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Full text of "Thinking black; 22 years without a break in the long grass of Central Africa"

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THINKING BLACK 



THE LOOK-OUT HUT 
On the Cliff overhanging Lake Mweru. 



Thinking Black 

22 YEARS WITHOUT A BREAK IN THE 
LONG GRASS OF CENTRAL AFRICA 



D. CRAWFORD, F.R.G.S. 

"" (Konga Vantu) 



^^ There s a legion that never was listed, 
That carries no colours nor crest^ 
But split in a thousand detachments 
Is breaking the road for the rest'' 



GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK 



First Edition . . 3500 . 3rd December 1912 
Second Impression . 5000 . 19th December 1912 
Second Edition . 5000 . 30th August 1913 



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Copyright by Morgan S-* Scott Ld., igi2 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE 



The soon -to -die Livingstone farewelled Stanley in 

these tragic words : 

" On crossing the Lualaba, I shall go direct 
S.W. to the copper mines of Katanga. Eight 
days south of Katanga the natives declare the 
fountains [of the Nile] to be. When I have 
found them I shall return by Katanga to the 
underground houses of Rua * . . travel in boat 
up the river Lufira." 

Alas ! the brave " Dawid " never so crossed the 
Lualaba, and this volume records the fulfilment of 
Livingstone's last desire. 

Most of it written by the flare of the African camp- 
fire, the name of this book corresponds with its nature. 
The author is thinking black all the time he is writing 
the book so named. 



ISb^ 



TO 

the first lady who ever 

-penetrated these wilds 

MT WIFE 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



To my friends at Bath and Glasgow for all their 
loyal help during long years of absence. 

To Mr. Arnot, who so kindly saw us off in Bihe, 
and regretted his inability to come into the Far 
Interior. 

To all my friends on the African field, including 
Dr. Laws of Livingstonia, the true Bishop of Central 
Africa. 

To Miss Ada R. Habershon for her help in 
revision and indexing. 

To Mr. Dudley Kidd and Mr. Bernard Taylor for 
some good photographs. 



CONTENTS 



BOOK I 



I. First Fears Justified 
II. First Things First . 

III. Far, yet not Farthest, In 

IV. Our African Apprenticeship 
V. "Boring in" Farther 

VI. Eastward Ho ! 
VII. '*OwN Up and Pay Up" . 
VIII. Dark Doings in Luvaleland 
IX. The Desert Journey 



15 
25 
39 
63 
91 
109 
129 
147 



BOOK II 



X. Farthest, but Shut, In 
XI. Vice Versa . 
XII. Shut in, but Almost Out . 

XIII. Black Suffragettes 

XIV. Thus Far and no Farther 
XV. Red Sunsets 



165 
187 
207 
227 

255 

283 



CONTENTS 



BOOK III 

CHAP. 

XVI. "Nemesis, Daughter of Night" . 
XVII. Our Eastern Exodus 
XVIII. Boring out East 
XIX. Kavanga : The Gates of the Morning 
XX. "Great White Lake" 
XXI. A Page of History. 
XXII. Black Man = Black Manners 
XXIII. "The Year of Love": An Epilogue 
L'Envoi .... 

Index .... 



PAGE 

345 
373 
391 
409 

431 
471 

485 
at end 



PHOTOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS 



THE LOOK-OUT HUT, on tke Cliff overhanging 



{In full colotirs) Frontispiece 

PAGE 



Rat? 



Lake Mweru 
A Typical "Dew-Drier" 
Smoking Indian Hemp 

Setting the Supper Trap. Query : A Bird or a 
The Eternal Problem, "How to Cross" 
A Typical "Mop" Headdress 
A Typical Soldier's Wife . 
A Precocious Princeling 
Vastness of Africa. Map . 

A TYPICAL "WIPE OUT" . {In full 

One of Mushidi's 500 Wives 
A Learned Lake Mweru Chief 
It's not the Hands that Steal, but the Heart 
A LuBAN Lady .... 

Bane and Antidote — A Great Snake Specialist 
ON THE LUALABA . . {In full colotirs) 

Old "Mrs. Hitherto" and Little "Miss Hence- 



18 

31 

58 

75 

86 

104 

120 

164 

colours) 174 

232 

242 

244 

286 

312 

';20 



154 



xii PHOTOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

The Traveller's Terror ..... 376 

LUANZA, The Mission Town built on the Cliff over- 
hanging Lake Mweru. . {In full colours) 412 

A Specimen of Town Planning in Africa . . . 446 

Four Thousand Pounds of Beef at 6d. the Lot . 466 



THEN and NOW 

" Wanting is — what ? 
THEN Summer Redundant, 

A.D. 1889 Blueness Abundant, 

Where is the blot?** 

Peering back through the haze of twenty-three years, 
behold the retrospect I There goes the West Coast 
slipping silently past under the port bow, and Africa 
{much-loved, much-blamed Africa) unrolls the panorama 
of her coast-line in seductive welcome. Only the other 
day embarking at London with a cold heaven glittering 
overhead like blue steel ; now, here you are under the 
line, where sleepy coast towns lie hidden in the haze of 
sun. 

Then comes the landing at Benguella, where the 
surprises are marvellously many. All your ship-board 
surmisings, you discover, tvere easy and elementary 
error. How little you knew of the African puzzle is 
seen when it leaks out that the very name {^'Africa!'') 
is utterly unknown to the negro. Africa ? He never 
heard such a hideous word. It is a mere tag, a 7nere 
ticket stuck on the back of this poor Continent by out- 
siders. A perfect parable all this of Africa, the land, 
and the African, the man. A straw indicates the 
current, and if we know not the name, then we know 



xiv THEN AND NOW 

less of the nature of black place and black person, of 
black man and blacker manners. 

* * * 

Another dawning sui^prise. No delirium of speed 
here. Mo catching of tram or traht by the fraction of a 
second. There never was a taxi in all these latitudes, 
never was anything on wheels. Fifteen 7niles per day 
lies ahead fr07n water to zvater, from camp to camp. 
Speed ? Now it is yott endorse the old definition that 
speed is only a mad method '' zv hereby yott miss as much 
as possible between starting-point and destination.'' 

* * * 

Then again. No wayside inn ; no apartments to let. 

You must find your own hut in the woods. Why not ? 

As Thoreau patly puts it^ " There is so7ne of the satne 

fitness in a man building his own house that there is 

in a bird building its own nest." 

But worse still. As a slap-in-the-face surprise 

comes the realisation that you, the newcomer, are not 

at your best ; that, in fact, to come to Africa means 

to come ''down'' to Africa. Even before sighting the 

African coast, and while still far otit at sea, we saw 

the whole coming problem in another panoramic parable. 

This time it is a romantic river reading us a lesson, and 

by way of warning that the confltience of the Congo 

\ might soon be expected, here is our blue Atlantic painted 

\a muddy brown eight miles out into the ocean. Parable, 

surely, of the tcgly fact zve are soon to prove that evil 

African coinmunications corrupt good European manners. 

There, in that monster mouth of the Co7igo, yaw7iing 

seven 77iiles wide, a7id vo7niting its di7'ty contents into 



THEN AND NOW xv 

the blue Atlantic — there, I say, you see the sad and 
sy7nbolic story of decadence on the West Coast of 
Africa. For the fearful fact must be faced that all 
things European degenerate in Central Africa — Euro- 
pean provisions go bad, European fruits, European 
dogs degenerate. So, too, European 7nen and women. 

* ^ * 

tAnd now the wheel comes round full 
INUW circle. Emerging from a long shut-in 

„v ■^•^' 19 12. /^y^ ^-^ ^^^ p^y Interior, one receives qtiite 
a mental jolt on striking the first ''tin town' of ad- 
vancing civilisation. Where are you ? have you struck 
the planet Mars ? The long lapse of years makes it 
all strangely familiar and familiarly strange. One 
opines one has dreamed all this years and years ago. 
Can I believe my eyes ? There, jutting out of the grass, 
I see two spokes of iron coming iLp from the South — my 
first railway train in twenty-two years ! 

* + *^ 

Then again. Right across Africa, remember, there 
never was a shop, so here it is, while the hu7nan tide pours 
along, you are all eyes at the seductive shop window of 
some little local Selfridges, the tin towns universal pro- 
vider. Fascinated as by a basilisk, you gaze stare-struck 
at this dream of past years — a shop window / There are 
crowds of renegade natives from the North down here at 
the rail-head: poor specimens these, sucked into the whirl- 
pool of gambling and gin boosing. This is the place 
where the new a^^rival f'om the train can see just enough 
of the debased type of African to keep him from the 
desire of seeing more. 



