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|Table of Contents|
|Livingstone's Muganda servant|
|The birds of Ruwenzori|
|Notes on the Lango|
|Some aspects of climate in Uganda,...|
|More early treaties in Uganda,...|
|Days in the life of a cotton...|
|The wild mammals of Teso and Karamoja...|
|The pagan religion of the Madi|
|Extracts from "Mengo Notes"...|
|Supplement: Library Accessions,...|
|Index to Volume 13|
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|Table of Contents|
Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Table of Contents
Livingstone's Muganda servant
The birds of Ruwenzori
Notes on the Lango
Some aspects of climate in Uganda, with special reference to rainfall
More early treaties in Uganda, 1891-96
Days in the life of a cotton grower
The wild mammals of Teso and Karamoja - III
The pagan religion of the Madi
Extracts from "Mengo Notes" - VIII
Supplement: Library Accessions, 1st January to 31st December 1948
Index to Volume 13
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SO(
VOLUME 13, No. 2
Livingstone's Muganda Servant SI JOHN MuLN
The Birds of Ruwenzori - J. T.
Notes on the Lango FR. A. T
Some Aspects of Climate in Uganda, with Special Reference to 1
J. P. HE
More Early Treaties in Uganda, 1891-96
Days in the Life of a Cotton Grower - -
The Wild Mammals of Teso and Karamoja-III
The Pagan Religion of the Madi F.
Extracts from "Mengo Notes"-VIII (concluded) -
Lango Wars FR.
An Autograph Letter of Emin Pasha
Tribal Nicknames -
Maize Names -
The Water-clearing Roots of Courbonia -
R. J. V
Library Accessions, 1st January to 31st December 1948
Index to Volume 13 of The Uganda Journal -
Published on behalf of
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRES
AMEN HOUSE LONDON B.C.
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ER GRAY 119
. KAUMI 177
His Excellency Sir John Hathorn Hall, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C.
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it -', "
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a .. "..
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Mr. G. A. Kassim
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The Hon. Secretary
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The Hon. Librarians
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THE UGANDA SOCIETY
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THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
W. V. HARRIS
G. AP GRIFFITH Hon Edtors
C. R. S. PITMAN, D.S.O., M.C.
R. A. SNOXALL
(assisted in England by H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.)
Published on behalf of
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
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Livingstone's Muganda Servant SIR JOHN MILNER GRAY
The Birds of Ruwenzori J. T. WEEKES
Notes on the Lango FR. A. TARANTINO
Some Aspects of Climate in Uganda, with Special Reference to Rainfall
J. P. HENDERSON
More Early Treaties in Uganda, 1891-96 H. B. THOMAS
Days in the Life of a Cotton Grower -B. K. KAUMI
The Wild Mammals of Teso and Karamoja-III J. M. WATSON
The Pagan Religion of the Madi F. R. J. WILLIAMS
Extracts from Mengo Notes"-VIII (concluded) -
An Autograph Letter of Emin Pasha
Tribal Nicknames -
Maize Names -
The Water-clearing Roots of Courbonia -
Library Accessions, 1st January to 31st December 1948
Index to Volume 13 of The Uganda Journal -
FR. A. TARANTINO
H. B. THOMAS
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LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT
By SIR JOHN MILNER GRAY
M R. MASEFIELD'S article on 'Livingstone and the Baganda' in Vol. 10,
No. 2 (1946) of the Uganda Journal should, I feel, be supplemented by a
brief notice of David Livingstone's Muganda servant, Majwara.
In Through the Dark Continent (Vol. 1, p. 389) Stanley tells us that Majwara
was the son of Namujulirwa, whose exploits are set forth at some length in that
book and also in Sir Apolo Kagwa's Basekabaka be Buganda. Namujulirwa
appears to have come first to notice in one of Suna's wars against the Basoga,
when he distinguished himself by his personal prowess in an attack on Katente
Island. He eventually rose to be Saza Chief of Buddu (Pokino), whence he
carried on a number of successful and profitable raids into the adjacent countries
of Ankole and Bwera. After Suna's death he fell into disfavour with Mutesa.
The future Katikiro, Mukasa, at the instigation of Mutesa, caused Namujulirwa
to be killed, and thereafter stepped into his chieftainship.
One result of the downfall of Namujulirwa was that his son, Majwara, was
sold into slavery by his father's supplanter. The boy was taken along the usual
slave route leading from Buganda by way of Karagwe and Tabora towards the
east coast. In 1871 he came into the possession of a certain Njara. This Njara
lived at Kwihara about a mile and a half to the south-east of the present town of
Tabora in Tanganyika Territory. In How I found Livingstone (p. 332) Stanley
called him "a slave trader and favourite of the great Sheikh bin Nasib ", the
leading Arab at Tabora.
In June 1871, Stanley reached Tabora in the course of his expedition in
search of David Livingstone and took up his residence at Kwihara in a house
which closely adjoined that of the slave trader, Njara. Stanley stayed there
some three months. There were, of course, many slaves in and about Tabora
at this date and it would have been quite impossible for Stanley to have procured
the liberation of every one of them, but somehow or other the plight of the
Muganda slave child appears especially to have attracted his attention. Some
time before his departure from Tabora, Stanley purchased Majwara from his
master. On 7th September 1871 Stanley made a note in his diary that "the
expedition is increasing in numbers" and that amongst recent additions was
" 1 boy from Uganda ". He also gives a nominal roll of the party, which set
out with him from Tabora for Lake Tanganyika on 20th September. Towards
the end of that list appears "51. Majwara (boy), Uganda". A footnote in
Through the Dark Continent (Vol. 1, p. 366) shows that at this date Majwara was
a "little boy ".
It was not until 10th November of the same year that the memorable
meeting took place between Stanley and Livingstone on the shores of Lake
Tanganyika. Majwara was with Stanley on that occasion. As various entries
in How I found Livingstone show, he had been employed on the journey as
120 UGANDA JOURNAL
After their meeting, Livingstone and Stanley spent a month in exploring the
northern end of Lake Tanganyika. After that, on 27th December 1871, they
set out together for Tabora and arrived at that place on 18th February 1872.
The two stayed together at Kwihara for nearly a month. Stanley tried to
persuade Livingstone to come back with him to England, but Livingstone was
bent on finishing the task which he had undertaken, namely the delineation of
the Nile and Congo watersheds. He believed that the work would take him
little more than six months, and he had been well supplied with stores and food
by Stanley. Accordingly, on 14th March, Stanley set out for the coast by himself,
leaving Livingstone at Tabora.
Shortly before Stanley set out on his return to the coast, a caravan consisting
of Baganda under the leadership of Sengiri Omutebe arrived at Tabora. In-
How I found Livingstone (pp. 620-622) Stanley describes an ngoma (dance)
which the porters of this caravan gave in his honour. These Baganda were
returning from Zanzibar to Buganda with gifts from Seyyid Barghash to Mutesa.
In his Last Journals Livingstone refers more than once to their very prolonged
stay at Tabora. Majwara, however, accompanied Stanley to the coast and did
not seek this opportunity of returning to his native land. It seems perfectly
clear that his return to Buganda would at this time only have led to his re-enslave-
ment and that Stanley was in the circumstances perfectly right in taking the boy
with him to Zanzibar. When the Baganda eventually did set out for their
homes, they were waylaid by the men of the local chief Mirambo and their
leader was killed. Probably, therefore, Majwara was fortunate on more grounds
than one that he did not join this caravan.'
Stanley reached the coast on 6th May 1872. On arrival he found another
expedition preparing to set out in search of Livingstone. This expedition, under
the command of Lieut. L. S. Dawson, R.N., had been organized by the Royal
Geographical Society. On hearing Stanley's news, the members came with
considerable reluctance to the conclusion that no useful purpose could be served
by continuing with their expedition.
Livingstone explained in a letter to Dr. Kirk, the British Consul-General at
Zanzibar, that I am sending by Mr. Stanley for fifty freemen from Zanzibar to
enable me to finish up my work ": as Kirk learnt from Stanley, the party was
to "start off at once in light marching order ".2 Stanley immediately set to
work and, in his own words, contracted with 57 men to proceed to Unyanyembe
to escort Dr. Livingstone in his explorations for a period of two years, or as long
as their services would be needed, for the sum of $2.50 per month wages ". The
contract was eventually drawn up and signed at the American Consulate on
21st May.3 Livingstone's son, Oswell, who had come out to Zanzibar with the
Royal Geographical Society's expedition, arranged that clothing, provisions, and
carbines should be supplied from the stores of that Expedition.4 On 27th May
I Stanley, Through the Dark Continent, Vol. 1, p. 396.
2 How I found Livingstone, pp. 707-709, 713-715.
3 Zanzibar Archives 5/30: memorandum dated 2nd December 1877. The dollar was
the Maria Theresa dollar, at this date (1872) current in Zanzibar at 41 to the . Some of
the headmen, etc., were engaged at $5 per mensem and a number received advances. At
this date Stanley was an American subject (Africa No. 1 (1875), p. 34).
4 How I found Livingstone, pp. 709-710.
LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT 121
the party was embarked upon a dhow and proceeded to Bagamayo, and thence
set out a few days later for Tabora.1
The fifty-seven included a number of men who had been originally enlisted
for the abortive expedition of the Royal Geographical Society. Amongst these
were a number of African boys from the Church Missionary Society's school
at Nasik in India, including James and Jacob Wainwright and Matthew
Wellington. This last-named will perhaps be remembered by some who may
have seen him spending the eventide of his life at the former C.M.S. Station at
Frere Town, near Mombasa, where he died on 4th June 1935. But the great
majority of the men had just returned with Stanley from his expedition in search
of Livingstone. Three at least of them belonged to the little band of eighteen
'Faithfuls', who, despite wholesale desertions by others, had stood by Speke
and Grant and had journeyed with them from the east coast, through Uganda,
down the Nile, to Egypt. Another of the fifty-seven was the Muganda boy,
Landed on the African mainland, each member of the party put his best
foot forward and on 3rd August the advance party reached Tabora. "How
thankful I am," wrote Livingstone, "I cannot express. It is well-the men
who went with Mr. Stanley came again to me." On 15th August 1872 he wrote
in his journal: "The men came yesterday (14th), having been 74 days from
Bagamoio. Most thankful to the Giver of all good I am. I have to give them
a rest of a few days, and then start."3
The rest was not to be a long one. There were the preparations for the
coming journey, the arrangement of the loads, and many other details to be
completed before the party could set out on the first stage of that journey. By
25th August all was ready. On that day Livingstone and his men set out
westward from Tabora. For some time past Livingstone's experiences with his
escort and his porters had been unfortunate, but he was well satisfied with the
men sent up to him by Stanley. At a later date he wrote and told Stanley:
" With one exception, the party is working like a machine. I give my orders to
Manwa Sera and never have to repeat them."4
Six days after leaving Tabora a compatriot of Majwara joined the party.
He was a member of that returning caravan of Baganda which Livingstone and
Stanley had found at Tabora on their return from Lake Tanganyika. The
circumstances in which the boy Mukasa left that caravan are set out by Living-
stone in his journal: "31st August-The Baganda boy Kassa was followed to
Gunda, and I delivered him to his countrymen. He escaped from Mayol6 village
this morning, and came at 3 p.m., his clothes in rags by running through the
forest eleven hours, say twenty-two miles, and is determined not to leave us."5
On 21st October Livingstone recorded in his journal that "Mokassa, a
Moganda boy, has a swelling of the ankle, which prevents him walking. We
1 Ibid., p. 676.
2 Zanzibar Archives 5/35 and 5/37: memoranda (Stanley to Kirk) dated 1st Decem-
ber 1877, and (of Stanley) dated 2nd December 1877.
3 Waller, Last Journals of David Livingstone, Edition of 1880, Vol. 2, pp. 229-230.
4 Blaikie, Personal Life of David Livingstone (6th Ed., 1925), p. 320. Manwa Sera
was one of Speke's Faithfuls.
I Last Journals, Vol. 2, p. 232.
122 UGANDA JOURNAL
went one hour to find wood to make a litter for him."' This and many another
similar unrecorded act of considerateness were in the months ahead to evoke a
remarkable tribute of gratitude from Livingstone's followers.
A month before, Majwara had also been in the wars. On 11th September
Livingstone recorded that Majwara had an insect in the aqueous chamber of
his eye. It moves about and is painful."2
A few days later much more disquieting entries began to appear in the
journal. Livingstone had been detained at Tabora far longer than he had
expected. When he eventually set out, the rainy season had begun and his
progress was constantly being delayed by swamps and swollen rivers. He was
approaching sixty and all these things began to tell upon a physique which had
been seriously weakened by the hardships which he had undergone during his
On 18th September the first of many ominous entries appears in the journal:
18th September. Remain at M6rdra's to prepare food.
19th September. Ditto, ditto, because I am ill with bowels, having eaten
nothing for eight days. ...
20th September. Went to Simba's. ...
21st September. Rest here, as the complaint does not yield to medicine
or time; but I begin to eat now, which is a favour-
able symptom. ...
22nd September. Preparing food. ...
24th September. Recovering and thankful, but weak. ...
25th September. . I am getting better slowly. .. ."3
Many years later Matthew Wellington gave his recollections of those days
to the Rev. W. R. Rampley, who set them out in the following words: For ten
days they marched in the direction of the south end of Lake Tanganyika, and,
as the rains were still drenching the caravan daily, another halt was made.
Here dysentery weakened Livingstone to such an extent that for several days
his faithful servant Majwara had great difficulty in persuading him to eat the
carefully prepared food."4
Though Livingstone makes no mention in his journal of the ministrations
of Majwara, he was not ungrateful for the lad's services. It must have been
about this date that he made a memorandum, found amongst his papers after
his death, in which he expressed a desire to give Majwara a special reward for
The journal shows that a few days later some of Livingstone's old energy
came back to him, but this was only to be for a time. Still later entries show
that past hardships and illness had so seriously undermined his constitution that
he was no longer able to stand up to the hardships of travel under the most
difficult of conditions in a tropical country. After leaving the shores of Lake
Tanganyika he struck south-west for Lake Bangweolo. In April 1873, intestinal
hemorrhage set in. For a few weeks more he managed with great difficulty to
I Ibid., p. 240.
2 Ibid., p. 233.
3 Ibid., pp. 234-235.
4 Rampley, Matthew Wellington, p. 31. S.P.C.K. (1930).
5 Zanzibar Archives 5/37: memorandum (of Stanley) dated 2nd December 1877.
LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT 123
struggle on. At length, on 27th April, in a weak and shaky hand, he wrote for
the last time in his journal: "27 knocked up quite and remain: recover, sent
to buy milch goats. We are on the banks of R. Molilamo."1
The rest of the story of those last days has been told by his servants-by
Susi, Chuma and Jacob Wainwright-to Livingstone's former travelling com-
panion, the Rev. Horace Waller, and at a much later date by Matthew Wellington
to the Rev. W. R. Rampley.
On 29th April Livingstone was, at his own request, carried in a litter to the
banks of the Molilamo and taken across the river in a canoe. Then he was
once more carried in a litter to the village of Chitambo. Here, they found that
the hut in which he was to be housed had not been roofed and he was laid under
the shelter of a tree till the work was completed. In after years Matthew
Wellington recalled how, whilst the grass was being brought to thatch the hut,
"Majwara with the Nasik men made an improvised bed on which they laid
their master ".2
At length the hut was made ready and Livingstone was placed inside.
"The bed was raised from the floor by sticks and grass, occupying a position
across and near to the bay-shaped end of the hut: in the bay itself bales and
boxes were deposited, one of the latter doing duty for a table, on which the
medicine chest and sundry other things were placed. A fire was lighted outside,
nearly opposite the door, whilst the boy Majwara slept just within to attend to
his master's wants in the night."3
On 30th April Livingstone was drowsy and so weak that he was hardly able
to speak. Matthew Wellington says: Majwara scarcely left his master's bed-
side. . At sunset the porters gathered the usual pile of firewood for the
night, and were soon asleep; but Majwara, Susi, and the Nasik men arranged
to sit up and watch by the hut of their great father."4 At about 11 p.m.
Livingstone called Susi. He asked him if they were at the Luapula. When Susi
told him that it was the village of Chitambo, he asked in Kiswahili how far it
was to the Luapula. After being told, he sighed, as if in great pain, and once
more dozed off.5
His servants then arranged to take it in turns to go to sleep, but within an
hour's time Majwara came to rouse Susi. Livingstone wanted some water
boiled in order to take some calomel. When he had performed this task, Susi
went out of the hut leaving Majwara alone with Livingstone. The dim light
produced from the oil of the coconut was left on the box beside the rough bed,
and, lest it should go out, Majwara lighted a candle." Some time after he did
this, either Livingstone told him to rest or else he fell asleep from exhaustion.
The last thing he remembered seeing before going to sleep was his master
kneeling beside his bed in the attitude of prayer.6
SA facsimile of this entry is reproduced in Last Journals, Vol. 2, immediately pre-
ceding p. 299.
2 Matthew Wellington, p. 33.
3 Last Journals, Vol. 2, p. 306.
4 Matthew Wellington, p. 33.
5 Last Journals, Vol. 2, p. 307.
6 Matthew Wellington, p. 33 ; Last Journals, Vol. 2. p. 307.
124 UGANDA JOURNAL
Some hours later, just before cock-crow, Majwara once again roused Susi.
He said to him: Come to Bwana-I am afraid. I don't know if he is alive."
Chuma, Matthew Wellington and others were roused and all went to the hut.
The lamp was out and the candle was almost burnt down to the box, but there
was light enough for them to see their master kneeling by the side of his bed, his
body stretched forward, and his head buried in his hands upon the pillow.
Majwara said: When I lay down he was just as he is now and it is because I
find that he does not move that I fear he is dead." The others asked him how
long he had slept. The boy replied that he could not tell, but he felt sure that
it was some considerable time. When Matthew Wellington went over and
touched his master, they knew what had happened. The great traveller had
In the nave of Westminster Abbey there is a black marble slab bearing an
inscription, which begins with the following words:
BROUGHT BY FAITHFUL HANDS
OVER LAND AND SEA,
Behind those opening words lies a remarkable story of courage, affection,
and steadfast and enduring loyalty. Livingstone's little band of servants resolved
to make every effort to carry their master's remains to his fellow countrymen in
Zanzibar. With an instinctive understanding of what their master would have
wished, they buried his heart close to the spot where he had passed away. The
burial service was read by Jacob Wainwright. Then Livingstone's body was
embalmed. The process was entrusted to a man named Farajalla, who at one
time in his career had worked under James Christie, a doctor practising in
Zanzibar. While the body was being embalmed, a new camp was built, and it
it interesting that in Matthew Wellington's account of these events he says,
"Susi and Majwara supervised the erection ".2
When the embalming was complete, the party set out on their long and
perilous journey to the coast. Realizing the superstitious horror of the dead
which prevailed in almost every African tribe through whose territory they
would have to pass, they endeavoured to disguise the object of their journey by
holding themselves out to be an ordinary trading caravan. For this purpose
"it was their invariable custom to make the drummer-boy, Majwara, march at
1 Last Journals, Vol. 2, p. 308 ; Matthew Wellington, p. 34.
2 Matthew Wellington, p. 36.
LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT 125
their head, whilst the Union Jack and the red colours of Zanzibar were carried
in a foremost place in the line ".1
In October 1873 the party reached Tabora where they found Lieutenant
Lovett Cameron, who was in command of an expedition despatched to the relief
of Livingstone. Cameron had reached Tabora two months before. Shortly
after his arrival a caravan had also arrived from Buganda. The leader handed
to Cameron a letter which was addressed to David Livingstone. Cameron
opened it and found that it was dated 13th February 1873 and written at Fort
Fatiko by Samuel Baker. The contents showed that Baker had got into touch
with some envoys from Buganda and through them had asked Mutesa to forward
the letter, if he possibly could, to Livingstone and to do all that lay in his power
to assist the explorer. Mutesa had equipped a special caravan and entrusted
Baker's letter to its leader who handed it to Cameron in the belief that he must
be Livingstone. Cameron, who at that date had not heard of Livingstone's
death, wrote a reply which travelled back along the same route as that by which
Baker's letter had come and was eventually delivered to Baker's successor,
Charles Gordon, at Gondokoro.2
As Baker's letter had to travel several hundreds of miles through the terri-
tories of inhospitable and even hostile tribes to the south of Lake Victoria, its
delivery was no mean achievement. Eventually, when the story of this letter
became known in England, Mutesa's act was destined to stand him and his
people in good stead. Very rightly, British public opinion had decided that
Livingstone was a national hero. When, a few years later, the Egyptian
Government announced that it had annexed Mutesa's country, the British press
recalled Mutesa's effort to succour Livingstone and denounced the Egyptian
Government's act in no uncertain terms. Speke's former companion, Grant,
and others, wrote letters of protest to The Times and other papers. Memorials
from the Church Missionary, the Aborigines' Protection and other Societies were
addressed to the Foreign Office. Out in Africa itself, Shergold Smith, the first
Christian missionary to reach Buganda, wrote to Dr. John Kirk, British Consul-
General at Zanzibar, urging him to use his influence to save Mutesa and his
people from Egyptian domination. Kirk himself made strong representations
to the Foreign Office and was, in due course, informed that the Egyptian Govern-
ment had agreed to keep its hands off Buganda. Mutesa undoubtedly deserved
recognition for his effort to succour Livingstone. The British public was able
to show its gratitude in a very enduring and practical manner.3
Livingstone's servants did not reach Tabora until after Mutesa's caravan
had set out on its return to Buganda. After a short halt they continued their
journey. Full details of it appear in Waller's Last Journals of David Livingstone
and in Coupland's Livingstone's Last Journey; they need not be repeated here.
Majwara himself gave an account of his experiences to Mr. F. Holm-
wood of the Zanzibar Consulate, dated 12th March 1874, which is printed in
I Last Journals, Vol. 2, p. 330.
2 Baker, Ismailia, p. 448; Cameron, Across Africa, Vol. 1, pp. 153-154; Chaill6-
Long, Central Africa, p. 36, My Life in Four Continents, Vol. 2, pp. 408-409.
3 Kirk Papers (in Public Record Office), 1875-1880, Vols. V and VI: Slave Trade
No. 2 (1877).
126 UGANDA JOURNAL
the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. XVIII (1873-1874),
On 15th February 1874, the long journey came to an end. The little band
with its precious burden reached Bagamoyo. Chuma had been sent on ahead
to Zanzibar to inform the Acting British Consul-General, Captain Prideaux,
and H.M.S. Vulture, with Prideaux on board, was waiting off Bagamoyo to
receive Livingstone's remains.1 They were brought on board with full military
honours and conveyed first to Zanzibar and finally to their last resting place in
England. On 19th February the 'Faithfuls' were brought by dhow from
Bagamoyo to Zanzibar.2 On 5th March Captain Prideaux wrote to inform
Lord Granville that Livingstone's servants "including those sent to him by
Mr. Stanley have now come to Zanzibar, and as they were now destitute, though
large sums were due to several of them, I took upon myself the responsibility
of paying them, drawing a bill upon the President of the Royal Geographical
Amongst Livingstone's papers was found the memorandum in which he
had given directions that Majwara's services should be rewarded by a payment
over and above what was due to him under the contract made by Stanley. The
result was that Majwara received the sum of eighty dollars (about 17-18).
Livingstone had left no directions for the payment of any other special rewards
to members of his escort, and this payment to Majwara caused a certain amount
of discontent amongst the other members of the party which had been recruited
by Stanley.4 This result was most unfortunate. There can be little doubt that
other members of the escort had rendered equally loyal and faithful service and
were equally deserving of a special reward but, in the absence of any written
directions by their deceased master and of any authority from Livingstone's heirs
or the British Government, Captain Prideaux's hands were tied.5 As will be
seen later, the Royal Geographical Society eventually decided that, if the men
had no legal claim to a further reward, they at least had a moral one and that
such claim must be satisfied.
It was very unfortunate that because of circumstances for which no one was
responsible the moral claims of these men could not be satisfied at the same time
as Majwara's legal claim, but it is satisfactory to know that public opinion in
England, when it got to hear of the matter, demanded that those claims should
be satisfied regardless of the legal aspect of the matter. Moreover, the unfor-
tunate fact that there was at one time an apparent discrimination between
Majwara and his companions cannot be allowed to detract from Majwara's
faithful service to his master and his own undoubted moral right to the reward
which he received.
1 Slave Trade No. 1 (1875), pp. 30-31.
2 Zanzibar Agency, Miscellaneous Accounts, 1873-1880, p. 2.
3 Slave Trade No. 1 (1875), p. 31.
4 Zanzibar Archives 5/35 and 5/37 ; memoranda of (Stanley to Kirk) 1st December
1877, and (Stanley) 2nd December 1877.
5 Friends of Livingstone in England sent to Kirk special gifts for payment to Susi,
Chuma and others of Livingstone's servants who were known to be deserving of a special
reward (Zanzibar Archives 310, memoranda (Waller to Kirk) dated 25th January and
1st February 1875).
LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT 127
To a boy such as Majwara was, eighty dollars must have appeared to be
untold wealth. Very probably he had never previously in his life owned as
much as a single cent. He was only a boy and a stranger in a strange land and,
though he was no doubt endowed with a large measure of native shrewdness, it
may perhaps be fairly safely guessed that the inhabitants of Zanzibar saw to it
that Majwara soon spent his money. Whether that conjecture is right or wrong,
eight months later Majwara was ready to take service with another expedition.
On 21st September 1874 Stanley arrived once more in Zanzibar, planning a
new journey into the heart of Africa, and many of those who had served with
him two years before joined the new expedition. Three of Speke's Faithfuls-
Mabruki, Manwa Sera, and Ulimengo-were amongst the first to join. They
now had the proud distinction of being Livingstone's Faithfuls as well. Some
twenty-six others of those who had brought Livingstone's body to the coast
also joined the expedition. Amongst those twenty-six was Majwara, who was
enrolled as personal servant to Frank Pocock, one of Stanley's three European
The expedition left Bagamoyo on 17th November 1874. In due course it
reached Buganda. We know that Majwara had an interview with the Kabaka
and it is therefore very probable that he also encountered his father's murderer
and supplanter, Mukasa, who had now become Katikiro. What transpired at
that meeting, if it took place, can only be a matter of conjecture. Stanley tells
a little more about Majwara's audience with Mutesa. If, as Stanley says,
Mutesa had instigated the downfall of Majwara's father, he showed himself
remarkably ready to forget the past. He welcomed Majwara back to Buganda
" because he was the son of Namujulirwa, the champion of Uganda "2 and was
graciously pleased to bestow upon him a wife. As Mutesa's own daughters were
not allowed to marry, the bride must have been somebody else's daughter and
this amende honorable must have cost Mutesa very little. Stanley himself tells
us that Majwara decided to call his wife 'Tuma-leo', which by interpretation
means 'sent to-day'. The wife did not accompany her husband in his later
wanderings and soon disappears from our ken.3
For reasons which seem obvious, Majwara decided that he would not settle
in his native country. He accompanied Stanley's expedition throughout the
whole of its lengthy journey across Africa to the mouth of the Congo. In his
account of that journey Stanley makes one reference to him-in May 1877, when
he still described him as the boy Majwara ".4
When on 9th August 1877, he reached Boma on the west coast of Africa
nine hundred and ninety-nine days after leaving Zanzibar, the boy had, in the
course of some seven years of his short life, tramped close on ten thousand miles
1 The list in Stanley's Dark Continent (Vol. 1, p. 55) of the names, numbering twenty-
one, of those of Livingstone's Faithfuls who were re-engaged by Stanley for his second
expedition, differs from that which he supplied to Kirk in a memorandum dated 2nd
December 1877 (Zanzibar Archives 5/37). The list supplied to Kirk contained twenty-
eight names but when he checked these against those of the Faithfuls who were paid off at
Zanzibar in March 1874, Kirk found that two of the names in Stanley's memorandum
were not those of Faithfuls.
