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Full text of "By the equator's snowy peak : a record of medical missionary work and travel in British East Africa"

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TH3B ONif SB CHURCH OF 




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L*. 3 i O O U I J 



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BY THE EQUATOR S 
SNOWY PEAK 



BY THE EQUATOR S 
SNOWY PEAK 

A RECORD OF MEDICAL MISSIONARY WORK 
AND TRAVEL IN BRITISH EAST AFRICA 



BY 

E. MAY CRAWFORD 

(ne e E. MAY GRIMES) 

AUTHOR OF A LITTLE SANCTUARY, AND OTHER POEMS 



WITH A PREFACE BY 

Tke Right Rev. the BISHOP OF MOMBASA 



AND A FOREWORD BY 

EUGENE STOCK, D.C.L. 



LONDON 

CHURCH MISSIONARY SOCIETY 
SALISBURY SQUARE, E.G. 

1913 

[All Rights Reserved\ 



MY LIFE WORK 

WHAT wilt Thou have me to do, Lord ? 

What wilt Thou have me to be ? 
Where wilt Thou have me to go, Lord ? 

These are the questions for me. 
One little life I can yield Thee, 

Gladly tis laid at Thy feet, 
May I be true to my Saviour, 

Make my surrender complete I 

Where Thou wilt have me to go, Lord, 

That is the country for me. 
What Thou wilt have me to do, Lord, 

Life s sweetest guerdon shall be. 
What Thou wilt have me to be, Lord, 

Humble, and loving, and pure, 
May I be found to Thy glory, 

Seeking the things which endure. 

Choosing the things that Thou choosest, 

Thinking Thy thoughts after Thee, 
Joyfully witnessing, toiling, 

This is the service for me ! 
Seeking the lost and the fallen, 

Telling them Jesus has died, 
No other life-work so precious, 

These are the joys that abide. 



PREFACE 

TO all who have at heart the evangelizing of 
African tribes this book will be of more 
than ordinary interest. It describes the widening 
influence of the British Empire in large tracts of 
the East Africa Protectorate which have been, 
until recent years, closed to all but intrepid 
explorers. It also portrays vividly, and with 
grace and skill, the progress of medical missionary 
effort, from the very difficult beginnings in the 
face of hostile superstitions, to the days when the 
authoress and her husband were overwhelmed 
by the demands made upon each day of their 
lives by the crowds of eager patients, whose 
confidence they had won by their devotion and 
manifested kindness, as also by God s blessing 
resting on the doctor s successful treatment of the 
sick, and of those who had need of surgical aid. 

The grand highlands of Kenia Province have 
now established in their hills and vales several 
mission stations and districts of the Church 
Missionary Society. Dr. Krapf, long years ago, 
penetrated Ukamba almost as far as the Tana 
River, and gazed on the mountain of whiteness, 
the snow-capped Kirinyaga, Mount Kenia. That 
splendid missionary and explorer had to retrace 



2 Krapf s Noble Attempts 

his steps to the coast, yet he had a conviction 
that a coming generation would witness the 
journeys of white missionaries in that region 
which privations, sickness and death in his caravan 
had prevented him from entering. At the first 
possible moment, the C.M.S., faithful to Krapf 
and his heart s projects, sent its pioneers to take 
their lives in their hands and to evangelize 
Kenia and all the wild country stretching from the 
River Tana to the extreme north-eastern slopes 
of Mount Kenia. The Society, in its discharge of 
its responsibility to give full effect to Krapf s 
noble attempts to plant the standard of the 
Gospel in the highlands which are crowned with 
the glorious masses of Kenia and Aberdare, gave 
Mr. (now the Rev.) A. W. McGregor the privilege 
of first commencing missionary operations in 
Kenia, after a year or two of residence in 
Kikuyu. 

Some of the results which have followed Dr. 
and Mrs. Crawford s brave undertaking may be 
gathered from the following words of an officer 
who holds high rank in the Protectorate : 

FORT NYERI, 

KENIA PROVINCE, 

Dec. 2, 1912. 

DEAR BISHOP, It was some years ago that our valued 
friends, Dr. and Mrs. Crawford, came into this province 
and established a station in the Fort Hall district, where 
in the midst of privations and considerable hardships they 
carried on a work which has earned the gratitude and 
admiration of every officer in the Province. 



The Commissioner s Testimony 3 

The first occasion on which I saw Dr. and Mrs. Crawford 
in harness was when I was passing their station en route 
to a camp at Weithaga. The doctor was attending a 
crowd of natives, men, women and children, in all stages 
of sickness. There must have been at least two hundred at 
the time waiting to be treated. The number I believe 
was not exceptional. After spending some time at his 
dispensary and hospital, I visited the school, which was 
under the care of Mrs. Crawford. I was struck with the 
discipline which prevailed and the intelligence of the 
children, which could only have been brought to light by 
the devotion and the extraordinary patience of the teacher. 
I only mention this as an example of the good work done 
by this devoted couple. 

After establishing a station in the Fort Hall district 
and putting it in excellent working order, Dr. and Mrs. 
Crawford were transferred to the Embu district, there to 
continue their good work. Their reputations had gone 
before them, and so they received a hearty welcome from the 
natives of the Embu district, though these people had only 
recently been brought under administration and were of a 
very primitive nature. The confidence of the natives was 
soon gained, and people from all parts of the district 
flocked to Dr. Crawford for treatment. Not only did 
he give his valuable services to the people, but he un 
hesitatingly placed them at the disposal of the Government, 
and many serious cases were sent to him for treatment. 

The result of their work is very apparent in the number 
of natives of all ages who now attend the church and school 
for instruction, and in the good behaviour of the natives 
living within a radius of some miles from their station. Dr. 
and Mrs. Crawford have gained the confidence, affection 
and respect of every official and native with whom they have 
come in contact. 

Yours sincerely, 

(Signed) C. R. W. LANE, 

Provincial Commissioner, 

Kenia Province, 
British East A frica. 
To the Right Reverend 

the BISHOP OF MOMBASA, D.D. 



4 Realities of Missionary Enterprise 

Readers will not fail to comprehend what the 
difficult and dangerous journeys have meant to a 
refined white woman ; they will be delightfully 
interested in the narratives of the customs and 
habits of the tribes ; they will be thrilled by the 
recitals of the doctor s experiences, in and out of 
hospital ; they will gaze with deep pleasure on the 
many pictures painted in words by the authoress 
depicting village life and human need of sympathy 
and help ; but more than all they will behold the 
workings of the Kingdom of God in purely heathen 
people. Very simply Mrs. Crawford lays bare 
the spiritual realities of missionary enterprise. 
Along with Christian kindness, medical skill, cease 
less endeavour to mitigate suffering, patient teach 
ing and the exhibition of a Christian home, there 
are results visible which are not of earth, and 
which come neither from healing in the wards 
nor from Christian education in the school. 
There are effects which plainly are only wrought 
by God, effects which spring from the gift of 
eternal life. Young men are steadfastly resisting 
what they now know to be evil, though parent, 
friend and tribe bitterly persecute them. By 
what power ? Men and women are publicly 
being sealed as God s children and servants, and 
are entering into union and fellowship with Christ 
in God. 

Krapf looked long and wistfully at Kenia s 
gigantic peak and dazzling snows, and then, 
overcome by hardships, suffering and bodily 



* Spirit, Soul and Body 5 

weakness, sorrowfully retreated from the Tana 
River and never made known the good news of the 
Saviour of the world to the Akikuyu. But between 
the place where he stood near the river and the 
forests of Kenia there are, on a long ridge, the 
C.M.S. medical mission house and hospital near 
Embu Fort, from which goes forth the healing for 
spirit, soul and body of heathen Africans by 
God s blessing ; while many miles away is the 
rushing stream at Kahuhia, in a pool of which the 
first Christians, the firstf ruits of the medical mission 
there, were baptized some years ago. 



W. G. MOMBASA. 



BISHOP S COURT, MOMBASA, 
Jan. 3, 1913. 



FOREWORD 

I AM glad indeed to have the privilege of intro 
ducing to the Christian public my old and 
dear friend, Mrs. Crawford. It is now nearly 
a quarter of a century since a young lady called 
on me at my old office in the Church Missionary 
House, and, introducing herself as Miss E. May 
Grimes, informed me that she had been unable to 
resist the call that had come to her after a mission 
ary meeting at Richmond at which I was a speaker, 
and that she had come to offer herself to the 
Society. I passed her on to the Clerical Secretaries, 
and in due course she was accepted for training 
and directed to go to The illows at Stoke 
Newington, where the authorities of Mildmay 
prepared ladies for the mission field. Certain 
difficulties which then arose were overcome in so 
unexpected and striking a way that one could only 
recognize the hand of the Lord in the matter. 
Miss Grimes went happily through her training 
course, and was appointed by the Committee to 
the Japan Mission ; but, to her and my dismay, 
the Medical Board declined to sanction her going 
out. For, I think, two years she worked at the 
China Inland Mission Training Home, and this 
naturally drew out her special sympathy for China. 
To that great land she would gladly have gone, 
but again health considerations barred the way. 
Then came an opening in the less trying climate of 
South Africa, and she joined the South Africa 
General Mission. I was at that time on my travels 
in Australia and India, but when I reached Eng 
land on a certain Thursday in April, 1893, I found 



Foreword 7 

I was just in time to bid her God-speed, which I 
did at Waterloo Station on the Saturday immedi 
ately following, as she left on her new mission. 

She left behind her some beautiful hymns and 
poems, which have made her name widely known, 
particularly A Little Sanctuary and The Master 
comes and calls for thee ; and her letters from 
Pondoland during the next few years were greatly 
appreciated by a large circle of friends. 

Meanwhile the Church in Canada was preparing 
to supply its own missionaries to the C.M.S. fields 
of labour, and among those who were so com 
missioned was Dr. T. W. W. Crawford. He was 
an admirer of Miss Grimes s poetry, and this led 
the way, when they met in England, to his 
approaching her with a view to her joining him in 
the highest earthly union and in the work to which 
he was called. He was appointed to East Africa ; 
to their great joy the Medical Board, encouraged 
by her lengthened experience already in the Dark 
Continent, gave their consent to her going ; and 
Dr. and Mrs. Crawford proceeded to the field so 
graphically described in the following pages. 

So the young candidate of 1889 for foreign 
service found her way at last in the gracious pro 
vidence of God to the Society which had first 
welcomed her. Truly His ways are past 
finding out. 

I do not ask to see 
The distant scene; one step enough for me. 

The author of this book, whose personal story 
I have thus sketched, has to some extent justified 
the original verdict of the doctors by her frequent 
bodily sufferings. But Mrs. Crawford, in much 
ill-health and amid many privations and perils, 
has done a noble work, and set us all a bright ex 
ample of faithfulness and devotion. I commend 
the book with all my heart. 

EUGENE STOCK. 



CONTENTS 

PART I 

Weithaga 

CHAP - PAGE 

I. THROUGH THE BAMBOO FOREST . .13 

II. IN THE HEART OF KIKUYU . . .26 

III. A STUDY IN e EBONY . . 36 

IV. WHERE ANCIENT CULTS PREVAIL . . 50 
V. THE MEDICINE MAN . . . .59 

PART II 

Kahuhia 

VI. ACROSS THE ATHI PLAINS . . .71 

VII. OPENING OF THE KENIA MEDICAL MISSION . 77 

VIII. THE POISONERS DEFEATED . . .89 

IX. ON SAFARI . . . . .97 

X. THE LAST YEAR AT KAHUHIA . . .107 

PART III 

Embu 

XI. BEYOND THE TANA RIVER . . ..117 

XII. AMONGST THE EMBUS . . . .125 

XIII. WITH THE SAVAGE CHUKAS . . .137 

XIV. OUT OF THE JAWS OF DEATH . .145 

XV. WITNESSING TO TRIBES BEYOND . .156 

XVI. FlRSTFRUITS OF HARVEST l68 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

VIEW OF MT. KENIA, AS SEEN FROM THE EMBU MIS 
SION HOUSE .... Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

MAP OF EAST AFRICA . . .14 

THE AUTHOR IN HER SAFARI CHAIR . 17 

A KENIA WATERFALL 
A DIMINUTIVE KIKUYU NURSE THREE KIKUYU 

GIRLS, SHOWING EAR ORNAMENTS 

A MASAI WARRIOR ... .28 

A KIKUYU CHIEF AND HIS SIXTEEN WIVES . . 30 

A KIKUYU HOMESTEAD 

A KIKUYU WOMAN, WITH LOAD OF FIREWOOD . 34, 

A KIKUYU WOMAN . . .38 

A NATIVE VILLAGE KIKUYU BOYS IN CEREMONIAL 

DRESS ...... 42 

A MASAI WARRIOR, WITH JAM POT EAR ORNAMENT 46 
A KIKUYU WARRIOR, WITH HEAD-DRESS OF OSTRICH 

FEATHERS ... .48 

WARRIORS IN FULL WAR ATTIRE . . 50 

A KIKUYU MEDICINE MAN MEDICINE MAN PER 
FORMING CEREMONY OF PURIFICATION . . 59 

CHIEF KARURI S VILLAGE KAHUHIA SCHOOL DR. 

CRAWFORD AND PATIENTS, KAHUHIA . . 80 

9 



io List of Illustrations 

FACING PAGE 

PUPIL TEACHERS AT KAHUHIA SCHOOL . .84 

CAMP IN KARURI S VILLAGE MEDICAL ITINERATION : 
SERVICE IN CAMP PARAMOUNT CHIEFS IN THE 
CIS-TANA COUNTRY . . . .101 

WARRIORS OF EMBULAND . . . .125 

THE BELFRY, EMBU MEDICAL MISSION MEDICAL 

ASSISTANTS AND PUPIL TEACHERS, EMBU . 128 

AN EMBU WARRIOR . . . . .130 

THE IST EMBU COMPANY OF THE BOYS BRIGADE 

EMBU MEDICAL MISSION SCHOOL . .135 

SOME CHUKA BOYS ..... 140 

Two EMBERE CHIEFS CHIEF KABUTHI HOSPITAL 

COMPOUND, EMBU MEDICAL MISSION . .148 

MEDICAL ASSISTANTS TREATING OUT-PATIENTS, EMBU 
THE DISPENSARY AND OPERATING ROOM, EMBU 
EMBU MEDICAL MISSION SCHOOLBOYS GOVERN 
MENT BRIDGE OVER THE TANA RIVER . .168 



PART I 

Weithaga 



Look out upon the field, consider well 

The gloomy darkness brooding o er the land 

Where Satan s seat is set. Ah ! who can tell 
The sin and misery on every hand ? 

Consider well the field the bondage sore 
Of captive souls within the tyrant s power ; 

Groaning for liberty yet more and more, 
Groping for light, but lo ! a darker hour ! 

Consider well the field the awful need 

Of those who have not heard that Jesus died, 

And face the solemn question : Why, indeed, 
To millions is the lamp of life denied ? 



BY THE EQUATOR S 
SNOWY PEAK 

CHAPTER I 

Through the Bamboo Forest 

SEPTEMBER 21, 1904, found Dr. Crawford 
and myself travelling up towards the 
highlands of British East Africa by the Uganda 
Railway. As agents of the Missionary Society 
of the Church of England in Canada, working in 
connexion with the Church Missionary Society, 
we had been designated to labour amongst the 
almost untouched Kikuyu tribe, where, in the 
heart of Kenia Province, Mr. A. W. McGregor 
had been living in great isolation for over a year. 
Such a railway journey is full of unique interest. 
As the higher altitudes are reached, the traveller 
is kept on the alert watching the herds of wild 
animals grazing on the plains. Zebras, harte- 
beestes and other smaller varieties of antelopes, 
giraffes and ostriches may all be seen, and occasion 
ally even a rhinoceros or a lion. As the train 

steamed slowly on its way through the wilds, the 

13 



14 Journeying to the Highlands 

old caravan road, which crosses and recrosses the 
line again and again, was pointed out to us, and 
we thought of all the missionary heroes who had 
tramped along that weary track beneath the 
burning tropical sun. Especially we remembered 
those who had never returned, those who had laid 
down their lives in the attempt to plant the 
standard of the Cross in Uganda. 

The journey from the coast to Victoria Nyanza 
which used to cover several months is now accom 
plished in a little over two days and nights. We 
ourselves left the rail at Kijabi, a point rather 
less than two-thirds of the entire distance to the 
Lake. Here, at the headquarters of the Africa 
Inland Mission, Mr. McGregor had arranged to 
meet us. Mr. Hurlburt, the Director of the 
A.I.M., was on the platform, waiting to wel 
come us as we alighted from the train. He 
had most kindly brought his mule to carry me, 
as the house is about three miles from the 
station. We wound our way in and out up a steep 
path cut through the jungle until we reached the 
mission station. It stands in a clearing of a great 
forest at an altitude of 7,500 feet, overlooking the 
Kidong valley, and commands a magnificent view. 
Eight hundred feet below lies the plain, now 
traversed by the iron horse, where big game 
still abounds ; and away beyond, the volcano 
Longonot, now extinct, stands out in bold relief 
with its black-looking crater. 

While awaiting the arrival of our future fellow- 



EAST AFRICA 




\ (.. Ai 6 Stations underlined . 



A Terrible Pathway 15 

worker we took a trip with Mr. and Mrs. Hurlburt 
to Lake Naivasha. The warlike Masai with their 
gleaming spears and decorated shields, herding 
their cattle in the rich pasture, came about us and 
interested us greatly. Hippopotami are numerous 
in the lake and may often be seen roaming on the 
shore. 

Nothing could exceed the kindness of our 
American friends, and it was arranged that I should 
remain with them at Kijabi for three or four weeks, 
while my husband went on with Mr. McGregor to 
prepare for my reception at the new C.M.S. 
station, Weithaga, in Kenia Province. A caravan 
journey of about sixty miles lay before them, over 
hills and mountains, and through the dense bamboo 
forest which covers the slopes of Mt. Kinangop. 
We had heard much of the difficulties and dangers 
of this route, and Mr. McGregor himself had not 
found it easy to reach Kijabi. His verdict was 
that it would be impossible to take a lady through. 
When at last a messenger arrived with a letter 
from Dr. Crawford this opinion was confirmed, 
as he described the path through the forest as a 
terrible one. Mr. Hurlburt had most kindly lent 
him his mule for twenty miles or so of the way, 
and this had been a great help the first day, at 
the close of which they encamped on the border of 
the forest. The Doctor wrote from Mr. McGregor s 
station, which they had reached in safety, though 
he was exceedingly footsore and weary. He] said 
that as he feared the rains might be beginning 



16 Discussing the Route 

very soon, he must start to fetch me in a week s 
time, and that he would take me another route, 
not through the bamboo forest, but across the 
Athi plains. Now although this was said to be an 
easier road, yet it was very much longer. More 
over some of the widest rivers had not yet been 
bridged, but had to be crossed on logs, which not 
infrequently were washed away in the rainy 
season. Some friends who were acquainted with 
this route declared that it was a dreadful journey, 
and that the heat was also very great on the Athi 
plains. In addition to this I was told that it was 
a great lion country, and only a few weeks 
before a trader on his way to see Mr. McGregor 
had fallen a victim to one of these terrible beasts, 
which entered his tent one night and carried him 
off. 

An intense desire to save my husband the long, 
weary trudge back on my account took possession 
of me, and as both routes seemed to present an 
equal number of difficulties there appeared to be 
little to choose between them. It will, therefore, 
be readily understood that when my kind host 
informed me that he had himself decided to take 
a safari (caravan journey) through the bamboo 
forest in order to see the chief Karuri on business, 
I jumped at the idea of such an escort, and felt 
that somehow or other the seemingly impossible 
would be made possible in answer to prayer. Mr. 
Hurlburt himself proposed that I should accom 
pany him and the two other missionaries of the 




rt 

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I 

u 

u 

A 

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Setting out on Safari 17 

A.I.M. who were going with him. They guaran 
teed they would get me through somehow, and 
their courage was inspiring ! 

Two men who were traders and hunters, who 
knew every bit of the country for many miles 
around, were consulted, and all the difficulties 
of the way were fully discussed. They said that 
there were some parts so steep that it might be 
possible for me to surmount them only by hanging 
on to the neck of a native ! There were also some 
very awkward places where mountain torrents had 
to be crossed, but altogether they were inclined 
to take a hopeful view of the proposition. Mr. 
Hurlburt wished to set out early next morning, 
so preparations had to be hastily made. Mr. 
Downing most kindly fixed my deck chair to 
two bamboo poles, and raw natives were engaged 
to carry our tents and luggage. About 7.30 a.m. 
on Oct. 4, 1904, the cavalcade might have been 
seen winding its way down through the jungle, and 
myself borne along in my chair by four almost 
naked savages, with four others in attendance as 
an extra team, the three American missionaries 
never far from my side, watching over me with the 
greatest thoughtfulness. Then came a long, single 
file of dusky porters, each with a load of sixty 
pounds on his back, suspended by a leather strap 
from his head. To swell the caravan were a number 
of mission boys, all full of excitement over the idea 
of a safari. 

We made our way down to the railway, and 



i8 An Interminable Tramp 

proceeded along the line for several miles, then 
branched off and began climbing a tremendously 
steep hill, where my chair had to be dragged through 
dense undergrowth, while at the same time we 
were impeded by overhanging branches of trees. 
We emerged at length upon the summit, and the 
panting porters threw themselves down upon the 
grass to recover their breath. 

Nearly the whole of the remainder of that day 
was spent in traversing an enormous plateau with 
Mt. Kinangop looming dark before us in the dis 
tance. Elephant tracks were to be seen at intervals 
along the road, and we wondered whether we 
should see any of those formidable creatures, or 
whether a rhinoceros or buffalo would cross our 
path. But no, the caravan was too large and noisy 
for them to venture near, although we saw herds 
of wild animals in the distance, and zebras and 
ostriches abounded. 

What an interminable tramp it seemed as we 
pressed on beneath the burning sun, longing in 
vain for the cool shade of trees, or the refreshing 
sound of running water ! At noon a halt was 
called, and perching ourselves on some rocks we 
made a hasty repast, the menu consisting of 
potatoes baked on a camp fire, and tea without 
milk. Towards the close of the day we neared 
the bamboo forest, and there was Kinangop right 
overhead waiting to be scaled ! The weary plain 
was left behind, trees became numerous and the 
whole landscape was very lovely in the soft evening 






Struggling through Difficulties 19 

light. The swinging of the chair had produced 
sensations not far removed from mal de mer, 
and so it was an unspeakable relief, when at last 
the tents were pitched, to be able to turn in to my 
little stretcher bed. 

The crackling of camp fires in the early dawn 
warned me that the caravan was astir, and, re 
freshed by a good night s rest, I quickly joined my 
kind friends for a picnic breakfast of boiled rice, 
and shortly afterwards we were on the march 
again. The path now became very overgrown, 
but brushing aside the tangling branches, we 
pushed cheerily on into the forest enjoying the 
keen morning air. Only one European lady (as 
far as we could ascertain) had ever been through 
the bamboo forest before. This was the wife of a 
Government official from Fort Hall. It is in 
parts very swampy, and the natives who carried 
me were frequently struggling in deep mud, and 
it would require all the additional porters to steady 
my chair and guard it from accident. At times, 
too, it had to be hauled up almost inaccessible 
places, and at others to be dragged through an 
almost impenetrable wall of bamboo. Yet through 
all the difficulties my poor bearers pressed on with 
marvellous patience and perseverance. And my 
missionary friends, though they fell again and 
again in the muddy swamps, and clambered 
panting up slippery and precipitate paths, were 
always brave and cheerful, and their courage was 
infectious. 



20 Over Mt. Kinangop 

It was worth a great deal to see that marvellous 
forest, with the delicate tracery of the bamboo 
foliage, the trailing vines, the lovely begonias 
and the wealth of ferns and staghorn moss. At 
one point an elephant had just broken through, 
tossing some great bamboos across the path, and 
leaving his giant footprints deeply embedded 
in the soil. Buffaloes are numerous in the forest 
glades, and leopards and other beasts of prey lurk 
in its deep recesses ; while in the lower altitudes 
of the mountain, where many varieties of beautiful 
trees cover the slopes with perpetual green, myriads 
of long-haired (Colybus) monkeys sport themselves 
amongst the lofty branches. 

Towards the middle of the day we reached the 
neck of the mountain just below the rocky peaks, 
an altitude of about 11,000 feet. I had never been 
so high up in my life before ! The view was simply 
grand ! But we were not through the forest 
yet. Very soon we were enclosed in thick under 
growth again, and towering bamboos shut us in 
on every side. We now began the descent, which 
was in places exceedingly steep. Drenching rain 
retarded our progress by rendering the pathway 
fearfully slippery. Sometimes there was a moun 
tain torrent to cross and the chair needed the 
most careful handling. Down, down we came, 
the porters warily picking their footsteps, until 
in the afternoon we emerged from the forest and 
began threading our way up and down amongst 
the foothills of Mt. Kinangop. It was about 




A Kenia Waterfall 



In a Predicament ! 21 

4.30 p.m. when the tents were pitched for the 
night, and oh, how welcome was the rest after the 
strenuous travel of the day ! Many of the natives 
came round us, all willing to make friends, and 
selling us milk, sweet potatoes, yams and bananas. 

On the following morning the encampment 
was astir very early, and by 6.30 we had had 
breakfast (boiled rice again !) and struck our tents 
ready for the last day s march. We were en 
shrouded in a thick mist which gradually developed 
into heavy rain. Yet in spite of this drawback, 
our hearts were full of praise to our loving Father 
Who had brought us thus far safely on our way. 
A series of awkward places now confronted us, 
and to intensify the predicament we were all 
drenched to the skin ! The rain poured per 
sistently down the back of my chair so that I was 
soon sitting in a pool of water ! At the time I 
think we scarcely noticed these little drawbacks, 
so absorbed were we in overcoming the difficulties 
of the road. 

