions. 'Where had I come from?'
'Where was I going ?' 'What was my mission ? 'Had I soldiers with me ?'
etc., etc. So there and then I explained to him why I had come, and what
I wished to do.
Having ascertained that I was a teacher from Uganda, he told me of his
visit to Entebbe, when he accompanied Col. Delm6-Radcliffe on his way
home. He said that Delm6-Radcliffe had shown him all the wonders of
Entebbe, -and he had been intensely interested in noting the great wisdom
of the Baganda. He also went to Kampala (Mengo); and was told by the
Katikiro of all the missionary work going on there; reading, writing, and
religious worship in the churches made a great impression on his mind.
Before his return to his own country Col. Delm6-Radcliffe told him that he,
too, should have the opportunity of education and religion, for teachers should
be sent. 'Now,' said he, turning to me, 'we have waited many years, and
hitherto no teacher has been sent. But at last you have come, and you tell
us that you are a teacher; and we beg of you to stay with us.' I replied that
I was most anxious to help them, but that first I must return to Uganda, to
obtain permission from those in authority. 'Yes,' said he, 'you will go away
and leave us, and forget all about us, and we shall still remain in our ignorance.'
90 UGANDA JOURNAL
I assured him that it was not so, and that in a little while he would hear of
my coming back again to see him.
The next day I had innumerable patients to give out medicine to, and
had a long interesting chat with Olia and many of his people. We also started
a reading class, using the Lango reading sheet (printed at the Industrial
Mission, Mengo). In the afternoon I visited several of the adjoining villages,
and was soon on most friendly terms with the people. At night I arranged
for a big lantern show. In the midst of the great courtyard we erected the
sheet and then, when all the people were quietly seated, the first picture was
flashed on the sheet-that of an elephant. The wildest excitement immediately
prevailed, many of the people jumping up and shouting, fearing the beast must
be alive, while those nearest the sheet sprang up and fled. The chief himself
crept stealthily forward, and peeped behind the sheet to see if the animal had
a body, and when he discovered that the animal's body was only the thickness
of the sheet, a great roar of laughter broke the stillness of night. The show
went on till nearly nine o'clock, and then Olia told me he wanted some more
talk with me; so we entered the tent together, and right on, till past mid-
night, we sat and talked of the way of life. A terrific storm came on, making
all further conversation hopeless. The rain poured into my tent, and it was
impossible to get any rest till dawn was breaking. Two hours' sleep, and it
was broad daylight, and the start had to be made for Nimule.
The distance must have been close on thirty miles and, as we did not
get off until after 8 a.m., we did not reach Nimule till late in the evening, the
last porter turning up at 8 p.m.
The country we passed through was infested by innumerable herds of
elephants. One poor fellow, not belonging to our caravan, who had come
through from Nimule earlier in the day, had been caught and killed by an
infuriated female. He was carrying a load of cloth, and was not suspecting
that elephants were near when suddenly one rushed out at him, without the
least provocation, seized him round the body with her huge trunk, threw him
heavily on the ground and then stamped him to death. His two friends, who
were some little distance behind, too far to render any assistance, saw the
awful tragedy enacted before their eyes. By shouting they were eventually
successful in drawing the great beast away, alas too late to save their friend.
They buried him by the roadside, by covering the body with branches of trees
Arrived at Nimule, I was directed by the Collector to pitch my tent in
the Market Place, and was told that any assistance I wanted I could obtain
from the Indian trader! The mosquitoes were awful and, sitting on the
Indian's doorstep from five o'clock till 8 p.m. waiting for the last porter to
arrive, devoured by these little pests and shivering with cold, it is not to be
wondered at that I spent a sleepless night.
In the early morning visitors began to arrive. First came a deputation
from the great chief Awich, who was at this time residing in the native village
of Nimule. He had sent them to greet me, having heard of my arrival the
night before. Quickly following in their footsteps came Awich himself. As
I have explained before, my journey originated in a request from him for me to