2 Through the Dark Continent, Vol. 2, p. 89.
3 Ibid., p. 89.
4 Ibid., p. 379.
128 UGANDA JOURNAL
up, down, and across Africa under conditions which had severely tested even the
most able-bodied full-grown man. The going had often been exceedingly hard
and difficult. On this last journey all three of Stanley's European assistants had
perished on the way. Majwara's master, Frank Pocock, was drowned in the
River Congo only two months before the journey's end. Thereafter Majwara
reverted to his former post of Stanley's gun-bearer.' The death roll amongst
the African members of the expedition amounted to one hundred and seven.2
The loss was particularly heavy amongst Livingstone's Faithfuls. After serving
Burton, Speke, Grant and Von der Decken as well as Livingstone and Stanley,
Mabruki Speke-the 'bull-headed' and also the great-hearted-succumbed to
dysentery in January 1875 at Kageyi on the southern shores of Lake Victoria.
Five others of Livingstone's Faithfuls were, in Stanley's words, killed in battle "
with the natives at Vinyata, Ituru. These five included Ulimengo, one of Speke's
Faithfuls, and Farajalla Christie, the man who had embalmed Livingstone's body.
According to Stanley, one other of Livingstone's Faithfuls "went insane and
became lost" and another was "surrendered to the natives for robbery ", his
actual offence being that of stealing food crops when in a state of starvation.
One other died of dysentery and another was honorably discharged at Ujiji ".
Finally, in Stanley's words, "others of Livingstone's Faithfuls deserted from
the Anglo-American Expedition and are probably at Unyanyembe ". Of the
twenty-six of Livingstone's Faithfuls who set out from Bagamoyo at the
end of 1874 only fourteen returned to Zanzibar three years later. The going
had indeed been hard and 'the boy Majwara' had done well to stay the
Although Stanley might drive his followers hard, he was nevertheless capable
of showing appreciation of good and loyal service. He decided to accompany
his men back from Boma to Zanzibar so that he could see personally to the final
settlement of their affairs. Majwara and the other thirteen of Livingstone's
Faithfuls reached Zanzibar on 26th November 1877.4
Six days later an interesting ceremony took place. Soon after the story of
Livingstone's last days had reached England, the Royal Geographical Society
resolved to recognize the services of those of his followers who were with him at
the end. Sixty medals were accordingly struck in 1874 from the designs of
Mr. A. B. Wyon. They were sent for distribution to the British Political Agent
at Zanzibar but, as already shown, by the time that the medals arrived, close on
half of the intended recipients had set out with Stanley on his expedition across
When Stanley arrived back in Zanzibar at the end of 1877, Dr. Kirk wrote
to inform him that he understood that certain of the Livingstone Faithfuls had
returned with him and he believed that for personal reasons it would give
I Ibid., p. 515.
2 Ibid., p. 512.
3 Through the Dark Continent, Vol. 1, p. 243, Vol. 2, pp. 431, 510-513 ; also Zanzibar
Archives 5/37, memorandum (of Stanley) dated 2nd December 1877.
4 Stanley remained in Zanzibar from 26th November to 13th December 1877 : and
this was the occasion of his writing the various memoranda dated 1877 which are referred
to in this article.
5 Crofton, The Zanzibar Museum--The Explorers Exhibit, p. 12.
LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT 129
Mr. Stanley great pleasure to distribute to them the Royal Geographical Society's
medals. Stanley replied: "You are correct in your belief that it will give me
great pleasure to distribute the medals to the survivors of Doctor Livingstone's
last journey, but I assure you that it would be a still greater pleasure to be a
mere witness while you personally distributed them. . I beg to thank you
for the kindly sentiments in your letter."'
Majwara and thirteen of his companions received their medals from Stanley
at the American Consulate at Zanzibar on 2nd December 1877.2 These medals
were in silver. On one side were engraved the head and shoulders of the great
explorer, surrounded by the legend DAVID LIVINGSTONE--BORN 1813-
DIED, ILALA, 1873. On the reverse was the inscription PRESENTED BY
THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON, and the name
of each recipient was engraved upon the rim, followed by the words FAITHFUL
TO THE END.
I have been unable to trace Majwara's after career, but in conclusion it is
not out of place to mention that Stanley did one other thing for the Livingstone
Faithfuls. He put forward to Kirk the claim of these men to a further reward
for the services which they had rendered to Livingstone, requesting that, if it
is convenient to you, I should be pleased to receive a word from you in relation
to these poor yet worthy men's claim ". According to himself he received a
reply from Kirk "saying that the case looked very clear". Kirk certainly
urged the men's claims to the Foreign Office. Early in 1878 he was told that he
could use his discretion in paying the men. As he was informed in a letter from
Sir Rutherford Alcock, President of the Royal Geographical Society: "The
Royal Geographical Society has moved in the matter, unwilling that any questions
of indisposition to pay what may fairly be shown to be due should be charged
against either the British Government or the Society, whether by Stanley or
anyone else. The Council also feel with me, that even if the claims now set up
do not admit-as may well be, under the circumstances set forth by Stanley-
(?of being) susceptible of any legal proof, it should be sufficient that there is a
reasonable presumption based upon a verbal promise from Livingstone in accord
with what he did for those he employed previously."4
I Zanzibar Archives 5/35, letter of 1st December 1877.
2 Zanzibar Archives 5/36 (Stanley to Kirk), 2nd December 1877. Manwa Sera, one
of Speke's Faithfuls, was another recipient.
3 Zanzibar Archives 5/35, letter of 1st December 1877.
4 Zanzibar Archives 310 (Alcock to Kirk), 16th February 1878.
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI
By J. T. WEEKS
THE purpose of this article is to help climbers and others who have the good
fortune to ascend to the higher altitudes of Ruwenzori to identify the birds
they encounter. It aims at summarizing briefly the information so far recorded
concerning the habits of each species. Where the nest of any species has not,
to my knowledge, been found, I have described the nesting habits of a closely
Except in one instance, No. 8, 1 have included only those species which have
been recorded at an altitude of over 8,000 feet on Ruwenzori; many of them, of
course, may also have been recorded lower. The field description is intended
only to enable observers to differentiate the species in question from others
occurring at the same altitude ; it is in no case complete.
Ruwenzori can be divided into four clearly defined vegetation belts; they
6,500- 8,500 feet: thick forest with some open bracken-covered areas.
8,500-10,000 feet: bamboo forest.
10,000-14,000 feet: more open country and bog land containing mixed
vegetation in which tree-heaths, lobelias and senecios figure
conspicuously above a thick but low carpet of other plants.
Thick and many-coloured clumps of moss festoon every
projection and, in places, cover the ground.
Over 14,000 feet: snow, or bare rock thinly covered with lichen.
My observations indicate that in the bamboo zone and above, at any rate,
the breeding season is restricted to the drier months of December-February and
possibly March. This is probably due to the almost perpetual rain at other
seasons, and the attendant difficulties of keeping eggs or young dry. Little is
known of the breeding season in the forest zone.
I wish to express my gratitude to Captain C. R. S. Pitman, who has gone
through these notes, and I am indebted to him for many useful suggestions and
a number of new facts.
1. BLACK DUCK (Anas sparsa leucostigma).
The only duck likely to be observed: it is sooty black, with conspicuous
spots or bands of white on the upper parts.
It is not uncommon on lakes and streams up to 13,000 feet, but probably
nests lower. It is shy and retiring, usually keeping to thick cover. The call is a
harsh quack, often uttered on the wing. A nest found in Kenya was in a damp
depression near water; it was made of dry leaves, lined with down. The eggs
are cream-coloured (yellowish when nest-stained).
2. VERREAUX'S EAGLE (Aquila verreauxi).
A large eagle, black all over except for a white V-shaped patch on the back.
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI 131
This rare bird frequents the higher altitudes. Its usual call has been
described as a loud shrill cheep ". The nest is usually placed on an inaccessible
ledge of a cliff and is a large but tidy mass of sticks. Two eggs are normally laid,
white with reddish brown spots and blotches.
3. AFRICAN LAMMERGEYER (Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis).
The largest African eagle. It has a white head, mottled dark brown upper
parts, and is whitish below.
This rare, vulture-like eagle occurs on north-west Ruwenzori: it has recently
been discovered breeding in Kenya.
The nest, which is made of sticks, is situated on a ledge of a precipice or
cave. The egg is dull yellowish or rusty orange.
4. MOUNTAIN BUZZARD (Buteo oreophilus).
A much smaller bird than the preceding species. Above it is brown and
faintly mottled; the under parts are white, spotted and streaked with dark
brown. The tail is banded dark and light brown.
It is not uncommon and has been recorded up to 12,000 feet, though it nests
lower. It makes a stick nest high up in the fork of a tree and has white eggs
with faint rufous blotches. Little is known of its habits.
5. RUWENZORI HANDSOME FRANCOLIN (Francolinus nobilis chapini).
A large partridge-like bird. The upper parts are maroon, the feathers
edged with grey, which gives a mottled appearance. The wings appear more
rufous. The under parts are rufous, the feathers edged with grey.
This francolin is a rare bird which seldom takes wing. It is known only
from western Ruwenzori: there is no specimen in the British Museum. Its
habit of skulking in the thickest part of the forest and bamboo makes it difficult
to shoot. Its call has been described as'chucharik' or' cockrick'. Nothing is
known of its nesting habits.
6. SPECKLED FOREST PIGEON OR OLIVE PIGEON (Columba arquatrix arquatrix).
In flight, this bird resembles the wood pigeon of Great Britain. The upper
parts are purplish and dusky grey, becoming almost black on the tail; there are
a few white spots on the wings. The under parts are purplish, fading into grey
on the abdomen, with a brighter purple breast-band.
It is common in the forest zone, and may be seen fighting, sometimes in
large flocks, as high as 10,000 feet. It is subject to local movements depending
on the fruiting of the trees on which it finds its food. The single white egg is
laid in a very frail, transparent, stick nest in a tree, ten to twenty feet above the
7. RUWENZORI LEMON DOVE (Aplopelia simplex jacksoni).
A small dove, the male with dark brown, lustrous, metallic upper parts and
a grey head; it is brown below, fading to white under the tail. The female is
brown above and vinous below.
132 UGANDA JOURNAL
This fast-flying bird, which appears nearly black in the dim light of the
forest undergrowth which it frequents, is not uncommon up to 9,000 feet. It
has seldom been shot as it is not easy to see until it flies. The nest is a frail
affair of fine sticks, situated low in the forest undergrowth, and contains one or
two pale cream eggs.
8. RUWENZORI LONG-TAILED CUCKOO (Cercococcyx montanus montanus).
A slim, tidy bird about 12 inches long, nearly half of which is tail. The
plumage of the upper parts is dark olive-brown barred indistinctively with
rufous; the under parts are whitish barred with black.
This bird has only once been recorded on Ruwenzori, in forest at 7,000 feet.
It almost certainly occurs higher, and has been included in this paper because of
its extreme rarity. It probably frequents the leafy branches of tree tops.
Nothing definite is known of its nesting habits.
9. RUWENZORI BLACK-BILLED LOURIE (Tauraco schuetti emini).
A brightly coloured plantain-eater about 16 inches long, with a short, white-
tipped, green crest and crimson wing-quills; the upper parts are bright green,
the under parts slate with a green wash.
In spite of its conspicuous coloration, this bird is not easy to see owing to
its habit, common to other plantain-eaters, of creeping mouse-like along the
branches. It is common up to 9,000 feet, but, unlike the next species, is not
seen higher. It has a loud croaking call.
The breeding habits resemble those of other members of its genus, and the
lightly constructed nest of sticks is concealed in thick cover some distance from
the ground. The eggs are white, faintly streaked with pale grey or pale lilac.
10. JOHNSTON'S RUWENZORI LOURIE (Ruwenzorornis johnstoni johnstoni).
A truly lovely bird, distinguished from the preceding species by its deep
blue back and the red patch on its chest and lower neck: it lacks the white-
The Ruwenzori Lourie is a common bird from 7,000 feet to 12,000 feet, thus
encompassing the range of Tauraco s. emini. Its call is a melodious chuckle,
regularly repeated; the alarm note is a series of rapid chirps, differing some-
what from the calls of the majority of this family. The breeding habits are
unlikely to differ from those of the preceding species. A female ready to breed
was shot on 29th December.
11. RUWENZORI NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus poliocephalus ruwenzorii) .
A mottled dark-brown bird, about 11 inches long, with white outer tail
feathers. It is normally seen only after dusk, and if flushed during the day-
time will probably only fly a short distance with a silent bat-like flight before
taking cover again. Its mottled plumage gives perfect camouflage.
This nightjar is not uncommon in the open country just above the bamboo
line, where it is usually seen in a setting of tree heaths against a fading sunset.
Little is recorded of its habits for it is known only from a single specimen from
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI 133
Ruwenzori. Its breeding habits are not known, but its eggs will be laid on bare
ground or rock. The note is a finely trilled 'piiir', 'tiiir', repeated at short
intervals at dusk.
12. RUWENZORI WHITE-BELLIED SWIFr (Micropus melba maximus).
Like other swifts, this bird has long, pointed wings and is seldom seen
perched. The upper parts are dark brown ; the under parts white, with a brown
band across the chest. It is about 9 inches long.
The species, which is somewhat communal in its habits, is common at the
higher altitudes. It may occasionally be seen in small flocks foraging for
insects over country adjoining the mountain where its superior powers of flight
and large size make it conspicuous. It breeds in cracks in cliff faces up to the
snow line. The eggs are white.
13. UGANDA LEMON-RUMPED TINKER BIRD (Pogoniulus leucolaima nyanzae).
A stocky, weak-flighted little bird about 4 inches long, with a strong bill.
Its upper parts are black, the rump is lemon, many of the wing feathers have
yellow edges, and there are two white stripes on the side of its head. Its under
parts are predominantly yellow.
This is a common bird in wooded areas in Uganda, and has been recorded
in the forest zone of Ruwenzori up to 8,500 feet. Its note is a monotonously
repeated 'pop-pop-pop'. It lays two or three white eggs in a shallow hole,
which it usually excavates for itself from ten to twenty feet up a tree. The
entrance hole is small, about three-quarters of an inch to one inch in diameter.
14. RUWENZORI WOODPECKER (Mesopicos griseocephalus ruwenzori).
Woodpeckers are easily distinguished by their habit of perching vertically
on the trunks of trees, and this is the only representative of the family found on
the higher slopes. The male has a crimson nape and rump, and a golden back.
The under parts are yellow, fading to greenish grey, with some crimson on the
abdomen. The head of the female is grey, without any crimson.
It is a rare bird, occurring from 6,000 to 10,000 feet, and may be detected
by the tapping noise it makes as it searches the trunks of trees for its insect
food. Its nesting habits are unknown, but a closely allied race excavates a
nesting hole in the dead branches of trees, usually some distance from the
ground, and lays three or four glossy white eggs.
15. RUWENZORI HILL BABBLER (Pseudoalcippe atriceps).
An inconspicuous little bird about 51 inches long, with a black head
contrasting with the chestnut back. The wings and tail are dark brown.
Underneath it is slate grey becoming nearly white on the abdomen. In shape,
it is not unlike the English hedge-sparrow.
The habits, if not the plumage, of this bird and the next resemble those of
Nos. 28. and 29. They are all skulkers which flit quietly through dense low
cover. They are often heard, and can be approached to within a few feet, but
are seldom seen. Good skins are difficult to obtain, as most collecting has to
134 UGANDA JOURNAL
be done at point-blank range. Atriceps has a twittering call note and a very
fine clear song, heard to advantage in the early morning. It is not uncommon
up to 9,000 feet, and usually moves in small parties. The nesting habits are
unrecorded, but an allied species makes a small cup of decaying leaves, situated
low in a bush, and lays two eggs.
16. MAU HILL BABBLER (Pseudoalcippe pyrrhopterus).
This bird can at once be distinguished from P. atriceps by the crown of its
head, which is dusky, not black, and by its olive-brown back. Below, it is grey
In habits, it closely resembles the last species. It is common in many of
the highland forests of East Africa above 6,500 feet, and on Ruwenzori has been
recorded up to 9,000 feet. Nothing is known of its nesting habits.
17. GREY-THROATED GREENBUL (Arizelocichla tephrolaema kikuyuensis).
A drab, inconspicuous-looking bird, about 71 inches long. The slate-grey
head contrasts with the olive-green upper parts. Below it is dull olive-yellow,
becoming brighter yellow on the abdomen.
The bulbuls and greenbuls are a large family, mainly of dull olive and green
shades, and are usually difficult to identify with certainty in the field. The three
species met on Ruwenzori are not, however, difficult to recognize, provided a
clear view is obtained, though Woosnam has stated of this species that it has a
" peculiarly unfortunate gift of continually appearing to be quite a different bird
and for this reason was constantly shot by mistake". It is common up to
10,000 feet, and is usually silent except at dawn and dusk. Its song, when
uttered, is sustained and attractive. It is not a skulker, and frequents both the
trees and the undergrowth. A nest found in the undergrowth about five feet
from the ground was cup-shaped, made of fine roots, grass and moss. The one
egg was pinkish white, heavily blotched and clouded with dark brown and
18. OLIVE GREENBUL (Phyllastrephus sucosus).
Above, this bird is olive-green throughout; unlike the last species, it has
no grey on the head. Below it is yellowish green, becoming whiter on the throat
and yellower on the abdomen.
Though much less common than the last species, it is nevertheless widely
distributed and occurs up to 9,000 feet. It appears to keep more to the under
growth than to the trees. Nothing seems to have been recorded of its habits.
19. UGANDA MOUSTACHED BULBUL (Stelgidocichla latirostris eugenia).
This species much resembles the last, and is about the same size (72 inches
long). It may, however, be distinguished by the stripe of bright yellow feathers
on either side of its throat from which it is named.
It is a common species, both on Ruwenzori (where it has been recorded up
to the bamboo zone) and elsewhere. It frequents trees and undergrowth, though
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI 135
usually the latter, and has a monotonous chuckling song which it keeps up
persistently, and which at once attracts attention. The nest is concealed in a
shrub, not too far from the ground, and is composed of twigs, rootlets, etc.,
lined with fine fibre. The two eggs are pinkish white, with reddish brown and
20. UGANDA PIGMY FLYCATCHER (Alseonax minimus pumilus).
This little bird is about 41 inches long, dusky brown above and pale greyish
brown below, with a white throat. It has the typical broad flycatcher bill, with
well-developed bristles at the base.
Although normally found below the forest line, it has been seen as high as
10,000 feet. It may readily be distinguished by its habit of sitting motionless
on some vantage point, and darting out at passing insects, much as the spotted
flycatcher does in England. It is not, strictly, a forest bird. The cup-shaped
nest, made of rootlets and fibres, is small and compact and is skilfully concealed
high up in a tree. Two or three eggs are laid; they are greenish white, very
finely and thickly spotted with reddish brown.
21. MOUNTAIN YELLOW FLYCATCHER (Chloropeta similis).
A bird about 51 inches long, with olive-green upper parts and canary-yellow
below, with a wide, flat bill. In habits it resembles a warbler rather than a
flycatcher. Superficially it is not unlike No. 30, from which it may be distin-
guished by the olive-green head and the absence of a white eye-spot.
This flycatcher is common in marshy valleys up to 10,000 feet, but it keeps
chiefly to thick undergrowth and is not easy to see. It has an attractive warbling
song. The nest has not been recorded, but an allied race makes a deep cup-
shaped nest, composed of a variety of materials, placed low in the undergrowth.
It is somewhat like a reed warbler's in construction. The eggs are white, sparsely
spotted and streaked with pinky brown and purplish.
22. RUWENZORI PUFFBACK FLYCATCHER (Batis diops).
A small flycatcher about 4 inches long. It is black above, with a white
bar on its wings, and is slightly greyish on the rump where the feathers are soft
and erectile. The under parts are white, except for a broad black band across
the chest. It has two white spots on the forehead and a black spot on the chin.
This bird is common in the forest, usually below 8,000 feet. It feeds as
much by flitting along the branches of trees, both high up and in the scrub, as by
catching insects on the wing in the open. Nothing has been recorded of its
nesting habits, but allied species make neat, compact cup-nests of fibre and
lichen, skilfully concealed on a branch or in a fork, and lay small greenish or
pinkish eggs, marked with reddish brown or olive.
23. WHITE-TAILED CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Trochocercus albonotatus albonotatus).
An unmistakable bird about 51 inches long, with a distinct crest and long
tail. The upper parts are black, glossy on the crest; the under parts are dusky,
136 UGANDA JOURNAL
becoming almost white on the abdomen. The very conspicuous tail is black
with white outer tail feathers.
It is a common species up to 8,500 feet, both in tall scrub and trees, where
it is noticeable and active, taking insects on the wing. The song is a weak but
pleasant twittering. The small compact nest of moss and lichen is concealed
in the undergrowth. The two eggs are pale buff, with a confluent band of
brown and blue spots.
24. RUWENZORI OLIVE THRUSH (Turdus olivaceus baraka).
Dark brown above, paler brown below, with dark streaks on the throat.
In general build and appearance, as well as in habits, not unlike the English
This bird is common at all altitudes up to 13,000 feet, and may go higher.
It has a varied and attractive song, usually heard at dawn. The nesting habits
have not been recorded, but the Elgon race builds a strong cup-shaped nest of
grass or similar material, strengthened with mud in the foundations, and with a
finer lining. The nest and eggs closely resemble those of the English blackbird.
25. RUWENZORI ORANGE THRUSH (Geokichla piaggiae piaggiae).
Olive-brown above, becoming almost rufous on the head and tail, with two
noticeable white bars on the wings. The under parts are bright rufous, fading
gradually to the white abdomen.
A thrush which is not uncommon in thick forest up to 9,000 feet. It is a
skulker and seldom leaves the darkest parts of the undergrowth, where it forages
on the forest floor. The song is varied, clear and beautiful. A nest found in
March was placed in the fork of a small tree, five feet from the ground: it
resembles that of the English blackbird. The two eggs were pale greenish blue,
of the missel thrush type, marked all over with blotches and spots of reddish
brown and purplish grey.
26. MOUNTAIN CHAT (Pinarochroa sordida subsp.).
Dusky brown above, with a paler indistinct bar on the wings. Outer tail
feathers white with dark tips. Under parts pale brown. A dull little bird,
about 6 inches long not unlike the English robin in build. It has the habit of
flitting its wings and tail.
This is a rare species, frequenting the higher altitudes of East African
mountains above the bamboo zone. It usually selects the topmost branch
of a shrub on which to perch. Nothing appears to have been recorded of its
song. A nest of the race ernesti, found at an altitude of 15,500 feet on Mt. Kenya
in September, was in a cavity in a giant groundsel. It was a rather large nest
with a thick foundation of very fine hay, thickly felted with lumps of what
appeared to be hyrax fur. In the lining there were a few small pieces of moss,
some soft seed-down of groundsel, and a few feathers. The eggs of this race
are pale blue, immaculate or with a few almost imperceptible pale reddish or
rufous secondary markings.
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI
27. ARCHER'S ROBIN CHAT (Cossypha archeri).
Unmistakable-the only robin chat found on the higher slopes. The upper
parts are dark brown; the under parts bright rufous throughout.
This bird is apparently restricted to Ruwenzori, where it is common from
6,000 feet to 13,000 feet. It skulks in thick undergrowth, seldom flying from
cover, and is difficult to detect in spite of its bright under parts. It is usually
seen by itself, feeding quietly; when disturbed it utters a quiet 'churr'. Its
nest has not yet been discovered, but the eggs are unlikely to differ from the
typical olive eggs of the genus.
28. GREY-CHESTED ALETHE (Alethe poliothorax).
An inconspicuous brown bird about the size of a sparrow. The upper
parts are dark reddish brown, more dusky on the wings and tail. The under
parts are slate-grey, paler on the throat and becoming white on the abdomen.
In many ways it resembles Nos. 15 and 16 but can be distinguished by its
It is a rare bird, which creeps about the thickest undergrowth. Little is
known about it, but two specimens have been obtained between 7,000 and
8,000 feet. According to Woosnam it has a curious harsh note. There is no
information concerning its nest.
29. RED-THROATED ALETHE (Alethe poliophrys).
This little bird, although resembling in shape and habits the preceding
species, may be distinguished by its black head, with grey eyebrow, and the
orange-rufous throat and foreneck.
It has been recorded up to 9,000 feet, skulking in thick undergrowth, and
evidently fairly common. Nothing is known of its nesting habits or its song.
A nest of Alethe choloensis, which it may be expected to resemble, was situated
twelve feet above the ground in a cleft of a high tree in evergreen forest. The
nest was cup-shaped and constructed of green moss lined with dry tendrils.
The eggs were a highly glossy dark green, thickly mottled all over with dull,
30. RUWENZORI WHITE-STARRED BUSH ROBIN (Pogonocichla stellata ruwenzorii).
This little bird has a bluish grey head with a noticeable white spot in front
of the eye and a greenish back becoming bright yellow on the rump. Under-
neath it is bright yellow. It should not be confused with Nos. 21 and 51.
It is moderately common up to 13,000 feet, quietly flitting about, usually in
thick cover. A nest found at 12,500 feet was made of root fibre, lined with
similar but finer material. It was situated about two feet from the ground,
poorly concealed in a young tree heath. The two eggs were cream, freckled all
over with reddish brown.
31. RUWENZORI BROWN FLYCATCHER WARBLER (Seicercus umbrovirens alpinus).
A little bird less than 5 inches long, dull brown above, and whitish below.
It has a dark stripe through the eye, and a paler one above it. The wing feathers
are edged with greenish, though this is not readily noticeable.
138 UGANDA JOURNAL
It is common up to 14,000 feet, where it is frequently seen both in the tops
of the tree heaths and in the vegetation beneath. The song, short and clear,
resembles that of the willow wren. The alarm note is a harsh chirp.
The nest is domed, and is made of moss, sometimes with the addition of grass,
lined with white wool from Helichrysum plants, and situated in a thick clump
of moss in a tree heath. An alternative site, found by the British Museum
Expedition (1906), was a dry ledge under an overhanging cliff. The egg is
described as white, spotted all over with pale red and lavender-grey.
32. RED-FACED FLYCATCHER WARBLER (Seicercus laetus).
This species is a little smaller than the preceding ; it is green above (dusky
on the wings and tail), with a yellow patch on the shoulders. The throat and
face are brick-red, fading to white on the abdomen.
It is common up to 9,000 feet, and is usually found in small flocks which
keep to the tops of the trees. Nothing has been recorded of its song or nesting
habits. Related species are known to build domed nests of moss or lichen, and
to lay white eggs speckled with reddish.
33. RUWENZORI SCRUB WARBLER (Bradypterus barakae).
A bird about 51 inches long with dark rufous brown upper parts, paler rufous
below, and becoming white on the abdomen: it has a rufous eye-stripe. The
most striking feature is the tail which probably normally contains ten feathers
though most of the examples so far collected have only five or six; these are
narrow and stiff, with the barbs decomposed and ragged.