The path wended its way first of all down a hill 
that was almost vertical. How I ever reached the 
bottom in safety was a matter of marvel ! A 
magnificent waterfall broke upon our gaze, and 
just above it the Maragua River had to be crossed. 
Great shelving boulders formed the bank. A 
more impossible place to carry a lady in a chair 
could scarcely be found ! Yet, being but a poor 
climber, I could not trust myself on foot ; and so 
it transpired that I was borne down over the rocks 



22 Crossing a Slippery Log 

and across the river in a manner that was truly 
incredible. Two of the A.I.M. boys proved as 
watchful over me as were the missionaries them 
selves, and one could dare a great deal with such 
an escort. At the bottom of the next two hills, 
which were frightfully steep, were streams bridged 
only by a single plank, and indeed the word 
plank is altogether too civilized a term to use, 
as in each case it was simply the trunk of a tree, 
roughly hewn in half, and rendered very slippery 
by mud and rain. The second of these was of a 
great length, and some eighteen feet beneath it was 
a rushing stream with sharp stones jutting out of 
its rocky bed. It was to my mind the most 
dangerous place of the whole journey. I dared 
not venture across such a narrow and slippery 
bridge on foot, and, as it must needs be traversed, 
I committed myself to God, and remained in my 
chair. Had a single porter slipped we must have 
been hurled into the river, the balance was so 
extremely critical ; but God mercifully kept their 
feet and brought us in safety to the other side. 
Meeting one of the A.I.M. missionaries a few months 
ago he told me that he still held his breath to think 
of me being carried across that log bridge ! 

From eleven to one o clock we halted, and the 
boys cooked a brace of partridges for our dinner 
which had fallen to Mr. Staff aucher s gun. Natives 
crowded around, staring at me open-mouthed, 
especially the women and children, who probably 
had never seen a white woman before. At first 





A Diminutive Kikuyu Nurse 
Three Kikuyu Girls, showing- Ear Ornaments 



Arrival at Weithaga 23 

they ran away in fear, and were with difficulty 
persuaded to return. However, an old man came 
and held my hand to show them that I was quite 
harmless, whereupon they gradually crept nearer, 
and were ultimately prevailed upon to come and 
greet me. Then they wanted to touch my clothes, 
and hair and face, and began to chatter to me in a 
language which, of course, I could not understand. 

A distant hill was now pointed out as Mr. 
McGregor s station, and as the mist and rain cleared 
off and the sun shone out we made much better 
progress. Up and down we went over ridges 
and valleys until we reached the foot of the 
Weithaga hill, and as all our hearts overflowed 
with thankfulness I suggested we should sing the 
Doxology. Out ran Mr. McGregor, all astonish 
ment, followed a little later by my husband who, 
on seeing such an imposing caravan approaching, 
had first rushed to put on a collar, thinking it 
must betoken a visit from the Provincial Com 
missioner ! But when he discovered the facts of 
the case he came tearing down the hill with a face 
aglow with surprise and delight ! 

Mr. McGregor was very much afraid that the 
Provincial Commissioner of Kenia Province would 
resent the fact of my coming into the country 
before the iron house was finished, as he had laid 
down the law on the matter more strongly than I 
was aware. So Dr. Crawford dispatched a letter 
to Fort Hall at once to notify my arrival. The 
answer came next morning in the shape of six native 



24 A Native Bodyguard 

policemen and a corporal, sent to mount guard over 
my tent until further orders ! Later on a kind 
letter came from Mr. Hinde, the Provincial Com 
missioner, saying that he would gladly do what he 
could to assist us, and that he had already taken 
precautions for Mrs. Crawford s safety by sending 
some native askaris (soldiers) to guard her tent. 

At the time of which I am writing the Weithaga 
station had only been opened a few months, and 
being destitute of trees, presented rather a dreary 
aspect ; although the magnificent panorama of 
hills all around, stretching away to Mt. Kinangop 
on the west, and to the snow-capped peak of Kenia 
on the norch, more than compensated for the lack 
of beauty in the site itself. The altitude being 
about 6,000 feet the nights are cold, and even when 
the sun is exerting its power there is always a 
refreshing and invigorating breeze. 

No sooner had we arrived and settled into our 
tent than the autumnal rains (if indeed one may 
use such a term in this land of perpetual summer) 
began in good earnest. No one who has not 
undergone the experience could have the least 
idea of the discomfort of camping under such 
circumstances ! For three weeks we had to endure 
it as best we could. Outside the tent, in rain or 
shine, paced an askari, with rifle and fixed bayonet, 
ready to salute us as we passed in and out ; and 
whenever I went for a stroll with my husband at 
sundown there was always an attendant body 
guard ! At last the little iron shanty was finished, 



Under a Roof again 25 

and we were glad to be under a roof once more, 
although, being destitute of any lining, it formed 
but a poor protection from heat by day and from 
cold by night. Moreover nothing would induce 
the mud floor to dry ! 



CHAPTER II 

In the Heart of Kikuyu 

T IKE some solemn sentinel, snow-capped 
-L/ Kenia seems to mount guard over the 
province that bears its name. Far away up into 
the blue it rears its mitre-shaped peak, and eternal 
glaciers sparkle in the tropical sunshine, breaking 
up into mountain torrents which dash down the 
deep rifts and chasms in its rocky sides, to terminate 
below in the many beautiful and swift-flowing 
rivers which render the country so fertile. Below 
the frost line is a wide belt of bamboo, of palest 
grey-green. Lower still a yet broader belt encircles 
the mountain, of a deeper, warmer hue, and in 
this vast primeval forest the lordly elephant reigns 
supreme, for the foot of man has seldom penetrated 
its recesses. Silhouetted against the pale evening 
sky, its snowy pinnacle reflecting the rosy tints 
of sunset, Mt. Kenia appears as a vision of glory ! 
Perhaps it is equally arresting in the stillness of the 
early dawn, when, as if awaking out of sleep, the 
mountain gradually throws aside the soft, fleecy 

clouds which cling around it like gossamer drapery, 

26 



4 Mountain of Dazzling Whiteness 27 

until it stands out clear and majestic in the bright 
ening sunlight. There is a perpetual sensation of 
loss in the landscape when for months together the 
mountain is veiled from view by low-lying clouds 
and only an occasional peep is vouchsafed after 
some heavy storm or night of pouring rain. Can 
it be wondered at that Kirinyaga (mountain of 
dazzling whiteness) should be regarded as the 
centre of the religious life of the simple savages 
who for centuries have gazed at its lofty summit, 
declaring that Ngai (God) Himself or Mweni 
Nyaga (possessor of whiteness or purity), as they 
sometimes call Him, dwells amidst its untrodden 
snows ? 

Mt. Kenia, which in altitude (17,000 ft.) ranks 
after Ruwenzori and Kilima Njaro of all the moun 
tain j of Africa, and which stands on the equator, 1 
was discovered by the great pioneer missionary of 
the C.M.S., Dr. Krapf, in 1849. In constant danger 
of his life, and destitute of a tent or any creature 
comforts, this devoted servant of the Cross, whose 
one ambition was to extend the knowledge of his 
Lord and Saviour in the interior of Africa, pene 
trated as far as the bank of the Tana River in 
Ukamba with the hope of founding a mission 
station there. It was the Kamba tribe who 
taught him to call the great mountain Kenia, 
whereas if only he could have gone farther, and 
explored the country of the Akikuyu, it would 
doubtless have been known to the world by 
1 The equator cuts through its northern slopes. 



28 Harassing Foes 

its true name, Kirinyaga. But for the white man 
to venture into the wilds of Kikuyu until within 
a few years ago was to meet almost certain death. 
In passing through the border of this country the 
caravan of Bishop Hannington was held up, 
not only by the fierce Masai, but by the Akikuyu 
also, and it was with the greatest difficulty that 
they escaped with their lives, being unable to 
comply with the exorbitant demands of the people. 
Perhaps it was not without reason that the 
Kikuyu people resented the coming of strangers. 
Inter-tribal warfare was a matter of constant 
occurrence and rendered them extremely suspicious. 
Their hand was against every man and every man 
was against them. On their eastern border the 
Akamba oppressed and troubled them ; and the 
wild Ndorobo, who inhabit the forests and live 
entirely by the chase, were a constant thorn in their 
side though it is probable that the Akikuyu 
dispossessed this tribe of their territory when 
they conquered the country many generations ago. 
But perhaps most frequent of all were the raids 
of the warlike Masai, who, pouring over the moun 
tains to the west and south-west, would sweep 
down upon a village at night, carrying off women 
and children, and as many cattle, sheep and goats 
as they could lay their hands upon, whilst spears 
hurtled through the air, and blood flowed freely 
on both sides. 

Ah ! if the grand old mountain could only speak, 
what stories it could tell us, not only of the raids 







{Photograph : Binks, Nairobi 



A Masai Warrior, with Jam Pot Ear Ornament 



Establishing the first Fort 29 

of the Masai, but of the coming of the Arab 
caravans, of the remorseless cruelty of the slave 
dealers, the pitiless lash and thong, and the un 
availing cries of those who were torn away from 
their homes and kindred never more to behold 
them again. Alas ! the Akikuyu, like their neigh 
bours the Akamba, learnt at last to sell their own 
children into slavery. 

But with the coming of the British dawned a 
somewhat brighter day for the Kikuyu tribe, 
though they were naturally slow to recognize the 
advantage. After much difficulty a fort was 
established near the Mathioya River on a hill 
overlooking the Athi plains, sixty miles from 
Nairobi, which was afterwards known as Fort 
Hall, in memory of its founder. From this centre 
the whole province of Kenia (including roughly 
speaking a radius of sixty or seventy miles round 
the mountain) was administered by a provincial 
commissioner. As the country was gradually 
brought into subjection other Government stations 
were opened which were presided over by district 
officers. At the time of writing there are four 
forts in Kenia, namely, Fort Hall, Fort Nyeri, 
Fort Embu and Fort Mem. The Tana River 
divides the province into two sections ; in the Cis- 
Tana section are the Akikuyu proper, to the num 
ber of some 450,000, and the Trans-Tana section is 
occupied by other tribes which are branches of 
the Kikuyu family, speaking different dialects of 
the same language, numbering about 550,000, 



30 Suspended Bee Hives 

making quite a million in all. These kindred 
tribes comprise the Ndia, Embu, Chuka, Mwimbi, 
Theraka and Meru, all inhabiting the territory 
east and north-east of Mt. Kenia. In some of these 
districts white men are still prohibited from 
travelling owing to the extremely unsettled state 
of these savage peoples. 

The Tana River, which rises in Mt. Kenia, forms 
the principal waterway to the Indian Ocean, and 
into it all the lesser streams of the country are 
emptied. Being well-watered, Kikuyu is not 
only beautiful but exceedingly fertile, and the 
soil supplies the natives with a liberal and varied 
diet. Maize, millet, canary seed, sweet potatoes, 
yams, cassava, bananas and several varieties of 
beans, besides tobacco and castor oil trees, may all 
be found growing prolifically in the carefully 
cultivated gardens which produce two harvests a 
year. Honey is greatly prized, so much so that a 
fine of thirty goats may be inflicted on any one 
who dares to steal a beehive ! These beehives 
are made from sections of trees, hollowed out and 
closed by discs of wood at each end, cracks being 
left for the bees to crawl in and out. They are 
suspended from the branches of high trees as a rule. 

The altitude of the Kikuyu hills ranges for the 
most part between four and six thousand feet. 
Although almost on the equator the climate is 
temperate, and varies very little all the year 
round, the thermometer seldom rising above 80 
in the shade, or falling below 50 on the coldest 




{Photograph : Under-wood 



A Kikuyu Chief and his Sixteen Wives 



The Great Primeval Forests 31 

nights. The hottest months are from December 
to March. There are two rainy seasons, the longer 
one lasting from March to June, and the shorter 
one from October to December. 

The great primeval forests, which must once 
have covered a considerable portion of the 
province, have gradually been cleared away, except 
around the base of the mountain, where they are 
so extensive as to require several days to penetrate. 
Portions of forest, however, still remain in some 
parts of the country, especially in the vicinity of 
Mt. Kinangop ; and many fine old groups of trees 
have been allowed to stand as sacred groves, where 
sacrifices are offered to the White God. Such 
places are supposed to be frequented by departed 
spirits and are regarded with reverence. All 
uncultivated land is densely covered with rank 
weeds, coarse grass or tangling bushes, where 
leopards, hyaenas and wild cats lurk. 

The flora of the country is disappointing, a 
lovely crimson lily, with clinging, vine-like tendrils, 
being alone worthy of note, unless we include the 
begonias of the forest. 

Among the endless foothills of the great mountain 
nestle the beehive-like homes of this interesting 
tribe, peeping out from banana plantations or 
obscured by trees and undergrowth. In the old 
days of unceasing inter-tribal strife the more 
entirely the village could be hidden from view the 
more complete would be the feeling of security. 
Even the narrow pathway leading up to it would be 



32 * Fooling the Evil Spirits ! 

made as tortuous as possible with the object of 
* fooling not only their enemies but the evil 
spirits also ! These evil spirits were certainly 
not purely ethereal, as even within the precincts 
of his own tribe a Mukikuyu dared hardly venture 
on his neighbour s hill or ridge such was the risk 
of injury and even of death ! 

A homestead is nearly always built on a hillside, 
and is generally surrounded by a hedge of thick- 
growing bushes. The size of the village will 
naturally depend on the wealth of the owner. A 
poor man must content himself with a single hut 
for himself and his wife, while a rich man s home 
stead may consist of eight or ten little beehive 
erections, each of his wives having a home of her 
own. The huts are circular in shape, with low 
walls, not more than three feet high, built as a rule 
of mud and sticks. They are not infrequently 
padded with bracken fern, or other greenery, to give 
additional warmth. The conical roof is supported 
by four posts, on which rest many long, straight 
poles, all converging to the apex. Upon this 
framework a substantial layer of bracken fern is 
placed and then the whole is thatched with coarse 
grass. A hurdle forms the door, being lifted into 
its place to close the dwelling at night, or during 
the absence of the owner. Owing to the doorway 
being so low that it can only be entered in a crawling 
posture, the interiors are of necessity exceedingly 
dark, such an innovation as a window being alto 
gether remote from the savage mind ! 



The Interior of a Hut 33 

In the centre of the mud floor is the fireplace, 
this being indicated by a slight round depression 
in the surface, on which a few hearth-stones repose 
for balancing the cooking-pots. The sides of the 
hut are divided into several partitions, each of 
which contains a rough wooden bedstead (usually 
built of sticks or in some cases of a single plank 
supported on posts) standing about two feet from 
the ground. Low wooden stools, on which the in 
mates squat round the fire, are the only other 
furniture excepting a few gourds and cooking 
utensils. A fire is seldom allowed to die out, but 
if it should be extinguished it is soon kindled 
again by means of two sticks which are rubbed 
together to create friction, one being of hard and 
the other of soft wood. Besides the houses there 
are the granaries, which are in reality large baskets 
on poles, although their thatched roofs give them 
the appearance of tiny huts. A stockaded en 
closure for the safeguarding of the cattle at night 
occupies a part of the village compound, but the 
calves, sheep and goats are usually accommo 
dated within the huts. It may here be mentioned 
that the cattle are of the zebra variety, with a hump 
on the back. Should a calf die the skin is some 
times removed, and having been carefully sewn 
together, it is stuffed with dried grass, in such a 
way as to resemble life as far as possible. The 
cow will lick it over and, apparently satisfied with 
the dummy, will let her milk flow. Without this 
ruse it would be impossible to obtain any ! 



34 A Village Scene 

A visit to a Kikuyu homestead at sundown well 
repays the missionary who would study the life 
and customs of the people. One is generally 
received with friendliness, especially if the visitor 
can speak to them in their own language. Let me 
endeavour to set before my readers a sort of 
cinematograph picture of such a scene. If it 
be a large village there may be a withered old 
granny squatting at a hut door, or one or two aged 
men clad in scraps of ragged and dirty goatskin, 
warming their skinny hands over a handful of fire 
on the ground, and now and then refreshing them 
selves with a pinch of snuff from the tiny gourds 
which are suspended from their necks. Some little 
naked youngsters are playing close by. A mother 
with a wee baby tied on her back is sitting on the 
ground shelling beans. Standing by her side is a 
little girl trying to hush the cries of a bigger baby 
with which her small shoulders are weighted. Two 
or three women now return home after a day of 
toil in the fields, one bearing a basket of maize 
cobs, the others with huge loads of firewood strapped 
on their backs, a merry little fellow of two or three 
years of age sitting aloft on one of the bundles. 
Throwing down their burdens the women begin 
to prepare the supper which, the evening being 
fine, will be cooked in the open air. A big earthen 
ware pot is set up on some hearth-stones and a 
fire is soon blazing underneath. Peeping into a 
cooking-pot we distinguish through the steam 
a thick brown porridge made from Kaffir-corn 




\ Photograph : Binks, Nairobi 



A Kikuyu Woman, with Load of Firewood 



Cooking the Evening Meal 35 

meal. Some sweet potatoes and bananas are 
being roasted in the ashes. 

Just at this juncture a herd of sheep and goats 
come trooping into the village, driven by the small 
herd boys who cast hungry glances in the direction 
of the cooking-pot! Presently the cattle enter, 
some of the cows lowing loudly for their calves 
which have been tied up in a hut, or browsing with 
the goats all day, Meanwhile the men of the 
homestead having sauntered in, a young warrior 
brings a dirty gourd, and squatting down on 
his heels, proceeds to milk a cow. But now the 
sun is sinking beyond the distant hills, and darkness 
will quickly fall upon the landscape. So with the 
greeting Tiguo uhoro! (Remain in peace !), which is 
exchanged with Thie uhoro ! (Go in peace !), we 
hastily pass out of the enclosure and hurry back 
to the mission station. 



CHAPTER III 

A Study in Ebony ; 

or, The People of the Tribe 

THE most interesting event after our arrival 
at Weithaga was the welcome extended 
to me by the Kikuyu women. Led by their 
chieftainess, Wangu, they ascended the hill in 
hundreds to perform a dance in my honour. 
Nothing would content them but that I must be 
dragged into the centre of the ring, to endure with 
as cheerful a countenance as I could muster the 
din of their savage song and the smother of dust 
raised by their feet. A presentation of a sheep 
followed, and after this Wangu seemed to claim me 
as her particular friend ! She is quite a remarkable 
person in her way, and is the only female chief 
we have ever known. Probably she would never 
have been recognized by the Government in this 
capacity had not her husband, to whom the 
authority of sub-chief was originally given, proved 
incapable, while Wangu demonstrated herself 
to be the better man of the two ! With well- 
oiled body, draped with skins, smeared with red 

clay and grease and ornamented with an amazing 

36 



4 Tailor-made * Costumes 37 

quantity of beads, Wangu is well able to hold her 
own as the leading lady of the country ! 

Every Kikuyu woman wears a tailor-made 
costume, the goatskin clothing being shaped and 
sewn by the men ; and she is very particular 
about the cut, although the fashion is unvarying 
from year to year ! Her skirt hangs long behind, 
terminating in two points or tails, and is folded 
across a short leather apron in front. A goatskin 
cape, suspended by a string from one shoulder, 
covers the upper part of the body, but is usually 
laid aside during manual work. The women have 
their own methods of dressing the skins, which 
are rubbed with fat until quite soft and pliable, 
when they are frequently smeared over with red 
clay. White or coloured beads are sometimes 
sewn into the seams and round the edges of these 
garments, thus rendering them ultra-stylish ! 

It is strange how dearly an African loves a 
decoration of beads ! The Kikuyu women are 
sometimes quite heavily laden with them. Large 
hoops of beaded wire hang from their ears ; and 
bead necklaces, varying in number according to 
the estimation in which they are held by husbands 
or lovers, are strung around their necks. Young 
girls are decorated with a frontlet of beadwork 
over their foreheads, and a kind of corset of blue 
and white beads just below the waist. Beads are 
not, however, the only ornament. Coils of brass 
wire, kept brightly shining, are worn on the arms 
and above the ankles, if the woman be a person 



38 Distorted Ears 

t 

of any importance. If she has attained the rank 

of mutumia (a married woman with grown-up 
children), she must keep her head entirely shaved, 
and also insert huge brass rings in the distended 
lobes of her ears. The younger women shave the 
front and back of the head, leaving only a circle 
of hair on the crown. As soon as a girl is able to 
take a part in the general work of the village, her 
hair is cut in this curious way, and the wretched 
custom of distorting the ears begins. Three 
punctures are made in the upper edge, into which 
small sticks of equal size are inserted. A much 
larger hole is made in the lobe, which is continually 
stretched by the introduction of chunks of wood. 
These are again and again replaced by wedges of 
a larger size until the lobe is so extended that it 
will sometimes reach to the shoulder. Necklaces 
are often threaded through the ears, making it 
somewhat difficult and painful to turn the head. 
Little girls seldom wear anything but a small 
leathern apron, and a string of beads round the 
neck. 

As I sat in the centre of the ring of merry women 
and girls dancing in my honour I could scarcely 
realize what strenuous lives they led, but this I 
found out by degrees, as we watched them come and 
go day by day, and visited them in their villages. 
Though practically slaves from childhood they bear 
life s burdens very philosophically, and are generally 
ready with a laugh and a jest. See the tiny girl 
of four or five years trotting bravely along with a 







[Photograph . Sinks, Nairobi 



A Kikuyu Woman 



A Nurse in Miniature 39 

baby almost as big as herself on her back ! Look 
at her again, as she follows her mother with a 
bundle of sticks poised on her slender shoulders, or a 
little gourd filled with water from the river ! As 
she grows year by year the burdens will become 
gradually heavier and heavier, but her muscles 
will be so strong that she will usually carry them 
cheerfully. We have seen women carrying loads 
of firewood that weighed quite 180 Ibs. ! The small 
Kikuyu maiden is early taught to handle her 
little cultivating knife in the gardens, digging and 
weeding all day long beside her mother ; then after 
assisting to carry home the produce of the fields, 
she must help to cook the food for the lazy men 
folk at sundown ! If not engaged in the fields, the 
women may be seen busily employed at home, 
pounding maize in a large wooden mortar, or 
grinding the corn on a smooth slab of stone, by 
means of a smaller stone which they work to and 
fro with their hands. This latter process, being 
accomplished in a kneeling position, must be very 
fatiguing. 

Sometimes when taking a walk in the cool of 
the day we have come upon a number of women 
pounding sugar-cane for the brewing of native 
beer. For this a large log of timber is felled, and 
as it lies on the ground a long row of holes resembling 
mortars is carved on its surface. Pestles of hard 
wood are prepared, about six feet in length and 
each weighing seven or eight pounds avoirdupois ; 
with these the cane is pounded to a pulp, which is 



40 A Busy Toiler 

then carried to a group of men sitting near, whose 
duty it is to wring out the juice. This is poured into 
large gourds and allowed to ferment. A still more 
intoxicating drink is made from honey. Pottery 
is an important industry which is entirely in the 
hands of the women. They will travel many miles 
to procure the right kind of sand, and it is really 
remarkable with what skill they will fashion the 
large cooking-pots which are so much in demand. 

A Kikuyu woman scarcely knows what idleness 
means. Her leisure moments are occupied with the 
manufacture of string bags which are used for 
carrying the garden produce or the ripe corn from 
the fields. Even when she has become habituated 
to attending the mission service on Sunday, she 
may be seen in her place in church busily plying 
her fingers as she pulls the threads in and out, 
while a half -finished bag lies on her lap. The 
twine for these bags is made by a method which 
would hardly commend itself to friends at home, 
namely, by chewing strips of wild ramie fibre in the 
mouth before twisting them into string. 

Although the women have no share in the dis 
cussion of public affairs, yet in buying and selling 
they are experts. Were it not for the native mar 
kets which are held every fourth day at recognized 
places all over the country, there would indeed be 
little to sharpen their wits. But the constant 
bargaining over the exchange and sale of their 
wares and garden produce tends to somewhat 
develop their otherwise dull and torpid minds. 



Dancing in the Moonlight 41 

The market is a place of social reunion, and 
between the hours of eleven and twelve in the 
morning, when the fair is at its height, it presents 
a seething mass of black humanity. 

Of recreation the women and girls have little, 
but on moonlight nights they come out to dance 
on the open spaces outside the homesteads, and 
the hillsides echo with the shrill trilling of their 
peculiar song. It is only as a woman advances in 
years that she may hope to meet with much respect 
from the other sex. Young men are expected to 
step out of the path to allow an old dame to pass, 
if it be a very narrow one. The head wife of a 
member of the Kiama (council of elders) is per 
mitted to be present at the tribal councils ; of this 
privilege, however, the women seldom avail them 
selves. During a woman s existence she passes 
through the following stages : (1) Karegu (little 
girl) ; (2) kiregu (big girl) ; (3) muiretu (marriage 
able girl) ; (4) muhiki (bride or young married 
woman) ; (5) wabai (mother of young children) ; 
(6) mutumia (mother of children who have attained 
their majority) ; (7) kiheti (old woman). 

Peeping out from the leather cape by which it is 
fastened to its mother s back, a Kikuyu baby gets 
its first impressions of life in general ! When able 
to use its legs the naked little mite toddles after 
her wherever she goes, getting an occasional lift 
when tired. A few years later (if a boy) he is 
herding the goats on the green sward outside the 
homestead, and a very 4 happy-go-lucky, jolly 



42 A * Happy -go -Lucky Little Fellow 

little fellow he is, with his brown limbs unfettered 
by any clothing, except perhaps a tiny piece of 
goatskin slung from one shoulder. Small notice is 
taken of him until the time draws near for his 
initiation into the tribe, which may take place at 
any age between fourteen and eighteen years, but 
it must be preceded by a ceremony known as the 
second birth. His ears are now pierced and 
distended by a circular piece of wood, which must 
cause him a good deal of pain. Three or four 
months before his initiation the boy begins to dance 
in company with other youths who are preparing 
for the rite. Painting their bodies over with white 
pipeclay, they drape themselves with Colybus 
monkey and serval cat skins, while at the same time 
carrying sticks and small wooden shields which are 
attached to the upper part of their arms. 

