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|Table of Contents|
Front Cover 1
Front Cover 2
Title Page 1
Title Page 2
Table of Contents
Table of Contents 1
Table of Contents 2
The Macdonald expedition to the Nile
Karamoja in 1910
The clan system in Buganda
Ernest Linant de Bellefonds
The birds of Makerere Hill: Notes and check-list
The diaries of Emin Pasha - Extracts VII
Uganda bibliography 1962-1963
Notes on contributors
Back Cover 1
Back Cover 2
w w w w
The Uganda Journal
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
THE MACDONALD EXPEDTmN TO THE NILE
1897-1899 - - - -
KARAMOJA IN 1910 - - - -
THE CLAN SYSTEM IN BUGANDA - -
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS - -
THE BIRDS OF MAKERERE HILL:
NOTES AND CHECK-LIST - -
THE SIRIKWA - - - - -
- -J. P. BARBER
S- -J. P. BARBER ,
- M. B. NSIMBI
SIR JOHN GRAY
PRISCILLA M. ALLEN
and P. J. FRIPP
J. M. WEATHERBY,
B. E. KIPKORIR
and J. E. G. SUTToN
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII:
EMIN AS GOVERNOR OF EQUATORIA,
11 JULY 1886-1 JULY 1887 - Edited by SIR JOHN GRAY
LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT
-A POSTSCRIPT - - - -
Birds of the Southern Third of Africa, Vol. II.
(by C. W. Mackworth-Praed
and C. H. B. Grant) - - -
The First Hundred Years of the Standard Bank
Gedi, The Palace
(by James Kirkman) - - -
Population Characteristics of the Commonwealth
Countries of Tropical Africa
(by T. E. Smith and J. G. C. Blacker) -
Mau Afau Detainee
(by Josiah Mwanji Kariuku) - -
Sisal: Twenty-five Years Sisal Research
(by G. W. Lock) - - -
(by V. L. Griffiths) - - -
Planning for Health
(by Michael Colbourne)-----
History of East Africa, Volume 1
(edited Roland Oliver and
Gervase Mathew) - -
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1962-1963
Compiled by Bryan W. Langlands - -
THE SOLAR ECLIPSE IN ANKOLE IN 1492 -
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS - - -
- H. B. THOMAs
P. M. ALLEN
-H. J. BEVIN
A. M. O'CONNOR
M. R. NDUNGU
D. G. R. BELSHAW
SF. J. BENNETT
F. J. BENNETT
R. W. BEACHES
SI JOHN GRAY
VOLUME 28, No. I
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
OFFICERS FOR 1963-64
To September 1963: The Governor-General of Uganda,
His Excellency Sir Walter Courts, O.C.M.G., M.B.B.
From November 1963: The President of Uganda,
His Excellency Sir Edward Mutesa, K.B.E.
Mr. W. S. Kajubi
The President Mr.
The Vice-President Mr
The Hon. Secretary Mr,
The Hon. Treasurer Mr
The Hon. Editors Mr
The Hon. Librarian Mr.
Dr. W. B. Banage Mr.
Dr. W. W. Bishop Mr.
Mr. P. Bilature Mr.
Mr. J. L. Dixon Mr.
Mr. R. K. K. Gava Mis
Mr. S. C. Grimley Col
Hon. Secretary :
Hon. Treasurer :
Hon. Editors :
Hon. Librarian :
Hon Auditors :
Messrs Cooper Bros. & Co.
Corresponding Secretary at Jinja :
Corresponding Secretary at Mbale :
Dr. M. Posnansky
* P. N. Kavuma, O.B.E.
* B. E. R. Kirwan, M.B.E.
. C. M. S. Kisosonkole
s. M. Macpherson
. D. K. Marphatia, M.B.E.
. R. J. Mehra, O.B.E.
SC. N. Mukuye
* B. A. Ogot
* A. H. Russell, M.B.E., D.S.C.
. W. W. Rwetsiba
is M. Senkatuka
. C. D. Trimmer, D.s.o.
Mr. P. Marsh
Mrs. J. Bevin
Dr. J. K. Almond
Dr. M. Posnansky
Mrs. A. E. Luck
Mr. Z. Kanaiya
Hon. Legal Adviser :
Mr. C. L. Holcom
Mr. E. P. Thiel
Mr. R. F. Clarke
Hon. Vice-Presidents :
H.H. Frederick Mutesa II, K.B.E., Sir John Milner Gray
Kabaka of Buganda Mr. E. B. Haddon
R. A. Sir Tito Winyi Gafabusa IV, Mr. H. B. Thomas, o.B.E.
c.a.B., Omukama of Bunyoro Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E.
Lord Twining of Tanganyika and Mr. E. J. Wayland, c.B.E.
Godalming, O.C.M.o., M.B.E.
Past Presidents :
Sir A. R. Cook, C.M.G., O.B.E.
Mr. E. J. Wayland, c.B.E.
Dr. H. H. Hunter, C.B.E., LL.D.
Mr. H. Howitt, C.M.O.
Sir H. R. Hone, K.B.E., Q.c.
Mr. J. Sykes, O.B.E.
Captain C. R. S. Pitman, c.B.E.,
Mr. S. W. Kulubya, C.B.E.
Mr. A. E. Temple Perkins
Mr. R. A. Snoxall
Dr. K. A. Davies, c.M.a., o.B.E.
Mr. G. H. E. Hopkins, o.e.E.
Mrs. K. M. Trowell, M.B.E.
1947-48 Dr. W. J. Eggeling
1948-50 Dr. G. ap Griffith
1950-51 Rev. Fr. F. B. Gaffney, w.F.
1951-52 Professor A. W. Williams, C.B.E.
1952-53 Sir J. B. Hutchinson, c.M.G., F.R.S.
1953-54 Mr. J. D. Jameson, o.B.E.
1954-55 Dr. Audrey I. Richards, c.B.E.
1955-56 Rev. Dr. H. C. Trowell, O.B.E.
1956-57 Mr. D. K. Marphatia, M.B.E.
1957-58 Mr. M. Barrington Ward
1958-59 Dr. H. F. Morris
1959-60 Professor A. W. Southall
1960-61 Mr. J. C. D. Lawrance
1961-62 Mr. B. E. R. Kirwan, M.B.E.
Mr. B. K. Mulyanti, o.B.E.
Secretary : Mrs. J. Bevin
'Mr. S. W. Kulubya, c.B.E.
Mr. G. P. Saben
THE JOURNAL OF THE UGANDA SOCIETY
J. K. ALMOND
MRS. A. E. LUCK
THE UGANDA SOCIETY
THE MACDONALD EXPEDITION TO THE NILE
1897-1899 - - - -
KARAMOJA IN 1910 - - -
THE CLAN SYSTEM IN BUGANDA -
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS -
THE BIRDS OF MAKERERE HILL:
NOTES AND CHECK-LIST - -
THE SIRIKWA -
- J. P. BARBER
- -J. P. BARBER
- M. B. NSIMBI
SIR JOHN GRAY
PRISCILLA M. ALLEN
and P. J. FRIPP
- - - - J. M. WEATHERBY,
B. E. KIPKORIR
and J. E. G. SUTTON
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS
EMIN AS GOVERNOR OF EQUATORIA,
11 JULY 1886 -1 JULY 1887 - E
LIVINGSTONE'S MUGANDA SERVANT
-A POSTSCRIPT - - - -
Birds of the Southern Third of Africa, Vol. II.
(by C. W. Mackworth-Praed
and C. H. B. Grant) - - -
The First Hundred Years of the Standard Bank
Gedi, The Palace
(by James Kirkman) - -
Population Characteristics of the Commonwealth
Countries of Tropical Africa
(by T. E. Smith and J. G. C. Blacker) -
Mau Mau Detainee
(by Josiah Mwanji Kariuku) - -
Sisal: Twenty-five Years Sisal Research
(by G. W. Lock) - - -
(by V. L. Griffiths) - - -
Planning for Health
(by Michael Colbourne) - - -
History of East Africa, Volume 1
(edited Roland Oliver and
Gervase Mathew) - - -
UGANDA BIBLIOGRAPHY 1962-1963
Compiled by Bryan W. Langlands - -
THE SOLAR ECLIPSE IN ANKOLE IN 1492 -
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS - - -
by SIR JOHN GRAY
-H. B. THOMAS
S P. M. ALLEN
H. J. BEVIN
A. M. O'CONNOR
M. R. NDUNGU
D. G. R. BELSHAW
F. J. BENNETT
-F. J. BENNETT
R. W. BEACHEY
SIR JOHN GRAY
Uganda Journal, 28, I (r964) pp. Z-14
THE MACDONALD EXPEDITION TO THE NILE 1897-1899
by J. P. BARBER
In 1897 the British Government sent an expedition under Major J. R. L.
Macdonald' to the Nile. The expedition was part of Lord Salisbury's scheme
for safeguarding British interests in Egypt by dominating the whole of the Nile
Valley. To ensure the success of the scheme two steps were necessary. The first
was to reassert Anglo-Egyptian control of the Sudan by defeating the Mahdists
who had, in 1880's, overrun the Egyptian garrisons and murdered Gordon
at Khartoum. The task of reconquering the Sudan was given to an Anglo-
Egyptian army led by Sir Herbert Kitchener. The second step was to ensure
that access to the upper Nile was denied to other European powers and to France
in particular. In 1897 news was received that French expeditions were preparing
to march to Fashoda from both the east and west coasts of Africa, and that the
expedition from the east would be supported by the Emperor of Ethiopia,
to whom the French had made extensive territorial promises, including a
portion of the east bank of the Nile.2 To counter these threats Lord Salisbury
decided to send an expedition from East Africa to the upper Nile. Macdonald
was chosen to lead it because of his skill as a surveyor and cartographer and
because of his previous experience in East Africa, where he had led the team
which surveyed the route for the Uganda railway, and where he had, for part
of 1893, acted as Commissioner in Uganda.
The British Government, which was anxious to avoid the political compli-
cations that might result from the expedition, decided to keep secret its real
purpose. It was announced that the expedition was to survey the limits of the
British sphere of influence south of the Ethiopian mountains and explore the
headwaters of the Juba river. It was called "The Juba Expedition".3 The real
purposes were contained in secret orders in which Macdonald was told not only
to carry out this exploratory work, but to resist any expansion by European
powers or Ethiopia into the British sphere of influence. "It should be your
object", the instructions continued, "to establish British influence with the
natives as effectually to secure the territories in question against other powers"
by granting treaties. "It may be necessary for you to establish posts at intervals...
or it may be sufficient to take the preferable course of securing the allegiance
of the chiefs by presents and the grant of the British flag".4
It was decided that the expedition would start from Mombasa and that
Macdonald, who would be accompanied from the coast by 8 British officers,
30 N.C.Os and men of the 14th and 15th Sikhs, would be joined at Ngari
Nyuki by 2 more British officers, 300 Sudanese troops and 300 additional porters
from Uganda, to form the largest expedition yet organised by the British in
East Africa. Macdonald had hoped to march north from Ngari Nyuki via
Lake Baringo to the north of Lake Rudolph and then across unexplored country
to Fashoda on the Nile, but these plans were frustrated by a revolt of the Uganda
Sudanese troops. In the months before they joined Macdonald there had been
an increasing volume of complaints from these troops, but it was Macdonald's
2 UGANDA JOURNAL
misfortune that these long-standing grievances were translated into action when
the orders came to join an expedition that would mean hard work
in unknown country. The situation in Uganda became so serious
that from September 1897 to April 1898 Macdonald and the loyal
elements of his expedition had to concentrate their whole attention on the
suppression of the mutiny to the extent of Macdonald himself taking over
command of all troops in Uganda. The fierce fighting of the mutiny not only
prevented Macdonald from carrying out his work on the Nile but also brought
a series of personal attacks against him, for he was accused by some people
in Britain of having caused the mutiny, and was even held responsible for mis-
handling the attack on the mutineers' fort at Lubwa's which led to the murder
of Major Thruston. In fact these criticisms were unduly harsh and, as command-
ing officer of the forces in Uganda, he was given unstinted praise both by Ernest
Berkeley,5 the Commissioner, and by George Wilson, who acted as Commissioner
in Berkeley's absence.
While Macdonald was involved in Uganda anxiety grew in Britain about
the progress of the French column under Marchand. Anticipating Kitchener's
success, orders were sent to him to move south against the French as soon as
he had defeated the Mahdists. Meanwhile in Uganda, even at the height of mutiny
Macdonald did not forget the original purpose of his expedition. In January
1898 he arranged with Wilson that, as soon as the mutiny was suppressed,
the Uganda Government would provide an escort of Sudanese and Indian
troops. In the following month Lord Salisbury instructed that Macdonald
"may proceed as soon as he is in a position to do so safely, to carry out the
objects of his mission".6 By April Macdonald had made his plans. "I have de-
cided," he wrote to Berkeley, "to abandon the Lake Rudolph work and to
adhere to the route . north of Save (Sebei) towards Fashoda".7 Later in
the same month, when the mutineers had been driven into north Bunyoro
and apparently defeated, he handed over control of the forces in Uganda to
Major Martyr. However, the arrangements for the renewal of the expedition
did not go smoothly, and caused serious disagreements between Macdonald,
Berkeley and Martyr. First, the composition of the Uganda escort was changed
because Martyr objected to so many freshly-armed Sudanese being taken.
Then, only twelve days before Macdonald was due to start north, news
was received of renewed fighting in Bunyoro and Berkeley, at Martyr's request
decided that 130 Indian troops allocated to Macdonald would have to be sent
to Bunyoro. When, after this decision, Berkeley asked Macdonald if he would
still continue with the expedition, Macdonald replied that its work would have
to be curtailed but he hoped to go to Lake Rudolph. He made no mention of a
march to the Nile. Martyr then made a further request for the withdrawal of
50 Sudanese from the expedition, but Berkeley finally rejected this.
Macdonald and Berkeley later gave very different interpretations of the
background to these decisions. Macdonald claimed that even before the Indian
troops were withdrawn the Uganda authorities advised him to abandon his
mission because his expedition was weary and depleted, while the withdrawal
of the Indian troops "was tantamount to compelling the abandonment of my
mission". Macdonald also contended that Berkeley in their final interview
only allowed him to retain the Sudanese troops on condition that the expedition
should aim for the Nile via Karamoja, and that when he left Kampala it was
clearly known that he was marching to the Nile. Berkeley's version is that it
MACDONALD EXPEDITION TO THE NILE 1897-1899 3
was "an open secret" that Macdonald was contemplating the complete aban-
donment of his mission before the withdrawal of the Indians, and that once
they were withdrawn he gave up any idea of marching to the Nile. There is
no evidence of the "open secret" for, prior to the withdrawal of the Indians,
Macdonald was clearly planning to reach Fashoda, but once they were with-
drawn Berkeley's interpretation appears to be correct. At the Commissioner's
request Macdonald put his plans in writing. They were: "To advance to Lake
Rudolph in two columns, and establish a temporary post at the south end of
the lake", then "to advance to the North of Lake Rudolph, establish a post at
Reshiat and then in one or two columns endeavour to work both East and North
West. Meanwhile a strong reserve column would restock our food depot at
Ngaboto and then work north by Bukora (in Karamoja) if possible".8 Mac-
donald also requested the Uganda Government to take over responsibility
of the posts on Lake Rudolph. There was no mention of the Nile. This letter
can only be read to mean that the main effort of the expedition would be towards
Rudolph. The distrust which had arisen between the two men is revealed in a
letter that Berkely drafted but later cancelled. In this he said to Madconald,
"unless therefore you are prepared to deal with me in perfect frankness that I
may clearly and definitely know what is intended, what is wanted and why,
I should have no option but to withdraw from any further co-operation of any
sort".9 Had this letter been sent it might have prevented many future mis-
After the squabbles and frustrations it must have been with a sense of relief
that Macdonald left Kampala on June 3rd, leading the main body of the ex-
pedition across Busoga, then up and down the valleys and ridges of Mount
Elgon, fighting some minor engagements with hostile Bagisu clans, to reach
his base at Sebei which had already been established by Lieutenant Hanbury
While the main party had moved across Elgon, Captain Kirkpatrick had
led a small group to explore Lake Kyoga and make the first accurate maps
of the lake. Kirkpatrick reported that he had made contact with Kakunguru
who had a fort with 200 men on Kaweri Island, and was on good terms with
the "Wakedi" living to the south of the lake, but the tribe that inhabited the
northern shore (probably the Langi) were hostile. Kirkpatrick found that
northern Busoga was fertile and thickly populated, while "in Gabula there
are villages of Wakedi and Wanyoro as well as Wasoga; the three races do not
ntermarry". After completing his exploration Kirkpatrick rejoined Macdonald
Meanwhile in Kampala Berkeley had telegraphed to the Foreign Office
giving the expedition's plans, or at least what he understood them to be. He
said that the expedition was proceeding to Lake Rudolph where two posts
would be established, In his reply Lord Salisbury was "much surprised" that
Macdonald had abandoned his original task without explanation or instructions,
and told Berkeley not to co-operate in establishing the posts on Lake Rudolph.
At Sebei Macdonald was laying-in stores and preparing plans for the march,
but the plans he made were completely different from those which he had out-
lined to Berkeley. They were contained in a despatch to Lord Salisbury dated
18th July 1898, in which Macdonald explained that although he could not now
reach Fashoda he would lead a column through Karamoja to Lado on the Nile,
4 UGANDA JOURNAL
where he hoped to meet Kitchener's gun boats. At the same time Captain
Austin would lead a column to Lake Rudolph, while Hanbury Tracy would
be left at Sebei to procure supplies and keep open communications. No mention
was made of establishing posts on Rudolph. On the same day Macdonald also
wrote to Berkeley saying that Austin was going to Rudolph, while "personally
I propose to lead a column of 250 north through the unknown country west of
Turkana . as a base for further exploration".10 In this letter he made no
mention of Lado or the Nile.
It is impossible to know what induced Macdonald to make these changes.
Perhaps once he was on the march his spirits rose and he decided that he could
achieve more than he had previously thought possible. This hardly appears
plausible. What does seem more likely is that the changes were made because
of information he received, for, while at Sebei, he had heard that Kitchener
would move up the river if the attack on Omdurman were a success. It was
this news that prompted Macdonald to plan the link up with Kitchener's gun
boats at Lado. Macdonald may also have heard of Lord Salisbury's censurous
telegram about the plan to concentrate on Rudolph. If he had, then a link-up
with Kitchener would not only complete a great British triumph but exonerate
Macdonald in the eyes of Lord Salisbury. Another possibility, which Clement
Hill in the Foreign Office thought likely, was that Macdonald received inform-
ation about confidential orders which Berkeley gave to Mar tyr when the latter
went to Bunyoro." These orders will be discussed later.
On July 27th Macdonald led the Nile column from the foothills of Mount
Elgon into the unexplored regions to the north. He took with him 3 British
Officers, 17 Sikhs, 41 Sudanese, 259 Swahilis of whom 162 were porters, 23
Sudanese women and 8 Masai. At first progress was slow because of heavy
rains and swollen rivers, but, after passing east of Mount Kadam, the column
reached the Manimani river on August 6th, where contact was made with the
Karamojong. Relations with the tribesmen were excellent from the beginning,
Macdonald describing them as "the best fighters in Equatoria". but even in
Karamoja Macdonald was not free from the problems of the Sudanese mutiny.
At Manimani group of Swahili traders showed him a letter which they had
intercepted from the mutineers seeking aid from other Sudanese at Latuka
in the north. The traders also told Macdonald that they had seen 300 Sudanese
soldiers ten-day's march north of Manimani. Macdonald suspected that these
troops would be from the old Egyptian Equatorial garrisons but, as he was
uncertain of the attitude that these Sudanese would adopt to his expedition,
and indeed, uncertain how his own Sudanese would behave if there would be
trouble, Macdonald decided to lead a light column north to investigate. Avoid-
ing Jie, where the Karamojong told him the people were treacherous, he marched
north via the Magoth hills, and Titi (present day Koputh) to Gule on Mount
Rom. There he received numerous visitors including a few old Sudanese soldiers
who were living with the Umia. They brought in more rumours of Sudanese
at Latuka, and also at Logoloum to the west, where it was said the mutineers
had been driven from Bunyoro. At Logoloum the mutineers and Kabarega's
troops, 400 strong in all, had established themselves in a fort with a maxim
gun and two cannons. There was no way of confirming these reports but Mac-
donald decided to take no undue risks. He brought up the heavy supplies from
Manimani, withdrew the force from Gule and assembled the whole column
at Titi, where he thought he could move undetected by the Sudanese.
Sketch map to illustrate work of the Macdonald Expedition. (The map and key (below) are
based upon Macdonald's original sketch despatched to Lord Salisbury from Karamoja on 9
December 1898. The original map is in the Entebbe archives.)
1. Mount Elgon
2a & 2b, un-inhabited areas used by
4a, un-inhabited, short of water
7a, sparsely inhabited used by hunters
8. Rom 9. Chua
10. Fadibek 11. Langu
12. Latuka 13. Bari
14. Beri 15. Dodinga (or Iregga)
16. Jiwe 17. Lira
A. Camp at Sebei
6 UGANDA JOURNAL
There were two serious possibilities concerning the mutineers. First that
Uganda troops after attacking them in Bunyoro had driven the mutineers
north east towards Macdonald's column, and that if further attacks were made
they would be driven into the column's path. The second possibility was that
the mutineers had heard of the expedition and realising its relative weakness
had decided to attack it.
Macdonald decided that the importance of his mission merited the rifsk of
continuing north and on October 8th he set out from Titi for Lado, choosing
a route to the east of the Nangiya Hills to avoid the Sudanese. During this
period the porters in particular suffered greatly from the heavy rain and camping
on soggy ground, so that up to a quarter of them were reporting sick. Indeed
ill health was a constant problem for the whole expedition. At one stage Mac-
donald himself was so weak that he had to be carried, while most of the officers
suffered at various times from malaria and stomach complaints. Despite the
difficulties Kiteng was reached on October 13th, where a treaty was made with
'the King', Kilamoyo ,and the site of the old Egyptian post was visited. For
the first time since leaving Sebei the column was in an area which had previously
been visited by Europeans. Then they moved forwards towards Latuka. When
Katel was reached on October 19th, a letter was sent ahead to 'the King' of
Latuka. At 10 p.m. that night drums were heard in the distance. Immediately
the camp was alerted, but the large, aggressive force that Macdonald and his
fellows expected did not materialise. Instead 5 ancient, friendly Sudanese
soldiers appeared. Next day, when the King arrived, a treaty was made "em-
bracing not only Latuka proper but its dependencies . giving us some claim
over the riverain Bari". Macdonald was told that originally there had been
300 Sudanese troops from the old Egyptian garrison at Latuka but most of
them had been taken off by the Mahdists. Only 35 now remained and they asked,
and were granted, permission to join the column. Despite the peaceful outcome
of events Macdonald must have felt a sense of anticlimax for his plans for a
rapid march to the Nile had been disorganised by the threat of a large, poten-
tially-hostile Sudanese force at Latuka.
The King entertained Macdonald at Tarrangole, his village capital, "which
is nearly a mile in length and about a quarter of a mile in width", and presented
the officers with ivory tusks, but he had bad news. Kitchener's gunboats had
not reached Lado. Regretfully Macdonald decided that his supplies were
inadequate to wait for the boats and therefore, although he was still almost 100
miles from the Nile, he decided to return south, but he left a letter for the captain
of the gun boat with the King. He also signed a treaty and arranged to have a
levy post established. In return for an annual payment of 6 head loads of 'Ame-
ricani', 4 loads of brass wire, 2 of fancy beads and 4 each of posho and assorted
goods the King agreed to keep available for the use of the British a force of
35 'askaris'. Later 4 smaller posts were established south of Latuka, at Sarao,
Serentenia, Kiteng and Titi. These posts were the foundations upon which
Macdonald hoped to build British control of the area and by which he hoped
to form a chain of communication from Uganda to the Sudan. His intention
was that they should be inspected annually by a patrol based upon Sebei and
led by a British officer. In addition to the levy posts the various sections of the
expedition made 28 treaties with tribal groups.12 The final clause of the treaty
bound the chief not to enter into an agreement with another foreign power
without the consent of the British government. A copy of the treaty and a
Union Jack were left with each chief.
MACDONALD EXPEDITION TO THE NILE 1897-1899 7
When Macdonald arrived back at Titi he found two important letters which
had been forwarded by Hanbury Tracy. In the first of these he learned that
Kitchener, after defeating the Mahdists, had moved up the Nile to overawe
Marchand's French expedition at Fashoda. Kitchener had then sent his gun-
boats upstream as far as the Sobat River, but further progress had not been
possible because of the Sudd. The delight with which Macdonald heard of Kit-
chener's success was tempered by the realisation that as the Nile was closed
the "late movement to Latuka had not . opened communications with Sir
Herbert Kitchener's forces through Lado". Macdonald contemplated an im-
mediate march to the Sobat but found that his stores and equipment were in-
adequate. He decided to return to Sebei to organise a fresh effort.
The second piece of news Macdonald received at Titi made him furious.
This was contained in a letter from Berkeley telling him that a separate Uganda
expedition under Martyr had marched down the Nile in an attempt to contact
Kitchener. Macdonald, who was directly responsible to Lord Salisbury and not
to the Commissioner in Uganda, replied to Berkeley first telling him not to
interfere with the levy posts which he, Macdonald, had established, and then
deploring the lack of information about operations against the mutineers and
about Martyr's expedition.
When Macdonald marched south from Titi he left behind him food stores
which the local tribesmen agreed to guard for the military patrol. On November
23rd the column reached the Manimani river again at Kakinyo. From there
Macdonald sent Kirkpatrick with 70 riflemen and a Swahili trader across the
Bokora plain to the Labwor Hills to investigate the source of the Nakadokadoi
river. The Swahili had previously visited Labwor and received a friendly
reception. On November 26th Kirkpatrick met the chief of the Nyakwai,
Ngoreale. Ngoreale's son, Lotapaler Aleper, was still living at Nyakwai in
1961, and could still remember Kirkpatrick's visit.13 The meeting between
Kirkpatrick and Ngoreale went well but, unknown to the two leaders, there
was a much less-successful meeting between a group of Nyakwai women and
some of Kirkpatrick's troops. The soldiers flirted so outrageously that the
women fled in terror to their 'manyattas', perched high among the hills, 'raised
the alarm', and demanded that the strangers be killed. Although Ngoreale
on his return advised against violence he was overruled. The following day
20 Nyakwai came ostensibly to guide Kirkpatrick up the hills. Taking 7 soldiers,
a native guide and the Swahili trader, Kirkpatrick set off, while the Nyakwai
carefully placed themselves between the members of the party. As they crossed
a small dry river bed, the Nyakwai fell on the strangers. Without a shot being
fired Kirkpatrick, six of his soldiers and the Swahili were speared to death.
Only the native guide and one soldier escaped. Meanwhile an attack was made
on the soldiers left at Kirkpatrick's camp but this was driven off, and a message
sent back to Macdonald. Macdonald, who suspected that the Nyakwai had been
in touch with the Sudanese mutineers, the source of all evil, brought across a large
The Nyakwai had anticipated an attack but, without previous experience
of disciplined military forces, they were confident that they could defend their
mountain homes, whose only access was by a narrow, steep track, as Mac-
donald's force advanced the Nyakwai attacked twice "throwing spears, but
were driven back by well aimed fire". Then, reported Macdonald, "another
party of the enemy began to throw down rocks, many weighing several tons,
8 UGANDA JOURNAL
which swept the grass slope with great velocity. Directing Lieutenant Pereira
with one section to fire on the stone rollers I pushed obliquely up the grass
slope with one section towards a point where the cliffs appeared climable".14
They were climable and inevitably the Nyakwai "manyattas" were successfully
stormed. "Five villages with large stores of grain and food were burned",
and the next day more "manyattas" were destroyed.
In the engagement the only casualties suffered by the troops were two men
struck by falling stones, while Macdonald reported that "the enemy's loss was
heavy". So far as Lotapaler can remember between 20 and 30 Nyakwai were
killed. Before marching back to Manimani the troops gave Kirkpatrick and his
dead companions a military funeral.15
When the members of the punitive expedition returned to Kakinyo they
found that Austin, who had completed his work on Rudolph, was waiting for
them. Austin gave Macdonald a report of his work. His instructions had been
"to prevent foreign powers establishing themselves in the basin of the Nile
between that river and Abyssinia . Your object will be to secure by treaty
or otherwise a strip of territory running north from Lake Rudoph to the 6th
degree of North Latitude or to the nearest Abyssinian posts if met with earlier"'6
but he was told to avoid conflict with the Abyssinians. Austin had not been
instructed to establish posts.
In addition to Austin the Rudolph column was made up of 2 British officers,
10 sikhs, 15 Sudanese and 90 armed Swahili porters. On August 1st it had left
Sebei following a route to the south east of Macdonald's. On August 5th the
Turkwell river was reached and its course was followed for the next 5 days,
until it plunged through a gorge. Austin, who was forced to leave the river
at this point, then crossed the Karasuk Hills by a 'villainous pass', which gave
particular trouble to his 14 camels. Then Ngaboto was reached, where a store
depot had been established, and where Austin made blood brotherhood with
the Chief, Lomathimyai. With the chief he left the sections of a steel boat that
had been carried up all the way from the coast, but which now had to be left
behind because of the shortage of porters. The boat never did sail on Rudolph.
From Ngaboto the column followed the course of the Turkwell across the harsh,
sandy waste of Turkana. Although Austin, unlike Macdonald, did not have
the continual nagging worry of hostile Sudanese, the Rudolph column faced
much the severer physical task. Karamoja and Turkana lie side by side, but are
separated by the escarpment of the Rift Valley. Below the escarpment is the hot,
sandy waste of Turkana, while above is the damper, less-harsh Karamoja.
The severe conditions of Turkana soon tested Austin's column. After following
the Turkwell north for a further 10 days Nyanga, Austin's Suk guide, advised
that the column should leave the river, which turned east at that point, and
cut across country. Austin accepted the advice, but it was a bad decision.
For 6 days the expedition struggled across a bare, parched country that pro-
vided no shade, in which it was impossible to find grazing for the donkeys,
camels and cattle, and in which water was only found at rare intervals, and then
only by digging deep into the sandy beds of the river courses. In an attempt
to water the animals tarpaulin tanks were made into which the water was
baled, but when the animals smelt the water there was such a stampede that
the tanks were destroyed. Many of the animals died through sheer exhaustion,
while those which lived through never regained their former health. It was
MACDONALD EXPEDITION TO THE NILE 1897-1899 9
therefore, wrote Austin, with a sense of triumph and relief, that "early on August
31st, through a gap in the hills, we saw the waters of the lake shimmering in
the morning sunlight. We soon had worked our way through the coast hills,
and there before us lay this grand expanse of water with no visible horizon
north, south or east".7
The march north along the shores of the lake was full of interest and variety.
There were the birds: pelicans, flamingoes, duck and geese: to study and to shoot
for a welcome change in diet; fish to be caught; crocodiles to watch from a
respectful distance, and then there was the everchanging nature of the lake
itself, choppy and rough in the mornings, but settling during the day until it
lay like glass in the evenings. Even with these new interests the harshness of
the climate and the country could not be forgotten, so that marches of only
10 miles were taking more out of the men than those of 20 miles had done
in the higher, cooler country. Nor did the animals fare better. Even on the lake
shore there was such scant grazing that the animals which had survived the
desert march continued to lose condition and die.
Austin, who described the Turkana as "fine athletic looking men" met
few of them along the lake shore. He suspected that they were hiding from him,
but in fact they were probably grazing their cattle in the hills. On leaving Turkana
country the column passed through Marle, where the tribesmen were friendly but
unable to provide food, to the mouth of the Omo river and then to Murle (as
distinct from Marle) where Austin was confident that he could obtain food.
His whole march had been based on the presumption that he could replenish
his food supplies at the north of Rudolph. He was to be very disappointed.
Instead of the expected abundance of food "we were" Austin wrote, "unable
to obtain a particle. The people were literally starving, having several months
before been raided by Abyssinians" who "devastated and laid waste the whole
country".18 Stock had been stolen, slaves seized and now smallpox was raging.
Austin was in a very serious position. It was not simply a question of aban-
doning his advance north: his problem now was to lead his men back. The
column was 40 days' march away from Sebei with only a few days food supplies,
while Tracy was not due at Ngaboto with a relief column for another month.
The story of the return march was one of privations and long forced marches
on small rations. Fortunately at Marle some grain was purchased, as the crops
had been harvested in the absence of the column. All the Ngiriale were helpful
and friendly and in particular the old chief, Alinakono. He made an impassioned
speech asking the column to remain with them. "This country is all yours",
he told Austin, "as you are my brother . While you are with us we have no
fear of the Turkana. Stay with us".9 Austin was moved by the appeal but
confirmed that the column would have to move on. He did, however, sign
a treaty with Alinakono.
From Marle the column followed the shores of Rudolph to the mouth of the
Turkwell and then marched along the course of the river, signing treaties with
Turkana groups with whom contact was made. On the Turkwell they met a
caravan of Swahili traders, who introduced them to the chief of the Ngamatak
Turkana, Eriopul Kiapa, a man of striking appearance who was known as
'Tumbo'. The Swahilis warned Austin that there were unfriendly Turkana
groups ahead, and Austin found this to be true. After purchasing some goats
it "became evident" he said, in a masterly understatement, "that their intentions
were hostile". They stabbed "to death one man, speared two oxen, which died,
10 UGANDA JOURNAL
speared one camel and got off with a second".20 For some days the column,
already harassed by the climate and short rations, had to face a series of
guerilla raids and ambushes. On reaching the area of Lomathimyai, the chief
of Ngaboto, the raids stopped, but the great problem of food remained. Austin
had kept his men going by assuring them that Hanbury Tracy would be waiting
at Ngaboto with relief stores, but as Ngaboto grew nearer so his fears grew
that Tracy would not be there. Much to his relief the two columns actually
arrived at Ngaboto on the same day. The combined columns then marched
back to Sebei.