This bird has been recorded only from Ruwenzori, between 7,000 and
9,000 feet; it inhabits the darkest parts of the forest zone and is seldom seen.
Woosnam has commented that it always appears wet and draggled from creep-
ing along the dripping undergrowth and that it seems very rarely to use its
wings. It has a short, strident song. Nothing is known of its nesting habits.
34. CINNAMON SCRUB WARBLER (Bradypterus cinnamomeus).
This and the last species are difficult to tell apart in their natural surround-
ings, though cinnamomeus is a little larger. It has a white throat and abdomen,
and a cinnamon breast. It is more dusky on the head and brighter rufous on the
rump than barakae. The tail feathers, usually only ten in number, sometimes
twelve, are ragged, thin and pointed.
The Cinnamon Scrub Warbler has been recorded up to 13,000 feet, and is
much more widely distributed than No. 33. It frequents much the same thick,
dank vegetation so that again little is known of its habits. It has a short, strident
song; also a single clear note.
35. RUWENZORI MASKED BUSH WARBLER (Apalis binotata personata).
A neat little bird, easily identified if seen near at hand. It is less than
5 inches long, with a dull greenish back and tail, a black head, throat and chest,
and a white patch on either side of the head. The sides of the chest are dull
greenish; the abdomen white. The tail is displayed fan-wise.
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI 139
It is not uncommon in the forest zone, where it frequents the tops of trees.
I can find no record of its song. A close relative builds a purse-shaped nest of
Usnea lichen, held together by cobwebs, and lays one or two greenish blue eggs,
dotted with pale red.
36. COLLARED FOREST WARBLER (Apalis ruwenzorii ruwenzorii).
This inconspicuous little warbler is about 42 inches long. It is sooty grey
above and tawny below, with a sooty grey band across the chest; the throat and
abdomen are white. The tail is displayed fan-wise.
Unlike most of the genus, this species frequents the densest tangles, where
it creeps about searching for insect food. Nothing is recorded of its song
37. WHITE-BROWED CROMBEC (Sylvietta leucophrys leucophrys).
This tiny little warbler may be recognized by its long beak, squat body and
almost non-existent tail: its total length is little more than 31 inches. It is dark
olive above, with inconspicuous green edges to the wing feathers. The crown
is dark rufous, and there is a patch of white on either side of the head, and a
chestnut eye-stripe. The under parts are pale grey.
The species is common on Ruwenzori and other East African mountains up
to 8,500 feet, but usually keeps to the thickest cover. It is believed to have a
pleasing but weak song. A nest with two eggs, found on Mount Elgon, was
purse-shaped, suspended between three grass stems about three feet from the
ground ; in the forest zone of Ruwenzori a very different site would be expected.
The eggs are white, spotted with reddish brown.
38. RED-THROATED ROCK MARTIN (Ptyonoprocne rufigula rufigula).
Martins are easily distinguished from swallows by the tail, which is at most
only slightly forked. This species is about 44 inches long, sooty brown above,
slightly paler below: the throat and chest are dull rufous. The outer tail
feathers have a white spot on the inner web.
This widely distributed bird has been recorded at 8,000 feet. It is normally
seen in small parties in the neighbourhood of cliffs. The song is a low twitter,
usually uttered on the wing. The nest, which is plastered to the side of a cliff
or boulder, is shaped like half a saucer and is made of pellets of mud. The eggs
are white, spotted with reddish brown or sepia.
39. EAST AFRICAN GREY CUCKOO SHRIKE (Coracina caesia pura).
This species is the size of an English blackbird, dark grey above, more
It is not uncommon in the forest zone, where it keeps to the tops of tall
trees, quietly feeding or perched motionless. The note is a high-pitched mewing
which at once attracts attention; it is feeble for the size of the bird. A nest
found in the Sudan was a small, flattish structure, made almost entirely of grey
moss, with a little lichen on the outside. The two eggs are dull blue, blotched
and spotted with dull brown.
140 UGANDA JOURNAL
40. RUWENZORI SOOTY BOUBOU (Laniarius poensis holomelas).
A bird about 7 inches long, ashy black throughout.
It is not uncommon from 6,000 to 9,000 feet, but is seldom seen owing to
its skulking habits. It may often be heard uttering a wide range of peculiar and
powerful notes from the centre of a dense tangle of creeper, but it always slips
away at the approach of man. Its nest has never been found, but is probably a
shallow cup of sticks and rootlets in the undergrowth.
41. LAGDEN'S BUSH SHRIKE (Malaconotus lagdeni).
One of the largest shrikes, about 11 inches long, with a big hooked bill and
a grey head which contrasts with the olive-green back. The wing feathers are
black with yellow tips. The under parts are bright yellow.
It is an extremely rare bird, only once obtained-at 9,000 feet. Nothing is
known of its habits, but they may be similar to those of M. poliocephalus, which
it resembles. That species has a distinctive musical double whistle, makes a
shallow nest of root fibre in a fork of a tree about 15 feet from the ground, and
lays large pinkish buff eggs boldly marked with various shades of brown.
42. STRIPE-BREASTED TIT (Parus fasciiventer).
This bird is about 5 inches long. The crown, nape, throat, chest, wing
and tail are black, the latter with white edgings to the feathers. The back is
dark grey. A black stripe runs from the black chest to the abdomen, the sides
of which are pale grey. In characteristics this species much resembles the great
tit of Britain, and should be easily identified.
It is common in small parties up to the tree-heath zone. It moves restlessly,
perching at odd angles, searching for insect food, and has a pleasing twittering
song. Nothing has been recorded of its nesting habits, but it probably builds a
cosy nest in a hole or crevice in a tree and lays white, red-spotted eggs.
43. WHITE-NECKED RAVEN (Corvultur albicollis).
This fine raven, with its black plumage, white shoulder-patches, and heavy
bill is unmistakable. It is seen up to the snow line, as well as on the plains at
the foot of the mountain. It has magnificent powers of flight.
The large nest, made of sticks and lined with some softer material, is placed
on a ledge on a cliff. The eggs are green heavily marked with various shades
of olive and brown.
44. SHARPE'S STARLING (Pholia sharpii).
The upper parts are black with a bright violet or blue gloss; the under
parts are pale fawn. The bird is about 8 inches long and, apart from the longer
tail, is not unlike the starling of Britain in general characteristics.
This starling, which is distinctly rare, has been recorded up to 9,000 feet,
but normally keeps within the forest zone where it seeks the fruits on which it
lives: it is usually found in small parties. Nothing definite is known of its
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI 141
45. SLENDER-BILLED CHESTNUT-WINGED STARLING (Amydrus tenuirostris).
This long-tailed starling is glossy black except for the rufous flight feathers.
The female has greyish edges to the feathers of the head and back.
It is common up to 12,000 feet, both inside and outside the forest. It has
a piercing cry, usually uttered on the wing. The nest, which is cup-shaped, and
made of grass or similar material, is placed in a crevice in a cliff or cave, or
behind a waterfall. The egg is described as white marked with red.
46. UGANDA WHITE-EYE (Zosterops virens stuhlmanni).
This species is about 5 inches long. It is bright green above, and has a
conspicuous white eye-ring. The under parts are greenish yellow, becoming
greener on the flanks.
Although this active little bird does not seem to have been obtained higher
than 8,000 feet, it is very common on the open ridges above the bamboo zone
both on the southern and the northern ends of the range. It is usually seen in
small parties. Its twittering song is weak but pleasing. The nest is a tiny
structure of grass, rootlets, and other fine material bound together by cobwebs,
and is placed. in the fork of a tree or branch. The eggs are either pale blue
47. RUWENZORI SCARLET-TUFTED MALACHITE SUNBIRD (Nectarinia johnstoni
A large, handsome sunbird with a long tail. The male, which is unmistak-
able, is metallic green above and below, with a scarlet tuft on the shoulders. It
only occurs above 12,500 feet, where it is common in the vicinity of lobelias.
The female is olive green.
This bird is common in certain isolated valleys, and on certain ridges,
usually at about 13,500 feet. In January large numbers of males were seen,
but only a few females, so it appeared likely that the latter were sitting. In
spite of prolonged search, only one nest with young and two abandoned nests
were found. These nests were oval, situated two or three feet from the ground,
firmly woven to a young tree heath, and unconcealed. They were made
entirely of white wool from Helichrysum plants. In view of the abundance of
these birds in certain localities, it is remarkable that more nests have not been
recorded. Indeed, it is possible that the three nests referred to above were not
sited normally and that this species usually selects a more cunning and unlikely
site. Giant lobelias have been thoroughly examined, but no nest has been
found inside them.
48. RUWENZORI DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD (Cinnyris after stuhlmanni).
The male is dark metallic green above, becoming violet on the tail; the
under parts are dark olive-brown, with a scarlet chest-band separated from the
throat by a bar of violet.
This sunbird is common only between 10,000 and 12,000 feet and usually
seen just above the bamboo zone. The oval nest is made of moss, fixed firmly
in similar moss hanging from tree heaths; it can be detected only by the round
142 UGANDA JOURNAL
entrance in the side. It is usually situated fifteen feet or more up, but occasion-
ally may be found as low as four feet. The egg is dark olive, freckled with
darker olive so thickly as almost to appear uniform. The song is short and
rather harsh. The alarm note is a loud chirp.
49. REGAL SUNBIRD (Cinnyris regius regius).
Another unmistakable bird. The upper parts of the male are metallic
green, blue and violet. The chest and a narrow stripe to the under tail-coverts
are scarlet; the rest of the under parts are bright yellow.
This brilliant sunbird is quite common in the forest and bamboo zones, but
I have never seen it on the exposed slopes above. The male has a pleasing little
song. Nothing definite is known of its nesting habits.
50. LADY JACKSON'S SUNBIRD (Cyanomitra alinae alinae).
A short-tailed sunbird about 5 inches long. The head and throat are
metallic blue; the back, wings and tail are brown washed with golden-yellow;
the breast and abdomen are dusky. Although this bird is not as brilliant as
No. 49, it should not be mistaken owing to its glossy head and golden back.
It is not uncommon in the forest zone, feeding on nectar and on minute
insects. Nothing has been recorded of its nesting habits, nor can I find any
record of its song.
51. ALIEN WEAVER (Ploceus alienus).
A bird about 6 inches long. The head, throat and chin are black, the latter
giving the impression of a black bib. Below the bib there is a chestnut band.
The upper parts are olive-green, and the rest of the under parts bright yellow.
This fine weaver, about which little is known, is not uncommon up to
8,500 feet both in the forest zone and below it. It appears to frequent trees
more than the undergrowth. A nest suspended from the end of a branch, about
ten feet up, was made almost entirely of fine tendrils of creeper. The two eggs
were creamy white thickly speckled with brick-red, with a few underlying spots
of dull lavender-grey.
52. DUSKY CRIMSON-WING (Cryptospiza jacksoni).
This little finch is crimson all over except for the nape, wings, tail and under
parts, which are grey: it is slightly over 4' inches long.
It is not uncommon both in thick undergrowth and bracken-covered clear-
ings up to 8,500 feet. It is shy but not a skulker. The nest has not been
recorded, but may be a loosely constructed ball structure situated low down in
grass or tangle: the eggs are white.
53. SHELLEY'S CRIMSON-WING (Cryptospiza shelleyi).
A bird about 51 inches long. The whole of the upper parts are crimson
except the wings, which are brown. The under parts are olive, becoming more
rufous on the abdomen.
THE BIRDS OF RUWENZORI 143
Only one example of this rare species has been obtained on Ruwenzori;
the exact locality is not known. A few others have been obtained up to
10,000 feet on the Birunga volcanoes in south-west Uganda. The only record
I can find of its habits is that it keeps to dense undergrowth. The nest probably
resembles that of the last species.
54. RUWENZORI STREAKY SEED-EATER (Poliospiza striolata graueri).
This thick-billed, sparrow-like bird is about 6 inches long. It is brown
above, profusely streaked with darker brown, and has a white stripe over the
eye joining at the back a similar stripe passing under the eye. The under parts
are buff streaked with dark brown. In appearance and coloration it is not
unlike a small corn-bunting.
It is common in open country both above and below the forest and bamboo
zones. It has been seen up to 14,000 feet, but is usually encountered at about
10,000 feet, often in small flocks. In Kigezi it builds mainly in stunted tree
heaths at six to twelve feet above the ground. The neat nest has a solid founda-
tion of plant stems, small twigs, bark fibre, etc., on which a layer of seed-down
is laid; it is lined with very fine, hair-like grass and grass-shreds. The eggs
vary in ground colour from faint greenish grey to pale greenish blue or pale
bluish. They are variously spotted, scrawled and lined with brown, sepia, etc.,
and have underlying markings of slaty shades of maroon, mauve and grey.
55. Kivu GROSBEAK SEED-EATER (Poliospiza burtoni tanganjicae).
This bird is about 7 inches long and has a large, parrot-like beak. Above,
it is dark brown with a few white-tipped feathers on its wings, and inconspicuous
green margins to the tail and flight feathers ; below, it is brown, faintly streaked
with dusky. The large beak readily reveals its identity.
Few specimens of this species have been obtained and little is known of its
habits except that it is a bird of the mountain forests. Its nest and eggs have
not been found.
REFERENCE LIST OF THE SPECIES DESCRIBED
1. Anas sparsa leucostigma-Black Duck.
2. Aquila verreauxi-Verreaux's Eagle.
3. Gypaetus barbatus meridionalis-African Lammergeyer.
4. Buteo oreophilus-Mountain Buzzard.
5. Francolinus nobilis chapini-Ruwenzori Handsome Francolin.
6. Columba arquatrix arquatrix-Speckled Forest Pigeon or Olive Pigeon.
7. Aplopelia simplex jacksoni-Ruwenzori Lemon Dove.
8. Cercococcyx montanus montanus-Ruwenzori Long-tailed Cuckoo.
9. Tauraco schuetti emini-Ruwenzori Black-billed Lourie.
10. Ruwenzorornis johnstoni johnstoni-Johnston's Ruwenzori Lourie.
11. Caprimulgus poliocephalus ruwenzorii-Ruwenzori Nightjar.
12. Micropus melba maximus-Ruwenzori White-bellied Swift.
13. Pogoniulus leucolaima nyanzae-Uganda Lemon-rumped Tinker Bird.
14. Mesopicus griseocephalus ruwenzori-Ruwenzori Woodpecker.
144 UGANDA JOURNAL
15. Pseudoalcippe atriceps-Ruwenzori Hill Babbler.
16. ,, pyrrhopterus-Mau Hill Babbler.
17. Arizelocichla tephrolaema kikuyuensis-Grey-throated Greenbul.
18. Phyllastrephus sucosus-Olive Greenbul.
19. 'Stelgidocichla latirostris eugenia-Uganda Moustached Bulbul.
20. Alseonax minimus pumilus-Uganda Pigmy Flycatcher.
21. Chloropeta similis-Mountain Yellow Flycatcher.
22. Batis diops-Ruwenzori Puffback Flycatcher.
23. Trochocercus albonotatus albonotatus-White-tailed Crested Flycatcher.
24. Turdus olivaceus baraka-Ruwenzori Olive Thrush.
25. Geokichla piaggiae piaggiae-Ruwenzori Orange Thrush.
26. Pinarochroa sordida subsp.-Mountain Chat.
27. Cossypha archeri-Archer's Robin Chat.
28. Alethe poliothorax-Grey-chested Alethe.
29. ,, poliophrys-Red-throated Alethe.
30. Pogonocichla stellata ruwenzorii-Ruwenzori White-starred Bush Robin.
31. Seicercus umbrovirens alpinus-Ruwenzori Brown Flycatcher Warbler.
32. ,, laetus-Red-faced Flycatcher Warbler.
33. Bradypterus barakae-Ruwenzori Scrub Warbler.
34. cinnamomeus-Cinnamon Scrub Warbler.
35. Apalis binotata personata-Ruwenzori Masked Bush Warbler.
36. ruwenzorii ruwenzorii-Collared Forest Warbler.
37. Sylvietta leucophrys leucophrys-White-browed Crombec.
38. Ptyonoprocne rufigula rufigula-Red-throated Rock Martin.
39. Coracina caesia pura-East African Grey Cuckoo Shrike.
40. Laniarius poensis holomelas-Ruwenzori Sooty Boubou.
41. Malaconotus lagdeni-Lagden's Bush Shrike.
42. Parus fasciiventer-Stripe-breasted Tit.
43. Corvultur albicollis-White-necked Raven.
44. Pholia sharpii-Sharpe's Starling.
45. Amydrus tenuirostris-Slender-billed Chestnut-winged Starling.
46. Zosterops virens stuhlmanni-Uganda White-eye.
47. Nectarinia johnstoni dartmouthi-Ruwenzori Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird.
48. Cinnyris after stuhlmanni-Ruwenzori Double-collared Sunbird.
49. ,, regius regius-Regal Sunbird.
50. Cyanomitra alinae alinae-Lady Jackson's Sunbird.
51. Ploceus alienus-Alien Weaver.
52. Cryptospiza jacksoni-Dusky Crimson-wing.
53. ,, shelleyi-Shelley's Crimson-wing.
54. Poliospiza striolata graueri-Ruwenzori Streaky Seed-eater.
55. ,, burtoni tanganjicae-Kivu Grosbeak Seed-eater.
NOTES ON THE LANGO
By THE REV. FATHER TARANTINO
(1) THE LANGO AND THEIR ORIGIN
HE name Lango is properly applicable to a group of peoples originating in
Abyssinia who, in the course of time, have split up into a large number of
tribes. This dispersal of the Lango took place over a long period of migration
and increase, between the departure of the original group from its homeland
north of Lake Rudolph to the time when the Lango of Lango District in Uganda
broke away from the Jie of Karamoja.
Although the original Lango people are now divided into a large number
of tribes possessing at first glance apparently widely differing languages and
customs, and although many of these tribes no longer recognize any kinship
relation, it is still possible to pick out the components of the original stock by
reason of unmistakable similarities between them.
The chief tribes of the Lango family are listed below. In addition there
are a number of smaller tribes which are not mentioned:
In Abyssinia-the Dime and Bako.
In the Sudan-the Toposa, Dongotono, Lotuko and Lango.
In Kenya- the Suk, Turkana, Nandi and Masai.
In Uganda- the Lango of Lango District; the Teso and Kumam
of Teso District; the Abwor, Dodoth, Jie (or
Lango-Olok) and Karamojong (or Lango-Dyang)
of Karamoja District.
The Lango of Lango District recognize the name Lango only, but they are
known to the Teso as Emirit and to the Acholi as Umiru. This latter name was
given them when they settled near the Olira (as the Lango used to call the Acholi
between Paranga and Pader): it signifies enemies or foreigners, i.e., people of
another tribe, either captured or bought as slaves, or who have immigrated into
the country. Similarly, the Lango use the word mo (foreigner) when referring
to people of other tribes or races who come to Lango.
There is abundant evidence to show that all the tribes listed above belong
to the Lango family. All of them, for instance, use the word lango, either
calling themselves by it, or applying it to their neighbours. Thus the Kumam
have the expressions yo lango (native path), paco lango (native village), wan
lango (we Lango); while the Jie and Karamojong call themselves Lango Jie
and Lango Karamojong respectively. In the Sudan, again, there are people
called Lango, and the Toposa, Dongotono and Lotuko are referred to as Lango
by many other tribes (for instance by the Acholi of the Sudan).
Other indications of a common origin are the names used by the various
tribes for the months of the year, for neighboring peoples, and for their clans.'
The clan names Atek, Okarwok, Arak and Otengoro, for example, are found
I For a more detailed elaboration of the general argument, see my earlier paper, 'The
Origin of the Lango' (Uganda Journal, Vol. 10 (1946), pp. 12-16).
146 UGANDA JOURNAL
not only among the Lango of Lango District but also among the Kumam,
Abwor, Teso, Karamojong and Jie. These related tribes also show close
similarities in many of their customs, for instance, in their house-building
methods, rain-making ceremonies, and so on.
It is sometimes argued that the Lango of Lango District do not belong to
the same group of people as the rest of those mentioned because their language
is different. This argument is not valid, for the language which they speak
to-day is not their native tongue. When the Lango came to live near the
Acholi and the Jo-pa-Lwo they picked up the language of those tribes and used
it in preference to their own because they found it more useful to them. The
remnants of their own language have tended to become still further obscured
since the advent of British rule and the adoption by schools and churches of a
standardized form of Acholi. A similar position can be seen to-day among the
Abwor, whose children are learning Acholi, not Karamojong.
Although the present Lango language is very close to Acholi, enough of the
old words remain to show that it originally resembled the languages of the
Karamojong group. An example is the series of names for animals found in
Lango rain-making songs: olyon for rhinoceros, etom for elephant, erisa for
leopard, ebu for hyena. Other animal names which can be cited are ingatu
(lion), okori (giraffe), ituku (zebra), imuge (hartebeest), whilst there is further
evidence in the names for parts of the body, such as euku (lungs), itao (heart),
amuru (thigh). The names for father and mother, too, follow the Karamojong
and not the Acholi.
The argument that the Lango cannot be related to the Jie, Kumam, Teso
and Karamojong, because they have so often fought against them, does not hold
water. As I record in my note on 'Lango Wars' elsewhere in this number of
the Journal, the Lango, when not fighting against some other tribe, were often
fighting amongst themselves, clan against clan, the people of the north against
those of the south, and so on. The Lango, like most other peoples, have never
found consanguinity a bar to war.
There is general agreement among the Lango that they came from the east.
Old men of the tribe say that they came from beyond Mt. Otukei, which they
also call Awila. They say that it was there that they broke away from the Jie,
who remained where they are to-day, and that it was there, too, that they parted
company with the Teso and Kumam (referred to collectively as Kumam), who
took the road southwards to Obutotok (Anyaralum).
The Lango themselves moved westward between Orum and Adilang. In
a migration which was spread over many years they passed south of Patongo,
where they found the Olira in occupation, and came to Adwari and Ogur.
Here something happened which caused them to disperse: somewhere in the
area of Ogur, Erute and Lira, where the Lango settlements were, a large
meteorite fell. This was taken by the Lango to be a sign that they must no
longer live together, so some of the tribe turned back to the east, some moved on
to the west, and others turned south.
The first group moved back to Orum, Omoro and Abako, near the rock
called Ngora; those who turned west pushed on to Alito, Aboke, Ngai and
Jaber. The group which reached Ngora rock split up, some going off to join
NOTES ON THE LANGO 147
the Kumam, others passing on to Amaich, Aduku, Inomo, Apach and Ibuje.
In this way the Lango occupied their present territory, where they have lived
for about two hundred years.
Although it is indisputable that the Lango came from east of Otukei, there
were considerable migrations before that. Concerning these earlier movements
there is little evidence, but it seems fairly certain that the original tribe came
from Abyssinia, from the Kaffa country north of Lake Rudolph. Some old
Lango say that they heard from their grandfathers that they came from the
country of the Apobo people, a land of great mountains and abundant rain.
This country must have been Abyssinia.
When the Lango left their original home they came to the western shores
of Lake Rudolph. Here the Toposa, Lotuko and Dongotono struck off to the
west and settled in those parts of the Sudan which they still occupy, the Turkana
remaining near the lake. The rest of the Lango then moved on together, the
Karamojong halting later in their present area, the Jie, Lango, Teso and Kumam
continuing to move south to Otukei. These earlier migrations may possibly have
covered some three or four hundred years.
The above summary is supported not only by language likenesses but also
by the fact that the Lango themselves acknowledge their relationship with the
J ie, Karamojong, Teso and Kumam, who in turn recognize that they are related
to such tribes as the Dodoth, Turkana, Lotuko and Toposa, who can trace their
origin to Abyssinia.
The patriarchal system of government, by which the clan chief controls the
affairs of each clan, is common to all these tribes. Other resemblances are to be
found in their dances, their food (the Lango of Uganda used once to drink
milk mixed with blood, as some related tribes still do to-day), their hunting
At this distance in time it is impossible to say why the original Lango tribe
left Abyssinia, or why the various subsequent dispersals took place. It is,
however, perhaps worth recording the reputed reasons for the final separation of
the Jie and Lango: similar reasons, i.e., threats of war, and the presence of strong
slave-raiding neighbours probably accounted for most of the others.
The split between the Lango and Jie is said to have been due to a number
of causes. Firstly, there was a shortage of water, which led to repeated disputes;
secondly, when the Lango came westwards on hunting expeditions, they found
there good well-watered land, which offered scope for settlement. Thirdly, it
happened that there was a famine among the Jie at a time when the Lango had
plentiful supplies. The Jie therefore brought their children to the Lango, to
exchange for food. Then, when the famine was at an end and the crops were
ready for harvest, the Jie held a dance, the myel adonga. The Lango, who were
very fond of dancing, went to join in, and took with them the Jie children.
When these children saw their parents, they went back to them. This angered
the Lango, who now had nothing to show for the food which they had given the
Jie, and who therefore asked for some other payment instead. This request the
Later, the Lango held an abalkari dance, and some of the Jie came to take
part. The Lango once again asked for payment of their debts, but the Jie
148 UGANDA JOURNAL
answered that their brothers should not be importunate. They then killed a
dog and threw it to the Lango, saying," Here is some food for you, in settlement!"
A fight with whips followed, in which the Lango had the worst of it.
The Lango were now very angry and prepared another big dance, which
the Jie again attended. When the Jie were in the centre of the dance, the Lango,
according to a pre-arranged plan, attacked them with whips and sticks, and
drove them away.
Honours were now even, but later the Jie attacked again, this time in earnest,
and many men were killed on either side. It was clear that the two tribes could
no longer live peaceably together, so the Lango gradually moved off into the
more fertile lands to the west. It was in the third encounter between the Lango
and the Jie that the Lango fought with spears for the first time: previously these
had been rare amongst them, and possessed only by chiefs. In those days the
spears were not thrown; they were used only for hand-to-hand fighting. To
throw a spear from a distance was considered cowardly.
The Lango found their new territory unoccupied, but there were signs of
former occupation in the shape of broken pots and the remains of fire-places.
It seems probable that the previous inhabitants must have been Jo-pa-Lwo
who had settled in the valley of the river Tochi after separating from the Acholi.
They appear to have settled first around Ngai, Icheme, Aboke and Loro, but to
have returned later to the other side of the Tochi and concentrated themselves
in Minakulu, Kamdini and Atura, where they were found by the Lango. After
the arrival of the Lango, the majority of the Jo-pa-Lwo moved away, most of
them crossing the Nile to Mutunda, a few remaining in Kamdini and Minakulu,
and others moving south to Lake Kyoga, into Bululu, to Awere (Kaweri) island,
whose name is derived from Jo-pa-Awir', the original home of the Jo-pa-Lwo.
It was from these Jo-pa-Awir that the Kumam picked up the Acholi language.
The Jo-pa-Lwo surrendered their country to the Lango without fighting,
but the Kumam did not yield theirs without a struggle. They had to be driven
by force across the Munyal river before the Lango could take possession. After-
wards, the Kumam returned, and have remained there ever since.
(2) AGRICULTURE AND LIVESTOCK
The tribes of the Lango group were originally pastoral. They ate meat, and
drank milk mixed with blood, as do the Karamojong, Jie, Turkana and others to
this day. Two chief reasons caused the Lango of Lango District to take up
agriculture-the death of large numbers of their cattle from disease, and the
fertility of the land in which they finally settled. When they saw that cultivation
was the surest safeguard against famine, they devoted themselves to it energetic-
ally, producing a surplus of food which they traded for such things as hoes and
goats. Sometimes, when neighboring tribes were in the grip of famine and
had no other goods to offer in exchange, the Lango were paid for their food in
slaves. People can still be found in Lango who came to the district in that way.