^ 



7 



xvi THEN AND NOW 

Booming up from Rhodesia comes the mad northward 
surge of invading civilisation. To use the language of 
Holland, the dykes are down and the ocean is pouring 
in on poor Central Africa. Transitional periods are 
notoriously times of peril. But here is a horrible, hectic- 
flush crisis which you can only deno77iinate as ''the 
terrors of transition!' Carlyle is the only man who 
\ expresses the real reason of it all. ''Perfect ignorance" 
says he, " is quiet, and perfect knowledge is quiet, but the 
transition from, the former to the latter is a stormy one." 
As weird as it is wild, here you have the meeting and 
mixing of widely divergent men and manners, igi2 b. c. 
coming sharply round the metaphoric corner and looking 
igi2 A.D. full in the funny face. It is all as droll as 
though a Pharaoh of the Moses period proposed to sit 
down with a Cockney in a Central African forest and 
eat sardines together I 

Here at last you have struck the uttermost man in the 
idtermost parts of the earth. Utter^nost white man, 
probably, as well as uttermost black, for both races are in 
the grip of Carlyle' s terrors of transition. Life here at 
the rail- head is a mad medley of natives warped from 
their prhnitive simplicity by Etiropean influence, and of 
poor old white men not less profoundly modified by a 
climate and surroundings to which they ivere not born. 

* * * 

Yet all the while ones heart is out of it and away off 
North on its own. Up past the Lufira, tip past the Range, 
away up to ones " ain countrie." 

* * * 
Afar the Golden-Crested Crane is calling/ 



BOOK I 

CHAPTER I 
First Fears Justified 



'Mombaza, and Quiloa, and Melind, 
And Sofala, thought Ophir, to the realm 
Of Congo, and Angola farthest South." 

Paradise Lost, xi. 399. 



"The African race is an indiarubber ball. The 
harder you dash it to the ground the higher 

it will rise." Bantu Proverb. 



"We negroes are one in racial unity with you 
whites — different yet the same. A crocodile is 
hatched from an egg— and a flying bird from an 
^SS' The Emperor Mushidi. 



"The Earth is a beehive: we all enter by the 
same door but live in different cells." 

Bantu Proverb. 



t (, 



CHAPTER I 
First Fears Justified 

TT^ HEREIN the reader, landing 
at Benguella, Jinds himself faced 
with Africa s first and final law — to\ 
put down a lot one must put up with \ N 
a lot. 






LET us begin at the beginning. Coasting down 
West Africa the year of grace 1889, the first 
thing to strike you in the ever- shifting drama is 
the sarcastic significance of Milton's mention of these lands 
in such a poem as Paradise Lost, ' ' the Realm of Congo 
and Angola farthest South." For, as he safely guessed, 
Paradise is lost, very much lost in these latitudes. There 
is tropical treachery even in those poor brown palms you 
see flitting past, for where is defeat so common for a white 
man as just there on those sands of the seaboard, the air 
all a- dance with heat ? A taunting palm over a tin shanty, 
symbol not of victory but disaster. Each and every 
solar ray giving the exile two knocks : the first, en route 
to earth, striking the man on its way down, the second 
getting him again on the rebound from the sparkling 

2 
1 



4 THINKING BLACK 

sand. Each day two burning darts per ray — and how 
many billion rays per day ? 

Take the negro now and watch withal a curious thing. 
I mean that hard, impersonal stare of these bottomless- 
eyed natives, not the intense, penetrating thing of Europe. 
You might be something worked on tapestry or painted 
on a china cup, so impersonally does he look at you. He 
even denies you credit for any act of your own personal 
prowess or initiative, shooting for example. For if, per- 
chance, you draw a most careful bead on a buck and drop 
him flat in his tracks, he as carefully sees to it that he 
allocates the praise between your gun and your imaginary 
" medicine," fifty per cent apiece, and never, nay never a 
crumb for you. You are merely the spoiled and petted 
child of a privileged civilisation — you, what have you 
done ? Only taken the trouble to be born white a little 
north of his south — nothing more. " Beyond the sea " is 
their great adjective for anything newfangled or European, 
your very Gospel being only another "beyond the sea" 
innovation. "The white man's parable" is another of 
their ugly names for our Evangel, a taunt this with the 
old Ezekiel sting in it : "Ah Lord God ! they say of 
me, Doth he not speak parables ? " 

But let us end these didactics and come to our 
chronicle. This is how we really begin. Ignoring the 
ocean voyage sailed in sameness for hundreds of years, we 
land on the Atlantic seaboard at Benguella. Portuguese 
to the core, here you find a tropical town nearly fast 
asleep in 1889 — asleep, and no wonder. For most of these 



FIRST FEARS JUSTIFIED 5 

Portuguese have been boiling in this tropical kettle for 
many years, with the climatic result that many have a 
lethargic glaze on their eyes. There is also that curious 
listless look on his swarthy Latin face suggestive of the 
well-known contemplative air of a man for whom time 
and distance are not. Certes, what the average man from I 
the Tagus seems to need is a subcutaneous injection of 
the busy spirit of John Bull. In moments of extreme ' 
exuberance, our sallow friend from Lisbon has been 
seriously seen to walk, but the average attitude is notori- 
ously one of repose. The oleaginous collection of messes 
which they eat from the points of their knives accounts 
for it all. Rumour runs that he even refuses to drink 
coffee in the morning lest it should keep him awake the 
rest of the day. A Portuguese with a long romantic 
moustache, lolling about on chairs in somewhat unusual 
attitudes, is the commonest sight in the day. Thus, with 
sleepy, sun-baked senses, he loses himself in long time- 
effacing reveries. The American version of it is that he 
sits as solemnly as though he meant to take root — so you 
see what slavery has done for the Portuguese. This 
Western Zanzibar, remember, is the great Portuguese 
entrepot of slavery, slave labour nearly running the 
whole concern. And did not the Romans say, " As many 
slaves, so many enemies" ? 

Scarcely one Portuguese lady in the place. All their 
colonies have gone shipwreck by defying the foundation 
truth that wherever duty summons man, woman has a 
corresponding duty in the same place. Be he Teuton or 



6 THINKING BLACK 

Latin, a man ever will be what his mother, wife, or sister 
makes of him, an influence this that begins at the cradle 
and ends in the grave. A monthly steamer in these 
dismal days is the only distraction, and the black plume 
of smoke on the skyline sends a monthly flutter through 
the hot hole. But for many a day, alas ! our expected 
flutter from the Interior does not come, because the 
transport road is blocked and no advance possible. Thus 
you see us, here on the threshold of our long and happy 
life ahead, confronted with a truly typical contretemps so 
wholly explanatory of many a day to come in the Far 
Interior. I mean that " blocked road." Now it is the 
old conventional phrase in England about "your way 
being opened up " assumes a sacred literal value, for the 
very narrowness of the trail is itself eloquent of its 
liability to be easily shut. Knocking as we have done at 
Central Africa's back door of Benguella, have we not found 
the said door locked? The native carrier trade is in a 
state of stagnation, and the God Who shutteth and no 
man openeth thereby challenges us with this loving Qui 
va la f 

Unlike the voyage inland from the malarial mouth of 
the Congo farther North ; unlike the long winding crawl 
from Chinde up the Zambezi on the East Coast, here at 
Benguella you find Africa doing a fine thing in rising 
almost sheer from the sea. The hills stand out in jet 
black silhouette from the humid coast, and in a few hours, 
if the natives would only fall in with Nature's idea, you 
could be over the mountain wall and well on your way to 



FIRST FEARS JUSTIFIED 7 

the breezy uplands of Bilie. But Mr. Negro looks on 
with ineffable complacency, and refuses to league with 
Nature in favour of outsiders. At this early stage he 
knows little and cares less for Mr. Missionary ; what he 
does seem sure about is that the sun rises and sets for 
No. 1 alone. Yet let us give him his due. Unlike the 
Saxons, Danes, and Jutes who were invited by the ancient 
Britons to enter England, here you have the black-but- 
comely African honestly warning you off both his soil 
and his soul. Frankly saying in so many looks if not so 
many words that he would rather have your room than 
your company. Why should he scrape and bow to 
persons with no more fingers and toes than he has 
himself ? 

A new land, however, really means a new vocabulary, 
and here with this mention of "road" in Africa we must 
pause to define our terms. The substantive "road" pre- 
sents its compliments to the English-speaking public and 
hereby notifies a new aspect of its dictionary meaning. 
For just as you throw away your Bradshaw when you 
leave the land of trains, so neither Webster nor Nuttall 
can tell you what an African "road" is. Though it is 
the true trunk road to the vast Interior, yet the real 
name for this thing is a " trail," literally a trivial trail the 
size of a cart-wheel rut. And so it comes about that here 
at the Benguella doorway you get your initial surprise 
that this Africa for thousands of twisty miles ahead is a 
land wholly innocent of roads, and boasts only this cart- 
wheel rut as a highway. " Goat-walks" is the real idea, 



8 THINKING BLACK 

those sheep-tracks found across the Welsh mountains. 