During its absence of three and a half months the Rudolph column had
marched 86 days covering a distance of almost 850 miles. Two men had died,
three were missing, of whom two were thought to have been taken by crocodiles,
and one man had been killed in the Turkana attacks. Austin says that despite
the hardships all his officers and men had remained cheerful and uncomplaining.
The relief of the Rudolph column was typical of the energetic work of
Lieutenant Hanbury Tracy. He had experienced great difficulties in obtaining
donkeys from Karamoja and food on Elgon where he had been involved in
skirmishes with the Sore and Umia, but he had kept to his timetable and also
maintained communications with Macdonald.
When the Rudolph column returned to Sebei food had still to be collected
for the Nile column, and so, while Austin led a party north to look for Mac-
donald, Captain Ferguson assumed command at Sebei. Again the Sore proved
difficult, and Ferguson, after an unsuccessful meeting with their chiefs and
after a party of Sore had attacked both his camp and a party of porters, pursued
them to their caves. "The mouth of the cave", he wrote, "was nothing more
than a long horizontal fissure, and could only be entered by crawling on hands
and knees. On entering the cave, which was found to be of vast proportions,
the men, lighted up as they were from behind, made an excellent target for the
arrows which were now discharged in showers from all directions".21 After
hand-to-hand fighting, during which, on the expedition's side, a Sudanese
corporal was killed and three men wounded, the Sore were driven into the
black, inner recesses of the cave. Three Sore prisoners were taken including
Wimbi, the major chief. He was held as a prisoner until the expedition's final
departure from Sebei, and no more trouble was experienced from the Sore.
While Ferguson was busy on the slopes of Elgon, Macdonald and Austin
had returned to Sebei. Macdonald was forced to abandon any ideas of a fresh
march north because his supplies were inadequate and because many of the
coast porters were anxious to return home. At Sebei there was not even sufficient
food for Lieutenant Pereira and the troops whom Macdonald hoped would
form the patrol to retain contact with the new treaty areas. The whole force
therefore moved to Mumias. From Mumias Macdonald tried to arrange a
meeting with Berkeley in Uganda but when this failed he set off for the coast
leaving behind Pereira with a small force. Also from Mumias Macdonald
had wired to the Foreign Office a novel suggestion for completing his task of
linking Uganda and the Sudan. He suggested that he should lead a new expe-
dition from Egypt which would march south up the Nile to link up with Pereira's
column moving north from Sebei. When Macdonald reached Nairobi he heard
that both this proposal and the proposal for Pereira's military patrol had been
rejected. "It will for the present be impossible", the Foreign Office telegram said,
MACDONALD EXPEDITION TO THE NILE 1897-1899 11
"to undertake any further responsibilities on the Uganda frontier of a costly
On March 5th 1899 Macdonald reached Mombasa. The porters were paid
off; the surplus stores handed to the government officials. The expedition was
Macdonald was a frustrated and angry man at the end of his expedition.
He was particularly angry about Martyr's expedition. Why, he asked, was
an expedition sent that duplicated his own work.
When Martyr had gone to Bunyoro in July 1898 he carried with him two
sets of instructions from Berkeley. In the first Martyr was told to defeat the
rebels and mutineers, establish permanent garrisons in Bunyoro and Acholi, and
to "relieve the troops, Indian and East African, that have been despatched to our
assistance". In the second set of instructions Berkeley, after asking Martyr
to keep them strictly confidential, wrote: "I must inform you that I have no
instructions, but I feel convinced that with foreign expeditions reported to be
making for the Upper Nile, and the advance of British and Egyptian troops
on Khartoum, it could not fail to satisfy Her Majesty's Government that we
should obtain closer touch with the Nile to our North. I am, therefore, prepared
to take the responsibility of requesting you, if you find you can do it with
reasonable safety, and can overcome the natural obstacles of the river, to
endeavour to reconnoitre and make treaties with local chiefs as far as Fashoda".23
These later instructions are a contradiction of the earlier ones for if Martyr
was to undertake an expedition down the Nile he could not relieve other forces.
Obviously Berkeley considered that contact with the Sudan was important
enough to warrant sending Martyr outside Uganda, but there are strange
aspects to the decision in relation to Macdonald's expedition. On the same day,
July 7th, that Berkeley gave his instructions to Martyr, he wrote another letter
this time to Lieutenant Colonel Broome, who was bringing Indian reinforce-
ments from the coast. Berkeley wrote that "our really serious difficulties are
over" and suggested that 3 companies of the reinforcements be sent back.
Little more than a month before Berkeley had withdrawn Macdonald's Indian
escort because of the serious situation in Bunyoro, but now, before Martyr
had set out to deal with the Bunyoro situation, Berkeley could not only plan
a separate expedition, but send back reinforcements. Even as early as June
13th Berkeley had written to London saying that "the situation offers no serious
If Macdonald can be accused of double dealing over his plans, Berkeley
can equally be accused of double dealing over the use of troops for Bunyoro.
Was it, as Macdonald suspected, Martyr who was the evil genius behind Berke-
ley, or was it the Commissioner himself who decided that Macdonald's expe-
dition was so worn out that it could not fulfil its task and therefore if Kitchener
was to be contacted it would be better to save the Indians for a fresh expe-
In Martyr's instructions no mention was made of Macdonald, nor did
Berkeley write to inform Macdonald of Martyr's expedition until October,
when Macdonald was on his way back to Sebei. Berkeley explained that he
did not tell Macdonald earlier because he thought that Macdonald was heading
for Rudolph, and the two expeditions could have no influence on each other.
At the time Berkeley gave his instructions to Martyr, Macdonald was in fact
12 UGANDA JOURNAL
still in Sebei preparing his advance to the Nile. There was, therefore, the ludic-
rous situation of two separate British expeditions from Uganda marching
towards the Nile with precisely the same objective, neither of whom knew of the
When Martyr reached Bunyoro he had a series of sharp clashes with the
mutineers which drove them "an indefinite distance into the Lango country
East of Foweira".25 This, presumably, was the basis of the rumours that haunted
Macdonald's march. After these clashes, Martyr decided that the mutineers
had been so decisively defeated that he could start his march down the Nile
taking 400 troops with him. It is impossible to say just how genuine Martyr's
appreciation of the situation was. He may well have let the glamour of the Nile
march cloud his judgement, for after his departure fighting continued and
reinforcements had to be brought across, not only to deal with the Sudanese,
but to keep open Martyr's lines of communication. It appears that the force
he took with him was larger than that which Berkeley had anticipated and, far
from relieving troops, Ternan, the new O.C. in Uganda, had to bring up 4
fresh companies to maintain Martyr's lines of communication. In February
1899 an appreciation of the Uganda situation based upon the latest reports
was made in London. It stated "the Protectorate proper is by no means yet
settled and the detachment of Colonel Martyr's column down the Nile adds
seriously to the military responsibilities of the Commandant."26
Berkeley and Martyr are open to the charge that they organised an ex-
pedition which only exacerbated the already-dangerous situation in western
Uganda, but if they are to blame, so to some extent is Macdonald, for had he
clearly told Berkeley what he intended to do the Commissioner said that he
would never have sent Martyr down the Nile.
Whatever the justice of the arguments, Martyr's gamble paid off in most
respects. The rebels and mutineers were finally defeated even if not by him,
and he established a series of posts staffed by British officers and Uganda troops
which were later formed into "The Nile Province". Because of the Sudd he,
like Macdonald, failed to contact Kitchener's gun boats, but within a year
a channel had been cleared and contact was established with the Sudan, not by
Macdonald's route, but via the Nile Province.
When Macdonald and his fellow officers returned to London they spent
some months in making maps and writing reports from the information which
they had recorded day by day during the march. The maps are an excellent
set and were used for many years by the Uganda Government. The reports were
full of interest and useful information: notes on local languages and customs,
suggestions for the Uganda/Sudan border, even a proposed route for a railway
from Alexandria to Mombasa: but Macdonald realized that these were only
sidelines to his original task. What he wanted was to gain approval for his
scheme to exercise direct British control over the new treaty areas. He again
submitted plans for a military patrol, both his original scheme, which would
cost 18,000 per annum, and a reduced scheme for 9,000 per annum. Mac-
donald argued that the expenditure was more than justified by the advantages
of retaining the support of the tribes with whom treaties had been made, by the
opening-up of a good route to the Nile which was rich in ivory and cattle,
and by the protection which could be afforded to the tribes against unscrupulous
traders, gun runners and slavers.27 These reasons were sound but it was a bad
time to ask for any extension of the Uganda administration, for not only had
MACDONALD EXPEDITION TO THE NILE 1897-1899 13
the French threat been resolved by Kitchener, but the Sudanese mutiny and the
troubles with Mwanga and Kabarega had branded Uganda as a troublesome
and expensive addition to the Empire. The Times of January 23rd 1899 expres-
sed "grave disquiet" about the Protectorate. In the Commons Sir C. Dilke
asked for an independent inquiry into Uganda affairs, while Mr. Labouchere
questioned the purpose of Macdonald's expedition which had still been kept
secret. "As to Major Macdonald's expedition, it appeared to him to be one of
the most absurd and silly expeditions ever dreamt of by the mind of man" and,
amid radical cheers, he described Uganda as a "sink of money" (The Times
report March llth 1899). Even the Government was uncertain. Mr. Broderick
described Uganda as "an enormous experiment" and said that setbacks must
be expected In this atmosphere it was inevitable that Macdonald's schemes
to embrace the new areas would be rejected.
Had Macdonald's suggestions been accepted, would they have been ade-
quate to retain control of the vast area of 50,000 square miles that his expedition
had brought into treaty relations with Britain? First reactions are that the
infrequent visits of the patrol would not have been adequate, but, such was the awe
in which European military forces were held and such was the desire of most
tribes for peace and security, these first reactions may be wrong. The treaties
given to the chiefs were held in great respect. Frequent references are made to
them by later visitors to the area. In 1900 when Captain Radcliffe was exploring
near Fadibe, the chief, Agok, came to meet him "with the Union Jack given
him by Macdonald and his copy of the treaty."28 In 1903 Powell Cotton visited
Titi and found that the Dodoth had still kept Macdonald's food stores intact,
although the grain had rotted.29 As recently as 1962 a group from northern
Acholi representing the Lamwo Ker, claimed that Macdonald's treaty gave
them the same rights as Buganda enjoyed through her agreement. When ,in
1911, the Uganda Government finally decided to assert the claims established
by the treaties, it was done by a military patrol similar to that envisaged by
Macdonald. It appears therefore that a military patrol in 1899 would have
been adequate, but, in its absence, it was the illegal-ivory traders and gun
runners who dominated northern Uganda and north west Kenya.
There was a very large element of bad luck in the failure of Madconald
to achieve his original aims. He was unfortunate in the incidents that besethim
in Uganda and the march north, and also in the rejection of his admirable
scheme for the administration of the explored area, but sympathy must be
modified by the realisation that Macdonald, by his secrecy, had created
part of his own misfortune. That the expedition did not achieve its original
aims should not remove from Macdonald and his fellows the credit for their
very real achievements; achievements that were made despite great physical
hardships. Macdonald himself outlined them to Lord Salisbury. "To have
saved Uganda", he wrote, from "the crisis that threatened it would alone have
many times over justified the expenditure on the Juba expedition, for it is beyond
dispute that, had I failed in arresting the mutiny by my hard won victory at
Lubwa's on the 19th October 1897, and the subsequent successful operations,
not one, but four Indian regiments would have been necessary to recover our
position in Uganda. But, in addition to saving Uganda, the expedition I had
the honour to command has secured substantial results (an area of 50,000
square miles has been brought into treaty relations with the Empire) by its
consistent efforts to carry out your Lordship's wishes although in the face of
14 UGANDA JOURNAL
1. Later Major General Sir James Macdonald K.C.I.E., C.B., LL D.
2. See R. Robinson and J. Gallagher, Africa and the Victorians, Page 360.
3. In the text "Macdonald Expedition" will be used.
4. Salisbury to Macdonald 9 June 1897. F.O. 2/144.
5. Mr. (afterwards Sir) Ernest Berkeley, Commissioner of Uganda 1895-99.
6. Salisbury to Berkeley 15 February 1898. File A5/4 Entebbe archives.
7. Macdonald to Berkeley 18 April 1898. File A/64 Entebbe archives.
8. Macdonald to Berkeley 27 May 1898. File A6/4 Entebbe archives.
9. Berkeley to Macdonald 28 May 1898. A7/4 File Entebbe archives.
10. Macdonald to Berkeley 18 July 1898. File A7/4 Entebbe archives.
11. Minute by Hill dated 17 April 1899 in F.O. 2/235. I am indebted to Dr. A. Low for
bringing this to my attention.
12. Lists of the levy posts and treaties are given as appendices to Sir John Gray's article
'Acholi History, 1860-1901 Part II' Uganda Jl. 16 (1), 1952.'
13. Jakait of Nyakwai 1928-1946, Lotapaler gave me the information that is used about the
Nyakwai reaction to Kirkpatrick's visit.
14. Macdonald to Salisbury 3 December 1898. FOCP 7400/155.
15. In 1956 or 1957 the remains of the dead men were reburied on a rocky outcrop, about
two miles from the place where they were murdered. A small memorial has been erected.
16. Macdonald to Austin 28 July 1898. FOCP 7400.
17. H. H. Austin, With Macdonald in Uganda, (Edward Arnold 1903) p. 184.
18. Austin to Sir A. H. Hardinge 16 November 1898. FOCP 7400.
19. Austin, p. 199.
20. Austin to Hardinge 16 November 1898. FOCP 7400.
21. Report by Macdonald August 1899. Foreign Office Papers, Africa No. 9.
22. Salisbury to Sub-Commissioner Craufurd 19 January 1899. FOCP 7400/77.
23. Berkeley to Martyr 7 July 1898. File A5/4 Entebbe archives and FOCP 7400/84.
24. Hill's memo FO 2/235.
25. Martyr to Berkeley 6 August 1898. Entebbe archives File A5/4.
26. Intelligence Division F.O., 14 February 1899.
27. Macdonald to Salisbury 13 December 1898. FOCP 7400/157; and Macdonald report
1 August 1899. FOCP 7402/31.
28. Radcliffe to Sir Harry Johnston 6 July 1900. File A4/30 Entebbe archives and F02/299.
29. P. G. H. Powell Cotton, In Unknown Africa, (Hurst and Blackett 1904). Pp. 321/322.
30. Macdonald to Salisbury 31 July 1899. FOCP 7402/30.
Foreign Office records (Africa No. 2), in the Public Records Office, London.
Parliamentary papers (Uganda)-
Africa No. 2 (1898), 'Recent Events in the Uganda Protectorate'.
Africa No. 7 (1898), 'Recent Events in the Uganda Protectorate'.
Africa No. 10 (1898), 'Recent meetings of the Soudanese Troops in the Protectorate'.
Africa No. 1 (1899), 'Recent Events in the Uganda Protectorate'.
Africa No. 4 (1899), 'Lieut. Colonel Macdonald's Expedition'.
Africa No. 9 (1899), 'Expedition from the Uganda Protectorate (Macdonalds' Report)'.
Foreign Office correspondence 1897, 1898, 1899. Entebbe Archives.
Miscellaneous Correspondence 1897, 1898 and 1899 Files A5-7 in the Entebbe Archives.
J. R. L. Macdonald, Soldiering and surveying in British East Africa (1897).
Sir Harry Johnston, The Nile Quest (1906).
P. H. G. Powell Cotton, In unknown Africa (1904).
H. H. Austin, With Macdonald in Uganda (1903).
J. V. Wild, The Uganda Mutiny: 1897.
J. M. Gray, 'Acholi History, 1860-1901 Part II', Uganda Jl. 16, (1952).
Uganda Journal, 28, 1 (1964) pp. 15-23
KARAMOJA IN 1910
by J. P. BARBER
In 1910 the north of Uganda was largely unadministered and undefined.
The boundary with the Sudan both to the north and in the Lado Enclave, which
was handed over by the Congo authorities in that year, was still unsettled.'
To the north east the responsibility of the Protectorate Government stretched
to the shores of Lake Rudolph, embracing most of the present-day Turkana
district of Kenya. The only direct administration was confined to a strip of
territory along the banks of the Nile. In the centre of the vast unadministered
area lay Karamoja.2 Very little was known about the district. What information
there was came from traders and hunters and from the rare visits by government
The first British contact with Karamoja had been made in 1898 when Major
J. R. L. Macdonald led an expedition through the district in a vain attempt
to reach the Nile.3 Macdonald, who was most impressed by the tribesmen
and their country, suggested that Britain should control the area by means of
a standing military patrol, but his recommendations did not meet with Foreign-
Office approval. Macdonald feared that if Karamoja were not controlled it would
become the prey of unscrupulous traders and adventurers and his fears were
re-iterated by Sir Harry Johnston in 1900. However, with the limited resources
available at the time, it was decided that administration of the district was
impracticable, although some steps were taken to exercise a remote control.
Karamoja was declared a 'closed' district, but an attempt was made to develop
a restricted trade by opening the station at Mbale, where licences could be
obtained. In theory only the licensed traders could operate in Karamoja and
they were not permitted, on any terms, to sell firearms to the tribesmen.
Elephant hunting was also, in theory, controlled by licence on which only a
restricted number of bull elephants could be shot. All ivory collected by traders
and hunters was to be brought to the administered areas of the Protectorate for
payment of the government ivory tax. Karamoja should therefore have been a
source of revenue without the Protectorate Government undertaking the prob-
lems of its administration. That this nominal control was completely ineffective
was evident to anybody connected with the district. In the years following
Macdonald's expedition the area had become famous for the great herds of
elephant that roamed over its wide plains. Such fame attracted a multifarious
group of hunters who paid scant regard to the government licences or the far-
distant station at Mbale. Some of these traders and hunters were perfectly
legitimate-the ubiquitous Alidina Visram of Nairobi had a representative
at Koputh in 1910, while W. D. M. 'Karamoja' Bell, 4 the greatest of the white
hunters, left the district with an unstained record-but others rapidly fell from
grace. They formed a society of tough, rough freebooters who cared little for
man or for beast.5 The D.C., Mbale reported that a Greek trader had told him
that "The Abyssinians when hunting elephants proceed in large parties and open
heavy fire indiscriminately on the herd. This naturally leads to wholesale
slaughter and the wounding of enormous numbers of elephants of which some
16 UGANDA JOURNAL
subsequently die, furnishing the natives with ivory wherewith they purchase
their rifles."6 It is not surprising that with such tactics the great elephant
herds were decimated within a few years. As the competition for ivory grew
fiercer, so some of the traders started to exchange firearms for ivory. To tribes-
men who had always raided neighboring tribes for cattle and women, the
attraction of obtaining these arms was so great that what started as a trade to
obtain ivory, soon became a trade to obtain guns.
From the rare reports of its officers, the Uganda Government had some
indication of the situation. In 1907, S. Ormsby, the Collector at Mbale, reported
that the tribesmen "raid neighboring tribes and each other quite impartially",
and that "all the country lying west of Lake Rudolph and for some distance
south of it is continuously swept by bands of raiding Abyssinians."7 But the
government had no detailed knowledge of the district, and in particular of the
firearms trade. This lack of knowledge may well have been because the govern-
ment did not want to know what was happening. The attitude in Entebbe and
London to the administration of the area north of Elgon and west of Lake
Rudolph had not changed since the time of Macdonald's expedition. The
cost, both in terms of cash and men, of controlling such a wild and remote
area was considered too great. This policy had been confirmed in 1906 by Lord
Elgin, the Secretary of State, who had accepted Sir Hesketh Bell's recom-
mendation to concentrate the resources of the Protectorate, and in particular
to confine the administration in the north, to the immediate neighbourhood
of the Nile.8 However, in 1909 the Governor, Sir Hesketh Bell, decided that a
greater interest must be taken in Karamoja. He included an item of 500 in the
1909/10 estimates to provide for regular annual tours by two administrative
officers,9 but the scheme never materialized as Ormsby, one of the officers
selected, died, while Coote, the other one, had to be sent to Kigezi. With this
setback the government may have been tempted to revert to the old blind-eye
policy but this became impracticable in 1910. In July of that year the D.C.,
Nimule reported that large numbers of firearms from Abyssinia were being
smuggled into northern Uganda via Karamoja.10 In the following month the
Governor of British East Africa informed the Uganda authorities that his
government had now undertaken administration of the country east of the
Turkwell River and south of Lake Rudolph." He wanted to know what steps
Uganda was prepared to take to stop the constant border-tribal fighting, and
suggested that if Uganda was not prepared to administer the border areas,
East Africa should be permitted, when necessary, to send patrols to the Uganda
side. After some vacillation the Uganda Government, which had resented the
interference by East Africa, was stung into activity by a telegram from the
Governor of East Africa which was copied to the Secretary of State in London.
The telegram said "Now administering the whole of our territory as well as
possible whereas Uganda appears to have left hinterland Elgon to take care of
itself for many years elephant slaughter ivory trading reported rife".12
The Governor of British East Africa re-opened the whole question of the
administration of the area north of Elgon, but there was no apparent change in
the attitude of the British Government. During the exchange of telegrams bet-
ween Uganda and East Africa, Lord Harcourt, the Secretary of State, inter-
posed by advising that, "it appears to me both dangerous and unremunerative
for the Governor of Uganda to undertake the administration of a country which
is not easy of access from headquarters and which has no great resources".13
KARAMOJA IN 1910 17
He suggested that Uganda should accept East Africa's offer to allow her officers
to hold a watching brief over the border area.
The two points of pressure-the report of firearms smuggling by the D.C.,
Nimule, and the complaints by the Governor of East Afrcia-forced the
Uganda Government to investigate the situation. It was decided to send two
patrols to Karamoja. District Superintendent of Police P. S. H. Tanner was
chosen to lead a police patrol of 30 N.C.O's and men and 100 porters which was
to investigate the arms smuggling in the north of the district,14 while a much-
larger patrol, led by T. Grant, an administrative officer, and comprising 3
British army officers and 103 troops, was to travel via Lake Baringo to the
Turkwell to investigate the East African border area.15
Tanner, who set off from Kampala on 23rd September, had a difficult
task, for not only was there little information on which he could work but it
was most unlikely that once in Karamoja he would receive assistance either
from the locals or the traders. In an attempt to overcome some of these diffi-
culties he was instructed to disguise his patrol as a trader's caravan. The decep-
tion was not entirely successful for, while still camped in Sebei, Tanner was
recognized by two European hunters, but they promised to keep his secret
and they also provided useful information. In particular they told him that the
Abyssinian arms traders had centred themselves at Tshudi Tshudi (present day
Kaabong) in Dodoth.'6 On 18th October, on his way north from Greek River,
Tanner obtained further information from a trading safari of Abyssinians,
Swahili and Beluchis who confirmed that firearms could be obtained at Tshudi
Tshudi and spoke of a fight between the Karamojong and a Swahili group led
by a Bwana Simba. It was said that Bwana Simba had seized Karamojong stock
and given some of the cattle to Tafani and Pettingill, two of the Europeans
whom Tanner had met at Greek River.
This early information confirmed Tanner's worst fears about the lawless-
ness of the district, and, within a few days, he had first-hand experience of it.
While he was at Manimani, among the Bokora group of the Karamojong,
a large cattle raid was made by the Jie, who were aided by the Kamchuro and
some Swahilis who were based north of Mount Napono. When Tanner went
to investigate he found that the Bokora were unwilling to attack the rearguard
of the Jie because the Jie were armed with rifles while the Bokora only had
spears. The Bokora asked Tanner to help in recovering their cattle and offered
to give him half of any that were recovered, but Tanner refused to interfere
as it might have jeopardised the main purpose of his patrol. He later heard
that 40 men and women had been killed in this raid.
On leaving Bokora he marched north into Jie country where he found that
both the Jie and their Kamchuro allies were heavily armed with rifles. In
one 'manyatta' alone he estimated that there were 50 or 60 'Gras' rifles. Tanner's
plans for hiding his identity were finally abandoned when he discovered that
a porter from a Swahili caravan camped nearby had seen the guns that were
being carried by the patrol. Now that the game was up Tanner decided upon
quick action. First he arrested the members of the Swahili caravan for being
in illegal possession of firearms, and then, by a series of night marches, led
a party north to Tshudi Tshudi. The final march to Tshudi Tshudi was made
during the night of 26th October when Tanner decided to march through the
bush rather than risk being detected by moving through the Dodoth manyattas.
18 UGANDA JOURNAL
This led to the not-unusual fate of night marches through the bush. The party
lost itself and passed Tshudi Tshudi without knowing that it had done so.
By the time the mistake was discovered it was too late to reach the trading centre
at first light, as Tanner had hoped, but the policemen were still able to surprise
the Abyssinians when they reached Tshudi Tshudi at 8 a.m. on 27th. At the
sight of the police some of the Abyssinians picked up their rifles and looked
ready to fight, but when a police corporal called out that the camp was surround-
ed, they surrendered without resistance. 30 Abyssinians were arrested, 18 guns
were seized and 328 tusks of ivory, mostly female, were dug up from the floor
of three houses. This ivory was to prove something of an embarrassment as
Tanner had to use untrained donkeys to move it slowly south.
Unfortunately for Tanner the leader of the Abyssinians, Dasta, had not
been present on the day of the raid, so Tanner took a section of the patrol
to search for him. After failing to find him at the Swahili trading centres at
Loyoro and Magosi, Tanner almost caught Dasta north of Tshudi Tshudi on
November 8th, but the Abyssinians had been warned and all that the policemen
saw were a few figures fleeing in the distance. The marches in pursuit of Dasta
had been particularly strenuous-at one stage the party had covered 60 miles
in 33 hours-so Tanner decided that the chase would have to be abandoned.
He therefore rejoined the main part of the patrol, which was slowly escorting
the prisoners and ivory back towards Greek River. He found that the porters
in particular were in a very bad state. Many of them were suffering from dysen-
tery, and in all 9 porters died during the patrol, while 4 others were so ill that
they had to be left in Jie with trade goods that would give them 3 months'
food supply. (In 1912 Tufnell, the political officer with the K.A.R. Rudolph
patrol, discovered that the porters had been murdered by the Jie after Tanner's
departure). On November 21st, near Greek River, the depleted patrol met the
Commissioner of Police, Captain Allen, who was leading a relief party to assist
them. The combined safari then marched back to Kampala.
While Tanner was on his way back to Kampala, Grant had set off with his
patrol to investigate the border area with British East Africa. Grant met with
many frustrations, for the route via Lake Baringo, which had been recom-
mended by the East African government, was fraught with hazards and diffi-
culties. Most of Grant's energies were spent in keeping the members of his
expedition on the move and in feeding them in a barren, inhospitable country.
When news was received of Grant's difficulties Captain A. E. Newland, the
O.C. troops Mbale, was sent via the conventional route west of Elgon to relieve
him. Newland had no difficulties and in fact reached the Turkwell before Grant.
Grant did not reach the river until 21st January 1911. Because of the weariness
of his expedition and the poor state of the porters, Grant was forced to confine
his attentions in Karamoja to the south of the district where he held meetings
with the tribesmen. At these meetings the Suk and Pian groups of the Karamo-
jong admitted that they had raided the Turkana, but only, they claimed, in
retaliation for previous Turkana raids. During the Suk/Karamojong raid a
well-known Turkana chief Eriopul Kiapa, alias 'Tumbo', had been killed.17 Grant
fined the Plan 200 head of cattle which he arranged to return to Turkana, but
it was obvious to him that both sides were inveterate cattle raiders, and that
gun-running and the participation in the raids by traders had exacerbated the
KARAMOJA IN 1910 19
Both Tanner's and Grant's visits had confirmed the worst suspicions about
the situation in Karamoja. Tanner summarised his findings in his report:
"I found that the whole country was in an extremely lawless state, raiding,
looting and killing among the tribes being a very ordinary occurrence and there
is no doubt that the natives being in possession of and able to obtain rifles
and ammunition has greatly increased the death rate amongst them". Tanner
had confirmed that the major inlet for illegal firearms into northern Uganda
was Tshudi Tshudi where a 'Gras' rifle with 40 rounds of ammunition could be
obtained for between 35 and 50 lb. of ivory. The tribes in the north of Karamoja,
the Dodoth, the Kamchuro and the Jie were all heavily armed, but the Kara-
mojong groups in the south had many fewer rifles. "It is now" Tanner wrote,
"about 5 months since the Abyssinians started selling rifles to the Bokora and
Maroto natives who at present are in possession of comparatively few rifles
to protect themselves against tribes who are already so armed". While the flow
of rifles was coming into Karamoja so a flow of ivory was going out. Regular
safaris came from Abyssinia every 3 or 4 months bringing rifles, ammunition
and mules and returning with ivory. Hassan Mohamed, one of the Swahilis
questioned by Tanner, estimated that each Abyssinian safari brought about
120 rifles and 3000 to 4000 rounds of ammunition, while a typical return
safari of 70 donkeys loaded with ivory had left for Abyssinia 3 months before
Tanner's arrival. In all Tanner estimated that each year about 250,000-Rupees
worth of ivory was going from Karamoja into Abyssinia.
Tanner's concern about the Abyssinians was not confined to their activities
as gun runners, for he also heard rumours that Dejaz Beru, the Ras at Maji,
was contemplating an extension of his territory south towards Karamoja and
Turkana. It was said that 6 of the Abyssinians who had taken to the bush with
Dasta were representatives of the Ras; also that the Ras had 60,000 men prepared
to support his expansionist policy. There was substance in these rumours
for when, in May 1911, Dejaz Beru was called before the Abyssinian Council
of Ministers to explain the raids and gun running that had been uncovered by
Tanner, he claimed rights over Dodoth and Turkana. Wilfred Thesiger, the
British Plenipotentiary in Addis Ababa, who was present at this meeting,
suspected the Dejaz wanted to sweep the area for ivory and slaves to pay off
his heavy debts, but Thesiger reported that at the meeting the Ras based his
claims on the control of the area by his predecessor Ras Waldo Giorgis.18
Although the areas claimed by the Ras were well within the British sphere,
such a claim was disturbing because of the uncertainty of the boundary between
Abyssinia and British territory. Despite numerous surveys, the latest of which
had been made in 1907 by Major Gwyms, the boundary was still unsettled.
It was, in fact, no more than red lines on maps in London and Addis Ababa.
As Dejaz Beru rightly pointed out, a red line on a map meant nothing to him.
Because of the uncertainty of the boundary, the southern Abyssinian chiefs
had felt free to extend their operations far into British territory. In 1903 Sir
Charles Eliot had appreciated this danger when he warned the Marquess of
Lansdowne that the Abyssinians "are flowing southwards with a fairly rapid
aggressive advance"19 but except for the usual appeal to the Emperor Menelik
to restrain his frontier chiefs, nothing was done.20 The appeal did not produce
any positive results and Abyssinian forays continued into northern Uganda.
The Abyssinian infiltration took two forms. First there was the activity of
itinerant traders, which led to the trade in firearms, and second, thelarge-scale
20 UGANDA JOURNAL
operations by organised forces of the border chiefs. In October 1903 two sur-
veyors prospecting west of Lake Rudolph for the East African Syndicate,
met one of these organised forces. Blick, one of the surveyors, reports: "Re
Abyssinians at Rudolph. We met 415 regular soldiers and about 600 camp
followers, goat boys etc... on shore of Rudolph. They had been raiding Turkana
to south west of Rudolph on Turquel (Turkwell) River. They had taken some
twenty odd thousand head of stock and about one hundred Turkana women
and children and a few men-all in chains except children, several of whom
died of thirst while we were with the Abyssinians. We were too small a party
to protest in any way . They think Dabossi and Dadosi (Dodoth) belong
These large organised raids were infrequent, but had extended over a wide
area: one party in 1900 or 1901 had reached Manimani in Bokora.22 In the
eyes of the Abyssinian border chiefs these demonstrations of power gave them a
claim to the area, as Chahar Chokmok, an Mbale trader discovered in 1909.
He was trading near Mogila in Dabossa when he was stopped by a party of
12 Abyssinians who demanded his permit. When he showed them his Mbale
permit they told him it was useless and that if he wanted to trade there he must
obtain a pass from Menelik as he was in Menelik's country.23
The Abyssinians were obviously interested in the state of affairs on the
ground, not what was shown on a map in London, and in this respect Tanner's
arrest of the Abyssinians at Tshudi Tshudi was of importance. It was the first
demonstration for some years that the British government was prepared to
take action in Karamoja. "The effect here" wrote Thesiger, "was very great
and enabled me to remind the Council that I had already warned them that such
would be the result if they continued raiding".24 As a result of Tanner's action,
and the defeat of a raiding party sent by Dejaz Beru to Dodinga, the Emperor's
government asked for a definitive survey of the boundary. This was welcomed
by Thesiger but he added that the problem of Abyssinian gun-running and ivory
poaching could not be solved merely by having a boundary surveyed. Thesiger
thought that the problem could only be solved by the direct administration of
Karamoja and Turkana.