The first food crops planted by the Lango were the millets, pigeon peas,
simsim, amola (Hyptis sp.), malakwang (Hibiscus sp.), adura (Ceratotheca
NOTES ON THE LANGO 149
sesamoides), okwer (a species of cucumber, Cucurbitaceae), alao (Crotalaria sp.)
and otigo (Corchorus sp.): it was some time before they began to eat groundnuts.
Sweet potatoes were introduced from Bunyoro in the reign of Kaberega.
Cassava was not known till brought in by the Government in 1911. Even with
all these various foods, famines occur from time to time, as for instance in 1918,
when deaths were numerous, and again in 1928.
The Lango used to eat the meat of almost all wild birds and animals except
the hyena and jackal, also the byero (afterbirth) of cattle and goats. Mineral
salt was unknown to them, and for cooking they used salt extracted from goat-
Fond as they are of other foods, the Lango like beer best of all. The art
of brewing was started long ago, and there is a Lango legend concerning it.
The version told to me differs somewhat from that recorded by Driberg. In
my version, the discovery of brewing is attributed to a woman named Atile, who
brews beer and gives it to her husband. He falls into a drunken sleep and is
thought to be dead, so his brothers come and kill Atile for murdering her husband.
In Driberg's version the brewer is a man called Atiri, who takes the beer to
the chief. The chief becomes drunk, his attendants think that he has been
poisoned, and they kill Atiri. When the chief recovers he asks. for Atiri. On
learning that he has been put to death the chief becomes angry and kills all his
attendants in punishment.
Before the appearance of metal hoes, the Lango cultivated with a long
wooden implement called opilo, which was shaped rather like a canoe paddle.
This could only be used when the ground was soft. Later, when iron became
known, the Lango began to make their own crude metal hoes. These they
forged as best they could from iron ore obtained locally. They are said to have
noticed that after rain had fallen during the daytime steam arose from places
where there was iron in the ground. Therefore, when rain fell, they went about
marking such places with stakes, and afterwards looked there for ore. This
they pounded, and then smelted over a fire.
The hoes which the Lango made for themselves were by no means sufficient
for their needs, but they made the best possible use of them by sharing. It was
not until the Lango started to buy from outside sources that hoes became
plentiful: they obtained them from the Arabs, the Banyoro, the Baganda, and
the people of Labwor. While still scarce, hoes were among the articles which
made up the Lango bride-price. It is worth noting that the long-handled
(5-6 ft.) Lango hoe is also found among the Lotuko. The Lotuko handles,
however, are usually made of bamboo.
In the old days, when the Lango lived together in concentrated settlements,
they farmed on a communal basis, usually selecting for cultivation an area where
scattered large trees afforded shade. They worked in the fields from early
morning until about mid-day, judging the seasons for hoeing and planting by
the moon. Like the Karamojong, the Lango have a name for each month of the
year. These names are: Orara atidi, Orara akurakin, Omuk, Okwang, Odunge,
Omaruk, Okitok, Eret, Obar, Opoo, Odudu (Itukit), Ecuban. The Lango
knew perfectly well approximately when to sow, but they used to await some
special sign, which indicated the precise time to start. The blossoming of some
150 UGANDA JOURNAL
particular flower, an unusual warmth inside the hut, or the appearance of the
itakitak termite, were all taken as signs that the rains were near.
The Lango believed in a spiritual power which controlled the rain and the
maturing of crops. When the time of sowing approached, they invoked this
power at the ceremony rubo koti, the mixing of the seed. Sometimes this
ceremony was accompanied by the sacrifice of a chicken or a sheep, whose
throat was cut and whose blood was allowed to drip onto the seed. If there was
no ceremony, it was believed that the seed would not germinate. The mixing
and sowing was done by a member of the Etogo (a religious group).
Communal cultivation was based on the wang tic, or communal working
party, formed by each village. Co-operation was essentially a matter of
principle, and was not carried out simply for the reward of beer or food offered
by the owner of the field. Thus, if a member of the wang tic failed to fulfil
his obligations, he would be unable to obtain help in cultivating his own land,
no matter how much beer and food he offered. The brewing of the beer for
the cultivators was customarily undertaken by the owner of the field, but if the
field was only a small one he might provide chickens instead, one chicken to
every two workers. The institution of the wang tic shows that the Lango
appreciated the advantages of co-operative effort and there can be no doubt
that they benefited considerably from it. The system still exists, though in a
weakened form. The coming of the plough has enabled many farmers to
cultivate large areas without outside assistance, and in such cases the wang tic
is only called upon to help with the harvest.
Although now primarily agriculturists, the Lango were originally a cattle-
keeping people, and cattle still retain a high place in their affections. Each
animal is given a name, usually descriptive of one of its physical characteristics,
although sometimes the names of people are used. A Lango can tell any of his
cattle at sight, even if they have been for several years in another herd. For
this reason, stolen cattle are not readily concealed.
In the old days, Lango men used to smear themselves with the dung of a
favourite bull before going to the hunt, or to battle. Bulls are given a number
of special names. Cattle are the traditional currency for the payment of bride-
price and blood-money. A man cannot marry unless he possesses cattle, and
a clan with few cattle is weak.
When they separated from the Jie, the Lango were very rich in cattle. In
1890, disease swept the country and so few cattle survived that for a time the
bride-price had to be paid in goats and hoes. Little by little the Lango began
once more to acquire cattle. Some they obtained by trading ivory with Arabs
and Baganda, three to ten head of cattle for a tusk, according to size; others
they obtained in exchange for goats or food, or in raids on other tribes.
The Lango ke6p their cattle in kraals, and it has always been customary for
all those of a village to be kept together. This system of communal herding,
the wang kwat, is another example of co-operative activity. The individual
benefits because his cattle are looked after for him, giving him more time for
cultivation. When a new kraal is needed, the kraal-master calls all the owners
together to build it. When it is finished, they kill a chicken at the entrance, to
ensure the health of the cattle.
NOTES ON THE LANGO 151
The Lango have always kept many goats and sheep. Goats formed part
of the bride-price, and were used for payment in cases of adultery. Sheep were
usually killed sacrificially to propitiate the gods (jok), or to placate the spirits of
the dead. They were killed, for instance, to capture a departed spirit (mako
tipo), to exorcise a devil which had entered a man's body, at rain-making
ceremonies, at dances to celebrate the birth of twins, at funerals, when casting
spells and pronouncing blessings, and at the ceremony of mixing the seed. Girls
and women do not eat the flesh of sheep until they are past child-bearing.
After the cattle epidemic of 1890, the Lango did all they could to increase
their herds of goats and sheep, and since that time these animals have been
numerous. Formerly, it was the custom to keep one's goats in the hut at night,
partly to guard against theft, and partly to increase the warmth of the hut.
To-day, with the growing appreciation of hygiene, a separate shelter is usually
provided. Goats are given names in the same way as cattle.
(3) DWELLINGS AND DRESS
Lango houses and villages were very different in the past from what they are
to-day. A single village might contain more than a hundred huts built close
together in a line. In front of the huts, within the compound, was a line of
granaries belonging to individual families: beyond these, at a greater distance,
was the communal cattle kraal.
Unlike many tribes, the Lango did not fence their villages. The labour
involved would have been considerable, and they evidently felt themselves
sufficiently secure without such protection. Whether they fenced their villages
formerly, when in Karamoja, is not known. Huts were grouped together in
villages, partly for greater protection against thieves and marauders, and partly
because the disintegration of the large clans had not yet begun. The clan elders
knew that the people could not readily find assistance in building and cultivation
outside their own clan, and they vigorously opposed any attempt by individuals
to settle apart from the community.
As the country became peaceful and the people no longer need fear attack,
they began to move to whatever place they fancied, either when a clan split up,
or when there was a death or a quarrel or some other trouble. To-day, large
villages are rare, and the homesteads are widely scattered through the bush.
The modern Lango likes to settle by himself and to feel that he is master of his
own affairs. In the old days, when a man wanted to move his hut, it was the
custom for him to take a chicken and some beer to the selected site and leave it
unvisited for one or two days. If, on his return, he found that a wild animal
had killed the chicken or drunk the beer, this was taken as a bad omen, and he
would not build in that place. If, however, no harm had come to them, it was a
sign that the site was a good one, and that building could commence.
When the new house was ready, an old man was called to clear the path to
it by bending back the grass and branches on either side. The members of the
household then followed along the path to the house. On arrival they all
entered and drank beer. For fear of evil spirits, the Lango would not build near
a swamp, or on rocky or stony ground. If a house was struck by lightning, they
152 UGANDA JOURNAL
rubbed a spear in the ashes and drove it through the roof to prevent the lightning
visiting it again. The whole village was also sprinkled with a special medicine,
a portion of it being put in a calabash from which everyone drank, kneeling, with
hands clasped behind the back. Around each house a rope of obia (Imperata)
grass was bound, these ropes being left in position till the next new moon. In
addition, a root of the tree ewilakot (Erythrina) was preserved as a protection
against further visitations from lightning.
Nowadays, the Lango build their houses in a style started when the Govern-
ment came, which is very different from that which they previously followed.
Here and there an occasional house built in the traditional manner can still be
found, occupied by old people who say that the new-style houses are not warm
enough for them.
The old way of building a house was simple. Holes were first dug in the
ground, in a circle, and into these were inserted poles of such trees as odugo
(Combretum binderanum), yao (Butyrospermum), opok (Terminalia), omeng
(Combretum gueinzii) and okwolo (Strychnos innocua). These poles were then
bent inwards and their tops tied together: there was no central pole. The roof
was thatched with grass by the method known as pole-pole (thatching in steps).
The walls, about four feet high, were plastered on the inside, and there was a
very low doorway (gola kek) through which people had to enter on hands and
knees. The reason for this low doorway, the old men say, was that it prevented
enemies from being able to take aim with their weapons at people inside the hut.
A second type of house built by the Lango was the ot iguruguru, a small
hut intended only for sleeping. Usually it served as a guest house for visitors.
Unmarried youths slept in small huts called otogo, built on raised platforms
supported on four forked poles, at a considerable height from the ground. The
doorway, approached by a wooden ladder, was only just big enough to allow a
person to crawl in and out. A grass mat closed the entrance and the hut was
extremely warm inside. These otogo are no longer built; instead the boys
build small houses referred to as the 'boy's lines'.
The modern mud-and-wattle granary is called lira, perhaps because it was
copied from the Alira Acholi. The old type of granary was made of clay mixed
with cwici (chopped grass): it resembled, but was bigger than, the field granary
(tua) but was not so large as the present lira.
Formerly, the implements and utensils of the Lango were few and simple.
A hide stretched on a raised part of the floor of a hut served as a bed. The
woman's utensils included various pots for storing water and beer, cooking pots,
a pan for simsim, calabashes, drinking vessels, ladles and stirrers, winnowing
trays, milking pail, brooms, pestle and mortar, and a couple of grinding stones.
The man had his spear and shield, his hunting net, a knife, drum and hoe. A
favourite possession was the beer-stick, which looked like an ordinary walking
stick but was in fact hollow and contained a beer-sucking tube.
Lately, the Lango have begun to furnish their houses in a more modern
fashion. Instead of sleeping on the floor, with a wooden stool for pillow, many
now have beds with mattresses and blankets; and instead of lighting a fire in the
hut to keep off mosquitoes, mosquito-nets are being increasingly used. Tables,
chairs, and boxes are now to be found in almost every house, but in spite of these
NOTES ON THE LANGO 153
improvements many people still live in extremely primitive and insanitary
The Lango have always been fond of personal adornment, even although
they used not to wear clothes. Girls were tattooed both on the back and front;
men on the back only. The two front bottom teeth were removed, the ears
were pierced in as many as ten places for the insertion of gilo beads, and metal
ornaments were worn in the nose and on the upper lip. The lower lip, too, was
often pierced, to carry any object which took the owner's fancy. Even the
tongue was commonly pierced, to carry a two-beaded ornament.
On their arms and legs, the Lango wore an astonishing quantity of metal
bracelets, both above and below the knee and elbow, and around the ankle and
wrist. The neck was encased in another pile of bracelets, making it difficult to
bend the head. Women were fond of wearing a big brass ring on the wrist;
during quarrels, they frequently hit one another over the head with these.
The men worked their hair into elaborate head-dresses, as the Jie and
Karamojong still do to-day, plastering them with mud and studding them with
beads (when these were to be obtained).
The women rubbed roasted simsim on their heads to blacken them; and
twisted their hair. Both sexes were fond of smearing their bodies with oil
As long as the Lango lived in Karamoja, the men went completely naked
but the women and older girls were beginning to adopt a primitive form of
clothing consisting of a big skin, ajoo. When the Lango came to live near the
Acholi and Jo-pa-Lwo, they adopted the dress of these tribes. The men of the
Jo-Aber were the first to start wearing goatskins round the loins, and their women
set the lead in rejecting the ajoo in favour of the cip or ariko (apron). It was
only in comparatively recent times that the Lango men of the south and east
took to wearing skins; until then they went naked.
SOME ASPECTS OF CLIMATE IN UGANDA, WITH
SPECIAL REFERENCE TO RAINFALL
By J. P. HENDERSON
THE notes which follow are not intended to be an exhaustive treatise upon
Uganda's climate. The aim in preparing them has been to indicate the
fundamental variations of rainfall regime. Much of what follows is the
expression of personal opinion, based on experience; it does not necessarily
express the views of the East African Meteorological Department. It is hoped
that it will form the basis for further critical examination and analysis in the
The predominant characteristic of rainfall in Uganda is that it is bi-seasonal.
From Fig. 1-a chart of average or 'normal' conditions-it is apparent that
Io A A
JFMAHJJASONO JFMAMJJASOND JFMAMJJASOND
ARUA KITGUM MOROTO
9 YEARS TO DEC 1946
SJFMAMJJASOND J FMAMJJASOND JFMAJJASOND
BUTIABA LIRA SOROTI
9 YEAS TO DEC 1947
J FMAMJJASOND JFMAMJJASOND JFMANJJASOND
FORT PORTAL JINJA TORORO
19 YEARS TO DEC 947
JFMAMJJASOND J FMAMJJASOND JFMAMJJASOND
KABALE MBARARA ENTEBBE
Average monthly rainfall in inches at certain selected Stations
(20-yr. period ending December 1947 except where otherwise stated).
most stations experience two peaks of rainfall during the year.' The peaks
vary somewhat in time with locality but generally they occur within the periods
mid-March to mid-May (the 'long' rains) and September to early November
(the 'short' rains), i.e., they are associated with the equinoxes or, more specific-
ally, the arrival of the inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ), whose position is
related to the sun's declination.
Before attempting a more detailed analysis of the rainfall of the territory, it
is appropriate to consider the rainfall-producing factors which prevail in Uganda.
I See also Appendix II.
SOME ASPECTS OF CLIMATE IN UGANDA 155
MECHANISM OF THE RAINFALL
The wind currents entering Uganda are ultimately responsible for the
production of rain. Four such currents are recognized, namely: (a) A south-
east monsoon, predominant between April and October, in which usually
considerable instability is induced during the last four to five days of its ocean
trajectory; (b) A northerly current which has travelled across Egypt and the
Sudan and is therefore very dry-it is in evidence from time to time between
October and March; (c) A north-easterly current of the same origin as (b) but
which has travelled around the southern Arabian pressure-ridge. This current,
the north-east monsoon, is fairly moist as a result of a moderately long sea
track: it is the predominant current between October and March; (d) A
westerly current, varying in direction between south-west and north-west. Very
little is precisely known as to the origin of this current: it is usually cool with a
high lapse rate (rate of fall of temperature with altitude), and it may appear at
any time of year.
The air masses constituting these currents are subjected to local modifica-
tion as a result of their passage overland from the oceans, during which they are
raised some 4,000-5,000 feet (thereby becoming less stable), and also by their
passage over large swamp and lake areas-in particular Lake Victoria-when
their moisture content is considerably increased.
The main causes of precipitation are:
1. Convergence between two air currents;
2. Convergence or surges in an air current, often associated with the
passage of frontal zones arriving from extra-tropical latitudes;
3. Convection in a moist, unstable air mass;
4. The physical lifting of an air mass-orographic rain.
Details will now be given of these processes in so far as they are effective
rain producers in relation to the four currents described above.
Convergence' between two air currents. The convergence zone between
the south-east monsoon on the one hand and the northerly or north-easterly
current on the other is known as the inter-tropical convergence zone. As
already remarked, the northwards and southwards travel of this zone is associated
with the long and short rains.
The convergence zone between the south-east monsoon and the westerly,
and to a lesser extent between the northerly (or north-easterly) and the westerly,
often produces an effect equal to or greater than the inter-tropical convergence
These convergence zones vary in intensity from zero to great walls of
cumulonimbus with heavy rain and thunder; they vary in breadth from some
two hundred miles, with scattered showers over the area, to as little as one or
I Convergence is the flowing into an area horizontally of more air than flows out
horizontally, with the result that the excess air is forced to rise. Rising air expands and
is cooled. If the cooling is continued long enough and the air contains moisture this
moisture will condense and cause cloud and rain.
156 UGANDA JOURNAL
When the air mass discontinuity is a sharp one, the slope of the discon-
tinuity can be very variable. The consequence is the occurrence, within the
zone, of weather which may show features associated with either warm or cold
When the zone is broad, a horizontal flow of air (usually easterly) is
frequently observed within the frontal zone itself. In such circumstances, the
zone can hardly be described as a true convergence zone, and usually at such
times it manifests few characteristics to distinguish it from the air masses on
either side of the zone.
The westerlies often appear over Uganda at heights between 10,000 feet
and 20,000 feet. In the lower 10,000 feet above sea level, the north-easterly or
south-easterly current predominates. If the surface air contains sufficient
moisture, the effect of the cool over-riding westerly is to produce considerable
vertical development of cloud, thunderstorms and heavy rain-the characteristics
of a cold front-but apparent usually over a wide zone rather than over a sharply
defined front as in temperate latitudes.
The convergence of a northerly air mass with the westerly often produces
results which are not without interest. The resulting convergence zone, norm-
ally fairly well-defined, is orientated roughly west-north-west to east-south-east,
and lies usually across the southern parts of Uganda and southern Lake Victoria.
The northerly tends to over-ride the westerly with the production of extensive
layers of cirrostratus and altostratus northwards of the zone. As the northerly
is a dust-laden air mass, the concentration of haze and overcast sky produces a
remarkable degree of gloom. Rain produced in such circumstances tends to be
light and protracted but, in the vicinity of the Lake, insolation seems to be
effective in producing afternoon thunderstorms in the zone in some instances.
Surges in an air current. When either the north-east monsoon or the
south-east monsoon has become established, depending upon the time of year,
weather conditions tend to become settled. This appears to be due to the fact
that these main currents reach only to 8,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level.
Above this height another current exists, moving almost invariably in a direction
different from that of the lower current. In the upper current the lapse rate is
normally low, and consequently cloud which may develop in the lower air
current is unable to develop into the upper current. In Uganda the upper current
usually blows from an easterly direction (north of east, March to September;
south of east during the rest of the year).
The settled conditions are often disturbed by what may be described as
surges in the lower (main) current, which take the form of an abrupt increase in
wind velocity. Convergence occurs with the air mass itself and is often sufficient
to overcome the effect of the upper current, with the consequence that there is
considerable vertical development of cloud with associated rain.
1 A warm front is the boundary between advancing warm air and a mass of colder
air over which it rises. The rising of the warm air usually causes protracted relatively
light rain in advance of the front. Warm fronts are chiefly characteristic of high latitudes.
A cold front is the boundary line between advancing cold air and a mass of warm air
under which the cold air pushes like a wedge. Its passage is accompanied by a fall of
temperature, a change of wind direction and sometimes a line-squall, showers and possibly
SOME ASPECTS OF CLIMATE IN UGANDA 157
The surges are often associated with the movement of cold fronts from
higher latitudes. Surges occurring in the south-east monsoon affect Uganda so
much more than those occurring in the north-east monsoon that the latter can
be neglected. Cold fronts in the south-east monsoon move either up the
Mozambique Channel or from the region of the 'Mauritius High' across the
north of Madagascar. They reach Uganda after having traversed Tanganyika
and Kenya. Some pass to the south of the Kenya highlands from south-east
to north-west over Lake Victoria. The physical lifting, and the introduction by
the Lake of large quantities of water vapour into the air mass, add to the insta-
bility, resuscitating what has by now become an enfeebled frontal zone after its
long journey from the south. The principal characteristic of such frontal rain
is an extensive band of cumulonimbus cloud moving slowly over the country
from south-east to north-west, the areas principally affected being Busoga, Lake
Kyoga, Acholi and, if the front is sufficiently well-developed, probably the
southern Sudan. It will be appreciated that this trajectory lies over much of
the swamp area of Uganda with consequently ideal conditions for sustaining the
instability in the front.
Cold frontal zones which follow a course to the east of the Kenya highlands
seem to become very diffuse and almost stationary along the line of hills which
forms the western wall of the rift and the border country of north-eastern
Uganda; decaying there, they give rise to wet weather in the Karamoja area.
A succession of decaying cold zones is by no means unknown in other parts of
the world, e.g., on the southern slopes of the mountains of New Guinea and on
the high ground in Madagascar; their existence in Karamoja would explain
certain features of the rainfall in that area and they will be returned to later in
Convection in a moist unstable air mass. This is a rain-producing agency
more effective during the period of the south-east monsoon, particularly in
Uganda north of Lake Victoria. The north-east monsoon is relatively ineffective
at least until it reaches southern and south-western Uganda, presumably because
it is a drier air mass than the south-easterly.
Convection is usually a consequence of the intense heating of the ground,
but may also be initiated by mechanical turbulence created by obstacles in the
path of the current. Cumulus cloud produced by this mechanism is in evidence
early in the day and, if the lapse rate is favourable, it reaches cumulonimbus
dimensions towards noon.
The incidence of rainfall in late July and in August in West Nile, Acholi,
Lango, Teso and Mbale Districts seems to be due to this process Examination
of wind frequency charts for the 3 km. level reveals that the mean trajectory of
the air mass has veered from south-easterly in June to predominantly southerly
throughout all except the south-west and extreme north-east of Uganda in July
and August; by September the south-easterly has been restored. An air mass
with a south to north trajectory picks up appreciably more moisture from
Lakes Victoria, Kyoga and Albert than does a south-easterly, and the
regions to the north of these lakes must experience an enhanced rainfall as a
TYPICAL AIR MASS TRAJECTORIES
South-east monsoon over East Africa.
(Currents depicted above and in Figs. 3, 4, 5 are typical for
ir hiets t aa OO0 and 8.000 feet above sea level.)
TYPICAL AIR MASS TRAJECTORIES
Southerly winds over Uganda during period of south-east
FIG. 4 FIG. 5
TYPICAL AIR MASS TRAJECTORIES TYPICAL AIR MASS TRAJECTORIES
North-east monsoon over East Africa. Northerly winds over Uganda during period of north-east
160 UGANDA JOURNAL
Orographic rain. This again is usually only effective during the south-east
monsoon period. The air current is forced to rise during its trajectory over
East Africa and the consequent dynamical cooling associated with the expansion
of the air produces rain if there is adequate moisture present, which is usually
the case. Naturally, in Uganda, orographic rain is a feature of the more moun-
tainous parts of the country, notably the country along the Congo border.
The hot dry season which affects the greater part of Uganda between
December and February appears to be mainly caused by the frequent incursion
during that period of the warm northerly winds which have lost the bulk of their
water vapour content during their passage over the Sahara and the Sudan.
Diagrams of the trajectories of the air masses affecting Uganda are given
in Figs. 2-5: typical frontal zones are also indicated.
ORIGINS OF THE RAINFALL
In view of the bi-seasonal nature of Uganda's rainfall, associated with the
incidence of the inter-tropical convergence zone, there is little doubt that the
great bulk of the moisture reaching the territory originates in the Indian Ocean
and is carried into Uganda by the agency of the main monsoonal air currents,
the north-east and south-east monsoons. The incursion of westerly winds
from the Congo may bring in addition moisture from the Atlantic Ocean.
Although the origin of the westerlies is rather obscure, it seems very probable
that, at any rate during the period March to September, they are part of the
south-east monsoon which has been deflected from its normal course by some
peculiarity in the pressure distribution over regions far to the west and south-
west of Uganda.
The north-south orientated zone associated with the westerly winds seems
never to be very remote from Uganda. It would appear that it oscillates across
the Congo border as a broad diffuse front, activity in it being stimulated by the
high ground in that area. When the zone moves over Uganda it usually causes
widely distributed thunderstorms. Occasionally it displays warm front charac-
teristics, and then produces only small falls of rain, which is continuous rather
Climatically Uganda may be divided into five zones. They are relatively
minor zones from a continental point of view and do not, of course, have sharply
defined boundaries. They are defined in the main by similarities of rainfall
distribution rather than rainfall volume. The zones (delineated in Fig. 6) are:
Zone 1. Lake Victoria, a strip 30 to 50 miles wide, extending around the shores
of Lake Victoria.
Zone 2. Karamoja.
Zone 3. Western Uganda, a belt about 30 to 70 miles wide on the western
border of Uganda, extending northwards to the Zoka forest and
Mount Wati, and including the high ground of West Nile District.
Scile of 0MIs
MILES 0 :r .u V, 4.
Iou,,,', r (i,,l ,i tr,. -
B.-.-.ddiid ..r Sup-..-., --
Iwohtes. e .^'io. ..nches
Climatic Zones and Isohyets.
(Compiled 1946, from figures of average annual rainfall.)
Drawn by SurveyLand& Mines Dept.
SOME ASPECTS OF CLIMATE IN UGANDA 161
This zone may be subdivided, mainly on topographical
(a) West Nile.
(c) The South-western Hill Sub-Zone.
(d) Lake Albert (including part of the Albert Nile basin)-
Lake George-North-east Lake Edward.
Zone 4. Acholi-Kyoga.
Zone 5. Ankole-Buganda.
The Elgon area is not included in this discussion as it appears that the
characteristics of this zone are merely a continuation of the Mau and Plateau
area of Kenya.
An attempt will now be made to discuss the zones in more detail.
Lake Victoria Zone. The landwards extent of this zone may be roughly
determined by the diurnal variation of temperature and by the inland penetra-
tion of the on-shore breeze during the day. On the lake shores, the diurnal
variation is 13" F. approximately, and this increases to about 20 F. at the line
of maximum penetration of the on-shore breeze, i.e., at thirty to fifty miles
from the lake edge.
The zone is characterized by flat-topped hills of uniform height (altitude
about 4,300 feet), extensive swampy inlets of the lake and swampy valleys.
There is little free water away from the lake. The primary vegetation is short
grass on the hill tops and forest in the valleys, giving way to papyrus in the
There is a very definite narrowing of the zone in the vicinity of Jinja
The right bank of the Nile in the first twenty miles of its course is markedly
drier than the left; the left quite definitely belongs to the Lake zone, the right
to the Ankole-Buganda zone. The existence of the Mabira forest on the left
bank, and the virtual complete absence of forest on the right bank, indicates that
there is a significant difference in the rainfall regime on the two banks of the
river. The zone appears to be appreciably narrower on the west side of the
lake than on the north, but it is difficult to be precise about this.