Described at greater length anon, here at the outset it is 

absolutely necessary to point out how in this serpentine 

path we have the strategic key to the citadel of the black 

brain. " Thinking black " this, verily. It is the African's 

way of doing things as well as his way of walking, and 

mentally Mr. Negro spends life carving out for himself a 

theory that will fit the facts of this corkscrew path. Take, 

I for instance, the necessary monotonous Indian file this 

j same narrow trail of ours involves : there is a whole 

7 ) negro philosophy of "follow your leader" meaning in 

I this. For as we saw, see, and shall see, the negro's " way " 

of doing a thing is merely to do it as the man who went 

before him did it. The slaves of precedent, they dog the 

steps of a thousand ancestors, and such is the tenacity of 

the negro type that to this day their whole outfit of the 

twentieth century a.d. can be found perfectly reproduced 

on Egyptian monuments of the same century B.C. Hence 

the Bantu song : — 

" A well-worn trail is a very good thing, 
It must lead up to a very great King; 
And so with customs of days of yore, 
We do what millions have done before." 

That is to say,,_^recedent, mrt jprinciple, is their black 

law. And any African dictionary tells the whole tale, for 

f around this germinal word "path" there constellate a 

jdqzen ideas like law, prohibition, transgression, plan, etc. 

Thus glorying in this long Indian trail of antiquity, 

the Bantu tribes boast the identical Egyptian kilt, mortar, 



FIRST FEARS JUSTIFIED 9 

pestle, and cooking ware of the Moses period. Nor need 
we wonder at all this, for is not Egypt the door of Africa ? 
Moral: A thousand years are as one day in African 
manners. Time may laugh at the Pyramids, but the 
Pyramids laugh at time. 

Beware, too, of those shags jutting out along that trail — 
shags metaphoric, I mean, as well as shags material. There 
is the upstart Rob Roy ahead blocking the way with his 
"money or your life" ultimatum; an ugly shag he. 
There are those sons of Belial, the Luvale bandits, who 
hold you up for days and go into committee on the subject 
of your ransom ; uglier shags they. " Gentlemen of the 
road " these, who egg you on to sell your soul by bullying 
and bouncing them. Would admire you immensely (you, 
a Missionary of the Prince of Peace) if all the while your 
index finger curved itself around the trigger of a persuasive 
six-shooter. Finally, there is the great Mushidi himself 
at the end of it all, half-way across Africa, blocking this 
trans-continental trail and making it a blind alley. You 
have Dr. Moloney's authority for it that in later days, 
when Captain Stairs found us imprisoned at Bunkeya, 
Mushidi called us his " white slaves." 

But among the many intricacies of this " cobweb path " 
the great system of Nkole — the Luban word, this — makes 
you gasp at its ramifications. Here you have a thing 
spreading from sea to sea, and in this mad manoeuvre you 
focus the real reason of all their troubles. For what is 
Nkole but only a " catch-your-pal " movement, a snatch 
suretyship when a harmless third party is kidnapped and 



10 THINKING BLACK 

kept in durance vile for the sins of some unknown second 
party ? No w^onder tlie African roads are all blocked 
intertribally. Here is harmless Jones coming along the 
trail, and they pounce on him as surety for the crime of 
some unknown John Smith, the theory being that Jones,, 
one bright day, will retaliate and swoop down on Smith, 
claiming damages for illegal seizure. Now try and con- 
ceive what a tangle of triangles this makes all over the 
land, for in a thousand cases the stranger-surety A. never 
saw in the flesh the conjectural culprit B. But what is 
that to C. the kidnapper? Is not this his only way of 
setting the clumsy legal mill in motion ? Moral : He 
that is surety for a stranger must smart for it. Take 
even your best type of negro and try and argue some 
sense into him on this cobweb system of native paths and 
he shows not a twinge of penitence. No ; unwarped and 
unbiased as he looks, this Nkole idea he defends as a 
time-honoured maxim, the treacherous triangle of the 
thing being its best point — yea, is it not a triangle, and 
therefore all point together ? 

But it is generally the Missionary who has got to pay. 
Even in later days this Bantu bed-rock idea still clings to 
the semi-educated African. Listen to another Nkole tale, 
with quite a touch of terror in it, a noble white man the 
victim ; the author of it all only a negro body smarting 
under a sense of personal wrong. The scene is out East 
in more civilised conditions. Maltreated by a brother 
black, this man is exasperated to find that his enemy 
is too strong for him ; has a sort of aristocratic status, 



FIRST FEARS JUSTIFIED 11 

that is to say, "an untouchable," and therefore out 
of reach. 

Query No. 1 : How can this nobody get his rights 
without committing some wrongs ? 

Query No. 2 : How can a man have wrongs if he has 
no rights ? 

And thus with much fertility of brain he concocts a 
fantastic tragedy with this old bugbear, Nkole, as germinal 
notion. Laying his plans with consummate care, he 
singles out the house of a harmless Missionary, and this 
goaded black resolves to burn it down, the "surety" idea 
being that he has now^ brought matters to a head by 
dragging into the wrangle a mightier than his mighty foe. 
And, sure enough, a terrible triangle he makes of it all, 
for up goes the godly man's house in a blaze, thus ensur- 
ing an opening up of the whole question. Little did that 
poor bush black guess how he honoured that Missionary, 
for, like his Master, was he not made surety for the 
stranger and did he not smart for it ? But the darkest 
deed is yet to come. This black stoic knows far too well 
what manner of act he has done, so with superior sagacity 
he resolves " to leave life by the back door " — to commit 
suicide. Quite calmly, therefore, he scratches a note on a 
bit of paper explaining his "terrible triangle" plan and 
then hangs himself on his own club down a game pit. Of 
course, at this useless point there is much ex post facto 
hurry-scurry, but all too late, for the real culprit's debt 
has been paid in blood and fire. A lesson this how 
deeply the roots of suretyship shoot down into the bone 



12 THINKING BLACK 

and marrow of Africa. Need I go on ? There are 
thousands of such cases. 

This is "thinking black" with a vengeance, and as 
usual the scapegoat Missionary has got to pay somebody 
else's debt. Far from this being effete, only the other day 
one of our caravans bound for Kavungu was plundered of 
nine loads by the Achokwe, and all on this Nkole plea. 
The great Portuguese Senhor (by name " Visese," a ruffian 
endowed with more brains than scruples) had carried West 
hundreds of captives, hence these patriots grabbing at 
the first harmless nobody's goods in retaliation. Of daily 
intertribal occurrence this : take another instance. 

Here, as I write, is Kaveke, a Luban, who runs in and 
tells me with quick-breathed rapidity that four of his 
relatives have been seized as Nkole or surety, and the 
man of the party killed, head cut off — well-known Jones 
killed for unknown Smith. But that Nkole story is not 
ended ; for when their father was so killed, his daughters 
were enslaved and the two nice-looking girls made chiefs 
concubines. Let us call Ngoi the sort of Martha of the 
story and Mujikle the Mary. Well, this latter, alas ! had 
( scarcely entered bondage when her brute of a master died, 
and Mary, a mere slip of a girl, is now told that she must 
be buried alive with her father's own murderer. So Mary 
has died like hundreds more, the only sop she got being a 
farewell supper of meat and mush — a sort of black bribe 
this, equivalent to the English : " If you are a good little 
girl you'll get jam with your tea." The escaped Martha 
vis now with us at the Mission, and poor Mary, pulsating 



FIRST FEARS JUSTIFIED 13 

with buoyant life, was buried alive. Not a dying yell, 
remember, but only a great dry sob. Africa ! 

But it were impossible to tell all. One cry there is, 
thou2;h, so uniform the words that it almost amounts to a 
horrible technical term. Reminiscent of the Epistle to 
the Romans as it is, you cannot resist the steady convic- 
tion that Paul must have known it too. Take, roughly, 
a dozen such cases known to me — I mean, the living 
forced to embrace the mortifying corpse. The terrible 
formula of their cry was just Romans vii. 24 over again : 
" Who shall deliver me from this body of death ? " No 
negro could ever read Paul's anti-sin moan in Romans 
without a special shudder at that metaphor : well he 
knows what it means, for often did he hear that cry. 
And long may he shudder at sin, say I. 