Within Karamoja relations between the trading groups and the tribesmen
varied between firm friendship and bitter hostility. In the areas where particural
traders had their camps the relations appear to have been reasonably good,
especially if the traders were prepared to help in tribal warfare. Some of the
Swahili traders became sufficiently integrated to take local wives. But traders
who lived in such wild areas, who joined in tribal fights, and who had at their
disposal comparatively great wealth, could not expect a peaceful life. Usually
the guns of their caravans could protect them, but occasionally the tribesmen,
by deceit or by sheer weight of numbers, could overwhelm a caravan, as in
1904 when Jumbi and Agi, two Swahili traders, were murdered north of Mount
Kadam and all their goods looted.25 Stragglers from caravans had very little
hope of survival.
Perhaps because the government offered no form of protection, some traders
took affairs into their own hands and exercised their own form of control. In
1903 P. H.G. Powell Cotton, a sportsman, reported that the Swahili traders
"would bring pressure to bear on any tribe which caused them trouble, even
going so far as to carry out punitive expeditions to revenge their personal
KARAMOJA IN 1910 21
grievances".26 But there seems little doubt that the traders were prepared
to join in inter-tribal raids not only for their own protection, but to profit
by them. Tanner had seen for himself the Swahilis helping the Jie in their raid
on north Bokora, and when Bwana Simba made a statement to Tanner he ad-
mitted that he had fought with the Turkana against the Karamojong, although
inevitably Simba claimed that he had fought in self-defence. Describing this
fight, Simba said: "I fired about seven rounds in the air to frighten them (the
Karamojong) but when they saw that none were killed they came closer, when
I started shooting them. I killed about 15 of them, the Karamojong then ran away
and the Turkana charged them killing many and recovering their cattle I then
returned to my camp ... the Turkana then gave me permission to leave their
country, giving me four bullocks and 32 sheep as a present."27
Although, as mentioned earlier, the larger Abyssinian parties were engaged
in slaving, it seems doubtful if the trade was extensive in Karamoja, as there is
no reference to it in most of the reports, but many of the porters used by trading
caravans seem to have been kept as virtual slaves. In 1915 the P.C. Eastern
Province, reported that "13 more natives have returned (to Mbale) from
Abyssinia via the Sudan after 5 years absence. These were men taken by traders
from Karamoja but were kept virtually as slaves"28 It was not only the Abys-
sinians who ill treated the members of their caravans. In 1906 an African member
of a Greek hunter's 'safari' told H. Raynes, an Assistant Superintendent of
Police from Kisumu, about the treatment he had received from the 'Greek',
'Bwana Tembo', who was given that name for his drunkenness. "As for us"
he said "this Greek knew the black man; we were his dogs, and like dogs
accepted his kicks and abuse".29 The Africans were not paid, and were whipped
for breaches of discipline.
Tanner obtained some useful information about the tribal groups of Kara-
moja. The Kamchuro in the west were the most-heavily armed. He estimated
that they had about 2,000 rifles. The Dodoth under a powerful chief named
Royale Lokuta, who had a treaty from Macdonald, were prospering because of
their partnership with the Abyssinians and because of a series of good harvests.
Tanner found the Dodoth indifferent rather than hostile. When he told a group
of their chiefs that in future the government would not permit indiscriminate
killings, "they smiled", he wrote "and said it would be an excellent thing,
but I think the majority of them thought that I was simply a thief on a large
scale and that I had merely taken the Abyssinians' ivory for my personal
benefit". Tanner thought that the Jie, although heavily armed, were friendly and
intelligent. This view had not been shared by earlier travellers, for both Mac-
donald and Bell had been suspicious of the Jie, probably because of stories
fed to them by the Karamojong, and Tanner would certainly have changed
his opinion had he known the fate of his 4 porters. While Tanner had admired
the Jie, he had scant respect for the Karamojong. Not only had they many
fewer rifles than their northern neighbours, which might go a long way to ex-
plain their apparent 'backwardness' and 'sullenness', but their cultivation was
'poor and scanty'. An even lower opinion was expressed by Captain R. B.
Knox, who was in charge of the troops with Grant's expedition. Knox, a
querulous, dissatisfied man, wrote that the Karamojong are "about the lowest
type of native I have seen, capable of any nasty deed, and a cowardly crowd."
The state of the Karamojong in 1910 contrasted sharply with the reports of
22 UGANDA JOURNAL
many earlier visitors, and may be explained not only by their insecure position
through lack of firearms, but because of a serious cattle disease which was
decimating their herds. Both Grant and Tanner refer to this, estimating that
anything between 50 to 80 per cent of the stock had died. Cattle are so important
to the life of the Karamojong that a catastrophe of this size would obviously
have depressed and dispirited them.
It was after studying the reports from Tanner and Grant, together with the
information from Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Nimule, that the Uganda Govern-
ment decided that a conscious effort must be made to pacify northern Uganda"
The final decision was to establish a K.A.R. Northern Patrol to which a political
Officer, Captain H. M. Tufnell, was attached. Even then the aims of the ad-
ministration were to be limited for, commenting on the appointment, the
Governor said, "There would be no attempt whatever to commence adminis-
tration, nor in any way to interfere with the tribes save in so far as is necessary
to prevent them obtaining ammunition or illicitly obtaining or exporting ivory".
It was not until 1921 that Karamoja was brought under civil administration.
By that time the K.A.R. had subdued most of the tribes, but underneath the
relative calm the tribal differences remained, and they were to break out once
again in the 1950's and 60's in fierce intertribal cattle raids. In these raids
Ethiopia still plays a part as an illegal source of rifles for the Turkana who
come across the Uganda border to raid the Dodoth and Karamojong. Some
of the problems of 1910 still live on in Karamoja.
1. See R. O. Collins, 'Sudan-Uganda Boundary Rectification' and the Occupation of
Madial, 1914', Uganda JI., 26, II, (1962).
2. There were no definite territorial boundaries set for Karamoja at this time. It was
used in a loose sense sometimes implying the whole area north of Mount Elgon, at other
times being confined to the limits of the Karamojong group. In this article it will refer
to the geographical limits of the present district.
3. H. H. Austin, With Macdonald in Uganda, (Arnold, 1903).
4. W. D. M. Bell, The Wanderings of an Elephant Hunter (Spearman and Holland, 1958) and
Karamoja Safari. See also J. H. Cleave, Bell in Karamoja in Uganda Wildlife and Sport,
5. A colourful description of some of these traders is given in Major H. Rayne's The Ivory
Raiders (Heinemann 1923).
6. Eastern Province Report May 1911-Entebbe Archives.
7. Military Intelligence report-May 1908-Moroto Archives.
8. File 50/1906, Entebbe Archives. Gov. of Uganda to Sec. of State, 13 September 1906,
and Sec. of State to Gov. of Uganda 18 December 1906.
9. File 639/1909 Entebbe Archives. Gov. of Uganda to Sec. of State, January 1909.
10. File 71/1910 Entebbe Archives. D.C. Nimule to Chief Secretary, 14 July 1910.
11. File 1049 Entebbe Archives. Gov. of B.E.A. to Gov. of Uganda, 22 August 1910.
12. File 1049 Entebbe Archives. Gov. of B.E.A. to Gov. of Uganda, 29 October 1910.
13. File 1049 Entebbe Archives. Sec. of State to Gov. of Uganda, 2 December 1910.
14. File 71/1910 Entebbe Archives. Tanner's report 22 December 1910. The details of the
patrol's activities are taken from this report.
15. File 1049 Entebbe Archives. Grant's report 13 February 1911.
16. The site of the Abyssinian camp is said by local Dodoth to have been on the land where
the Roman Catholic mission now stands.
17. This chief had met Austin while the latter was on his way back from Lake Rudolph
in 1899 (Austin p. 209). He also met Raynes in 1906 (Raynes p. 29).
18. File 87/1908 Entebbe Archives. W. H. M. Doughty Wylie to Foreign Office, 6 May 1911.
KARAMOJA IN 1910 23
19. File A24/Item 4 Entebbe Archives. Sir Charles Eliot to Marquess of Lansdowne, 17
20. File A24/Item 4 Entebbe Archives. Marquess of Lansdowne to Charge d'Affaires Addis
Ababa, 27 November, 1903.
21. File A24/Item 4 Entebbe Archives. J. C. Blick to Sub-Commissioner Naivasha, Feb-
22. File A24/Item 4 Entebbe Archives. Statement by two Abyssinian deserters (Affuni and
Tafara) to Ag. Deputy Commissioner Naivasha, March 1904.
23. File 145/09 Entebbe Archives. A. D. C. Mbale to Chief Secretary, 8 December 1909.
24. File 87/08 Entebbe Archives. Thesiger to Sir. E. Grey, 15 March 1911.
25. File A24/Item 4 Entebbe Archives. Ag. Sub-Commissioner Jinja to Commissioner
Entebbe, 23 February 1904.
26. P. H. G. Powell Cotton, In Unknown Africa (Hurst and Blackett 1904).
27. File 71/1910 Entebbe Archives. Bwana Simba's statement enclosed with Tanner's report.
28. Eastern Province report, 1915.
29. Major H. Raynes, The Ivory Raiders, p. 39.
Uganda Journal, 28, 1 (1964) pp. 25-30
THE CLAN SYSTEM IN BUGANDA
by M. B. NSIMBI
Most tribes in Uganda are divided into clans. In Buganda clans are called
Ebika. Other tribes have different names for them. For instance, in Acholi
they are called Kaka, and in Teso they are known as Ateker. The word Ateker
also means 'tribe' in Ateso. Clans formerly played a large part in the lives of the
people of these, and other tribes in Uganda. But in recent years the role of the
clan, and people's attitudes towards it, have been subject to change, particularly
in Buganda. This paper is a brief outline of the organization of clans in Buganda
which may provide a background for understanding the problems faced by
In Buganda there are about 38 clans which are officially recognized by the
Buganda Government. Each clan has a name, an official head, and an object
which is held to be sacred to the members of that particular clan. The object
which the members of the clan hold as taboo is known as Omuziro in Luganda.
It can be an animal, a bird, a fish, an insect or a plant. The word Omuziro
most probably came from the verb okuzira, meaning to reject or to refuse to eat.
Nobody knows for certain how taboos or emiziro (plural of omuziro)
were started in Buganda. It is possible that the tradition of emiziro did not
start as a carefully planned way of life, but developed gradually. The fact that
some animals had killed men may be assumed to be the reason why certain
families and their children abstained from the meat of such animals, e.g. the
buffalo, the bushbuck, the hippo, etc. Other animals, some birds and fish,
may have given people stomach aches after they had eaten them. Perhaps as
a result they refused to eat them again, until their rejection became a customary
taboo both for themselves and their offspring. We cannot, however, take this
assumption seriously, because the general attitude of people towards the animals
of their totem is not hatred but friendliness, and even trust. Some people
believe that they can call upon the animals of their totem to come to their
assistance when in trouble.
The Second Totem
Each clan has a second totem known as Akabbiro. Again it is not known
how the tradition of a second totem began. The restriction on the second totem
is even stronger than on the first.
To make the prohibition against the first and second totems strong and to
make sure that people made no attempt to break it, there developed a common
belief that if one ate one's totem one would suffer from some disease, such as a
terrible eruption of the skin. I have met one or two people who claimed to
have had sudden and serious stomach pains after they had eaten their totems
by accident. Their sickness may well have been due to auto-suggestion. How-
ever, the restriction against eating one's totem has always been very strong. I am
told that only a few among the Balokole have dared to eat their totems. But
we should also note that many things which are taken as totems do not make
good dishes even for people who do not belong to that totem.
26 UGANDA JOURNAL
The preaching of correct behaviour concerning clan and totem starts
very early in life. Any normal 5-year-old Muganda child can tell you his clan
The Origin of the Clans
The origin of the clans themselves is much clearer to us from legendary
history. We learn that many years ago 5 elders were living in Buganda, each of
whom had considerable authority within his own settlement. Living with them
in their separate communities were their children, siblings and other followers.
According to legend, the clan elders were clan chieftains, each with an identi-
fying totem which he had from the very beginning.
After a time, Kintu, the legendary founder of the Baganda tribe, came to
Buganda with his followers, who were also clan leaders. They all settled down
in Buganda in different places. These new elders also had totems from the time
of their settlement in Buganda, but it is not known whether they had the totems
originally, or copied them from the people already living in the country.
In the course of time, some of the sons of clan leaders left their fathers to
go and establish themselves in new places. Others simply went off in search of
adventure. But as a rule they did not go very far from their fathers, to whom
they remained loyal.
Before a clan leader died, or else on his deathbed, he would appoint one of
his sons or close relatives to succeed him as leader of the clan. The brothers,
sisters and other relatives of the new leader would acknowledge him as their
chief and give him as much support as they had previously given to the former
leader. This became the pattern of succession to clan leadership. Some clan
heads were given nicknames which eventually became the important titles by
which they are known today, e.g. Kisolo (Otter), Gabunga (Lungfish), Ggunju
After some time, the lands where the clan heads lived became communal
property under the name of Obutaka. Whoever occupied the position of clan
head only held the land in trust for the clan, until 1900 when these lands passed
from communal to individual ownership. Before clan lands became individual
property only clan members and their wives could be buried on them.
Sub-division of Clans
Influential sons of clan leaders established themselves permanently in their
new lands and formed the major sub-divisions of clans, known as Amasiga.
These sons became the heads of the sub-divisions. The Amasiga were later di-
vided into Emituba, and the Emituba into Ennyiriri. All these sub-divisions have
always had appointed leaders. They were all known as Abataka and they all
accepted the authority of the head of the clan. Heads of clans accepted the
authority of the Kabaka in varying degrees, and there was some hidden ri-
valry between the Kabaka and several of the heads of clans. This is probably
the reason why some clan heads could not meet the Kabaka face to face.
Clan Heads Could Not Meet Together
To prevent the clan heads from organizing rebellion against the Kabaka,
they were prohibited from holding meetings. From time to time the Kabaka
would attack the most insolent of clan heads, seize his property or depose him,
and appoint somebody else in his place. The Kabaka himself belonged to the
royal clan which did not have a totem. Consequently, any prince who became
Kabaka tended to favour his mother's clan.
THF CLAN SYSTEM IN BUGANDA 27
Since members of any one clan were believed to be descended from a
single clan leader and to be of the same blood, they were not allowed to inter-
marry, no matter which sub-division of the clan they each belonged to. There
was also a strong restriction against marrying from or into the mother's clan.
Members of the Mamba clan, however, were exempted from this last restric-
tion, and as long as they did not belong to the same major sub-division of the
clan, they could marry. Before asking a girl's parents or her brother if he could
marry her, a man first made sure that the girl he wanted to marry was not of
his own clan. In initial encounters, clan names were a great help in discovering
the clans of strangers. A man usually regarded a strange girl of his own clan
as his sister. Should a man deliberately cohabit with a woman of his clan as
man and wife, the clan members would punish him. But this restriction is
beginning to break down. I know two members of the Effumbe clan and two
of the Engabi clan who married each other within the clan, in each case against
the wishes of the parents on both sides.
Retrospect on the Value of Clans in Buganda
1. Many clans had traditional hereditary duties they performed for the
Kabaka in his Palace or outside it, in the country. The head or subheads
of clans responsible for the various duties knew the particular lineage
of people who had the right to carry out these particular duties. Drum-
mers, the keeper of the sacred fire, the brewer, executioners, black-
smiths, and so on, were all from different clans.
2. Some heads of clans and sub-divisions of clans were political chiefs as
well, e.g. Mugema, head of the Monkey clan, was the senior administ-
rative chief of Busiro county; Gabunga, head of the Lung-fish clan was
admiral of the Kabaka's lake fleet. The different duties performed by a
head of a clan and his junior officials were a source of pride to all the
members of that particular clan. If a member of any one clan had the
misfortune to offend the Kabaka while in his service the whole clan
would be blamed. In certain cases some members of the clan would
be punished for the fault.
3. Clans played a large part in keeping order in the country since clan
elders could punish wrong doers of their own clans. The greatest folly
was for a Muganda to commit an offence against his clan. The most
that members of the clan could do to punish a culprit would be to
4. Clans were more or less societies of collective security. A man could
collect property from clan members to pay fines or buy a wife.
5. The prohibition of intermarriage between members of the same clan
assisted the tribe to remain strong both physically and intellectually.
It can also be said that the clans were interdependent; they never
became enemies of one another.
6. Some heads and subheads of clans were keepers of tribal gods, e.g.
Lwomwa, head of the Ndiga Clan, was keeper of the war god Kibuuka.
Kajugujwe, a subhead in the Butiko Clan, was keeper of Nende, the
second war god. Gugu of the Nvuma Clan was keeper of god Mukasa.
The above are only a few of the social advantages which the Baganda re-
ceived from the institution of the Clan System.
28 UGANDA JOURNAL
The Future of the Clans in Buganda
The clans received their first big blow when clan lands were made the
property of a few privileged individuals. And with the teaching of Islam and
Christianity, clan heads who had been keepers of traditional gods lost a great
deal of their influence among their own people. Neither did the new form of
government based on western ideas leave much power to clan heads to punish
members of their clans as formerly. The increasingly individualistic outlook
on life is making people more and more independent of their clans, with their
emphasis on collective security.
Another important factor is that the educated African in Uganda has no
respect for many of his traditions. At present he sees no reason for preserving
and developing his culture. Instead, he wants to become completely westernised,
both intellectually and culturally. All these considerations lead me to doubt
whether the future generations will have much interest in the clan system.
Today the young educated Baganda show keen interest in their clans only at
the time of the annual clan football-cup matches which are attended with great
excitement and ardent interest. The Kabaka also known as Ssaabataka (meaning
head of clan leaders) always hands the cup to the winning clan.
Although many Baganda traditions and institutions are undergoing quick
changes due to the impact of new social, economic and religious ideas, from
the West and East, I cannot help wishing that we should seek to preserve and
develop what is good in our cultural heritage. I strongly believe that the clan
system is one of those valuable traditions which we should refine and keep.
TABLE OF BUGANDA CLANS WITH THEIR TABOOS AND PLACES OF ORIGIN
Ngeye (colobus monkey)
(a) Ennyange (egret)
(b) Nnakinsige (paradise
Nvuma (bead said to be found
in Lake Nnalubaale)
Kkobe (climbing yam)
Ntalaganya (blue duiker)
AKABBIRO (SECOND TABOO)
Maleere (tree fungus)
Kkunguvvu (Whydah finch)
Kkunguvu (whydah finch)
Ngujulu (kind of animal)
Kyuma kya mbwa (dog's hunt-
Kaneene (striped weasel)
Kassukussuku (kind of mush-
Katinvuma (kind of climbing
Nnamulondo (kind of mush-
Kaama (kind of yam which
grows wild in forests)
Kiyindiru (kind of plant)
OBUTAKA (ORIGINAL HOME OF
FOUNDER OF CLAN)
(b) Mirembe (Kyaggwe)
TABLE OF BUGANDA CLANS WITH THEIR TABOOS AND PLACES OF ORIGIN (CONTINUED)
Aboomutima (or Abayanja)
Ababiito (Royal clan of
Nte (tailless cow's meat)
Mpeewo (bush duiker)
Musu (edible rat)
Nkejje (small lake fish)
Amazzi g'ekisasi (roof water)
Kinyomo (large black ant)
Nsuma (snout fish)
Nswaswa (monitor lizard)
Lukato (weaving needle, stiletto)
AKABBIRO (SECOND TABOO)
Muguya (a different type of
I] jaali (crested crane)
Nnabangogoma (big locust)
Ndeere (mushrooms which grow
on tree stumps)
Jjerengesa (kind of shrub)
Kikirikisi (mouse living in bana-
Nsombabyuma (giant rat)
Amazzi g'ekisasi (roof water)
Kiyemba (kind of fish)
Kasulu Akatono (small snout
Kabbokasa (empy basket)
OBUTAKA (ORIGINAL HOME OF
FOUNDER OF CLAN)
Uganda Journal, 28, 1 (1964) pp. 31-54
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS
by SIR JOHN GRAY
For many people Ernest Linant de Bellefond's only claim to fame is that he
was the bearer of a letter, which H. M. Stanley wrote from Rubaga to the
Editor of the Daily Telegraph appealing for Christian missionaries to be sent to
Mutesa I of Buganda. Unfortunately certain writers have tried to embellish
this prosaic episode by alleging that this missive was eventually discovered
in the dead Linant's jackboot after he had been ambushed by the Bari near
Moogie south of Rejaf. ('Ernest Linant de Bellefonds and Stanley's Letter
to the Daily Telegraph' Uganda Jl. 2(1934-5), 7).
H. B. Thomas has, however, demolished this legend. The letter eventually
reached the Daily Telegraph in the normal course of transmission by post.
The story of the jackboot, if jackboot there ever was, must therefore be con-
signed to that limbo which is reserved for picturesque stories of the like nature.
Albeit, Ernest Linant de Bellefonds deserves to be remembered in connec-
tion with the history of Uganda on other grounds. One gathers that his know-
ledge of English was limited. His journal and his reports regarding his travels
are written in his mother tongue, French, and have never been fully translated
into English. The result is that little justice has been done to him for his work
during his all-too-brief career in Uganda.
Ernest was the second son of Louis Maurice Adolphe Linant de Bellefonds
(1799-1883), who in 1827, under the sponsorship of the African Association,
had led an expedition up the White Nile for 150 miles to south of Khartoum
and had later played a prominent part in the development of irrigation in
Egypt. Linant had two sons, Auguste and Ernest. Of these Auguste had joined
Gordon's staff on his appointment as Governor-General of the Equatorial
Sudan. Ernest also decided to join Gordon as an assistant in a purely un-
official capacity. He set out from Suez on 21 August 1874, for Suakim, whence
he travelled overland to Khartoum. Thence he made his way up the Nile to
Gondokoro, where he arrived on 17 November, to learn that his brother
Auguste had died of fever on 16 September (Stone, Provinces of the Equator,
Ernest had travelled as far as Gondokoro in the company of two subalterns
of the Royal Engineers, Lieutenants Watson and Chippindall, who had been
seconded for duty with Gordon. Writing at the time to his mother, Watson
reported that Linant was "as fond as an Englishman of his cold bath." (Stanley
Lane Poole, Watson Pasha, p.45). Writing a few years later, Robert Felkin of
the C.M.S. remarked that he had at least one other English characteristic:
The people of Uganda remembered him as an inveterate pipe-smoker (Wilson
and Felkin, Uganda and the Egyptian Soudan, ii, 45). To judge from his writings,
Ernest Linant had received a good all-round education and was a well-read
young man. By religion he was a Calvinist. He had a good knowledge of Arabic
and was known to the local inhabitants as Abdul Aziz.
In the April prior to Linant's arrival Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Chaill-
Long had set out from Gondokoro to visit Mutesa I, the ruler of Buganda.
He had returned after an arduous and difficult journey on 16 October 1874.
32 UGANDA JOURNAL
In later years Long gave more than one version of the results achieved by that
visit. Some of these versions are self-contradictory and others are proved to be
demonstrably false by contemporary evidence from reliable sources.
The earliest version of his embassy appears to be that set out in a letter, which
he wrote to "the Geographical society of London" 4 days after his return to
Gondokoro, in which he reported that
in Uganda I induced Mutesa to close the road to Zanzibar and, in the interest
of Egypt's monopoly of ivory, to send his ivory to Gondokoro.
(P.R.G.S., 19 (1875), 109). This apparently was what he reported to Gordon
on his return to Gondokoro. On 6 November 1874, a telegram was sent from
Khartoum by Martin Ludwig Hansal, the Austrian Consul, and Giegler Pasha,
Chief Telegraph Engineer, informing the Khedive that
"Colonel Long has returned from Uganda from his visit to King Mutesa,
stating that this king has received him with all the honours desired, and th at
today the passage from Uganda to Zanzibar has been interrupted and is only
practicable from Uganda to Gondokoro, and that consequently the ivory trade
can only be carried on to Egypt, by the only way open from Uganda".'
(Shukry, Equatoria, p. 193).
Long does not appear to have obtained Mutesa's written undertaking to
ban the export of ivory to Zanzibar, but is it not improbable that he did make
some sort of oral promise to this effect. How far he was prepared to honour
his spoken word was quite another matter, and Gordon fully realized this.
One of the many worries which beset him and the Khedive Ismail was the fact
that the Equatorial Province was not paying its way. When he first arrived
at Gondokoro, Gordon had found messengers from Mutesa awaiting him
with about 300 worth of ivory. Reports had it that far greater quantities were
being transported to the south end of Lake Victoria and thence to Zanzibar.
Though Long had extracted a promise from Mutesa that in future all such ivory
should be sent to Gondokoro, he had perforce had to return without any ivory.
If this trade could be diverted northwards, one of the pressing financial prob-
lems of the Sudanese administration would to a large extent be solved. Gordon
was therefore anxious to send another expedition to Buganda in order to per-
suade Mutesa to implement his promise.
Soon after Linant's arrival at Gondokoro Gordon decided to entrust
himwith this mission and with the delivery of certain presents from the Khedive
to Mutesa. He was also to take with him an Ulema, Mutesa having expressed
a desire to be instructed in the doctrines of the Koran.
Gordon announced these plans to Khairy Pasha in a despatch, dated 21
November 1874, which reads as follows:
I am sending one of our boats to Foweira and Bulondoganyi (a navigable
route discovered by Colonel Long). Bulondoganyi is three days' distant from
the palace of Mutesa, to whom I will send his Highness' letter and the gifts
as directed by His Highness. I will also send the Sheikh, the Ulema, with the
boat. I do not want to send him earlier because this Sheikh Ulema must reach
Mutesa's in good state, and not in the deplorable state as on their arrival
were Messrs Speke, Grant and Colonel Long. I have put the execution of all
this into the hands of Monsieur Linant (who has just joined me and is in my
particular personal service). He is a well-educated and agreeable young man
and speaks Arabic. He will perform the task better than another. (Shukry, Equa-
toria, p. 199).
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 33
On 21 December, Gordon reported to Colonel Stanton, British Consul-
General at Cairo, that Linant had fallen ill just on the eve of setting out.
On 6 January 1875, he reported that
Linant is all right now and is going up country at once. (Sudan Notes and
Records, 10, (1927), pp. 13, 14).
Linant proceeded from Rejaf to Ibrahimieh (Dufile) and thence to Patiko,
where he arrived on 6 February 1875. From time to time he sent back to Gordon
full and interesting reports as to the state of the country through which, mounted
on his mule, he had passed. These reports supply copious details regarding
the stations which had been established south of the Aswa River. They go into
detail which is far too lengthy to be set out here. With regard to the value and
accuracy of the information therein contained it has, however, to be borne in
mind that their compiler was perforce in a position only to make a cursory
inspection of the stations and garrisons he visited. Gordon's instructions to
Linant were that he was not to meddle himself with the work of the Mudirs,
over whom he had no special authority (Shukry, op. cit., p. 230). It has also
to be remembered that Linant was a young man with no previous experience
of tasks such as now confronted him and that, as Gordon himself was to learn
from bitter experience, Mudirs and other officers in those regions were at times
capable of making reckless statements as to what they had accomplished,
and that a little probing often disclosed their utter falsity. In more than one
instance these reports point to the fact that a number of officers took advantage
of Linant's inexperience and consequent credulity to supply him with deceptive
information. It would take too much paper and ink to sift the grain in these
reports from the chaff; consequently no attempt will be made to do so.
Whilst he was still delayed at Patiko, Linant received instructions from
Gordon to see that the local officers carried out orders for the withdrawal
of the persons known as Khotarias from all the places at which they were
to be found to the south of Gondokoro. These Khotarias, who Linant not-
inaptly described as lanzknechts, were men who had at one time been employed
by the leading slavetraders in the southern Sudan. Apparently in the belief
that a former poacher makes the best gamekeeper, Samuel Baker enrolled a
number of them as irregular troops to strengthen the military posts he had
established south of Gondokoro. One hundred of these men were posted to
Patiko and another hundred to Foweira. In addition there were other former
employees of the slavetraders, who did not relish the idea of submitting to mili-
tary discipline and who desired, if possible to continue their old ways. These
men had drifted south to the headquarters of Kabarega in Bunyoro and of
Mutesa in Buganda. Kabarega was bent on recovering lands which had formerly
comprised part of the kingdom of Bunyoro but which in the time of his more-
immediate predecessors had been lost either by conquest or secession. For
that purpose he was anxious to create a standing army and to equip it with
modern weapons. Some 50 of these Khotarias had been attracted by hope of
ample reward to join him at Masindi.
A like desire to have at least the nucleus of a standing army prompted Mutesa
to entice other Khotarias into his service. He was in a better position than
Kabarega to obtain firearms by reason of his commercial relations with Zanzibar
but none the less he was glad to be able to have at his disposal a few men well-
trained in their use. A certain Abu Bakr was at this date the nominal head of
the Khotarias in Buganda. Long had come across him in the course of his
journey to Mutesa. He had once said to Long:
34 UGANDA JOURNAL
I prevented Baker (Sir Samuel) from reaching Buganda. You are a fortunate
man: I will do everything I can to secure your admission to Uganda. (Stone,
Provinces of the Equator, p.38). Despite this promise, he would appear there-
after to have put innumerable obstacles in the way of Long's progress.
Those Khotarias who had taken service under the Egyptian government
had shown themselves to be an ill-disciplined crowd, and in the circumstances
Gordon decided to remove them, lock, stock and barrel from his Province
and the adjacent territories and to replace them by better-disciplined troops.
The order was not easy to carry out. On 20 February 1875, Linant reported
The Mudir of Patiko, Nuehr Agha, has sent Your Excellency's order to all the
Suleiman Agha has assembled and put in order all the Dongolawi who were at
Pabbo, Paloro, Payera. But he is afraid to go and look for those at Masindi
at Kabarega's Place. They have been written to return. Without entering into
matters which concern Nuehr Agha, I have strongly advised Suleiman Agha to
bring back without delay the Dongolawi from Masindi, seeing that Your
Excellency's orders were formal and that all those who should not submit
should be considered as rebels.
The Khotarias who are with Bakhit Agha at Foweira should return shortly.
If those of Mutesa do not return before my arrival in Buganda, I shall bring
them with me.
The Mudir of Ibrahimieh (Dufile), Gouma, writes to me to say that he wishes
to keep with him fifty Khotarias and that consequently he will write to Your
Excellency. I have written to Mudir Gouma that no delay can be allowed in
the execution of Your Excellency's orders. Before anything else he must carry
out the order and then write to request modification of the decision that has
been taken. This letter has been registered in the correspondence at Patiko so
that nobody can be ignorant of it. (Shukry, op. cit. p.231)
Linant left Patiko on 27 February. In reporting his departure to Gordon,
he said that,
despite the activity and good will of Nuehr Agha, it was impossible to procure
porters to proceed from Patiko to Foweira. I had to have recourse to Ruyonga,
who sent me 20 abids from Kissembo (residence of Ruyonga), with whom I
set out after abandoning a large amount of my equipment at Patiko.
(Shukry, op. cit. p.236).
From the day of his departure from Patiko until shortly before he set out
for Buganda on his return journey to that place he kept a diary, which was
subsequently reproduced in Cairo in the Bulletin de la Societd Khidiviale de
Gdographie, (1876-77), pp.1-104.
Wet weather more than once delayed his march to the south. On 28 February
he crossed Khor Tuze (? Tochi River) and recorded that
800 metres from Khor Tuze to the south thereof is the site of a former camp
of Baker, known by the name of Pasha's tree, because it is situate near a
sycamore where Baker held his meetings.
Next day, 1 March, a further 15 kilometres brought him to a rond point
(rounded hilltop) called Sagga, a former camp of the Dongolawi, where the
roads to Patiko and Pabo bifurcate.
The centre of the rond point is occupied by a magnificent tree, Abu Setar, on
the trunk of which I saw the name of my friend "Long 1874".3
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 35
On 3 March Linant records in his diary that
a band of Lango marauders attacked some stragglers, who were accompanying
5 soldiers. The presence of these soldiers, who openedfire, and the arrival of the
rear guard put the Lango to flight.
In all probability these Lango were merely out on a hunting expedition.
Linant informs us in his diary that in this particular region
we had not seen any hut. We came across some hunters' shelters, places of
reufgefor one or two nights. . The territory is known by the name of Kabuli
and belongs to Ruyonga. Some years ago this district was covered with zeribas
palisadedd villages) and was in flourishing state. Then it became the object of
the covetousness of Abu Saud's Dongolawi, who in a short time destroyed it all
Today one can find no huts. It is covered with long grass. The inhabitants are
the leopard and the hyena.
The next day (4th) brought Linant to the Somerset Nile opposite Foweira.
Ruyonga had been forewarned and had provided the necessary canoes to ferry
Linant and his party across the river to the Egyptian stockade. Linant reported
to Gordon that
Foweira is a pretty Mudirieh above the left bank of the river in a forest of
bananas. The actual Foweira was constructed only afew months ago. Formerly
it was 20 kilometres further to the south, but the Mudir Bakhit, believing
the place to be unhealthy, thought it well to remove it and truly one can only
congratulate him on his decision. (Shukry, op. cit. p.237)
One of Linant's first tasks at Foweira was to insist on the recall of the
Khotarias from Masindi. He records in his diary that on 6 March
I called for Ali and informed him that letters must be sent for the return of the
Khotarias (lansquenets) of the district of Masindi. Ali is afraid that the letter
will not be sent to Kabarega. No matter. We must be ready to warn the Colonel.
I have caused a letter to be sent to the vakil to come back immediately, if he
does not wish to be considered as a rebel in accordance with the instructions
of the Colonel.
On this same day (6th) Ruyonga came to pay Linant a visit. As he spoke
Arabic, he and Linant were able to converse without the intermediary of an
interpreter. Linant gives the following description of him in his diary:
Ruyonga is a fine negro. He is about 50 years old. His figure is agreeable and
he can apparently express good sentiments. He has brought me a cow and a
sheep. I have presented him with a silk kaftan, a revolver and cartridges.