A large concourse of relatives and friends gathers 
together to dance on the eventful day, and after a 
sacrifice has been offered the boys are initiated. 
They are now recognized as warriors, and strut 
about with an air of great importance. No work 
is expected of them, and henceforth the herding is 
left to the younger lads. Idle amusement and 
sensuality are the only features which stamp their 
present existence. To acquire a sufficient number 
of goats for the purchase of a wife becomes the 
object of their ambition. The price is fixed 
by the prospective father-in-law, and will be about 
thirty goats, but it may vary according to the 
price paid for the girl s mother ; nothing, however, 








A Native Village 
Kikuyu Boys in Ceremonial Dress 



Wooing a Dusky Bride 43 

must be said about the price at the first interview. 
If the young man has taken a fancy to a girl whose 
elder sisters are still unmarried he will probably be 
told that he must either transfer his affections to 
one of these, or be prepared to wait until they have 
been disposed of, as it is contrary to the custom of 
the tribe for a younger daughter to marry before 
the elder ones. 

When possibly fifteen to twenty goats have been 
paid over the marriage may take place. The 
young man then presents the girl s father with a 
sheep, and the following day, accompanied by his 
relatives, he goes to the bride s home, carrying 
gourds of beer and clusters of bananas. The girl s 
relatives are also assembled, but she herself must 
not appear. Festivities open with a beer drink, 
and then the two mothers lead off in the Kitiro 
dance. After this the respective fathers retire for 
a consultation. When they rejoin the company 
a sheep is killed, and presently all the men are 
squatting round the little fires they have kindled 
roasting bits of meat in the flames. Before the 
feast begins all the women disappear, as it is not 
correct for them to witness the men eating meat ! 
If the bridegroom is rich, a second sheep is sure to 
be demanded for the benefit of the elders who are 
present. 

A few days later, after other preliminaries have 
been completed, the young man waylays the girl 
and carries her off struggling and screaming 
to her new abode, or he may depute his warrior 



44 A Strange Bridal Scene 

friends to capture his bride, or even the old women 
of his village ! Her girl friends follow her and 
live with her for several days, bringing her all the 
food she needs, and abusing the bridegroom when 
ever he puts in an appearance ! At length to get 
rid of them he gives the girls a substantial present 
of fat and food, and thus propitiated they consent 
to return to their homes. 

The bride, meanwhile, keeps up a constant 
wailing for over a week, which can be heard for some 
distance around the village. During this period she 
refuses all the food offered to her by her husband, 
and will eat only that which is sent to her by her 
mother or girl friends. Custom demands that 
during the first eight days after her capture, the 
fire must never be extinguished within the new 
home or in the mother s hut. At the end of this 
time the bridegroom presents her with a new suit 
of skins, which he has in all probability shaped and 
sewn for her himself. His own girl friends then 
appear on the scene, their duty being to deck the 
bride out in her new clothes, which they proceed to 
rub so profusely with red clay and castor oil that 
the costume fairly shines. The young wife s skin 
must be treated in the same way, and her head 
must be shaved, leaving only the prescribed circle 
of hair on the crown. Beaded hoops of wire are 
fastened in her ears, and if the bridegroom be 
wealthy he will complete the toilet with a number 
of bead necklets. Thus attired she is carried in 
triumph to her mother s village, the girls taking 



Unlucky Twins 45 

it in turns to bear her on their backs until they 
arrive at their destination. When the visit has 
been paid they carry her off again to the bride 
groom s abode. She is on no account allowed to 
spend a night at her old home, however much she 
may wish to do so. Before the conclusion of the 
first month after his wedding the young man is 
expected to provide a large feast for his own 
relatives and friends. 

To have only one wife is considered a sign of 
poverty. The women themselves are in favour 
of polygamy, as they do not care to be left to do 
all the work of the village and gardens alone. 
The first wife, however, retains her superiority, 
and her first child will be regarded as the eldest 
even if born after the child of the second wife. 
Each wife has her own hut, granary, and plots for 
cultivation. A rich man may have possibly six or 
seven wives ; the paramount chief Karuri is said 
to have as many as seventy ! 

Twins are considered very unlucky. If they 
happen to be the first-born children they must 
both be killed. First-born twins of goats and sheep 
must also be sacrificed. If a child has had the 
misfortune to cut its upper teeth first the poor mite 
may have to pay for this calamity with its life, 
unless a sacrifice can be arranged. 1 

In the Kikuyu tribe the stages of a man s exist 
ence are as follows: (1) Kahce (little boy); (2) kihee 

1 Since the British Government have taken over the country 
such customs have been suppressed, as far as possible. 



46 * Different Styles Prevail 

(big boy); (3) mwanake (warrior) ; (4) githiga (father 
of young children) ; (5) muthuri (elder). When he 
enters the githiga class he is expected to give up 
dancing with the warriors. 

Before the coming of the white man a goat s 
skin suspended from the shoulder was the only 
covering of the men, but now a piece of dirty 
American cotton, sometimes covered with red 
clay, is the fashion, or in some cases a coloured 
blanket is draped loosely over the body. The 
elderly men of the tribe allow their grizzled, woolly 
hair to grow quite naturally, and are content to 
leave it without ornamentation ; not so, however, 
the dandy warrior, who bestows much time and 
care on his hair-dressing. Different styles pre 
vail in different districts Some imitate the Masai, 
who wear a top -knot in front, and a thick 
pigtail hanging half-way down the back. To 
obtain this result strands of wild ramie fibre are 
interwoven with tufts of the hair, those in front 
being so firmly bound together that the top -knot 
stands out stiff and straight several inches beyond 
the forehead. In a similar way the numerous 
strands of fibre are tied together into a long, thick 
queue at the back of the head. This is wound 
round with strips of sheepskin, and the entire 
head-dress is then oiled and smeared with red clay. 
Another style is to interweave innumerable little 
strips of fibre with the native wool in such a way 
as to resemble long hair. When thickly coated 
with red clay and mutton fat the deception is 




[Photograph : Binks, Nairobi 



A Masai Warrior 



The Dandy Warrior 47 

complete ! Yet another method, much in vogue, 
is a head-dress of black vulture feathers, each 
feather being attached to little tufts of hair. 
Red clay and fat are often so liberally smeared, 
not only over the head, but over the neck, chest 
and shoulders also, as to be literally streaming 
down the body when the warrior has completed 
his toilet for a dance ! 

Ornaments, too, must not be forgotten ! Of 
these the most important are those for the ear. 
Large wooden discs are inserted in the distorted 
lobes, or if the young brave can get hold of a jam 
pot or a cocoa tin for this purpose, so much the 
better ! A metal collar with a fringe of slender 
chains adorns his neck ; a few bead necklaces will 
probably be added, and some coils of thick brass 
wire decorate his arms and legs. A highly 
ornamented shield and flashing spear give the final 
touch of swagger to his appearance. The old 
men are much more simple in their tastes, a 
special kind of chain ear-ring, perhaps a brass 
necklet, and some coils of brass wire being their 
only ornamentation. 

In spite of the idle propensities of the sterner 
sex, there are some branches of work which fall 
exclusively to their share. In the cultivation of 
the soil their part is to break up the ground by 
means of long wooden stakes, sharpened to a point 
at one end ; the women then come in with their 
cultivating knives, digging out the grass and weeds, 
and rendering the surface smooth and even. Hut 



48 A Blacksmith s Curse 

building, which has already been described, is 
entirely the responsibility of the men folk, with the 
exception of thatching. The only really skilled 
workmen are the blacksmiths, and these are 
regarded with equal veneration as the medicine 
men, while nothing is more to be dreaded than a 
blacksmith s curse. 

We have sometimes peeped into a smithy just 
a round shed on poles to watch them fashioning 
the iron ore in their primitive but ingenious way. 
The forge consists of a hole in the ground, lined 
with tempered clay, which is filled with a charcoal 
fire. The curious double bellows are made of goat 
skins, neatly sewn together so as to exclude the 
air, and triangular in shape. Into the apex a 
wooden pipe is inserted which, when the bellows 
are in use, is securely pegged to the ground, and 
to its extremity another small pipe made of baked 
clay is attached. This nozzle rests on the edge of 
the furnace. To the wide mouth of the bellows 
at the opposite end two smooth flat sticks are 
sewn. Holding these sticks in a vertical position 
the operator opens and shuts the mouth of the 
bellows, thus forcing the air into them, and empty 
ing them again. It will be understood from the 
above that there are two goatskin bodies to the 
bellows, but only one nozzle, A boy sits on his 
heels between them working each alternately, 
so that a continuous blast is the result. Four 
solid blocks of granite form the anvils, and the 
only other instruments employed are some iron 




A Kikuyu Warrior, with Head-dress of Ostrich Feathers 



A Kikuyu Forge 49 

hammers and tongs. From this crude workshop 
quite highly finished weapons, implements and 
ornaments are turned out. 

As the Mukikuyu grows in years he is held in 
increasing esteem, which culminates in his being 
admitted to the Kiama, or council of elders, of 
which I shall have more to say later on. 



CHAPTER IV 

Where Ancient Cults prevail 

THE Kikuyu race are a branch of the great 
Bantu family, of which there are so many 
varieties in the Dark Continent. Their manner of 
life is precisely the same as that which obtained 
amongst their forefathers of a thousand years ago. 
As their grandfathers and grandmothers have done 
before them so do they, and their minds are 
darkened by the same strange and foolish super 
stitions which enslaved their ancestors. 

The government of the tribe was originally 
patriarchal, each elder being the head of his own 
village. They were divided into many different 
clans, each of these having its own Kiama or 
council of elders to whom all affairs of importance 
were referred. There were a few chiefs, but their 
authority was somewhat restricted, and they were 
expected to act in concert with the Kiama. When 
the British Government stepped in, much greater 
power was given to the chiefs, who were also made 
responsible for the collection of the hut tax. The 
councils of elders were placed entirely in abeyance 



5 





Warriors in full War Attire 



The Council of Elders 51 

until quite recently, when, it having been found by 
experience that many abuses had crept in owing 
to the arbitrary power vested in the chiefs, the 
authority of the Kiama was again restored, with 
considerable advantage. 

The athuri (elders) are admitted to the Kiama 
by election, followed by an initiation ceremony. 
They hold their courts in the open air, sitting 
on the ground in a circle. The assembly is con 
trolled by the president of the Kiama, who has 
been specially elected to this office and who acts 
in the capacity of chairman, introducing the 
subjects for debate, and maintaining order through 
out the session. His rank in the tribe is second 
to that of the chief. The latter may or may not 
be a member of the Kiama, as several of the 
chiefs known to ourselves happen to be younger 
men, belonging to the giihiga class. The first 
speaker holds a stick in his hand, and when he has 
finished what he has to say he passes it on to the 
next one who wishes to obtain a hearing, no one 
being permitted to express his views without it. 
By this simple method order is maintained. A 
plaintiff when laying his case before the court has 
a number of short sticks in his hand, and as each 
important point in his argument is reached he 
throws one on the ground. A fine of so many 
sheep or goats is the most usual penalty imposed 
upon offenders, varying, of course, according to the 
heinousness of the crime ; but a persistent thief, 
or a murderer, or a wizard, used to be burnt 



52 A Wizard Burnt Alive 

alive or drowned. One such case came before our 
notice when a chief who was calling at our station 
in passing informed us that he and his people had 
just burnt a murogi (poisoner), by shutting him 
up in a granary, and kindling a fire underneath it. 
This case was tried by the authorities at the Fort, 
but, owing to the extreme ignorance of the people 
and the fact that they considered they were con 
ferring a public benefit, no malice aforethought 
could be established. So the prisoners were 
dismissed with a warning under any circumstances 
not to inflict capital punishment in future, this 
being the prerogative alone of the Government. 

Members of the Kiama carry a staff of office, 
and wear a particular kind of brass ear-ring. They 
also have their own peculiar greeting which may 
not be used by those outside the privileged class. 
It is upon the elders that the duty of sacrificing 
to Ngai (God) depends. This is carried out with 
much solemnity in the precincts of a sacred prove, 
or at the foot of some tree set apart for this pur 
pose, and which must never be felled. The elders 
march in procession to the spot, one carrying a 
calabash containing beer, others bearing firewood, 
and a sheep bringing up the rear. While all 
present gather round the tree, holding their hands 
aloft, the chief, if present, or the leading elder 
offers prayer to Ngai in some such language as the 
following : O God, we beseech Thee to bless us ! 
Increase our cattle, and our sheep and goats ! 
Give us children ! Send rain upon our fields that 



A Native Sacrifice 53 

we may enjoy a fruitful harvest ! While offering 
these petitions he pours some beer down the trunk 
of the tree. He then plunges his knife into the 
heart of the sheep, which has previously been 
stretched on the ground and suffocated. The 
blood having been collected in a calabash, together 
with the liver and the heart, a long strip of fat is 
wound round the tree. A fire is then prepared, 
and, after the sheep has been roasted in its embers, 
the elders feast upon the meat, half of which, 
however, is laid at the foot of the tree as an offering 
to God. At the conclusion of the feast all rise 
simultaneously to their feet, extending their hands 
toward heaven, chanting a song. Such sacrifices 
are offered on a vast number of varying occasions. 

Sometimes their beer drinks seem to partake of a 
religious character. The presiding elder will pour 
out a little of the njohi (beer) from a calabash, 
while muttering a prayer ; not until then is the 
liquor freely circulated. None below the rank of 
elder have hitherto been allowed to drink intoxi 
cating beverages, except the aged women ; but 
this good old custom is gradually being broken 
through. 

The elderly people of the tribe have a curious way 
of bestowing a blessing by spitting on the head of 
the favoured individual ! It is also considered a 
token of good will to spit on one s hand before 
extending it to greet a friend ! It does not do for 
a missionary to reject such a mark of friendship, 
though it really requires a little nerve to reciprocate 



54 Intensely Superstitious 

the grip ! Respect for elders and superiors is very 
conspicuous, and the reverence that prevails for 
parents might well teach the younger generation of 
civilized nations a lesson. Beyond this, however, 
there is little of an uplifting character in their 
morals. True, they are a merry and lighthearted 
people, living very much in the passing moment ; 
but falsehood, treachery and sensuality seem to be 
bred in their very bones, and it requires untold 
patience and earnestness on the part of the mis 
sionary in seeking to counteract these tendencies 
in Christian adherents. Notwithstanding this we 
have met with one here and there whose natural 
character seemed to be superior to the general 
degradation of his neighbours, and who was eager 
to respond to elevating influences. 

In common with all African tribes the Akikuyu 
are intensely superstitious, and give credence to 
charms, witchcraft and evil spirits. They have 
some vague belief, however, in a Supreme Being, 
whom they fear rather than love. In times of 
drought, famine or other calamities, they turn to 
the great White Spirit, stretching out their hands 
in supplication toward Mt. Kenia, or towards Mt. 
Kinangop. They affirm that their god is the White 
God, but that of the Masai is the Black God ! 

Almost every form of ordinary disease and 
affliction is attributed to the malevolent agency of 
departed spirits, by which they are kept in constant 
terror, and which must therefore be appeased at 
all cost. They believe that after death a man s 



Haunted by Ghosts 55 

ngoma (ghost) haunts the place of his decease, and 
may be continually working them harm. A hut 
where a person has died is a place to be avoided, 
and a village may be entirely deserted if believed 
to be thus haunted by ngoma. There are some 
spirits which are said to have passed into forms of 
animal life. Amongst these is a curious green 
caterpillar upon the track of which, if it enters the 
homestead, they rub fat, to break the evil spell. 
A particular variety of mongoose is greatly dreaded 
for the same reason. Ngoma are said to enter into 
hyaenas, and a goat must be sacrificed for purposes 
of purification should one steal into a village at 
night. There is also a superstition that the spirits 
of the departed frequently enter living people. 
Madness is generally attributed to this cause. It 
is said that ghosts can be heard dancing and singing 
in the woods at night. Their actual place of abode 
is supposed to be in the depths of the earth, whence 
they emerge occasionally to frequent the forests, 
or the vicinity of their old homes. 

Amongst the Akikuyu exists a mysterious secret 
society known as the Itwika, or worship of the 
snake. This we have discovered to be nothing 
but a huge fraud ! In the Mathioya and Tana 
Rivers there are supposed to be enormous black 
water snakes, called ndamathia, which are objects 
of great veneration. Once about every six years a 
feast is observed in their honour when cattle, sheep, 
beer and honey are brought to the river. So great 
is the awe inspired by the Itwika that no one dares 



56 Snake Worshippers 

to venture outside the huts on the day of the 
festival, except the members of the society. These 
go in procession to the river blowing sacred horns. 
At the unwonted sound the snake is supposed to 
rise to the surface, when a goat trough is at once 
launched into the stream loaded with meat, honey, 
bananas and beer, as an offering to the ndamaihia. 
The reptile, it is said, partakes of the feast and 
soon becomes intoxicated ! Some hairs of the neck 
are then extracted to be employed as charms, and 
after a great banquet on the bank of the river the 
whole company march back singing their Itwika 
song. None but members of the society are per 
mitted to witness the ceremony and the most 
absolute secrecy is maintained with regard to all 
their doings. Huts are specially erected for the 
worship of the snake, in which the sacred horns are 
secreted. The object of this ridiculous superstition 
seems to be the enrichment of the fraternity by 
means of the entrance fees charged, which are pay 
able in goats. Directly a new votary has been 
initiated he is informed of the deception and 
sworn to secrecy. Christianity has no more bitter 
opponents in Kikuyu than the followers of this 
fraudulent cult. Loving darkness rather than light, 
they resent all that makes for progress. 

The African is essentially a lover of the dance, 
and none more so than the Kikuyu tribe. They 
have quite a variety of dances, the principal ones 
being as follows : 

1. The Mambura, which is confined to young 



Kikuyu Dances 57 

lads who are about to be admitted into the full 
privileges of manhood. 

2. The Kibata or war dance. In preparation for 
this the warriors paint their bodies with pipe clay 
and red ochre, and encircle their heads with huge 
head-dresses of ostrich feathers. Around the waist 
is strapped a leather girdle, from which depends a 
skilfully made sheath containing a sword. Thus 
grotesquely arrayed they assemble for the dance, 
and to a strange grunting accompaniment they 
leap into the air in perfect unison ; then they spring 
from side to side, bending forwards and jerking 
their heads and bodies in an extraordinary manner. 
This is kept up until the point of exhaustion is 
reached. 1 

3. The Gichukia, a social function, which is 
performed around a large bonfire by members of 
both sexes at night. One of the performers leads 
off in a song which is responded to by a chorus of 
voices, the whole company swaying their bodies to 
and fro. 

4. The Gitiro is the women s dance, and may be 
celebrated on any occasion of rejoicing. The most 
elderly woman present stands in the centre of the 
ring and starts their own special song, each one 
dancing up to her in turn, while a curiously high, 
trilling chorus and grunting accompaniment is 
maintained, all beating time with hands and 
feet. 

In preparation for most of the dances it is usual to 
1 Shields and spears are sometimes used in this dance. 



58 Gruesome Scavengers 

anoint the bodies and garments very liberally with 
red clay and grease. 

Of course there are a great many in every 
community who are debarred from participating 
in the dances and other tribal festivities owing to 
physical infirmities. For these, apart from their 
own nearest relatives, there is but little help and 
sympathy. Indeed, if the disease be at all of a 
loathsome character they are regarded with positive 
aversion. It is the custom to carry the sick person 
into the bush directly they fear that the illness may 
terminate fatally. In some cases a relative may 
watch close by until death occurs, but, as a rule, 
the unhappy sufferer is left alone, without shelter 
or protection, and with the gruesome certainty that 
the dreaded hyaena is lurking not far off in readiness 
to devour his body. 

Should a death occur in a village it is custom 
ary to throw the body out into the neighbouring 
thicket to be eaten by these horrible scavengers. A 
chief, or leading elder, or even an aged woman, 
may, however, be buried, provided they have sons 
who have attained their majority ; but in any case 
the persons who have touched the dead body will 
afterwards have to undergo purification by the 
medicine man. 






A Kikuyu Medicine Man, with Stool and Reticule 
Medicine Man performing Ceremony of Purification 



CHAPTER V 
The Medicine Man 

A MONGST the Akikuyu there is not a more 
1\. interesting personality than the medicine 
man. He is, of course, a most shocking old fraud, 
but that does not prevent persons of all sorts and 
conditions flocking to him for advice. Indeed he 
thrives on their credulity, and in his worldly-wise 
way he finds his occupation most profitable ! 
He is naturally much in evidence both in the 
religious and social life of these primitive people, 
and is known by two names : first, muraguri, 
which means fortune teller or prophet ; and 
secondly, mundu mugo, physician and priest. It 
is supposed that he is called to his vocation by 
God, Who appears to him in a dream, or vision, 
and tells him he must become a medicine man. 
This call he proclaims to the people of his village 
next morning. At sunset he disappears into the 
woods to communicate again with Ngai, returning 
to his village at break of day to announce once 
more that he has been chosen by the Great White 
Spirit to be a mundu mugo. 

59 



60 A Witch Doctor s Initiation 

Another witch doctor is now called in to initiate 
the new candidate, who must be an elder, into 
the mysteries of his profession. This personage 
arrives on the scene equipped with his leather reti 
cule of gourds containing medicines, and a mwano, 
a gourd filled with small, round stones, beans, 
fragments of iron, etc., with which he professes 
to foretell future events. These are presented to 
his disciple, who is instructed to go to the river 
and gather more small stones to augment his 
outfit. A goat is then sacrificed, and a small piece 
of the skin is fastened round the neck of the cala 
bash as a charm. The flesh is cooked and eaten 
by all who have assembled to watch the proceed 
ings, whilst native beer is provided for the benefit 
of the elders alone. 

The candidate is then initiated into the use of 
the mwano, and the art of fortune telling and 
prophecy. He is also shown how to compound 
medicines from native herbs and roots, and how to 
concoct charms. After this he is looked upon as 
a member of the profession, and as such he may be 
consulted. In his office of muraguri he spreads 
the skin of a goat upon the ground, shakes up 
the stones in the gourd and casts them out like 
dice, professing in this way to forecast future 
events. 

Possibly a young warrior may come to consult 
him as to whom he shall choose for a wife. Or if 
a man is sick for a long time and the medicines 
prescribed have failed to bring about a recovery, 



Dispelling Evil Spirits 61 

the mwano is cast to ascertain the cause. Should 
goats or sheep fall sick and die without any ap 
parent reason, the muraguri must be resorted to. 
Or if a friend is away for a long time the prophet 
is consulted as to his whereabouts, the state of his 
health and the possible date of his return. Should 
the client wish to take a journey he will probably 
go to the muraguri to ascertain the most suitable 
season for his departure. The fee for such ser 
vices is only two or three pice, equal to two or 
three farthings, or their equivalent in kind. But 
in any case it must be cash down, as he is dis 
tinctly averse to the credit system ! 

In sickness of every sort the medicine man is 
consulted. He is sometimes also called in to drive 
away evil spirits from a homestead, or to protect 
t against thieves, infectious diseases, witchcraft 
or poison. Or should the owner of a village desire 
an increase of cattle, flocks, crops and children, 
the mundu mugo is summoned, and the wishes of 
the elder explained to him. Then, standing erect 
in the centre of the village, the witch doctor 
elevates his pouch of medicines, and looking away 
towards the summit of snow-capped Kenia, he 
prays that he may be given wisdom in overcoming 
the evils which exist in the homestead, and that 
good luck and prosperity may result. He then 
seats himself on his stool, and placing several 
pieces of dried banana bark before him on the 
ground, he puts medicine from his gourds upon 
each, his client meanwhile sitting opposite to him. 



62 Cleansing a Village 

He next produces a goat s horn and after mixing 
the different medicines together upon the banana 
bark, he proceeds to pour the whole concoction 
into it. The open end of the horn is sealed up 
with bees wax, which is studded with beads. The 
small end is then pierced with a boring instru 
ment, and through this hole a fine iron chain (of 
native workmanship) is introduced. This is given 
to his client to be worn around his neck as a charm, 
a means of warding off impending evils, and as an 
aid in bringing prosperity. The owner of the 
village now presents the medicine man with a ram 
or he goat which he drags around the homestead 
and gardens. The circle being completed he returns 
to the village, and the animal is sacrificed, cooked 
and eaten by all present. The great man does not, 
of course, forget to collect his fee, which, varying 
according to the ability of his client to pay and his 
own professional standing, may amount to one or 
two sheep. 

The Akikuyu have very little sense of sin as 
we have been taught to understand it, but they 
are very particular about ceremonial defilement. 
Touching a dead body, eating the flesh of a fowl, 
or of any wild bird, animal or fish proscribed by 
tribal custom, handling poison, digging a grave, 
the breaking of a cooking pot on the fire, a wild 
animal breaking into a hut, and a whole host of 
other things are known as thahu, i.e. defilement. 
The person who has been defiled sends at once for 
the mundu mugo and begs to be cleansed, other- 



In the Hands of a Quack 63 

wise he is regarded as an outcast, and his wife 
will refuse to cook for him. 

Thus solicited, the medicine man immediately 
makes his appearance, and the sacrifice of a sheep 
or goat takes place without delay. Taking his bag 
of medicines in his hands, he lifts it up above his 
head, and turning towards the mountain he invokes 
the assistance of Ngai. Having prepared a small 
hollow in the ground, which he has lined with 
banana leaves, he places in it the contents of the 
stomach and intestines of the animal which has just 
been sacrificed. To this offal is added some concoc 
tion from his gourds. Then going to the thicket 
outside the village he gathers some twigs, which he 
ties together in the form of a small broom. He lays 
it on the ground beside the hole, placing the front 
foot of the sheep beside it, then dips both into the 
offal, which, the patient having opened his mouth, 
he proceeds to apply to his tongue ! The order 
is pronounced, Vomit, whereupon the patient 
must spit upon the ground. 

While this process is being repeated again and 
again a long list of actions supposed to have caused 
ceremonial uncleanness is recited. At the conclu 
sion the sheep s foot, dipped in the offal, is applied 
to the person s tongue, and again he is commanded 
to vomit. The twigs are now divided into two 
bundles, which are once more dipped into the un 
pleasant mixture in the hole, whereupon the mundu 
mugo and his patient rise to their feet. Commenc 
ing with the top of his head the physician, with the 



64 A Thahu is Expelled 

bundles of twigs in his hands, briskly brushes the 
person s body all over with the offal, ending with 
his feet. When this is completed the medicine 
man informs him that his thahu is expelled ! 
Leaving his patient, he now takes the bunches of 
twigs, and enters each of the huts of the village in 
turn and, proceeding to brush the walls with his 
brooms, he pretends to sweep out the defilement. 
Last of all he collects the sheep s offal together, 
and carries it out into the bush, at the same time 
saying, I drive thahu out of this village. 