But nobody knows his Africa who is not on terms of 
intimacy with the fire-flies. Darting about bewilderingly, 
they flash their intermittent signals into the night, and 
eight or ten confined in a phial give sufficient light to 
enable one to write. At sundown behold a parable of 
your Missionary tribulation ahead, the fourth plague of 
Egypt. For no sooner do you light up than the thousand 
tribes of local gnats, flies, and moths mobilise to fight 
the flickering flame, each enunciating with impertinent 
emphasis the dictum that the fly or the flicker must snuff" 
out. Children of night as they are, you can see them 
swarm round that candle in clouds — war-cry: We love^ 
darkness rather than light, because our deeds are evil. 



14 THINKING BLACK 

But the faithful flame flickers on, an apostle of light, true 
"thinking black" parable of the Devil's battalions trying 
to snuff" the little lights of testimony twinkling across 
Africa. Far-fetched metaphor though this looks, yet can 
we place it under the sure shelter of high authority. For 
did not Faraday long ago begin his famous lecture by 
declaring " there is not a law under which any part of this 
universe is governed that does not come into play in the 
phenomena of the chemical history of a candle " ? Not 
that these millions of midges haven't a method in their 
madness. Hidden for their lives by day in the marsh, full 
well they know that the scorching sun would devour them 
if they emerged, war to the death being proclaimed 
between solar light and these broods of darkness. What 
wonder, then, at this their revenge on the poor candle, a 
diminutive disciple of the sun spluttering in the night, 
their vindictive swoop eloquent of the anti-light malice. 
This certainly is the native's notion, for in his alliterative 
language he makes a linear pun of it — calling the lamp the 
" Sun's little Sonny," the prefixes rhyming as in English. 
This is digression, though, and we must get on with 
our story — but that means another chapter. 



CHAPTER II 
First Things First 



'Sorrow and the scarlet leaf, 

Sad thoughts and sunny weather 

Ah me! this glory and this grief 
Agree not well together." 



" Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye 
be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and 
her feathers with yellow gold. . . . Ethiopia shall 
soon stretch out her hands unto God." 

Psalm Ixviii. 13, 31. 



"There is a depth below the depth, 
And a height above the height: 
Our hearing is not hearing, 
And our seeing is not sight." 



CHAPTER II 

First Things First 

T/f/' HEREIN the reader^ finding no 
advance possible, ponders and 
probes Africa's great problem of " the 
blocked road''' 

SUCH, then, is our ridiculous " road " over the hills, 
and lest peradventure we take too much for granted, 
I suppose I should explain that this caravan of ours 
is not by any manner of means an English four-wheeler of 
the gipsy sort. Really a twisting, travelling town it is, 
and there you see more than a hundred men, women, and 
boys wriggling along through the tall grass in Indian 
file — the " crocodile " our negro facetiously calls it. A 
curious hotch-potch of humanity, here you have the small 
tradesman and the dancing man, the musician and the 
doctor ; these and many more all twisting in and out 
with the trail in faithful " follow your leader " fashion. 
This doctor fellow while drawing his rations as carrier has 
also the perquisites of his profession among his brother- 
blacks, the dancing man likewise reckoning that he can in 
a spare hour "hand round the hat" for a consideration. 
The witchery of this man's tongue is wonderful, for he 



18 THINKING BLACK 

wheedles round the negro on his soft sing-song side, plays 
his own accompaniment, and has a rich repertory of all 
the tribal reels, strathspeys, and laments. Often over- 
grown with thick grass, the trail is lost below it, and the 
terror o' mornings is to squeeze your way through this wet, 
matted tangle. The drier the season, of course, the greater 
the deluge of dew, and all to be negotiated in the cold, 
callous dawn. Often, too, you get out of your blankets 
only to discover that another thick blanket of mist lies 
across your path, the cheerless sun looking through the 
fog like a snowball. Real malarial mist, pale with 
the awful pallor of death, and no wonder one prefers 
the famous pea-soup fog of London. 

But the weakest go to the wall in all this, and your 
big black carriers push on the shivering youngsters ahead 
to dry off the clammy dew on their bodies. "Human 
brooms," they are called. Take your stand against an 
intolerant tradition of this " dew wiping " sort and you 
will be worsted, for they argue that such is the tribal 
mill, and had they not all to go through it ? So here you 
have a literal case in which " a little child shall lead them," 
mere babies driven on first to brush off the dew.^ 

Have you caught the idea ? No Factory Acts here. 
Mere babies goaded on ahead for the drenching dew 
of this 13-feet-high grass to pour down on them spray- 

1 By a conceit of etymology the word " pioneer " is coined from this very 
idea of such an one being a "human broom" or "dew drier," and a fair 
English equivalent is to call a Burton or a Livingstone "Mr. Waterproof," 
because he braved the inclement days of pioneering and got drenched that 
we might go dry. 




A TYPICAL DEW-DRIER. 



FIRST THINGS FIRST 19 

bath fashion. This grass, of course, is so dense that it 
hides the tiny trail, so each step is a squeeze forward into 
the unknown, the said squeeze being equivalent to the 
turning on of the tap on our little 3 6 -inch -long nobodies. 
But there is a law of compensation even here. Oh yes, 
these nobodies become somebodies with their resultant 
revenge. I saw one such diminutive "dew drier" go 
straight up to mamma and let her have a sounding smack 
in the face. Angry ? Not she. Dissolving in smiles, 
she looks at her offspring proudly : " What a splendid 
warrior he'll make ! " Pushed on ahead in the dark dawn, 
of course, these little bits of black humanity run the 
chance of a hungry old hyena or leopard lurking by the way 
to nab first comers. Too well are they aware that even 
the smallest contributions are always thankfully received 
by the Carnivora. And thus is evolved Africa's enfant 
terrible, the sad stuff, forsooth, out of which Mr. 
Missionary has got to build the poor little African Sunday 
school. Ragged schools, one might indulgently call them, 
only the problem is to produce even one rag sometimes. 

But all this is to anticipate, for it is easier to talk 
about the trail than to use it, and we are forced to settle 
ourselves down on the sickly seaboard like a man in a 
railway station condemned to wait the next train. Heigh 
ho ! here it is you learn that patience must be your pet 
African virtue, and here, too, you first face the dangerous 
yet delightful fact that you are wholly in the negro's 
hands for weal or woe. For if those expected carriers of 
ours don't come out of the hills one of these days and 



20 THINKING BLACK 

pick us up, we cannot budge, a rueful reflection this, quite 
a wholesome corrective to British bluff and swagger. So 
here on the baking Benguella sands we pass the long 
electric nights longing for the climbing of the great 
" African Divide." That straight, shy glance we con- 
stantly cast at the brown girding hills is full of desiring 
with great desire to pass on and into the Far Interior. 
We long for the uplands and brisk breezes that will blow 
new ideas into the brain. Only to get a start, only to 
get on our legs, this is the sole African solution of 
stagnation. Solvitur amhulando was the cunning little 
Latin maxim of the thing, and the Luban has the exactly 
equivalent epigram: "It is settled in walking." Days 
grow into weeks and still another red sunrise with no 
carriers to hand ; only that solemn booming of the great 
Ocean on the sun-smitten sands. In these dreary days 
Browning (!) in three luminous lines supplies the diary 
data for as many months : — 

"The sun looked over the mountain's rim, 
And straight was a path of gold for him. 
But the need of a world of men for me." 



Thus you see how the African scores such an easy first 
in his own land. Even this vaunted pioneering of ours 
he looks down upon in a most amused and patronising 
manner. Not that this ox-eyed black is lacking in many 
a word of cheer when you are jaded with the journey ; 
indeed, he rallies you with the cheering reminder : 
" Hurrah : the first along the dew-damp path in the 
morning {i.e. the pioneer) dries off on his own body the 



FIRST THINGS FIRST 21 

wet grass, for the benefit of those who follow him." A 
perfect parable this of grand old Livingstone staggering 
down South to his Ilala grave, for did he not endure all 
his discomforts that the men following might reap a 
harvest of travelling tranquillity ? Hence the negro song, 
dedicated to all pioneers, which I translate thus — 

" Lead thou the way in the wet grass drear. 
Then, only then, art thou pioneer : 
For Mr. First must get all the woes. 
That Mr. Second may find repose." 

Called technically "The Path-Borer," a pioneer of the 
old school is almost canonised by the negro, and all who 
follow in his wake are his youngsr brothers. Even to 
this remote day, all around Lake Mweru they sing a 
"Livingstone" song to commemorate that great "path- 
borer," the good Doctor being such a federal head of his 
race that he is known far and near as Ingeresa, or "The 
Englishman." And this is his memorial song — 

" Ingeresa who slept on the waves {Lala pa Mava), 
Welcome him, for he hath no toes ! 
Welcome him, for he hath no toes ! " 

That is to say, revelling in paradox as the negro does, 
he seized on the facetious fact that this w^andering Living- 
stone, albeit he travelled so far, had no toes, i.e. had 
boots, if you please ! 