Ruyonga complains that all his negroes have deserted him. He is at present
relegated to an island a few miles south of this station and, despite his good
work, he cannot supply the soldiers with the necessary bread and meat.
I learn from Ruyonga that Kabarega's people in the land of Mruli bar the pass-
age through their territory to the people of Buganda
Mruli is a district which used to belong to Ruyonga.. It was at Mruli that
Colonels Speke and Long Bey were attacked. For many years past the (people of)
Mruli have prevented the people of Buganda from going down the river, but
passage across their territory was free. Kabarega cut off this means of com-
munication by massacring all those who risked it. Three months ago, once
every 8 days the Baganda used to arrive at Foweira to sell butter, maize, honey,
cows, sheep, etc. It was continual going and coming. These communications
have now ceased.
36 UGANDA JOURNAL
Mutesa complains that he cannot avenge these attacks of Kabarega because
the government's troops are quartered on his enemy. He demands that these
troops should be withdrawn and he will take on the task of reducing Kabarega
to obedience. I am upset by all this news, which detains me at Foweira and
delays my journey to Mutesa's place because of lack of porters.
Linant learnt from Ruyonga that living near by was yet another claimant to
the throne of Bunyoro, to wit, a certain Mupena, who appears in the writings
of Linant and other contemporary Europeans under the alias of Anfina.
This rival claimant was the son of Kachope, chief of the Bihukya county, and
the grandson of Kyebambe III Nyamutukura, Mukama of Bunyoro. Linant
informs us in his diary that
Anfina has withdrawn to a place about 30 kilometres to the north of Foweira.
He has never wanted to come to the station. He is afraid of being made a
prisoner and of being handed over to Kabarega. It is the Khoderia (sic) who
have told him to mistrust the negro soldiers belonging to the Christians, whilst
they themselves were Mussulmans and soldiers of the Sultan. I want to see
Anfina and to bring him to a different opinion.
Accordingly on 7 March he set out for the purpose with an escort of 20
soldiers under the guidance of a mutongole chief of Ruyonga. On the next
day he made the following entries in his diary:
At midday we came upon a camp of two or three thousand Lango. The arrival
of Said Agha reassured us. We are at the Kitoto Falls opposite the residence
of Anfina. These Lango have returned from a raid on Kabarega. They carried it
out in Anfina's name. They have killed a lot of people, taken a lot of cattle
and made prisoners of a lot of women and children, including amongst others
a sister of Kabarega.
. .Some of the Lango occupy territory belonging to Kabarega, Anfina and
Ruyonga. They only recognize the authority of their own chiefs when they
call them out to raid. The cattle and prisoners remain the property of the Lango,
who have to pay dues for crossing the river. The Lango are very brave, but are
veritable bandits. Today they attack Kabarega. Tomorrow the same men,
when called out by Kabarega, will come and fight Anfina. They only live by
raiding and are the terror of these counties. I am encamped in the middle of
these 3,000 pirates, who have shown themselves very respectful!
On my arrival Anfina left his island and came to visit me. He is a man 40 or 50
years old. I have completely reassured him regarding the intentions of the
government and have presented him with a kaftan and some beads. Anfina has
had a well-made shelter constructed for me. He has sent me a cow, some sheep,
rome fowls, some eggs, flour and maize and has made me a present of 4 fine
9 March. Anfina is returning with me. He wants to make the acquaintance of
the governor of Foweira. I have given him a mount (an ox) and he is enchanted.
On entering Foweira, where law and propriety reign, he said he recognized
that he actually had government troops before him. Anfina is going to station
an officer permanently at this place, whither he will bring ivory and flour.
On 15 March Linant recorded the arrival of a deputation of 400 Baganda.
They have pitched their camp one kilometre away from the station. The custom
is not to enter a zeriba except by invitation. The invitation is given and at once
the deputation, composed of 8 batongole (chiefs) enters the station. Each
mutongole is preceded by a drum and a nogara (tom-tom) ..
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 37
The deputies enter my hut. They are all dressed in the most proper clothes.
It consists of white stuff, pantaloons, shirt and waistcoat. Their faces are quite
different from those I have seen up to now. The colour of their skin is copper.
Most of them speak Arabic. Amongst them is a child from Zanzibar, Idi,
who was brought up by Mutesa, whose clerk he is.
When the deputation left Buganda, they had no knowledge of my arrival.
They are sent to Gordon Pasha with two letters from Mutesa demanding a
barber and a reader of the Koran. He further demands some medicine and
requests that two watches may be repaired. The deputation renounces its in-
tention of proceeding to Lado and will accompany me to their king.
As a number of entries in his diary show, Linant was prevented from leaving
Foweira as soon as he could have wished. He himself was more than once
prostrated by sickness. He also had great difficulty in procuring porters for his
next advance. Ruyonga had sent 40 men to Patiko to collect the baggage which
Linant had been compelled to leave behind at that place. In the most auspicious
circumstances corvie in the shape of compulsory porterage could never have
been popular with those on whom the burden was imposed. The treatment
of the men conscribed for this task by various officers of the Egyptian govern-
ment went far towards filling the cup of bitterness to the brim. On 25 March
Linant informed Gordon that
Ruyonga bitterly complains that, having supplied porters as far as Lado for
Wad al Mak, this last named has not rewarded him with anything. Wad al
Mak has been most blameworthy and the consequences of his conduct have
been most disastrous to Ruyonga. The porters, having returned discontented,
have deserted Ruyonga and have gone to place themselves under the domination
of Kabarega to whose place they say Egypt cannot penetrate.4 (Shukry, op.
In addition to other troubles Linant was worried about the Khotarias,
who were at Masindi with Kabarega. As he explained to Gordon these men
have not given a sign of life. This is the explanation. There used to be at Foweira
a mutongole (chief) of Kabarega at the time when the order came to send
down all the Khotarias. This mutongole has disappeared with all his people.
When Suleiman appeared in front of Kabarega at the time of Your Excellency's
arrival in these countries, he was presented not as acting on your behalf, but
as the representative of Abu Saud. The Dongolawi, whom he placed at Masindi,
were the troops of Abu Saud, and in no way those of the government. It was
on this condition that Suleimen obtained ivory and cattle from Kabarega.
This last named has treated the Dongolawi of Masindi as belonging to himself
and they have been made use of in several raids. When Suleiman was requested
by me to send back the Khotarias, he declared that he could not do so without my
giving any reason. Evidently he cannot claim from Kabarega on Your Ex-
cellency's behalf troops which he pretends to belong to Abu Saud. Suleiman
finds himself hoist with his own petard.
This situation is most embarrassing. There is no news of, and no communication
with, Kabarega. The Khotarias can not be accused of rebellion. Perhaps they
are being detained against their will. (Linant to Gordon, 25 March 1875,
Shukry, op. cit., p.239.)
On 26 March Linant wrote in his diary:
38 UGANDA JOURNAL
I want to be informed quite precisely about the Dongolawi, who are with
Kabarega. Are they being detained? Or do they remain of their own free will?
I am afraid that if I attack Mruli, Kabarega may give way to cruelty regarding
these unfortunate Dongolawi.5
Gordon's instructions to Linant had been that he should use all necessary
force to get possession of Mruli and to hand over possession thereof either to
Ruyonga or to Mutesa (Gordon to Khairy Pasha-Sobat, 7 February 1875,
Shukry op. cit. p. 221) Linant, however, had reached the conclusion that Ruyo-
nga could not possibly maintain himself there without the support of an Egyp-
tian garrison. In his diary, he states that at this date the existing garrisons
were very much below strength and that the supply of ammunition was reduced
to 28 cartridges per soldier. He was also disposed to think that
the decision to establish Mutesa at Mruli should be rejected, because his
country is a long way distant from the states of Kabarega.
In the circumstances he wished to reserve judgement as regards the estab-
lishment of a Mudirieh at Mruli until he had carried out the all-important task
of getting in personal touch with Mutesa. The sooner this was undertaken
the better. It should be undertaken before the rainy season had set in and ad-
vantage should be taken of the presence at Foweira of a large party of Baganda
who could serve as guides and escort for the journey to Rubaga. (Linant to
Gordon, Foweira, 25 March, 1875; Shukry, op. cit. p. 240).
On 27 March Linant made the following entry in his diary:
I am making my preparations for my departure tomorrow . Ruyonga
has come He is desolated at seeing me leave before having established him
at Mruli. 'I shall never get my father's country', he told me. 'The Pasha (Baker)
came and did not give it to me. Long Bey passed this way and only left fair
promises behind him. And now, thou goest to the Kabaka. Thou wilt come back
wearied by the voyage and possibly ill. Thou wilt hurry to get back to thine
own place. Thou wilt abandon me. I see quite clearly that my destiny is to
die in my island where I shall be buried half in the water.' Ruyonga's appear-
ance was one of such sad resignation that I was at pains to promise that on my
return, if God willed it, I would come to his aid. Poor Ruyonga! He may well
be right. Shall I return from Mutesa?
On 28 March Linant set out for Buganda. The first day's march brought
him to Kissembo, which had only recently been evacuated by the Egyptian
garrison in favour of the new station at Foweira. The place was 5 kilometres
from the river and the passage to it lay through swamps. Ruyonga's island
residence was opposite to it. The Zeriba at Kissembo was almost the only
remaining one which Ruyonga possessed. Linant found it in the occupation
of a party of Baganda, who, together with those who were accompanying him,
now numbered over 800. This fresh reinforcement was led by a mutongole
who had been sent specially by Mutesa to expedite Linant's progress. To what
extent he carried out the royal instructions is hard to say. Linant's diary is full of
complaints about the delays caused by the Baganda in setting out on each
day's march. On 31 March the party eventually reached the spot where the Kafu
flows into the Somerset Nile. After crossing this river, they encamped at a
village 2 kilometres distant on the further side. In his diary Linant tells us that
The inhabitants abandoned their huts. The Baganda took possession of
everything which had not been taken away by the inhabitants and searched
concealed places for food, etc.
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 39
When I observed to Sheikh Omar that these proceedings were contrary
to the principles of humanity, he replied 'All the country belongs to the Kabaka
(Mutesa). Kabarega, Ruyonga and Anfina are only the Kabaka's viziers.
We have been sent by the Kabaka. We must have food and lodging all along
the route'. I do not know what this assertion is worth, but it certainly has some
foundation. I saw that Ruyonga and his subjects paid great obedience to Mutesa's
envoys. A mutongole and a hundred Baganda are in garrison at Kissembo
to prevent attacks by Kabarega ...
As the expedition continued its journey to the south, the inhabitants hastily
abandoned their villages and the Baganda went into possession. On 3 April
they reached a district presided over by a chief named Merimba, regarding
whom Linant has this to say:
Merimba . is independent only in appearance. Instead of being the
dependent of a single sheikh, he has to obey two-Mutesa and Kabarega.
This situation is quite curious. He must supply the one or the other, on their
demand, with men for raids and war. Merimba divides his warriors into two
parties, which fight one against the other. The district separates the two king-
doms of Bunyoro and Buganda.
On the following day Linant entered the kingdom of Buganda and wrote
in his diary What a fine country!
The next day
Idi, Mutesa's clerk, came to inform me that a traveller from Zanzibar
had arrived in the presence of Mutesa. It is probably Mr. Cameron, for whom
I am the bearer of a letter which Colonel Gordon has handed to me.
On 6 April he received
a letter from His Majesty Mutesa, who, after salaams, tells me that he waits
for me with impatience, that everything is ready for my reception, and in
case the porters are insufficient, I should apply to Idi. What does he think,
this good Kabaka ? I have with me 500 porters. Hardly 80 are necessary for me.
That night elephants invaded the camp and consequently delayed the start
on the following morning. During the next march the party entered the district
which Linant calls Beremesi Kangaoni, that is to say, the saza (county) of
Bulemezi of the chief Kangawo, and halted at Bulyake. Here he was once
more delayed because his own military escort was short of food. The Baganda
escort was still living on the country, but representations as to the wants of the
soldiers were of no avail until Linant had seized the sheep and goats of Sheikh
Omar, the principal mutongole. Then, and not till then, three cows were handed
over to Linant's men.
From Bulyake onwards a well-constructed road, 30 metres in width, pointed
the way to Mutesa's capital. On 9 April they reached a village, which Linant
calls Safarga, but which would appear to equate with Kasaga, the traditional
site of one of the capitals of Kintu, the progenitor of the ruling house of Buga-
the mutongole wanted to persuade us to continue our journey. He declared
that my stay and that of my soldiers was not displeasing to him. but that the
passage of his Baganda compatriots (was displeasing), as they stole everything,
chickens and sheep, and ruined and plundered everything that they could find.
Mutesa's sister (sc. Nkinzi Nawati, the Lubuga, or Queen Sister) is the owner
of the environs of Safarga. She came and wandered round my tent with a small
escort, but the sight of my people made her withdraw,6
40 UGANDA JOURNAL
On 10 April the expedition entered the saza of Kyadondo, and Linant
records in his diary that
we are on the special property of Mutesa. After two hours' march we shall
wait the ending of our journey, Mutesa's residence. We cannot go any further
today, because we shall come onto the property of the Queen Mother and no
Muganda can camp there . At eleven o'clock we camped at Ketauba . .
Ketauba is in the district of Sebata.7 To the west at about the distance of eight
kilometres is a hill on which is built the tomb of Suna, the father of Mutesa,
(who died in 1856 J.M.G.) The place is called Wamala. The tomb consists of
a hut, which is repaired and rebuilt almost every year.
In the diary for the following day (llth) there appears a graphic descrip-
tion of the entry of Linant and his Sudanese escort into Mutesa's capital.
Every quarter of an hour a messenger arrives breathless from Mutesa.
He brings me salaams and then departs like an arrow only to stop at the king's
feet where he must bring the reply. At last the king's residence appears, built
on the north of a hill, which overlooks a vast extent of country. I am told that
Mutesa watched our march with a field glass (lorgnette). For a quarter of
an hour we follow an avenue leading to the royal residence and arrive at the
habitations which are destined for us . Mutesa tires me with his salutations.
Happily, he accompanies them with some substantial presents. He sends eggs,
bananas, rice, onions, sugar cane and two goats, which enables us to make a
repast which surpasses the best dinners of Auric at Cairo.
On 12 April Linant had his first audience with Mutesa, at which he met the
traveller from Zanzibar, whom he had supposed to be Cameron, but who proved
to be the explorer, Henry Morton Stanley. In Through the Dark Continent,
i, pp. 204-5, Stanley has given a verbatim translation of the entry in Linant's
diary, which relates to this occasion, except for certain passages which Stanley
has omitted. Linant informs us that after taking leave of Mutesa he asked
Stanley to come and dine with him.
I had scarcely been more than a few moments in my hut when Mr. Stanley
arrived... We talked until eleven o'clock in the evening. Stanley is the traveller
par excellence; gay, gentlemanly, a good comrade, patient, accommodating
in everything. I have had veritable pleasure in his instructive and varied con-
versation. He has travelled much, seen much. The entire world is known to him.
It is four months since I heard a word of French pronounced. What a joy
to hear Stanley speaking, who, without expressing himself correctly, pronounces
French sufficiently well to make it possible to understand his thoughts. The
meeting of two white men in the centre of Africa is only less agreeable than
to find a compatriot, and this pleasure is inexpressible when the meeting is
one with a well-known man whose society is charming. From what Stanley tells
me Mutesa is very proud because two white men have appeared in his kingdom.
He does not believe there is any risk.
The two had very few opportunities of meeting, as Stanley was busily em-
ployed trying to obtain canoes so that he might proceed to the south end of
the lake to fetch the rest of his party and baggage. On 15 April he and Linant
set out with some of his Sudanese soldiers for the proposed place of embark-
ation in Murchison Bay, but it was not until 17 April that the much-promised
agenda canoes were assembled. Linant thus describes his parting with Stanley.
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 41
Mr. Stanley and I are soon ready. The Lady Alice is ready. The baggage,
sheep, goats, chickens are all in their places. It only remains to raise the Ame-
rican flag and proceed to the cape to the Southward. I accompany Mr. Stanley
to his boat. We shake hands and commend each other to God's guidance. Stanley
takes the helm. The Lady Alice turns like a horse on the rein and goes forward
making foam amid the waves of the Nyanza. The Stars and Stripes is raised
andfloats proudly. I at once salute it with a loud salvo. Perhaps it has been never
so saluted with such good feeling.
The Lady Alice is far off. We wave our handkerchiefs as a sign of last
farewell. My heart is heavy. I have just lost a brother. I had already been
accustomed to seeing Stanley, afrank fellow, a simple comrade and a wonderful
traveller. With him I had forgotten all my fatigue. Meeting him has produced
the same effect as returning to my country. His attractive and instructive
conversation made the hours appear to be minutes. I hope to see him again
and to pass several days with him.
We leave the lake which has just carried off one of us. We are all of us
sad and follow the road to Bulagala in silence. I reach Rubaga at eleven o'clock
to learn that most of the soldiers had fever and that no food had been brought
in my absence. Four of our cows have been lost by Ruyonga's men and the
mutongole of Ruyonga receives a hundred blows with a stick. It is suspected
that he has sold the cows. I write to Mutesa that my soldiers are suffering from
hunger. I demand authority to return to Foweira. Twelve cows and a
quantity of eggs are sent in reply.
My headache has returned. I go to bed immediately.
The next day Linant went to see Mutesa, but owing to a number of dis-
tractions and interruptions, he found it difficult to get down to business. He
demanded that the Khotarias should be handed over to him. Mutesa promised
to do so and in the meantime sent a peace offering of bananas, eggs and flour.
On 19 April Mutesa's clerk, Ramadhan8 came with a request that Linant
would assist him in fighting Kabarega and the Bavuma islanders on Lake
let Ramadhan know that I was employed by the government and that the troops
were not mine but those of the Khedive of Egypt. Consequently it was impossible
for me to make use of them for any other mission than that with which I was
charged, and that, as for Kabarega, if it was the idea of the sovereign to fight
and to destroy him, that would be an easy thing, for troops and means of des-
truction were not lacking. But our Pasha (General Gordon) did not intend
to make savage people submit by force or to destroy them, but he desired to
lead them towards civilization by persuasion and making known to them the
benefits of God and the well-being which would come to every servant of the
Almighty. For us, the savages were children, whom we must instruct but not
Mutesa had very obviously expected Linant to assume the role which had
hitherto been that expected of the Dongolawi traders. He doubtless was as
surprised as he was dissatisfied with the answer to his request. Four months
later he was to make a similar appeal for aid against the Bavuma to Stanley
on his return to Buganda from circumnavigating Lake Victoria and was to
receive the assistance he expected.
On 20 April at a personal interview with the Kabaka
42 UGANDA JOURNAL
Mutesa asked me to say which I would most desire-ivory or slaves. (I told
him that) ivory belongs to the Government. I am ready to buy all the ivory
he possesses. As for slaves, we do not recognize anybody as such. All men are
brothers. Today the abominable traffic in slaves by the Dongolawi has been
abolished. Their importation into Egypt is punished by death. Our principal
mission in these countries is not commerce, but the destruction of the sellers
On this as on several previous occasions Mutesa had amused himself by
watching Linant's Sudanese soldiers go through various military exercises.
He now proposed to reward each soldier with a present of slaves. Linant at
Mutesa appeared to be angry at my refusal. He cannot understand our
principles of humanity and morality
During the next 3 days Linant had a number of interviews with his host.
Our conversation has been on the various powers in the world in succes-
sion-America, England, France, ,Germany, Ottoman Empire, constitutions,
governments, military forces, products, industries, religion. The King's
sister was present at these sessions. The daughters and sisters of the King never
go about on their feet. They are always carried by their slaves.
It had been arranged that Linant should pay a formal visit on 24 April
to the Namasole (Queen Mother),
but at 7 o'clock Kyambalango, who was to present me to Mutesa's mother,
comes and informs that, the King having gone to his mother at 4 o'clock in
the morning, my reception is postponed.
The King never travels during the day. It is always during the night that
he proceeds from one locality to another. He has gone to his mother so as
to perform certain acts of sorcery. His brothers are all in prison for rebellion.
Mutesa has gone to consult his mother and sorcerers about the destiny of his
brothers. This is the fourth rebellion since his accession. He has pardoned
them three times, but they are beginning to weary him by increasingly troubling
his tranquility. Mutesa does not want to kill them publicly, but will be very
pleased to be freed from his embarrassment by means of poison and it is on
this subject that he has gone to consult his mother. The king returned during
The fate of his numerous half-brethren was sealed. They were not to be
poisoned. With the exception of two (Mayinja and Mbogo) they were starved
to death. (Kagwa, Basekabaka, p. 130).
On 25 April Mutesa decided that he would give an audience to the Fakir,
who had accompanied Linant to Buganda, and had been sent to him by Gordon
at his special request. Despite his ardent profession of a desire to be fully
instructed in the precepts of Islam it would appear that it was not until a
fortnight after the Fakir's arrival that he felt sufficiently interested as to give
the teacher an audience. Linant was present at their meeting. He tells us that
the conversation turned exclusively on the subject of Koran. The unfortunate
Fakir was much embarrassed in answering all the King's questions. I had to
come to his aid.
Eventually the conversation turned to the use of money as a medium of ex-
On 27 April Linant had two lengthy meetings with Mutesa. On the first
occasion the conversation turned to the subject of astronomy.
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 43
There were present the Katikiro (first minister) Kyambalango, four principal
officers, two clerks and other favourites. Mutesa had a perfect grasp of every-
thing. We were all seated in a circle and great intimacy prevailed amongst us.
I have never seen Mutesa so joyful. It was the first time that we addressed
each other directly without making any use of interpreters. This was contrary
to all the laws of etiquette. Mutesa was afterwards explaining everything to the
wondering assemblage. What was astonishing was that Mutesa inspired his
entourage and a great number of his people with the active desire to learn,
to be instructed and to know. Amongst them there was much emulation and
much haste to transform themselves. They are curious, observing, intelligent
and have a constant wish for knowledge of white people, whose superiority
they recognize. The Baganda, if they were assisted by a mission which had in
it a number of agriculturists, carpenters, smiths, etc., would in a little time
become an industrial people. Under these conditions Uganda would become
the cradle to civilization for the whole of Africa.
The mission would have to be tolerant in the matter of morals and religion.
For a long time it would be necessary to shut the eyes to and pass over prejudices
and vicious customs. A people cannot be changed in a day. In order to succeed,
it is necessary to keep silence about the multiplicity of wives and many other
things which are quite common here.
I left the King at two o'clock in the afternoon after being told to come
again at four o'clock. The same assemblage as in the morning. Conversation
abour Genesis. Mutesa made me write on a tablet the story of Genesis from
the Creation to the Flood. We left at night. Mutesa is enchanted and I shall
be able to obtain everything from him.
Despite the optimistic vein in which these last words were penned, it was
impossible to induce Mutesa to concentrate on any matter of business for any
length of time. Three days after the above words were written, Linant recorded
in his diary (30 April) that
Mutesa has given up today to the chase. At a certain distance a cow was
tied up and at another distance a goat. Then the King, sitting in a hut, practised
shooting. It was the royal hunt.
I have just been told today about certain deeds done by Mutesa this day.
They leave one to suppose that the King has not yet completely shed his savage
and barbarous exterior. During the hunt Mutesa saw one of his women carrying
an earthen jar on her head. He at once said to one of his minions 'I am going
to knock that jar off so-and-so's head'. He fired, but the bullet struck the
unfortunate woman's head. She fell down in the road and nobody was upset
This morning an unfortunate man entered the audience hall and spoke
to the king, who was conversing familiarly with his secretary Ramadan. 'Why
dost thou come and disturb me?' These words sufficed. The unfortunate man
was seized, tied up and executed.
A few days later (5 May) Linant recorded that
Mutesa complained of the smell of tobacco. At once 10 batongole were
searching for the unfortunate smoker. Somebody comes and tells the King
that a guard is smoking at a distance of 200 metres in the first court.
Mutesa makes a gesture. The drummers beat their drums. The batongole
utter loud cries and hasten towards the unfortunate man whose condemnation
has been pronounced.
44 UGANDA JOURNAL
Execution does not consist merely in cutting off his head. The wretch is
strangled and tortured. His wrists are cut off, then his forearm and then his
arms, and finally the head. And Mutesa calls himself civilized!
Mutesa is intelligent, but he is always cruel and it will be difficult to stop
him from committing these despotic acts of cruelty, because he pretends that
they are necessary for his safety.
At length, being ill and also throughly dissatisfied at the treatment he and
his escort were receiving at the hands of the Kabaka, Linant discontinued his
visits to the court and also declined to receive messages sent to him by Mutesa.
On 7 May
The Katikiro, the grand vizier, came to see me at five o'clock on behalf of
the King to ascertain whether I was ill or angry with the King. He told me
with regard to the two deserters that the king would send them back, even if
they should be in Bunyoro. As for the Dongolawi, who had taken refuge with
him, Mutesa was ready to send them back to me, as he preferred my friendship
to anything else. I begged the Katikiro to thank the King for his good will.
I was ill because of the contrarities which the Dongolawi had caused me and
because of the little attention Mutesa had paid to my requests. Now having
greater trust in the King's word, I had recovered and tomorrow I would come
to the palace.
As, on the following day, Mutesa decided to go hunting, the meeting had
to be postponed. On the next day Mutesa was so taken up with his hunting
exploits of the previous day that it was impossible to get down to business. On
10 May Linant wrote in his diary as follows:
10 May. Mutesa sent for me at four o'clock in the afternoon. We had
a long conversation which lasted until night time. I made clear to the King my
desire to return to Foweira. He begs me to prolong my stay for a month longer.
Our conversation turned principally upon women.
The wretched Mutesa is imbued with a quantity of fables with which the
Zanzibar traders have crammed his head. Near Mutesa there are about 1,500
Zanzibaris, all people of the sack and rope, and having all sorts of crimes,
of which theft is the least, on their consciences. Hence the origin of the colony
which has invaded Buganda.
An agent is sent by a merchant at Zanzibar into the interior to report on
slaves and ivory. This chief gathers to himself a troop which he has collected
especially from amongst people who, having reasons for evading the criminal
jurisdiction, have hurriedly quitted the country. The chief leaves Zanzibar
and spends the trader's merchandise in foolish orgies. The town (sc. of Zan-
zibar) is closed for him and he takes refuge with Mutesa, who gives him lands
and women. These wretches then call themselves merchants in the service of
Mutesa. And see what happens! Mutesa wants to send his ivory to Zanzibar.
He entrusts it to one of these creatures, who then declares to him that he
cannot enter Zanzibar without being arrested, unless he first of all repays the
value of the merchandise which he has lost. The King gives him the value in
ivory. The vakil goes to Zanzibar with the ivory and also thousands of slaves.
Today the Khedive has forbidden traffic in slaves on the White Nile and it
follows that the trade is of great benefit to the Zanzibar merchants.
These wretched traffickers, whose whole profit is in the sale of human flesh,
give ivory a greater value than it is really worth; and the sole object of this
is to put a stop to commercial relations between Uganda and the White Nile.
Mutesa sells his ivory at Zanzibar for from eighteen to twenty pounds sterling.
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 45
This price looks unrealistic, but it is real to Mutesa, who receives for a kantar
(sc. about 100 pounds) of ivory a value in merchandise which is far superior
to that which would be given to him at Gondokoro. It must further be rem-
embered that, as at Zanzibar the greater part of the porters are sold as slaves,
all this is profit.10
Despite all his protestations, Mutesa's promises of amendment to Linant
were still unfulfilled, On some days rain put a stop to any kind of assistance.
On fine days Mutesa, as often as not, preferred the chase to doing any other
kind of business. Linant's escort were constantly running short of food. Even
on such days as Linant could obtain an audience with the Kabaka he had to
complain that one of the most disagreeable things at Mutesa's court is that all
conferences are generally accompanied by the disturbing noise of music.
Even when Linant could get into personal touch with Mutesa, he found
great difficulty in leading the conversation round to his own personal needs.
On 17 May he recorded that
Yesterday and today we had long conferences with Mutesa concerning
the duties of a man towards himself and towards a neighbour. I gave him
divers precepts, mixtures of the philosophy of Socrates and Christian morals.
What specially disturbs the King is information about paradise, hell and
the angels. Where are they to be found? And what kinds of joys and punish-
ments are reserved after death ? Is it true that the body rises again ? If that is
so, the body being material, should God have a body?
Yesterday, in the middle of an entirely spiritual discussion there occurred
a comic incident, which interrupted our spiritualism and which gives an idea
of the manners of the Buganda. An uncle of the King, brother of his mother,"
presented himself before the King, speaking vehemently and mingling his
discourse with farcical nyanziges. The matter is a grave one. It is a case of a
woman's infidelity, in which the wretched man was caught red-handed . .
The guilty man was sent for. His sole excuse was that he had succumbed to the
woman's prayer, who vehemently complained of her husband's impotence...
It is a strange fact that the complainant was the father of the accused.
On this occasion Linant's intervention saved the culprit from the otherwise
almost-inevitable death penalty and the son was allowed to get away with the
confiscation of all his property. A few days later,
a king of whose name I was totally ignorant came to see me. He is a pre-
tender to the throne of Kitara, but actually the King of Koki, a child thirteen
or fourteeen years old. His name is Lubambula. With a pleasing oval counte-
nance, beautiful eyes, copper-coloured, and with fine features, he represents the
perfect type of the Abyssinian race.
.... His version (sc. of the History of Kitara) appears to me to be accurate,
for everybody in Bunyoro as well as in Buganda, agrees on this subject. Only
Kabarega, Mutesa, Anfina, and Ruyonga each in his turn claims to be the sole
descendant of the princes of Kitara.
When I made this observance to Lubambula, he said to me; 'Certainly
Mutesa, Kabarega, Anfina and Ruyonga are my kinsfolk by reason of a suc-
cession of (marriage) alliances, but the blood which flows in their veins is not
pure Hima. Look at them. Are they like me? Have they got the same colour ?
The same eyes?'
46 UGANDA JOURNAL
Lubambula has very beautiful hands which are well-cared for. I have found
in this young prince judgement and reasoning which I am astonished to
find in these parts. Lubambula wears the costume ofZanzibar, with the language
of which he is familiar. On the death of his father Isansa the Baganda invaded
his state and stole four thousand cattle and a large number of women and
children. He has come to Mutesa to make his submission and recognize the
suzerainty of the puissant monarch of Buganda and to beg him not to invade
his state againt2
On 24 May Linant made a long entry in his diary in an exultant mood.
Yesterday I achieved a great success with Mutesa. He has resolved to
forbid the sale and purchase of slaves in his states. I had observed to him that
he, who wanted to get into communication with civilized foreign powers, must
above all adopt the primary principle of society, the liberty of the subject.
The session which dealt with slavery was not the only one I have had since I
entered Buganda. I have always had it my in heart to make use of every occasion
to show the horror which is inspired in me by the sale of those like ourselves,
but I certainly never hoped for so prompt a result.
With all his pride and his boasting Mutesa assures me that, having for a
long time realized the influence of slavery, he had thought of abolishing it in
his state. One can only have one's suspicion about the excuse Mutesa has
had for delaying the project up till now. He alleges that men and women slaves
represent the wealth of everybody and are articles of exchange in sales and
purchases and that, as he had no money, he was consequently unable to suppress
slavery. Today this excuse of Mutesa has fallen to the ground. His country
is very rich. He possesses iron, ivory, cattle, coffee and butter. He has only
to send these articles of merchandise to Foweira, Patiko or Lado and Buganda
will be full of money.
The King has decided to send all his merchandise to be sold at these different
stations. I am happy to have been so entirely successful. The trade with Buganda
has been perfectly established and the other tribes will follow his example,
being attracted by the advantages it will offer.
I have obtained from Mutesa permission to see Busoga. I shall leave to-
morrow. I shall go up the Nile to where it leaves Victoria Nyanza and I should
like to push on to the Bahr Ngo of Speke, but the limits imposed by the Pasha's
orders will not permit me to be satisfied as to this.
The value of Mutesa's promise to put an end to the slave-trade may be
gauged by the contents of a letter written on 28 September 1879,-that is,
more than 4 years after that promise was made-by the Secretary of the Church
Missionary Society to Lord Salisbury. In forwarding certain correspondence
which the Society had received from their missionaries in Uganda, the Sec-
retary observed that he was
sure that it will give Your Lordship much satisfaction to perceive that
through the efforts of our Missionaries King Mutesa of Buganda has been
induced to prohibit the sale of slaves in his dominions.
(Zanzibar Archives). On 27 June, 1878, Dr. Kirk had written to inform Lord
Salisbury that he had been told by a London Missionary Society's party which
was proceeding to Lake Tanganyika that they had met with Arab caravans
proceeding to the coast with gangs of slaves marching in chains and that these
gangs included natives from Uganda (Zanzibar Archives).
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 47
As entries in his diary show, on the very next day after this promise was made
the writer was quickly undeceived. He had made all arrangements for his
departure, but no porters turned up. Next day he learnt that the Zanzibari,
Idi, who had been deputed to accompany him on his journey to Busoga, had
gone off to look after his estates. Linant thereupon wrote a letter to Mutesa,
informing him that, as his mission had terminated, it was necessary that he
should return to Gordon Pasha, at the same time explaining the reasons which
compelled him to shorten his stay. In the afternoon Mutesa asked him to come
and see him. Linant asked to be excused as he was making his preparations to
set out for Bulondoganyi. On 27 May the king's brother appeared with a
number of batongole who were deputed to escort Linant into Busoga. The
party set out eastwards into Kyagwe and, much delayed by rain and swamps
and short of food, spent the night at Kisigula. On 28th they crossed the Lwajali
river and reached one of Idi's estates at Nyengwe. But they seem to have got
no further. On 30th Linant describes an exciting leopard hunt which took
them through a well-cultivated tract to Sekibobo's residence. He also climbed
Mugula Hill (presumably Mukono) and visited the source of the Lwajali
River. But news reached him that there had been a fire at Mutesa's palace
and that an Egyptian officer was on his way to meet him with 10 soldiers.