The climate of the zone displays comparatively small seasonal variations
of temperature, humidity and wind throughout the year. There is a relatively
dry season between December and March, and another in June and July, but
both are frequently broken by thunderstorms. The consequence is a regime
with rainfall well distributed throughout the year and peaks in March-April-May
and October-November, the earlier one being the principal one.
On the lake shores, the rainfall amounts to 60 to 70 inches per annum
and occurs on the average on 160 to 170 days each year. There is a marked
gradient of rainfall amounting to approximately 1 inch (per annum) decrease
per mile inland.
It is fundamental in discussing this zone to realize that there is a high rate
of evaporation (estimated to amount to 4 to 5 mm. per day) from the very con-
siderable water surface of Lake Victoria. Since the prevailing wind-drift
across the lake at all seasons of the year is from east to west, it will readily be
162 UGANDA JOURNAL
appreciated that this evaporation conditions the climatic regime of the western
and north-western shores of the lake to a very marked degree. As an indication
of this conditioning, Bukoba and Sese have falls which are exceeded in other
parts of East Africa only by Tukuyu and the Jombeni Range, and at altitudes
of between seven and ten thousand feet on the slopes of the highest mountains.
Rain is mainly an afternoon phenomenon as elsewhere in Uganda, but in
the north-west and west quite a large proportion of the rainfall is precipitated
between midnight and 09.00 hours.
The afternoon rains are associated with the on-shore breeze which takes
inland a large quantity of water vapour for a distance of thirty to forty miles.
This moisture promotes instability in an atmosphere which is subject to intense
heating of its lower layers. It is not unusual, even in the dry months of January
and February, to see an almost continuous line of large cumulus and cumulo-
nimbus parallel to the lake shores produced by this instability.
The morning thunderstorms so characteristic of the north-west and west
Lake zone have two possible origins. One is the afternoon on-shore breeze
blowing eastwards over the Kenya shores which produces large cumulus and
cumulonimbus. The other is the building up of cumulonimbus over Mau-Elgon.
Both cloud masses may be carried into the lake during the night, when the
westerly on-shore breeze on the eastern shores has died away, and there is a
general east to west drift over the lake. The relatively high surface temperature
of the lake and radiation cooling of the cloud top maintain convection within
the cloud. These thunderstorms reach the western shores of the lake at times
varying between midnight and 09.00 hours depending upon the velocity of the
main wind current.
The off-shore breeze at night is relatively light but is capable of reaching
twenty to thirty miles into the lake. In the north-west, not only is this breeze
much cooler than the surface water of the lake, but it is also saturated with water
vapour picked up from the swamps which lie inland between the Nile and the
Kagera river. It must materially assist the maintenance of cumulonimbus
that comes within its range, and probably accounts for the severity of the thunder-
storms in the north-west Lake zone.
The rainfall maxima are associated with the onset of the south-east or the
north-east monsoon, i.e., with the passage of the inter-tropical convergence zone.
As soon as either the one or the other becomes established the sustained rain
ceases and weather tends to become settled.
If, however, during the south-east monsoon the wind current attains
moderate to high velocity, there is a building up of large cumulus and occasional
cumulonimbus over the promontories and islands of the north and north-west
Lake zone. The cause of this appears to be in some measure mechanical, the
profile of the islands producing eddies. Thermal convection may be a contri-
butory factor, but it is considered that it is subordinate to mechanical turbulence
since the vertical development starts early in the day. The forests in the zone
would appear to owe their existence to rain produced by this mechanism. The
feature is entirely absent during the period of the north-east monsoon.
Surges in the south-easterly, and the arrival of cold frontal zones, intensify
the rainfall produced by the above mechanisms.
SOME ASPECTS OF CLIMATE IN UGANDA 163
Karamoja Zone. The Karamoja zone is a flat plain at an altitude of
3,500-4,000 feet with a number of isolated peaks rising to 8,000-9,000 feet.
There is an intense dry hot season from November to March when the streams
dry up. During this season, the scrub vegetation is subject to extensive fires
which produce marked smoke haze up to about 10,000 feet above sea level.
Cumulus cloud frequently forms above these bush fires. On account of the
extreme dryness of the atmosphere at this time of the year, any cloud formed,
due to this or other causes, has a base which is relatively high (5,000-7,000 feet
above ground level) and vertical development is very limited.
The rainy season is April to August, with a marked minimum in June, and
marked peaks in May and July. December and January are the driest months.
Rainfall is generally between 20 and 40 inches throughout the area.
During the north-east monsoon the area is swept by a wind which has
traversed Somalia and passed between the Abyssinian massif and the Kenya
highlands. The water vapour content of this wind is usually small.
The passage of the inter-tropical convergence zone northwards, and the
onset of the south-east monsoon in April-May, accounts for the earlier peak of
The July peak is more difficult to understand. It is certainly not connected
with the inter-tropical convergence zone. It seems most probable that this
peak of rainfall is due to the cold frontal zones which have travelled to the north
of the Kenya highlands and which, on becoming more or less stationary in the
Karamoja area, slowly peter out. The succession of frontal zones which must
form in the area, even though the individual fronts are quite feeble, would be
adequate to account for the rainfall between July and September.
The Karamoja zone does not appear to be affected at all by the more active
cold frontal zones which have passed to the west of the Kenya highlands, and
hardly at all by the southerly winds of July and August.
The southwards passage of the inter-tropical convergence zone in October
would appear to bring no more rain than is sufficient to produce a gradual
falling-off from the July peak.
The hills of Karamoja seem to be important from the rainfall point of view
in another respect. During the south-east monsoon, at times when it is blowing
strongly, it is noticeable that large cumulus and cumulonimbus build up on the
hills early in the day (09.00-10.00 hours). This vertical development is probably
due to turbulence of a purely mechanical nature. The lee sides of the hills
experience relatively heavy rainfall as the cloud moves towards the north-west
under the influence of the wind drift.
Western Uganda Zone. This relatively narrow zone along the western
boundary of Uganda embraces the high ground of West Nile, the escarpment
on the eastern side of Lake Albert, Toro, the high ground of the south-west
and the Rift Valley Lakes, Albert, George and Edward. It includes the
chain of large forests, Zoka, Budongo, Bugoma, Itwara, Kibale, Kalinzu and
The West Nile highlands are open grassland at 4,000-5,000 feet, with scrub
vegetation on the lower slopes. The Bugahya escarpment, and the hills to the
164 UGANDA JOURNAL
east of Lake Albert, are 4,000 to 4,500 feet high, with forest vegetation. The
dominating feature of Toro is the Ruwenzori massif reaching to 16,000 feet.
The South-western Hill Sub-Zone comprises the whole of Kigezi with an eastern
extension into Ankole. The general level is about 5,000 feet with mountains
to 7,000 feet or 8,000 feet, and numerous crater lakes. There is considerable
forest in Kigezi with papyrus swamps in the valleys. Ankole is mainly open
grassland with relatively few swamps and streams.
Lake Albert, at 2,030 feet, and the Albert Nile basin form virtually the lowest
and hottest region of Uganda. Lakes Edward and George at just under 3,000
feet are very little different from Albert climatically. All three are hot, with
intense dry seasons and a rainfall of the order of 35 to 40 inches, falling on 80
to 100 days annually.
Rainfall on the higher ground of the zone averages about 50 inches annually,
rising to 60 to 80 inches on the slopes of Ruwenzori; it occurs on 100 to 150 days
annually. Unlike the rest of the Western zone, the South-western Hill Sub-
Zone enjoys lighter more protracted rain, with frequent mists, especially in
Kigezi. This rainfall regime is presumably the reason for the fact that soil
erosion is not nearly so serious a problem in Kigezi as it is in some other areas.
In Toro-Bunyoro and West Nile, the rainfall is rather predominantly of the
thundershower type and severe hailstorms are, from the agricultural point of
view, unfortunately only too frequent.
The Western zone might fairly be described as a transition zone between
the Congo Forest and Uganda Savanna climates. It is very much under the
influence of air masses of Congo or remoter origin, the north-south orientated
frontal zone associated with the westerlies being a frequent visitor to the zone.
Rainfall is by no means an entirely afternoon phenomenon, but may occur at
any time of the day.
A December-February dry period prevails throughout the zone. There is
a marked dry season in June-July in the zone south-west of line AB in Fig. 6,
which in Kigezi often develops into a protracted drought; north and north-
west of line AB there is a pronounced minimum during these months. The
September-October peak of rainfall tends to be rather more marked than the
April-May peak, especially in the north. There is more rain in the north than
in the south between July and September and more in the south than in the north
in October to early December.
The rain-shadow1 effect is so pronounced in the area of the lakes that
virtually only the arrival of the inter-tropical convergence zone produces appre-
ciable rain. The relative meagreness of the falls at other times is apparently
due to the failure of the diffuse fronts which affect other areas to reach the lakes.
Also, the occurrence of F6hn winds2 will be an important factor in reducing
1 A rain-shadow area is an area with a relatively small average rainfall due to sheltering
by a range of hills or mountains from the prevailing rain-bearing winds.
2 Fohn wind-a warm, dry wind which blows down the slopes on the leeward side of a
range of mountains. The name originated in Switzerland where Fihn winds are particularly
prevalent, especially on the northern slopes of the Alps. The air approaching the moun-
tains ascends, and dynamic cooling takes place with condensation and precipitation.
When the air descends the slopes on the other side of the mountains, having lost its
moisture, it is dynamically warmed at the rate of 1 C. for every 100 metres and reaches
the valleys as a warm dry wind.
SOME ASPECTS OF CLIMATE IN UGANDA 165
rainfall over the lakes. The F6hn winds are likely to be in evidence whenever the
Western zone is being swept by the north-east or the south-east monsoons, or
the westerlies, since there are considerable escarpments to both east and west
of the lakes, down which the air currents will descend with rapidly decreasing
The incursion of the westerlies into the zone produces masses of cumulo-
nimbus, and thunderstorms are widespread except in the areas of the lakes.
These conditions tend to persist for seven to ten days at a time.
Purely orographic rain and cloud occur in the South-western Hill Sub-Zone
more markedly during the north-east monsoon period, and in Toro, over the
Bugahya escarpment and West Nile during the south-east monsoon period.
This is readily understandable since by the time these air masses reach the two
areas they have acquired additional moisture evaporated from the swamps and
The explanation of the relatively light intensity rainfall in the South-western
Hill Sub-Zone is obscure and will not be attempted. The explanation of the
June-July drought is, however, easier. In June and July the Sub-Zone is in the
path of the south-east monsoon which has followed a trajectory across Lake
Victoria and over the high ground along the line Bukoba-Biharamulo and the
high ground of Ruanda-Urundi. The surges in the monsoon, which are effective
between May and September elsewhere in Uganda, precipitate their moisture
on this high ground orographically before reaching south-west Uganda, and only
a very strongly developed front or the incursion of a sufficiently moist westerly
is effective in breaking the drought.
The eastern borders of the zone are not nearly so readily definable as the
inland boundaries of the Lake Victoria zone. There is much more of a gradual
transition from the Western zone into the Acholi-Kyoga and Ankole-Buganda
zones, and this is particularly the case in the north where the rainfall from
August to November is virtually the same in West Nile, the Albert Nile and
Acholi-Kyoga Zone. This zone embraces the greater part of the Northern
and Eastern Provinces. It is largely flat, at an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet,
with few hills. A large proportion of its surface is represented by Lake Kyoga
with a considerable area of papyrus swamp associated with, and independent of,
Kyoga itself. Northwards of the swamp line (Fig. 6) the vegetation is typically
savanna. The consequence of the large swamp area is to modify what would
otherwise be a continental climate similar to that of the Karamoja zone.
The rainfall averages about 50 inches, falling on 140 to 170 days per annum.
The wet season extends from April to October with peaks in April or May and
August and, especially north of the swamp line, a minimum and not a true dry
season in June and July. Rainfall is in the main convectional and an afternoon
and evening occurrence.
The April-May peak and the September-October rainfall is due to the
inter-tropical convergence zone. The peak in August would appear to be
associated with the veer of the south-easterly to southerly in that month. The
veering promotes increasing instability in the air mass which takes longer passing
166 UGANDA JOURNAL
over free water before reaching the hot land area to the north. The veer also
enables surges and any cold frontal zones in the south-east monsoon to reach
those parts of the zone which are at other times screened by Elgon and the
Although Acholi-Kyoga has been considered as a single zone, there are
indications that if a sufficiently detailed analysis could be made the existence of
smaller climatic divisions would be revealed. Compared with Lake Victoria,
Lake Kyoga is admittedly small: nevertheless Lake Kyoga and the Victoria
Nile appear to produce significant variations within their immediate environs.
Within that part of the zone south of the swamp line there is very nearly
as much swamp as hard dry ground. It is a humid area with the usual two
rainfall peaks. The dry season from early December to mid-March seems on
the average to be particularly free from being broken by appreciable rainfall,
unlike the other parts of the zone, whilst the June-July dry period is quite
usually a period of drought broken by a few heavy falls. Probably the lower
volume of rainfall and the two dry seasons account to a large extent for the dis-
similarities in the flora and fauna of this area compared with adjacent areas.
Such evidence can hardly be advanced as the sole basis for climatic differen-
tiation but the presence of rhinoceros, giraffe, Glossina pallidipes, and the
virtual absence of muvule' (in spite of conditions of temperature and humidity
favourable to its growth), particularly in the south-western part of Acholi and in
the Maruzi peninsula, does appear to indicate the existence of appreciable
Ankole-Buganda Zone. This zone includes the western part of Busoga,
most of Buganda, and all except the westernmost part of Ankole. It is a hilly
region, with flat-topped hills in the northern parts giving way to the rounded
hills of Ankole in the south. The altitude of the hilltops is of the order of
5,000 feet. There is considerable swamp at an altitude of about 3,800 feet,
associated with the Katonga river and Lakes Wamala and Kachira. Away
from the swamps, savanna vegetation predominates, with low scrub and
euphorbias much in evidence. The scrub thins out towards Ankole and the
Kagera river, where undulating grassy downlands extend westwards to the high
land of Kigezi.
The rainfall which is again mainly convectional and an afternoon and
evening occurrence, averages about 40 inches falling on 90 to 130 days per
annum. Two peaks associated with the inter-tropical convergence zone are
evident, one during April-May, the other September-November, the second peak
tending to exceed the first. Two dry seasons occur, a pronounced one in June-
July, the other between December and February; the latter is fairly frequently
The explanation of the broken dry season between December and February
and the predominance of the September-November peak is probably to be found
in the air mass trajectory during these months. Except when ousted by the
1 Mr. Jameson, Senior Botanist, Kawanda, suggests that this may be due to fires-a
feature of the dry season. The muvule tree (Chlorophora excelsa) cannot, when young,
withstand annual scorching.
SOME ASPECTS OF CLIMATE IN UGANDA 167
northerlies, the north-east monsoon penetrates into the whole zone. It becomes
conditioned by the lakes and swamps of northern Uganda and may be expected
to bring rain in increasing amounts as it progresses towards Ankole. During
the south-east monsoon, the zone experiences less rainfall than does Acholi-
Kyoga, to which zone it is not altogether dissimilar, primarily because the air
mass which moves over it has already deposited much of its moisture in western
VARIABILITY OF RAINFALL
The discussion to this point has been based largely upon averages and
'normal' conditions. Such conditions are to a greater or lesser extent hypo-
thetical, since they are derived from observations over a period of many years.
At any particular instant, the weather is the resultant of the interplay of the
different mechanisms at work. Since so many variables are operative it is not
surprising that even in a country such as Uganda, which is often popularly
supposed to enjoy a regular seasonal climate, wide variations do occur. Day
to day variations in weather are frequently large and, over longer periods (such
as a year) the aggregate variations are usually considerable.
In all parts of the country, wide variations of rainfall have been recorded
from year to year, bearing out the statements made in the preceding paragraph.
The following table of extremes indicates the dispersion of annual falls from the
mean which have been recorded at various stations in the territory.
Least Max. Average
Total Total Least Most Total Average
Station Zone In. In. Days Days In. Days
Jinja 1 28-59 58-23 83 153 45-09 125
Entebbe 1 39-30 89-05 64 214 61-34 170
Masaka 1 22-42 60-48 89 169 43-21 128
Moroto 2 18-83 58-14 43 99 35-51 74
Lotome 2 19-88 37-06 49 97 28-80 75
Arua 3 41-23 73-49 77 148 53-70 130
Butiaba 3 19-41 49-71 45 165 31-23 92
Fort Portal 3 42-03 77-21 73 198 57-36 166
Katwe 3 26-27 38-37 80 118 31-37 96
Kabale 3 25-08 58-49 59 177 39-06 159
Gulu 4 34-23 73-41 57 175 59-90 163
Lira (Ngeta) 4 40-45 70-61 126 159 54-60 143
Soroti 4 36-22 73-52 103 236 52-02 142
Mubende 5 38-23 63-41 78 193 47-41 141
Mwirasandu 5 27-44 41-79 93 151 33-82 124
(A day of rain is a day upon which at least 0-01 inch is recorded.)
It is apparent from the table that at most stations the variation between
extremes, both of volume and rain days, is in the ratio of between two and
three to one.
The variability of the rains is a matter of considerable importance to
agriculture and to the economy of the country. Excessive rainfall, which
appears to occur more frequently in Acholi-Kyoga and Toro-Bunyoro than
168 UGANDA JOURNAL
elsewhere in the country, can be damaging to crops, due to the encouragement of
parasites and of fungal diseases. On the other hand, failure of the rains can be
even more disastrous economically. Droughts appear rarely to affect the whole
of the territory simultaneously, the southern and south-western parts tending to
poor falls in different years from elsewhere. As examples of this, years of lean
rainfall occurred in 1913 in Mbarara, in 1918 at Gulu, in 1921 at Kabale, in
1924 at Moroto, in 1925 at Fort Portal and Arua, in 1931 at Arua, and in 1939
Failure of the long rains is relatively rare; failure of the short rains is fairly
frequent. The long rains which occur at the onset of the south-east monsoon,
i.e., with the northwards movement of the inter-tropical convergence zone in
March to May, are usually good, apparently on account of the influence of the
lakes and swamps in conditioning the oncoming air mass, already unstable to a
greater or lesser extent. The short rains are much more likely to fail, particu-
larly in Acholi-Kyoga, since there is no similar influence at work, and the
north-east monsoon may possibly, by the time it reaches Uganda, have already
lost much of its moisture content. A failure of the short rains would occur if
the inter-tropical convergence zone had the dry northerly from the Sudan on
its northern side during its progression southwards over the territory during
The westerly winds are very productive of rainfall. For some obscure
reason they fail on occasion to put in an appearance for relatively long periods
of time. During the years 1943 to 1945 they seldom appeared and, when they
did, they were dry and warm. During these years, rainfall over an extensive area
of East Africa, not only Uganda, was considerably diminished. One very
noticeable consequence was the appreciable lowering of the levels of the Central
African lakes, notably Victoria.
In preparing these notes, I have received considerable assistance from my
colleagues in the East African Meteorological Department. In particular I
acknowledge the helpful advice of J. R. Clarkson, now Senior Meteorologist in
the West African Meteorological Department, in connection with the incidence
of air masses. I have had the benefit of criticism levelled by my Acting Director,
W. A. Grinstead, and by J. D. Jameson, the Senior Botanist at the Kawanda
Agricultural Research Laboratory. I am also indebted to G. W. St. Clair-
Thompson of the Uganda Forest Department for information relating to climatic
conditions in Acholi, Lango and Teso.
Mean Rainfall at Selected Stations in Uganda.
Zone in. in.
1 2-57 3.57
1 1-82 2-40
1 2-02 2-88
1 2-20 2-54
2 0-36 1-40
3 084 2-10
3 051 1-36
3 124 2-97
3 2-35 3-79
3 1-14 2-43
4 038 2-00
4 0-27 1-26
4 0-80 1-92
4 0-98 2-29
4 082 2-46
4 0-69 2-45
4 169 324
5 1.55 2-61
5 1-51 2-43
The above means have been calculated for the same 20-year period ending at December 1947, with the following exceptions:
(i) Kampala which is for 17 years ending December 1947.
(ii) Arua which is for 19 years ending December 1946.
(iii) Lira which is for 9 years ending December 1947.
(iv) Tororo which is for 19 years ending December 1947.
I ~~ ~ I I
Average number of Days of Rain at Selected Stations in Uganda.
Aug. Sept. Oct.
12 11 13
14 12 14
11 11 10
9 11 10
10 5 5
I I I
MORE EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA, 1891-96
By H. B. THOMAS, O.B.E.
IN his account of some 'Early Treaties in Uganda, 1888-1891' (Uganda
Journal, Vol, 12, No. 1, 1948), Sir John Gray describes three treaties made in
1891 by Lugard on behalf of the Imperial British East Africa Company with
chiefs Mugenyi Bakebwa, Katonzi and Kavalli on the west side of Lake Albert.
The originals of these treaties, though in a state of poor preservation, are among
the records of the Uganda Government at Entebbe. Each is on a printed form,
illuminated with the Company's flag and crest, and is filled in, signed, and dated
at 'Kavalli's Albert Nyanza' by 'F. D. Lugard, Capt. 9th Foot'. Each of the
two former is dated 19th September 1891, and incorporates in manuscript the
particulars of the chief's territory as set out by Sir John Gray ibidd., pp. 40-41);
and across each in now hardly decipherable red ink is written Blood brother-
hood with Capt. Lugard ". This last note is missing from the Kavalli treaty
(dated 3rd October 1891), and this omission confirms the record that Lugard
did not go through blood-brotherhood ceremonies with Kavalli. None of these
treaties bears the mark of the chief concerned.
Their text incorporates some phrases which occur in the Stanley treaties
(Gray, ibid., pp. 30-31), thus suggesting a common parenthood, and is of interest
as giving some measure of the claims which the Company was then seeking to
establish in East Africa:
LET IT BE KNOWN to all whom it may concern that . has
placed himself and all his Territories, Countries, Peoples, and Subjects under
the protection, rule, and government of the IMPERIAL BRITISH EAST
AFRICA COMPANY, and has ceded to the said Company all his sovereign
rights and rights of government over all his Territories, Countries, Peoples,
and Subjects, and that the said Company have assumed the said rights so
ceded to them as aforesaid, and that the said Company hereby grant their
protection and the benefit of their rule and government to Him, his Terri-
tories, Countries, Peoples, and Subjects, and hereby authorise him to use
the Flag of the said Company as a sign of their protection.
Dated at .............. this ........ day of ............... 18......
(Signed) ......................... .... ......
On behalf of the Imperial British East Africa Company.
The Chartered Company's uninhibited confidence in the rectitude of its
civilizing mission, which is reflected by this document, is almost refreshing in
172 UGANDA JOURNAL
these days of international humbug: and it should be remarked that it was, by
its Royal Charter of 3rd September 1888, clearly empowered to make treaties,
which were to be submitted to the Secretary of State for approval, and that many
treaties had already been so approved. Nevertheless it is no matter for surprise
that the British Government of the day, inspired by the Gladstonian tradition,
shied perceptibly when, compelled thereto reluctantly by circumstances, it found
itself to be the heir of the Company's claims and obligations.
A consular instruction had gone forth requiring British subjects to register
at the Consulate all dealings affecting land within the Sultan of Zanzibar's
dominions. But the extent of the Sultan's mainland dominions was not clearly
defined and it was the practice of the Company to register all treaties regardless
of where the territories comprised therein were situated. Accordingly Lugard
sent these three treaties to the Coast where Messrs. Smith Mackenzie and Co.,
as the agents in Zanzibar of the Company, presented them for registration at
the British Consulate. Each bears an endorsement "Registered as No. 102
(Mugenyi), No. 103 (Katonzi), No. 101 (Kavalli) of 1892, Class B. Forwarded
by Messrs. Smith Mackenzie & Co. with their letter of 29th August 1892 and
registered at their request at the office of H.M. Agency and Consulate-General,
Zanzibar, this 30th day of August 1892, (Signed) R. T. Simons, H.M. Vice-
Consul, Zanzibar." Each bears (or bore) a 10s., 2s., and Is. Consulate Service
Stamp duly defaced.
These treaties were returned to Uganda and, on 30th March 1893, immedi-
ately prior to the termination of the Company's rule in Uganda on 31st March,
they were formally transmitted by Capt. W. H. Williams, R.A., on behalf of the
Company to Sir Gerald Portal, the Imperial Commissioner, who had lately
As Gray points out, the Foreign Office was not happy about the Stanley
treaties with Kavalli and others to the west and south of Lake Albert, and his
conclusion ibidd., p. 37) that Lugard made the treaties of 1891 in ignorance of
the existence of Stanley's treaties and of the Foreign Office's request to have
their transfer by Stanley to the Company ratified by the chiefs themselves, is
clearly correct. The three Lugard treaties, like the Stanley treaties, bear no
mark indicating acceptance by the chief concerned.
The many treaties made by the Imperial British East Africa Company were
very much on the mind of the Foreign Office when, on 10th December 1892,
formal instructions went to Sir Gerald Portal to visit Uganda and report upon
the situation which would arise there upon the Company's evacuation after
31st March 1893. One particular difficulty is inherent in the situation. The
Company has of late concluded a great number of Treaties with native chiefs
including one of perpetual friendship with Mwanga which last however had not
been ratified by the Secretary of State. There are many others (eighty-three in
all) which have been so approved. Whether an approval of this kind can be
held in any way, directly or indirectly, to bind H.M.G. is a moot point" (Blue
Book Africa, No. 1 (1893)).
Portal deals with the issue in his report to the Foreign Office of 1 st November
1893 (Africa, No. 2 (1894)). "I am bound to report that, whether rightly or
wrongly, the impression conveyed to the different native Chiefs and peoples in
MORE EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA 173
this region when they signed Treaties and received the Company's flag and
promise of protection, was that they were thereby placing themselves under the
protection of the Government of Great Britain." This was one of a number of
cogent reasons which led Portal, without much enthusiasm, to advise against
the abandonment of Uganda.
Colonel Colvile, on his appointment as Commissioner in August 1893, had
indeed already been directed to make a new series of treaties on the western
confines of the British sphere. This had now become a matter of moment and
urgency since there was uneasiness regarding the proceedings of the Belgians
from the Congo. The objective of the Van Kerckhoven expedition (Lugard,
Rise of Our East African Empire, Vol. II, p. 568) was now known to be Lado
on the White Nile and it was important to procure such evidence of effective
British occupation as far west as meridian 30" east longitude as would be afforded
by duly executed treaties with native chiefs.
This sense of urgency had its share in deciding Colonel Colvile to launch
the expedition against Bunyoro in December 1893 within a few weeks of his
arrival in Kampala. Immediately after the occupation of Hoima he despatched
Major Owen by boat to Wadelai where, on 4th February 1894, he made a treaty
with chief Ali and arranged to subsidize him to maintain a garrison of irregulars.
On 24th March, Capt. Thruston made a similar treaty at Mahagi Saghir
on the west shore of Lake Albert" with chief Maswa.1 Later, at Thruston's
request, Dr. R. U. Moffat, then Medical Officer in Bunyoro, crossed Lake Albert
and on the 18th April made a like treaty at "Injarri on the Albert Lake in
Kavalli's country with the chief Kavalli. These treaties were in a new Foreign
Office form and were duly marked by the chief concerned in the presence of
Thruston himself made one more treaty to complete in Colvile's words "a
chain of friendly chieftains from the south-western extremity of Lake Albert to
Wadelai ". This was on 24th April 1894 with "Tukenda chief of the country
between Gutta and Mahagi Saghir on the Albert Nyanza and the hill country
behind it ". Thruston was on this occasion making his first contact with the
wandering band of Emin's soldiery under Ahmad Ali which he later conducted
into Bunyoro (see Thruston, African Incidents, pp. 164, 176). Unfortunately he
had omitted to provide himself with a printed treaty form and he composed a
substitute on the spot. The Foreign Office when confronted with this ersatz
document acted' true to form': and Uganda was instructed, with a further supply
of printed forms, to have it replaced, when opportunity serves, by one drawn
up in the usual terms ".