And as Livingstone, so yourself. Here it is, sitting in 

the penumbra of the camp fire, you hear much ambiguous 

whispering, the changes all rung on one wonderful word 

they have coined — your new African name, nothing less, 

3 



22 THINKING BLACK 

Often only a much modified adaptation of the old one ; 
oftener still a nasty nickname for a nastier man, this 
awful Africa, so unlike Heaven from sea to sea, impudently 
lays down the laughable law that you must have a new 
name in this land. The spade is at last called a spade. 
Without a pang of pity they rob you of your old 
patronymic, all the Europeans in Africa, like a band of 
burglars, being hidden behind the mask of an alias. 
Sorry to suggest, this just suits many of the riff-raft', for 
as nobody is shy at a masked ball, many a Portuguese 
under the mask of a nom de guerre raided Lubaland, his 
identity lost in a nickname. Again and again have I 
been baffled in tracking such murderers, all the fearful 
facts genuine, but minus the necessary name. So you 
give it up — fooled, fighting a phantom ! Not one new 
name, mind you, but many ; for the bigger the criminal 
the longer the list of aliases. 

Mr. Negro, too, like the changing town-names in a 
Map of Africa, is quite as bad. The changing man has 
changing names. Here is a lad at my elbow with a pen- 
sive air ; wants an advance of pay, he says, to buy a trifle 
— to buy a name, be it known. This means that a name 
is a serious part of moveable estate and is as much legal 
property as his gun or dog : witness, this youngster 
proposing to go shares with another man's name, and 
solemnly buying it for /^ s. d. And unconsciously 
quotes Scripture in the translation : "A good name," says 
he, " is better than riches ! " So he pays the price and 
gives the riches for a good name. Of course, he has one 



FIRST THINGS FIRST 23 

already, but opines that his birth-name is too juvenile ; 
was it not given him without his permission and therefore 
purely conjectural? Should not a name be an appro- 
priate photo of his character? He alone knows that 
name. So he argues and so he acts, and this is the 
reason why the question of native names becomes a 
perplexity, a hate, and an amazement. For as the ins 
and outs of his life go like his river in twists and turns, 
even so each new aspect of life means a new name. In 
this respect the long sinuous Congo has the same history 
as a Congo native, a dozen new names for the dozen new 
twists down stream. A mere Smith or Brown cannot 
exist in these lands, for there is the real article, a Mr. 
Smith really worth the name for he works in iron, and 
an equally real Mr. Brown as brown as a berry. No 
wonder, when you tell the African that in Heaven we 
shall have a new nature, his rejoinder is, "Then we 
must get a new name." New nature equates new name. 

But the worst part of this Benguella story is yet to 
come. 



CHAPTER III 
Far, yet not Farthest, In 



"Atticus! . . . the stupidest and ugliest slaves 
come from Britain." Cicero. 



" I'm king to-day," said the dying slave to the king 
who killed him. 



"Here in Lubaland a goat costs four yards of 
calico, and a woman-slave is also sold for four yards, 
ergo a goat = a woman." Kavovo (Luban chief). 



CHAPTER III 

Far, yet not Farthest, in 

J/f/' HEREIN the reader is invited to 

call a spade a spade, and return 

a true hill against Portuguese slavery, the 

black ivory being proved to carry the 

white ivory out to the Atlantic. 

FOR here, in this trail debouching on the seasliore 
from the Catumbella Hills, you have the most 
famous slave track in Africa — yes ! And all 
persistently passing under the nose of high constituted 
authority, remember. His Excellency the Governor is 
there in Benguella, while beyond that dignitary, away 
far out at sea, an occasional curl of blue smoke indicates a 
passing British cruiser. The port-holes look exactly like 
the clenched teeth of a bull-dog longing to bite the 
Portuguese slaver. Yet the confusion and degradation of 
thought is such that for more than a century there has 
been a tacit conspiracy to wink at it all. But the God 
Who has cursed the man who winketh with the eye is not 
indeed mocked, and " Cursed Catumbella " is the awful 
alliteration of this sad story. For if inter-negro slavery 



28 THINKING BLACK 

be a bad black thing, then a fortiori white versus black 
slavery is worse. But if high constituted authority winks 
at it all, then, a fortissimo, cursed is the said Govern- 
ment that winketh with the eye. 

As far as can be done in cold print let me say what I 
saw. My date is in August, the location a forest in 
which Latitude 12° South is intersected by Longitude 21° 
East. Who could ever forget the nightmare of this 
monster slave caravan we meet in the Chokwe country ? 
Flying as we both are in opposite directions through the 
hungry country, you are bewildered and exasperated to 
see this staggering mass of captive humanity heading for 
the West Coast. Through desolate marshy lands have 
they come ; across the burning sands of the Kifumadzi 
flat have they dragged : Lunda and Luvale lands are now 
passed, but the Ocean is still a weary way off. Already 
months on the road, hunger is gnawing at the vitals of 
the whole cruel caravan, and dozens of hectoring brutes 
are clubbing on their " moving money " {olombongo) 
from behind. The coldest-blooded creature south of the 
Arctic circle could not contemplate that via dolorosa 
without revolt, for here is the " open sore " streaming 
with life's blood before your eyes. Spring expostulat- 
ingly on one of these obese and orthodox slavers in the 
forest and he tells you with alacrity that the Portuguese 
buy them all up. Yea, further, with engaging frankness 
this brutal black gives you the name and address of 
reputable merchants in Benguella and Catumbella who 
snap up as much black ivory as possible : are they not 



FAR, YET NOT FARTHEST, IN 29 

going to ship them over to San Thome for the cultivation 
of cocoa ? 

Look, then, at this caravan, taking nearly three hours 
to march past, a horde of eight hundred souls, all doomed 
to exile for life. Some tottering old men there, mere 
shrivelled sacks of bones who at any moment may 
need to lie down by the roadside and die. Dozens of 
women there, staggering along with little babies born 
and unborn, for this famished " hungry country " demands 
a rushing speed for the caravan. Item: One mother, 
the grief-hnes furrowing her face, goaded on with baby 
just born that day by the roadside, maternity conval- 
escence, say, one hour and a fraction. Saddest sight of 
all, crowds of little emaciated boys and girls all sold for 
a song in the Congo State, the little legs at last giving out. \ 
Yet only four months before every one of them had ( 
radiant youth bubbling in his veins. Who can forget 
that, Lubans born and bred as they are, these same little 
souls sing a song in their own country about the joys of 
a jaded piccaninny on the trail when nearing home at 

last? 

" If toiling on a journey dreary 
A little toddling child is weary, ^ 

One whisper of the magic ' Home,' 
How strong the little legs hecome ! 
No longer weariness they feel. 
For they are stiff like bars of steel." 

But here they are, far from home, that long wriggling 
horror of a slave track before and behind them, so thin 
and hollow-eyed you can only think of them as a moan 



so THINKING BLACK 

materialised into flesh. Heading for tne slave-pen at 

Benguella there is no such magic word " Home" to stiffen 

their back in resolve to reach it. One of these girls had 

fallen behind, strength s^one, load of rubber thrown on 

the ground, so, emerging from the bush, I was just in time 

to see her owner club her head, yelling out a threat with 

each stroke. This was more than I could stand, and as 

Christ saw nothing worse than that among the Temple 

dove-sellers I sprang at this burly Bihean with a stick to 

administer unto him a not undeserved trouncing — but of 

( course he showed a clean pair of heels. One tiny girl I 

/ redeemed from a dark death by the roadside, a girl who 

(^is now a happy Christian mother on Lake Mweru. 

Item: Literally sold for a song was one such little 
boy whose name became Sikispence, his market value one 
coloured handkerchief at 6d. 

Item: A native named "Truss of calico" bought one 
youngster for Is. 4d. ; a cheap chattel this, stolen while 
mother was off" in the field. 

Item: Dilunga's child, too, was sold for an old water- 
proof coat. 

Item : Ndala was a boy who fetched, as market price, 
a small bag of corn. 

Item : Musole and her child were also sold for grain, 
two small bags for two human beings. " Man eats corn, 
but corn can eat man," their proverb runs. 

Proof positive ? Here is a blunt fellow who has done 
the thing for years, no Portuguese he. Quite a prodigy of 
obesity for the climate, he has bought and sold many a 




^ 



SMOKING INDIAN HEMP. 