He therefore decided to cut short his expedition to Busoga and to return
to the capital. On arrival there (1st June) he found instructions from Gordon
bidding him return to headquarters. Subsequent events are best given in the
words of Linant's own report to Gordon.
I appeared in front of Mutesa to inform him of my instructions to return
and to ask him for the Khotarias of Abu Bakr, whom he had retained up to then.
He promised to send them to me on the day of my departure.
Various things occurred during the first fortnight of June which warned
me that something unusual was happening. The insufficient ration of bananas,
which Mutesa has sent us daily stopped. The looks of Mutesa's officers had a
mysterious cachet, which caused me some uneasiness. A deputation from
Kabarega arrived and left immediately after a stay of two days. The tardiness
with which Mutesa supplied me with thirty porters made me forbode trouble.
On June 10 at 9 o'clock at night the drums of Mutesa resounded and at
once 10,000 abids assembled at Rubaga, all armed and shouting. I left
my camp and proceeded to Mutesa's residence to learn what had happened.
I was told that a spirit had appeared to Mutesa and that everybody had gone
to compliment him. But next day Ruyonga's abids came to warn me that
Mutesa had proposed to massacre us, but the cogours (sorcerers) had opposed
the king's plans. Without placing much faith in this story Iput myself on guard.
On the 12th I bade Mutesa farewell. During the day he sent me presents-
ten tusks, some bark-cloth, some antelope skins, two spears, a shield, a drum
etc. He informed me that the presents intended for His Highness the Khedive
and Your Excellency would be sent later, as he had not had time to prepare
them. There was not a word about Abu Bakr and the Khotarias. The 13th and
14th passed in goings and comings on the part of Mutesa's officers, counting
my baggage. On the 15th, seeing that the day was passing like the previous
evening, I consigned all my baggage to Mitanda, the officer who was to accom-
pany us. I caused my ammunition to be carried by Ruyonga's abids and struck
camp. At the first station Mitanda rejoined us. (He said) our baggage should
arrive. Mutesa had severely punished the officers responsible for the delay.
ThenceforwardMitanda directed our march. He made us take a thousand circuits
48 UGANDA JOURNAL
and made continual halts, giving as reasons a thousand pretexts which were
more or less ridiculous. At Kaganda, the boundary of the land of Buganda,
I was detained for 8 days. Mitanda wanted to wait for the rest of the baggage.
According to himself the king is sending me 100 cattle. Mitanda is ill. I endure
all this. I want to know how far the hypocrisy and infamy of these abids will go.
On 29 June an officer of Mutesa arrives with more than 1,000 Baganda
carrying spears and shields. I am surprised at this deployment of forces. At
the same time the partizans of Ruyonga, who have long taken refuge in Buganda,
come and demand that I shall take them back to their own country, and also
inform me as to Mutesa's projects.
Mutesa is buoyed up with the foolish hope that he can take possession
of my person and of the troops of His Highness the Khedive. He wishes to keep
us with him in the same way as he has done with Abu Bakr and the Khotarias.
For this purpose he is in communication with Kabarega and we shall be attacked
by the Banyoro and the Baganda at the same time.
I cannot believe these fables. However, for safety's sake I inform Mitanda
and Munkara that, when we actually enter enemy territory, I shall ask them
to follow us without mingling in our ranks and I invite them, in case they hear
gunfire, not to approach us, as the troops will not be able to distinguish them
from the abids of Kabarega. At these words Mitanda and Munkara cry out,
saying that they wish to die with us and that I must not place any reliance in the
words of Ruyonga's abids. These people, who excuse themselves before they have
been accused and before anybody has spoken to them about the information
which has been given by Ruyonga's people, give me complete information
as to the intention of the Baganda. I realize that, in order to frustrate all their
plans, it is necessary to make rapid marches. In 4 days, despite flooded plains
and torrents, I reach Mruli. The Baganda had encamped with us at Merimba,
Lugogo and Wakituku successively. Our guides constantly tried to lead us
to the east, but I took them without ceasing along the right road.
On 4 July, when entering (the district of) Mruli, some of the Baganda
followed us. They had all our baggage with them and our cattle and two Khota-
rias, who contrary to my orders had remained with the cattle. I sent a patrol
to reconnoitre the neighbourhood. We were absolutely bare, without provisions
or the least bit of cover. We spent a terrible night, devoured by mosquitoes
and at every moment expecting an attack.
On the following day, the 5th, we strike camp and set out to march towards
the River Kafu, which we have to cross.
At this stage we must interrupt Linant's narrative to mention an incident
which impressed itself vividly on the memories of the local inhabitants and which
they perpetuated in dance, to which they gave Linant's nickname of Abdul
Aziz. Linant set out on his mule smoking a pipe. Beside him marched a soldier
carrying his gun. Suddenly things began to happen. Linant handed his pipe
to the soldier in exchange for the gun (Wilson and Felkin, op. cit. ii, 45).
To resume Linant's own story:
We had been marching half an hour. Suddenly a thousand drums sound.
The grass disappears under the heads of the abids. In front of us, to the right
and left, behind and everywhere the negroes surround us, covering a space
of several kilometres.
Iput the ammunition in the centre as well as Ruyonga's women and children.
Hamam Agha is in the rear. I spread the riflemen on the wings and march
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 49
forward. They are forbidden to fire until the abids are only fifty metres away.
Then a general discharge completely disperses the negroes in front of us and
on the left flank.
This is the result I wished for. All that I have in front of me is the River
Kafu, which is brim-full and has a very rapid current. I do not hesitate one
instant. I immediately cause some huts half a mile from there to be demolished
and I build a raft. Amongst all there are only fifteen persons who can swim.
So the crossing will be long and difficult. The opposite bank is completely domi-
nated by the bank on which we are. However, there is not a single abid. However,
as a precaution Ifirst of all make 10 soldiers pass over-then the ammunition,
the children, the women and all those who could not swim. Then the rest are
thrown into the river.
The abids left us alone until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The crossing of the
Kafu lasted from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock. I have not had to regret the least
accident. It was not the same on the side of the abids, who had numerous dead,
amongst whom must be reckoned a full brother of Kabarega, who led the
attack. A woman prisoner, whom I caused to be released, told us that we owed
our safety to the fact that the abids had been waiting for us for only 3 days
and that all Kabarega's abids had not yet arrived.
I reached Kissembo on the 8th, having marched 27 miles in 3 days. (Shukry,
opp. cit. pp. 278-9).
Linant concluded by expressing his firm conviction that Mutesa had insti-
gated the attack and left it to Kabarega to carry it out. He was undoubtedly
influenced in reaching this conclusion by the information which he received
from Ruyonga's people. Doubtless he was wise in the precautions he took as
a result of receipt of these reports, but the fact remains that their accusations
may have been entirely without foundation. But there is no need to hold a
special brief for Mutesa. Accepting all the facts upon which Linant based his
suspicions at their strongest, they would appear to be equivocal and capable
of an innocent, as well as a guilty, interpretation. The visit of Kabarega's
emissaries to Mutesa and their sudden departure does not of itself prove
the existence of a conspiracy between Mutesa and their ruler. As other travellers
to Buganda record, envoys not infrequently arrived from Bunyoro on visits
to the court in Buganda. They had divers reasons for such visits, One important
one was to spy out the land and to report back to Kabarega as to the state of
the rival king and kingdom. When they arrived in June 1875, it was already
common talk that Linant was just about to set out on his return journey by
way of Mruli. As the writings of Linant and Gordon show, Kabarega was
anxious to stop communication between Buganda and the Egyptian adminis-
tration. He therefore needed no incitement by Mutesa to endeavour to bar
the way at Mruli. Mutesa on the other hand was most anxious that the way
should be kept open: hence the size of the Baganda escort and the insistence
of its leaders that they must accompany Linant as far as Mruli and their obvious
fear of the visitation of the royal wrath upon them, if they failed to carry out
their mission. If in fact there had really been any collaboration between them
and Linant's assailants, one feels that they would have joined with the Banyoro
in the attack and that Linant's party would almost certainly have been mas-
sacred. Linant had encountered a number of obstructions and delays on his way
from Mruli to Buganda. As his diary shows, at the time of his return journey
he was a very sick and much overwrought young man and the same
irritating tactics on his return journey appeared to confirm all his suspicions.
50 UGANDA JOURNAL
Somewhat understandably, Gordon at first adopted Linant's view of the
situation, although he was disposed to believe some of the information came
from prejudiced, and therefore unreliable, sources. For the time being both
he and Linant consoled themselves with reports that Rumanika of Karagwe
was putting a stop to the ivory trade between Buganda and Zanzibar and that
Mutesa has several brothers, who are in revolt against him, and that it is
probable that one of these brothers will cause his downfall, or perhaps his
death, Then as regards his successor, we shall act according to circumstances.
(Shukry, op. cit. pp. 287, 292). But all this was but wishful thinking. Rumanika
might follow the example of other African rulers by placing difficulties in the
way of transporting ivory through his territory, but he would appear never to
have put a ban on the traffic, which yielded to him a very considerable revenue
in payment of hongo as a wayleave. As for Mutesa's brethren, Mutesa himself
had, as already said, adopted thorough going means of eliminating danger
from that quarter. Finally, on 27 April, 1876, the Mudir of Patiko reported
one hundred and fifty blacks, together with one of Mutesa's officers, came
to Patiko, carrying the luggage of Abdul Aziz Linant and of the officers and
men who were with Linant at the time of the latter's fighting with Kabarega.
Linant and his men had left these behind them.
It is true that 9 months had elapsed since Linant and his escort of Baganda
had parted company, but the fact that this property was handed over intact
showed, as Gordon wrote, that
Mutesa's behaviour is correct and that Mutesa is friendly towards the
Government. (Shukry, op. cit. pp. 338-9).
To return to Linant's own conduct at the time when he was attacked at
Mruli, his figures may be exaggerated and his report may be histrionic and the
limelight may be unduly cast upon the writer. The attack appears never to have
been seriously pressed home, but Linant had with him only a small body of
trained troops with a very limited supply of ammunition and a number of non-
combatants, including women and children for whose safety he was responsible.
In the circumstances in which he found himself placed his disposition of the
meagre forces at his disposal was masterly and all due credit must go to him for
having taken his party without a casualty across the Kafu and on to Foweira.
From Foweira Linant proceeded to Patiko, where he took a short rest.
Finding the Aswa River and all the neighboring streams in full flood, he
then made his way across the Nile at Ibrahimieh (Dufile) and proceeded down
the left bank of the river to Labore where he met Gordon on 22 August 1875.
On arrival he handed over the mail which Stanley had delivered to him
and which included the historic letter to the Daily Telegraph. This is explicitly
confirmed by letters among the Gordon correspondence recently acquired by
the British Museum. Writing next day (23rd) to his sister Augusta, he says
You will see Stanley's letters before Ishalldo so. Send me the Daily Telegraph
with his account. Later, on 29th, he complains though I wrote Stanley a civil
note, he cooly sends me his packet of letters, the postage of which will cost
me 1, without a line.
Linant was also busily engaged on an official report of his journey,
which Gordon in due course forwarded to Cairo. On 23 August he also wrote
another account thereof to send to his father. At the end of that letter he said:
A new mission has been entrusted to me. I shall leave in a few days to estab-
lish stations between Foweira and Lake Mwutan on the Somerset branch.
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 51
I shall go on into the Lake and come out of it in the river, which I shall then
descend as far as the rapids at Makedo, where I shall again meet General
Gordon, who will have reached this point, which has become the centre of our
operations. I hope to have finished in a few months, 3 or 4 at the most. We
shall then put a steamer on the Lake and with God's assistance in 15 months or
two years we shall have put a steamer on the Ukerewe Lake. (Bull. de Soc.
Kh6diviale de G6ogr., 1876-7, pp. 90-1.)
But this was not to happen. The rest of the story must come from Charles
On 24 April Linant accompanied Gordon in the search for the steamer,
s.s. Khedive, which had been brought up the Nile to Labore. Believing that the
vessel was on the east bank, they had crossed over to that side of the river
with an armed party. There they were attacked by a band of hostile natives,
whom they succeeded in driving off with rifle fire. Linant spent the next day in
camp writing letters whilst Gordon continued his search for the steamer.
That evening, Gordon tells us,
he (Linant) said that, if I had no objection, he would go over to the east
bank and burn the houses of the hostile natives. As I feared they might attack
the steamer, and that, if worried they would let it alone, I assented, and sent
36 soldiers, two officers and three irregular soldiers, with two boxes of am-
munition. Each man had 30 rounds of ammunition in his pouch.
About 8 a.m. they started and I heard a few shots now and then. About
noon they were on the hills; and I saw Linant, in a red shirt I had given him,
on the hill. The men and he seemed quite at home. It is not more than 13 miles
from the station. They stayed there till 2 p.m., and then I did not see them
on the hill. At 4.30 p.m. I went for a walk, and was called back by hearing them
fire the guns at my station. When I got my glass, I saw about 30 or 40 natives
running down the eastern bank of the river just below the rocky hills. I thought
it was nothing but that they had rushed down to see the steamer. I sat down
with my glass and watched them retire, which they did, while having the range
I began to drop bullets near them.
To my horror, 10 minutes afterwards, I saw a man, clothed, walking without
his musket on the opposite bank, and I sent a boat for him. The man came.
'Where is your rifle?' 'The natives have got it.' 'Why did you separate from
the rest?' 'They were all killed.' 'How?' 'They had finished their ammunition.'
After searching for the steamer and finding that she had gone over to the
west bank of the river, Gordon returned to the station
and found that 4 men of Linant's party had escaped. They had let themselves
be surrounded, had used their ammunition (so they say) and then the natives
rushed in. Linant, who was dressed in a red shirt, was killed by two lance
wounds, one in the neck and one in the back. It appears they carried the ammu-
nition some way from the nuggar, after they had crossed, but sent it back after-
wards. I hope this story of the ammunition is the true cause of the affair, for
the natives have taken 33 Sniders and Remingtons. (Birkbeck Hill, Colonel
Gordon in Central Africa, pp 109.-11).
Writing one day later to his sister, Gordon said:
Linant, I feel sure, fell a victim to the red shirt. It was a new one and very
brilliant. The natives thought, 'here is a prize worth trying for', and my belief
is that the affair was not the result of ammunition, but that our men were
separated in pursuit. Some rushed in on Linant, whom they killed and then
there was a sauve qui peut. They never fired 1,200 or 1,300 cartridges away.
52 UGANDA JOURNAL
One man owns that he had 4 or 5 cartridges left. It appears also that the trum-
peter was killed-one of the first-so that there was no means of getting the
men together. The fall of the Red Shirt must have given great courage to the
natives. ibidd. p. 114).
The previous day he had written saying
I am not to blame, for Linant was the first to propose accompanying my
men, and he had, by his own account, defeated thousands while on his way
back from Mutesa. ibidd. pp. 111-12),
It is clear that this punitive expedition was not hastily organized at the
suggestion of Linant. Gordon had already resolved upon it and set the neces-
sary machinery in motion before Linant offered his services on the preceding
evening. Even if Linant had not joined the expedition, it would none the less
have set out under the command of the senior of the two officers who had been
detailed for the task.
It may be asked whether the operation was justified. Gordon's excuse
appears to be that of a very overwrought man, who was understandably an-
xious about the safety of his steamer; but that does not mean that the end which
he had in view, was justified by the means which he planned to employ. The
large quantity of ammunition which was issued for what was referred to as
a mere hut-burning expedition seems to call for comment. 'Worrying' and
schrecklichkeit are synonymous expressing different shades of a common mean-
ing, and one has the feeling that the latter word better fits the case than the
former. The one extenuating circumstance is that the person who gave the order
was a thoroughly tired man, who was living in a trying climate and was suffering
from frayed nerves.
Certain incidents which occurred during the operation seem to call for ex-
planation. Why were the boxes of reserve ammunition sent back almost im-
mediately after the party had crossed the river? And why were those two hours
apparently spent in inactivity at the top of a hill? The answers to these and other
questions will probably never be ascertained, but one thing stands out clearly.
Not for the first time nor for the last time in African warfare, trained regular
troops had to pay dearly for grossly underrating the fighting potentialities of
One may well agree with Gordon that the conspicuous red shirt which he
was wearing was the final cause of Linant's undoing. It was the melancholy
end to what might have been a career of great promise. It is easy to point to
indiscretions and mistakes into which from time to time he fell. But it has to
be remembered that when he arrived in the Sudan he was a comparatively
young man, lacking knowledge of the peoples amongst whom his lot was cast.
Within a very few days of his reporting for duty to Gordon, he was sent off on
an important assignment. Before he set out, there had been little or no time
for Gordon of anyone else to warn him of pitfalls which he should endeavour
to avoid, or as to the appropriate mode of dealing with those government
officials and African chiefs with whom he was likely to come in contact. Hence
the credulity which at times led him to form over-hasty judgement and to
make decisions without mature consideration. Moreover, as his diary shows
and as arm-chair critics should remember, he was frequently stricken by severe
bouts of fever and had to carry on before he had really recovered. He had ni
him all the makings of a good administrative officer, which a few more years'
experience would have matured.
ERNEST LINANT DE BELLEFONDS 53
1. At a later date Long asseted that Mutesa had agreed to become a vassal of the Khedive.
The evidence which proves this to be a pure fabrication is too long to set out here, but the
falsity of this story is thoroughly exposed by B. M. Allen, Gordon and the Sudan, pp. 87-96.
See also M. F. Shukry, The Khedive Ismail and Slavery in the Sudan, p. 197.
2. The full reports are to be found in Shukry, op. cit. pp. 224-32. On 13 February
1875, Linant reported that the Mudir of Ibrahimieh (Dufile) "perfectly understands Your
Excellency's ideas concerning the administration and colonization of the country. The
abids (natives) come in safety bringing their durra (flour). What is unusual is that they do
not exact the price immediately. It is held on account and the whole amount is paid in full
at the end of the year." ibidd. pp. 229-30). Acquaintance with the mentality of the people
concerned leads one to suggest that the information given to Linant does not ring true. Other
statements of like nature suggest that from time to time dust was being thrown in Linant's
3. Long camped at this place, which he calls Shagah, on 19 September 1874, on his
return journey from Buganda. (Stone, op. cit. p. 76.)
4. Wad al Mak's sin of omission on this occasion appears mild in contrast to his con-
duct a month or two before. On 27 January 1875, Gordon reported to Khairy Pasha that,
when a local chief at Pabbo raised difficulties about supplying porters, "Wad al Mak, who
was drunk, gave orders that he should be hanged and he was hanged." (Shukry, op. cit.
p. 215). Gordon was furious at the time and vowed that he would inflict condign punish-
ment on the offender, but later relented because "he is an old black and knows the country
perfectly" (G. B. Hill, Colonel Gordon in Central Africa, p. 67.)
5. There is no further reference in either Linant's letter or diary to these Dongolawi.
According to report subsequently received by Gordon, Kabarega sent them under the com-
mand of one of their officers on some expedition. "The Dongolawi quarrelled with this officer
and killed him. Kabarega recalled them and massacred them." (Gordon to Khairy Pasha,
27 August 1875; Shukry op. cit. p. 293).
6. Linant subsequently recorded in his diary that, after his arrival at Mutesa's capital,
"Idi, the king's clerk, who had been sent to meet me, told me that he had brought back
ninety women, twenty-five men, two hundred cows, a large number of goats, all of which
he had taken as plunder on our way. One most curious act was this. Amongst our escort
was a certain Moreko, who travelled in perfect harmony with Idi until we arrived at his
village, through which we passed. There, Idi, taking no account of comradeship which had
united them on the way, set to work to requisition Moreko's habitation, dealing with him
in the same manner as any other person. Moreko wanted to oppose this. They came to blows.
Idi killed two of Moreko's men and took possession of all his women who were on his land.
Moreko was deemed very fortunate to escape at this price. The least complaint against Idi
would have brought about capital punishment for the wretched man who resisted the rapine
of a royal messenger." Idi was an alien from Zanzibar and not a Muganda. He may have
been more high-handed than other emissaries of the Kabaka. But there is little doubt that
whatever their nationality, those travelling through the country on the king's business-
in the words of Falstaff-'used the king's press damnably.'
7. The title of a chief of the Ngeye (Colubus Monkey) clan, whose headquarters were
at Mutundwe. Until the reign of Kiyimba, Sebata was the hereditary Kago or county chief of
8. Ramadan had accompanied Baker to Masindi and had been sent by him to Kabarega
after the attack on Baker's camp and had been detained as a prisoner by Kabarega, but man-
aged to make his escape to Buganda, where Mutesa took him into his employment. (Gordon
to Khairy Pasha, 17 April and 27 August 1875. Shukry, op. cit. pp. 251, 291).
9. On 18 April Mutesa had asked Linant to build a stone house. He had replied that
there was no suitable stone in the country. Linant records in his diary that on the afternoon
of 25 April, after Mutesa's interview of this Fakir, he went to a stream about half an ho ur
away to install brickmaking. "The place is suitable. Ferruginous clay abounds and I hope
to succeed in making suitable bricks." Apolo Kagwa, Basekabaka, p. 130 tells us that the
bricks could not be properly baked. When Emin visited Mutesa in the following year, he
was shown "an unfinished red-brick building, a mosque began at the commund of Mutesa
by Abd el Aziz, but subsequently abandoned." (Uganda Jl, 25 (1961), 6) It is very probable
that the building was intended to be Mutesa's private residence and that the fact that brick-
making operations began on the day of the Fakir's meeting with Mutesa was a mere coin.
cidence. One hazards the conjecture that in Mutesa's eyes palaces took priority over mosques
The Fakir remained in Buganda after Linant's departure. He was recalled by Gordon in
1876 (Gordon to Khairy Pasha, 9 September 1876; Shukry op. cit. p. 357).
54 UGANDA JOURNAL
10. This indictment of the Zanzibar traders must be taken at its face value. It is clearly
a bit of special pleading based on the information of persons who had personal reasons
to paint their competitors in the darkest-possible colours. Without holding any speical
brief for the Zanzibar traders, who were certainly not all plaster saints, the general run of
them was not as bad as here painted.
11. This may have been Magimbi Kamanyiro, whose career is described in Uganda Jl.,
24 (1960), 242-52.
12. For the history of Koki see Kagwa, Basekabaka p. 300-02 and Empisa pp. 313-4:
Kalibala, The Customs of the Baganda, pp. 167-8 (an English translation of the Empisa):
also Lanning 'Notes on the History of Koki', Uganda J., 23 (1959), 162-72.
13. According to later reports the troops in question were members of Bakers' compagnie
delite, the 'Forty Thieves'. I have been unable to trace the origin of this statement. I have
not found it in any more or less contemporary account. One feels that, with their experience
under Baker's leadership of bush warfare, they would have behaved in a more soldierly
fashion than that of the troops who were with Linant. In justice to their memory I feel that
this story should be consigned to the same limbo as that of the finding of Stanley's letter in
Linant's jackboot. On 1 January 1878 Romolo Gessi reports that Abd-el-Rahman, one of
the 'Forty Thieves', who had later accompanied Long to Mutesa, had been killed in the
fighting with Suleiman Zubeir in Bahr el Ghazal (Zaghi, Romolo Gessi e la Riconquista del
Sudan, p. 273.)
Uganda Journal, 28, 1 (1964) pp. 55-60
THE BIRDS OF MAKERERE HILL:
NOTES AND CHECK-LIST
by PRISCILLA M. ALLEN and P. J. FRIPP
A check-list has two functions. It enables the more knowledgeable or-
nithologist to check his or her own observations with those of others. This is
particularly valuable in the identification of uncommon or difficult species.
It also serves as a guide to the less experienced or newly-arrived enthusiast.
The wealth of bird-life in East Africa is immense, and so many birds are
truly beautiful that people from other countries where "birds" may have only
been pigeons, sparrows and starlings are fascinated into taking an interest in
the avifauna. To them, a check-list is too detailed. All they require at the start
is a list of birds that they are likely to see without too much trouble on a stroll.
We, therefore, have included a very short essay on the commoner birds which
we hope will be of use.
The title limits the observations to Makerere Hill, but it does not mean
that the birds are restricted to the Hill. Indeed, many of them can be seen in the
gardens and open spaces of the surrounding district. This check-list can, there-
fore, serve as a reasonable guide to birds off the Hill, and perhaps be the nucleus
of a list for a larger area. Although there are several treatises which cover the
birds of East Africa, the most detailed and authoritative is Birds of Eastern
and North-eastern Africa by C. W. Mackworth-Praed and C. H. B. Grant.
Longmans. 2 Vols. For quick reference, we have given the species number of
each bird as it appears in Praed and Grant. Numbers 1 to 653 occupy Volume I
and 654 to 1578 can be found in Volume II.
It may be wondered why the list restricts itself to Makerere Hill. This is
due in part to circumstance. All the observers have lived on the Hill; hence the
pairs of binoculars have been relatively thick on the ground. The coverage
for a larger area, for instance Kampala District, would have been much less
and, it might be argued, less efficient. It may also be argued that the authors
would be most reluctant to offer a check-list of the birds of Kampala which by
its very nature should be reasonably complete. Makerere Hill is a much more
manageable area with which to deal.
We would like to acknowledge the cooperation of the several keen or-
nithologists on Makerere Hill, a number of them no longer in Uganda, who
have allowed us to use their lists, some of which cover several years of
NOTES ON THE MORE CONSPICUOUS BIRDS
Of the larger birds, the Pied Crow will soon be seen. The Hooded Vulture
should cause no difficulty. Several Falconidae are common. In particular
the Yellow-billed Kite which can be seen circling anywhere above the Hill.
Sometimes its shrill trilling whistle will call it to the attention. Mention might
be made of the Shikra which is particularly common in the various Gum tree
plantations, especially the one behind the wooden houses along Mary Stuart
No one can fail to notice the Eastern Grey Plantain-eater with its obscene
cackling laugh and top heavy antics when landing on a branch. Less extrovert
is the related Ross' Turaco with its red wings and yellow bill.
56 THE BIRDS OF MAKERERE HILL
The glorious crescendo of the White-browed Robin Chat is particularly
prominent behind the Guest House. Another song bird which can be seen as
well as heard is the African Thrush. There are many finches which can usually
be seen in the grass and among the hedges: these include the small red Fire-
finches and blue Cordon-Bleu, often seen together. The even-smaller Man-
nikins are very common in the more open areas, in particular behind the College
Main Building. Various Weaver Birds can be seen in almost any bushy locality.
The Black-and-White-Casqued Hornbill needs no description. It has been
observed to nest in the trees in the old Mitchell Hall area above the East
African Institute of Social Research.
The Black-headed Heron nesting in the tree near Makerere Hill Road
and the East African Institute of Social Research is a conspicuous and unique
feature. Another heron, the almost wholly white Cattle Egret, is quite com-
mon in the open spaces.
Shrikes are common. In particular, groups of Grey-Backed Shrikes
are often seen. Another shrike which is not as secretive as Praed and Grant
suggest is the Black-headed Gonolek, surely better named the Red-chested
Shrike-a glorious colour.
Probably the commonest, or at least the most noticeable, bird on the Hill
is the Yellow-vented or Dark-capped Bulbul, with its call of "quick, teacher,
The Woodland Kingfisher is not uncommon and one was seen for a long
time in and about the Gum trees near the College Mosque, usually perching
on the telephone wires.
Swallows are rare, but both the Little and African Swift can be seen around
the Main Building.
The Hadada Ibis with its unmistakable long downwards-curving bill can
often be seen on the lawns searching for insects in the soil. Periodically, usually
around the New Year, Makerere (and Kampala) is invaded by large numbers
of Abdim Storks with their long bills, dark backs and white chests.
The Flycatchers constitute a large group, but the most conspicuous is the
delightful Blue Flycatcher. It is always a pleasure to watch this most deli-
Pigeons and Doves are quite common; in particular the Red-eyed Dove
is often heard and seen.
Speckled Mousebirds with their long brown tails and red legs are parti-
cularly common in the hedges and amongst the foliage of trees.
The most common Starling is the noisy gregarious Ruppel's Long-Tailed
Africa's answer to the humming birds-the Sunbirds-are well represented
and cannot be mistaken for any other group. Their habits and curved bills
Wagtails are delightful birds. The Pied Wagtail can be seen throughout
the year, but the Yellow Wagtails are seasonal visitors.
Mention must be made of the Barbets. The Tinker birds are common,
revealing themselves through their monotonous metallic call. On the other
hand, the Double-toothed Barbet with its crimson head and chest and heavy
bill can often be seen and is especially addicted to ripe pawpaw.
CHECK LIST OF MAKERERE BIRDS 57
ENGLISH NAME SCIENTIFIC NAME PRAED &
Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala 34
An ancient colony of 20-25 nests occupies a tree (Antiaris) near the East
African Institute of Social Research.
Yellow-billed Egret Mesophoyx intermedius 38
Cattle Egret (Buff-backed Heron) Bubulcus ibis 42
Hammerkop Stork Scopus umbretta 53
Abdim's Stork Sphenorynchus abdimii 58
Hadada Hagedashia hagedash 65
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus 110
Seen once only. Out of its usual range. Common in Masai country.
Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus 111
Peregrine Falco peregrinus 112
Lanner Falco biarmicus 113
African Hobby Falco cuvieri 116
Cuckoo Falcon Aviceda cuculoides 130
Rare. Seen once only.
Yellow-billed Kite Milvus migrans 132
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus 133
Bat Hawk Machaeramphus alcinus 134
Had a nest in the tall Antiaris in the garden at the corner of Mvule Lane,
and was seen constantly until April, 1961. Still frequently seen at dusk.
African Hawk Eagle Hieraaetus spilogaster 143
Long-crested Hawk Eagle Lophoadtus occipitalis 149
Fish Eagle Cuncuma vocifer 160
One observer reported seeing a Fish Eagle attacking the heronry near the
East African Institute of Social Research in October 1963.
Little Sparrow Hawk Accipiter minullus 170
Great Sparrow Hawk Accipiter melanoleucus 174
Shikra Accipiter badius 176
Nests in the various clumps of Gum trees.
African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro 177
Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar 178
Scaly Francolin Francolinus squamatus 204
Quail Coturnix coturnix 211
Reported by one observer only.
Crested or Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum 245
Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata 386
Ring-necked Dove Streptopelia capicola 388
Common at Entebbe. One record on the Hill.
Laughing Dove Stigmatopelia senegalensis 392
Tambourine Dove Tympanistria tympanistria 394
Blue-spotted Wood-Dove Tutur afer 395
Green Pigeon Treron australis 401
Red-chested Cuckoo Cuculus solitarius 406
Levaillant's Cuckoo Clamator levaillantii 414
Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx cupreus 416
58 UGANDA JOURNAL
Didric Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius 417
Klaas's Cuckoo Chrysococcyx klaas 418
Blue-headed Coucal Centropus monachus 421
A common bird of the papyrus swamps. Not often seen in gardens.
White-browed Coucal Centropus superciliosus 423
Ross's Turaco Musophaga rossae 436
Eastern Grey Plantain-Eater Crinifer zonurus 438
Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus 442
Brown Parrot Poicephalus meyeri 449
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri 450
These are out of their range and may be escapees; but a pair lived on the
Hill for several years, and many observers saw them between September 1957
and July 1961.
Red-headed Love-Bird Agapornis pullaria 452
Broad-billed Roller Eurystomus glaucurus 463
Pigmy Kingfisher Ispidina picta 471
Woodland Kingfisher Halcyon senegalensis 473
Grey-headed Kingfisher Halcyon leucocephala 477
Striped Kingfisher Halcyon chelicuti 479
White-throated Bee-eater Aerops albicollis 486
Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill Bycanistes subcylindricus 500
Crowned Hornbill Tockus alboterminatus 509
Pied Hornbill Tockus fasciatus 510
Hoopoe Upupa sp. 517 or 518
Reported once. Species not identified.
Barn Owl Tyto alba 528
African Wood-Owl Ciccaba woodfordii 533
Scops Owl Otus scops 534
Verreaux's Eagle Owl Bubo lacteus 544
Large Eagle owls are commonly seen (and heard). They could be either
B. lacteus or B. africanus. Field identification is difficult in poor light.
Standard-wing Nightjar Macrodipteryx longipennis 563
One was found dead outside the Art School.
Pennant-wing Nightjar Semeiophorus vexillarius 564
Speckled mousebird Colius striatus 566
Black-breasted Barbet Lyblus rolleti 572
Double-toothed Barbet Lybius bidentatus 573
White-headed Barbet Lybius leucocephalus 576
Yellow-fronted Tinker-bird Pogoniulus chrysoconus 595
Lemon-rumped Tinker-bird Pogoniulus leucolaima 596
Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicosfuscescens 623
Brown-backed Woodpecker Ipophilus obsoletus 627
Grey Woodpecker Mesopicus goertae 630
Common Swift Apus apus 636
Little Swift Apus affinis 643
Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp 691
Yellow Wagtail Budytes sp. 695 699
Probably all these migrants have visited Makerere but the individual species
are difficult to identify in the field. The blue-headed Yellow Wagtail B.
flavus has definitely been identified.