By this time, however, the treaty-making competition in this region had
lost its importance for on 12th May 1894 an Agreement was made between
Great Britain and the King of the Belgians, which settled for the time being the
boundary between the British sphere and the Congo Free State. The areas
which became known as the Mahagi Strip and the Lado Enclave were thus
accorded to the Belgians, while the remaining more southerly section of the west
I Colonel Colvile ordered the destruction of the fort constructed at Mahagi Saghir as
falling within the Mahagi Strip as soon as he learnt of the Agreement of 12th May 1894
with King Leopold.
174 UGANDA JOURNAL
shore of Lake Albert extending westward to the Nile-Congo watershed was
confirmed as being within the British sphere and so remained until the Brussels
Agreement of 1910.
A result of the 1894 Agreement was that it was no longer essential to provide
support for the chief of Wadelai' since the western bank of the Nile now fell to
the Belgians, and his garrison was soon disbanded. Later, however, in January
1895, Major Cunningham and Lieut. Vandeleur made a boat trip from Lake
Albert to Dufile. This was a reconnaissance to learn if the Belgians or the
Mahdists were active in this region. Vandeleur (Campaigning on the Upper
Nile and Niger, p. 35) relates how on 15th January 1895 Major Cunningham
concluded a treaty with the chief Wador (or Wadaw) at Dufile who received us
in a friendly manner, and the British flag was duly hoisted on both banks. The
chief told us that the Dervishes were then at Rejaf." This action, as regards
the west bank of the Nile, was clearly contrary to the 1894 Agreement with
King Leopold, and could have had no political significance. It was perhaps no
more than a comforting gesture, in the absence of the Belgians, to a chief who
was threatened by a Dervish attack.
What seems to be the last of this class of treaty was made on 13th February
1896 by Major (later Colonel) Trevor Ternan with Abura, a substantial Acholi
chief whose residence was at Keterah, described as two days' march to the east
of the Nile about 30 miles south of Wadelai. The treaty was actually made at
'Faquat' which may well be the modern name Pakwach. Again the treaty can
have had no international significance. But Abura was a potential ally against
Kabarega, who was still at large; and he would be a useful look-out for any
southward movement of the Mahdists. He was a frequent visitor at the fort
which was constructed at Fajao in November 1896 (see Ansorge, Under the
African Sun (1899)), and at the end of that year accompanied Ternan to Kampala
with a present of ivory for the Government (Ternan, Some Experiences of an
Old Bromsgrovian (1930)).
But the making of further treaties within the British sphere lost all purpose
after 30th June 1896, when an extension of the British protectorate, hitherto
confined to Buganda, was proclaimed over Unyoro, and the part of the British
sphere of influence lying to the west of Uganda and Unyoro" as well as over
" Usoga and the other territories to the east under the administration of H.M.'s
Commissioner and Consul General for the Protectorate (London Gazette, 3rd
July 1896). The subsequent Uganda (1900), Toro (1900) and Ankole (1901)
Agreements thus arose upon a changed juridicial foundation.
It may be helpful, as an index to Sir John Gray's and to this article to give a
tabulated reference to the litter of treaties particularly concerned with Uganda at
this period, with a note of where the texts are most readily accessible.
I At this time his head village was on the east side of the Nile but his territory
embraced an area on the west of the river.
MORE EARLY TREATIES IN UGANDA 175
The Secretary of State's approval was given to all these treaties, except those
Hertslet's Map of Africa by Treaty (1909), Vol. I, lists the treaties 83 in all"
referred to on p. 172 above, and prints two standard texts, A and B, both of which
purport to include the signature of the chief with whom the treaty was made.
Hertslet states that treaties Nos. 1 to 21 inclusive, made in 1887 and referred to
in the I.B.E.A. Company's Charter, were in Form A. These were with chiefs in the
Coast region, and provide for hoisting the Sultan of Zanzibar's flag. They do not
concern us here.
Treaties Nos. 22-73 (within which fall the first eight of the treaties listed by
Gray, p. 25) are said by Hertslet to be in Form B (which is somewhat similar to the
form used by Lugard for his treaties with Mugenyi, Katonzi and Kavalli as printed
at p. 171 above). But Hertslet's Form B differs substantially from the texts given
by Gray in his article for the six Stanley treaties Nos. 56-61. Gray's texts are to be
found in contemporary printed Foreign Office Correspondence (State Papers) and
may be regarded as correct. All Blue Book texts are also in State Papers.
No. 75 26th Dec.
14th Aug. 1891
3rd Mar. 1894
26th June 1900
1st July 1891
29th Aug. 1894
25th Oct. 1901
(a)Lugard-Bireri for Ntali
Text printed in
Africa, No. 4(1892)
Africa, No. 8 (1892)
Africa, No. 2 (1894)
Africa, No. 7 (1895)
Uganda Revised Laws
StatePapers. Gray, p. 39,
prints Part II only
Africa, No. 7 (1895);
two annexures appear
only in State Papers
Uganda Revised Laws
Gray, p. 31, from State
Gray, p. 37, from State
Africa, No. 7 (1895)
Uganda Revised Laws
1 Toro. The Lugard-Kasagama treaty comprised two contemporaneous and collateral
agreements: one is in the same form as the Lugard-Kavalli treaty: the other, concerned
with administrative detail, is given by Gray.
The Owen-Kasagama treaty comprised the treaty proper (text in Africa, No. 7 (1895))
and two annexures. In the first annexure Kasagama agreed inter alia to pay an annual
tribute of 40 frasilas of ivory and to limit his claims on the salt from the Katwe lake: in
the second the boundaries of Toro and its districts and subordinate chiefs are cited. The
annexures were not included in the approval of the Foreign Office which regarded the
ivory tribute as unduly onerous.
25th Mar. 1890
10th Dec. 1890
4th Feb. 1894
24th Mar. 1894
24th Apr. 1894
15th Jan. 1895
Stanley-Bevwa and Ulegga
Stanley-Bevwa and Kakuri
Stanley-Mbiassi of Kavalli
(and eight others includ-
ing Katonza below)
(a)Owen-Ali of Wadelai
13th Feb. 1896 (a)Ternan-Abura
I am much beholden to Sir John Gray for references and assistance in
compiling this article.-[H.B.T.]
Text printed in
Gray, p. 30, from State
As No. 56, Gray, p. 31
See p. 171 above
Africa, No. 7 (1895)
Same as No. 58 above
See p. 171 above
See p. 171 above
State Papers: in
Hertslet's Form B
Africa, No. 4 (1892)
Africa, No. 7 (1895)
Africa, No. 7 (1895)
State Papers: text as
DAYS IN THE LIFE OF A COTTON GROWER
By B. K. KAUMI, African Agricultural Assistant, Uganda
(Reprinted, with the permission of the Editor, from The East African Agricultural
Journal, Vol. XI, July 1945, pp. 37-39)
ONE day, early in April last, Musa Musoke awoke in the night to hear the
rain on the roof of his house. At last, he thought, the rain has come and I
can complete the preparation of my new cotton plot.
Musoke was a cotton farmer in Uganda, and held about ten acres of land on
the estate of a big landowner. He had already roughly prepared his new land,
but dry weather had prevented his giving it the final digging before planting.
Each year he opened up a piece of fresh land for cotton and as this land always
gave him the best yields he was anxious to get it planted as soon as possible.
Next morning, therefore, Musoke rose and woke up everybody in the house;
they washed their faces, cleaned their teeth, etc., and after greeting one another
all turned out to dig over a new plot. Musoke and his wife had two children,
a boy and a girl, who were old enough to help them in the plots. While he and
his wife dug, the children helped by collecting trash and laying it in lines across
the plot, so that it would not interfere with the later planning of cotton. The
family worked steadily until about nine o'clock when they rested for a while
and ate a little cassava and drank some tea.
While resting, Musoke's wife discussed with her daughter the food for the
day. Sweet potatoes and beans were decided upon for the midday meal, and
plantains and meat for the evening meal. Accordingly when the work was
resumed, the girl went off to dig up some sweet potatoes from the sweet potato
plot, and to cut two bunches of bananas from the banana garden. Work stopped
at about eleven o'clock, and while his wife and daughter busied themselves with
cooking, Musoke decided that he would go to the market to buy some meat for
the evening meal. While there, he saw some new digging hoes and bought one.
He also remembered that his wife had been grumbling about her worn-out
paring knife, and thought that as they were having bananas for the evening meal
he had better buy one and take it back to her.
After eating their midday meal, which included sweet potatoes and beans,
Musoke and his wife discussed the next day's work, and decided to push ahead
with the digging of the cotton plot. By chance an Agricultural Instructor
arrived at that time, being on tour in that area on early cotton-planting propa-
ganda. He was very pleased to hear that Musoke was already preparing his
early cotton plot. He told him that he had arranged to give out cotton seed in
a few days. They all walked round the plots, and the Instructor congratulated
Musoke on the way in which he had interplanted his maize and groundnuts;
the maize was in widely spaced lines with the thickly planted groundnuts filling
up the space between. His beans, too, were looking well, but the sim-sim plot
was spoiled by the dry weather. When they came to the coffee plot Musoke
said that he was ashamed to show it. It was very weedy as he had had to neglect
178 UGANDA JOURNAL
it owing to much work on his other plots. The Instructor understood, but
suggested that if he had trash-mulched his coffee, he would not have had many
When they had returned to the house Musoke's wife offered the Instructor
some tea. He accepted, and while it was being prepared he asked Musoke if
he had seen the new farm which the local chief had started. Musoke had not,
and the Instructor described how the chief had learned about strip-cropping at
an Agricultural Department farm, and had decided to try it on his own land.
He made a little plan on a piece of paper showing how this method could be
used on Musoke's land. He explained that strip-cropping was intended to reduce
erosion. This interested Musoke as his land was fairly hilly and during heavy
rains erosion was bad. So after drinking their tea they both went off to visit the
new farm of the local chief. Musoke was very impressed with the way in which
the chief's land had been stripped. He saw strips of cropped land alternating
with strips of grass land. He realized that these grass strips would stop erosion
almost completely; but as he had already cleared his new cotton plots, and
planted his spring crops he did not think that it was possible to follow his chief's
example. The Agricultural Instructor agreed but suggested that he could make
a start towards stripping his land by using lines of grass planted at twenty-yard
intervals running across the slope. Musoke thought that this was a good idea,
and returning to his holding with the Instructor, they both together started to
mark out the places where the lines should run. While completing the work,
Musoke requested that if possible he would like to be shown how the grass
should be planted in the lines. The Instructor agreed with pleasure but informed
him that as he was going to witness a semi-final football match of the county
competition and it was getting late, he would just demonstrate to them the
planting method of the grass, and leave them to complete the work afterwards.
While the planting was in progress, Musoke looked at his wife who happened
on the scene and seemed rather doubtful of what was being done at that moment.
He briefly explained what they had seen on the chief's farm and how they had
started the work that he had decided to try on their holding. Musoke's wife
having seen that the grass, which was to be cleared off the plot would be
planted again in the marked lines on the same plot, turned a deaf ear to what was
said in favour of the planted grass lines because she thought that the grass would
grow, and spread its seeds on the clean plots. Although he had carefully and
clearly explained to her the uses of the grass lines, and how they have to be cut
back and trimmed from time to time, yet, she simply would not hear anything
at the moment. However, having planted two of the lines, the party collected
working tools and other things and returned home.
After preliminary cultivation he lined out the plots in three-foot spaces
from line to line, using a marked planting rope for straightening the lines. He
then started placing the remaining refuse on the plot between the lines across
the slope in order to check erosion of the soil.
While waiting for another shower of rain, one day towards the middle of
May, a village chief called at Musoke's home, and informed him that their
senior chief had arranged for their village to be supplied with cotton seed on the
following Monday from the local cotton ginnery that served the area. When
DAYS IN THE LIFE OF A COTTON GROWER 179
the day arranged arrived he tied a gunny-bag on his bicycle carrier, and pro-
ceeded to the ginnery. At the ginnery they were grouped by their senior chief
according to villages under the supervision of village chiefs. When their turn
to be supplied with the seed came, they went near the godown in which the seed
was stored. The senior chief commenced distributing the seed to each grower
according to his previously cultivated area, having been duly checked up by
village chiefs. The seed supplied was measured in a four-gallon tin, and for an
acre a cultivator had to get one tin. The scale of distribution was taken by
Musoke and his fellow growers to be too small for their areas. Consequently
there was a general complaint among growers on account of the seed supplied,
for they were accustomed to planting several seeds per hole, which is simply a
waste of the valuable seed. Some of them went as far as giving a false number of
plots in order to try to get more seed than that estimated for them. On that day,
while on his way home, a heavy rain started falling which forced him to increase
the speed till he arrived home half wet.
Very early on the following day, Musoke with the assistance of the members
of the house collected the seed, light or worn-out hoes, and knotted planting ropes,
and went to the plot. Starting from the top of the plot they stretched the ropes
across the slope along the open lines previously prepared. Then they com-
menced digging shallow holes at every foot, following the knots made on the
ropes. The work of changing the ropes from line to line and sowing the seeds,
which were to be planted up to a maximum of six seeds per hole, was easily and
happily carried out by the children who were with them. After eight days,
having observed that the seeds had germinated, Musoke started filling gaps by
resowing the seed, and continued doing so until the original plants were at least
1 foot above the ground. When the plants were about 10 inches high, he
started thinning out to two plants per hole. The first weeding started four weeks
after sowing, and was accompanied by thinning out and the operation of
Subsequent to the above operations the plots were weeded as often as was
required to control the weed growth. At the same time the weeds, remaining
stumps of trees, and stems and roots of the grass were carefully replaced between
the lines as an anti-erosion measure, but, as Musoke learnt by experience that
constant cultivation tends to reduce the soil to a fine dust, which is easily washed
away during heavy rain he always tried to keep weeding to a minimum.
Towards the end of June when the cotton planted in May was well over a
foot above the ground, the spring crops grown on other plots were harvested.
The plots were dug over, marked out, the maize, groundnuts and bean stalks, as
well as other refuse, were arranged, between the lines planted with cotton,
gaps resown, and plants thinned out in the same way as already explained
above. The work, on the whole, experienced on each of these plots was easier
compared with that on the newly cleared land. Preliminary preparation of one
of these plots was completed early in July, and it was planted soon after the
only shower received in that month. Due to dry weather, the remaining plot
was not sown until August. Following usual practice the late cotton plots
were interplanted with beans and groundnuts at the same spacing as cotton,
immediately after thinning out plants.
180 UGANDA JOURNAL
Cotton flowering commenced in August, and was general on all plots during
September, October and November. The bolls on early cotton started to ripen
in October, and picking was done from that time until it was completed, on all
plots, by the end of the following March. The picking of cotton involved the
co-operation of all members of the family, and it used to be carried out at any
time when cotton was quite dry.
Simultaneously with picking, and using two baskets, some sorting of the
cotton into clean and stained grades was done in the field, and these qualities
were stored separately in corners of the sitting room. Every morning when it
was fairly dry, Musoke had to take out the previously picked cotton and spread
it thinly either on a drying stand or mats. During the drying it was sorted further
into both grades and finally stored.
In February, one day after the opening of the cotton marketing season, at
about 1 p.m., after a long morning's picking, a son of Musoke's neighbour
brought two letters to him. One was suggesting that he should buy the remain-
ing leg of a goat which had just been slaughtered, at a price of four shillings.
Unhesitatingly he instructed his wife to get the money out of the proceeds of
beer bananas which she had sold and to hand it to the boy for buying meat.
The second letter was sent by a local cotton agent informing him that the long-
expected lorry was to call at his home at about 4 p.m. to collect part of the crop,
as requested when he had gone to his home to get a further supply of gunny-bags.
Immediately Musoke called up his boy and both packed cotton into bags
hurriedly while the other members of the house and visitors were sitting under
a shady tree completing a re-sorting of the cotton.
Round about the time promised, the agent came in a lorry together with a
group of his fellow growers. With their assistance Musoke started loading cotton
on to the lorry. He then put on his coat, got a stick and note-book, and jumped
on to the lorry, and off they went to Kikoma cotton ginnery. They met several
growers there, grouped in two places, at cotton-weighing scales, weighing their
cotton, and being paid at the cashier's window. When the cotton bags and
bundles were taken off the lorry, each of them separated his cotton from other
bags, and carried it near a scaleman, where Musoke stood waiting for his turn
to have his cotton weighed. Just then the local Agricultural Instructor came to
inspect cotton that had just been brought in. He ordered them to put the bags
in suitable positions for inspection. The bags passed as clean cotton were
allowed to be weighed, and those found carelessly sorted out were marked with
a cross, and the owners instructed to do their work as required on the spot before
it was weighed. Unfortunately one of Musoke's bags was not passed, and he had
to re-sort it. On his return from re-sorting this cotton he was called up by the
agent to have his cotton weighed. There at the scale he took out a note-book in
which he had noted the weights of bags at home, and commenced to jot down
the various weights as they were announced by the scaleman and recorder in
front of the growers of different tribes of Uganda and neighboring countries.
Musoke then obtained from the scaleman the receipts bearing the quantity of
the cotton sold, and went to the cashier's window for payment. After checking
up the money, Musoke waited for the lorry to return them to their respective
homes. At about 6 p.m. the agent called up all the growers he had brought to
DAYS IN THE LIFE OF A COTTON GROWER 181
return. Soon everybody collected his empty bags, salt, sugar, tea, hoes, and
knives which had been bought from shops near the ginnery or hawkers, jumped
on to the lorry and off to their homes.
When Musoke was dropped at his house, he took out his bicycle and went
to the chief's home, where he paid the sum of Sh. 26/50 for Government taxes,
and a further sum of Sh. 12 for tithes of the landowner. Having got tickets for
the above taxes he returned home, took a bath, and then called for food. In the
meanwhile, the outstanding debts of his neighbours and occasional hired field
workers, whom he met at home, were paid up. After that, dinner, which included
plantains (matoke) and meat, was served. During dinner he related to the
members of the family the incidents of the day, and the news that he had heard
related by his friends. Strangely he did not mention to his people, who were so
anxious to know about the proceeds, the total amount of money received from
the sales of cotton. In spite of that, at the close of the stories all his people
congratulated him most warmly for the troubles through which he had passed,
and then after a long and busy day everybody went to bed.
THE WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA-III
By J. M. WATSON
Family: EQUIDAE. Horses, Zebras, Asses.
HIPPOTIGRIS BURCHELLI BOHMI (Matschie). East African Zebra.
Teso: Etuko, itukoi. Karamojong: Etuko, ngitukoi.
DISTRIBUTION: Widely distributed throughout western Karamoja from the
Kidepo valley in the north to Tisai in the south. As Zebras are very dependent
on water they are confined to localities where a permanent supply is available:
in 1948 they quickly discovered the new dam in the Loliyakat river and were
frequent visitors there throughout the dry season.
DESCRIPTION: The Burchelline Zebras are characterized by a body pattern
of broad dark, almost black, stripes on a light background. The range of the
race bohmi extends south from the southern Sudan, east of the Bahr-el-Gebel, to
northern Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and the upper Zambesi. As might be
expected, there is considerable local variation, not only in the shade of the light
and dark stripes, but, to a limited extent, in the pattern also. In general, the
widest stripes are the oblique ones-about five in number-on the posterior part
of the body, which sweep back alongside the spinal stripe and over the croup.
The mane is well-developed; the muzzle and nose-patch are brown; and the
greater portion of the ears white.
The stallion measures a little over four feet-13 to 14 hands-at the shoulder
and will weigh up to 700 lb. The girth of a male shot by Major Powell-Cotton,
standing 482 in. at the shoulder, taped 61 in. The mare is somewhat smaller;
like the horse, she has two mammae.
BIOLOGY: The Zebra, which always appears in the best of condition, is a
grass feeder; it favours the fairly open short-grass country which is a feature of
much of western Karamoja. I have only observed it in small parties of twelve
to fifteen animals, but I am told that it occurs in very much larger herds,
especially during the dry weather when the number of available watering places
is limited. It undoubtedly appreciates the company of other animals and I have
noticed it associating with eland ; there is also a record of a lone stallion accom-
panying a herd of buffaloes.
The Zebra seldom strays far from water, drinking in the evening and in the
early morning. In the past, before the Karamojong had spread throughout the
district, hunting parties were wont to rely on the Zebra to lead them to water
holes. During the heat of the day the animal rests standing or lying down.
While feeding, a mare not infrequently takes the lead: Millais (1895) notes that
when moving slowly, the herd maintains a crescent whereas antelope keep in a
string. Invariably all the animals of a herd will walk with their heads in the
up-wind direction. Many observers have recorded the peculiar habit of dust
bathing on some suitable rolling ground which is frequented by a herd over a
Photographed at Moroto, Karamoja, by J. M. Watson
Photographed at Moroto, Karamoja, by J. M. Watson
[face p. i8z
Zebra-showing croup and belly markings.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 183
The shrill, almost bark-like, 'qua-ha-ha' call of the Zebra is generally
uttered when the animal is alarmed or restless. Zebras seldom call by day, when
feeding, unless the herd is disturbed. They are particularly noisy at night,
especially when watering, or when lions, their chief and most persistent enemy,
are in the vicinity, although during the day they pay little attention to their
presence. When alarmed a herd is liable to stampede but, unless very hard
pressed, the animals are unlikely to exert themselves for any great distance and
quickly return to their normal easy loping pace. Owing to its inability to leap,
the Zebra may prove a very serious menace in fenced areas as in its headlong
rush it may either take away with it wire and posts or, while endeavouring to
scramble on its knees underneath, may break strand after strand in its desperate
The presence of a pack donkey train in the vicinity of a Zebra herd appears
to arouse an excited curiosity among its members. During the day they may
merely trot along at a short distance from and parallel to the caravan or,
alternatively, stampede past it, an act which often induces the donkeys to do
likewise. At night, according to Shortridge (1934), they will collect around
camps where donkeys are kraaled when both become extremely noisy and
excited, the donkeys endeavouring to break out of their confinement.
The eye-sight and hearing of the Zebra are both good, but its stamina is
poor; when wounded it bleeds profusely and soon succumbs to a serious wound.
It is an expert in the use of its heels and it can defend itself against all carnivores
except the lion. When fighting among themselves, stallions use their teeth.
Roosevelt (1910) observed a Zebra run from the herd toward some wild dogs,
with its mouth open and ears back ; the wild dogs, although apparently not much
frightened, got out of the Zebra's way. A wounded Zebra stallion should be
approached with caution, as it is liable to use its teeth savagely.
The gestation period is about twelve months.
MISCELLANEOUS: The flesh of the Zebra is rank tasting but is eaten by the
Karamojong. The tail is worn as an ornament-elwado-on the right arm
above the elbow, by a man engaged to be married.
The track, about 4 in. long and 32 in. wide, resembles that of a horse. It
is somewhat narrower and rounder than that of a donkey.
Zebras are easily caught and tamed; training them for serious work, has,
with a few exceptions, proved fruitless as they lack the necessary stamina and
docility. They cross freely with the horse but the resultant offspring has not
been found of any value.
In Kenya, Zebras used formerly to cause much damage to grain crops.
Family: RHINOCEROTIDAE. Rhinoceroses.
DICEROS BICORNIS BICORNIS (Linnaeus). Black Rhinoceros, Hook-lipped
Teso: Amosing, amosingo. Karamojong: Amosing, ngamosingo.
DISTRIBUTION: The Rhino is not uncommon in the Kidepo valley especially
in the neighbourhood of permanent water, e.g., Korimor, Nawi Adokoch, Loko-
rimong and Kanagorok (a mineral spring). It also frequents the neighbourhood
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 185
of water in eastern Dodoth. Further south it occurs sporadically in such places
as Lolelia, Kapeta, Nakodokodoi and Otukei. Occasionally it penetrates into
north-east Teso; in 1939 a Karamojong travelling from Usuku to Achwa was
pursued and injured by such a wanderer.
Within the last half century the Rhinoceros has retreated rapidly before
the advance of man. If place names incorporating the vernacular word for
Rhino, e.g., Akaikamosing-the Home of the Rhino-near Nariam, are any
guide to its presence in the past, then it was probably at one time abundant
throughout the south of Karamoja and in much of eastern Teso as well, a
supposition which local opinion upholds. The County Chief of Bokora informs
me that, on the introduction of taxation, his father took him, then a mere lad,
to the fastnesses of Napak to escape this unpleasant innovation and he well
remembers the large number of Rhino then roaming about on the mountain,
many of which fell easy victims to the Karamojong spearmen. Two Rhino
were shot at the Lia springs above Moroto township during the dry weather of
1928. I have no reason to believe that any Rhino now exist south of the Soroti-
DESCRIPTION: The Black Rhino-only a shade blacker than the white
rhino-stands on the average an inch or two over 5 ft. at the shoulder and
weighs about 2,500 Ib. The total length from nose to tip of the tail is about
11 ft. 3 in. The female is generally somewhat smaller; a specimen at the New
York Zoo scaled 1,080 lb. Noticeable characteristics are: the extremely heavy
and formidable build, with a girth measurement of about 10 ft; the thick heavy
hide devoid of hair except for a few bristles on the margins of the ears and at
the tip of the tail; the two horns, anterior and posterior, consisting of an
agglomeration of hair-like structures, which are quite unlike the horns of other
ungulates; the prehensile upper lip projecting beyond the lower; the absence
of canine and incisor teeth in both the upper and lower jaw; and the three
almost equal toes on both front and hind feet.
The horns of the female are generally longer but more slender than those
of the male. Ward (1935) gives 531 in. as the record length of an anterior horn ;
this trophy adorned a female shot in Kenya. A specimen (sex not recorded)
from South Africa carried a record posterior horn of 29- in.; the front horn of
this animal was 29 in. long. Such measurements are, of course, very exceptional
and the average length in Uganda is not much more than a foot; a pair weighing
ten pounds would be a satisfactory prize. There is considerable variation in
the size of the rounded base of the horn, and abnormalities, e.g., the horn
protruding forward like the bowsprit of a ship, or the development of a small
third horn behind the posterior horn, are not unknown. A five-hored Rhino
is on record. Specimens have been shot in which only the pedicles of the horns
remain, suggesting that the horns may in some instances be broken off
accidentally. The race holmwoodi, to which the Rhino of Uganda was at
one time assigned but which is now considered a synonym of bicornis, was
based upon two frontal horns of 41 in. and 42 in. in length, characterized
by their thinness, the small size of the pedicles and a generally compressed
186 UGANDA JOURNAL
BIOLOGY: The Rhino undoubtedly prefers its own company to that of its
fellows and demands only to be left alone. It is usually met singly, or some-
times in a small family party, usually a cow with a very young calf or a
cow with a calf several years old. The ubiquitous tick-bird or ox-pecker-
Buphagus, a member of the starling family-is invariably in attendance, ready
to break into hissing screams on the first approach of danger. The Rhino is a
browser, feeding on shoots, leaves (including those of the cotton plant if avail-
able) and roots. Percival (1928) mentions its particular fondness for the wilted
branches of one of the euphorbias. Observers who have watched it feeding have
commented on the use to which it puts its prehensile lip to pluck its food, the
fastidious manner in which it selects the choicest tit-bits, and the noisy champing
of its jaws as it masticates its meal.