On returning, the medicine man again sits down 
in front of his patient, and requests him to stretch 
out his hands, palms upward, and close together, as 
if in the act of receiving something. Pouring out 
some white chalk-like substance from one of his 
gourds, he draws a line with it on the out-stretched 
palms, as well as on the forehead, nose, throat and 
abdomen of his patient, afterwards making similar 
marks on his own body. Some medicine is then 
mixed in the extended hands, and the man is told 
to swallow it. The flesh of the sacrifice is now 
cooked and partaken of by all except the patient 
himself. It is supposed that his uncleanness would 
return were he to participate in this feast. The 
mundu mugo then departs, after having been com 
pensated for his important services with a sub 
stantial fee. 

Witchcraft is said to be practised by evil spirits 
which have taken up their abode in human beings, 
and calamities of many kinds are attributed to their 



The Spell of Witchcraft 65 

malevolent influence. Should witchcraft be sus 
pected the medicine man is called in, and after the 
usual ceremony of prayer he draws from his reticule 
a small antelope s horn, which has been previously 
filled with some kind of 4 medicine and sealed up 
with bees wax. With this horn in his hand he 
searches in and around the homestead, scraping up 
the ground with it at the roots of trees, in the 
cultivated plots and by the sides of the dwelling- 
houses. Finally he brings forth something which 
he declares to be the source of all the trouble. This 
may be some debris wrapped in leaves, or a piece of a 
human skull, the hairs of a man s head, or a bit of 
stick or stone surrounded with leaves. Whatever 
it is there can be little doubt but that it has been 
secreted there for the purpose by the cunning old 
mundu mugo himself ! The discovery affords great 
relief to the superstitious minds of his clients. The 
usual sacrifice of a sheep is now offered and its flesh 
feasted upon, and then the medicine man, having 
made some mysterious passes with his little horn, 
pronounces the spell of witchcraft to be broken and 
the village purified. Two or even three sheep are 
ordinarily the price paid for this service. 

There can be no doubt that many of the medicine 
men are adepts at the villainous practice of poison 
ing. Their supposed skill in drugs is used occa 
sionally for the injury rather than the benefit of 
their neighbours. The word orogi stands for both 
witchcraft and poison. Murogi signifies a poisoner 

or wizard. While in some cases they may pretend 

6 



66 A Wizard s Devices 

to overcome the spell of witchcraft, at other times 
they may themselves weave a yet more deadly spell 
around some unfortunate member of the community. 
It is said that a murogi will creep out into the bush 
where a dead body is lying, and, after going through 
some incantations, will command the corpse to 
arise. Whereupon it is supposed to awaken and, 
sitting up, to inquire the reason why it has been 
disturbed. The wizard then commands it to curse 
certain people, with the result that sickness, loss of 
property or even death is expected to follow. 
Another method attributed to the murogi is that 
of visiting a corpse in the thicket for the purpose of 
extracting some teeth, hairs or nails. These relics 
he wraps up carefully in small packets, and secretes 
in the village, or in the pathway where his victim 
is likely to pass. And so terrible are the fears which 
will be instilled upon the discovery of the orogi that 
he will immediately fall sick unless a medicine 
man can be summoned without delay to offer a 
sacrifice and counteract the evil spell. Such cases 
where help has not arrived opportunely have often 
been known to terminate fatally, so powerful is the 
influence of mind over matter ! 

In common with many other African tribes the 
ordeal ceremony is practised in order to determine 
the guilt or innocence of a suspected party. For 
instance, a crime such as murder, theft or arson has 
been committed, and the perpetrator of the deed 
is unknown. It may be that several suspected 
parties are arrested and brought before the council 



Trial by Ordeal 67 

of elders with the local chief. The mundu mugo is 
then requested to prepare a muma or ordeal, and 
several tests may be applied. In minor cases the 
suspected person is told to incise his leg with a knife 
and then to lap up his own blood from the wound. 
If guilty it is expected that he will die very shortly. 

Another test is to tell the suspected person to 
plunge his bare arm into a large pot of boiling water 
(into which the medicine man has poured some of his 
drugs) and bring out an axe-head. If guilty he will 
be severely scalded, but if innocent no harm will be 
done ! Yet another test is to heat a sword red hot 
in the fire, putting medicine upon it, and telling 
the person suspected to lick it with his tongue. If 
innocent he is expected to escape injury ! A goat 
is sometimes sacrificed and its blood retained in a 
banana leaf to which the mundu mugo adds a con 
coction of his own. The suspected culprit is com 
manded to lap up the blood, and if guilty his death 
may be anticipated, but if innocent he is expected 
to escape ! 

Such are some of the superstitions with which 
these simple savages are bound, and in which they 
have the most implicit faith. A woman will rather 
part with anything she possesses than relinquish 
the charm which she obtained from the witch 
doctor, and which she usually carries suspended by 
a leather thong from the broad leather belt round 
her waist. These charms are generally made up of 
some of the mundu mugo s so-called medicines 
contained in tiny goats horns, and sealed up with 



68 The Medicine Man s Influence 

bees wax. It will be readily seen that there is 
scarcely a circumstance of life amongst these 
primitive people in which the medicine man does 
not play a part. It is therefore hardly possible to 
overrate his influence in the tribe, especially as he 
always claims to be guided by Ngai in his decisions. 
Naturally enough he is bitterly opposed to the Gospel 
of Jesus Christ, though he may veil his antagonism 
with discreet politeness. Darkness must ever be 
opposed to light. When he discovers that the 
missionary has not only come to preach and teach, 
but also to second these efforts by medical and 
surgical skill which is altogether beyond his com 
prehension, and which attracts the people to him 
in thousands every week, then the native quack 
begins to tremble, realizing that his prestige is on 
the wane, and that his sun may presently set, never 
to rise again 



PART II 

Kahuhia 



WHAT THEN? 

What then ? Why then another pilgrim song, 
And then a hush of rest divinely granted, 

And then a thirsty stage (ah me ! so long !), 

And then a brook just where it most is wanted ! 

What then ? The pitching of the evening tent, 
And then, perchance, a pillow rough and thorny, 

And then some sweet and tender message sent 
To cheer the faint one for to-morrow s journey I 

What then P The wailing of the midnight wind, 
A feverish sleep, a heart oppressed and aching, 

And then a little water cruse to find 

Close by my pillow, ready for my waking 

ANON, 



CHAPTER VI 
Across the Athi Plains 

WHEN Dr. Crawford and I first entered Kikuyu 
there was not a single Protestant missionary 
in the whole of Kenia Province with its million of 
souls, excepting Mr. McGregor. Quite singlehanded 
he had succeeded in planting a mission station in 
the centre of the country, and its influence was 
already being felt for miles around. Several hun 
dreds of natives crowded into his Sunday service 
week by week, and the school, which included 
amongst its scholars some of the paramount chief s 
own sons, was very well attended. My husband 
opened a dispensary which the people soon began 
to appreciate ; and all our spare time was taken up 
with the study of the language. There were no 
books to facilitate our progress excepting a ten 
tative Gospel of St. John and a small vocabulary, 
for which we had to thank our energetic fellow 
worker, who, having been for some years in charge 
of a station on the borders of Kikuyu, had acquired 
some knowledge of the vernacular. This station, 
known as Kabete, and situated nine miles from 



72 Off to Kabete 

Nairobi, he left to the superintendence of the Rev. 
H. Leakey, when he set out on the more arduous 
undertaking of pioneering in the wilds of Kenia 
Province. 

We had only been a few months at Weithaga 
when all unexpectedly came an order that we 
should proceed to Kabete, to take charge of the 
work there during Mr, Leakey s absence on sick 
leave. As nearly all our possessions had been 
unpacked, no little labour was involved in pre 
paring for another long journey. Having had 
sufficient experience of the bamboo forest we 
decided to take the other route and traverse the 
Athi plains. This led us past Fort Hall, where the 
government of Kenia Province is administered. 
Here we were most hospitably entertained by the 
Acting-Commissioner, Mr. H. R. Tate, who rode 
out several miles to meet us. After a quiet 
Sunday at the Fort we resumed our safari, the 
doctor riding his mule, and I being carried in a 
hammock. Before leaving the Fort, Mr. Tate 
warned us to be especially on our guard against 
lions, and we engaged two native warriors to act as 
night watchmen, their duty being to keep fires 
burning around our encampment. 

Winding our way down a long cutting we 
reached the Maragua River, which we crossed in a 
boat, and toiled up a long, weary ascent on the 
other side. The great Athi plains now stretched 
before us, teeming with wild animal life. Herds 
of antelopes, zebras and ostriches roamed over the 



Trials of the Road 73 

veldt, sometimes coming close to our caravan. 
At noon we lunched under some trees by a rippling 
stream, then pressed on again till dusk, when we 
encamped under a wide-spreading tree, and a circle 
of fires was kindled to guard us from wild beasts. 

The third day s safari was a trying one, as my 
husband was thrown from his mule and I had 
two bad falls from my hammock. The heat was 
intense, being the hottest season of the year. By 
the time we reached the Thika River in the after 
noon we were exceedingly weary. Here some 
native policemen were stationed to work a pulley 
for the transport of Government supplies and mails 
bound for Fort Hall. There was no other means 
of crossing the river in those days. A steel cable 
was stretched from one bank to the other, and 
from this a small board platform was suspended by 
iron supports attached to each corner. About 
forty feet below flowed the wide river infested (so 
we heard) by crocodiles and hippopotami. Only 
one person could cross the pulley at a time. I must 
confess to a feeling of profound thankfulness when 
I regained terra firma on the farther side ! One 
by one our trunks and bales and packing cases 
were bound on to the plank platform and swung 
across. The mule alone had to swim through the 
fast-flowing river. A rope fastened round its 
neck was thrown across to the opposite bank and 
firmly held by several men, while others whipped 
the poor beast down into the water. But in a 
few minutes she was struggling up the steep bank. 



74 A Hunter s Camp 

We had already noticed a white man s camp 
in the distance. My husband left me to rest 
under the shade of some bushes while he climbed 
the hill to reconnoitre, and choose a place for our 
encampment. As he approached the tents of the 
Wazungu (Europeans), out rushed a military- 
looking gentleman in khaki, Colonel Lumsden, 
C.B., of ; Lumsden s Horse fame in the Boer War, 
razor in hand and his chin all lathered with soap ! 

I hear, he said, that there is a lady at the 
river, so I am hurrying to shave ! 

The lady in question would gladly have 
adjusted her own toilet, but there was no oppor 
tunity, and half an hour later she was sipping tea 
in the Colonel s tent, while he and his friend, Mr. 
C. B. Branch, chatted with the doctor. They 
were, of course, on a hunting expedition, and their 
splendid camp was full of trophies, which were 
shown to us in due course. Rhinoceroses and 
hippopotami, hartebeestes and wildebeestes, had 
all fallen to their guns. 

Our tents having been pitched we retired for a 
rest and change. The kind and hospitable hunters 
had invited us to dine with them, so when darkness 
fell and the stars peeped out we made our way 
back to their tent, where we spent a very pleasant 
evening. Colonel Lumsden informed us that 
we had arrived just too late to taste of a delicacy 
much prized by sportsmen, rhinoceros-tail soup ! 

The last thing at night a poor little donkey was 
tied up to a tree just outside the encampment as a 



Footprints of Lions 75 

bait for lions, this neighbourhood being specially 
famed for them, and the hunters being very keen 
to add some to their bag. Camp fires were blazing 
in every direction when we returned to our tents, 
and sentinels were already pacing to and fro as a 
guard against wild beasts. But although the roar 
of lions had been heard a few nights before, no such 
excitement disturbed our rest, and the donkey 
was still quietly grazing under the tree when morn 
ing dawned. 

Never shall I forget the burning heat of the plains 
this fourth day of our journey. We travelled on 
until nearly sundown, covering some twenty-nine 
miles, and all the afternoon the sun beat mercilessly 
upon our faces. My careless porters again let me 
fall from the hammock, a decidedly unpleasant 
experience, as the pole comes down with a crack 
on your head, while your spine gets a shock from 
the too sudden embrace of mother earth. In 
passing through some swamps covered with waving 
papyrus we detected the footprints of lions, and 
no doubt the lordly beasts were lurking among the 
reeds at no great distance from our path. I had 
been carried through many streams in the course 
of our safari, and now, before we camped for the 
night, the very awkward drift of the Nairobi 
River had to be forded. Then, wearied out, we 
soon settled down for another night under canvas. 

We were now on the confines of civilization. 
We did not, however, enter the town of Nairobi, 
but, passing by the outskirts, made our way out 



76 Life at Kabete 

to Kabete, which we reached in the afternoon, 
thankful indeed to have arrived in safety at our 
destination. 

Here I must pause to pass over the two years 
spent at this station years which had their special 
trials and difficulties, filled with events which, 
however, cannot be of any special interest to my 
readers. Carrying on the work of our predecessor, 
studying the difficult Kikuyu language, visiting 
the native villages around, and (on my husband s 
part) dispensary practice amongst the sick and 
suffering, the months sped on, and the time drew 
near, so long eagerly anticipated, of pioneering in 
the heart of Kenia and opening a medical mission 
there. During our long stay at Kabete, Dr. 
Crawford took two trips to the district beyond 
Fort Hall, on the second occasion conducting a 
European builder to the site which had been chosen 
by the Bishop. A few months later (Dec. 3, 1906) 
we were able to bid farewell to Kabete and start 
out to take possession of our new Kenia station. 

By this time a new road had been made between 
Nairobi and Fort Hall, and fine stone bridges were 
in course of construction at a point where the 
Thika and Chania Rivers converge. Just below the 
bridges are two magnificent waterfalls, one with a 
drop of about one hundred feet, and the air is filled 
with the roar of the tumbling waters and with the 
rainbow-tinted spray The Chania Falls are quite 
a miniature] Niagara 



CHAPTER VII 

Opening of the Kenia Medical 
Mission 

r I ^HE site selected for the medical mission was a 
A beautiful one, with a fine view of Mt. Kenia 
on the north and Mt. Kinangop on the west, whilst 
to the south-east we could look away over the Athi 
plains to Mt. Donyo Sabuk. About six miles 
westward was the C.M.S. station, Weithaga, where 
we had previously lived, and which is quite 300 
feet higher than our own site. Fort Hall lies due 
east of Kahuhia (the native name for our district 
by which the station was afterwards known) at a 
distance of about nine miles by road. This road, 
which is scarcely more than a pathway, was cut 
through by the paramount chief Karuri to connect 
his village with the Fort. Although but few native 
huts can be distinguished from the medical mission 
hill, the population is in reality very numerous, the 
Kikuyu villages being nearly all hidden away in 
banana groves and thickets. 

As we approached our station after our long 
safari of nearly eighty miles, many of the natives 
rushed out into the road to welcome us. We found 



j8 A Diminutive Dwelling-place 

the mission house very far from completion and we 
had to take up our abode in a tiny store room 
(eight feet by ten) a few feet from the main building. 
This little room was destitute of any window, so 
darkness reigned supreme when the door was 
shut. Yet if we ventured to open it ever so little 
there was always a crowd of dusky forms grouped 
outside with gleaming black eyes, watching every 
movement. Curiosity brought the people about 
us in hundreds those first days, and they would 
sit amongst the debris of the building operations, 
apparently fascinated by all that the white people 
did and said. They were specially pleased to find 
that we could talk their language, though but 
imperfectly. Our first Sunday service was held on 
the unfinished verandah of the house amid a medley 
of building materials. Sometimes I would draw 
little groups of women and girls into one of the damp 
and empty rooms, endeavouring to make them 
understand the first outlines of the message we had 
come to bring them, or teaching them a verse of a 
Kikuyu hymn. Rank weeds and bushes covered 
the hill-top, and for many weeks a gang of men and 
boys were at work clearing them away. Grass and 
clover seemed to be only waiting to spring up and 
spread wherever they had a chance, so it was not 
very long before we had a nice green slope all down 
to the road, with a wide path cut round in a 
semicircle. 

The Doctor lost no time in staking out his dis 
pensary. Poles were erected in the ground two 



Building a Mud Dispensary 79 

feet apart along the line drawn for the walls, and 
on the top of these other poles were laid hori 
zontally. Then several taller posts were set up 
across the middle of the square to support the ridge 
pole, and from this the other timbers of the roof 
descended to the horizontal poles of the wall. The 
framework of the roof was then completed by 
sticks being fastened from pole to pole, about three 
inches apart, by means of strips of wild ramie fibre. 
Meanwhile quantities of banana bark had been 
brought by the women and children for thatching 
the roof. Each strip of this useful commodity is 
threaded through the sticks of the roof, the ends 
being pulled equal, and so a very good strong thatch 
is made, which has a particularly neat appearance 
from the inside if the sticks have been tied on 
evenly. The walls were now wattled in with reeds 
and thickly plastered with mud. Where windows 
were required the mud was omitted, and a piece of 
unbleached cotton was stretched across the aperture. 
When all was finished some boxes were broken 
up, and the Doctor made some quite presentable- 
looking shelves on which to display his bottles. 

Just three weeks after our arrival the opening 
service was held. This was on Christmas Eve, and 
as a large native dance was going on close by we 
had not much difficulty in getting an audience of 
six or seven hundred savages together. A very 
wild, uproarious set they were, and when my 
husband intimated that he wanted me to have the 
privilege of addressing them I felt rather like running 



8o A Rowdy Congregation 

away ! But the next minute I was mounted upon 
a packing-case trying to make myself heard. Taken 
completely by surprise they quieted down and 
listened fairly well while I told them why we had 
come, impressing upon them that while they would 
now find plenty of medicine to help their bodily 
infirmities, we had also brought another kind of 
muthaiga, the Word of God, which could heal their 
souls sickness too. 

No sooner was the dispensary opened than 
patients began coming ; some forty or fifty at the 
beginning, but by the end of the first month the 
number had risen to between one hundred and one 
hundred and fifty. A large verandah was added 
to the dispensary, and under it the patients were 
gathered to hear a Gospel message day by day. 
We also held the Sunday services there for several 
weeks until a hospital chapel, built in the same way 
as the dispensary, viz., of wattle and daub, was 
completed. The congregation, numbering two to 
three hundred, was as wild a one as could well be 
found. The men often would rush in, forgetting to 
leave their spears and knobkerries outside, and all 
eager for a front seat ! The women were chattering 
to each other as they pushed their way in, many of 
them with babies slung on their backs. Then came 
a crowd of boys and girls with scarcely a shred of 
covering, but full of life and merriment, jumping over 
the rough benches and filling up all corners. But 
every Sunday found them a little more amenable 
to order, and the strains of the baby organ always 



The First Inquirers 



81 



helped to quiet them down. On Sunday afternoons 
we would visit the neighbouring villages on foot, 
sometimes holding services at two or three home 
steads in the course of our walk, and always fol 
lowed by a troop of boys besides our own native 
helpers and servants. 

The Sunday evening Bible class brought a happy 
day of service to a close. For this all who lived on 
the station were gathered together, and very soon 
outsiders began attending also. From the time 
that the mission house was finished and we were able 
to move into it we used the little dining-room for 
this and other classes, and frequently it would be 
so tightly packed that boys would be crowded to 
gether even under the table ! When the Bible lesson 
had ended in an earnest appeal, those whose hearts 
were touched were invited to remain behind for a 
personal talk and prayer. Our cook, Mohea, was 
one of the first to respond. He had entered our 
employ as a raw Heathen about a year and a half 
before we opened the Kahuhia work, and had learnt 
to read at Kabete. Together with a young con 
sumptive patient who had also been under instruc 
tion at the latter station, he stood up one Sunday 
morning to confess his faith in his newly-found 
Saviour. Mashamba, the consumptive boy, only 
lived a month after this happy event. But as he 
became weaker and weaker his faith grew brighter. 
Just before the end he asked for baptism, which 
could not be denied him under the circumstances. 
We laid the poor, wasted little body to rest on the 
7 



82 Some Rapid Progress 

hillside near the station; and as one of our 
C.M.S. clergy was staying at Weithaga he kindly 
came over and read the funeral service. 

About this time two other young men were ad 
mitted as inquirers ; one of these was Gathu, who 
had been our water boy more than two years before 
at Weithaga. He re-entered our employ almost as 
soon as we returned to the neighbourhood, and 
proved so clever and trustworthy that Dr. Crawford 
trained him for a medical assistant. The other 
one was Gachanja, who after we left Kahuhia 
became the Rev. Douglas Hooper s right-hand man. 
Several others also came forward and publicly 
confessed Christ, declaring at the same time their 
determination to sever themselves from all the evil 
customs of the tribe. An inquirers class, there 
fore, had to be instituted, in which it was the 
constant aim to impress upon its members what 
following the Lord Jesus Christ really involved. 
Later on, a Saturday evening prayer meeting was 
started, and it was most cheering to hear the voices 
of the young converts raised in prayer. 

Meanwhile the day school had been opened, and 
all who wished were urged to learn to read the Book 
of God for themselves. By a quick system my 
scholars were actually beginning to read in the 
tentative Gospel of St. John (which was all we had 
in the Kikuyu language at that time) at the end 
of three months, of course only slowly spelling out 
the words. After another month or more, progress 
became still more rapid, and very soon they were 



Inaugurating the School 83 

able to read this portion of the Scriptures with 
fluency. We then began teaching them Ki- 
Swahili ; this is the lingua franca of East Africa, 
and the whole Bible, as well as many other religious 
books, have been translated into it. It becomes 
therefore a natural vehicle for presenting our ad 
herents with the Word of God. Fortunately we 
had picked up some Swahili during a five months 
sojourn at the coast when we first entered the 
country, and the slight knowledge gained then 
came in exceedingly useful for the school work. 

A daily school service was inaugurated, when a 
Bible lesson was given, and a very simple Cate 
chism, much used in mission stations in India 
(which I had translated into Kikuyu), was ground 
into the scholars. They were also taught to 
recite the Lord s Prayer, the Creed, the General 
Confession, the Ten Commandments, and several 
passages of Scripture. All the in-patients were 
expected to attend this service, unless too seriously 
ill to do so. Having no native teacher, and being 
handicapped with frequent illness, it was not 
without considerable difficulty that we carried on 
the school. When laid up for a week or so at a 
time I would send for a few of the brightest scholars, 
and give them a lesson as they stood at my bedside, 
and then send them away to pass on what they had 
learnt to others. 

As months flew on we could not but notice the 
change that was taking place in those who were 
thus regularly under instruction. Seldom were 



84 Effects of the Teaching 

any of the scholars absent from Bible classes, 
services and prayer meetings, and the result 
was a turning away from the degrading customs 
and enslaving superstitions of their people, and a 
gradual acceptation of the precious truths which 
alone could make them wise unto salvation. By 
the end of the first year of our work amongst 
them quite a number had expressed a desire to 
follow the Lord Jesus Christ. 

From the first the work amongst the Kikuyu 
women was a special source of interest. They are 
all jealously guarded by their men-folk, who fear 
and resent any influence other than their own 
being brought to bear upon them. The worker 
therefore who would succeed is compelled to go 
forward very slowly and tactfully. 

About three miles from Kahuhia is a bare hill 
top which every fourth day is the scene of an enor 
mous native market, when the appearance from a 
distance is as if a swarm of locusts had settled down 
upon the hill. From one to two thousand people 
are gathered together on these occasions, and the 
amount of bargaining and haggling is absolutely 
bewildering ! All kinds of native produce are 
brought to the market for sale or exchange. Loads 
of firewood, maize and other grains, bananas, 
yams, sugar cane, native beer, pottery, calabashes, 
gourds, uchuru (a favourite kind of gruel), therega 
(a red earth for smearing their bodies), castor oil 
beans, spears, knives and native ornaments of 
brass, iron and beadwork, several varieties of 




Pupil Teachers at Kahuhia School 



A Strange Emporium 85 

beans, native potash (used as a substitute for 
salt), also goat and sheep skins, these and other 
things may all be found at this strange emporium. 
Quite early in the morning we used to watch a 
steady stream of women passing our station, all 
more or less heavily laden as they trudged to 
market. It occurred to me that by having the 
baby organ carried down to the roadside between 
one and two o clock, when the women were re 
turning to their homes, I might attract them by 
singing some Kikuyu hymns, and thus induce them 
to listen to the Old, Old Story. It seemed to answer 
very well, and week by week, whenever I was 
able, I held my roadside meeting. Full of astonish 
ment and curiosity at such unwonted proceedings, 
the women would throw down their loads and 
listen for a while ; but frequently just at the point 
when their attention seemed to be secured they 
would pick up their bundles again, and with noisy 
chatter and laughter hurry off down the road. 
After some months it was deemed advisable to 
hold a women s meeting in the school-house instead 
of in the open air. By this time many of the 
women and girls from the neighbouring villages 
began to attend, and the work was most encourag 
ing. When the meeting was over a crowd of 
them would conduct me back to the house, the 
little girls being specially friendly and always 
trying to get hold of my hand and run by my side. 
The great delight of all was to be allowed to enter 
the sitting-room and look at the pictures and 



86 A Ghost in the Musical Box 

photographs which adorned the walls and tables. 
But they could only be admitted in relays of a few 
at a time. The musical box would then be set 
going, its sweet strains filling them with a sense 
of mystery and amazement. Some declared that 
there was an animal in the box ; others said, No ! 
It is an ngoma (spirit) ! 

Strange to say, the most absorbing object in the 
room was a small white marble bust of the late 
Prince Consort which came from my old home. 
They were always half terrified of it, and would 
keep running away, and then rushing back again 
whenever it was shown to them. I tried to ex 
plain who it was, and would end up by telling 
them that the Prince was a very good man as well 
as a great one, and that he loved God very much. 
After this they always inquired for the Man of 
God, and when crowding on the verandah would 
shout, Bring out the man of God, to our intense 
amusement. So a very happy relationship with 
the women was established, and often after the 
Sunday morning service two or three hundred of 
them would press around me, all wanting a special 
and individual greeting. 