THE BIRDS OF MAKERERE HILL 59
Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis 703
A dry-country bird. May have been a stray visitor. Reported only once near
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis 708
Yellow-throated Longclaw Macronyx croceus 716
Rosy-breasted Longclaw Macronyx ameliae 721
Only reported once, but unmistakable.
Dark-capped Bulbul Picnonotus tricolor 742
Yellow-throated Leaf-love Pyrrhurus flavicollis 749
Spotted Flycather Muscicapa striata 778
Pied Flycatcher Muscicapa hypoleuca 779
Reported only once on the Hill, but probably not uncommon. N.B. Praed
and Grant gives the breeding plumage of the male, but this migrant only
appears here in its winter dress which is like that of the female.
Dusky Flycatcher Alseonax adustus 781
Grey Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus 793
Black Flycatcher Melaenornis edolioides 798
Black-and-White Flycatcher Bias musicus 812
Black-headed Puff-backed Flycatcher Batis minor 820
Wattle-eye Platysteira cyanea 822
Blue Flycatcher Erannornis longicauda 872
Paradise Flycatcher Tchitrea viridis 832
Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher Tchitrea nigriceps 835
The picture in Praed and Grant does not show the cinnamon chest, which
is the distinguishing feature between this and T. viridis.
African Thrush Turdus pelios 840
The picture in Praed and Grant does not do justice to the colouring of this
Sooty Chat Myrmecocichla nigra 880
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra 883
White-browed Robin-Chat Cossypha heuglini 884
Snowy-headed Robin-Chat Cossypha niveicapilla 892
Brown-backed Scrub-Robin Erythropygia hartlaubi 914
Only reported once but not uncommon in the district.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus 959
Black-backed Apalis Apalis nigrescens 976
This is the male of the Buff-throated Apalis, Praed and Grant 972. In
'Birds of the Southern Third of Africa' P. & G. unite them as A.
Grey-capped Warbler Eminia lepida 993
Grey-backed Cameroptera Cameroptera brevicaudata 1011
Red-faced Cisticola Cisticola erythrops 1032
Winding Cisticola Cisticola galactotes 1033
Croaking Cisticola Cisticola natalensis 1036
These little grass-Warblers are common wherever the grass is allowed to
grow long; but exact identification is rather difficult, unless the calls are
Tawny-flanked Prinia Prinia subflava 1045
White-chinned Prinia Prinia leucopogon 1048
Striped Swallow Hirundo Abyssinica 1065
White-headed rough-wing Swallow Psalidoprocne albiceps 1080
Lesser Grey Shrike
Splendid Glossy Starling
Little Purple-banded Sunbird
Northern Brown-throated Weaver
Cinnyris venustus falkensteini
The description of this bird in Praed and Grant does not do justice to the
colours of the male.
(List closed 15 December, 1963).
Uganda Journal, 28, 1 (1964) pp. 61-74
by J. M. WEATHERBY, B. E. KIPKORIR and J. E. G. SUTTON
(Although written independently, the following 3 articles form a single
study. They deal with the problem of the Sirikwa as viewed from the standpoint
of an anthropologist (J.M.W.), a member of the Kalenjin group of peoples
(B.E.K.), and an archaeologist (J.E.G.S.). The Sirikwa traditions, and earth-
works associated with those traditions, exist in Kenya and extend also into
Uganda; a fair appraisal of the problem cannot be attempted without trans-
gressing the modern political boundaries. It is with this justification that the
latter two articles are included (against normal practice of publishing only
articles on Uganda) in order to add breadth to a study of the Sirikwa in Uganda.
(I). THE SIRIKWA IN THE ELGON AREA*
Ethnologists have so far been baffled by the mystery of the Sirikwa. From
time to time this tribe has provided subject matter for articles-mostly spe-
culative-and their name has been vaguely associated with certain remains
of hollows and stone huts found here and in western Kenya.
Variations of the name Sirikwa, for example Sirigoik, and even quite
different names for the same people, for example Kapceptien', occur among
a number of .tribes inhabiting parts of west Kenya and eastern Uganda, and
recently the name Sirikwa has been adopted by a regional group emerging in
Kitale (see Part II).
After careful enquiries made among members of the Sebei and Gondjek2
people of Mount Elgon from 1957 to 1963 and during a shorter period among
the Suk of southern Karamoja and the Tepes of Kadam, it is possible to set
down here information that may be of assistance in bringing us a little closer
to the truth about these people. It was the unanimous opinion of several elders
living in different parts of Mount Elgon as far removed from one another as
Sipi, Kabroron, Suam and Kimilili (three of whom were members of the much-
scattered clan of Kapsirikwa3) that the Sirikwa originated in an area east of and
not far from the mountain. Throughout investigations it has frequently been
stated that the Sebei-speaking groups of Elgon were mutual friends. Thus:
"we spoke the same language"; "they were the same as ourselves"; "we could
never fight one another". Probably only when the temptation to steal one
another's cattle was overwhelming did this friendship break down, and this seems
also to have applied to the Gondjek-Sirikwa relationship.
*The following are informants to whom I am chiefly indebted for valuable assistance:
Richard Bomet, Cepkwasta, N. Suam;
Henry Pokose, Suam;
Kapceptoborrt Brrgeyiwa, Bukwa;
Tendet arap Tek, Kimilili;
Naibe arap Komun, Kapsapkwoin.
62 UGANDA JOURNAL
Two elders of the Kapsirikwa clan thought that the Sirikwa originated in
Goin (country of the Gondjek) and two said that the Sirikwa had lived half
way up the mountain and had come down in the past to an area between Suam
and Bukwa. Others thought that they were a branch of the Kwop (Uasin
Gishu Masai) and that the Kwop Sirigoik and Sirikwa spoke a common lan-
guage in the past. It seems more or less generally agreed that the Sirikwa spoke a
language mutually intelligible with the Sebei-speaking groups of Elgon, pro-
bably not exactly the same but with a certain degree of variation such as occurs
in other cases among the Kalenjin groups of today. The name Cepkwaliel is
closely associated with the Sirikwa, being the old Sebei name for the good
grazing area between Kitale, Suam and Kapenguria. But the majority of in-
formants were of the opinion that the Sirikwa originated in the Elgeyo Cheray-
gan area before coming to Cepkwaliel, a few only being of the opinion that
they had lived in the Eldoret area before being chased to Cepkwaliel by the
Perrko Masai. Elders of the Sebei and Gondjek believe that the Sirikwa who
grazed their cattle in the plain, came up as far as the area between Suam and
Bukwa and lived in the homesteads of which now only some remains can be
seen in the uneven ground.
Of their homes only deep depressions remain in the earth, and in some stoney
areas the stones can be seen which the Sebei and Gondjek say were built-up
as a reinforcement to the mud-and-wattle walls of the rectangular (Kilalmet)
and sometimes circular houses, since the Masai were accustomed to thrust
their spears in through the mud walls. A good example of such remains can be
seen on the sparsely-wooded hilltop visible for many miles round on the Kwir-
rwat side of the Senendet river where one set was excavated in 1961 on Kabyoyon
Farm. The remains of homesteads are to be found on the sloping southern and
northern sides of the hill whence a permanent watch could cover approach
from those sides. No remains of houses are visible on the flat centre of the hill
which commands a view right out towards Cepkwaliel, while a roadway leads
out on the western side from the flat top towards the Suam valley, whither
cattle were doubtless led for watering. The clusters of homesteads on the north
and south sides were protected by a semi-circular rampart which the local people
say was formed in the customary way by piling-up the boma dung on the outer
side of a large boma fence. The women used to pass through an opening in
the fence to pile the dung, and as is now still the tendency, they piled it also
on the inside of the fence until told by the men to desist from spoiling the com-
pound and to take the dung outside. A large slow-growing tree of the kind used
traditionally by Sebei and related tribes for sacrificial fires and planted on
ceremonial occasions, stands on the hilltop conspicuous among the thorn trees
for its dark colour. The tree is Olea Chrysophylla, called in Sebei Korosyondet,
giving its name to the Koroswek or sacrificial fires. Bushes of Labotwit (Sola-
num) are to be seen growing everywhere among the ruined homesteads, the
yellow berries having been frequently used by the diviners (Kyepsogoyisiek)
and by the initiates who scattered them over the paths after circumcision wounds
had healed. The presence of small bushes of slow-growing mimosa thorn are
also locally considered to be evidence of past habitation, since the inhabitants cut
the large thorn trees from which slow-growing suckers sprout up everywhere.
Depressions in the ground are also noticeable where the Kiyeng (the place where
cattle tend to stand near the houses at mid-day) was situated and where the
animals were milked in bad weather. Here and there also big whetstones (Luteito)
lie among the short grass.
THE SIRIKWA 63
The whole country of Bukwa and Suam is visible to a person standing on
the bills of Riwa, the north-eastern sentinel of Elgon. That country, the habitat
of the Sirikwa, slopes gently away south-eastwards towards the plains of
Cepkwaliel. From the Riwa hills the observer can easily make out the fortified
hill of Kwirrwat, the vantage point of the Sirikwa, which stands out sharply
against the dark background of the forested Suam valley, commanding a strong
position against invaders. Not far from the same hill of the Sirikwa, on a rocky
north slope, are the remains of what was once a large cave which they occupied.
Local tradition relates that at a time before the Masai attacks, which finally
dispersed the Sirikwa, a tremendous rockfall took place, burying once and for
all large numbers of them. Those who remained became the victims of the later
Masai attacks. This cave is known by the name of Kamukwon or Korripmukwon.
Sebei informants seem unanimous in claiming that their ancestors grazed
their cattle alongside the Sirikwa in Cepkwaliel-indeed today they look out
with longing at the rich plain that was once open to them. An aged chief of the
Gondjek said that before the dislocation of the Gondjek the Bororiet of Kipsar-
rtuk had been situated in Cepkwaliel and that after the arrival of the Europeans
the Bororiet moved to between Kamugeyiwa and Kimilili under their dimi-
nutive but very rich chief Kasiss. The name Sirikwa has sometimes been des-
cribed as the name of a Bororiet and elders have said that clans of that Bororiet
who formed the Sirikwa were Kaborro, Kabyas (now mainly in the Bororiet
of Kono on the north slopes of Elgon), Kabonyei and Kagumei (in the area
supposed by Sebei to have been originally occupied by Sirikwa between Suam
and Bukwa). Another informant whose clan is Kabai says that his clan origin-
ated among the Sirikwa. His aged mother said that the founder of the Kabai
clan was Kebai who, after the defeat of the Sirikwa, settled on Elgon between
the Atari and Negenge rivers with his six sons and that when he settled he burnt
a Koroswek (sacrificial fire) at Mutioro near Kapchorwa.
The dispersal of the Sirikwa is the main historical event to be gathered
from oral traditions about them. It appears that on that occasion they suffered
a very severe defeat which scattered them completely. Their enemies were the
Perrko Masai, Suk and Karamojong. It is however not clear in what sequence
of time the attacks took place, although the final blow seems to have been
at the hands of the Perrko Masai. Some elders are of the opinion that the Masai
attacked the Sirikwa in the time of Korongoro (circa 1819) and the general
impression is that the dispersal of the Sirikwa occurred before the main Suk
and Elgeyo raids against the Sebei. The Karamojong appear to have been the
first attackers of the Elgon tribes, and the 1830's were a period of Karamojong
and Suk raiding.
It is the opinion of some informants, and among them members of the Kap-
sirikwa clan, that at the time of the final defeat of the Sirikwa by the Perrko
Masai, the Sirikwa had been attacked by Karamojong and were taken at a
disadvantage by the Masai, and that the Gondjek, seeing the situation and want-
ing cattle, took their sport. Finally defeated, the Sirikwa spread out in three
main directions as described in the following paragraphs.
1. The largest party, headed by their leader, went north into the plain
between Kadam and Elgon via Kiriki (according to one informant, round via
Kapenguria). Before leaving their homeland they are said to have prophesied to
their conquerors saying "now you are in our country but you cannot remain there,
other people will come and settle there and if you remain you will die". As
64 UGANDA JOURNAL
they went down into the northern plain they aie said to have sung the Kipsiriria
a famous lament, Tumd'atangan, which has now been forgotten. There exists
also another lament very old and probably dating from Korongoro time which
the Kimnyikewo and Kapleladj elders once knew. It is known as the Tumd'-
Aceptoriss and refers to a raid by the Masai on cattle near Suam and is thought
to be connected with the Sirikwa. As the larger party continued northward
they were attacked by the Suk who took some of their cattle and, unaccustomed
to the heat, the Sirikwa suffered greatly. According to some accounts they turned
towards the slopes of Elgon to seek refuge among the Sebei, but fighting broke
out when the Sebei stole their cattle. According to others a certain number of them
continued towards Napak (Ungai) whence four or five clans turned back again
to Elgon, while some are even thought to have pressed on west of Napak.
Tepes elders report that some of their tribe migrating to Sebei from Kadam,
on account of famine in the 1880s, met people called Sirikwa who had been
expelled from a habitat east of Elgon. Those who are said to have turned back
up the north slopes of Elgon are reported to have gone up into the north-
western area of Sipi and Bugisu. Here again accounts vary. One elder of the
Kapsirikwa clan said that the four or five clans which returned from Napak
to Elgon climbed up to Buginyanya where they remained until the Bagisu
gave trouble. Subsequently two clans remained there and the others left because
they hated the Bagisu.
It is worth noting here that the Babukusu of Elgon Nyanza have a clan
called Silikwa who are said to have broken away with them from the Bagisu
and to have come from a place called Mumbai. Mumbai would in that case
most likely be the country of Mbai where the Mbaiek, the western group of
Sebei live, comprising the Bororiosiek around Sipi. Another account says that
after entering the plains the Sirikwa had fought with the Karamojong and had
settled near Ngenge, but failed to live on good terms with the Sebei and were
driven as far west as Bugweri. At a later date they returned to settle near Sipi
and formed the Bagweri group whom the Sebei call by the name of Bometiek.
It should be mentioned that among the clans of the Bometiek is the clan Kap-
sirikwa. It is reported by another member of the Kapsirikwa clan that, unable
to stand the heat of the plain, they came up into Sebei on the Kapchorwa
side, failed to agree with the Sebei and were pushed out west again where
they met the Bagweri tribe near Nakaroge (near the Mbale-Soroti road)
and were temporarily absorbed, or at least lived among the Bagweri, but
later, becoming estranged and being told that they were Sebei, they returned
to the area below Sipi, which is today the main habitat of the Bometiek. Results
of investigations among the Bometiek give rise to the great probability that
they themselves reached their present habitat about the middle of the 19th
2. Of the second main dispersal group, some who came to be called Sirigoik
went to an area near the Nandi east of the Nzoia. They were iron workers,
for which craft the Sirikwa seem to have had a general reputation. They were
driven further by the Masai, passing a hill near Broderick Falls and settling
in an area known to the Gondjek as the country of the Todjeek. These latter were
also called Kitongik which is a word meaning ironworkers. The Todjeek,
now partly dispersed and said to be speaking a language borrowed from Bantu,
are thought by certain Gondjek and Sebei to have been originally Sirikwa.
When driven still further by the Masai, some went to what is now the Kabarras
reserve from whence some returned again to the Gondjek country.
THE SIRIKWA 65
3. The third main dispersal group is said to have gone back up the mountain
over the Teriet (the upper regions) and down the north-west side to the Bometiek
area, meeting up once more with some of their countrymen. Mention has
been made above that the Sirikwa were reputed to have been ironworkers.
In the opinion of certain elders they worked iron also for the Sebei when living
in their own area east of Elgon. In connection with this, one of the informants
who lives on the mountain above Cepkwasta between Suam and Bukwa,
showed the writer iron slag and remains of tuyeres for iron smelting which were
found 21 feet below the ground when digging the foundations of his modern
The form of hut building practised by the Sirikwa has for long been a subject
for speculations (see Part III). Of great importance in this connection are
the views of the local people about the hut remains to be found in their own
areas. One knowledgeable elder of the Gondjek relates that when he was a child
he accompanied some old people to the area where the Sirikwa had lived bet-
ween Suam and Bukwa. They showed him the remains of the houses where
stone foundations could be seen and said "this is where the Sirikwa lived long
ago." He explained that the method of building was to dig a hole and then
to build the walls of stone and earth. Cross beams formed the roof, followed
by grass and finally by layers of earth and dung, after the fashion of the roof-
building of the Kilalmet4 houses of the Masopyisiek. He said that he had been
told that grass grew on top of the house. This sounds like a truthful observation,
since roof grass is a common sight among the homesteads of the Masopyisiek,
when the housewife has for some time neglected to smear the roof with fresh
dung*. He also said that stones were thrown into the cattle huts to prevent
the concave floor from becoming a sea of mud in wet weather. This is a common
practice in bad weather in the homesteads of the Masopyisiek. A report6 on
the excavations carried out by Miss S. Pearce at Kabyoyon Farm at Kwirrwat
near Suam in east Elgon describes the finding of the foundations of a house in
the form of a figure of eight. The opinion of the Sebei living nearby is that these
were two round adjoining huts with a communicating doorway, one of them
serving as Ndjorut (animal hut) the other as the living quarters. It was explained
further that although the rectangular Kilalmet houses were used by the Sebei
in the past at that lower altitude, the tendency was to build round houses for
temporary occupation and that the round house was the most frequent type used
by people who were moving about.
An examination of the remains of rectangular Kilalmet houses among the
Masopyisiek has shown that as the abandoned hut site slowly deteriorates
the remains resolve into a deep pit7 full of luxuriant vegetation. The first stage
shows the rotting uprights of the whole rectangular structure with the Ndjorut
-which occupies well over half of the rectangle-already a depression in the
ground through the continual scraping-out of dung by the housewife. In the
next stage the uprights have more-or-less disappeared. No traces of anything
are to be seen on the grass-covered living section and the Ndjorut is a shape-
less hollow full of stinging nettles and young tree growth. The third stage,
which is to be seen in the ancient hut sites inside the forest, consists simply
of a large round pit out of which grow well-nourished trees and vegetation. It is
interesting to compare the report from Kadam Tepes elders: how in the past
*An account of the flat-roofed houses of the Masopyisiek (or Musopisiek) by Mr. I. F. Thomas
appeared in Uganda JI. Volume 27, (1963) pp. 115-22. (eds.).
66 UGANDA JOURNAL
they also built two small round adjoining huts for animals and people respect-
ively; and how they fortified the lower part of the walls with stones to keep out
the wild animals which could otherwise break through the wicker-work sides.
This would possibly account for adjoining stone circles found in the plain
north of Kadam near remains of cultivation.
The conclusions to be drawn from the above information on hut building
would therefore be:
(a) Hollows in the ground-these can be the deteriorated hut sites of either
round or square huts, or of huts deliberately dug into a lower level;
(b) Stones-stones in the form of low walls were used as protection against
spear-thrusts and/or wild animals. Stones were also thrown onto the
concave floor of the Ndjorut;
(c) Figure-of-eight foundations-these are probably the result of round,
adjoining structures built by people on the move.
The Sirikwa had ritual-experts who doubtless functioned in the same way
as the ritual-experts of the Sebei, Nandi, Suk, etc. Of the Sirikwa experts only
two names are known. Muneria was one who was active among the Sirikwa
when they inhabited Cepkwaliel before the dispersal; he is said to have organized
raids against the Gondjek at one time. Nothing is known of the other who was
The name of the Sirikwa will live on in the clan of that name, and in the
other clans who claim Sirikwa origin, and perhaps in the laments which they
are said to have sung and in the songs about Cepkwaliel which can be heard
occasionally when the Sebei are playing their Bugandit8; but any further facts
are fading rapidly in the mists of oral tradition.
NOTES TO PART I
1. Dorobo name for Sirikwa. See Huntingford, J. Roy. Anthropological Inst., Vol. LIX.
2. One of the Sebei-speaking group of peoples living in the Goin area comprising the south-
east corner of Elgon below Suam and above Bungoma. Formerly the Gondjek were more-
predominantly pastoral than the Sebei proper. They have at times been also called Kony
and even Elgon Masai: see article by same author in Uganda Jl., 26, part 2, (1962), pp.
200-212, where the six Sebei-speaking groups are distinguished. (Eds.).
3. Sometimes called Kapsang.
4. Old Sebei term for territorial division.
5. Sebei term for rectangular flat-roofed huts.
6. Uganda Museum Annual Report for 1961 p. 5 and report of the British Institute of
History and Archaeology 1959-62 pp. 4-5.
7. See I. Q. Orchardson Kipsigis, (Nairobi, 1961) p. 6. "Sirikwa holes" formed by old cattle
8. Sebei term for lyre.
Uganda Journal, 28, 1 (1964) pp. 67-8
(I). THE SIRIKWA IN MARAKWET
A new and large county council has been formed in the Rift Valley Region
of Kenya by the amalgamation of Elgeyo-Marakwet, Trans-Nzoia, Uasin
Gishu and Nandi districts and named Sirikwa.
Whether the "Sirikwa" as an ethnic group ever existed does not seem to be
disputed, but whether they exist as such anywhere today is an open question.
In Marakwet at present, however, a small section of the tribe going by the totem
name Tula (and hence called Kaptul) claims to be "Sirikwa" in ancestry.
The story of the Kaptul as told to the writer is a combination of legend and
historical probability. Part of it, however, is widely known in Marakwet and
in parts of Nandi. This part relates to the dispersal of the Talai people from the
Cherangani Hills following the alleged fall of a mountain rock.
The Cherangani are a group of hills rising to the west of the Kerio Valley
and directly east of Mt. Elgon. There are several peaks, among them the 10,000ft.
Kiptabar which is in fact a massive rock protrusion, about two miles long
and half a mile wide, appearing on a plateau. To all intents and purposes it
squats on the plateau, hence the appropriateness of its name which means
'that which squats'.
According to popular Marakwet legend, the rock fell from the sky many
generations ago on a sinful Talai people who were at the time living on the
plateau and who, at the moment of the catastrophe, were dancing and feasting
as was their wont. Just before the fall, a courier in the person of a crow-the
Talai's totem-had flown over the gay folk and warned them of impending
disaster but no one had heeded the bird. Many people were buried under the
rock and those that survived dispersed to all parts of the Kalenjin area. (There
are today Talai clansmen in Marakwet, Nandi and Tuken.)
The Kaptul claim that one of their ancestors-a "Sirikwa"-had cursed
the Talai for having played him a dirty trick. What the trick or harm was is
not clearly told; some say that the Talai cleverly led the "Sirikwa" man's four sons
whom they had circumcised (apparently the Sirikwa did not practise circum-
cision) to kill his own best bull, others say the Talai stole the "Sirikwa's"
cattle. Anyhow, after the rock-fall, the "Sirikwa", who had been living next
to the Talai and had come from the present Uasin Gishu area, also dispersed.
The majority are said to have moved northwards towards Karamoja. One family,
however, consisting of a man, his wife and three sons travelled eastwards and
descended the present Elgeyo Escarpment, into Marakwet, having lost all their
After their father's death, the three sons, Chelai, Buret and Bartus, respect-
ively moved to and settled at Katamuko, Kaburet and Kaptalam (all these
places being in one location called Mokoro in Marakwet). There they married
the daughters of the valley inhabitants called Siaban. In Marakwet, however,
the descendants of the three "Sirikwa" sons adopted a new name-Kaptul.
The reason given for this is that at about the time European rule was asserted
in Marakwet, early in this century, a government official went about enquiring
the whereabouts of a people called "Sirikwa". A suspicion sprang up at once
that the British were seeking to punish the "Sirikwa" for some offence committed
over the hills, probably in Uasin Gishu. By unanimous agreement among the
Marakwet, the descendants' identity was concealed and is only now being
68 UGANDA JOURNAL
When the Kaptul clanswomen greet one another, they say something like:
Chamge lakwenyo (greetings our child
Muryenyo Karamoja, We changed course in Lem, i.e.
Muryenyo Chelach, North Nyanza, etc.)
Kabembei, etc., etc.
What is of interest and significance in the greeting is, of course, the mention
of Karamoja and Sirikwa. It is almost certain that names as placed above are
not in their correct order unless we are to believe that the people concerned
moved northwards from the present Luhya area to Karamoja and then back
to Marakwet through Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu areas.
Those interviewed say that according to their traditions, the "Sirikwa"
were tall men and purely cattle-keepers ,and that they constructed stone-walled
huts whose floors were dug deep into the ground.
Uganda Journal, 28, (1964) pp. 69-74
(III). THE SIRIKWA: ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE
The Sirikwa are spoken of throughout almost all territory occupied by the
group of tribes which have recently begun calling themselves Kalenjin, from the
Sebei, Suk (Pokot) and Marakwet to the southern end of Kipsigis country.
The traditions, however, vary, not only between tribe and tribe, but between
sections thereof, and, of course, between different informants. Previous views
on the Sirikwa, published and otherwise, have suffered through information
being collected from a restricted locality and through too uncritical an accept-
ance of stories told by one or two voluble and eager-to-please wazee. Moreover
the pastoral-minded, chiefless societies of the Kalenjin are not conducive to
the retention of reliable oral history. This paper does not claim to be an original
work on Kalenjin traditions (there are many people able to speak with more
authority on the various Kalenjin tribes and clans), but is an attempt to see
what sense and wider story can be made of the accounts of the Sirikwa. These
accounts have been collected either at second-hand, including from manuscript
notes left by government officers and others who over the years have taken an
interest in local history, or at first-hand through the medium of interpreters or
poor Swahili. Afterwards follows a discussion of the relevance of certain archae-
ological remains attributed to the Sirikwa.
Essentially the traditions fall into two groups, those told by the southern
Kalenjin-Nandi and Kipsigis-being on the whole distinct from those of
the northern Kalenjin related in the first two sections of this paper. The Elgeyo
occupy a midway position. In common the two groups agree that the Sirikwa
were fairly alike to the Kalenjin, primarily pastoralists speaking a not very
dissimilar language. Beyond this the northern traditions are the more inform-
ative. They leave an impression of a people who, after suffering by war and
cattle-raiding, which in these parts mean much the same thing, were scattered
or found refuge among neighboring tribes. Hence the Kapsirikwa clan among
the Elgon peoples investigated by Mr. Weatherby and described in Part I, a
similar clan among the Suk, and, as Mr. Kipkorir tells, the Kaptul clan claiming
a Sirikwa origin in Marakwet. Moreover "Sirikwa" is not uncommon as a
personal name, whilst in Elgeyo numerous people claim Sirikwa blood. A num-
ber of northern informants, including some of Mr. Weatherby's, are inclined
to equate the Sirikwa with the Uasin Gishu Masai, who were broken-up by
the inter-clan wars of the Masai and the growing boldness of the Nandi and other
Kalenjin tribes in the nineteenth century. This opinion sounds oversimplified:
perhaps it is more likely, in view of the conflicting and uncertain traditions,
that the Sirikwa were an earlier group on the Uasin Gishu Plateau and Cep-
kwaliel its north-western extension towards Elgon, remnants of whom became
allied to the Uasin Gishu Masai. This is conjectural, but it seems that some of
the displaced Uasin Gishu became incorporated among the northern Kalenjin
under the name "Sirikwa". Other Sirikwa elements may have been absorbed by the
northern Kalenjin at an earlier date.
Most authoritative Nandi and Kipsigis, however, expressly distinguish
between the Sirikwa and the Uasin Gishu. Whereas the latter were recent
THE PRINCIPAL KALENJIN TRIBES
Other Nilo-Hamitic tribes in brackets
0 10 20 30 40
9,000 to 12,000 Feet
7,000 to 9,000Feet
5.000 to 7,000Feet
THE SIRIKWA 71
enemies who, a century ago, as numerous place-names show, were occupying
part of eastern Nandi, the Sirikwa are generally regarded as the forerunners
of the Kalenjin. There are hints that a measure of absorption took place-
even here Sirikwa blood through a parent or grandparent is occasionally
claimed, and the place-name "Kapsirikwa" survives in southern Kipsigis-
but the normal belief is that the Sirikwa were forced to seek new grazing on
the arrival of the Nandi and Kipsigis, reckoned to have occurred some two to
three centuries ago, at least for parts of their present territory. Actual defeat
in war is not well attested. If the question is pressed "Where have the Sirikwa
gone?" the answer is almost always tentative. Rarely Elgon is suggested, which
may point to connections with the Sirikwa spoken of by the northern Kalenjin:
but more likely this is a guess derived from the knowledge of the existence of the
Kapsirikwa clan around Elgon. More often one is told that the Sirikwa have
gone to Tanganyika. This often sounds like the equivalent of "gone to Tim-
buctoo" or "God knows where". Or, as the Nandi and Kipsigis reached their
present country from a northerly direction, perhaps they assume with or without
good reason that the Sirikwa moved on southwards towards Tanganyika.
The name "Sirikwa" has been reported from northern Tanganyika in more
than one context connected with Masai, but of uncertain reliability. More
significant perhaps are the Tatoga groups occupying scattered grazing lands
in north-central Tanganyika. They are Nilo-Hamitic, and Huntingford goes as
far as to place them in the "Nandi (i.e. Kalenjin) group."1 The Tatoga traditions,
as recorded by Wilson2, refer to migrations from the north, and, though his
use of oral and place-name evidence may sound insufficiently critical, it appears
that the ancestors of some of these groups once pastured their cattle in or by
present Kalenjin country. Whether there was one migration or a series, as their
scattered groups might suggest, is uncertain, but to account for the linguistic
differentiation between the Tatoga and the Kalenjin the nucleus of the former
must have been separated for some centuries. Other elements could have been
in contact with the Kalenjin more recently. Of particular significance here may
be the allegedly former name of certain Tatoga groups-Sirikwajek-which
Wilson, perhaps over-confidently, equates with the Sirikwa.
Whether or not the Tatoga groups are relevant to the discussion, we are
still left with a dual explanation of the Sirikwa that the people known by this
name to the northern Kalenjin are distinct from the tribe remembered in the
south. This would mean that a name properly belonging to one people has been
erroneously applied to another. The vanished southern Sirikwa seem to have
been the earlier, from which it might be inferred that they were the true Sirikwa:
on the other hand it is unlikely that the historically better attested Sirikwa
and extant clans of the north should have been named after a legendary people.
It may be that the term "Sirikwa" is a generic one (like the Masai designation
Kuavi), perhaps for people who were reckoned only semi-Kalenjin or could
stake no permanent claim to land for grazing or occupation. The word may
have been in common usage among other Nilo-Hamitic groups, which might
account for its reported occurrence in Masai contexts and the name "Sirikwajek"
among the Tatoga. Another possible solution of this apparent paradox which
may not be too ingenious is that the Sirikwa of the north derive from remnant
Tatoga who, because of distance, intervening tribes or lack of pressure, did
not join or follow in the migrations to Tanganyika. This argument need not
invalidate a connection between the Sirikwa of the north and the Uasin Gishu
Masai in the nineteenth century. At any rate Nilo-Hamitic traditions show that
72 UGANDA JOURNAL
although the separate identities and languages of the Masai, Kalenjin and
Tatoga groupings are of considerable antiquity, a consciousness of their rela-
tionships to each other and contact, both peaceful and warlike, have been
more or less continuous.
Turn now to the archaeological evidence.3 A frequent feature of the land-
scape of Kenya's western highlands are the "Sirikwa holes", as they are commonly
called, occurring on sloping ground in groups of between half a dozen and a
hundred or more. They are essentially circular hollows scooped out of the
hillsides, normally between 25 and 60 feet in diameter and up to 12 feet deep,
depending upon the slope. The back wall is formed by the excavation: often
the upcast is banked-up to create a downhill-side wall, broken by a central
entrance gap. In northern Nandi and Uasin Gishu where lava boulders are
plentiful they may be employed for the walls, and neatly-coursed dry-stone
revetting lining the whole interior is occasionally preserved. It needs stressing,
however, that most "Sirikwa holes" are without stonework. In many groups
broad mounds up to 5 feet high occur between the "holes" or directly below
The Kalenjin usually regard these "holes" as the cattle-bomas of the Sirikwa.
But the sparse information derived from the few examples excavated to date
attests human occupation, with strong suggestions of the housing of stock under
the same roof. The adjacent mounds appear to be as much dumps of cattle
dung as of domestic rubbish. Nevertheless the normal "Sirikwa hole" cannot
be explained away as the mere result of successive removal of mud and dung
from a cattle-house or -boma. It has been conjectured that these depressions
contained flat-roofed houses (tembes) spanning the entire "hole": however,
it is difficult to imagine a circular tembe; a house of the msonge type, with a
circular wall of posts, wicker and daub and presumably a conical thatched
roof, standing in but structurally independent of the "Sirikwa hole" itself,
seems to fit better the archaeological evidence at present available. The abund-
ance of "Sirikwa holes" has caused comment: this is doubtless the result of
the necessity of rebuilding every 5 or so years, for which a clean site although
involving the labour of excavating anew, was clearly preferable. A large group
does not imply a village as much as continued occupation of a hillside by one
or more families. Hence although "Sirikwa holes" are not dug nowadays
their makers may well have resembled the present Kalenjin in their house-types,
dispersed homestead settlements and general economy.
"Sirikwa holes" can confidently be ascribed to the iron age. Otherwise
indications of date are obscure: at a guess they belong to the last half millennium
continuing into the nineteenth century.
Throughout, I place "Sirikwa holes" in inverted commas, for conclusive
evidence that they are the work of the actual Sirikwa is lacking. Indeed the
uncertain traditions of the southern Kalenjin regarding this people would be
tenuous in the extreme were it not that in herding their cattle and in other aspects
of daily life they are constantly reminded of the former inhabitants of their
country by the presence of "Sirikwa holes". The sceptic might assume that
to the southern Kalenjin "Sirikwa" is synonymous with "don't know":
against this it must be stated that other archaeological remains in the same
region, including groups of large cairns for which a late-stone-age date is
becoming apparent from excavations, are not attributed to the Sirikwa, oronly
with a very marked degree of diffidence.