It is an animal of regular habits and if food and water are sufficient it is
quite content to remain in a restricted area where it will develop a network of
well beaten but poorly graded tracks, about 20 in. wide, from watering place to
feeding grounds. Needless to say it is inadvisable to camp on or near one of
these paths even if it appears old and seldom used. During the heat of the day
the Rhino selects some thicket, or the shade of a solitary tree, and rests, head
down-wind and ears constantly twitching, either standing, lying down, or
stretched full out on its side: when actually asleep, it snores loudly. In the
late afternoon it moves towards its water hole, possibly feeding en route; if
delayed, it will make up for lost time by travelling at a good trot. It drinks
after sunset and, if necessary, will dig for water to a depth of a foot or more,
throwing out the sand between its hind legs like a dog. After drinking it
becomes sufficiently sociable to indulge in mild play with its neighbours.
Percival (1928) records that they gambol in sheer lightness of heart, romping
like a lot of overgrown pigs ". These gambols are accompanied by much
grunting and squealing. Rhinos also enjoy a thorough scratching of the hide
against a tree or suitable rock, particularly after a good wallow in the mud.
Salt licks are visited if accessible, the horn being used to plough up the saline
earth of which large quantities are chewed and not a little swallowed. As dawn
approaches, the animal moves off once more to its daytime resort which may
lie some miles from the watering place.
The Rhino possesses an excitable and inquisitive nature and at times,
especially if rudely awakened from its midday nap, may indulge in stupid and
blundering acts of aggression. Its eyesight is extremely poor (Pitman suggests
that the horns may interfere with its vision) and a so-called 'charge' may be
nothing more than a well-intentioned attempt to escape up-wind. When
charging, it utters a steam-engine-like snort and travels at a clumsy gallop of
about 15 to 20 m.p.h., a pace which it can sustain for a considerable distance.
The tail is held aloft, and the head, too, is held high and is only lowered at the
critical moment of impact. As an example of the power behind such a charge
it is recorded that a Rhino, attacking a caravan of slaves, chained neck to neck,
struck the centre man and broke the necks of the other twenty-one unfortunates
by the shock of the impact alone. It is, apparently, a matter of considerable
ease to avoid a charge by the simple expedient of stepping aside at the last
minute. The Rhino seldom makes an attempt to hunt the object of its anger but
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 187
endeavours to blunder its way to safety as quickly as possible. The cries of a
number of persons shouting together are sometimes sufficient to induce an
attacking Rhino to turn aside. There are numerous recorded instances of Rhino
charging camp fires at night.
The Rhino usually resorts to well used dunging places although this habit
is not so well marked as it is with the white rhino. The voidings, which are not
unlike those of the elephant, are scattered by the hind legs, although not
necessarily immediately after evacuation. The area around the dunging place
is not infrequently scored with the horn. The animal also has the habit of
micturating against a selected rock, which acquires as a result a shiny whitish
According to Captain H. B. Potter, Game Conservator, Zululand, the gesta-
tion period is between eleven and thirteen months, with three years elapsing
between each calf. Another authority, Vaughan-Kirby, places the gestation
period between sixteen and eighteen months. No records are available from
zoological gardens as the Rhino has not as yet bred in captivity. Percival
observed a cow suckling her calf lying down, in the manner of a sow.
Captain Potter, writing in the Field, comments on the fact that all adult
Rhinos, both male and female, develop a sore on each side of the body near the
shoulder blade which increases in size during the mating season and discharges
quantities of blood and fluid. In due course the sores dry up but open again
during the following year. In young animals there is external evidence of these
sores but they do not commence to discharge until puberty is reached. Captain
Potter suggests that this phenomenon is associated with the sexual cycle, as the
odour of the discharge appears to be particularly attractive to the opposite sex
and may therefore assist in bringing the male and female together.
The calf reaches maturity at about seven or eight years. It will show
spirited determination to defend the corpse of its mother when shot. Observers
have noted that the Black Rhino calf invariably follows its mother, in contra-
distinction to that of the white rhino, which, preceding its dam, is guided in the
direction in which she wishes it to go by the judicious use of her horn.
MISCELLANEOUS: The track of the Rhino is quite unmistakable: the three-
toed hoof leaves a trefoil design about 8 in. in diameter.
The horn is valued in the East as a reputed powerful aphrodisiac. In the
past it was held that a cup made from Rhino horn would split in two if poison
were poured into it, while John Evelyn mentions a well in Italy which was
purified by the addition of a horn. The hide is valued by the Karamojong for
the manufacture of sandals.
It is probable that young Rhinos occasionally fall prey to lions; a case is
on record, supported by photographs, in which a full-grown female Rhino,
leaving a river after drinking, was seized by the left leg by a crocodile and, after
a determined struggle, finally pulled into deep water and drowned.
The Black Rhino has a rooted aversion to crossing rivers.
Family: ELEPHANTIDAE. Elephants.
LOXODONTA AFRICANA AFRICANA (Blumenbach). African Elephant.
Teso: Etome, itomei. Karamojong: Etome, ngitomei.
DISTRIBUTION: At the beginning of the century, Karamoja District was
renowned throughout East Africa as the Mecca of the ivory trader and elephant
hunter, the Elephants being distinguished for their bodily size and the weight and
quality of their ivory. Bell (1923), who has described many of his experiences
in Karamoja, returned from his first safari there in 1906 with 17,000 lb. of ivory.
Darley (1926) found Elephant in sufficient quantity in northern Dodoth to induce
him to spend a year at Tshudi-tshudi, close to the present Kaabong, although he
found on his arrival there-about 1907-that bands of Swahilis, Egyptians,
Greeks, Arabs and Baluchis had already greatly reduced the Elephant population
in that area. At Mani-mani, not far from Kangole, there was another noted
trading centre which Bell describes as being of considerable size; the notorious
Shundi, a Kavirondo by birth, who commenced his commercial life as a slave at
the Coast, was the recognized ruler of this town. In passing, it was one of
Shundi's slaves who killed, on the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanganyika, an
Elephant whose larger tusk weighed 235 lb.
Among the hunters must be included the Karamojong themselves. Encour-
aged by the exchange rate of one cow for 25 lb. of ivory, they were undoubtedly
responsible for the slaughter of countless Elephants. Powell-Cotton (1904),
who travelled through Karamoja in 1903, records that a cow could be procured
in Kenya for about Shs. 50/- and that 25 lb. of ivory were valued at ten guineas;
the explanation for the attraction of Karamoja to traders of every race, creed
and colour is thus not far to seek. As tusks became scarcer, however, the
Karamojong progressively increased the price of their ivory until it reached the
impossible figure of ten cows for one large tusk. The traders reacted to this
threat to their livelihood by assuming the role of armed robbers, taking by force
what they could no longer buy and aiding and abetting one village to raid
another for its store of buried ivory. "The hitherto peaceful looking trading
camp ", writes Bell, gave place to large armed bomas (stockades) surrounded
by high thorn fences. Everyone-trader or native-went about armed to the
The gradual expansion of the Administration (a touring officer was
appointed in 1911), coupled with the marked reduction in the supply of ivory,
rapidly resulted in the establishment of a more peaceful way of life throughout
the District and at the outbreak of war in 1914 it was evident that the heyday
of the hunter and trader in Karamoja was over.
The herds of Elephant have gone, never to return: their place has been
taken by countless head of stock, the direct descendants of those innumerable
cows brought into the country by the traders to tempt the Karamojong to part
with their ivory. Only the agriculturist, soil-conservationist, and game-lover
regret the exchange!
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 189
The following localities appear to have been the three chief Elephant foci
(1) The Salisbury-Gedge-Opeta lake-system, particularly the less-inhabited
eastern part. Elephant from here reached as far as Kadam mountain, particularly
the valleys of Namalu, Amaler and Akokor. The Handbook of Uganda (1913),
describing the route from Kelim (Greek River) to Tshudi-tshudi (Kaabong),
mentions: "Elephant frequently to be found near Kakora (i.e., Akokor)
River, crossed about I hour before reaching camp (at Kwatabok). No natives."
Bell, while hunting west of Kadam, writes: "Here we were face to face with
such a gathering of Elephant as I had never dared to dream of even. The
whole country was black with them . some of them up to their knees
in water, and when we reached their tracks the going became very bad ..
(my guide) made me kill seven, before sundown stopped the bloodshed. I
expected to do well on the morrow, but when it came, beheld not an elephant
in sight." In the wet weather, Elephant extended their range well into Teso.
A well-known administrative officer who was stationed at Soroti in 1914 told
me he shot his 'two' at Gweri before lunch. Even as late as 1933 a few still
remained to pay periodic visits to the shambas of peasants in the Malera neigh-
bourhood. The members of these herds were of a particularly vicious nature as
they had to contend annually with the dry weather influx of the Karamojong and
his stock to Tisai, Opeta and the Kelim river.
The valleys at the foot of Napak were also visited, e.g., Duol Nabwaliapal-
okodakamarr, while the wells of Lothar were a favourite haunt. There are one
or two Elephant paths on Kadam but I am informed that very few animals
investigated the higher altitudes of Napak.
(2) The banks of the Turkwel or Suam river. During the wet weather,
Elephant followed up the Kanyangareng river and reached almost to the foot
of Mt. Moroto. They were not known among the valleys at its base probably
because these were, and still are, important watering places. A hunter who
visited the Turkwel in 1912 told me that Elephant were by no means common
there, even then. Amongst the Elephants which used to follow up the Kanyan-
gareng river were two small herds of a reputed dwarf Elephant which normally
resided in the Kerio valley in Suk.
With regard to these two foci, the present position is briefly told. There
are now no resident Elephants in Teso and none in Karamoja south of the
Soroti-Moroto road, although towards the end of 1948 a party of Elephants
from the north paid a brief visit to the foot of Napak and then continued south
to the east of Lake Gedge.
(3) The Kidepo and Laruss river-systems in the north-west. This undoubt-
edly was one of the chief Elephant hunting-grounds, the hunters and traders
having their headquarters at Tshudi-tshudi. During the rains the Elephants
extended their range eastwards, some passing north of the Morungole massif
down into Turkana towards Zingote, others moving south-east to Lomej and
Taan and thence up to the Kapelepolot as far as Kalapata and Timu, or south-
wards down the innumerable river systems, e.g., Lokalath, Lolelia, Kapeta,
190 UGANDA JOURNAL
Kailong, Koputh and Nakodokodoi, to Nyakwai, northern Teso and almost to
Kangole. Recently a dam was constructed about 15 miles south-west of Kangole
close to the Moroto-Soroti road, at a place called Lokiporangatome, a word
which can be suitably translated as the Elephants' Wallow-an excellent name
for an East African inn! This was a favourite haunt of these animals some
forty years ago.
To-day, it would be difficult to give any estimate of the number of Elephants
which actually reside in Karamoja throughout the year. There is probably
considerable variation from year to year, depending on the amount of water and
food available. In March 1948 I made a fairly extensive tour of north-west
Karamoja between the Sudan border and Lomej and along the north foot of
Morungole, when it was evident that there were only a few Elephant about.
There were reports of two between Lonyili and Laruss, while a small party of
bulls was encountered feeding on borassus palm fruit on the banks of the Kidepo
close to the Sudan border. Their watering place, Lokudul, is actually in the
Sudan. In the hills between Taan and Lokomait two or three other small groups
were observed but nowhere were there any indications of a large assemblage.
We recorded only seventeen, all told. The 1947-48 dry season was unusually
long and it is doubtful whether there was sufficient food and water in this
neighbourhood at the time of our visit to support a large body of Elephants; it
is probable that the few that were then in Uganda were visitors from a more
attractive locality on the lower reaches of the Kidepo well inside Sudan territory.
I am informed that a small party of males spent the 1947-48 dry season in the
neighbourhood of Otukei, and it is very possible that a few individuals remain
behind annually in the vicinity of Rom and the Nangeya hills.
When the rains have fully broken in May and June, the southward expan-
sion, restricted in range but in many respects similar to that already described,
commences. Both in 1946 and 1947, Elephant reached as far south as the dam
at Lorengikipi; in other years they have been recorded from north-east Teso.
During the severe drought of 1928 a very thin and aged cow, obviously dying,
was finished off by a Teso about a mile from Katakwi near the Nariam road.
It is almost impossible to give any estimate of the numbers involved in
this southward movement; food and water must surely be the limiting factor.
In 1947 I received a report of a herd of about thirty which crossed the Kotido-
Labwor road in the neighbourhood of Loyoroit on its way south and subse-
quently recrossed it on its return to the north later in the year. The number
which resides during the wet weather in the north-west corner of Karamoja is
substantially larger than this figure, but it is evident that it is in no way
comparable with the countless host which roamed throughout this quarter some
fifty years ago.
DESCRIPTION: Average shoulder height of the bull, 10 ft. 6 in.; giants of
11 ft. and more are not unknown, but rare. Weight: male about 6 tons;
female, 4 tons. Colour: uniform grey, the shade varying somewhat between
The large head, with noticeably convex forehead, consists for the most
part of an immense development of air cells in the exterior wall of the skull
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 191
which surrounds the small, ten-pound brain. This unusual development pro-
vides the necessary superficial space to attach muscles of sufficient size and
strength to support the skull, so heavily weighted with tusks and trunk. The brain
itself is about 31 in. wide and 12 in. long, the brain-case increasing but little in
size during growth. Above and slightly behind each eye there is a small gland
-the temporal gland-which Selous associates with perspiration, as this part of
the head always appears damp and black after heavy exertion in the sun.
Steinhardt, on the other hand, has noted that these glands are always moist
during the breeding season; the more modern view, however, discounts any
association between the activity of the temporal glands and the onset of the
must period of the male Elephant.
The enormous ears, very much larger than those of the Indian elephant,
measure up to 61 ft. in vertical diameter and 41 ft. in horizontal diameter. They
have a spread, when both are fully expanded, of over 10 ft. The shape, size and
the extent of the turnover flap at the top varies considerably between individuals
but these distinctive characteristics are not now considered valid for the estab-
lishment of different races, e.g., knochenhaurei, the Masai Elephant, with small
ears forming an almost perfect equilateral triangle; oxyotis, the Sudan or
Abyssinian Elephant, with very large ears, forming a long and acutely pointed
triangle. When not in use, the ears lie flat against the body; when an animal
is about to charge they are alternately expanded and closed. A calf can make
a praiseworthy attempt at cocking its ears.
The tip of the extremely sensitive trunk is provided with two finger-like
processes, and is put to a variety of uses, including the gathering of leaves and
fruit for food, and the testing of the air for the scent of enemies, food and water,
both near at hand or at a distance. It is possible for an Elephant to try the wind
to a height of 15 ft.: As one watches the great beasts ", writes Roosevelt (1914),
" the trunks continually appear in the air above them, uncurling, twisting, feeling
each breath of air."
During courtship the bull and cow caress one another with their trunks,
intertwining them in a sort of love embrace. The trunk is also used by the dam
to guide her young and, on occasions, as an instrument of correction. When
bathing, it is employed to squirt water over the body; when worried by flies
and heat, to squirt dust. According to some authorities the trunk can be
inserted into the mouth to draw up water for a shower bath from a special water
storage compartment of the stomach, measuring two feet in length and a foot
in diameter and having a capacity of about ten gallons. Court Treatt, in his
book Out of the Beaten Track, states that he has seen Elephants using the
contents of this internal tank for bathing and has observed the resulting wet
patches on the ground at some distance from water. He adds, "I can only
imagine that they extract the water from themselves by evacuating it from the
sac to the mouth, sucking it out with the trunk and then squirting it over their
bodies." This liquid is normally clear and tasteless, though slightly warm.
The heavy, ponderous body, with a marked depression between the shoulders
and hip, is borne on column-like legs, the solid bones of which possess little or
no development of angulation: the limbs are designed for weight-carrying but
are not made for speed. The Elephant is almost digitigrade, that is to say it
192 UGANDA JOURNAL
walks on its toes, which are five in number on both front and hind limbs, but
these are encased in, and supported by, a mass of spongy tissue which enables it
to tread extremely softly and without noise. Only four of the five toes of the
front limbs carry nails, which are curved into an elliptical saucer-like shape,
although a vestigial fifth nail is sometimes found; only three of the toes on the
hind foot have nails. Foetal Elephant specimens have five nails on the fore
feet and four nails on the hind feet. The soles of the front feet are rounded,
measuring in large animals 22 in. from toe to heel; those of the hind feet are
comparatively narrow. W. H. Hale, writing in 'Nature in East Africa', No. 3,
records that of nine Elephants shot on the Tana River, the soles of the forefeet
of eight animals were exactly 20 in. across from toe to heel and did not vary a
fraction. The ninth, which carried the largest tusks-over 100 lb. each-
measured 19 in. across. He adds that well-defined corrugations on the sole
generally indicate a good bull though, according to Pitman, the harder the ground
surface in an Elephant's normal habitat, the more defined are the corrugations
on the sole of the foot.
The teeth of the Elephant are entirely different from the normal mammalian
dentition. The upper incisor teeth are reduced to two large ever-growing
curved tusks; canine teeth and lower incisors are wanting. The tusks consist of
solid dentine, enamel being found only at the tips, and are preceded by a pair of
milk incisors, shed at about six months. The retention of the milk incisors along
with the permanent tusks may give rise to a so-called four-tusker, although injury
and disease can both lead to the bifurcation of a tusk while in the process of
development. A particularly fine specimen of a four-tusked Elephant was killed
in the Kivu Province of the Belgian Congo in 1947: the tusks weighed about
50 lb. each. Other ivory abnormalities, which include a seven-tusked specimen
(from a single socket) shot in Uganda, have been recorded. Dollman (1941), in
the Standard Natural History, has described the mode of succession of the cheek
teeth, which is unique among land mammals. "The teeth (usually six in
number) are never all in place at the same time, there being a gradual forward
movement of the whole series from below upwards and forwards, so that only
one or portions of two teeth are ever in use on either side of both jaws at once.
As the front teeth become worn away and cast out, so the development of those
behind goes on. The cheek teeth appear to represent three milk molars in front
and three molars behind."
One of the heaviest tusks ever recorded is a single tusk weighing 250 lb.
which was exhibited for some time at the Zanzibar Customs House. A pair of
10 ft. 4 in. tusks from Kilimanjaro was sold in Zanzibar in 1899; they weighed
235 lb. and 225 lb. respectively, and their commercial value was just 1,000.
It is presumably this pair, though the weights and lengths are somewhat
different, which is referred to in the Bulletin of the New York Zoological
Society (Vol. 38, No. 2), as follows:
The largest Elephant tusks of which there is any record were taken
from an old bull killed with a muzzle-loader by an Arab slave at the
base of Kilimanjaro, in 1898. They weighed 228 and 232 pounds, a
total of 460 pounds. . ."
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 193
"According to the slave, when standing, the animal's tusks almost
reached the ground. He was not a big Elephant, but had high shoulders
and sloped away in the back "like a hyena ", the kind of Elephant the
old Arabs in Zanzibar always said carried the heaviest ivory."
"As to whether these are the largest tusks ever secured from an
Elephant we cannot be quite sure. Burton, in 1872, spoke of hearing
of a pair, weighing approximately 280 pounds each, that had been sent
from Mozambique to the King of Portugal, and Von Hohnel tells us that
his ivory-trader guide knew of a tusk which weighed 264 pounds."
The longest pair on record was obtained near Rutshuru in the Belgian Congo
in 1943. The measurements of this pair are: length 350-5 cm. and 303-4 cm.
(11 ft. 7 in. and 9 ft. 11 in.); girth 51 cm. and 51 cm. (20 in. and, 20 in.); weight
68 kilos and 61-5 kilos (150 lb. and 1351 lb.). Another very long pair, 11 ft. and
11 ft. 5i in. long respectively, with a combined weight of 239 lb., is in the
American National Collection ; they are comparatively slender with a maximum
girth of 18- in. A single tusk in the British Museum, weighing 2261 lb., and
measuring 10 ft. 21 in. in length, has a girth of 24 in.
I have few records of tusk weights from Karamoja; a ninety-pounder was
shot near Kotido some years ago, while a seventy-pounder was obtained in 1947
in the neighbourhood of Lolelia.
Cow Elephants carry much smaller tusks, ranging between 10 and 15 lb. in
weight; those of the record pair (from a cow shot in Uganda) weigh 52 lb. and
46 lb. respectively, and are now in the British Museum. Cow ivory is not always
readily distinguished from that of a young bull. Mr. A. L. Butler, one time
Game Warden to the Sudan Government, in a note appearing in The Game
Animals of the Sudan by Captain H. C. Brocklehurst, states that the average
weight of a cow tusk is 10 to 12 lb., but weights up to 18 lb. are not uncommon :
a tusk of 20 lb. is exceptional. Cow tusks are normally readily distinguishable
as they have virtually no hollows. A cow tusk should never be mistaken for
that of a bull, though some small bull tusks might be mistaken for cow ivory.
The two mammae of the female Elephant are situated between the front
legs and are curiously human in form and position. Sometimes a baby Elephant
is not tall enough to reach its mother's mammae, and may then die of starvation.
The testes of the male are abdominal.
BIOLOGY: The Elephant is gregarious and may be found in a small family
party of a bull and a cow and calves of different ages or in a large herd of up to
a hundred or several hundred individuals, often consisting entirely of cows and
calves, or possibly a large collection of family parties. Bulls tend to form small
groups but the old solitary bull is frequently encountered. In the rainy season
when most of the pools are full of water, large Elephant herds may break up into
smaller units, foregathering again in the dry season when the number of watering
places is restricted.
The diet of the Elephant is very varied: leaves and bark of many trees and
bushes (in parts of Karamoja species of Combretum appear popular); aloes and
sansevierias; wild fruits, including those of the Desert Date (Balanites) and the
194 UGANDA JOURNAL
Borassus Palm; various roots (in Karamoja particularly those of Dolichos
lupiniflorus)'; sweet potatoes; seed pods, including those of the groundnut;
grasses, bamboo shoots, maize stalks, heads and stems of sorghum, plantains
and mangoes. Some unusual foods, e.g., fish and freshwater mussels, have
also been recorded. It is estimated that the Elephant requires some 600 lb. of
vegetable matter each day. Branches of trees are grasped and broken off with
the trunk and are then drawn through the mouth to detach the bark and leaves,
which are eaten. Small trees and bushes are uprooted completely, the Elephant
falling to its knees if it can obtain a better purchase in this position. Larger trees
-Lyell records one having a circumference of 521 in. below the break-are
broken clean off by a combination of butting and pressing actions of the forehead.
Grass is pulled up by the trunk and the roots beaten against the knees to remove
earth. According to Selous, the Elephant uses its forefeet when digging for
roots, employing the tusks to prise up and break the root when laid bare, and
pulling out the tapering end with its trunk. Elephants have been seen standing
on their hind feet to grasp food out of normal reach. They are particularly
partial to saline earths and it has been suggested that frequent visits to salt
deposits may assist them to keep their mouths free of leeches.
Cows and calves appear to require a drink daily but old bulls can remain
for a day or two without water, the exact length of time depending largely on the
prevailing weather conditions. Watering, which is a leisurely and noisy affair
accompanied by much wallowing and water squirting, usually takes place at
night and may be prolonged for an hour or two. The Elephant will dig with its
forefeet in sandy river beds for water, completing the operation with a gimlet-like
action of the trunk ; it discards the sludge drawn up before clean water is reached.
When fouled and dirty water only is available, it will endeavour to obtain a
cleaner supply by excavating alongside, but it does not appear to make any
effort to preserve its water supply from pollution. Steinhardt states that
Elephant when thirsty are very prone to charge and that they are therefore best
left alone if discovered standing around water.
During the heat of the day Elephants rest in some spot selected for the
heavy cover it provides. There the bulls become extremely drowsy and unwary,
and not difficult to approach, though cows remain more on the alert, continually
testing the breeze with their uplifted trunks. With regular forward twitchings
of the ears (believed to act as a thermostat) they sleep and doze, either standing
or, more rarely, lying down; if an animal chooses the latter position, a con-
veniently placed anthill may be utilized as a head rest. Nightingale (1948),
describing his experiences with Elephant in the Southern Sudan, writes, I then
approached the group . and when within twenty-five yards a three-quarter
grown bull deliberately lay down, and without more ado fell asleep. He lay
on his side, with his forelegs crossed and tucked in, and as he breathed out he
blew bubbles through his lips in a most comical way. Every now and then he
flapped a huge ear to brush off the flies." And again, "She must have been
merely sleepy, for as we approached she lay down, and within five minutes her
loud and prolonged snores left us in no doubt that she was sound asleep."
1 I am greatly indebted to members of the Agricultural and Forest Departments for
their assistance in naming many of my botanical specimens.
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 195
In search of food and water the Elephant will cover great distances. It is a
tireless walker and between watering place and feeding ground it develops a
series of paths which are remarkable for their smoothness, freedom from
obstacles, and easy grade. Year in and year out, herds will follow these well-
worn tracks, the rocks and boulders along the route becoming polished by the
traffic of countless seasons. When undisturbed the Elephant will travel at some
six or seven miles an hour, but if thoroughly alarmed it is well able to increase
this speed to ten miles an hour-a pace which it can keep up for a number of
hours. When charging or stampeding from danger it may reach a speed of
twenty miles an hour but it cannot maintain this for long. Despite its great
weight, it can move almost without noise, although when undisturbed it tends
to feed desultorily as it walks, the snapping of branches indicating its where-
abouts. According to Melland (1938) the cow takes particular care to teach her
calf not to litter the path with refuse from these wayside snacks. As Pitman
says, in the Annual Report of the Game Department of Uganda for the year
1934 (paras, 124-127), the swimming capacity of the African Elephant is a
subject of considerable controversy:
It is well known that Elephants traverse shallow waters such as the
Albert Nile, parts of-the Victoria Nile, and the Kazinga Channel in the
Western Province, by walking partially or wholly submerged, in the latter
case the tips of their trunks showing. But authenticated instances of
swimming are very rare."
"In the course of the visit of the Parliamentary Delegation to the
Murchison Falls, during the upstream trip a large bull Elephant was
seen apparently swimming the Nile ahead of the steamer. The river at
this place is about four hundred yards broad: unfortunately everyone
was so interested in the unusual spectacle that no soundings were taken to
ascertain the actual depth."
"There were three different phases in the mode of progression
repeated mechanically and precisely which do suggest that the creature
was not merely walking along the bottom. From the three separate
exposures of parts of the body made in regular sequence it seemed that
while completely submerged, and presumably swimming, the Elephant
feeling the necessity for taking a breath of air heaved itself upwards
towards the surface which resulted in the exposure of the top half of its
head. Next the body again disappeared completely from view to be
followed by the sight of a few feet of the trunk thrust above the water at
an angle of 45", and exposed for several seconds. The trunk in its turn
disappeared, but instead of being withdrawn along its own axis, was used
with a downward sweep to help propel the creature. This driving thrust
was sufficient after the disappearance of the trunk tip to expose a tiny
portion of the top of the head for a few moments. After this had dis-
appeared beneath the water, the process as just described was repeated."
"The Elephant while helpless in the water had evidently heard the
thud of the stern-wheel, so that when it eventually emerged on the bank
it swung round in menacing fashion with huge ears forward facing the
196 UGANDA JOURNAL
steamer. Then having had its look it slowly turned, climbed the bank
When feeding, a herd draws attention to itself by constant snapping of the
vegetation, trumpet-like blowing through the trunk, shrill cries from the calves,
and by intestinal rumblings which, audible 150 yards away, can, according to
Blunt (1933), be stopped at will.