With the object of still further increasing my 
influence amongst them we started a mat industry. 
The Kikuyu women and girls are very clever at 
weaving bags of all sizes in which they carry their 
native produce. Having bought a quantity of 
native string we proceeded to dye it different 
colours. Then having already learnt the native 



The Mat Industry 87 

stitch I experimented in utilizing it for weaving 
mats instead of the stereotyped native bag, and 
we soon discovered that the result would be very 
pretty, while at the same time the mats would be 
really strong and serviceable. The women readily 
took to the work, and all went merrily for a time. 
But, alas ! they needed such close supervision that I 
found it would absorb all my time to the exclusion 
of everything else. When my back was turned 
they played all sorts of tricks on me, even cutting 
the long warp threads in order to finish their task 
the sooner ! The weaving was slow and laborious, 
and we very soon found it would be impossible to 
make it pay ; so very reluctantly I had to relin 
quish the project. We sent a few samples to some 
heads of Government departments, however, and 
considerable interest was aroused, but there, 
unfortunately, it had to end. 

Meanwhile the medical work was making con 
siderable headway, and many temporary huts 
had been put up for the accommodation of in- 
patients, who were beginning to greatly appreciate 
the skill and care bestowed upon them. Quite 
a number of operations were performed, which 
filled the natives with astonishment, especially 
when chloroform was employed. Gitari kills 
people, then brings them to life again ! was again 
and again the wondering exclamation. Patients 
who remained for any length of time were urged 
to attend the school whenever it was at all possible. 
The station became a sort of Cave of Adullam, 



88 A Refuge in Distress 

where those who were in distress, or were despised 
on account of physical infirmity, sought a refuge. 
Among these was a lad whose leg had been bitten 
off by a hyaena. Another had suffered the amputa 
tion of an arm owing to a rock falling on him while 
hunting for rock rabbits. He was a poor diseased 
little fellow when he first came to us, from whom 
the other boys shrank away, but under the Doctor s 
care he became greatly improved. After some 
months he joined the inquirers class. 



CHAPTER VIII 

The Poisoners Defeated 

WE were often grieved at the way in which 
chiefs oppressed their people, always en 
riching themselves at their expense. One such 
case of extortion my husband felt he could only 
report to the officials at Fort Hall. Compensation 
to the various owners of land now occupied by the 
medical mission had been paid over in the presence 
of a Government officer, the local chief Kabuga 
receiving a special present in money for the help 
he had given in the matter. Not content with 
this, however, he went round to the elders who had 
received payment, and insisted that each of them 
should hand over one rupee (Is. 4d.) to him. 

The case was tried by the District Commissioner, 
with the result that chief Kabuga was proved guilty, 
and sentenced to nine months imprisonment. We 
really felt sorry for the poor man, as it was certainly 
a very severe lesson for him. A council of elders 
was held, and one of their number, a man named 
Ndangara, was chosen as Kabuga s successor. 
Though not a strong character, he was outwardly 



go The Hand of the Assassin 

friendly to our work, and for a time we were free 
from opposition. A year and a half later, when 
we were on our furlough in Canada, the sad news 
reached us that Ndangara had been poisoned. 
Kabuga had, of course, been back at his village 
again for some time, and it was the general opinion 
in the neighbourhood that he was the culprit, 
although at the trial, owing to insufficiency of 
evidence, it could not be proved. So strong was 
the feeling in the matter, that when Ndangara s 
brother was appointed to the chieftainship, Kabuga 
was warned by the people that if their new chief 
was poisoned they would take the law into their 
own hands and Kabuga s own life would pay the 
penalty ! 

Many were the cases of poisoning which came 
before our notice, but some of them were reported 
too late for effective aid to be rendered. It seems 
to be considered a satisfactory way of getting rid 
of an enemy. Sometimes the dastardly deed is 
perpetrated out of jealousy, or from the desire to 
acquire the victim s cattle or goats. Around the 
district of Kahuhia, as well as some other parts 
of the Kikuyu country, this secret poisoning is 
very much practised, and there is one particular 
clan of the tribe, called the Athaga, some of the 
male members of which are known to be experts 
in this horrible custom, who will remove any 
objectionable person for a consideration ! During 
our stay at Kahuhia several elders were dispatched 
by the hand of the assassin. The occasion chosen 



Boiled Snake Fangs! 91 

is often that of a beer-drink, when the poisoner 
awaits his opportunity, and when his victim is 
sufficiently under the influence of drink he stealthily 
inserts some of his deadly drug into the drinking 
horn. Another method is to mix poison with the 
food. 

There are several kinds of poison, the most 
virulent being obtained from the Akamba. It is 
said to be extracted from the fangs of a very 
poisonous snake, and after being boiled up with 
the sap of a particular kind of tree, it is dried and 
kept ready for use. Poison is also obtained from 
some varieties of strychnos and euphorbia trees. 
Yet another kind is found in the form of formic 
acid, which is extracted from red ants ; but this last 
is only used for arrows, as far as we can ascertain. 

One afternoon Dr. Crawford happened to be 
told that there was a victim of poisoning at one 
of the neighbouring villages. Hurrying to the 
place with his mfedical assistant he found a young 
man lying in a most serious condition and com 
pletely unconscious. His brother, who appeared 
to be taking care of him, strongly opposed his 
being conveyed to the mission station, but finally 
promised to bring him himself on condition that he 
might be allowed to remain with him. However, 
instead of bringing him into hospital he put him 
out into the thicket to die, and the news was 
brought to the Doctor early next morning. In a 
very short time he was on the spot, and found 
that notwithstanding the terrible night of exposure 



92 A Treacherous Brother 

life was not quite extinct. The man was at once 
removed to a hospital hut. His brother seemed 
determined to follow, and being such a near rela 
tive my husband did not like to refuse. Though 
the patient was already cold and stiff there soon 
appeared to be some slight response to the treat 
ment; he continued gradually to improve, and after 
several days of the most watchful care we rejoiced 
to find a partial return to consciousness. We left 
him in his brother s care as usual for the night, and 
he promised to carry out all instructions. What 
then was our surprise and distress when we were 
informed next morning that he had passed away. 
The brother was already hurrying away with the 
body ! On thinking it over afterwards we could 
not help suspecting foul play, and the more so 
when we heard that the poor fellow who had been 
so cruelly done to death was the possessor of six 
cows which his brother would inherit ! 

Some time after this, on one of our visits to the 
villages the Doctor discovered a young man lying 
unconscious and almost at the point of death as 
the result of poisoning, and we were told that he 
had already been in this condition for quite a week. 
Though so far gone that there appeared to be little 
hope of saving him, my husband sent for the 
hospital stretcher and had him carried to the 
station. Fearing that another dose of the deadly 
drug might be secretly administered if he began to 
revive, Dr. Crawford had a tent pitched on the 
lawn at the back of our house, so that no one could 



Victims of the Deadly Drug 93 

approach the sick man without our seeing him, 
and here the rigid and inanimate form was laid. 
We tended him entirely ourselves, and every two 
hours we would try to force a teaspoonf ul of nourish 
ment between the clenched teeth. The treatment, 
which was chiefly of a hypodermic character, 
seemed to be gradually having effect, and on the 
third day there were signs of returning conscious 
ness. The mind, however, seemed to be completely 
obscured, and he had entirely lost the use of his 
limbs. Day by day, nevertheless, witnessed some 
slight improvement, by God s blessing, and after 
two months of careful treatment we had the joy 
of seeing poor Ngwari able to walk home cured. 
You must be a god and not a man at all ! was 
chief Karuri s exclarrtation, when visiting the 
station about this time. No one, he assured the 
Doctor, had ever been able to overcome the deadly 
native poison in this way before. But promptly 
came the answer that the Doctor himself could 
have done nothing unless God had given him the 
wisdom. Therefore it was to Him alone the 
praise should be given. We have lately heard 
that Ngwari is under Christian instruction and 
that he is attending the Kahuhia school. 

One other poisoning case amongst many may 
be mentioned ; that of a young man named Kin- 
yanjui, who had been on safari beyond the Tana 
River in the employ of a European. He arrived at 
our station in a very emaciated condition but was 
rapidly improving under treatment, when suddenly 



94 Death in the Pot 

he was seized by a terrible illness, the symptoms 
plainly indicating poison. Being on the spot the 
Doctor quickly had the case in hand, and very 
fervently we prayed that the means might prove 
efficacious. Day by day we watched over the 
unfortunate boy until we had the great satisfaction 
of seeing him come round, but as in the case of 
Ngwari the reason was beclouded and the limbs 
paralyzed for several weeks, though he eventually 
made a good recovery. One evening our house 
boys and medical assistants were sitting as usual 
round a fire in their hut, cooking their supper, when 
a stranger dropped in and squatted down with the 
rest, and extended his hands to the blaze as if to 
warm them. He was just about to drop something 
stealthily into the cooking-pot when he was dis 
covered, and a scene of great excitement ensued. 
During the boys efforts to capture him he was seen 
to throw something into the flames. The case was 
tried before the local chief and the culprit was 
soundly thrashed. 

The Doctor had many calls to go to the assistance 
of Europeans as well as natives, sometimes at a 
great distance and in the middle of the night. The 
most frequent of these calls were to Fort Hall in 
the absence of the Government doctor, or for a 
consultation with him over some unusually serious 
case. On one occasion a settler living on the plains 
was attacked and robbed by natives, and left for 
dead. After the robbers had departed he somewhat 
revived and was just able to crawl to the Fort, where 



An Arduous Journey by Night 95 

the treatment he received was the means of his 
ultimate recovery. Another time a planter was 
terribly mauled by a lion, and my husband was 
sent for to help the Government doctor. Scarcely 
was he out of danger than one of the officials was 
brought to the Fort in a most critical condition 
owing to the attack of a lion while hunting, and 
again the medical missionary s services were re 
quired in consultation. One evening a summons 
came from a new Africa Inland Mission station on 
the borders of the bamboo forest, near Mt. Kinan- 
gop, where the missionary s wife lay ill. Hastily 
packing up what he deemed might be necessary, 
the Doctor started off with his boy. Many ranges 
of hills, deep ravines and swiftly-flowing rivers 
intervened between the two stations, and nearly 
all night he struggled on, though scarcely able 
to see the pathway. To have the privilege of 
relieving pain and anxiety was sufficient reward 
for the arduous journey, which took him nine 
hours to accomplish. 

Perhaps one of the cases which caused us most 
thankfulness was that of a young Englishman who 
had become enslaved to the morphine habit. 
Greatly wishing to escape from this awful bondage 
he came to Dr. Crawford and planted his tent on our 
hill. The fight was a stiff one and at times the 
patient was almost in despair, but the Doctor was 
bent on victory, and encouraged him to bravely 
persevere through all the physical suffering which 
is unavoidable in such a case. My husband en- 



96 The Joy of a Cure f 

deavoured to point him to the Great Physician 
as the One Who alone could give him complete 
deliverance, and after some months of treatment, 
in response to many prayers, we had the joy of 
seeing our patient entirely cured. 



CHAPTER IX 
On Safari 

THE paramount chief, Karuri, had often ex 
pressed a wish that we would pay him a visit, 
so in the month of July, 1907, we arranged a tour 
that would include his * Great Place as well as the 
different C.M.S. sites (most of which are, alas ! 
still unoccupied). To prepare for an itineration of 
several weeks in a country like this, so far from 
civilized life, is no small matter ! But at last the 
chop boxes were filled, the camp beds tucked 
away into the safari bags, trunks packed, tents 
folded, medical boxes crowded with bandages and 
drugs, and everything ready for a start. Now the 
half -naked porters are to be seen fixing their rough 
strips of hide on to their loads, then sitting on the 
ground to pick them up, and rising with the box or 
bundle suspended on the back by means of the 
leather strap which passes over the crown of the 
head. In this way the weight is well balanced 
between the back and the head ; so, although they 
stoop beneath their burdens, off they go merrily 
enough, and of course in single file ! Farewells are 



98 Passing Weithaga 

said, the mission station is left behind, and the 
whole cavalcade winds its way down to the river, 
the Doctor and myself bringing up the rear, he on 
his large white mule, and I in a hammock. Slightly 
higher than many of the hills just ahead of us rises 
a cone-shaped eminence on which trees and build 
ings can be plainly distinguished. In a little over 
an hour and a half we are ascending its slopes and 
greeting Mr. McGregor, who has come out to meet 
us and welcome us to his station. There is no 
longer a bare hill-top as when we resided here two 
years and a half ago, for tall eucalyptus and grace 
ful wattle trees now line the walks and lend a 
grateful shade. There is also a large church built 
of sun-dried bricks, where we attended service 
that evening, and again the following morning 
before setting out. 

Mr. McGregor accompanied us a little way along 
our road, which led through one of the loveliest 
parts of the country with Mt. Kinangop in the blue 
background. Ascending steadily for the most part 
all the way, we gazed down into deep and fertile 
valleys where the Mathioya and its tributaries 
could be seen threading their way. Banana plan 
tations disappeared as the altitude increased, and 
we noticed that Indian corn, so prolific in our own 
district, became poor and stunted. But beautiful 
forests enhanced the scenery, and the natives 
seemed to be well provided with yams, sweet 
potatoes and a root called nduma, a species of arum 
lily, all of which they cultivate on the sheltered sides 



A Mountain Shelter 99 

of the hills as well as in the vales below. In^this 
part of the Province of Kenia the road is seldom 
ever level for a quarter of a mile at a time, and the 
traveller is confronted with a perpetual succession 
of hills. 

Early in the afternoon we turned off the main 
road and followed a native footpath. We now 
had steeper heights to climb, and the air became 
extremely bracing. Eventually we emerged on to 
the summit of a lofty ridge about 8,000 feet high, 
where in clear weather both the great moun 
tains of East Africa may be distinguished. A 
profusion of bracken in varying tints of green and 
gold and bronze stretched before us like a carpet ; 
and tree ferns innumerable spread their graceful 
fronds high above our heads. Amid such sur 
roundings we came suddenly upon a little house of 
mud and sticks, and knew that we had reached a 
C.M.S. site called Keruri, which Mr. McGregor 
works as an out-station. A thickly-falling mist 
made us glad to find a shelter and quickly kindle 
a fire, which had to be kept going continually on 
account of the cold. 

The next day we were still enveloped in clouds, 
and the rawness of the atmosphere no doubt kept 
the natives in their villages, as very few came to 
see us, although my husband found some sick people 
requiring his ministrations. Sunday followed, and 
still a drenching mist enwrapped the hills. We 
had given out that there would be a service, but 
our patience was nearly exhausted before any one 



TOO Suffering for Conscience* Sake 

came. At length a group of men and girls arrived 
from the neighbouring homesteads, and our porters 
and boys helped to swell the congregation. 

In the evening, when we were sitting reading 
by the light of our camp lanterns, there was a 
call at our door, and on going out we found a boy 
of about seventeen years of age in great distress, 
with blood streaming from his ear, and trembling 
violently. He sobbed out that he had been 
beaten because of the Word of God. The men of 
his village were very angry at our coming there, 
and said that we came to deceive the people with 
our lies. Then the boy, who had learnt to read 
at this little school-house in the mountains, stood 
up and said it was not so, but that the Word of 
God was good, and that we His servants did not 
tell lies. Upon this a young warrior picked up 
a burning firebrand and belaboured him with it. 
His own mother also beat him, so that he fled in 
terror. We sought to comfort the poor fellow, 
assuring him that God would bless him for suffering 
for His sake, and that he must rejoice and not 
be afraid. Then we committed him to our medical 
assistants care for the night, and the next morning 
we found him almost recovered from his beating 
and looking more cheerful. 

Our caravan was now on the move again, and 
all rejoicing to escape from such a cold and 
cheerless camp. By a sharp winding defile we 
gradually left the cloud-capped mountain top, 
threading our way through a forest of tree ferns, 



The * Palace at Tuso 101 

bamboos and other beautiful trees. In one 
place a veteran of the forest had half fallen across 
the path, forming a natural arch, which was 
completely mantled with ferns and begonias. 
The road now became so terribly precipitous that 
the mule fairly slipped down on her haunches, 
and it was only with the greatest difficulty that 
my dusky bearers could retain their footing. Into 
the depths of a lovely valley we at last descended, 
and found ourselves on the banks of the River 
Tuso. The next minute I was being borne across 
the most impossible-looking rocks, then over a 
long, rough pole which did duty for a bridge ; 
and after a short, steep climb on the other side a 
sudden turn of the road brought us into the 
paramount chief s village. 

No more interesting spot than this can be found 
in this wonderful country. To us it seemed the 
oddest mixture of barbarism and civilization. 
The site is like some English park, with groups 
of tall, shady trees, and the greenest of pasture 
where herds of goats were browsing. Karuri s 
own house and stable are solidly built of stone 
in European fashion, but in close vicinity native 
huts and granaries are crowded together. As 
the old man possesses about seventy wives, it 
may be imagined what a large village it is ! 
Women and children soon emerged to stare at 
the intruders. The chief himself was away from 
home, but as he had heard that we were intending 
to pay him a visit, he left word for two sheep to 



102 A Hoard of Ivory 

be presented to us, and food and firewood for our 
men. Our tents were pitched on the grass outside 
the village, and sick folk of all ages came to seek 
the Doctor s aid. 

In the morning (July 30) we strolled into the 
village, and some of the chief s sons unlocked 
the house and showed us over it. The walls are 
nicely whitewashed and the floor laid with cement, 
and there is even an attempt at furniture, as 
we noticed a wooden bedstead, two tables, a 
bench, several chairs, a lantern and a lamp. On 
the walls hung a large photograph of Karuri 
himself, and two pictorial advertisements of 
English biscuits and lime juice ! Opening a door 
which led into another room the boys pointed 
out a huge box which they said was full of rupees, 
and a trap door in the floor leading to a hoard of 
ivory. Both treasures were secured by very 
strong locks. Outside the house is a place of 
heathen sacrifice, and a repulsive-looking vulture 
hovers around, seeming to mount guard over the 
village ! 

About sundown we heard the cry, * The chief is 
coming ! and presently men began arriving with 
his loads, which included a European tent and 
chair. Then Karuri appeared, riding his white 
mule, and dressed in a suit of khaki, and white 
helmet. He dismounted to greet us before entering 
his village, and we entertained him with cocoa 
and cake under the awning outside our tent. He 
came round again in the morning to wish us good- 






A Native Market 103 

bye, this time looking more regal in a robe of 
skins embroidered with white beads. 

At noon (July 31) we arrived at Njumvi, another 
C.M.S. site. Here a large native market is held 
every fourth day, and we pitched our tent in 
full view of the market place, which next day 
was quite black with its moving mass of human 
beings, all busily engaged in driving bargains and 
exchanging their produce. Of course we were 
the objects of great curiosity, and the people 
thronged around us. Sick people came in hundreds 
to the Doctor, and large numbers attended our 
services, listening very quietly while we spoke 
to them of the Saviour s love in dying to save 
them, and of the nearness of His coming again. 
A lantern service was a great attraction. We 
tarried five days at this centre. 

At a distance of about two hours from Njumvi 
is the village of a chief, named Mungi. Here we 
only intended to rest for half an hour by the 
roadside, but the chief came out to welcome us, 
and implored us to encamp for the night that 
his sick people might be attended to ; so we 
yielded to his importunity, and my husband and 
his assistants soon had as much as they could do. 
We also had a lantern service in the evening. 

Our next camping place was three hours journey 
from Mungi s, in a north-easterly direction, where 
a chief, named Wagura, holds sway. We pitched 
our tent on mission premises under a fine old 
tree, and the people finding out that the Athungu 



104 A Dignified Lord of the Soil ! 

had arrived, our camp soon witnessed a lively 
scene. About twenty girls, all highly decorated 
with beads and red clay, came and sang and 
danced in our honour, and elders and warriors 
also crowded around. Then came Wagura himself, 
his head and shoulders simply smothered in red 
clay and grease. One of his followers carried his 
chair, on which he sat with great dignity while 
conversing with us ! He was glad to have his 
sick people tended, and presented us with a sheep 
in token of his good will. The next afternoon we 
visited his village, which is strongly enclosed 
within three successive stockade fences. Inside 
the third fence are the huts of his wives. 

Here we found an enormous crowd of savages 
engaged in building a large new hut for the chief. 
The women were on the roof as thick as bees ! 
First of all they had laid a quantity of bracken 
fern, over which they were spreading banana 
leaves, while huge bundles of grass lay around 
ready for the final thatching. What an ovation 
we received ! The women and girls simply 
swarmed around me, all wanting to shake hands. 
They laughed and shouted and screamed and 
danced, until the babel was deafening and be 
wildering. Before leaving we invited them all 
to a lantern service, but for some reason or other 
the chief kept them away. 

August 8 found us at the Government Fort 
Nyeri after a heavy journey of three and a half 
hours over the steepest of hills. The District 



Crossing Log Bridges 105 

Commissioner kindly invited us to lunch while our 
men were arranging our camp. A cold drizzling 
rain made it almost impossible to keep warm 
at night, yet we were only thirty miles from the 
equator! Very glad indeed we were to be on 
the move again next morning. 

The following day we pitched our tent, for the 
last time, in the vicinity of a chief s village, and 
close to another C.M.S. site. Patients and others 
soon gathered round, and we spent a very happy 
Sunday amongst them (Aug. 11), many no doubt 
hearing the Old, Old Story for the first time. 

On Monday morning (Aug. 12) we started for 
our station at 7 o clock. There were enormous 
hills to climb and descend, and twice the Mathioya 
River had to be crossed by bridges which it makes 
one almost tremble to think of even now ! A single 
log, supported by the branches of some accom 
modating tree on the bank usually spans the 
stream, and in some instances at a considerable 
height above it. And when this log is very uneven 
and slanting, yet many feet in length, or roughly 
joined to another log that comes to meet it, the 
feeling of insecurity with which one traverses it 
may be imagined ! The way in which my bearers 
bore me over many such rough suspension bridges 
during our trip was perfectly marvellous, but the 
worst and longest one, spanning the Mathioya, 
they refused to attempt with me in the hammock. 
So there was nothing to be done but to climb up 
into the tree which bent over the river, and then 



io6 The Greatness of the Opportunity 

creep carefully along the log, step by step, with 
the help of our two medical assistants, until the 
friendly arms of the tree on the opposite bank 
offered their support, and another very tortuous 
beam led down to terra firma \ It occurred to me 
that any missionaries intended for itinerating work 
in Kenia would do well to have a few lessons in 
tight-rope walking as part of their home prepara 
tion ! Men and women and children flocked out 
from the villages to see us pass, and then ran along 
by our side, full of excitement. It is scarcely 
likely that any European had ever passed that 
way before. 

At length we reached our own hill, and many 
were the greetings that cheered us from our friendly 
neighbours, schoolboys and house-servants left in 
charge. Everywhere during our safari we were 
struck with the greatness of the opportunity for 
evangelistic work. Thousands and thousands of 
these poor savages are as sheep having no shep 
herd, and yet the Good Shepherd is yearning over 
them, and would fain send His messengers far and 
wide over this beautiful Kikuyu country to bring 
them into His fold. 



CHAPTER X 

The last Year at Kahuhia 

OUR second year of residence at Kahuhia was 
one of progress all along the line, but there 
were seasons of intense difficulty and opposition 
to be passed through. Chiefs and medicine men 
began to plot against us. The medical mission 
was becoming a force to be reckoned with, and 
many of the young people were making a stand 
and refusing to participate in certain evil tribal 
customs, which were as the laws of the Medes and 
Persians to the Kikuyu elders. Pupils were there 
fore withdrawn from the school and sent far away 
in search of work, until we were left with an attend 
ance of only ten or twelve. Besides this there was 
some disaffection within our ranks, which caused 
us much trouble for several weeks, and everything 
seemed at a low ebb. If only the missionary is 
driven to prayer and waiting upon God such an 
experience is fraught with nothing but blessing. 

Trials make the promise sweet, 

Trials give new life to prayer, 
Trials bring me to His feet, 

Lay me low and keep me there. 



io8 The Turn of the Tide 

Those who had been causing trouble were two 
young men who had been partially trained as 
medical assistants, and who had even asked to be 
prepared for baptism. They had also been very 
useful as pupil teachers in the school. The climax 
was reached when they both gave notice and im 
mediately left the work, drawing several others 
away with them. But from that time the tide began 
to turn, and the attendance at the school gradually 
rose again until a few months later we had over 
eighty scholars. Nine or ten of the earlier pupils 
had to be trained to instruct the others to replace 
those who had left. These were now able to read 
the Swahili New Testament, and some of the 
brightest had been taught to give short Bible 
lessons in school. 

Scarcely a week passed without one or two com 
ing forward to declare their faith in Christ, and 
desiring to join the inquirers class. A catechu 
mens class was also formed for those who had 
given some evidence of a change of life and wished 
to be baptized. We did not neglect to impress 
upon our young converts the duty and privilege 
of giving of their substance to the Lord s work. 
The first collection was made one Sunday evening, 
and great was our joy to see the pice l pouring 
into the plate as it was passed around. After this 
we had a monthly offering, our adherents always 

1 A pice was equivalent to a farthing, sixty-four making a 
rupee. The currency has since been changed to 100 cents to the 
rupee, and the pice have been called in. 



A New Chapel and School iog 

responding cheerfully, although the greater number 
of them did not earn more than a few pice a week. 
At the Sunday evening class the presence and 
power of God were often very manifest, and fre 
quently several would remain behind for a personal 
talk and prayer, telling us that they desired to 
become Christians. The Sunday congregation had 
long crowded out the little school-house, and it 
became imperative to build a large hospital chapel, 
capable of seating three hundred and fifty people. 
To this a nice airy school-room was added, and it 
was with great delight that we took possession of 
the new premises on their completion. These build 
ings were of sun-dried brick, and, being neatly finished 
and whitewashed inside and out, were a vast im 
provement on what had gone before. Fully four 
hundred people packed in for the opening Sunday 
service, while many who were unable to effect an 
entrance contented themselves with blocking the 
doorways and leaning in through the windows ! 