FAR, YET NOT FARTHEST, IN 31 

slave. In his ample mouth there is an ample pipe, and 
between the puffs he boasts of his slave-trading ; two 
slaves for one rifle, is an instance. Committing himself, 
as he did, to an lOU for the accessory cartridges, here 
you have frank fact and no fiction. Daring to marry in 
after years, this union was so degrading that when he 
died, his widow, on the 18th of April 1907, sold off" seven 
slaves, two going to Snr. "Katavola" — to give the name 
of place for persons. This Senhor, of course, ofi'ered good 
prices for some girls she had. Figures are not at all 
difficult to get at, for often a blunt question receives as 
blunt an answer, this especially with the " old timer," a 
high-and-dry Tory. A slaver by principle as well as 
practice, he does not believe in exposing too much of 
the white of the eyes on this subject of slavery. With 
Dickens' policeman he believes that " words is bosh," and 
the polite modern "servi9aes" is too fancy a word for 
him. Asked point-blank to give the percentage of slave 
mortality en route to ocean, this out-and-outer makes a 
careful calculation of the losses. Far from parrying such 
a preposterously pointed question, " Well," says he, " they 
vary a good deal ; from some districts they are hardier 
than from others. If we are lucky we may get six out 
of every ten alive to Bihe, and if unlucky, perhaps only 
three out often." '~ 

The first draft of the programme for our route ahead 
is very simple. Two hundred miles inland is our first 
stage to the kingdom of Bihe, and our roaming Bihean 
is the man who holds the key to the Far Interior. The 



^ 



32 THINKING BLACK 

accurate African analogy is found in thinking of Benguella 
as the sort of Western Zanzibar, and busy transport Bihe 
as the Unyanyembe of these latitudes. This Bihean, 
though, scores off his Eastern brother in having more 
commercial initiative, whereas in the prowess of war — 
" clash of arms " they call it — the poor Bihean is as 
famous a "woman in war" {sic) as the Arab Rugaruga 
is a historic horror. The very grammar of the story tells 
this tale, for the proper noun " Rugaruga " became 
ultimately the proper verb (and improper, alas !) meaning 
" to murder and loot," all around Lake Mweru. Both of 
them professional slavers, the Bihean in the West found 
himself in the grip of a much more keen economic process 
than the Munyamwesi man out East. For unlike the 
Bihean's Portuguese master, the fastidious and aggressive 
Arab kept commerce in his own hands, disdaining a 
delegate. On the other hand, the lethargic Portuguese 
threw all the initiative on the bold Bihean, of course 
throwing at him at the same time a few hundred pounds' 
worth of guns, powder, and calico. The black factotum 
thus armed with a curious power of attorney in the form 
of a huge Portuguese flag disappeared " over the hills and 
far away" for a nine months' pacific (!) penetration of 
the Interior. No sedentary Portuguese, as a rule, even 
followed him to ask nasty questions, and if the man from 
Lisboa ever had any curiosity about the Interior it very 
seldom seemed to have crystallised into active exploration 
— Silva Porto of Belmonte the great exception. Thus it 
came to pass that in a quarter of a century the Bihean 



FAR, YET NOT FARTHEST, IN 33 

legend spread far over the Interior, and in the solemn 
matter of slavery these " black Portuguese " became the 
great knights of industry in the land. Even when a 
young boy Bihean really finds his legs, off he is drafted 
East, across the Kwanza River, to be trained like a young 
bull-dog to show his teeth at the slaves. At six years of 
age the busy little commercial brain of Master Bihean has 
long ago learned the market prices of human flesh and 
blood, man-slave, woman-slave, child-slave, and baby-slave 
all assorted and ticketed in his head. / 

At glad last — and thanks to kind Mr. Woodside — we 
climb out of that loathsome littoral one lovely evening in 
July. Casting a last long look at the Western Atlantic 
disappearing in strange apocalyptic glow among the 
Catumbella Hills, ours it is to take the first faltering 
step on our way. Not again shall we sight the salt sea 
until one remote day the wide continent is crossed and 
the Indian Ocean flashes into view at Chinde. The 
" boring " of Africa is the native's technical term for this 
crossing from sea to sea. Working out to the sea after 
being shut in to the long grass of the Interior for nearly 
twenty years, the first sniff of the Ocean ozone dilates 
the nostrils with the subtlest of all human joy — the 
prickly breath of the salt sea driving deep down into 
the panting lungs. Louder than the thousand Greeks 
of Xenophon you can utter the long-pent-up shout, 
" Thalatta ! Thalatta ! " on sighting the great green sea — 

" The sea ! the sea ! the open sea ! 
The blue, the fresh, the ever free ! " 



34 THINKING BLACK 

The climb up to Bihe is the first stage of our long 
journey, and the three opening days see us covering a 
curious switchback arrangement in mountains, the Ekonga 
and Kanyon presenting the worst difficulties. Probably 
a section view of the former might show eight rude 
angles of nearly 70°, and until the ridge of Mount Elonga 
is gained on the seventh day and an altitude of 5000 feet 
reached, it is persistent ascent all the time, the chill tonic 
mountain air biting the cheek. We cross, too, numberless 
little perennial streams spanned by bridges, both creaking 
and rickety, and only two rivers of any magnitude — the 
Bailombo and Keve. The Bailombo, the size of an 
English trout-stream, is fairly fordable ; the Keve, a deep 
rapid thing, you must negotiate in a leaky little bark 
boat (coracle, rather) — one man, one voyage. You feel as 
safe as if you had put to sea in a washtub, and about as 
dry. But to have a lively sense of the saving humour of 
things is one thing, and to indulge that same sense half- 
way across this washtub voyage is quite another. You 
recall the old saying that " a sailor has never got home 
till he has had his dinner," and a slip between this cup 
of a canoe and that lip of a river bank is a daily, deadly 
occurrence. If ever there was nothing in a name, here 
you have it in this bark bundle called a boat. Too truly 
you embark. That bright red shell cracked all over and 
puttied with mud proclaims this to be her maiden voyage, 
so be sure of it the whole situation is abounding in 
ludicrous possibilities. Squeezing into the thing, you 
wonder desolately where your negro paddler can contrive 



FAR, YET NOT FARTHEST, IN 35 

to come in ; already, sufficient unto the canoe is the cargo 
thereof. Truly a trial trip 1 But if he cometh not this 
cargo goeth not, so our funny friend lurches in feet first, 
the intelligent idea being that if these really frightful feet 
find room his meagre body can easily follow. Already 
filling fast before you start, you are almost as wet as the 
traditional drowned rat, and away you wobble on the 
river. The water is now as much in the boat as the boat 
in the water. Circling in many a creditable curve, you 
long *' to be over yonder," a negro glued to your back, a 
brand-new boat and a brand-new experience. It is a 
remarkable fact — and fact it is — that old Kasonkomona, 
on the Lufira, used regularly to capsize his canoe at the 
precise point where, on the morrow, he would dive for the 
lost treasure — of course, after his half-drowned passenger 
was well on his way to the next camp. A strong 
swimmer, he always dramatically saved the sinking 
voyager, the greedy glitter in his eyes bespeaking salvage 1 
operations on the morrow — guns, spears, beads, all i 
harvested from the river bottom. ^ 

Another detail. At each of our camps we are forced, 
gipsy-like, to build a culinary Ebenezer, not one but three 
stones necessary for a pot-rest, each new bivouac appro- 
priately demanding its new Ebenezer. "Hither by Thy 
help I come," these sermonising stones seem to say every 
time the pot mounts the memorial heap, and looking away 
back out to the Ocean I see a long row of Ebenezers, 
almost enough to build a Temple. That British tinsmith 
who manufactured my camp copper kettle little guessed 



36 THINKING BLACK 

what a prophetic touch he added to his work by graving 
"Ebenezer" on its handle — the very stones and cooking- 
pot crying out to God in the desert. Indeed, the whole 
long story can be told in the exact terms of Bunyan's 
allegory : not a mere playing at " Pilgrim's Progress," for 
we were pilgrims and we did daily make progress. Many 
a " Hill Difficulty " lying across our track ; many a 
" Slough of Despond," too. Many a time we laid up 
stores of future anguish in a supper of uncooked beans. 
Often and often we braved the perils of pea-nuts and green 
corn before turning in. Yet another handful of pea-nuts 
Likewise a handful of pea-nuts. And so on and on. 
Just that. On and on. 

Then we get on our legs. Break camp in the silence 
and solitude of the moonlight, wide awake at every pore, 
the grey and ghostly light outlining weird forms of fallen 
trunks and decaying roots. Ours the tip-toe of expectancy, 
enjoying the two distinct thrills of a cool starry night 
merging into the reddening dawn waking up the forest. 
Mark you, only sixty minutes separate prospective blaze 
from present blackness, yet one hour hence these forest 
glades glimmering in gloom will seem things of years 
ago, a far-off memory and dream. Have you caught it ? 
The mere minutes separating 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. are few 
and flying, yet once again fancy fights facts, making each 
of these minutes seem a month. For the awful antithesis 
yawning between the nocturnal and the diurnal, between 
the gloom and the glory, defies you to measure it by mere 
minutes. The antagonism is too abysmal. It is like 



V 



FAR, YET NOT FARTHEST, IN 37 

getting up in December to break your fast in June. Even 
the negro has caught the identical idea when by way of 
sunrise greeting — his way of saying " Good morning ! " 
this — he puts to you the phrase, " A night's a year ! " 
The ghostly gloom is now a gleaming palace of life, 
and the eerie stillness of the night is blotted into 
oblivion by the million cries of the morning. The battle 
of the day resumes. 