THE SIRIKWA 73
It remains to consider the distribution of "Sirikwa holes." They occur
throughout most of Kalenjin country from the slopes of Elgon and Cherangani
in the north to Sotik, the southern branch of the Kipsigis. It is difficult to be
precise in view of the size of the area and the lack of a thorough archaeological
survey, but they appear to be scarce over the flatter parts of north-western
Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia; also possibly from Tuken (Kamasia) country
where very brief enquiries failed to collect any information on the Sirikwa,
while Mr. Leonard-Johnson assures me that both traditions of, and works
attributed to, the Sirikwa are absent from the southern Elgeyo country around
the head of the Kerio Valley. It should be noted that "Sirikwa holes" are not
confined to Kalenjin country, but extend eastwards to the high parts of the Rift
Valley around Nakuru, formerly Masai territory. There are some vague reports
from the eastern highlands: these are probably to be accounted for by "Gumba
pits" a very different feature of the forested foothills of the Aberdares and
Mount Kenya. In answer to a surmise from this distribution that the Masai
during their period of greatest expansion were the makers of "Sirikwa holes",
Masai practice, nowadays and recorded, hardly bears this out. Nor, incidentally
does that of the Tatoga or any other tribe offer good parallels.
Very possibly derived from "Sirikwa holes" and an adaptation of them to
flatter and particularly rocky terrain are the stone enclosures found usually in
small groups in eastern Nandi and Uasin Gishu, including some areas where
"Sirikwa holes" appear to be absent. Their normal shape is roughly circular
or oval, but some are very irregular. They measure between 25 and 70 feet
across their longer axis. Walls have been preserved up to 5 feet high, consisting
of piled rather than built stonework, but coursed, straightfaced examples have
been reported. So have roofed entrance-passages. Elsewhere entrances are
usually narrow, sometimes only 2 feet wide, or not apparent at all, in which
case a gap in a fence surmounting the wall must be presumed. The interior is
commonly hollowed. Many of the finer examples described some years ago.4
are now destroyed.
Bomas for stock seem a likely explanation for these enclosures, but these
would have been safer if the owner's house had stood within In one case the
floor of a circular hut has been observed, in another a low bank forming a
central partition, perhaps to divide a house from the stock-pen. Their normal
appearance is not one of great antiquity. They may be the work of the Sirikwa,
of the Uasin Gishu Masai with those territory of a hundred or so years ago
their distribution seems to agree or of more recent Kalenjin. In view of varia-
tions it may be wrong to seek a single explanation.
Also in need of consideration are the stone houses at Tambach on the
Elgeyo Escarpment and similar structures, now mostly destroyed, described
from the Elgeyo Border above the escarpment5. Those at Tambach consist of
2 or occasionally 3 adjoining circles about 15 feet across, slightly sunken
with neat internal dry-stone revetting like that of the finest stone-lined "Sirikwa
holes" on the Plateau above. They have narrow, curving entrance-passages,
approached from the downhill side through an area of stone-revetted terraces.
Those at Tambach are probably all Elgeyo work and some were lived in very
recently. One circle supported the house and the other was for small stock,
while outside the terraces were fenced for the larger stock. Whether the influence
of the Sirikwa or of any other people should be seen to account for the origin
of this type of homestead remains obscure.
74 UGANDA JOURNAL
This leads on to a red herring that needs to be scotched. Above it was
argued that the word "Sirikwa" is not merely a convenient term for cloaking
the unknown or unusual; but in some places it has been virtually debased
to this status through over-zealous enquiries and speculation by interested
outsiders, including government officers. (Mr. Kipkorir throws an amusing
and most significant sidelight here). Hence such features as the finely engin-
eered irrigation systems in Marakwet6, some of which are said to predate the
Marakwet settlement, and the stone-revetted field terraces around Tambach,
which may or may not have been begun by Elgeyo, have with little or no justi-
fication been credited to the genius of the Sirikwa. Though the wealth of
information collected by government officers must not be belittled, many
of the myths which have bedevilled the Sirikwa problem appear to derive
from district bomas.
Which leads on again away from the Sirikwa to my final point concerning
the "Azanians", mentioned here only in the hope that the name may be forgot-
ten. It was coined by Huntingford7, who was the first to attempt systematic
recording and describing of "Sirikwa holes" (called by him "hut-circles")
and other archaeological remains in the western highlands. He sought to ex-
plain these as the work of an Hamitic people who came from the north some
centuries ago. The oral traditions he referred to in support of this theory
have never been adequately recorded, nor does it seem possible to confirm them.
Nevertheless northern influences may well have a bearing on certain archaeo-
logical features of the region-cairns, irrigation works and possibly building
in dry-stone. The validity and details of this must await further fieldwork,
notably in the Ethiopian highlands. The "Azanian civilization" will more likely
boil down to a series of influences, as Mathew has recently hinted.8 Meanwhile
the Sirikwa and "Sirikwa holes" seem to remain the subject of a more local
study among the southern Nilo-Hamitic peoples. Among the problems they
pose is how to satisfactorily reconcile oral traditions with the evidence on or
under the ground.
NOTES TO PART IIl
1. The Southern Nilo-Hamites (1953).
2. Tanganyika Notes and Records 33 (1952), p. 34-47.
3. More fully discussed in my paper 'The problem of "Sirikwa holes" and the so-called
"Azanian" remains of the western highlands of Kenya.' Lectures given at the first British
Institute Vacation School (to be published 1964).
4. A. Galloway, "Stone structures on the Uasin Gishu Plateau" South African Journal of
Science XXXII (1935), p. 656-68.
6. R. 0. Hennings, African Morning (1951), p. 201-10.
7. "The Azanian Civilization of Kenya" Antiquity VII (1933) p. 153-65.
8. R. Oliver and G. Mathew (ed.) History of East Africa I, (1963) p. 100.
Uganda Journal, 28, 1 (1964) pp. 75-97
THE DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA- EXTRACTS VII
Edited by SIR JOHN GRAY
(These extracts from Die Tagebiicher von Dr. Emin Pascha, edited Dr.
Franz Stuhlmann, vols. i, ii, iii, iv and vi, (Braunschweig: Westermann, 1916-27)
have been translated and provided with introductory notes and comments by
Sir John Gray. They have been planned to appear in The Uganda Journal as a
series covering Emin's first visit to Buganda in 1876, his visit to Bunyoro in 1877
and his second visit to Buganda in the same year, followed by such portions
of his later diaries as are relevant to Emin's contacts with the Uganda region
during the years spent as Governor of Equatoria until his withdrawal in 1889.
Extracts that have already appeared are:
I: Emin's Visit to Buganda in 1876. Uganda Jl. 25, 1 (1961), pp. 1-15;
II: Emin's Visit to Bunyoro in 1877, Uganda Jl. 25, 2 (1961), pp. 149-170;
III: Emin's Visit to Buganda in 1877-78. Uganda Jl. 26, 1 (1962), pp. 72-96;
IV: Emin as Governor of the Equatorial Province, 1878-1881. Uganda Jl.
26, 2 (1962), pp. 121-139;
V: Emin as Governor of Equatoria, 1882-85. Uganda Jl. 27, 1 (1963),
VI: Emin as Governor of Equatoria, 1 January to 6 July 1886. Uganda
Jl. 27, 2 (1963), pp. 143-161.-EDs.)
VII: EMIN AS GOVERNOR OF EQUATORIA
11 July 1886- 1 July 1887
Extracts from Emin's Diaries
July 11, 1886. Soon after the departure of the steamer the Mutongole
came and said Kabarega had recalled him and his people and that Dorotea
would come in his place.
July 26 to August 1. Bachit Aga' had at last come back from Anfina with
the people stationed there since Dr. Junker's departure. He says Anfina has
made a raid on Kamisoa and has carried off plenty of goats and women. The
reason given for this is that many of Anfina's people have gone over to Kamisoa
and he has not sent them back. The officer asserted that he had already heard
from all quarters that the raid is entirely over. Undoubtedly an untruth. Kamisoa
has sent to him and told him that out of respect for the government he will
not take his revenge so long as the soldiers are at Anfina's.
Today (12 August) news comes that the Acholi on the east bank, when the
soldiers came for their corn-tax, completely abandoned their villages, and have
hidden their corn, and so in this year there will be no delivery at all and we will
be inflicted with hunger. The reason for this is that the Acholi who have fled
from Patiko and settled here have raised a revolt throughout the whole land
and that Chief Wadelai's brother, Gimoro, who has settled on an island, has
incited the people to disobedience. These events present so much difficulty
for our future here that it is necessary to bring the people to reason by force.
They have never been taken for service as porters. Their women and children
76 UGANDA JOURNAL
have never been carried off, and yet they carry off their corn to the island so
as not to pay the tax. Above all it is d propos that, though the station has
been established since 1880, one has not been in the position to bring the sur-
rounding tribes into a state of subordination. Even now enemy country begins
two hours north of Wadelai, and to the west about two days' march, although
recently Gimoro's people killed two local negroes as they were going to the
On 21 August the steamer Khedive sailed to the Lake with Bachit Aga and
soldiers. Late in the evening the station chief came with a man of Anfina's,
from whom some confused information was forthcoming that Kabarega had
allied himself with Kamisoa and had sent their people against the Baganda,
from whence they had not yet returned. This had given Anfina the opportunity
to send a raiding party to Mruli and to carry off many women and cattle.
Kabarega had sent people with presents to Anfina, who had taken the presents
and 5 guns from the people and chased them away. As said, the story is too
confused to sift the wheat from the chaff. That Kabarega would be so mad as
to make a raid on Buganda appears to me to be rather credible, as he has become
arrogant after his last successes, as some people tell me. Casati in his last letter
writes that Rwabudongo has marched with his troops and it was said that he
was going to Buganda. This explains the long silence of the English and Casati,
who naturally have no opportunity to send a mail in a semi-state of war.
August 25 ... A letter from Abd el Wahab informs me that according to
Chief Sunga's statement Kabarega was very angry because Sunga and Boki
had made the raid with the soldiers into Lendu and that for that reason Kabarega
would make war on them. This sounds very big because if Kabarega has any
authority over the chiefs mentioned and possesses the Lendu country it is en-
tirely nominal; moreover he loves to make raids-and that is the sore point
-it is quite possible he has said a couple of hard words to Sunga so as to inti-
midate him and to strengthen his own authority.
September 15. The soldiers went to Padiri but found all the inhabitants
had gone to the south to Anfina and had temporarily left the village.., the
Khedive disembarked the two sergeants, who were being sent to Casati, at
Kibiro on Monday, 6 September; but chief Kiza has not let them proceed
until permission has been obtained from Kabarega.
(Letter in French from Mohammed Biri)
Niakulia, 11 September 1886. I have the honour to announce to you my
arrival at Niaculia; tomorrow I shall reach Karungo, the boundary between
Uganda and Unyoro, in good health with 30 loads for you and M. Casati
which Dr. Junker prepared for you before his departure. We have obtained
permission for this caravan to pass only with difficulty. Sultan Mwanga and his
vizier have entrusted to me 13 pieces of cloth as a gift and 3 of their own people
to see you, as you wrote. Thus then, dear Sir, I beg you to send the gift to Kibiro
and to write to Kabarega to give us about 50 persons to transport the loads
from Karungo and to let us pass without any difficulty.
(Letter dated 11 July 1886, from Dr. Junker at the English Mission, Buganda)
Mwanga is under influence of Zanzibar Arabs and is persecuting and mas-
sacring the Christians2. Mwanga only shows forbearance to the Missions because
he can get pecuniary advantages from them and Mackay and Lourdel must
constantly undertake work for him. For this reason he will hardly give Mackay
permission to depart, which the English Mission (Mackay and Ashe) will ask
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 77
for after my departure. You will see how very different relations have become
since other times from the fact that I first saw Mwanga after the lapse of 20
days from my arrival and despite all sorts of presents on my part, not as much
as a hen's feather was seen coming from the King's cattle stall. He is shameless
in his demands, and in money alone has received 175 dollars from me besides
the stuff I have brought here and the presents I brought for him . Fourteen
days ago Monseigneur Livinhac3 and Pere Giraud4 left the French Mission
here to go to the south shore of the lake where they have a second mission.
Pere Lourdel and two brothers remain here in the French Mission. With
Mackay there is only the Reverend Ashe. Monseigneur Livinhac took with him
your and my letters for Zanzibar and Egypt. Mackay has handed over to me
several of his Zanzibar people, whom I have taken into my service as far as
(Copy of letter from G. A. Fischer to Alexander Mackay, Kageyi, 8 January,
Hearty thanks for some letters which came into my hands yesterday. I have
quite understood your letter in English, but I am not in the position to write
English. I thank you very much for your advice. I will try to go eastwards to
Kavirondo and then by a wide curve to reach the Egyptian province. If it is
possible, let Emin Bey be informed that I am trying to join him by this route.
I hope you will soon be able to leave Uganda. What can you do under present
conditions? I am proposing to start the day after tomorrow.
(Continuation of diary).
October 13, Wednesday. At an early hour our dragoman Kasaja came
and said he had met Kabarega's people with oxen which they were going to
sell for salt, and they had informed him that the people (sc. from Uganda)
for whom we were waiting had spent last night at Feradjok (to be distinguished
from the Egyptian station north of the present Kitgum-J.M.G.), about 4
hours from here because they had many cattle, and would reach here today if
they were given enough porters on the way. Few people could be found in
Feradjok and Ireta, the chief of Mboga, who was for a little time at Kabarega's,
had gone with a large number of his people to make a raid into Busongora.
At 4.10 p.m. Muhammad Biri at last stood before me, bringing letters from
Casati and Abd er-Rahman together with a calendar for 1886, the first indication
Casati's letter dated 7-11 October 1886 contained a description of a some-
what stormy scene between Kabarega and Casati with respect to some rude
words I had written about Biri's long delay, and which Casati had given him
verbatim. The scene ended as usual with Kabarega's yielding and promising
in future to be more ready to act straightforwardly ...
(A letter was also received from Mwanga).
Mwanga's letter was written by the Arab Masudi bin Salimin, an old
acquaintance, now chief of the district Njakulia and private secretary to Mwanga.
After the usual greetings it contains the astounding news that Mwanga sends
me a very-respectable amount of cloth. I call the news astounding because
Junker writes that he has not seen as much as a 'hen's feather'. It appears
also that I am well spoken of in Buganda. In the letter accompanying the present
Mwanga concludes with a request for a breech-loader elephant gun with am-
munition, lead, bullets, silver dollars, and slaves. Dr. Junker had gone to
Zanzibar by way of Usukuma and the things which he bought for me, he
78 UGANDA JOURNAL
(Mwanga) now sends to me by Mohammed el Turki (Bir). I should always
write and tell him what I want. Altogether a very nice letter. There is also a
letter to me from the Katikiro, the first minister, which after many compliments
notifies me that he is sending several pieces of cloth and by appealing as an
old friend, asks me to send a breech-loader of a large calibre. Attached to this
letter is one from Masudi bin Salimin himself with greetings from him and the
minister Karudji or Kuludji (Kolugi), Mackay's king's treasurer5. Then follows
a letter from Mujasi who sends a piece of cloth and asks for a good tarboosh to
to be sent to him, which is modest.
November 9. Early in the morning at 7.30 the Khedive set out with Muham-
mad Bir, who has finished his business and goes back to Buganda by Bunyoro
in order to bring us a second consignment of goods, if he is allowed to do so.
For this purpose I have given him 50 tusks of ivory, which are to be given to
Kabarega as the toll for bringing the goods. I am also writing to Mwanga
and the Katikiro and ask permission for Biri to come back and to establish
a monthly post between Buganda and here.
On 13 December came a mail from Vita, which has been unusually long on
the way. The letter, dated 3-7 December 1886, brings news of the death of Kata-
grua ... In old Katagrua we have lost an exceptionally intelligent and excellent
ally, who will be previously missed by Casati. He was the best and most
trustworthy of Kabarega's people.
December 13-19. In the last few days a bad feud has broken out between
the Acholi of Pabongo and Anfina's people. Anfina, who has now become
exceptionally tyrannical, has killed several people belonging to his son Jarifu.
Angry at this, the latter has left his father with his subjects and gone back into
the territory of the Acholi of Pabongo. The enraged Anfina sent an expedition,
led by his nephew Mweye, his cousin Kabatenda and the chief Kabasia, to
bring back his rebellious son. As this last refused, war broke out and the Acholi,
availing themselves of the confusion, annihilated them all and carried off 25
guns. Now Anfina is at war with them, but will not soon be able to accomplish
anything against them.
.... On 20 December came a letter from Vita, who had heard the news of
Anfina's defeat and added that Anfina himself has gone back to an island in
the river and was being threatened there.
January 6, 1887. It appears that matters will be serious with the Acholi.
Today at 4 o'clock in the afternoon the chief of the station came with Amara,
the local Munyoro chief, and stated that a man of Amara's (he was here with
them) had just come from Mahetta et-Tor to warn us. A great many Acholi
have collected there and even a number of people of the chief Rwot Ochama
on the far side of Patiko have assembled, with orders to combine with the local
Acholi so as to kill the soldiers in occupation at the time of the corn harvest
and especially to make a prisoner of the officer, Kodi Aga, and bring him to
Rwot Ochama. The Acholi are only waiting for the soldiers to advance so as
to attack them in the long grass. I have sent 20 soldiers and 2 officers, of whom
one rendered good service in Amadi, with a number of armed servants, etc.,
as a reinforcement and given orders that, if they are strong enough to do so,
they shall attack and scatter the Acholi. If the position does not admit of this,
I have sent a messenger in haste to Mahagi and have ordered all persons at
Kiza's station to concentrate on the island and to wait and see what the upshot
will be, and to instruct the steamer to put in nowhere on its return journey.
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 79
At sunset the forces marched out and tomorrow I wait for news of the soldiers.
If they are beaten, the Alur and Madi will at once revolt and we shall be besieged
January 7. Toward midday there came the clerk, whom I sent yesterday
to Kodi Aga6 with a letter from that person. He asks for ammunition and wants
the clerk to come back and some armed dragomen, etc., to be sent to him from
here, and announces his intention of attacking the rebels the following night.
I have at once sent two boxes of ammunition, 46 dragomen, etc., the clerk,
and a small stock of rockets. The Acholi are assembled at Patiri, about 3 hours
from here on the east bank of the river. On 9 January in the evening there came
a report from Kodi Aga. On the night of 7-8 January the soldiers marched,
and early in the morning at 5 o'clock reached the village, where the Acholi
were assembled, and immediately launched an attack. The Acholi had at once
fired on the soldiers, but soon set fire to their village with everything inside it
and made off into the high grass in the bush. They were followed by the soldiers
throughout the day, but they never made a stand, and set fire to their huts, corn,
etc. and on 8 January at 2 o'clock in the afternoon the soldiers returned to their
original headquarters. They are now employed in sending here the corn which
has been collected there. The report is naturally hardly satisfactory. It was
necessary to pursue the party thoroughly and to destroy their strongholds in
Bulega over which Kabarega claims the overlordship. As because of this the
storage of the corn further to the north will be very much delayed, I must hurry
to put the corn in the stores, Later we will have to make up the deficiency.6a
January 11. The Acholi have all withdrawn to Padiri and Ukobi and have
declared that they will pay no further taxes to the government. At the same time
I hear that the old Rwot Ochama, the instigator of all this unrest, has been
killed in an attack by the people of Patiko. If this is true, then our task will
undoubtedly be easier. As soon as I have got the corn from here and Bora into
the magazine, I will send a detachment to Padiri to open the road as far as
Anfina's river. If Fischer is really anywhere in the neighbourhood, it would be
possible to obtain news of him through Anfina, as despite all their hostility
real communication exists between the people of Anfina and Kamisoa.
Just now there has come the news that two native boats, laden with corn,
have been sunk on the voyage from Kodi Aga to here. The low level of the water
where Kodi Aga is does not permit me to send our vessels and the miserable
native dugouts capsize at every opportunity.
January 13. According to the reports which have come from Kodi Aga
today, the Acholi are disagreeing amongst themselves and have retreated further.
On the other hand I hear that they want to cultivate in Padiri and Umboki.
As for the rest this small affair seems to have made an impression, as Chief
Wadelai has sent me his trusty dragoman full of protests of sincere friendship
and the assurance that he and his people have nothing to do with the Acholi.
I have naturally expressed my entire satisfaction and have given a present to the
dragoman, but I know quite well what to expect from such assurances, and I
have requested Chief Wadelai to exhort his people, the Alur, to remain peaceful.
On 14 January Kodi Aga reports that, after the people who came from Patiko
had left them, the Acholi wanted to make their submission and he has sent
people so that he may get more exact information.
((Letter received by Emin from Junker from Msalala, south of Lake Victoria,
and dated 30th August, 1886).
(Reached Bukumbi on 8 August. Livinhac and Giraud had arrived 8 days pre -
viously, They were at Bukumbi together with Girault, Blanc7, and a third.
Reached Msalala on 16 August. Found there Gordon8 and Wise9. Hooper10
is at Uyui near Tabora, where I am proceeding on 23 August.) "Mwanga loses
more and more in prestige and recently has made a great fiasco of the expedition
of his people to the south-west shore of Lake Victoria. Hundreds of Baganda
warriors have been killed and I saw the boats come back with empty hands and
lost guns. The people themselves say they have had a thorough thrashing."
(Letter received by Emin from Junker, dated from Uyui near Tabora, 10
(The writer advises Emin as to the route he should follow in the event of his
trying to make his way south).
(Continuation of diary).
January 19. Shortly before his departure, Rihan, a good fellow, told me
that the Acholi brought Kabarega 15 guns and, on being asked by Kabarega
whether they were ready to attack Anfina again and would be able to kill him
or make him prisoner, they replied that he must give them the guns they had
brought and a few more, besides ammunition; then they would certainly do
this. On Abd er-Rahman's and Matyansi's advice Kabarega has given them 17
persons with guns and has also given them the 15 guns and ammunition. They
then marched forth, but on reaching the river they killed Kabarega's people
and went off with all the guns. Hopeful!
Soon after the departure of the steamer I was informed that 2 of the 4 boys
whom Kabarega sent here to school had disappeared, and I must presume that
they had heard that Kabarega had recalled them and that in the confusion of
departure they had embarked on the steamer and so got away. I therefore sent
people to Kodi Aga, who was on the steamer, to inform him. The winding of
the river allows a good walker to overtake the boat in one of its reaches, but
before an answer was received, the missing boys were found. They had hidden
themselves in the long grass by the river bank, but did not have the luck to
smuggle themselves on to the steamer. So this is what these people now are.
The boys were well treated here and wanted for nothing and then they ran away
to escape being taught . .
January 31. Kasaja, the dragoman who has come from Kabarega, says
Kabarega was very alarmed at my last letter and has sent people to recall Abu-
Bakr. The huts at Kibiro are in the course of building, just like those at Kabare-
ga's; he asks me not to listen to people's gossip, but come myself to give an
agreement as to all necessary matters. He is ready to give me support in all
circumstances and will readily give all Arabs permission to come here. Kasaja
said most exasperatingly that Songa had refused to go to Kabarega.
February 7-13. According to news from native sources the soldiers at
Patiko have attacked 3 Acholi villages, destroyed them, and unfortunately,
as would appear, inflicted quite unnecessary cruelty. Regarding this, further
news is awaited. Then people wonder because the Acholi have the land and
throw themselves into Kabarega's arms. When I came here 11 years ago,
Acholi land was well populated, rich in corn, honey, etc., and its inhabitants
friendly and peaceful. Every station has indulged in plunder, all my exhorta-
tions have been disregarded. I have no European officials, and slowly things
have come to the present state of affairs. One piece of luck is that the Acholi
do not possess many weapons.
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 81
On 13 February, towards evening, Amara came and informed me that he
had heard that Anfina was dead, not killed, but fallen ill and dead. If this is
true, Kabarega will at once take possession of the country. A far more import-
ant piece of news is that the Banyoro have crossed the river and one of their
Batongole has established himself with his people in Acholi land. This would,
however, be in flagrant violation of the word, which has been given to Casati,
that the river should be our boundary and that Kabarega would not interfere
in the affairs of the Acholi. In every way Kabarega has shown himself false in
this. I will assume to his credit that he is only negotiating a combined attack
on Anfina, but the situation appears critical. I have sent people to obtain in-
formation for me as to what has happened and will try to enter into an agree-
ment with Anfina's people about offering them help and refuge, before they
disappear and leave the land.
February 14 (Monday) to February 20 (Sunday), inclusive. Today (15th)
a man came here from Okello, who informs me that Kabarega's people have
crossed the river and reached 'Khartoum'. The Acholi have shown themselves
to be unfriendly disposed, and they have tried to cross the river again, because
since Anfina's death they have nothing they want here. Only 10 of Kabarega's
men have come. From these reports two things appear to stand out; firstly,
Anfina is really dead; and then, that the Acholi hope I will not attempt any
February 16. At Patiko everything is in order. It should be mentioned
that, at the time when Suleiman Aga attacked Rwot Ochama, Kabarega's
people were there exchanging ivory for ammunition, powder and percussion caps.
On 17 February there came the news from Mahagi that, after Vita's depart-
ure, Songa crossed the lake to Kabarega, though he told Vita he would rather
die than go there. I am curious to know what sort of order the king will give
to all our chiefs, but I can well imagine we are a nuisance to him on the west
side of the lake.
The river has become so unusually low that the Khedive in any event cannot
go to the lake. Yesterday I decided to postpone my journey to Kabarega,
and am sending the Nyanza with corn, etc. to the island and the Khedive to
Dufile. As soon as the first rains fall I will go southwards.
February 26. At noon the steamer Khedive came from Dufile, as nearly
always, with bad news. At Padibe one officer with 12 privates and several
Dongolese have been killed. At Patiko under the officers there are a number of
desertions and Suleiman has received a gunshot wound from an under officer
Nessim. Hawash Effendi" has decided to go himself to Patiko to put matters
On 6 March a letter from Mahagi. Abd el-Wahaba Effendi says Chief
Songa has not yet come back from Kabarega, that all the negroes have of one
accord shown themselves resolved and have refused to supply corn; Aseja's
son has openly declared that he will not supply us with any corn without an
order from Kabarega. and that consequently hunger prevails in Mahagi.
Kabarega's people are building a village opposite to Boki's and settling there
despite Kabarega's promises to the contrary.
I also hear from Bora that the Acholi at the time of collecting the corn
wanted to attack the officer employed thereon together with his people (45 men)
and I am therefore sending reinforcements there today.
March 7 (Monday) to March 13 (Sunday), inclusive ... Amara says one of
82 UGANDA JOURNAL
Kabarega's chiefs, Rokara, has established himself in Kinyamwesi, north of
the Somerset Nile and has invited all those who are unfriendly to us to settle
at his place. Similar messages have been sent to the Alur chiefs, Okello, Roketto
and Amara, but have been rejected by them. The Acholi at any rate will unite
with him and I shall in the future send a party of soldiers so as to establish
peace with them. Amara has promised to send people to Anfina's people and
to bring several of them here.
March 26. At 10 o'clock in the forenoon a mail came from Abd el-Wahab
Effendi at Mahagi with bad news. I give a translation. "Copy of a letter from
Mohammed Ali at Kisa's station to Abd el-Wahab dated 23 Djamad Achir
1304 (19 March, 1887). I inform you that amongst the chiefs who went to him
King Kabarega has killed Kiza and Hamsa. Songa has fled. It is not known
whether he is alive or dead. This news was brought by the negroes who went
with these chiefs and who, after taking to flight, took possession of a boat and
at once came to Kiza's brother and relatives, who have given me this news.
I also hear that the Chief Ummah has promised the king to destroy Songa's
and Kiza's villages. Therefore take care and if a steamer goes to Kibiro, give
orders for the utmost watchfulnesss so that it cannot be attacked and taken.
We ourselves have nothing to fear from the negroes here but possibly have
from others." A letter, which corresponds word for word with this has been
directed to the chief of the settlement, Ibrahim Aga Ghattas, with the variation
that it was said that Chief Ummah brings with him an army (from Kabarega),
and that ammunition will be asked for and the last sentence says: "Warn the
steamer that the negroes tell me that an attempt will be made to come by the
steamer." Abd el-Wahab 's letter, which accompanies these copies, contains a
recapitulation of this information and the conjecture that Areja's people
and others are taking part in this plot. Then he asks for reinforcements and
ammunition, especially because of the danger which threatens us from Kabarega's
people vis-a-vis Boki, and he asks for orders as to whether one or more stations
should be given up. In a postscript he says no news has arrived from Abd el-
Rajal Aga, Casati and their people, but he will endeavour to obtain such news.
Again an illusion has been shattered-Kabarega too is false! What will
happen to Casati and his people? And the road to Buganda and the postal
route, which we have opened at such trouble and sacrifice, will it once more
be closed? And my poor people here, who already believed they had attained
their object? If only Casati has got in touch with Mackay. But that is unlikely,
because Mackay knows no Italian and Casati knows no English. God will
help us. Despite everything I do not think Kabarega will risk making open
war on us, but I still will always hope that in a short time a mail will come here
from Casati, and that the King will again send me good words and assurances
of friendship. That is the custom and we naturally know what we have re-
ceived from each other. If I can only get time to get in touch with Mackay
through Mwanga, then it will be easy enough to bring such pressure on Kaba-
rega that nolens volens he must make peace and friendship with us.
March 23. A man of Boki's has just come to me as a messenger. He
states in Boki's name that Kiza and Gumanja have been killed by Kabarega,
who has removed his residence to Kisenje and intends to go back to Mruli,
that quite recently Kabarega sent an army to Buganda and Kamisoa has fallen
out with him and in combination with Anfina's people have plundered Kabarega's
Lango. Songa's brother Odongo is named as his successor. The people prefer
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 83
another brother Nyamki, who went with Songa to Kabarega, but has now come
back and adheres to Boki and ourselves. Boki has also heard that Kabarega is
collecting boats and will land people on the west shore to attack us and drive
us away. The Baganda harbour the intention of coming to Kibiro. What will
happen to Casati and my people? I still always think Kabarega has not sunk
to such falseness that he will fall upon them. Songa did not want to go to
Kabarega, and had made a present of two women to Kabarega's ambassador,
Kaseja, so that he might help him if, when he went he was threatened with
danger. Kaseja had not only agreed to this, but had made blood-brotherhood
with him, and to this circumstance he finally owed it that he got away with
his life, whilst Kiza and Gumanja were killed. At the same time Kabarega
has markedly damaged his reputation with the Alur, as after these events no
Alur will have any faith in him. Boki is on our side and hates Kabarega, and I
hope to be able to rely on him. I cannot say this of Chief Wadelai, and all the
Acholi chiefs will adhere to Kabarega. If however, this latter has the folly
once more to embroil himself with the Baganda, the Baganda will not stop
this time until they have occupied Kibiro-which perhaps will be all to our
advantage. But my mail and poor Casati?
March 25. At 8 o'clock on the morning the steamer Nyanza proceeded
to the lake with Shukri Aga12 and 40 soldiers and sufficient ammunition . .
If all goes well, the steamer will reach Mahagi tomorrow at midday, where she
stays, until the Khedive relieves her. Shukri Aga has specific orders to abstain
from hostilities against Kabarega's people, if they should come, but, if they
begin to attack, then he should retaliate energetically and either take or destroy
their boats, so as to cut off their retreat.
March 26 ... Abd el-Wahab Effendi reports that he has heard that Casati
and the people with him are all right and are now at Djuaja, but Kabarega
has deprived them of the means of subsistence that is, he has forbidden his
people to sell them provisions. The King himself settled 3 days' march further
inland and has built there. He is now collecting boats at Ubiggi to settle his
people at Okello's, who is friendly to him, and is endeavouring by every means
to win over Chiefs Boki, Amara and others. All this news was brought by
Songa's brother, who luckily fled after his brother's imprisonment.
At 10 o'clock in the forenoon (28 March) the steamer Khedive came from
Dufile with a mail from there and from Lado. Vita came back from Patiko
sick ... The Chief of Patiko is always at Padibe and I think it would probably
be better to remove the station from Patiko to Padibe, as the soldiers are left
March 29. Today news has come that Shukri Aga on his voyage to the
lake arrested chief Okello, who has revolted and allied himself to Kabarega,
and has taken him with him to Mahagi so as to send him here by the next
steamer, just as I told him. Part of Okello's people have on his summons gone
over to the east shore, and as soon as they arrived, were robbed of their women
by the Banyoro. The widespread news of the despatch of a steamer full of
soldiers to Mahagi will have reached Kabarega long ago and perhaps somewhat
damp his warlike ardour.
March 30. At 10 o'clock in the forenoon 10 Dongolese men came here
who had come from Abd el-Wahab Effendi and Ibrahim Aga Ghattas with
complaints of ill-treatment on the island at Mahagi and so had come to me.
If what the people say is true, then both gentlemen have been guilty not only of
84 UGANDA JOURNAL
excesses but of actual atrocities, and Abd el-Wahab's character makes this
probable. The people have nothing to report of Kabarega's people and their
doings. They have heard that Kiza and Gumanja has been killed, and know that
Kabarega could not kill Songa because he was of Babito blood(?) and therefore
according to Baganda and Banyoro custom, he has been locked up in a togul,
which is closed in on every side and in which he receives the barest necessities
of life through a small opening and stays, in dirt and vermin, till death releases
him. They further said Boki had told them that Kabarega had sent his people
over to the east shore to wait there until our people undertook a raid and then
he would ask permission from me to join with our people (sic!). In order to
save his life Leornach has promised to make war on Kiza's and Songa's people.