It now became necessary to erect some large 
hospital wards, providing beds for some forty 
in-patients. These wards were also built of sun- 
dried brick, and the beds were made after the 
Swahili fashion, with a simple wooden framework, 
and a crosswise lacing of plaited grass rope, on 
which grass mats were laid. Patients were now 
coming from great distances, and the attendance 
at the dispensary often numbered from two hun 
dred to two hundred and fifty a day. 

The work amongst the women was developing 



no Cheering Signs 

wonderfully, and it was not unusual to find one 
hundred or even one hundred and fifty gathered 
together for their own special weekly meeting. 
Many of the women and girls from the neighbour 
ing villages began quite spontaneously to attend 
also the evening Bible classes and prayer meetings, 
sometimes quite forty or fifty flocking in together. 
In this land where the weaker sex are often so 
difficult to reach, on account of the restrictions 
by which they are bound, this was indeed a sight 
to gladden our hearts. Sometimes as we sat 
together on the verandah of our house after the 
class had been dismissed, watching the silvery 
moonlight transforming our pretty garden into a 
veritable fairyland, we would talk together of all 
God s wonderful goodness in allowing us to see 
some signs of the coming of His Kingdom, and 
then my husband would say, 4 It cannot be because 
of anything in us, but because so many of God s 
people are praying for us far away in the Home 
lands. 

I must not forget to mention the industrial side 
of the work. We felt very strongly that to develop 
the African along right lines he must be taught 
to work with his hands, while at the same time 
learning to read and write. For this reason, 
although numbers of boys now lived on the station, 
no money was ever paid out to them for their 
support, but only for actual work accomplished. 
On this account we endeavoured to find employ 
ment for as many as possible. Brick-making 



Choosing New Sites 



in 



house-building, rough carpentering and gardening, 
besides the mat industry, kept a large number of 
men, women and boys constantly busy for many 
hours a day. Returning from school each morning 
I was generally followed by a crowd of lads begging 
for work ; and two or three tiny mites of four or 
five years of age would press up to me, flourishing 
their little cultivating knives aloft, and crying 
lustily, Hee kawera ! ln.ee kawera ! (Give me a 
little bit of work !). The paramount chief, Karuri, 
several times paid us a visit, and was always 
greatly interested in all that he saw. 

During the years 1907 and 1908 three caravan 
journeys were undertaken, one of which has been 
described at length in the previous chapter. A 
short safari was made to a district under a chief 
named Kahuria, a few hours journey from our 
station. About one hundred and fifty people were 
assembled for a Sunday service, and medicines 
were freely dispensed, but we have seldom been 
amongst a more unfriendly set of natives. 

Later on my husband and his brother (the Rev. 
E. W. Crawford) went together on a three weeks 
tour with the object of choosing new sites for the 
C.M.S. in the almost unknown trans-Tana country, 
a work which had been entrusted to them by the 
Bishop and the local governing body. Three 
sites chosen during that journey, as the result of 
many negotiations with chiefs and a great deal 
of cross-country travelling, are at the time of 
writing all occupied as mission stations Kabare, 



H2 Charged by Rhinos 

Embu and Muitiro. On the return safari they met 
with the unpleasant experience of being charged 
by two rhinoceroses not far from Fort Embu, and 
having no firearms with them, they only escaped 
by hastily climbing up into some trees by the 
roadside. 

As the year drew to a close we began to make 
preparations for leaving on furlough, and the Rev. 
and Mrs. Douglas Hooper arrived in the middle of 
December, having been appointed to carry on the 
work during our absence. Christmas with its 
glad associations was upon us, and we en 
deavoured to make it a day of thanksgiving and 
rejoicing. Our neighbours poured in to the Christ 
mas service, and learnt, we trust, something of its 
sacred lessons. Many little gifts were dispensed, 
and the slaughter of a sheep provided an ample 
feast for all on the station. Amongst the presents 
were a number of dolls sent by friends in England. 
These proved a source of great delight, not so 
much to the little girls (who were afraid of them !) 
as to the boys and warriors, who were each so 
keen to possess one that it was impossible to 
satisfy them all with the very limited number at 
our disposal. 

Boxing Day was devoted to sports and games 
for our young people, and the whole community 
assembled on the hill to watch the fun. Hurling 
spears at a target provided keen excitement for 
the young men, and pick-a-back and sack races 
created a great deal of merriment. But perhaps 



Baptizing in a Stream 113 

the three-legged races were the most popular, and 
in these the women begged to be allowed to join. 

A few weeks later came a still more interesting 
occasion, the baptism of our first converts. Only 
eight of the catechumens were considered suffi 
ciently advanced for this important step. They 
had all been under instruction for about two 
years, and some of them even longer. We had 
decided that to have them baptized by immersion 
would be a more impressive object lesson to the 
Heathen, and to the candidates themselves. The 
beautiful similitude in baptism of death to the old 
life of sin, and the rising again to a new life in 
Christ, had of course been carefully explained, but 
we realized that it was the Holy Spirit alone Who 
could make it a reality in each individual life. 
The Rev. E. W. Crawford performed the cere 
mony, which took place at the little river which 
flows at the foot of the steep hill below the mission 
station. The banks were lined with hundreds of 
natives, drawn together no doubt by curiosity, and 
all the adherents of our church and school were 
also present. Silence fell upon the congregation as 
one by one the candidates stepped down into the 
stream, where my brother-in-law, standing in his 
surplice, received and immersed them. At the 
close of the service, clad in clean white garments, 
they formed into a procession to return to the 
station. 

Much sorrowful regret was expressed over our 
departure. The women crowded around us saying, 
9 



ii4 A Sorrowful Departure 

What shall we do when our father and mother 
are gone ? And indeed the work had become so 
dear to our own hearts that it was difficult to tear 
ourselves away. Little did we think that we should 
never return to labour at Kahuhia again, yet so 
it was ordained ! 



PART III 

Embu 



A little Sanctuary art Thou to me, 
Amongst the Heathen where I dwell with Thee ; 
Beneath Thy shadow, folded neath Thy wing, 
In deep content my song of praise I sing. 

A little Sanctuary art Thou to me 

No fabled shrine, but deep Reality I 

Thou said st it should be so when at Thy call 

I rose and followed, gladly leaving all. 

A little Sanctuary art Thou to me ! 

All joyfully I pitch my tent with Thee, 

Or ready still to journey at Thy Word 

In thee I live and move, most blessed Lord, 



CHAPTER XI 
Beyond the Tana River 

ON our return from furlough in 1910, it was 
arranged that the Rev. and Mrs. Douglas 
Hooper should continue our work at Kahuhia, 
the latter being a qualified medical woman, and 
that we should be sent to the entirely unevangelized 
region beyond the Tana River to open up a medical 
mission amongst the Embus, one hundred miles 
from Nairobi. After many unlooked-for delays 
we were at length able to start for the trans-Tana 
country in the latter part of August. For a short 
time there was a large motor transport waggon 
running between Nairobi and Fort Hall, and we 
were fortunate enough to be able to avail ourselves 
of it. Instead, therefore, of being two or three 
days on the road as formerly, we covered the whole 
distance of sixty miles in six and a half hours. 
Our native servants who travelled with us were in 
the most exuberant state of delight and astonish 
ment over this, the most wonderful journey of 
their lives ! At noon we stopped for lunch at a 
little hotel built all of grass, and designated The 



n8 



Reaching Fort Hall 



Blue Post. It stands on the narrow strip of land 
between the Chania and the Thika Rivers, where 
the two magnificent waterfalls lend such a charm 
to the scenery. The Fort Hall road proved to 
be in a shocking condition, dangerous wash-aways 
occurring in the cuttings, and some of the bridges 
being broken. However, we succeeded in getting 
through without accident, for which we were deeply 
thankful. 

The builder who had been entrusted with the 
contract for the erection of our new mission-house 
formed one of our party, his native workmen 
following on foot. At Fort Hall two rooms in an 
empty house were most kindly placed at our 
disposal by the Government officials, and during 
the two days we remained there, while providing 
for the transport of our luggage, we were shown 
considerable hospitality. At last we were able to 
dispatch our loads by native carriers, and to 
arrange for our own journey farther into the 
interior. Our new trap, which had been given to 
us by the Women s Auxiliary of the Church of 
England in Canada, had been drawn out from 
Nairobi by natives, and with our white mule 
inspanned was ready to carry us to Embuland. 
The first day our destination was Kabare, the C.M.S. 
station opened by my brother-in-law in the midst 
of the Ndia tribe, to whom he was the first mission 
ary, as we were to be the pioneers to the Embus. 

We had not gone far on our way when the mule 
had to be unharnessed and led down a terribly 



A Haunt of Hippopotami 119 

steep and rocky hill which terminated in the valley 
of the Mathioya. When we reached the bank of 
this broad and beautiful stream we found to our 
dismay that the bridge was too narrow to take our 
trap, so my husband set to work to detach the 
wheels, and it was then hoisted up on to the 
shoulders of a dozen natives and carried safely to 
the farther side. After two hours of exceedingly 
rough travelling we reached the Tana, the prin 
cipal river of East Africa, which is the home of 
innumerable hippopotami and crocodiles. Vast 
plains stretch as far as the eye can see in a south 
easterly direction, and being a veritable zoological 
garden it is a favourite resort of big game 
hunters. 

Having driven across the fine suspension bridge 
with which the Government has spanned this 
river, we proceeded on our way, every now and then 
meeting with some little stream which was hurry 
ing along to empty itself into the Tana. These 
were bridged with such frail structures of mud and 
sticks, that it was sometimes just touch and go 
as to whether they could bear the weight of the 
trap, and generally both cart and bridge had to be 
carefully measured to ascertain whether the width 
was sufficient to admit of driving over. On one 
such flimsy bridge the wheels actually slipped over 
the edge, first on one side and then on the other, 
but were caught by projecting sticks, and thus the 
trap was saved from being overturned into the 
brook below. At noon we drew near to the River 



I2O An Awkward Place 

Thiba, which is approached by an extremely pre 
cipitate and narrow defile. The mule had to be 
led down apart from the cart. My own mode of 
transit was not exactly enviable, first of all hang 
ing from my husband s neck and then on the back 
of a Ndia woman who happened to come along ! 
Once more our little vehicle was borne shoulder 
high by natives over the all too narrow native 
foot-bridge. Just after this we left the main road, 
and turned down a pathway cut by the paramount 
chief, Gutu, who bears rule over a great part of the 
Ndia tribe. Again the Thiba had to be crossed, 
and as we found only a hollowed-out trunk of a 
tree connecting with the opposite bank it proved 
a terribly awkward place to negotiate. There 
was nothing for it but to remove the wheels of the 
cart again, and even so it was only with the utmost 
difficulty that it could be carried across. 

But now we were only three miles from Kabare, 
and very soon we were greeting our brother who 
had come to meet us. Presently, too, his wife and 
their two little children appeared, and we received 
a warm welcome to their station. They had been 
there only a few months, and were living in a 
temporary house of wattle and daub, but they had 
a well-ordered school and the little grass church 
was packed on Sunday. I was charmed with the 
situation of Kabare, the hill being covered with 
lovely trees, and having a fine view of the mountain. 

Bidding farewell to our relatives a few days later 
we again had to traverse that dreadful log bridge 



A Natural Bridge 



121 



over the Thiba. Quite half-an-hour was lost 
in taking off and putting on the cart wheels, and 
another slipped by in waiting to see Chief Gutu 
at his village. He is certainly one of the cleverest 
and most dignified black men we have ever met 
in these uncivilized regions, and his influence over 
his 40,000 followers is enormous. His large home 
stead is enclosed within a strong stockade and 
consists of sixteen or eighteen huts (to accommo 
date his many wives) besides numerous granaries. 
He is very rich in cattle and flocks, and is a per 
sonality to be reckoned with by every traveller 
to the trans-Tana. 

We lunched at noon in a most picturesque spot 
where a great natural bridge of stone spans a 
rocky stream. The road passes over the bridge, 
which is so overgrown with creepers and bushes 
as to be scarcely discernible, unless the traveller 
takes the trouble to climb down the bank and 
examine the massive pillars upon which it rests. 
I suppose that it is owing to the fact that it was 
not constructed by human hands that the natives 
have given it the name of Thakama wa Ngai 
(the bridge of God). We were told that it was 
here under the bridge that Chief Gutu secreted 
himself two years before after leading his warriors 
in an attempt to expel the white men from his 
country. When the fortunes of war turned against 
him he fled to the Thakama wa Ngai and the British 
forces were unable to find him. Some of the black 
soldiers pursued him to this spot, and even clam- 



122 Rhinos Ahead ! 

bered down to search for him under the rocky 
structure, where they fired a volley to terrify him, 
in the hope that he would rush out from his shelter. 
But old Gutu was too wary for that ! He lay 
perfectly still in his hiding place until, weary of the 
search, they gave it up and returned to the other 
troops. Not until darkness fell did the chief 
venture to creep to a place of safety. 

The road now led through a great uninhabited 
wilderness, and we had not gone very far before 
we heard from some passing natives that there 
were rhinoceroses ahead ! It certainly looked as 
though wild beasts might spring at any moment 
from the dense jungle through which we were 
passing. The Doctor got out of the trap and walked 
along with his rifle, but nothing formidable ap 
peared. But some of our native servants who were 
walking a little in advance were greatly startled 
by the appearance of four ponderous rhinos, and 
my husband very much regretted that we were a 
few minutes too late ! It was near this point of 
the road that he and his brother had been charged 
by a pair of rhinos about two years before. 

Fort Embu, which we reached after a drive of 
about twelve miles, is delightfully situated on a 
fine hill overlooking the plains and the weary 
waste through which we had travelled. Just 
below it is a deep gorge through which flows the 
Ribongazi River. This forms the boundary 
between the Ndia and Embu territories. An 
exceedingly steep and narrow zig-zag cutting 



Fort Etnbu at Last 123 

must be climbed to reach the top of the hill, which 
is prettily laid out and planted with avenues of 
trees leading to the Government bungalows and 
offices. 

The assistant District Officer came out to 
welcome us and seemed intensely surprised at the 
sight of our little cart, which had the honour 
of being the first to be driven out to Embu. The 
superior officer being away, leave was kindly granted 
us to use his vacant house. The site selected for 
the new mission station was only about eight miles 
beyond the Fort. The natives have given the 
name of Kigari, or A Big Leopard, to the hill, doubt 
less owing to the prevalence of these beasts in the 
vicinity. On our arrival the local chief and many 
of his people ran out of their villages to greet us, 
and seemed to be really pleased that we were 
coming to live amongst them. Chief Kabuthi is a 
tall, lean man, and wears a dark-coloured blanket 
and an old felt hat. He brought the usual present 
of a sheep, and we bestowed suitable gifts in return. 
An exchange of gifts is the only basis of friendship 
that these primitive savages seem able to under 
stand I 

There was only a small cleared space on the hill 
top where it was possible to pitch our tents, the 
jungle being so thick all around that it was difficult 
at first to get any adequate idea of the site. A 
large number of men had to be employed to clear 
it up as it was extremely unhealthy in its present 
condition. A pretty bit of woodland on one side 



124 Clearing the Jungle 

of the hill and a banana grove on the other were, 
however, interesting features, and when the 
clouds lifted, there was the most wonderful view 
of the mountain that we had ever seen. Looking 
towards the north-west it seemed to fill the land 
scape. We were indeed so near that the vast 
forest which encircles its base could be reached in 
an hour and a half, and it was difficult to believe 
that it was not nearer still, so clearly were the 
trees visible. The builder arrived the same day 
as ourselves with his Swahili masons, and the site 
of the house was soon staked out. 

We had been living a whole month under canvas 
when one evening an army of soldier ants came 
up in thousands and laid siege to our tent and 
we were obliged ignominiously to surrender to the 
enemy and seek another shelter ! Fortunately, 
a tiny shanty of wood and iron which was being 
put together for our temporary abode was almost 
finished and we were able to move into it. 




Warriors of Embuland 



CHAPTER XII 
Amongst the Embus 

THE Embus are a branch of the Kikuyu tribe, 
and inhabit the foothills on the east side of 
Mt. Kenia. It was not until after the Government 
had been some time firmly established in the 
Kikuyu country to the south and south-west of 
the mountain, that they turned their attention to 
the Embus. Every attempt to get on a friendly 
footing with this tribe completely failed, and the 
advance of the British force was resisted with all 
the strength they could muster. At last a punitive 
expedition was sent against them, about six years 
ago, which resulted in their complete subjugation. 

From the latest reports there must be a popula 
tion of about 200,000 in the Embu district, but 
this (for purposes of administration) includes 
also the Embere, Chuka, Mwimbi and part of the 
Ndia tribes. The whole territory is naturally 
but little known to outsiders, excepting to a few 
adventurous sportsmen for whom the country 
enfolds all that heart could wish in the way of 

big game. We are indeed living on the border of a 

125 



126 A 4 Baby Rhino 

vast menagerie ! Some natives told us the other 
day of a fight that had just been witnessed on the 
plains between a buffalo and a lion. The king of 
beasts was worsted in the fray, and one of our 
informants offered us his claws for sale. In the 
glades of the great forest upon which we gaze from 
our mission station Ex-President Roosevelt has 
hunted elephants. The Duke of Connaught has 
also hunted in the district, and amongst many 
other trophies his party captured a baby rhino. 
This ponderous infant was kept alive for a time 
with cow s milk, our local chief Kabuthi supplying 
some of the cows for the purpose. Any kindness 
shown him by the chiefs the Duke rewarded right 
royally. He and the Duchess and Princess 
Patricia stayed a night at Fort Embu on their 
journey around Mt. Kenia. This was just before 
we entered the district. 

We found the people very much like the Akikuyu, 
but somewhat wilder, less clothed and more de 
graded. Their customs are for the most part very 
similar. Much of their social life, however, is so 
debased that I can scarcely venture even to touch 
upon the subject. It is a striking fact that our 
Christian Embus all aspire to Kikuyu brides, 
feeling it impossible to marry girls of their own 
tribe. The villages in Embuland are much the 
same as amongst the Kikuyu, but the huts are 
smaller and not nearly so well built. 

For some months after our arrival we were 
obliged to hold our services in the open air. The 



A Hospital Chapel 127 

chief, clad in a red blanket, topped with an old 
white helmet, was usually enthroned on a packing 
case, with several hundreds of his followers sitting 
in a large circle on the ground. The first few 
Sundays they seemed vastly amused, and often 
had to be rebuked for an outburst of laughter, 
especially when we began to sing or pray ; indeed, 
we did not dare attempt the latter until they 
became a little more orderly. Humanly speaking, 
it seemed quite impossible to convey any spiritual 
truth to their darkened minds. But when our 
Master said, Go ye into all the world and preach 
the Gospel to every creature, He could not have 
intended the Embus to be omitted ! Behind the 
divine command there is divine power, power 
which can transform these degraded savages, and 
make them meet to be partakers of the inheritance 
of the saints in light. If we doubted this we could 
not remain here. So, trustfully and hopefully, 
we took up the sacred charge of seeking to win a 
new tribe for God. 

Amongst other building operations my husband 
soon started a large hospital chapel, which took 
nearly two months to complete, although we 
boasted no grander materials than the usual 
poles, sticks, mud and banana bark ! The interior 
being neatly lined with white reeds from which 
the bark had been stripped, reminded us of the 
Uganda churches, 1 only that the workmanship 
was somewhat rougher. The next problem was 
1 We paid a visit to Uganda in 1905. 



128 An Uproarious Crowd 

how to contrive seats for our congregation. This 
was eventually solved by having a great many 
long, straight poles brought from the forest, each 
of which when supported horizontally on small 
posts, emerging about a foot above the ground, 
formed quite as up-to-date a pew as we could 
desire, considering the present status of our 
parishioners ! When all was finished there was 
seating accommodation for five hundred and fifty. 
The building is ninety feet long and twenty feet 
wide, and the top ridge pole is fifteen feet high. 

The opening day arrived and it almost took our 
breath away to see the uproarious crowd of savages 
pouring in, and it required almost superhuman 
efforts to reduce them to any semblance of order ! 
But the strains of the baby organ caught their 
attention and helped to silence the babel. As 
we had not used it for the open-air services most of 
them had never heard it before, and of course the 
unanimous verdict was, there was c a spirit inside 
the box ! 

An evangelistic school was started next day in 
the same building. Twenty-eight boys were duly 
enlisted as scholars, and a few days later the number 
was almost doubled, but to my dismay they all 
went on strike, demanding wages for thus obliging 
the Europeans ! The situation had to be carefully 
explained, and we tried to make them understand 
that the obligation was the other way round. 
When they found that we were quite firm, and pre 
pared to close the school if need be, then most of 



, 





The Belfry, Embu Medical Mission 
Medical Assistants and Pupil Teachers, Embu 



Elected to the * Kiama 129 

them gave in, and settled down quietly. The 
following month quite ninety pupils had been 
enrolled, but the average attendance was about 
seventy-five. 

One day not very long after our arrival many of 
the veterans of the tribe came up to do honour to 
Gitari by admitting him to the Council of Elders. 
This being regarded as a great occasion, Dr. Craw 
ford presented them with a bull as an initiation fee 
(it being customary to give either a sheep or a bull). 
They sat around in a ring, with the new candidate 
in their midst. Two of the elders came forward 
and extended their hands over him, invoking the 
blessing of Ngai, and imploring Him to bestow 
sheep, cattle, fruitful gardens and all other temporal 
mercies upon the new member of their council. 
All present grunted their assent to every sentence 
in unison. When the bull was slaughtered they be 
stowed a large piece of meat upon the new member, 
and then he was permitted to retire. A week later 
the council assembled again, and once more the 
Doctor was summoned to their midst. This time a 
fat sheep was presented to him, and his elder s staff, 
which he was expected to use as a walking-stick. 
Then one of the athuri rose and told him that he 
had been elected president of the Kiama, as a token 
of their appreciation of his services to the people 
He also proclaimed that in future Sunday was to 
be observed as a day of rest, and that their boys 
were to be allowed to attend the school. Further 



10 



130 A Confirmation Service 

blessings were then invoked, much the same as on 
the former occasion, after which they took their 
departure. The chief himself, Kabuthi, is not a 
member of the Council of Elders, being too young 
at present to be admitted to the charmed circle. 
He is an animist of animists, and although he likes 
to appear friendly and even went so far as to attend 
school for a few days with some of his councillors, 
yet we very soon discovered that he had a horror 
of any of his people being turned away from the 
superstitions of their ancestors, in which spirit 
worship plays such a conspicuous part. 

The work was still quite in its initial stage when 
our Bishop and his daughter paid us a visit. We 
were living almost in camp fashion at the time, but 
notwithstanding this it was a great pleasure to 
welcome them. The great event of their short stay 
was a Confirmation service. The four candidates 
were amongst those who had been baptized at 
Kahuhia just before we left for England, and they 
had been very carefully prepared during the previ 
ous months. All were medical assistants except 
Marko the cook. It was very impressive to see 
these, our children in the Faith, kneeling before 
the Bishop, whilst we fervently echoed his prayer 
that they might continue Christ s faithful soldiers 
and servants unto their lives end. A solemn Com 
munion service followed, when our dear Kikuyu 
boys gathered with us to remember our Lord s 
death till He come. 

A few weeks later, after our visitors had left us 




. 



An Embu Warrior 



Soldier Ants 



and the mission-house was nearing completion, one 
Sunday evening our tin shanty was overrun with 
soldier ants. With the help of our boys we en 
deavoured to fight them back by pouring red hot 
ashes and paraffin on their track, and were all 
badly bitten in the attempt. Finally we decided 
to escape from the invaders by a hasty removal into 
the new house, just as we had evacuated the tent 
for the cottage five months before. These terrible 
pests are a perpetual menace all over the country. 
Many a time travellers have had to turn out of their 
tents at night because of a besieging army of siafu 
(the Swahili name for these biting ants). We once 
had them in our bedroom during our stay at Kabete, 
and after battling with the foe for an hour and a 
half, we had to retire for the night with the room 
reeking of paraffin. 

Some months ago they attacked a favourite cat 
and her kitten, the latter being so thickly covered 
as to be almost unrecognizable. As soon as we 
discovered their dreadful predicament we called 
our little house boys to the rescue, and although 
constantly getting bitten themselves they laboured 
most perseveringly until every ant was extracted. 
I say extracted advisedly, as these ants fasten 
their fangs, which are like a sharp pair of forceps, 
deep into the flesh, and they can seldom be removed 
without drawing blood. The poor wee kitten lay 
bleeding and exhausted, but remembering the pro 
verbial nine lives a cat is supposed to possess we 
hoped it would survive. Placing cat and kitten 



132 Bitten to Death 

comfortably in another house we left them for the 
night. Imagine then our distress at rinding them 
in the morning again covered with these dreadful 
pests ! This time the unfortunate kitten was just 
breathing its last, so we concentrated all our efforts 
on the poor mother, but in spite of all that we could 
do she died of blood-poisoning a few days later. 

It is a pitiful sight to discover a whole brood of 
little chickens smothered with these ants. Dipping 
our hands into paraffin and water we pick them off 
as fast as we can, but it is seldom that more than 
two or three will outlive the frightful siege they 
have experienced, and of course the mother-hen 
herself may not survive. Insect life is one of the 
small trials the missionary or settler has to face in 
the tropics. The well-known white ants are not so 
much a source of personal inconvenience as the 
soldier ants, but they are extremely destructive to 
property. If they get under your matting, or be 
hind your photographs and pictures, or invade your 
library, they will generally do untold damage before 
they are discovered. But the most terrible of insect 
pests are the jiggers, which bore deep into your flesh 
to lay their eggs, creating a shocking amount of 
pain and irritation. We have many times seen 
little children brought to the dispensary with their 
fingers and toes eaten off by jiggers, and the wounds 
in a state of horrible suppuration. 

A tiny girl two or three years of age was suddenly 
left on our hands one day, her mother having died 
in the hospital from a loathsome disease which at 



The School a Menagerie ! 133 

the last attacked her throat. The poor little creature 
was almost a skeleton, and her feet and hands were 
in a dreadful condition from jiggers. She could 
only hobble along on her heels, as her toes caused 
her so much pain. We gave her some disinfectant 
baths, had nearly a hundred jiggers extracted, and 
her maimed limbs carefully doctored and bandaged. 
She soon became every one s pet, and is now learn 
ing to read in school. The bright, merry little girl 
who runs about the station to-day could hardly 
be recognized as the forlorn little waif who so 
deeply touched our sympathies a year ago. 