Of all animals, the Elephant possesses the keenest sense of smell and with
a steady wind in its favour it is probable that it can locate a human being almost
a mile away. Elephants when feeding pay no attention to noises around them,
but when at rest are keen of hearing and Lyell notes that the breaking of a stick
or dried pod is audible to them when fairly close. Although at fifty yards or
so they appear unable to distinguish stationary objects by sight, yet Pitman
believes them to have excellent eyesight and considers that it is only because
of the position of their eyes and their height above the ground that they are
unable to focus near-by objects.
The Elephant, although peaceful, is nevertheless a very temperamental
subject and its reaction to the sudden appearance of a human being is always
uncertain. A bull displaced by a younger rival, an animal exiled from the herd
owing to its evil temper possibly due to past wounds, tuskless bulls and cows-
these are frequently of a particularly vicious nature-are all prone to charge
unprovoked. A cow with a calf is also always ready to defend her offspring.
Selous has vividly described the charging Elephant. The trunk is first raised in
an attempt to pick up the scent and at the same time the animal, continually
cocking and lowering its ears, looks from side to side for its enemy; the tail in
the meanwhile is held erect. When the actual charge begins, seldom from a
distance greater than a hundred yards, the trunk is dropped, the ears extended
fully (though Blunt (1933) states that a cow charges with her ears folded back),
and silently or with short sharp screams of rage, the animal makes for its
adversary. The Elephant generally kills outright. Cleland Scott, writing in
the Spectator, 14th May 1948, says: "What usually happens is that they seize
you with their trunk and break you across their tusks as we snap a match, or
else they bang you against some handy tree. Other tricks in their repertoire
are to kneel on you or skewer you with their tusks." A stampede by a herd,
sometimes described as a mass charge, is invariably a hasty attempt to retreat
to safety. Melland (1938) states that a moving herd if met face on may stampede
towards the source of its fear, but is more likely to perform a complete about
turn and go back in the direction from whence it came. After a short while the
herd will perform another about turn and continue in the original direction of its
march. If disturbed from the rear, it will continue to move on its original
direction at an enhanced speed and may continue for fifty miles or so without
Mention must be made of the peculiar sagacity of the Elephant which in
several respects is of a particularly human quality. The following examples
may be of interest. Unlike the majority of wild animals, Elephants normally
(but not always) shun a dead comrade or a decaying corpse. In the days when
Europeans were a comparative rarity in Central Africa, early hunters stated that
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 197
the Elephant was able to distinguish between the scent of a European and an
African, associating danger only with that of the latter. One observer has
noticed a peculiar form of ritual adopted by Elephants, when meeting: it includes
the throwing up of the trunk, a lifting of the forelegs, and bowing. Another
has observed a male and female, with trunks uplifted, making very obvious
attempts at kissing. That the Elephant will on occasions endeavour to bury
under the cover of leaves and branches its human victim is well authenticated
and there are cases on record of persons who have escaped from their leafy
tombs to tell the tale. Powell Cotton (1904), while travelling between Munyen
and Moruasokar in Turkana, came across a twisted spear and the remains of a
badly mauled man beneath a heap of boughs. The Elephant had first buried
the body and then turned to wreak its vengeance on the spear which had wounded
it. Powell Cotton adds that the Elephant is also said to bury its lion victims.
In the Sudan, in 1947, Elephants buried under branches, vegetation and a little
earth a comrade which had been shot.
It is well established that a wounded Elephant is frequently assisted from
the scene of danger by its comrades and an interesting example of this solicitude
for the injured is recorded from Karamoja by Major Foran in his book Kill or
be Killed. Foran severely wounded a bull Elephant which was immediately
surrounded by a group of cows, a pair taking up position on either flank of the
unfortunate animal. By concerted heaving and pushing they managed to keep
the dying Elephant on the move for three days, during which time they travelled
far and fast. Finally the old bull, reaching the end of his endurance, fell down
dead but for an hour the faithful cows made every attempt to raise him to his
feet again. At last, realizing he was now beyond elephantine aid, they turned
slowly away, halting now and then to look back on his prostrate body.
Whether there is or is not a well defined breeding season among Elephant
communities is a subject of considerable controversy. Some authorities state
that not only is breeding markedly seasonal but that it is also confined to recog-
nized breeding localities; others aver that calves are born throughout the year.
Brocklehurst (1931) gives September-November as the breeding season for
Elephants in the Southern Sudan. It is known that the male Elephant is subject
to sexual periodicity, but present knowledge of the factors which produce the
breeding condition is very limited. External influences-climate and food
supply-are likely to play an important part and if this is so then clearly a
breeding season, possibly of wide limits, is a necessary corollary.
During the act of mating, the female thrusts her trunk backwards and inter-
laces it with that of the male. The gestation period is between 20 and 23 months :
according to Lyell it is 22 months for a male calf and slightly less for a female.
There is some doubt as to whether the cow retires from the herd to calve;
possibly the herd remains nearby during the labour period and then leaves the
cow until the new-born calf can keep up with it: this it can do about a week or
so after birth. W. G. Adam, writing in the Field of 20th June 1931, records an
instance which suggests that the cow of the Indian elephant may spend a con-
siderable time in labour, possibly up to four or five days, the whole time being
spent on her side. Pitman believes that normally the cow Elephant leaves the
herd to calve; but that occasionally calving takes place with the herd around.
198 UGANDA JOURNAL
He came across such a case in Acholi in 1926-the cow had evidently been in
labour a few days with a very large herd standing about her by day. This has
been described, for the Indian elephant, by Sanderson in his Wild Beasts of
India. At birth, the calf measures about 21 ft. at the shoulder and usually
weighs less than 300 lb.: it suckles with its lips and not with its trunk. Elephant
twins have been recorded. Pitman considers that the growth in height is
approximately 4 in. a year, a 4-5-year-old youngster being about 4 ft. high. The
African Elephant 'Jumbo' measured 4 ft. on arrival at the London Zoo: in
the next seventeen years it grew a further 61 ft., which is at the rate of 41 in.
The weaning period is in the neighbourhood of two years, puberty being
reached between eighteen and twenty years.
The family spirit appears to be well-developed and the bull, though not
strictly monogamous, is constant to its chosen mate; or possibly it would be
more accurate to say that it is faithful to the cow by which it has been selected,
for according to Melland (1938) the cow will warn off rivals when the bull is in
the breeding condition. Cows with two or more calves of different ages are
The cow, unlike the bull, expresses great concern for her young and will
freely endanger herself for its safety or to retrieve it when missing; she will
normally adopt an orphan calf only provided it has already been weaned, but
Captain Salmon has seen adopted orphans being given suck. She expends much
time and trouble in introducing the calf to the numerous pitfalls of life-this
may be literally true for there is some evidence to suggest that where pit traps
are in general use she endeavours to warn the calf of that particular danger-
and when she desires to communicate with it she employs a special low call.
African Elephants have not, however, the intelligence to help a calf out of a pit,
should it fall in.
The cow is a regular but slow breeder and the interval between calving is
between 21 and 3 years. The Elephant is not so long-lived as is often imagined
-the oldest authenticated animal is 80 years old. It is probable that most
Elephants do not live longer than 60 years.
According to the Karamojong, lions occasionally take toll of the very young.
Their method of attack is to maul the calf as much as possible before the dam
comes to its rescue and then to beat a hasty retreat. If the calf is so severely
wounded as to be unable to keep up with the herd, the cow sooner or later
reluctantly leaves it to its fate, and the lions, awaiting this moment, close in
to complete the killing. There are also records of adult Elephants being
slaughtered by lions; in one instance two lions achieved a kill while in another
four were necessary to complete the job.
MISCELLANEOUS: The massive droppings, consisting of semi-digested
fibrous material, can hardly be mistaken for those of any other animal; when
the diet is largely the fruit of the Borassus palm, the dark brown shiny pieces of
the skin are very noticeable. The theory that Elephants are instrumental in
spreading this palm appears to me to be well-founded; I have seen small
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 199
pockets of it near isolated waterholes visited by Elephant, and have noted the
stones of the fruit in droppings fifteen miles from the nearest grove.
Elephant dung is odourless but the smell of the micturations is extremely
powerful. When undisturbed, Elephants stand to evacuate; when persistently
hunted and kept on the run, they are apt to suffer from acute diarrhea.
To many Africans the flesh of the Elephant is very welcome. Selous con-
sidered it well-flavoured despite its extremely coarse-grained nature. Some
Europeans have found the trunk, when properly cooked, palatable enough;
others favour the foot, or the flesh from the hollows above the eyes.
The Karamojong hunted the Elephant both with wheel-trap and spear.
The former was set over a shallow hole in a much-frequented path with a strong
noose of rawhide rope, to the other end of which was attached a heavy log,
placed immediately above it. The whole contraption was covered with a layer
of grass. An Elephant placing its foot in the hole was immediately caught
by the noose which was prevented from slipping off the leg by the firmly fixed
wheel trap below. The heavy cumbersome log soon tired the ill-fated animal
which, in a state of exhaustion, fell an easy prey to pursuing spearmen.
The legend of the Elephant-cemetery appears to derive from the fact that
the carcases of Elephants which have died from natural causes are seldom found.
Elephants sometimes meet their death by drowning, some undoubtedly succumb
to snake bite, while others possibly die of food poisoning-see E. A. Temple
Perkins in the Uganda Journal, Vol. 3 (1935-36), p. 79, and Vol. 11 (1947), p. 38.
Diseases such as anthrax may also take their toll. The Elephant is an animal
of conservative habits and is unwilling to leave a favoured waterhole until the
last drop of liquid is exhausted, and this may lead to the death from thirst of a
number of animals. Powell Cotton (1904) discovered a large accumulation of
Elephant bones close to a waterhole near Zingote in Turkana, and although his
African guide assured him that this indeed was an Elephant cemetery, it is
probable that a period of severe drought was responsible for the deaths of these
Captain Pitman has been told that on Kadam, above Amaler, there is
a valley which used to be visited seasonally by Elephants. The entrance to the
valley is said to be very narrow and commanded by high rocks. Elephants once
inside were trapped, their egress prevented by spearmen on the rocks. Such a
slaughter-place is a potential cemetery.
There are also recorded instances of Elephants becoming completely bogged
in mud and dying a slow death from exhaustion and starvation. I fear the real
Elephant-cemetery to which the old Elephant wends his way, when life begins
to fade, to lay his bones among countless others of his kind, is only to be found
in the Africa of Tarzan of the Apes and Trader Horn.
Family: PROCAVIIDAE. Hyraxes.
PROCAVIA sp. Large-toothed Hyrax, Rock Hyrax, Rock Dassie, Rock Rabbit.
Karamojong: Aduka, ngadukai.
TAXONOMY: Up to the time of writing (mid-1948) I have only collected
Rock Hyraxes from Central Karamoja, i.e., Nabilatuk, Amuda and Narathai,
200 UGANDA JOURNAL
and it is quite possible, therefore, that other species occur in the north-west. I
believe the Grey Hyrax, Heterohyrax syriacus bakeri (Gray), has been reported
from east Acholi.
Dr. MacInnes of the Coryndon Museum, Nairobi, has kindly compared my
specimens from Karamoja with those in the museum collection and he considers
that they are nearest to the Procavia habessinica group. Procavia habessinica
daemon (Thomas) occurs on Mt. Elgon but it is characterized by long, soft fur
of a rich dark colour, quite unlike the coat of the Karamoja form. Dr. MacInnes
considers that the latter may be a new race or perhaps an extension of one of
the Abyssinian forms.
Some years ago Mr. G. H. E. Hopkins sent specimens of the Rock Hyrax
from Maru near Kotido to the American Museum of Natural History and these
were provisionally determined as a subspecies of Procavia lopesi (Thomas &
Wroughton), the type locality of which is Kodja Hill, Gaima Range, Kibali
River, Monbuttu, Belgian Congo. Allen, however, considers Procavia lopesi
merely a subspecies of Procavia johnstoni (Thomas). Mr. Hopkins has, how-
ever, pointed out to me that Procavia johnstoni has one set of lice and Procavia
lopesi another. The taxonomy of the Karamoja Rock Hyrax is clearly very
confused; the only certainty is that the animal belongs to the genus Procavia.
DISTRIBUTION: Abundantly distributed throughout Karamoja among the
rocky scrub-covered kopjess' wherever there are suitable cracks, crannies and
overhanging rocks to afford them shelter, e.g., Kwatabok, Nabilatuk, Amuda,
Narathai, Kaabong and Nangeya. There is a small colony on Alekilek, which is
just over the Teso border, but I have not found them elsewhere in that district.
DESCRIPTION: In general appearance the Rock Hyrax is not unlike a large
earless rabbit. In total length it measures about 15 in.-the tail is very short-
and weighs about 7 lb. The neat rounded ears lie flat against the head. The
hair is short and rather coarse. The general colour of the upper parts is medium
to dark brownish grey, the crown of the head and the centre-line of the back
being noticeably darker than the rest of the body: the basal two-thirds of each
hair is greyish brown, the remainder dark brown tipped with sandy buff. The
lighter flanks possess a somewhat mottled appearance and are suffused with
orange buff, but there is considerable variation between individuals in the
intensity of this colour. The under parts, including throat and chin, are dirty
cream. Long black whiskers, up to 7 in. in length, are present. In the centre
of the back there is a narrow elongated glandular patch surrounded by orange
hairs, in marked distinction to the darker colour of the upper parts. The
glandular patch is much more noticeable in some specimens than others.
The dentition of the Rock Hyrax is unusual and deserves a brief mention.
Canine or eye-teeth are entirely wanting in both jaws. In the upper jaw there is
one pair of incisors which are typically rootless and somewhat rodent-like in
appearance except that they are pointed-those of rodents are more chisel-
like-and are triangular in cross section. The lower front teeth consist of two
rooted pairs of incisors, the outer pair being almost horizontal. The cheek-teeth,
which have much in common with those of the rhinoceros, are separated from the
WILD MAMMALS OF TESO AND KARAMOJA 201
incisors by a considerable gap, a feature also shared by members of the rodent
On each of the forefeet there are four functional toes all furnished with small
short nails; on the hind foot there are only three toes, the second digit being
provided with a small claw in the place of the usual nail. The flat thick soles
are black and rubber-like and may assist the animal to scramble on the rocks.
The female has six mammae.
BIOLOGY: The peculiar cry is very often the first indication of the presence
of the Rock Hyrax. To me it bears a close resemblance to the loud clucking of
a pullet, thus: 'chee-up'; sometimes 'chee-up, chuk chuk'. It calls in the
early morning and again in the evening and to a later hour on a moonlight night.
The Rock Hyrax feeds on leaves and bark and will climb small trees in
search of food. During the heat of the day it lies sunning itself on the top of its
rocky home, every now and then rubbing its chin on the rough surface of the
rock. On cold and windy days it prefers the shelter of some cleft or over-
It is remarkably agile, and is sharp-sighted and possesses a good sense of
hearing; when attacked by dogs it can put up a spirited fight in defence of
itself. Shortridge states that when wounded it is apt to bite savagely and if it
gets a grip it will hang on like a badger. When alarmed it at once disappears
down the nearest cranny and a wounded animal is consequently extremely
difficult to retrieve.
It deposits its pellet-like droppings in some selected places and, as they take
a considerable time to disintegrate, great accumulations of dung among the rocks
are a marked feature of its home.
Leopards and the lesser carnivores, as also some of the larger birds
of prey, take toll of the Rock Hyrax, but it appears to live in friendly relation-
ship with the packs of the dwarf mongoose which inhabit similar localities.
Occasionally it will leaves its rocky fortress and venture out a short distance
into the bush; with its line of retreat cut off by strategically placed hunters a
number fall victims to dogs and sticks. Verreaux's eagle (Aquila verreauxi)
feeds mainly on Rock Hyrax.
The young are born at the end of some suitable cleft in the rocks and are
two or three in number; a female shot at Nabilatuk in April contained two
embryos. In the case of Procavia capensis, in South Africa, there does not
appear to be any particular breeding season though it is said to breed only once
a year. The gestation period is reported to be 225 days. I have seen a very
young Rock Hyrax which was extremely active and lively, and it is probable
that the young begin to move about soon after birth.
MISCELLANEOUS: The flesh is relished by the Karamojong. I understand
it should be cooked in the skin in an earthenware container to obtain the full
flavour. The young make interesting pets-they will eat almost anything in
the vegetable line-but are liable to bite.
(To be continued)
THE PAGAN RELIGION OF THE MADI
By F. R. J. WILLIAMS
HE religious ideas of the pagan Madi of Uganda are vague and confused;
by a process of synthesis it might be possible to build up from them a fairly
coherent system of beliefs and practices, but to do so would certainly mis-
represent the way in which they are present in the pagan's mind. Merely to
employ the concepts implicit in our language is to crystallize the primitive ideas
which they are used to represent, and to give them a false precision.
The whole life of the people is built round the belief that their ancestors
survive after death as spirits (ori), who are able to intervene in human affairs.
Both good and bad fortune is believed to come from them, the latter if they
are neglected. In fact, every misfortune is attributed to the anger of some
spirit because he has not received offerings of food and is therefore hungry, and
whenever one of the family falls sick or suffers an accident of any sort a witch-
doctor (odzo or odzoggo) is immediately consulted to find out which ancestor is
causing the trouble. The natural consequence is that witch-doctors are to all
intents the priests of the community, as they alone are inspired with the know-
ledge required to identify the supernatural influences which are intervening in
the lives of the people.
Powerful families are considered to have powerful ancestor spirits to help
them; consequently an hereditary chief (opi) is respected not only as an individual
but as the living centre of the collective influence of countless former chiefs,
whose spirits are known as opi-ori. In this way the hereditary status of a
family controls the lives of its members to a very great extent. Chiefs, rain-
makers and the vudipi (who exercise important powers over the land) are
descended from a line of ancestors who performed the same functions, and it is
on this fact alone that their authority rests, because they are believed to retain
the same sphere of influence when they are dead as they did when they were
alive, and therefore able to intervene in the lives of the same families as were
formerly under their jurisdiction. Although the spirits of powerful families are
recognized to have powers greater than the spirits of lesser families, nevertheless
every family has its own set of ancestors who bring its members prosperity or
misfortune. There is consequently a hierarchy of spirits corresponding exactly
to the pattern of authority as it exists in the tribe. The totality of the spirits of
the dead is known as babu-garee.
It is inevitable, as a result of this belief in ancestor spirits, that the Madi
looks to the past rather than the future and is afraid to break away from the
traditions and customs of his forefathers. It makes him uncritical of every
aspect of the life he leads, and the fact that his grandfather lived the same kind
of life is its justification and tends to make more advanced economic and social
The greatest mystery in life for the pagan Madi is the miracle of reproduc-
tion, and his beliefs in a supreme being are centred round this. About first
THE PAGAN RELIGION OF THE MADI 203
causes and any kind of existence other than the phenomenal, he has not the
slightest curiosity, because such speculation is not related to his practical life;
but what does seem to him to require a supernatural explanation is the way in
which life springs from the earth and living things reproduce themselves. The
word which is used for god, in this sense of the supernatural force responsible
for reproduction, is rabanga. The same word is used by the Acholi, but what-
ever its origin there is no doubt that the Madi regard it as part of their own
language. It has many meanings and its various uses give a clear example of
the confusion and overlapping of Madi ideas. As well as being a spirit, rabanga
is the earth in the sense of Mother Earth, the universal producer; one old pagan
said, We see that all plants are born from the earth (rabanga), and if the earth
(rabanga) does not make a woman fertile, how does she conceive? Rabanga
is believed to have created men and women as well as all plant life; the sun,
moon and the stars, the rain, the clouds and the rivers are all believed to have
sprung from the earth. In the ceremony of rainmaking the rainmaker prays
to rabanga to bring the rain as he believes that rabanga is the producer of rain.
The word is also used for the birth of twins, which is regarded as ill-omened and
mysterious. The elder of the twins is now given the name Ejaiya which means
literally 'Take him to the bush'-a survival of the custom of infanticide which,
according to my information, was general in some clans but not all before it was
prevented by European administration; the younger twin is called Rabanga.
An elaborate ceremony now accompanies the birth of twins; their father and
the family of the mother are each required to bring a sheep which are both eaten
by the father and mother and by the woman who looked after the mother during
her confinement. The ceremony is called lati and is regarded as a lustration.
Then the mother's family brings another sheep which is put on a special bed-like
structure of sticks at the side of her hut every morning and evening; the rest of
the time it lives a normal life with the rest of the flock. When this sheep gives
birth it is killed and prayers are offered for the health of the father and mother
and the twins. The bed which is made for the sheep is called rabanga and the
sheep itself is rabanga-bilo, 'a twin sheep'.
Rabanga is also used in a more general sense to explain anything mysterious,
sinister or inexplicable and is regarded as the giver and taker of life. The
mourner at a death cries, Rabanga did me ill by taking away my dear one."
It is quite clear that it is impossible to reduce the meaning of rabanga to
something logically consistent; to try to do so can only be misleading for it is
used to denote a supernatural force, the earth itself, and concrete objects.
To inquire whether rabanga is regarded as God, the creator of the universe,
existing in eternity, is to ask a question which is meaningless to the pagan Madi.
Abstractions which are not related to the concrete facts of everyday life lie
outside the Madi philosophy, which is content to say of some mysterious event
that rabanga produced it. Causality and a causal chain of events reaching back
to a prime cause are concepts entirely alien to the pagan Madi mind.
Prayers are offered to the ori (ancestor spirits) and to rabanga in times of
misfortune. In cases where the family only is affected, as with sickness or
accident, the ceremony is confined to the family circle. In each household there
are shrines (abila) where the family ori reside; each consists of a flat stone,
204 UGANDA JOURNAL
usually not more than two feet long, supported by two or more upright stones,
and there is a separate shrine for each ancestor. They are generally in the
shade, either under a granary or under a tree, and may have grass planted round
them, the purpose being to make them pleasant for the spirits. Prayers are
offered at these shrines because it is only there that contact can be made with
the spirits. The witch-doctor has first to be consulted as to which of the ori is
responsible for the trouble; when he has determined this and prescribed the
animal required to appease the spirit's hunger, the elders of the family gather in
the compound and sacrifice the hen, goat, sheep or bull as the case may be;
part of the contents of the stomach are smeared on the shrine belonging to the
spirit named by the witch-doctor, and the flesh and skin from the breast of the
animal are cooked and eaten by the elders. Prayers are made to the ori calling
on him by name to come and remove the trouble which he has brought on the
family; part of the cooked meat is left on his shrine overnight and if it has not
gone in the morning it is believed that the prayers have not been heard.
If a misfortune visits the land affecting all the people in common, e.g., famine,
epidemic disease, insect pests, or gales which keep off the rain, the landowners
(vudipi) and the elders get together and prayers are offered to the babu-garee
to intervene to help the people. The vudipi is descended from the family which
is believed to be the original occupier of the land; other clans may settle on the
land and their chiefs control it, but the vudipi, because his family spirits are
believed to exercise special powers over the land, remains in a position of
authority where all matters concerning the prosperity of the land are concerned.
It is interesting to note that only the vudipi and his descendants can exercise
this authority over the land which is recognized as his sphere; if he moves to
another part he has to be called back to preside over the ceremonies which are
proper to his area, and no one else can take his place.
All the land occupied by the Madi is divided into well-recognized areas which
fall within the jurisdiction of different vudipi, and in each area is one or more
sacred place (angwaore) where the vudipi leads the communal prayers. The
angwaore may be a sacred grove (rudu) usually easily recognizable by the fact
that the undergrowth in it is never cut or burnt; great snakes are believed to
live in these groves and to appear only at times when ceremonies take place.
There are two typical groves of this kind in Moyo in one of which the chiefs
of the clan Vura are always buried. At Dufile there is a large grove in which
lives a snake called Ogumbo; when the vudipi prays there, Ogumbo is said to
appear, and (according to the vudipi and the elders who attend the ceremony)
to be able to reply in a human voice to the requests which are made. In East
Madi the clan Makolo has a sacred tree beneath which lives a snake also endowed
with the power of speech, and reputed in addition to have a human head; this
snake's name is Orio, son of Nyevura. Nyevura is the father; who the mother
was is not known nor is there the slightest curiosity on the subject.
Not only the rudu, but also single trees, hills or outcrops of rock may be
angwaore. The rocks at Umi which overlook the landing stage of the Laropi
ferry on the east bank of the Nile are the angwaore of the clan Packara, and the
hill Omigo in East Madi of the clan Pawero. Rivers, too, have their sacred
places which may be a tree on the bank, or a rock; the middle of the river Nile
THE PAGAN RELIGION OF THE MADI 205
is the boundary between the spheres of the vudipi on either bank. Their powers
enable them to protect the people from crocodiles and to bring good luck to
Whatever the nature of the sacred place, the snakes which inhabit it are also
regarded as sacred, i.e., having the special power of being able to help the com-
munity. The ceremony of making communal prayer follows the same principle
as that made at the family shrines; offerings of food are brought, some of it
eaten by the elders present, the rest being left overnight for the snakes to eat.
If the food is gone in the morning, it is believed that the spirits have heard the
prayer and that it will be answered; if the food is untouched, another attempt
must be made. The vudipi addresses his prayers to his ancestors, saying,
" My forefathers, as you have helped us in the past, so help us now. Take away
the famine (or sickness, etc.) from the land . ." The ori are believed to be
in contact with rabanga and to be able to influence him to help the living.
There is clearly a close connection between ancestor worship and the sacred
snakes inhabiting the angwaore. Although they are certainly credited with
supernatural powers of some sort there is no evidence to establish that they are
identified with ancestor spirits, and it would in my opinion be a misrepresenta-
tion to describe the pagan religion of the Madi as snake-worship, especially as
similar special powers are attributed to many kinds of tree. Leaves from the
arewa tree, for instance, are hung from the roof of the hut where the rainstones
are kept in order to ensure the right proportions of rain and sun when the rain
is excessive. In divination, seeds from other trees are used by witch-doctors,
and a branch of the tree known as melemele by chiefs; and there are of course
many sacred (angwaore) trees and groves. It is difficult to understand the way
in which the powers of snakes and trees are supposed to be exercised; it is
certainly not clearly defined and so far as I can determine the pagan makes no
attempt to explain it beyond saying that snakes and trees are possessed of certain
powers to influence events in the same way that medicine, when properly applied,
can effect the body.
RAINMAKING. The most important of all the ceremonies connected with
the religious beliefs of the Madi is that of rainmaking. In the comparatively
small area occupied by the Madi in north-west Uganda there are forty-five rain-
making centres. With two exceptions, rain is produced by a rainmaker using a
special set of stones, which are usually but not always white; all rainstones are
believed to have come down with the rain from the sky and to be either male or
female. They vary considerably in shape and size. Those which I have seen
(belonging to the clan Pamujo of Metuli) are milky white and opaque; they
appear to be very like quartz but, according to the Madi, they are not quartz.
They are all very smooth, the male stones being conical with a fairly sharp
point and the female either conical or rounded. How sex is differentiated it is
difficult to say; one of the female stones which I saw was almost identical in
shape with some of the males, but the rainmaker had no doubt whatever which
was which. I have heard from an Acholi, who lived many years among the
Madi that while male stones are conical the female are circular with a hole in the
middle, and that in rainmaking the union of the two symbolizes the insemination