Ummah's people visit our people at Kiza's in the same friendly manner as form-
erly and chief Areja's son has in no way joined with Kabarega, but only waits
for Songa's return, so that through him he can supply corn, etc. to the soldiers.
If one compares it with the letter coming from Abd el-Wahab Effendi, there is
plenty of contradiction. At any rate I have thought it good to transfer matters
at Mahagi to Shukri Aga and have written to Abd el-Wahab that he must
abstain from the excesses he has committed.
April 2. The post mail which has arrived is very curious . Shukri Aga's
letter informs me that he has arrested Okello who after his arrest has shown
openly his hatred of us and his inclinations towards Kabarega. Boki said Okello
should be set free. There are a lot of Kabarega's people on the east shore who
intend to attack at five points; Kiza, Songa, Boki, Okello and Anfina. (What
does this mean?) Boki is unreliable. Kabarega's people are always with him
and he gives them goats, mrisa etc. Kabarega has sent dragomen to confiscate
all Kiza's property and bring it to him.
This may lead to entanglements. As from the rest I regard all the news
from Mahagi as exaggerated. Chief Okello has come here by the steamer and
we will see what he has to say.
April 3. Yesterday evening Okello explained that Kabarega has abso-
lutely no hostile intentions against us, but his people have come to overthrow
Anfina's people, where a boy has been made chief. They will make prisoners
of these and bring them to Kabarega and then go back. Early today he further
said Kabarega's people were stationed on the east shore to wait until the soldiers
made an expedition against the Acholi; then they would render help to the
Acholi and they had already distributed 50 cows and more than 100 sheep
amongst the Acholi. They had plenty of weapons and had established them-
selves in two places. Kabarega himself had settled at Kisenje from fear of the
Baganda. Our people are at Djuaja. Okello knows a great deal more than
he will say. I have therefore ordered the station chief here to exchange blood-
brotherhood with him. If he agrees to this, then we shall hear the whole truth;
but if he declines, then it is plain that he is in the same camp as Kabarega.
April 4 (Monday) to April 10 (Sunday), 1887.
Blood brotherhood was made this morning between Kodi Aga and Chief
Okello, the latter entering into the bond very readily. The two men sat facing
each other and bared the middle of their bodies. Then Amara, who acted as
mediator pinched up the skin of each in a line with the navel, about a hand's
breadth to the right, and inflicted a vertical scratch with a razor. The drop of
blood that issued was caught up on a coffee berry, each man placing his blood
bedewed berry in his right palm and approaching the other with outstretched
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 85
hand. Then each bent down in turn, taking the other's berry with his lips and
swallowing it. That ended the ceremony; libations in mrisa followed, the officer
next bestowing some gifts on his new brother. Immediately after, they came
to me asking that I should allow Okello to return to his village, as he feared
his absence might be misconstrued, and his belongings wasted. I next made him
a speech, gave him presents and instructed him to tell Boki that Vita by my
directions would on his arrival there likewise exchange blood-brotherhood
with him. Okello then withdrew, offering of his own accord to keep us informed
as to anything that transpired among Kabarega's people. How sacred and
binding this exchange of blood is held to be was exemplified by the fact that
when after the above ceremony the captain invited 3 subalterns to exchange
blood-brotherhood with 3 of Okello's people, they refused, and on the officer
pointing out that he had given them the example, they made the very pointed
reply that there were other officers still left here who might one day fight against
April 6. Today Matyera, Amara's man, arrived from Pakwach, reporting
that such of Kabarega's people as were posted opposite Boki's village had
recrossed the river with their 4 chiefs and gone home. Rokara, who had built
his village directly opposite our former station of Magungo, alone remained. He
sent to Amadi, one of the Lur chiefs, for bean seed, but met with a refusal.
Matyera is not aware what led Kabarega's people to march off. Four
motives occur to me: (1) Kabarega wants to throw all his people on Kiza's
village and cross the lake in the south; (2) he is disturbed by the forward move-
ment of our troops, and realises that it would be impracticable for his people
to cross the river with soldiers both in front and in the rear; (3) he has reason
to fear trouble in the direction of Buganda; (4) Casati has succeeded in
acquainting him with the contents of my last letters, and he, ashamed, is
withdrawing his people.
Motive No. 1 is improbable, as Kabarega has not enough canoes to send
a large body of people right across the lake at one time, especially during the
prevailing storms. Motive No. 2 is less improbable, but hardly the real one, as
Kabarega must have known long ago how many soldiers have gone-40. No. 3
is the most probable. No. 4 is possible, though negroes are rarely sentimental
in politics; but this motive should be easy of proof, for, it it be the true one,
a mail cannot fail to come in shortly.
I had scarcely penned these observations, when Kodi Aga, the commander
of this station reported that Shambe, one of the Acholi chiefs who emigrated
from Patiko, had arrived, bag and baggage, i.e. with wives, children, people, etc.
at the place of one of our Alur chiefs on the eastern bank of the river, and desired
permission to wait upon the commandant. Of course I gave him permission
willingly and at once. If I succeed in inspiring this chief with confidence, and
inducing him to settle near the village, other Acholi will soon follow, the whole
Acholi movement will collapse and Kabarega lose his influence amongst them.
So far so good today.
To fill up the measure, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Kato, one of Boki's
under chiefs, came in with news for me. A long, long story. The substance of it
all resolves itself into the following facts :
Kabarega's people retired because they met with no support whatever and
especially because they had nothing to eat. The Mutongole with a few of their
people remained opposite, facing Matuzunga. Katchope, the son and successor
86 UGANDA JOURNAL
to Anfina, who on his accession assumed the name of Kamurasi (like Kabarega's
father), has called on all the people of his tribe to war against Kabarega. Kaba-
rega has informed all the chiefs that his people have settled in this country in
pursuance of an understanding with me. Boki sent some of his people with 3
elephant tusks to Kabarega, to make inquiries as to the facts, and as to our
people there. Chief Ummah has returned; some of Kiza's people are supposed
to be on the way with complaints about him, and to ask for his recall. Boki
wants Kiza's little son to be made chief under the guardianship of his uncle.
I am certainly very much indebted to Boki for all his friendliness, but I
shall not give my entire confidence until he has exchanged blood-brotherhood
with Vita. For the present I am sending him a few packets of ordinary ammuni-
tion in return for his friendly endeavours regarding our people. I have also
bestowed a pair of brass armlets on his messenger Kato, for his trouble. He left
again this morning (7 April). He told me also that Kabarega had taken up his
residence in the direction of Mruli.
April 8. Thank God! I have just heard that Abd er-Redjal-Aga, the
officer stationed with Casati at Kabarega's, slept last night at Chief Amadi's
in Pakwach and will reach here this evening or tomorrow morning. So the veil
will be lifted at last.
I hope all is well with Casati. The officer is reported to be accompanied
by one of Kabarega's Batongole and two of his people; and a number of things,
presumably the bark-cloth asked for by Casati for the troops, are said to be
coming down the river in canoes from village to village. I trust the Buganda mail
is on the way too; for anything from Europe or Egypt I scarcely dare hope.
It is strange, by the way, that the officer is not in tonight; it is only 8 or 9
hours' march from Pakwach to Wadelai, the road being good and not broken
by water-courses. It is just possible that the Khor Isra, which flows close by
Wadelai is high and bars the passage.
April 9. At 11 o'clock this morning Abd er-Redjal-Aga arrived, bringing
Casati's most welcome mail, and, as it were a gift from the gods, the post from
Buganda. Altogether, one letter from Casati, one from Junker, two packets of
newspapers from Junker, two letters from Mackay, one of them marked
"Important", one bi-convex lens, a letter from Muhammad Biri, a copy of
the Weekly Times of November 1886, and telegrams from 10 August to 30
April 10. By a curious coincidence the Khedive steamed in today, having
on board Hawash Effendi with about 30 of the troops, the rocket apparatus,
and the ammunition brought from Labore, 900 loads. I had these arrivals
paraded before Kabarega's people with ostentation, convinced that they will
report accordingly and with the requisite exaggeration. I also intend to let these
people wait some days before consenting to receive them.
Hawas brought no mails from Lado, and only an indifferent one from Dufile.
As usual, he had a multitude of little presents for everybody here.
April. 11. Mail from Shukri Aga at Mahagi, to the effect that Ummah
has gone back with another of Kabarega's chiefs. Kiza's people report that
under Kabarega's orders, Ummah is taking captive any people passing through
his village and forwarding their arms to the King. The Kiza-Mahagi road
overland is thus impassable. I at once replied that Vita should be sent in a few
days to parley with Ummah. In the meantime communications with Kiza
should proceed by water only, and in any event the suspicion of provocation
to hostilities should be avoided.
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 87
April 13. I gave audience to Kabarega's people. As their master's
present, they brought me a piece of coarse calico and a piece of fine cotton,
protesting his unswerving friendship, that his conduct towards Kiza and his
associates was due rather to the hasty violence of Kiza's brother than to Kaba-
rega, that Songa would soon return home, that Kabarega's only motive for
surrounding Casati's dwelling with guards was to save him from the importu-
nities of good-for-nothing newsmongers, that no harm would ever befall Casati,
that the King asked leave for the 4 boys who are at school here to see their
people, adding that the road is open and would so remain for messengers and
consignments, and so on, and so on.
I listened to this harangue somewhat coldly, expressed my thanks for the
present, and as an absolute condition for the maintenance of harmonious
relations, framed the following 4 demands: (1) entire freedom from restrictions
for Casati, and for purchases; (2) withdrawal of the settlers opposite Boki;
(3) restoration of Songa, and further, abstention from interference in the affairs
of my countries without previous understanding with me; (4) blood-brother-
hood with one of the sons of Kabarega, whose authorised agents promised to
report faithfully. I gave the envoy and his companion some presents, and
dismissed them both.
April 1 (Monday) to April 17 (Sunday). Some of the notes appertaining
to this week I have put in last week, in error. The whole week passed quickly
enough; there was continuous work and necessary correspondence for Europe.
April 18, (Monday) to April 24 (Sunday). By the evening of the 17th
all my mails were made up, presents prepared, etc., so that early on the 18th
the Khedive could steam towards the lake. The river had risen some what,
relieving us of all fear of her grounding. Vita will first call at the island, then at
Kibiro, and disembark Kabarega's people and the Sudanese non-commissioned
officer Abdullah-el-Masuri, who was sent to Casati. They will at once take
the mail for Casati and as much as possible of the stores and presents, the rest
remaining on board. Vita has strict injunctions to keep as far from the land
as he can, and to have watch kept at night, taking soldiers for the purpose from
Upon receipt of Casati's reply, the Khedive is to return immediately,
and transmit any urgent letters there may be from Uganda via Boki, proceed-
ing thence to inspect Kiza's station, and come back here. The mails despatched
are as follows: (1) to Casati, full instructions; (2) Mackay, an answer to letters
received, also translated extracts from Casati's last letter illustrating the situa-
tion in Unyoro; further 5 in cash on account of things I asked for; (3) to Pro-
fessor Flower13 advice of the despatch of two cases of ethnographical specimens
and two thin boxes of butterflies, etc., for the British Museum; also a letter
enclosed for Dr. P. Sclater and notes on a variety of Psittacus erythacus L;
(4) to Dr. Hartlaub, notes on birds; (5) to Dr. Felkin, letter and enclosure to
Miss Felkin; (6) to Dr. Junker. Besides these letters, one case of ethnographical
specimens, another containing clay vessels from Monbuttu, indiarubber, etc.,
all for the British Museum; a particularly-large elephant tusk for Kabarega;
also two empty cases and various beads for him, and a revolver as a present
for Kabarega, if he consents to the blood-brotherhood. In addition 5 ardebs
of grain, soap, oil, honey, onions, a pair of scales for weighing ivory, etc., for
Casati. For Chief Ireta too, who, although we are strangers, sent me a costly
gift of cloth, I have added a hunting rifle and some powder. The boys Kabarega
asked for are gone. As the steamer was leaving, I heard that Kabarega's envoy
88 UGANDA JOURNAL
had shipped a piece of ivory, but as my inquiries failed to elicit from him a
satisfactory account of its possession, I am confiscating it until such time as I
know for certain how it was acquired. Towards evening the lifeboat that had
been towed in the wake of the steamer returned, reporting that the sandbank
was safely passed. All being well (which I fervently hope) I could have a mail
from Casati on 30 April.
April 20. Overland mail from Dufile. They had heard nothing from Lado
up to the 15th.
April 23. The Nyanza with Hawash Effendi aboard has steamed to Dufile.
Post to hand advising Junker's and Mackay's last letters.
April 24. This afternoon overland mail from Dufile. Under cover, official
correspondence, voluminous and uninteresting, from Lado. It appears that all
the small ivory was left behind there, and only 600 pieces of the first class brought
to Rejaf. Intelligence from Dufile states that an army of Kabarega's has crossed
the river at Ruyonga's ferry, marching north, and that Patiko has been warned.
This confirms Casati's advice that Batongole had been sent out with a great
number of armed men, whilst Rwabudongo and Ireta were to be sent to occupy
the territory of Anfina; the probable interpretation of which is that the Acholi
are to be intimidated and instigated to rise against us; possibly also that a
fling at us is in contemplation. I have promptly sent spies to Okello's and Boki's
April 25 (Monday) to May 1 (Sunday). On the night of the 24-25th a
thunderstorm raged with violence, attended by heavy rains, much required by
our crops. Early on the 25th, Chief Wadelai sent a dragoman to beg for per-
mission to move his seat nearer to us, as, two days before, the Alur, who are
independent of him, had attempted to fire his homestead, and he feared that
some day they might do him harm.
Numerous complaints have been coming to my notice for a long time past,
that Wadelai appropriates to himself the negroes' wives. The negroes, in revenge,
subject Wadelai's people to every species of annoyance. Wadelai himself has
frequently sent to me asking me to allow the soldiers to bring runaway women
back to him. Similar intrigues may be at the root of the present affairs.
It is now a week since the Khedive left for the lake. She ought to have been
at Kibiro 3 days ago; I trust nothing untoward will happen to her.
On the 26th I despatched an overland post to Dufile, with instructions that
Dufile and Patiko should oppose Kabarega's people with the utmost firmness,
in the event of their interfering in our dealings with the negroes, or being guilty
of any other provocation, but that Dufile and Patiko were not to be the aggres-
April 27. Late in the evening the man whom I had sent to obtain news
from Okello respecting the movements of Kabarega's people returned. He reports
that at the instance of our trusty friend Okello, they marched off in two columns
3 days ago, for the purpose of occupying Anfina's country and taking his son
alive, intending to send him to their chief. Some of the warriors proposed
afterwards to march upon us at Wadelai but were outvoted by others, who
considered such an enterprise very venturesome, suggesting as an alternative
a march upon Mahagi. Whether the island of that name or the Kiza station
is intended is not clear. Okello promises further particulars for tomorrow or
the next day. Of course I at once wrote to Vita, who will surely be back from
Kibiro very shortly, asking him to keep the steamer there. If not in a position
to hold his own, he is to gather all the people into Kiza's station.
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 89
What an opportunity for a man of ability. To wait until Kabarega's people
have crossed, destroy their boats, cut off their retreat and exterminate the whole
mob. What a pity Casati is not here. If, however, as I am told, but scarcely
believe, Kamisoa is of one mind with Anfina's son, warriors will be hard put
to it to withstand the combined forces of these chiefs and their Congo allies.
I trust that Providence which has helped us so far will help again, and remove
this difficulty without my being forced into aggression.
April 28. Early today 70 men under Kodi Aga and 3 officers set out on an
expedition against the rebellious Amadi at Chief Musiri's. In the afternoon a
sub-chief of Okello's came in to inquire after my health, it having hitherto been
impossible for Okello to do so in person (how civil are these negroes), and
brought me as gifts a very-fine goat and a sack of good beans, no news, however,
of Kabarega's people.
In response to my renewed inquiries on 29 April, they tell me that the quarrel
between Kamisoa and Kabarega originated in this way: The former took to
wife a very pretty girl. Kabarega, hearing of this, at once sent to Kamisoa,
requesting that the girl be sent to him, so that he might look upon her. On the
advice of his people Kamisoa actually sent her in charge of two chiefs. Kabarega
being pleased with her sent the people back and kept the girl, replying to their
remonstrances that Kamisoa was his son, and what the son possessed, eo ipso
belonged to the father. Upon this incident Okello's people base their opinion
that Kamisoa will stand by Anfina. As to the ulterior plans of Kabarega's
men, these people knew nothing of a contemplated raid upon Mahagi or this
place, but stated that the main object was to conquer and occupy Anfina's
country. Subsequently Kabarega would set up his chiefs there and everywhere
in the Acholi country, thus rendering it impossible for us to victual our stations
and compelling us to quit the country.
That sounds more credible than an attack on Wadelai. I shall now try to
gain over the Acholi. If Kodi Aga returns successful from his expedition, it
will be advisable to prepare a detachment for co-operation with Anfina's people.
April 30. This, being the last day of April and therefore ominous, was
destined not to pass without good news. At 4 in the afternoon, Matyena, the
underchief of Amara, came to me. One of his people, just arrived from Pakwach,
reported that the wing of Kabarega's army which had crossed over to the
northern bank of the river to attack Anfina's people, although strengthened
by Acholi accessions all the way from Patiko, had been totally routed. The
victors had taken 4 guns from Kabarega's people, two from the Acholi, and had
killed a great number, their own losses being only 3 men, two women, and one
gun. Among the slain was the brother of Chief Rwot Ochama, who had come
up from Patiko. On the other (eastern) side, Kiza, an Anfina chief, fell upon
Kabarega's people, inflicting severe punishment, and capturing 9 rifles.
Kiza, having collected all the Anfina people, is now marching on Rwabu-
dongo's headquarters at Panyatali, Anfina's former place. The Acholi were
pursued by Anfina's people as far as Pakwach, and were decimated. Report
says they have had enough of fighting. The whole affair, which I hope is true,
will somewhat damp Kabarega's haughty ardour, and clear the air for us.
May 2 (Monday) to May 8 (Sunday). Kodi Aga, it is said, was attacked
on his march 4 hours from here, by the Amadis, the aggressors being repulsed
90 UGANDA JOURNAL
May 3. At last. At 3 this afternoon the post from Vita. He has safely
returned from Kibiro to Tunguru Island, and writes from there on 1 May,
forwarding the mail received from Casati.
(The mail included a letter from Frederic Holmwood, Acting British Consul-
General at Zanzibar, dated 28 December, 1886, and informing Emin that "I
am now able to give you the news that Mr. Stanley has now agreed to lead a
peaceful expedition . I can give you no exact details of the expedition, the
route not having yet been decided upon." In his diary Emin comments as fol-
God forbid the outbreak of a fresh persecution in Uganda. I trust Stanley
will come straight across Masai, or via Ulegga and Ankole to the lake. At all
events, the next mail, which ought to get to Buganda in a few days, may bring
news of the greatest moment to us all.
Vita conceived the happy thought of keeping the steamer at the island until
receipt of my answer. I wrote to Mr. Mackay at once, acknowledged his two
letters, and all those previously to hand, thanked him for forwarding the things
and for his offer to let me know as soon as the boat came; begged him to keep
up an active correspondence, and placed myself entirely at his disposal. To
Casati I repeated the main passages of Mackay's letter, begging him to be
cautious and at the first sign of danger to go to Buganda or come here; also
to forward immediately any letters that might come in from Buganda, and,
further, to bring up again the subject of blood-brotherhood with Kabarega.
I am inclined to think, however, that Casati has let the opportunity slip. I am
ordering Vita to Kibiro to await Casati's answer, then to proceed to Kiza's
station, disembark the troops, put everything in order, and send the steamers
back here. All these letters were written during the night.
On 4 May at 9 in the morning the people marched off with the mails; letters
to Mackay, something for Ausland and for Kolonial Zeitung, letters to Casati
and Vita, and a parcel of clothes for Casati.
May 9 (Monday) to May 15 (Sunday). It is becoming more and more ap-
parent to me that if we are to remain permanently cut off from Khartoum
and these countries are to come to any good, this can only be effected by com-
prising under one firm government Bunyoro and Buganda as well. How far this
may be consistent with the maintenance of peace is not for me to decide. The
main thing for us all is unquestionably to have the importation of arms and
ammunition into Bunyoro and Buganda made absolutely impossible, and that
we make our way, if not to Mombasa, at least to Tanganyika. I shall now take
Mackays' opinion, so that if Stanley or Thomson comes I can join with him
in making suggestions.
May 9. Today one of Anfina's people has come here. He not only agrees
with the recently arrived news of the defeat of Kabarega's people but further
adds that Anfina's people are now lords of the north bank, whilst part of the
Banyoro army has established itself at Foda and another part has gone back to
their own country and indeed to Kitena. The headquarters of Anfina's people
is an island in midstream and in the middle of the rapids. Anfina's small son and
successor, Okwir, resides there, being so named after his grandfather on the
paternal side. The messenger says Kabarega's people can get absolutely nothing
from Anfina's people, and in particular they can get no boats, and Kamisoa,
who has gone back to his island in indignation at Kabarega's plans to put a
son of Ruyonga's who is living with him in Kamisoa's place, is solidly on the
side of Anfina's people. On the departure of the messenger a lot of Lango came
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 91
to Okwir's help, and after being reinforced he has already sent from there,
and so in these days there may be an attack. The messenger was 6 days on the
way and was repeatedly threatened by the Acholi but escaped from them.
He refuses to go back by himself, and so there is nothing else to be done but to
wait for Kodi Aga and his people, and then to disembark them at our old station
of Magungo (Ubiggi), so that they can operate to the north and clear the country
of the Acholi. Once the road to Anfina's people is made clear, I will, with their
help, soon bring Kabarega to reason.
On 10 May, early, a letter from Vita, dated Mahagi, 6 May. He writes
that, in accordance with my instructions, he has exchanged blood-brotherhood
with Boki, and that Ibrahim Aga did the same with Songa's brother. On the 6th
the steamer went to the wood station, and on the 7th to Kibiro; thence it would
go to Kiza if no people came from Kabarega. If any came, they would be landed
on the island and sent here, the steamer then going to Mahagi. Boki confirmed
the defeat of Kabarega's people and promised to send to Anfina's people to
induce them to come here. In this way Casati's letters (and, I hope, the Buganda
mails) may get here on the 16th. I am preparing my reply now and shall send
it off tomorrow morning.
I have received sufficient grain for the soldiers from Makraka. Otherwise
all is quiet. A quantity of ivory is being sent here. From Dufile I am informed
that the Egyptian officers are making themselves obnoxious; I shall have to clip
their wings. Nothing fresh from Patiko. Hawash Effendi whom I asked to send
me some live animals, sends ordinary hedgehogs, common tortoises, two water-
tortoises, one young falcon. Rarities these for me!
On 11 May, towards evening, Kodi Aga returned with his soldiers from his
expedition, bringing many head of cattle. Fortunately nobody was wounded.
On 13 May, at 5 in the afternoon, the steamer Nyanza arrived from Dufile,
bringing Captain Fadl-el-Mula Aga and Captain Suleiman Aga'4 from Dufile
and Rejaf, and 13 sacks of white Makraka grain sent at my request by Hamid
Aga, which I shall at once distribute for sowing purposes. From Rejaf comes
the news that Ali Aga came from Makraka, and has gone back, no soldiers
having been given him, in obedience to my orders. He had undertaken to
procure sufficient grain for the soldiers.
May 16 (Monday) to May 22 (Sunday). Of the 30 Bari dragomen I pro-
mised to send to Mahagi as assistants, 20 came overland from Dufile on the
16th and will go south with the next steamer. I shall endeavour to get another
50 or 60 together. May 17. Late yesterday evening a man of Okello's arrived.
6 days ago Kabarega's people were engaged in crossing the river at the old
station of Magungo. They are in large numbers and 3 of Kabarega's sons are
with them. When they have conquered Anfina's son they will attack Wadelai.
(Emin here sets out in his diary his disposition of his troops to meet the
May 18 and 19. The steamers embark troops which are to proceed to Magungo.
(Vita Hassan accompanies the expedition and sends back the following
letter-in Italian-covering the period 20-29 May):
The river is full of islands and islets. We proceeded to a port, called Kionga,
92 UGANDA JOURNAL
the camp of Kabarega's people. Here the people halted and have made a camp
and we are proceeding with two steamers to the village of Kinyamosi, distant
about 1l hours from the camp. We destroyed 5 vessels and returned to Kionga.
27 May. At 4 a.m. we left with the Khedive for Shellel (Padjao or Murchison
Falls-Emin's parenthesis). Near here there was a quite new vessel carrying
20 men with arms. Hardly had the steamer begun to approach land than they
opened fire with guns on us and our men replied to them.
(Further letter in Italian from Vita Hassan).
31 May. Have left the island for Mahagi and have found Shukri Aga with
90 various cattle which have been divided equally between the two stations.
Kiza's negroes are very discontented with Kabarega because of the deaths of
Kiza and Gumanja. It is believed that Ummah died some days ago on the way
from the shore at Mahagi.
(Continuation of Emin's diary).
June 7. A man has arrived here today from Amara's people. He says that
according to the information of the people of Padiri, as Kodi Aga is occupying
Kionga, the Acholi have fled from there and by Rwabudongo's orders Kabarega's
people have announced that the soldiers are coming back. After this
they have, in answer to the requests of the Acholi to combine with them and
turn on the soldiers, definitely announced that they have nothing to do with us
and have crossed the river at Fadjao, the Falls, and are peaceably returning
home. Only Katongoli with his people remains on the south of the river. Rokara
has departed. Kaikara, a daughter of Anfina, has submitted to Kabarega's
people whilst the son has declared that in case of need he will go to the Lango
but will on no account submit to Kabarega. Kabarega has not missed the
opportunity of making a tirade against us. As for the rest our task against the
Acholi is much more simple.
June 8. Received the following letter from Kodi Aga:-
Sunday, 6 June, after the departure of the steamer I marched with my
people to Chartum (sic) and found there Kabundi, a man of Anfina, who said
Anfina's son had already submitted to Kabarega in the month of Shaaban
and Kamisoa had been allied with Kabarega for a long time past, that Rwabue
dongo's army had crossed the river by Pajao Falls and gone back to the south.
Then I marched from Chartum to Patiri, the headquarters of the Acholi who hav-
settled there. As I was approaching the village, it was set on fire by the inhabi-
tants and we were fired at from a distance. I am sending Anfina's man himself
and asking for an order of arrest, which I am waiting for here. Anfina's man
says the people have submitted owing to want of ammunition and to hunger
and are now with Katongole on the south bank. Rwabudongo I left after falling
out with Katongole who refused to deliver up Anfina's son to him. Kabarega
has announced that he wants to make an attempt against us. His people will
cross over to our bank at Magungo supported by Acholi and Alur, Boki and
Okello have fallen into disgrace because they adhere to us. A number of boats
have been collected at Kibiro.
June 10. At last I have interviewed Kabarega's man, Mahongoki, and ex-
changed the usual professions of friendship with him. Naturally he had to
listen to some hard words, which I hope he will report accurately to his king.
Questioned as to the confiscation of Biri's letter to Casati and the arrest of
DIARIES OF EMIN PASHA-EXTRACTS VII 93
Biri's servant, he denied all knowledge of this and added that Kabarega was
ready to exchange blood with Casati. One does not know whether one ought
to admire the insolence of these people or to be very angry with them. I have
finally ordered Mahongoki, because this appeared to be right, to allow Casati's
mail to come, and he must send one of his men with the mail and goods to
Casati, whilst he must stay here until after the feast and then go south with me.
June 12. I have written a harsh letter to Kabarega with the following con-
tents: "I have received thy letter. Once again thou hast told me that the writings
of the Zanzibaris are lies and that thou knowest nothing about them. Likewise
I do not know whether the letter which has been sent to me is thy words or
the lies of the Arabs. Moreover my brother Casati is with thee and he can write
for thee. What concerns him is this. Formerly the doctor (Vita) was with
thee and thou didst write to me that he had too much to say and I should put
another in his place. Now thou writest the same to me regarding Casati. This
is childishness and not the acts of men. Thou hast forgotten that it was 1
who freed thee and thy land from soldiers. If now thou wouldst remain in
friendship with me, send me one of the chiefs with thy words, and not a drago-
man. I tell thee that thy people have nothing to do with the country of the
Acholi and I will not allow Rokara or any other person there. Thou art warned
for the future. But if thou desirest enmity between us, then thou art a man and I
am a man and both of us have people. What thou doest to us, may it fall on
thy children." I am not promising myself that all this writing will be of much
use. It is just a venture. Whilst Kodi Aga was on the Somerset River, a boatman,
a thief with a bad reputation, ran away and took with him a Remington rifle
and cartridges. Today I hear that he went to Rokara, where he was killed and
his rifle sent to Kabarega.
June 14. Kodi Aga has come back here with his people . Kodi Aga
has heard from the negroes at Magungo that Kabarega has moved all his pro-
perty to Kibiro, because the Baganda are coming back. God grant that this
news is true. Then a mail from Casati will soon be here. Whilst Kodi Aga was
going back with his people from Padiri to the river, he was filed on by negroes
of the Alur Chief Amara, and in self defence had to make an attack, in which
8 people were killed including Rosviri, a sub-chief of Rokara and also a man
June 17. Yesterday an Alur killed another man whom he found with his
wife; a surprising fact considering that among the Alur particularly, the nuptial
tie is more than loose, that their women enjoy great freedom and know what
use to make of it. On this occasion I first heard of a universal belief among the
Alur, that if any one be ill and nearing the end he cannot expire until rain falls.
As the first drops come down the sick man breathes his last. I found the same
idea amongst gipsies in the East.
June 27 (Monday) to July 3 (Sunday). The week has opened well. At 3
in the afternoon I received the mail from Casati and Mackay, and the first
from Europe. Then an envelope from the English Consulate at Zanzibar,
with an official and a private letter from Mr. Holmwood, the Acting Consul-
General. (Emin sets out the letters received from Holmwood and Mackay
in extenso in his diary. They are printed here as an Appendix).
(Emin's diary continues).
94 UGANDA JOURNAL
To reproduce Casati's letter in extenso would be impracticable, it being 40
pages in length. He again speaks of many vexations; of tardy receipt of the post,
and that in very defective condition; of many missing letters; of Biri's arrival
and departure to Kibiro with the things for the Government; concluding that,
although the Baganda were on the march, he might perhaps send his things
to Kibiro, but personally would stay with Kabarega. A letter from Biri in Arabic
states that he has arrived (sc. at Kibiro) with 44 loads; 30 of cloth, two of books
for me, the rest of copper, beads, coffee and rice. That he also had gifts from
me from Mwanga, Katikiro and others. Mwanga asked for 4 slaves and two
amulets; one to make everybody like him, the other to secure him against
bullets. As I had vanquished the people of Muhammad Ahmed (the so-called
Mahdi), I must be in possession of something of the kind.
So much for the mail. I at once got ready to fetch Biri from Kibiro, and
possibly to meet Casati there.
Letters addressed to Emin by Frederic Holmwood, Acting Consul-General, Zanzibar,
and Alexander Mackay of the Church Missionary Society, Buganda, which Emin has
copied in extenso in his diary.
HOLMWOOD TO EMIN
(In diary under date 27 June 1887)
No. 441. H.H. Agency and Consulate General, Zanzibar, 1 December 1886. With
reference to my letter of the 29th September, in which I informed you that I had entered
in telegraphic communication with Cairo on the subject of your situation and for the purpose of
suggesting an expedition to your relief, I have to inform you, that I have just received a tele-
gram from Cairo requesting me to forward you, by the earliest opportunity, the following
message from the President of the council of Ministers: "Your letters of July received. His
Highness the Khedive in order to show his appreciation of the good services rendered desires
you to express his thanks to the loyal Egyptian troops and in recognition of your services
has promoted you to the rank of Pasha. You are authorised to retire from the Mudiria to the
best position for ultimate withdrawal via Zanzibar when circumstances allow. Any troops
and refugees, who desire to remain where they are, should be permitted to do so. Full
instructions and details will follow by post. A letter has been written to Sultan Kabarega
desiring his assistance. Every effort will be made for the despatch and safe conduct of letters.
Endeavour to keep us well informed." The telegraphic message ends here and I will not fail at
once to transmit you the instructions and details alluded to above or any other letters for you
which may be entrusted to my care.
HOLMWOOD TO EMIN, 30 NOVEMBER 1886 (FROM ZANZIBAR)
(In diary under date 7 July 1887)
I received your letter up to date of 27 February to Sir John Kirk, who is in England,
and at once telegraphed to our Minister at Cairo and to the Foreign Office, London, ex-
plaining your situation and supporting immediate assistance for you. Nothing has yet been
decided, but I write this unofficial letter to apprise you as far as possible of what is taking
place. Mr. Mackay, the missionary at Uganda, who is in great trouble with Sultan Mwanga,
and virtually a prisoner, informs me he has heard from Dr. Junker that you have finally
decided to remain at Wadelai, as the 4.000 loyal Egyptian subjects under your charge would
not leave the country and you feel it impossible to abandon them. He hoped to send you
stores $2,000 which Dr. Junker has purchased for you, but Mwanga had not allowed them
to go forward on 12 July when he wrote last. I have fully explained your want of ammunition
and stores to Sir Evelyn Baringl5 and haveforwarded yourdespatches and letters to him. They
should have reached him on 12 October and, if he has decided to send off an expedition from