In spite of a good deal of secret opposition the 
school has continued to progress very satisfactorily. 
In 1911 the attendance averaged about eighty-five, 
but in 1912 it ranged between one hundred and 
one hundred and twenty. As the boys are mostly 
named after wild animals, birds and insects, etc., 
the roll call is decidedly amusing, and reads 
somewhat like this : Giraffe, son of Buffalo ; Frog, 
son of Ostrich ; Elephant, son of Hawk ; Hippo 
potamus, son of Crocodile ; Ostrich, son of 
Rhinoceros ; Giraffe, son of Rat. I taught each 
one to stand and salute when his name was called 
and they were very proud of the accomplishment ! 
The first half hour in school has always been 
devoted to Scripture teaching. A Bible lesson 
follows the opening hymn, and an appeal is often 
made to the hearts and consciences of the scholars. 

I soon found it necessary to prepare a series of 
graded reading sheets in the Embu dialect. These 



134 Linguistic Difficulties 

were printed at the mission press in Frere Town 
and have been most useful in securing not only 
the interest of the pupils but their rapid advance 
ment also. Much of my time has of necessity 
been taken up with translational work to meet 
the ever growing needs of both church and school. 
The dialect is considerably different from the 
Kikuyu language. The linguistic difficulties we 
have had to wrestle with since coming to Embu 
may be better appreciated by the reader if I pre 
sent the Lord s Prayer in the two vernaculars. 

The Lord s Prayer in Kikuyu 

Baba witu wee uri matwini, Ritwa riaku ria- 
murwo, Uthamaki waku oke, Kwenda gwaku 
kugie thi ta uria gutarie matwini, Utuhe umuthi 
irio citu cia gutuigana, uturekere mehia maitu, 
ta uria ithui turekagera aria matuehagia, Nduga- 
tutware ugerioine, no utuhonokie uruini, Kwondu 
uthamaki ni waku, ona hinya, ona ugocwo, tene 
na tene. Amina. 

The Lord s Prayer in Embu 

Vava wetu uri mature, Ritwa reaku renenevue, 
Uthamaki waku oke, Marwendo maku marutwe 
mavorore toria marutagwa mature. Utuve omon- 
thi irio cetu cia gutuigana. Utukirire me via metu, 
toria tumakiragira aria matuevagia. Ndokatuvire 
ugeriare, no utuvonokie weeire. Kwa undu utha 
maki ni waku, na vinya, na ugocwa, tene na tene. 
Amina. 





The ist Embu Company of the Boys Brigade 
Embu Medical Mission School 



The Boys Brigade 135 

Knowing that the corruption of the village life 
was several degrees worse in Embuland than in the 
Kikuyu country, we tried to make it possible for 
as many of our boys as desired to escape from its 
impurity to do so. To this end Dr. Crawford put 
up some large dormitories. He also built a club- 
room where our lads might spend their evenings 
innocently and profitably in reading, singing 
hymns and playing simple games. We still adhere 
to our original decision not to give any of our 
boarders money except for actual work accom 
plished. Food is generally supplied to them from 
their villages, the parents consent being first 
obtained for them to live on the station. In this 
way they are neither pampered nor pauperized. 
All are expected to perform at least five hours 
of manual labour a day, besides attending school 
and classes. In order to yet further discipline 
the boys, my husband organized a company of 
the Boys Brigade, which has been duly enrolled 
at headquarters with himself as captain. It is 
amusing to watch them at drill. No arms what 
ever are used, the only object being to instil the 
qualities of order, obedience and reverence. When 
there is no drill the boys may usually be seen 
throwing themselves heartily into a game of 
football when the work of the day is over. Such 
a change was taking place in the ideals of our 
scholars that the chief and many of the elders 
became greatly alarmed, and for a time the 
attendance at school was much reduced, 



136 



A Fight to be Fought 



One is not very long in the mission field without 
realizing that there is a hard spiritual fight to be 
fought. Behind the evil heathen customs there 
is a personality, and when we missionaries attack 
them we find that we wake up the forces of the 
evil one. Our teaching naturally strikes at the 
very root of the foolish superstitions and degrading 
customs with which the Prince of Darkness seeks 
to bind these primitive people body and soul. In 
the clear light of Gospel truth they stand revealed 
in their true character, and the pupil at the mission 
school learns to regard them with aversion. The 
entrance of Thy Word giveth light. He can no 
longer bear to participate in what he now sees to 
be displeasing to God. From that point of course 
the real conflict begins. But for those who know 
that they are on the winning side there is nothing 
to fear, though temporary rebuffs may be encoun 
tered. The Captain of their salvation has never 
known defeat, and the weakest of His soldiers may 
learn to triumph in His blessed Name ! 



CHAPTER XIII 

With the Savage Ghukas 

AS the work of a medical mission grows it 
becomes increasingly difficult to get away 
from the station, but we longed to carry the light 
of the Gospel a little farther into the dense dark 
ness of Heathendom, so in September, 1911, we 
arranged a safari that would take us through 
eastern Embuland into the country of the Chukas. 
After rapidly completing our preparations we set 
out one morning, my husband, as usual, riding his 
mule, and I in a camp chair slung on two strong 
bamboo poles. The long file of porters kept up 
a constant chatter as they swung along the narrow 
path with their burdens. Our good, faithful 
Josiah (medical assistant) walked by my side all 
the way, keeping a steadying hand on my chair 
in every rough or dangerous place, and sometimes 
even plunging into mud or water in his anxiety 
to secure my safety. 

There had been much to occupy us during the 
past busy days, but now, with our faces set towards 
the unknown regions beyond, our minds were free 



138 



A Sacred Grove 



to dwell on the solemn privilege which was to be 
ours within the next few days, of planting our 
footsteps where no missionaries had ever been 
before. Our hearts ascended in prayer that, 
however unworthy, our God would graciously 
cleanse and prepare His instruments. Up and 
down we went, sometimes almost pushing our 
way through a dense tangle of bush, or threading 
our path through fertile vales covered with native 
gardens, or yet again crossing with wary footsteps 
some slender pole where a mountain streamlet 
tumbled its noisy career over rocks and boulders. 
A beautiful dome-shaped hill completely mantled 
with forest trees attracted our attention, and we 
were told it was a sacred grove of the Embu tribe 
where sacrifices were wont to be offered to pro 
pitiate the spirits. Although the forest abounds 
with Colybus monkeys, yet not one of them must 
be killed lest the anger of the ghosts which are 
supposed to frequent these glades should be 
aroused. 

As we neared the River Ena we heard the roar 
of falling water, and in another minute a most 
lovely cascade was presented to our view. But we 
could not stay to explore the beauties of the 
scene. After three hours of travelling we arrived 
at our first camp, near the village of a chief named 
Ronenji. As we had sent some of our boys and 
porters ahead of us we found the tents pitched 
and all in readiness. The chief was unfortunately 
away from home so we did not see him. A native 



A Lantern Service 139 

dance, performed by young men with decorated 
shields, was in full swing, and there was no possi 
bility of settling down until late at night on account 
of the din and noise. The next day, Sunday, 
some sick people gathered around for treatment 
and a service was held for them. In the evening, 
a large sheet having been stretched between two 
poles in the open air, a lantern lecture was given 
portraying the Life of our Lord. 

The whole camp was astir at daybreak the 
following morning, and after a hasty breakfast 
we set out again, this time making for Kagani s, 
the most influential chief in eastern Embuland, 
just two hours away. We passed through a most 
delightful country, richly wooded and undulating, 
and with extensive patches of native cultivation, 
witnessing to a numerous population. 

On a wide green sward outside the chief s village, 
where several large trees afford a pleasant shade, 
the tents were rapidly set up by many willing 
hands. Presently some of Kagani s wives paid 
us a visit, and then the chief himself appeared. 
He sat and chatted with us for some time, and 
then carried the Doctor off to see his homestead. 
In the cool of the afternoon I was carried over 
there in my chair at the chief s request. Having 
had a lantern lighted he proceeded to show us 
the interior of his huts, which were unusually well 
made and divided into a number of sleeping 
compartments, with beds built up of sticks high 
above the ground, and covered with grass and 



140 Through a Dreary Desert 

blankets. But all was so intensely dark that we 
should have seen nothing had it not been for the 
dim flicker of the dirty lamp. It was quite the 
best village we had seen, but some of the larger 
huts were evidently built by Swahilis, who travel 
about for purposes of trade, sowing, alas ! the 
seeds of Islam wherever they go. 

On leaving Kagani s we directed our steps 
towards the land of the Chukas. In approaching 
this country from Embuland, native villages and 
gardens gradually disappear and the traveller 
passes through a veritable desert where beasts of 
prey lurk unmolested. Then comes a great deep 
ravine with a dreadfully steep and rocky pathway 
leading down to a turbid stream below, and up 
again, a long, hard climb, till the crest of the hill 
is reached on the farther side. In the old days 
the Embus did not dare to cross this ravine, as the 
Chukas and themselves were always at enmity. 
If a man ventured to pass through the country 
with a herd of cattle or goats, the latter would 
invariably be seized and himself murdered. But 
since the British Government conquered these 
tribes, all inter-tribal warfare has ceased. After 
a three hours march we reached the homestead 
of Mutua, one of the most important Chuka chiefs, 
and were soon surrounded by his people as we 
pitched our tents. They appeared to us just like 
a lot of little children in their primitive simplicity, 
so full of curiosity and wonder at all that pertained 
to the white man. 




o 



J8 I 
3 

-C o 

s 

qj rt 

s 

O 4= 

CA! H 






Mutua s Village 141 

Chief Mutua was soon seen emerging from the 
thick banana grove which hides his village from 
view, and very friendly were the greetings when he 
discovered the purpose of our visit. His wives 
also came to see us and invited us over to the 
homestead, going away happy with their hands 
filled with coarse salt, which is always deemed 
a luxury amongst African savages. It did not 
take long for the news to spread that the white 
medicine man had arrived with boxes filled with 
muthaiga. The people gathered in crowds to be 
treated, and as they crouched together on the 
ground they heard for the first time the wonderful 
story of God s redeeming love. In the evening 
a lantern service brought still more vividly before 
these depraved savages the life and death and 
resurrection of the Saviour of the world. But 
when they saw the picture of the suffering body 
suspended from a cross of wood they pained us by 
their laughter and rude jests, showing how little 
their darkened minds could understand that 
marvellous Sacrifice for sin. 

This country is even more richly wooded than 
Embuland, and the villages are for the most part 
completely obscured by trees and bushes, or 
plantations of bananas. The Chukas are a most 
exclusive tribe, and keep almost entirely to their 
own territory, not intermarrying with other tribes, 
or going abroad in search of work. They have a 
reputation for being very wild and dangerous. 
Even quite recently the officials have had poisoned 



142 The Chuka Barricades 

arrows shot at them from ambush while riding 
through the country for the purpose of collecting 
hut tax. Until lately the frontiers of the Chuka 
territory were enclosed by a thorny hedge entered 
only by gateways which were barricaded at night, 
and guarded by sentinels by day. But these 
barricades have been torn down by order of the 
Government, To still further protect themselves 
from enemies the people dig pitfalls near the 
villages, lined with sharp-pointed stakes, and 
skilfully covered with sticks and greenery so as to 
escape detection. Besides these man-traps they 
dig large pits in the same way to catch elephants 
and other wild beasts in the Kenia forest. The 
animals falling in are impaled on the sharp stakes, 
and so are easily dispatched. The physical condi 
tion of this tribe is worse than that of any of the 
others with which we have corne in contact, and 
during the few days we were able to spend amongst 
them patients came around the Doctor in hundreds, 
seeming really grateful for the opportunity of 
being helped. 

The dialect of these interesting people differs 
considerably from that of the Kikuyu and Embu 
tribes, so that it was not always easy to make 
ourselves understood. The cast of countenance 
is also somewhat distinctive, with an unusual 
width between the eyes. Clothing is reduced 
to a minimum ! Goatskins, beads and red clay, 
all play their part as with most of the barbarous 
tribes of Africa ; but many of the men and women 



The Minimum of Clothing 143 

seem to attempt no other covering than a frill 
of banana leaves round the waist. American 
cotton and blankets are, however, being gradually 
introduced amongst the male portion of the com 
munity. They appear to be quite devoid of the 
scruples of their Kikuyu and Embu neighbours with 
regard to food, and will eat almost any kind of 
meat that comes in their way, even that of the 
hyaena, which is reckoned most unclean by the 
Akikuyu, who consider it ceremonially defiling 
to touch any meat except beef or mutton, even a 
domestic fowl or a partridge being absolutely 
tabooed ! 

A desire was expressed by the chief Mutua that 
a missionary might be sent to teach his people, 
and leading the Doctor to a very beautiful hill 
he offered it to him as a site for a mission station. 
He also brought two boys to us (one of them his 
own son) that they might be educated at our 
school. Two other Chuka boys followed after us, 
appearing at our next camp, and begging that they 
too might be allowed to return with us and learn 
to read. We longed that these lads might some 
day go back to evangelize their own people, and 
we kept this thought before us, praying that a work 
of grace might be begun in their hearts. Some 
of them had already joined the inquirers class 
after being some months on our station, when we 
were informed one day that they had run away. 
As they always seemed quite happy and contented 
while with us, we could only draw the conclusion 



144 



Little Kipande 



that some adverse influence had crept in, and 
that Mutua had recalled them in consequence. 

During our short visit to the Chuka chief s 
village, a tiny little fellow, named Kipande, one 
of Mutua s sons, took an extraordinary fancy to 
us and hovered continually about our tent. On 
the morning of our departure, as our caravan 
wound its way through the banana grove near the 
homestead, we found our small friend awaiting 
us on the pathway. He had evidently made up 
his mind to accompany us, as the childish voice 
was heard shouting, Are you going away and 
leaving your child behind ? As the pathetic 
appeal brought no response, it was followed by 
loud sobbing. We were unable, of course, to 
accede to his request. But I have never ceased to 
remember little Kipande, and to pray that some 
day the way may open for him to be brought to 
the missionaries and led into the fold of the Good 
Shepherd. 

We parted from our Chuka acquaintances with 
mutual regrets, many of them asking us when we 
would come again. Retracing our steps we re- 
crossed the ravine and trudged along for nearly 
four hours until we arrived at the village of an 
Embu chief named Weimiri, where we remained 
two or three days, helping all the sick folk who came 
our way, and delivering our message to the people. 
From thence we returned to the station, having 
travelled about sixty miles in ten days. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Out of the Jaws of Death 

WE had not been many weeks in Embuland 
before a small temporary dispensary was 
opened. Not many patients came round at first, 
but it did not take long for the white doctor s 
fame to spread, and during a few months the 
numbers rose steadily until at last there were three 
or four hundred patients daily. It was indeed a 
formidable task to attend to them all ! Watching 
this pathetic throng of diseased and suffering 
humanity one was often reminded of the word, 
When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with 
compassion on them. Day by day at the dis 
pensary door they heard, for the first time, of that 
tender, compassionate Saviour Who could heal, 
not only physical infirmity, but soul sickness too. 

Many had to be received at once as in-patients, 
and a number of little temporary huts were hastily 
run up for their accommodation. But as they 
continued to press upon us it became necessary to 
erect some large hospital wards. The doctor and 
his young assistants threw themselves energeti- 



146 A General Stampede ! 

cally into the work, and before many months had 
passed we had a spacious hospital compound com 
posed of six large wards, with sleeping capacity 
for over a hundred people. A long shed was also 
built for the out-patient department, the whole 
forming one large square. Then came the labour 
of making beds of native materials, which in 
volved still harder toil than the building of the 
houses. Seventy-five cots were at length com 
pleted, and it did not take long to fill them with 
patients. The Embus being accustomed to sleep 
on a bundle of banana leaves strewn on the mud 
floor of their dwellings, regarded the hospital 
accommodation as positive luxury, and it has 
generally been a difficult matter to get them to 
leave when convalescent ! 

A special service for in-patients was now in 
stituted, with the hope that many of these poor 
creatures, hearing the Gospel every day (some of 
them for many months at a time) might be able to 
return to their own people with a new and wonder 
ful story of a Saviour able to save to the utter 
most all who come to Him for spiritual healing. 

Our patients were, of course, terribly supersti 
tious. When the first death occurred in the hospital 
we were dismayed to find that there was a general 
stampede, and quite half of them returned to their 
homes ! This was because they feared that the 
ghost of the dead man would haunt the ward in 
which he died, and possibly bring some calamity 
upon all the inmates. It was, however, cheering 



A New Dispensary 



147 



to notice that it was chiefly the newer patients 
who had left, thus demonstrating that the older 
ones had more or less profited from the teaching. 

The C.M.S. having made a grant for the erection 
of a stone Dispensary and Operating Room, the 
European builder turned his attention to this as 
soon as he had completed the mission-house. My 
husband spent several days when it was finished 
in fitting it up with the necessary shelves and tables. 
Six months had passed away and the medical 
mission was now successfully established, with 
representatives of all the trans-Tana tribes to be 
found amongst the patients, many of whom had 
to travel two or three days in order to reach us. 

But here I must retrace my steps to relate the 
remarkable chain of circumstances which led to 
such a rapid development of the work. 

The local chief, Kabuthi, had shown a most 
friendly attitude towards us, and seemed to realize 
that we had come to help his people. Soon after 
our arrival he was stricken down with a virulent 
form of malarial fever. In spite of all Dr. Craw 
ford s efforts he did not seem to gain any ground, 
and upon investigation it was found that he was 
not always taking the medicine that had been given 
him, on the contrary the native medicine men were 
asserting their influence over him, and he was being 
dosed with their concoctions. Every missionary 
in this part of Africa, and most particularly every 
medical missionary, must sooner or later come up 
against the opposition of these wizard-quacks. 



148 Kabuthi and the Witch Doctor 

Kabuthi s village lies on the slope of our hill, 
only a few hundred yards from the mission station. 
There he had lain many days, wasted by the ever- 
recurring attacks, and reduced almost to a skeleton. 
One day my husband paid him a visit at an un 
wonted hour, and a strange scene confronted him. 
The patient lay on the ground outside his hut, and 
by his side was a mundu mugo (medicine man), 
preparing to slaughter a sheep in order to appease 
the offended spirits who were supposed to be caus 
ing the sickness. Pointing to the sheep, the Doctor 
indignantly inquired if it was intended for a sacri 
fice. The reply was in the affirmative. Then/ 
said my husband to the chief, if you are going to 
allow this sacrifice to be offered I shall drop your 
case ! Looking sternly in the direction of the 
medicine man, he added, You have to choose be 
tween that man and me 1 The result of this was 
that Kabuthi, thus appealed to, decided in favour 
of Gitari, and the sheep having been driven back 
to the flock, the mundu mugo beat an ignominious 
retreat, slinking out of the village in a decidedly 
crestfallen manner. Turning towards his patient 
again my husband impressed upon him the absolute 
futility of such a sacrifice as that which he had been 
about to offer, which could not possibly propitiate 
the holy God, but would rather tend to bring down 
His righteous anger upon him. Then he went on 
to expatiate upon the One great Sacrifice which had 
been offered up long ago when God sent His only- 
begotten Son into the world to die for sinners. 



Carried out to Die 149 

The young medical assistant, Josiah Gathu, him 
self a Heathen only a few years back, added an 
impressive testimony to the words which had just 
been spoken. 

After this all went well for a time, and the chief 
seemed to be approaching convalescence, but, alas ! 
there came a sudden relapse, and early one morning 
a messenger came running up the hill to tell us 
that Kabuthi had been carried out into the thicket 
to die. The Doctor hurried to the scene, and 
was shocked to find the unfortunate chief lying 
out on the damp ground in the woods. Dissolu 
tion certainly seemed imminent, for the limbs 
were stiff and cold, and the eyes glazed, while 
no gleam of consciousness remained. A few of 
his followers were watching with frightened faces 
at a little distance, not daring to approach the 
dying man. My husband quickly administered 
a restorative, gave directions for the hospital 
stretcher to be brought, and then knelt in prayer, 
asking that in God s great mercy this life might 
be given back, and that Kabuthi might yet learn 
to know and love Him. He was carried up the 
hill and placed on a bed in one of the hospital 
huts. How we cried to God that day, as we feared 
the result to our work if the chief should die 
just at this juncture ! And very graciously the 
answer came. The stiffened limbs relaxed, the 
pulse quickened and consciousness returned. The 
people were greatly awed, and said he was brought 
back from the dead ! Day by day the poor man 



150 4 You are my Saviour ! 

gained a little strength, until he was able to sit 
up in bed, and later on to creep out of the hut and 
lie in the sunshine. Then he said to the Doctor, 
You are my saviour ! you have brought me 
back from the grave ! you have resurrected me ! 
Promptly the answer was given that it was all 
God s wonderful goodness, and that the Doctor 
was only His instrument. As we saw our patient 
recovering, our hearts were filled with chastened 
thankfulness, and we realized more than ever 
before that God Himself had sent us to Embuland, 
and that He was confirming our message with 
signs following. 

Since then Kabuthi has had several serious 
attacks of illness, but the means used have always 
been blessed to his recovery, and he is to-day a 
fairly healthy man, able to administer his largely 
increased district, and to walk and ride about the 
country getting in the hut tax for the Government. 
When he was convalescent he promised that he 
would learn to read the Word of God for himself, 
but like a ruler of old he has put it off till a 
more convenient season ! 

I have already mentioned Gutu, the powerful 
chief of the Ndia tribe. We had not been long 
at our new station when one day a messenger 
arrived from him, imploring Dr. Crawford to go 
to his assistance as he was most seriously ill. 
My husband at once put together such drugs and 
appliances as he felt the case demanded, and 



A Jealous Chief 151 

hurried off with his young assistants to a village 
several hours distant from our station, where 
the chief happened to be staying. It certainly 
seems that this visit was instrumental in saving 
his life, as he was wonderfully relieved, and a 
few days later was able to be carried to the 
hospital. Here the help he received was blessed 
to his complete recovery, and after a fortnight 
of careful attention and nursing he was able to 
return home. This case was naturally a great 
advertisement for our work amongst the Ndia 
people, and hundreds of them began flocking to 
us for treatment, until at last Gutu grew alarmed, 
as he feared that many might want to settle near 
the Mission. Instead of remembering that, under 
God, he owed his life to the medical mission, he 
became inflamed with jealousy. Gitari was getting 
too powerful and his influence must be checked ! 
Having discussed the matter with the paramount 
chief of Ndialand, they called their sub-chiefs 
and headmen together, and issued an order that 
in future no sick people were to go to the hospital 
without permission being obtained from them in 
every individual case. Most of those who were 
already with us as in-patients were recalled. Not 
only so, but emissaries were sent out to inform 
other influential chiefs amongst the adjacent 
tribes of their movements and to request them to 
join the combine. It seemed to us the height of 
cruelty to prevent thousands of suffering people 
from getting medical help, so an appeal was made 



152 Encountering Opposition 

to the Government. The chiefs thereupon received 
instructions that they must cease to interfere with 
the work of the Mission, and that they were 
not to prevent patients from obtaining succour 
from the hospital. I may here mention that we 
have uniformly received the greatest kindness 
and courtesy from the officials of the province, 
especially from the present Commissioner, Mr. 
C. R. W. Lane. 

Although the chiefs professed the most complete 
ignorance of any attempt to restrict our useful 
ness, yet they continued to secretly carry on 
their opposition, with the result that the attend 
ance at the dispensary dropped to about one 
half. However, with an average of two hundred 
out-patients a day, and the large in-patient 
department, in addition to the constant building 
operations, the Doctor and his helpers were any 
thing but idle. 

A year passed away, and again chief Gutu lay 
at death s door, worn almost to a shadow from 
the most malignant form of malaria, complicated 
with dysentery. For a whole month he lay sick ; 
but although my husband several times sent 
messages to him, expressing his willingness to 
receive him as before, yet he was ashamed to come 
to us after all the antagonism he had shown to our 
work. In the end, however, he overcame his 
scruples, realizing that it was his only hope of 
life. Naturally a twenty mile journey did not 



Gutu at Death s Door Again 153 

improve his condition, and for some days after 
his admission to the hospital poor Gutu hovered 
between life and death. It was an anxious time 
for us, and many were the prayers that ascended 
for his recovery, as we feared the effect on the 
superstitious minds of the people should this 
important chief die on our hands. Everything 
that could be devised for his relief and comfort 
was attempted. Our efforts were at last rewarded 
in seeing the tide turn, and the serious symptoms 
begin to abate. He was, however, extremely 
prostrated, and it took six weeks of unremitting 
care before our patient could be pronounced cured. 
During this tedious illness we both endeavoured 
to bring him into touch with the Great Physician, 
entreating him to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ 
for salvation. Most attentively he listened to 
our messages by his sick bed, and the proud chief 
became so softened and responsive, that we could 
hardly realize that it was Gutu ! But no real 
heart surrender ensued. Like the young rich 
man to whom our Saviour appealed when on 
earth, he went away sorrowful, for he had great 
possessions. His protracted stay in hospital, 
however, led to the removal of many prejudices, 
and to the establishment of a very friendly feeling 
which must ultimately tend to the furtherance 
of the work. 

Just two or three other cases I would mention, 
amongst many others almost equally interesting. 
The Embu are not a whit behind the Akikuyu in 



154 Adepts at Poisoning 

the horrible practice of poisoning, many a one 
being secretly put out of the way in order to 
obtain possession of property, or because of 
revenge or jealousy. One such case was that of a 
chief from a village several miles away, who was 
brought to the hospital apparently in a dying 
condition. The treatment he received was the 
means under God of restoring him to health. The 
day after his return home he appeared again with 
the present of a goat and kid for his muvonokia 
(saviour from death), as he called the Doctor. 
Such an evidence of gratitude touched us deeply, 
as it is a very rare commodity amongst these 
barbaric tribes. Another case was that of a tall, 
fine-looking young warrior, who was carried here 
on a litter by his relatives. He and a warrior 
friend had both been poisoned at the same time. 
The latter preferred to remain under the care of a 
native medicine man, with a fatal result, while the 
other who had been brought to the hospital made a 
good recovery. 