So on and in we go. Picture our pleasure on finding 
at Bailundu and Bihe a splendid type of mission worked 
by our friends the Americans. Pioneered by one of the 
"Bible" Bagsters, how suggestive that the family that 
flooded England with Bibles should also have sent out 
a living epistle to Africa. Messrs. Sanders, Stover, Fay, 
Woodside, and Currie were men both winning and wise, 
and they fought slavery here at its hard headquarters. 
No wonder the Portuguese were exasperated, for as you 
drew near these glad little centres of testimony, while 
yet a long way oflf you could hear the Missionaries' names 
fondled as a household joy ; the names " Sandle " and 
"Kole" being passwords that work like magic. The 
same old song this, we ourselves afterwards found in 
the Garenganze. For, in the teeth of many a hard- 
mouthed denial from white men, the Missionary, having 
advanced the claim that the African has as soft a heart 
as his body is tough, must perforce prove his point. And 
according to his faith on this " negro heart " subject, even 
so is it unto him. Mr. Missionary wins the hearts of the 
whole countryside, and that, too often, to the chagrin of 



38 THINKING BLACK 

his resident officials. I had an amusing debate with an 
exalted personage on this very tender subject, the dialogue 
being as short as sharp. 

" Why have you Missionaries all the natives around 
your Mission Station, and the Government scarcely any ? " 

" The Government say ' AUez ! ' and the Mission says 
'Allons!'" 






^' 



CHAPTER IV 
Our African Apprenticeship 



"And Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom : 
Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country : we 
will not pass through the fields, neither will we 
drink of the wells : we will go by the king's high way, 
we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, 
until we have passed thy borders." 

Numbers xx. 17. 



"And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And 
Edom came out against him with a strong hand. 
Thus Edcm refused to give Israel passage through 

his border." Numbers xx. 20, 21. 



"A famous man is Robin Hood . . . 
And Scotland has a thief as good. 
An outlaw of as daring mood ; 
She has her brave Rob Roy." 



CHAPTER IV 

Our African Apprenticeship 

lyTZ HERE AT the reader yawns at 
African delays, and discovers 
that -patience must he his pet virtue in 
this lazy land. 

POOR old gin-soaked Bihe ! There it was Joseph 
Lynn, young Dr. Sparks, and others in later days 
poured out their lives for the land. Paul-like, 
ready to be accursed rather than not save souls ; Knox- 
like, ready to die unless God give him his Scotland. 
There are few who have done so much, and talked so little, 
as these dear martyrs, battling on in hard Bihe among 
drink-sodden slavers. But we restrain ourselves, and 
laying our wreaths upon their graves pass on. 

That cry of Grog ! Grog ! Grog ! Not content with 
their thriving export slave.ry, the Portuguese resolved 
to make sure of this bad business by forging a second 
slave-chain of rum, vulgarly called " nigger killer." And 
soon Bihe began to fill up with gin-distillers, every other 
little stream boasting its hell-trap. The liquid sold was 
such wicked stuff that it could almost corrode a paving- 
stone — what then happened to the negro ? Result, a 



42 THINKING BLACK 

blear-eyed Bihean who would sell his soul and his family 
to get a drink. 

Quadrupeds first, of course ; then follow the reluctant 
bipeds, one, two, three fashion. Oh yes, he pauses in 
the process, for he likes his family, but likes the fire-water 
best. He even fights the temptation for a week, then all 
is lost as the first flow of liquor stings its way down the 
alimentary canal, tearing at his vitals. Wipes his lips 
now with the back of his hand and — and starts to sell the 
family. No wonder Scripture, away back at the beginning 
of the world, kindles for Africa such a beacon of wild 
warning when it reveals the negro's ancestor naked in 
his tent, and drink the cause of it all. 

No wonder the pawky English tongue insists that gin 
= an inebriant and gin = a trap. In Bihe, the sovereign 
specific, when the supply of slaves languishes, is the rum 
business. Here it is that slaves are " made to order " ; 
slaves literal, I mean, as well as slaves moral. A man ran 
in to one of our Missionaries and said that his father had 

sold his own son for rum, sold to Senr. . First enslaved 

morally by his "fire-water" thirst, the next move was 
one of frank literal slavery ; sold his own flesh and blood 
for the fiery fluid. Such a sure source of enslavement 
is this, that the commoner wile is to advance sundry 
" modest quenchers " on credit, the sure slavery of thirst 
ultimately demanding a deal in slaves for liquidation of 
the liquor bill. Take Senr, Z. of Ohwa ; he gave one 
Bihean just enough drink, not only to drown the man's 
wits, but also to drown the drinker at the Kunehe River 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 43 

crossing. Remorseless as destiny, down swoops this gin- 
seller on the drowned -victim's next-of-kin, claiming his 
pound of flesh. And gets it, too, in two qualities : flesh 
of man and flesh of beast, an ox and a slave, Katumwa 
his name. History is silent on how these bereaved 
Biheans weathered the financial sea, for if they borrowed 
the slave they would need to pay two for one. Kapapelo, 
their gin-drunk nephew, lost his balance and was drowned 
for it ; here is a Portuguese — reader, forgive the 
sneer ! — resolved not to lose his credit balance at any 
rate.^ 

A weaker word than "fascinating" would therefore 
describe the Portuguese methods in Bihe and farther East. 
Dominating and dwarfing all other issues is the Fort, and 
round the average Commandant you have a ring of 
rascals, " Ovimbali/' white man's personnel. " No one 
hearing, one cannot speak," so said Cicero long ago, and 
so say these hangers-on who buy and sell justice to the 
highest bidder. Not a mere case this of "having the 
ear " of their master ; they are his ears and they are his 
mouth. Coleridge described it all unerringly when he 
said that "a dwarf sees farther than the giant when he 
has the giant's shoulder to mount on." Hemmed in by 
injustice of this sort, the wise native is the man who 
sanely and shrewdly steers clear of it all. Kan was 
one such, and wronged though he was, he snapped his 
fingers at it all : " Why should I go to the Fort for help 
against the Fort ? Why go to the Chefe ? Is it worth 

^ See Mr, Swan in The Slavery of To-Day for substantial corroboration. 



44 THINKING BLACK 

while to ask the river to champion your cause against the 
lake, when you can only get water from either ? " 

The Kofwali case will illustrate Fort methods, and 
establishing as it does a really regrettable precedent we 
must hoist a danger signal. The thunders of the law 
roared on poor Kofwali's head because in his own person 
he dared to confess to being the nephew of a man who 
when alive was the neighbour of a man who had com- 
mitted the crime. Judgment : that the said Kofwali, 
nephew of the neighbour of the accused, be fined two 
slaves, one ox, and trade goods thrown in. The coloured 
sergeant got one slave for settling the crime, the claimant 
had the other slave, the white officer who had given the 
man a severe beating with the chiootte got the ox for 
his exertions, and the soldier some of the trade goods for 
feeding him whilst he was a prisoner, as such are not fed 
free in the Fort. 

J&ut the hateful exigencies of this story demand an 
ugly realism. That this foul official often falls foul of 
the Seventh Commandment is too glaringly undeniable. 
Mr. Swan's facts are unarguable and must really be 
repeated to mark the depths of disgrace to which some 
sink. A woman's child is at the Fort and, straight as a 
needle to the pole, that woman heads for her bairn ; of 
course, under the escort of a friendly native who is due 
there on a visit. Here at headquarters the woman is 
seduced by the Commandant, and here, too, a roar of 
rage is heard from the official's own paramour. Alas 
for prestige ! Now begins a Billingsgate broil, concubine 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 45 

versus Commandant, the legal lion bearded in his own 
den by his own negress consort. Piqued by the storm 
in his own household, the Chefe calmly seeks a scape- 
goat and finds it in the harmless escort who courteously 
brought the mother after her child. Chuckling with malice 
and determined to come out of it with colours flying, the 
Judge on the bench (who should have been prisoner at 
the bar) condemned the scapegoat to pay two slaves, 
because — I quote — he having brought the woman and 
the woman having tempted His Honour the Judge, there- 
fore judgment must be entered accordingly. 