Cases of injury from wild beasts are not at all 
uncommon. A native came to us one day in a 
terrible plight, having been severely mauled by a 
man-eating lion. It seems that it had attacked 
the homestead at night and was in the act of 
carrying off a warrior whom it had killed, when 
this man rushed in and after a fearful struggle, 
which nearly cost him his life, succeeded in dis 
patching the ferocious beast with his spear. It 
was most fortunate for him that there was a 



Injuries by Wild Beasts 155 

medical mission within reach where his wounds 
could be attended to. At the time of writing 
there is a little girl under treatment who was 
brought here by her mother. She had been 
terribly bitten by a leopard, and the wounds and 
subsequent shock would in all probability have 
caused her death, had not prompt and skilful 
treatment been obtainable. 

The work of the medical mission is now known 
far and wide, and we cannot but praise God for the 
lives that have been rescued, and the thousands 
who have heard the news of His great salvation. 



CHAPTER XV 
Witnessing to Tribes beyond 

IT had been much upon our minds that some of 
the wild tribes to the east of Mt. Kenia had 
never yet heard the Gospel, so availing ourselves of 
the dry season of August, 1912, we planned a medical 
itineration, that should include the Embere, Chuka 
and Mwimbi countries, as well as eastern Embuland. 
Leaving our station with a large caravan of natives 
carrying our camp outfit and medical loads, we 
stayed at Fort Embu over Sunday, and on Monday 
morning made an early start in the direction of 
Embereland. 

We had already descended about 1,000 feet in 
approaching the Fort, and our pathway still con 
tinued to decline as we left the Embu highlands 
and traversed a vast plain, where for many miles 
no native dwellings or signs of cultivation are to be 
seen. Wild beasts in this region are exceedingly 
numerous, and our attendants often pointed out the 
spoor of rhinoceroses and buffaloes, while herds 
of hartebeestes and other antelopes were much in 

evidence. We camped near the banks of a river 

156 



Rumbia leads the Caravan 157 

which forms the boundary of the Embu and Embere 
territories, and here we were met by chief Rumbia, 
who had come on purpose to escort us to his 
country and homestead. He showed great plea 
sure at our intended visit, and begged that we 
should stay not three days but three months. 
Towards sunset a leopard was seen near the camp, 
and porters and boys all turned out in search of it, 
the Doctor leading the party with his rifle, but it 
slunk away into the bush and was not seen again. 
We were told that this camp was the site of a 
battle between the Embus and the Emberes a few 
years ago. 

The following day we were early on the road, 
I in my safari chair borne by relays of four Embu 
carriers, but m!y husband and all the rest of the 
party on foot, his mule having died some months 
before. The long, coarse grass of the plain is 
studded with wild olive and other trees, but the 
landscape for the most part presented a scorched 
and blasted appearance on account of the Embere 
custom of burning the grass in the dry season. 
Chief Rumbia strode on ahead of the caravan 
with a few of his special followers, looking quite 
an important personage, with a towering head 
dress of monkey skin, and a black and red blanket 
draped around his tall, thin figure. 

Our faces were set in an easterly direction 
towards the mountains which skirted the plains, 
for there amongst the hillsides the Embere people 
have built their villages. After a three hours 



158 



A Rhino in a Tent ! 



journey we found ourselves nearing the home of 
the paramount chief. The wilderness now lay 
far below us as we wound our way up a hill through 
a plantation of bananas, sugar-cane and beans, 
until we came upon a large cluster of bee-hive 
huts, and Rumbia s children crept out to gaze 
in wonder at the unwonted cavalcade. A few 
hundred yards on there proved to be a fairly good 
camping-ground, and here the tents were quickly 
erected and we took our midday meal sitting under 
the shade of a big tree, chatting with the chief s 
wives and others who gathered around. 

This is a great rhinoceros country. A friendly 
native showed us some enormous footprints quite 
close to the camp, telling us that they were those 
of a rhino who had paid a visit to the place the 
previous night. This incident recalls an alarming 
experience which befell one of the Government 
officials some time ago when on safari. Hearing 
some unusual sounds at midnight he went out 
of his tent to look around, leaving a friend asleep 
in a camp bed. Presently a great blundering form 
came tearing through the darkness and a rhino 
dashed into the tent, smashing it up and dragging 
it away into the bush. Strange to say the officer 
found his friend still in his bed, uninjured, though 
he had had a decidedly rude awakening ! 

A circle of Embere patients and others soon 
gathered around the Doctor and his assistants, 
listening to the story of our Saviour s love. The 
boxes were rapidly opened up, bottles, ointments, 



Will they follow the Gleam ? 159 

and bandages were produced, and the ministry of 
healing was soon in full swing. We stayed four 
days at Rumbia s village, and hundreds of poor, 
suffering people were relieved. The chief himself 
attended the services, interrupting the preacher 
with quite intelligent questions and acknowledging 
that the words were very good. The last evening 
a lantern service was given on our Lord s life and 
death. It was only attended by the men and boys, 
as the women were not allowed to come out at 
night. All down the ages the Embere people had 
been left in their darkness and degradation, but 
now the first glimmering of the Eternal Light was 
breaking in upon them. Will they follow the 
gleam ? Will they respond to the message which 
God s servants have come so far to bring ? Oh 
how fervently we pray that they may respond, and 
that we may have the joy of seeing some of these 
neglected savages transformed by the Holy Spirit s 
power I 

During our stay at Rumbia s another Embere 
chief, named Mugo, came to see us and begged the 
Doctor to pay a visit to his village to heal his 
sick people ; so, taking it as an indication of 
God s leading, we decided to go ; more especially 
as my husband wanted to discover whether it was 
possible to secure a site near the Ena River for a 
mission station. 

Although we breakfasted soon after half-past 
five, and broke camp shortly after 6 A.M. the heat 
became intense as we travelled due east with the 



i6o 



A Miniature Cascade 



rising sun in our faces. Our path lay over a low 
mountain range and was very rough and rocky, 
while every now and again we would plunge down 
into some dried-up rivulet bed, a mass of stones 
and boulders. There was a most glorious view of 
Mount Kenia, looking back over the plain which 
we had traversed a few days ago, and the snowy 
peak was glistening in the sunshine. It took us 
three hours and forty minutes to reach our camp 
by the Ena River, and we were all very weary and 
glad of a rest on our arrival. 

We found the altitude by our aneroid to be only 
3,500 feet, which is very low indeed for the high 
lands of East Africa, and the whole neighbourhood 
seemed too unhealthy for European occupation. 
The river was, however, very beautiful, with lofty 
palms and other lovely trees lining its banks, 
and a miniature cascade making music as it leapt 
over the rocks. The natives had constructed 
a most picturesque-looking bridge close to the 
little waterfall, and the whole effect was very 
charming. 

After about fifty patients had been treated by 
the Ena River bank, and the Old, Old Story again 
proclaimed to those who had never heard it before, 
we packed up our kit and moved on again. We 
now had to leave the Government pathway and 
cut across country in a north-westerly direction in 
order to connect with the road leading to the 
Chuka country. I suppose had we really known 
what was before us we would have preferred to 



A Dreadful Thorn Jungle 161 

have retraced our steps and to have gone a long 
way round rather than attempt it. 

How can I describe it ? It was impossible to 
carry me in the safari chair, so I had recourse to 
the hammock which we had brought for such 
emergencies. After crossing the Ena we found our 
selves in a dense thicket, and two men had to go 
in front of us and cut a passage for the hammock 
with their native swords. The monotony of the 
jungle was alternated with a breathless scrambling 
over great rocks which here and there were flung 
across the track. Our good medical assistants^ 
Josiah and Simeon, never faltered in their watchful 
care over me, helping the bearers to lift the ham 
mock in dangerous places ; but even so I was several 
times bumped on the rocks and scratched by sharp 
thorns as we simply tore our way through the ter 
rible prickly bushes. It was a hard climb, too, for 
the first two hours, but at last we emerged upon a 
burnt-up, desolate-looking plain ; yet even this was 
a relief after the dreadful thorn jungle we had 
passed through. 

We now made better progress, and the weary 
wilderness disappeared at length, giving place to 
green trees and bushes, and patches of native plan 
tation, showing us that we were nearing inhabited 
country again. The village of Kagani came into 
view, with a nice green sward with shady trees for 
a camping ground. What an oasis it seemed after 
the toilsome journey of the past four and a half 
hours ! Although we had breakfasted at 5.30 we 



162 In Chukaland 

were too weary to touch any luncheon until 2 p.m. 
Chief Kagani being away from home, nothing could 
be done at this place, so we remained but one 
night, and the only event to be recorded seems to 
be the visit of a leopard to the camp at midnight. 
Though it prowled around near our tents it was 
mercifully prevented from doing us injury. 

On August 31 we turned towards Chukaland, 
and going by a new Government road passed 
through a beautiful and well-watered country 
on the Embu side. But the hills were exceedingly 
heavy, and two deep gorges had to be crossed 
before we entered the Chuka territory. The 
officer at Fort Embu had sent a letter warning 
us that the Chukas were in a very restless condition, 
and that several murders had been perpetrated 
recently, so he begged us to be particularly careful 
and to keep to the main road, as he felt some 
anxiety on our account. 

The first halt in Chukaland was made at the 
village of Kangangi, where the people crowded 
around us all day long, watching our movements 
with great curiosity, but seeming very timid and 
suspicious. However, they attended the services 
very well, and we trust some good was done. The 
next camp was near the village of Kabandango, 
but as that chief had been called to the Fort about 
some murder cases we missed seeing him, and his 
people seemed afraid to come near us in the absence 
of the chief. The whole journey through the 
Chuka and Mwimbi countries is wearisome in the 



A Famous Hunter 163 

extreme ; not that the scenery is dull and un 
interesting, very far from it, but a whole series 
of deep ravines confront the traveller, and he has 
no sooner emerged from one and begun to fill his 
lungs with the cooler air of the hilltops, than he 
must begin again to plunge down into another deep 
gorge. Following the zig-zag path far away down 
into the valley he then starts toiling up another 
terrific hill, always fervently hoping it may be the 
last. These deep ravines are sometimes extremely 
beautiful, filled with tropical vegetation, with 
towering and majestic trees, and ferns in wonderful 
variety; and always the swiftly flowing river, 
dashing over boulders, and the little wooden 
footbridge, sometimes none too secure I 

So we passed through the Chuka country, 
and pitched our tents in the vicinity of the village 
of Njage, a chief of the Mwimbi tribe. Here we met 
the famous hunter, Mr. R. J. Cunninghame, 1 who 
had charge of Colonel Roosevelt s African hunting 
expedition. During the following night a hysena 
visited his tent and carried off one of his boots into 
the bush, where after much searching it was found, 
though not at all improved by the hyaena s tooth- 
marks ! A much more serious event took place 
the same night, when on the roadside close to our 
camp an unfortunate Akikuyu traveller was robbed 
and murdered in cold blood and his body thrown 
into the bushes ! Oh, how these poor degraded 

1 It is interesting to note that Mr. Cunninghame is the original 
of Sir Rider Haggard s Allan Quatermain. 



164 Amongst the Mwimbis 

savages need the Gospel of peace on earth, good 
will towards men ! 

We sent Chief Njage word of our arrival and the 
Doctor s willingness to treat his sick people, and 
very soon he came with his elders to pay us a visit, 
apparently quite friendly, and eager for his people 
to benefit from the white man s medicines. We 
remained three days amongst the Mwimbis, and 
large numbers of patients received help ; but each 
time we tried to get them together for a service 
they nearly all vanished amongst the bushes, only 
a very few remaining to listen to the Message of 
Life, which was of far greater importance than the 
medicines for their physical ailments. I en 
deavoured to talk to some Mwimbi women who 
would shyly venture round the tent when I was 
sitting there alone, but the story of God s love in 
sending His Son to be their Saviour seemed to fall 
on utterly callous ears. Their one idea appeared 
to be to improve the opportunity by begging. 

We now turned our faces towards home, but 
there were still several chiefs to be visited on our 
return journey, the first being a Chuka named 
Mbeera. It took us three and a half hours of very 
strenuous travelling to reach the camping ground 
outside his village, which is near the Ruguti River. 
The chief came out to welcome us, and one of his 
sub-chiefs also visited us. About sixty people 
gathered together to be treated, and these and 
many others listened quietly to the preaching 
and hymn singing. 



A Sacred Grove 165 

On the morning of August 28 we rose soon after 
4.30 and were on the road again by 5.45. It was 
so dark and cloudy that boys had to go ahead of 
us with lanterns. We made this early start so as 
to avoid the heat of the sun, as many heavy hills 
had to be climbed before the next camp. By 8.30 
the village of Chief Kanjugu was reached, and his 
people swarmed out of their huts and appeared very 
delighted at our coming ; but their curiosity knew 
no bounds. The cleared ground outside the village 
was so circumscribed that there was little privacy 
or quiet to be had, but as far as the work was 
concerned it proved the best camp of all. Medicines 
were in great demand, and men and women as well 
as children flocked together for the services, the 
lantern lecture the second evening being especially 
popular. 

Moving on again we visited the homestead of 
another Embu chief, Weimiri. In approaching 
this place we had to pass through a sacred grove 
where the Embu elders sacrifice to Ngai. They 
guard these groves with the greatest vigilance. If 
a tree were cut down or a monkey killed, it would 
be considered a most heinous crime, and a sacrifice 
would immediately have to be offered to appease 
the spirits. Seeing the asparagus fern growing pro- 
lifically in these woodland glades, I was eager to 
secure some for our garden, but our boys assured 
us there would be a terrible outcry if we touched 
anything, however small, in the vicinity of the 
grove. 



166 A Man-eating Leopard 

We found Weimiri s village almost deserted 
except for crowds of little children and a few 
women. On inquiry we learned that most of the 
men had gone in search of a man-eating leopard 
which was terrorizing the neighbourhood, hoping 
to put an end to its depredations by their spears. 
Only the previous evening a little girl had been 
seized and devoured by this dreadful beast, and 
several other people had also been killed. The 
chief had been to the Fort, but returned in the 
afternoon and immediately paid us a visit. Being 
out of touch with his elders he failed to bring his 
people together in any numbers for our services, 
though about forty benefited from the medicines. 

At our last camp Chief Ronenji showed us all 
possible attention, bringing food and firewood for 
our men, and presenting us with a sheep. He 
seemed genuinely appreciative of the white doctor s 
skill, and about one hundred of his people were 
treated. The lantern service here was a greater 
success than ever, as we never had a quieter or a 
more attentive audience amongst absolute savages. 
What an opening this might prove for an out- 
station ! God grant it may be possible to establish 
one before very long ! 

We had been away from home twenty-three 
days, so although we both rejoiced in the wide 
scattering of the good seed of the Kingdom 
which a medical itineration renders possible, yet we 
felt the time had come to return and pick up the 



The End of a Safari 167 

threads of the station work once more with all its 
problems and responsibilities. A journey of three 
and a half hours on Sept. 2 completed the safari, 
and it was cheering to see many of the boys and 
others running to meet us as we approached our 
hill. Above all, our hearts were filled with thank 
fulness for our Heavenly Father s care throughout 
the long journey. 



CHAPTER XVI 
Firstfruits of Harvest 

AS we sowed the seed month by month how 
eagerly we watched and waited for it to 
spring forth from the hardened soil ! The Sunday 
evening Bible class has always been a special 
opportunity for getting into closer touch with our 
adherents and pressing upon them the claims of 
the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who desired to 
become Christians were invited to come during the 
week for a personal interview. After the first 
definite appeal of this kind eighteen boys and 
young men came forward, each one seeking me 
alone, and saying, I want to follow the Lord 
Jesus ; or, I have come because of the Word of 
God ; or, I want to leave all the evil things of 
Satan. 

By the end of our first year in Embu we had 
had the joy of publicly admitting twenty-five 
inquirers. Week by week in their own special 
class we sought to make them understand what 
it is to become new creatures in Christ. One 
evening I had been speaking on confession of sin, 




W 



The Black Man s Mind 169 

when one of our small houseboys came to me after 
wards and said, I want you to forgive me because 
some time ago I stole your penknife and took it to 
our village. Presently another houseboy came and 
said, I want to tell you that it was I who upset 
ink on your bedspread though I denied it at the 
time do forgive me. As a rule the African native 
is exceedingly secretive in all his relations with 
the white teacher. The black man s mind is not 
easy to penetrate even after twenty years of 
missionary experience ! And so one knows it 
must be the convicting power of the Holy Spirit 
that alone would lead to real confession of wrong 
doing. 

Although we believe, indeed, that the True 
Light is beginning to dissipate the darkness of 
their hearts, it must not be supposed that our young 
people are all we could wish them to be. At 
times untruth and deceit, and even petty stealing, 
cause us much grief and disappointment. But 
when we contemplate the awful environment of 
the village life, with its terrible vice and immorality, 
one can only marvel that they respond so readily 
to our poor efforts, and are so willing to be taught 
the better way. The longer we are in Africa the 
more we feel the wisdom of subjecting our converts 
to a long probation. It is the rule of our Mission 
not to admit any inquirers as catechumens until 
we have good reason to believe that they are truly 
born from above. Then after a still further 
period of testing they may be presented for 



170 Enduring Hardness 

baptism. We have often been really thankful 
that each one who would follow Christ in sincerity 
has at once to brace himself to endure hardness. 
The people are very deeply attached to the customs 
which have been handed down to them by countless 
generations of the past, and are strongly averse 
to the thought of any secession whatever on the 
part of the young people. 

One of our inquirers, a young fellow of about 
eighteen years of age, named Njue, had to undergo 
a bitter season of persecution. The time had 
arrived when he was expected to go through the 
initiation ceremony, without which he could not be 
admitted to the privileges of manhood in the tribe. 
With the new light which had dawned upon him 
the very thought of such a ceremony was most 
distasteful, and especially so as the sacrifice of 
a sheep would have to be offered. He felt that it 
was quite impossible for him to participate in it, 
so very bravely he took his stand, and asserted 
that as he was now a Christian nothing would 
induce him to take part in the rite. Then a fire of 
opposition was opened upon him, chief and elders 
alike seeking to bring pressure to bear upon the 
young convert. My husband thinking that it 
would be better for him to face it out once and for 
all, sent one day for Kabuthi, and also for Njue s 
father and mother. A stormy scene ensued, in 
which they all did their utmost to make the boy 
yield. At length, finding that he was not to be 
persuaded, his parents openly renounced him and 



A Mother s Curses 171 

poured curses on his head. His old mother seemed 
to be nearly distracted, declaring that Njue would 
certainly bring calamity upon them all, and that 
he would be sure to die. The crops, she cried, 
would fail, and their sheep and cattle would 
perish, if he thus persisted in offending the spirits ! 
We did indeed praise God that Njue had been 
enabled to stand firm through this terrible ordeal. 
For some time he was quite an outcast for Christ s 
sake. 

Encouraged by his example three other young 
men refused the initiation ceremony, encountering 
a storm of indignation from their relatives. But 
we are glad to learn that all the parents have since 
become reconciled, though doubtless the alienation 
of their sons from the ancient customs of the tribe 
is still a source of grief to some. Since then 
another of our inquirers has refused to participate 
in a heathen sacrifice although strongly urged by 
the chief himself to do so. The position was all 
the more difficult as we ourselves were away at the 
time, attending the C.M.S. conference at the coast. 
We were so thankful to find on our return that 
Muturi had bravely stood the test. 

We have now admitted fifty- seven inquirers in 
all. A few have been removed from the station 
by the chief and others, but we trust that the seed 
sown in their hearts may not be altogether eradi 
cated, and that after a time they may be permitted 
to return and be further instructed in the Faith. 

We have always endeavoured to impress upon 



172 Converts amongst the Patients 

our converts the sacred duty of trying to lead 
others to the Lord Jesus Christ, and quite a number 
have been added to the inquirers class through their 
efforts. Many of the patients have responded to 
the teaching, and are ranging themselves on the 
Lord s side. One of these is a lad who was carried 
to the hospital in an apparently dying condition. 
Another is a little fellow whose face is so shockingly 
distorted by disease that it is almost painful to 
look at him. Accustomed to be despised by his 
own people, his heart was touched by the kindness 
shown to him on the mission station, and so he 
was the more easily won. 

The women, too, have not been altogether un- 
reached, although the men folk try to guard them 
from our influence. A weekly sewing class and 
an evangelistic meeting have been held whenever 
possible, the former for the Christian women only. 
Besides the wives of our medical assistants, some 
girls who are in-patients have confessed their 
faith in Christ, and seem really sincere in their 
desire to follow Him. One of them, named Maitha, 
has been with us almost ever since we came to 
Embuland. Having heard of the wonderful help 
which was to be obtained at the medical mission, 
and being quite unable to walk, this poor girl 
crawled painfully on her hands and knees a dis 
tance of ten or twelve miles in order to reach us. 
She can now walk about the station, and is still 
constantly improving. These and many more 
of the in-patients are learning to read the Word of 



Daily Services 173 

God in our school. I have tried to encourage all 
our adherents to come to us alone for help and 
prayer whenever they are in trouble, or desire to 
take some fresh step in the Christian life, as we 
realize it is the individual work that counts the 
most. 

When the Bishop and Miss Peel paid their 
second visit to us in Embu in January, 1912, 
they were very much interested in the progress 
which had been made during the year. Ours is 
a very isolated station and when the Bishop s 
daughter came I had not seen a white woman for 
quite six months. We do not, however, mind 
the loneliness of our position if only we may see 
God s work prospering. It is a joy to realize that 
about three hundred people listen to the Gospel 
message daily on this hill. Quite a hundred and 
twenty are now living on the station, rather more 
than half of these being in-patients and the rest 
our native staff and scholars. The in-patients 
have a special service all to themselves at 7 a.m. 
Those who are able also attend the dispensary 
service at 9 a.m. At 2 p.m. comes the school 
service, with the daily Bible lesson and Scripture 
repetition, and at 6.30 p.m. all on the station are 
gathered together for Evening Prayer. On Satur 
day night Dr. Crawford conducts a prayer meeting, 
when it is encouraging to hear the voices of our 
converts pleading for blessing upon the work, and 
for more of God s Spirit and power in their lives. 
Every Sunday morning the hospital chapel is 



174 A Powerful Preacher 

packed with from four hundred and fifty to five 
hundred and fifty savages, listening to the oft- 
told story of the Cross, and of the Father in 
Heaven Who loves them, and yearns to make them 
His children. 

A few Sundays ago Kabuthi rose at the close of 
the address, quite spontaneously, and said the 
words they had listened to were all quite true. 
Each one would have to answer for himself before 
God, and they must not wait for him (their chief) 
to lead them, because God would be very angry 
if they despised His Word. We thought it was a 
remarkable little message from a heathen chief, 
and it seemed to show that his own heart was not 
altogether untouched. 

Our two young medical assistants, Josiah and 
Simeon, have been a wonderful help to us all along, 
not only with the patients, but in the church and 
school. The latter has a particularly forceful way 
of presenting the Gospel. His favourite theme is the 
Second Advent, and he never wearies of pressing 
upon his hearers the tremendous importance of 
getting ready to meet their Lord and Saviour. 

One of the most interesting features of the work 
this year has been the great eagerness with which 
our students are buying books. We have sold nearly 
two hundred ; and as they are all either Testaments, 
Gospels, Hymn-books, Bible stories and Catechisms, 
the dissemination of such literature must mean 
untold uplift and blessing in their young lives, and 
through them, we trust, to many others also. 



The Lesson of the * Snowy Peak 175 

It is now just over two years since we pitched our 
tent upon this hill and opened the Embu Medical 
Mission, and although very conscious of our own 
weakness and shortcomings, we can only praise 
God for what has been accomplished in so short a 
time. How much we owe to those dear friends who 
have been daily bearing both us and the work upon 
their hearts before God, we shall never know this 
side of eternity ! When the sowing days are over, 
and, with our prayer-partners, we come again with 
rejoicing bringing our sheaves with us, how thank 
fully we shall recall these firstfruits of the coming 
harvest ! 

Yet as we turn in thought to the thousands 
who have never even heard the precious name of 
Jesus, our hearts are appalled with the greatness 
of the need ; and what has been already done sinks 
into absolute insignificance. Although we have 
been seeking for fresh sites for mission stations 
amongst the unevangelized regions beyond, and 
several of the chiefs would gladly welcome a white 
teacher, yet we are told there is very little hope of 
occupying them. Must these tribes be left to perish 
in their pagan darkness because of the slackness 
of the Church of Christ ? 

It may be that the Equator s Snowy Peak has 
a lesson to teach us. As we take our binoculars 
and scan the mountain summit we can distinguish 
the rivulets rushing down its rocky clefts, becoming 
ever wider and fuller as they hurry on their joyous 
errand of fertilizing all the land below. We see 



176 The Transforming Touch 

how all the little streamlets lose themselves at last 
in the big Tana River, which in its turn flows on 
and on through countries which might otherwise be 
a mighty desert, bringing life and blessing to count 
less thousands, until at length, its mission ended, 
it empties itself into the great Indian Ocean. 
What is the source of all this fertilizing power ? 
Whence do the life-giving rivers spring ? 

Let us look once again at the grand old mountain ! 
Just before dawn how cold and irresponsive the icy 
pinnacles appear ! But when the sun rises and 
sheds its beams upon the snow, what a change takes 
place ! The glaciers begin to glow and melt, until 
the rivulets break forth on every side ! Were it 
not for the sunshine they would remain hard, and 
cold and unyielding, but the softening, warming 
rays of the tropical sun fall with transforming 
touch, and the streams of blessing are the result ! 
Thus our cold hearts, so irresponsive and unyield 
ing by nature, can be warmed and softened by the 
beams of the Sun of Righteousness, until they 
glow and melt at last with love and pity for a lost 
world, and the pent-up life begins to pour itself 
forth for others, fulfilling the Saviour s promise, 
4 Out of his inward parts shall flow rivers of living 
water. Then through the desert places of this sad, 
weary world the tide of blessing will pass on its way, 
bringing the water of life to thousands of thirsty 
souls. Oh, to be thus melted by divine love that 
our lives may flow forth in joyous ministry ! 

Printed by MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED, Edinburgh