But the really profitable part of this bad business is 
" the runaway slave " department. Here you have stay- 
at-homes who often make more out of it than the zealous 
man-hunters of Lubaland. Take Senr. Z., for instance, and 
work out with him this spicy little sum in slave arith- 
metic. Problem — how to make one slave produce 
twenty-three other slaves pZws oxen, rubber, and pigs 
thrown in. Now this subterfuge is really as simple as it 
is common, for he sets the ball a-rolling by so maltreating 
this one slave that run away she must, and now woe to 
all who harbour her ! She darts into a hamlet, and 
breathlessly elated, Snr. Z. darts after her, for that townlet 
must pay, yes, cash down, ten slaves plus ten ipaJco {i.e. 
any other legal currency). Our peppery old colonial rubs 
his hands with glee at this brisk business, but he is on for 
more. (Reader, are you working out this sum in awful 
arithmetic : one slave has now captured ten more, 
including etceteras?) Next move is nothing new, the 



46 THINKING BLACK 

same old bait slave is going to catch more. K is the 

man who is next mulcted, and he pays one young woman, 
a pig, and a load of rubber ; business is not so brisk, you 
see. There is better fishing farther on, however, and the 
village of Lak pays up two slaves, two oxen, and two loads 
of rubber, all on the vile old plea of harbouring Onesimus. 
Can we not now strike the grand total and get done with 
it ? No, we must include a closing (?) item. Farther along 
there was an open gateway, and this hunted-down slave 
darts in, only to doom the villagers to a final fine — ten 
slaves, cash down ! Now you may strike your terrible 
total. Twenty-three slaves plus two oxen plus one pig 
plus three loads of rubber for one runaway slave. Plain 
arithmetic all this, not rhetoric. Deduction : The Portu- 
guese put a premium on the maltreatment of slaves. 
Therefore the old specious pro-slavery argument, running 
" The man who treats his horse badly is a fool," etc., this 
argument, I say, is as rotten as is the audacious analogy 
between a horse and a human being. 

But there is worse to come. Take another vile 
expedient having the same sad objective, I mean, the 
swelling of this Westward-going stream of slavery : 
the " Shylock system " among the natives. Here is the 
trader's chance, and the borrowing native is soon involved 
in a quagmire of trouble, to wit, a 1000 per cent extortion 
on the borrowed goods. (Not an E.O.E. invoice, by 
any means, for this arrogant Shylock never makes an 

error and never omits anything.) Snr. is a case in 

point : as usual, he does not want his calico back, he wants 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 47 

payment, not in cash but kind, and that kind the best 
kind, yea, the human kind. Therefore this knave grabs 
at nine women as against his debt for goods, an account 
this the natives stoutly refuse to pay because they have 
odready paid it in blood — be it noted the blood of the 
buUeted debtor, killed by Shylock. Appealing to the 
Fort, the Chefe votes for his compatriot creditor, arguing 
that as Shylock has spilled the said blood a few miles 
beyond the Fort's jurisdiction, obviously the deed must be 
ignored and the nine slaves retained for the debt. Mark 
you, here you have blood shed and blood winked at. The 
Sekeseke case is akin to this : a gentleman he, known to 

his Catumbella friends as Senhor P B . Beating 

a slave for days into a pitiful pulp, of course the said slave 
died, and was buried at midnight in the corner of his 

garden. Was Senhor P B punished for this 

murder, and if so, when, and where, and by whom ? Now 
for the swing of the pendulum. 

Not that such slaves learning from such masters are 
much better : how could they be ? Pouring into Bihe as 
these streams of slaves do, here in the villages you have 
the great mixing bowl of West Africa ; and a slave in a 
few years takes on the Umbundu polish, aping their 
twang of speech to a nicety, but tripping to the last over 
an M = V. Will say Monjo for Vonjo, and so forth. 
Inter-negro slavery, however, is here seen to be a humaner 
thing ; at least, the slave gets a curious chance among his 
own colour. Indeed, the ascendancy of many of these 
freedmen is all very like a page of Gibbon, a master often 



48 THINKING BLACK 

being indebted to his slave in the meeting of his lawsuit 
liabilities. For like all " woman " tribes who dread blood- 
spilling, the great Bihean terror (and substitute for blood) 
is this network of Ovimhu = lawsuits, the curious compli- 
cations arising being a prize conundrum in jurisprudence. 
Certainly if colour has ever been given to the statement 
that slavery has something good in it, the most specious 
side is the domestic servitude. It is a bold assertion to 
make, but such is the equipoise of events that it may be 
asserted that the average chief is almost on a par with 
the average slave. Eex sleeps on the same sort of reed 
mat as his Onesimus : Rex drinks the same beer : Rex 
wears the same apology for a garment, and eats the same 
sundown supper of mush. Nay, the scales go tilt on the 
wrong side, for often at nightfall a slave slips in a red- 
legged partridge or parakeet to his guidwife ; contrast 
the chief who has gone to sleep on vegetables, and his 
slave sneaking a late game supper ! The same abundance 
of firewood, too, for master and bondsman alike ; same 
cooking utensils ; same blend of tobacco, with a communistic 
whiff from the same gourd pipe. Flowing like a tide, the 
royal slaver pours into my left ear, defying me to gainsay 
the fact that his slaves are freer than their lord : " Has 
not a slave only one master, and is not a king servant of 
all ? " Besides, the slave has a hidden weapon all the 
time in the institution of Ohulitumhika, i.e. the choice of 
any master he chooses. Here is an instance where a 
leathery-lunged slave, " The Creator," they call him, 
yawned and said he had had quite enough of his master's 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 49 

insolence. So casting around him, he picks out as ideal a 
master as he can find, gravely goes across to this new 
master's spirit temple and breaks one of the sacred gourds, 
thereby snapping the old chain and welding a new. Does 
not the owner of the broken spirit chalice claim the slave 
as damages ? Law : Damage an article and the damager 
pays himself in as damages. But one day will see his 
boldest stroke of all. For, quickly accumulating a small 
capital, this slave awaits the day when he sees his master 
in financial straits, and forthwith turns the tables on his 
lord, actually buying up his own taskmaster. 

Now for the darkest despotism in all slavery ; I meanT^ 
the ex-slave ruling the ex-lord with an iron rod. And all 
this according to that most ancient of sayings passed 
along in whispers from one bondsman to another : '* If 
thou art an anvil, be patient, slave my brother ; but 
if thou art a hammer, strike hard ! " One such ex-slave, 
called " The Python," ultimately lorded it over our huge 
caravan, and instead of being abashed at his slave blood, 
he was precious proud of it : "0 white man, you are 
proud of your descent, but I am proud of my ascent, 
was his idea. Coleridge it was who wrote of "the pride 
that apes humility," and our friend " The Python " had it, 
for if not pride of race it was pride of place. But make 
it a rule never, oh ! never to argue with such a fellow — if 
you fight with a sweep you cannot blacken him, but he 
may blacken you. Tantalising though he often was and 
worthy a well-merited wigging, there he stood, head and 
shoulders above them all, a go-ahead boss just "up from 



50 THINKING BLACK 

slavery." He did not cringe to us, and did not mind 
running risks with his bread-and-butter. Wise, too, with 
a corrosive sort of wisdom, some things he said were a 
clever echo of Epictetus (and who by the by was he, if 
not a slave ?). Even Horace would pardon me for calling 
him eloquent. (Horace, too, who was he if not a slave's 
son ?) Yet this man finally became as tame as a friendly 
mastiff, although all the time a snob to his fellows. And 
a slave snob, remember, is king of all the snobs ; proves it, 
too, by kissing the feet of the man above him on the 
social ladder, while he kicks the other who is below him. 
Himself a slave by purchase and with a commercial 
instinct quite in accord with the best traditions of Bihe, 
he would sell his own father and mother for an old song. 
Q.E.D. : The Romans were right, "As many slaves, so 
many enemies " — bad slavery makes a bad slave. 

Why forget that for two centuries and a half the 
Mamelukes or white slaves of Egypt ruled in luxury 
farther North ? Slaves though they were, did they not 
excel in art and poetry ? In later Rome, too, what about 
the educated slaves who earned large profits as writers, 
lecturers, bankers, physicians, and architects ? 

But all this is not lost time, for these days of delay in 
Bihe are really full of African apprenticeship. Pushing 
on alone as I had done, Mr. Currie kindly gave me 
sanctuary in his little mud cabin at Chisamba, and many 
a happy day we spent together. Dieted on raw native 
mush and beans, this good man (by calling a Missionary, 
and by necessity everything) was the Canadian outpost 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 51 

of our American friends. Here, all alone, lie camped on 

the edge of a wood, making a beginning by felling tall 

trees and rougliing out of the thick bush a clearing for his 

future site. Soon the songs of the wind whistling through 

the woods were answered by the songs of Zion, and thus 

at long last the story of centuries of heathendom was 

ended and a new chapter begun. The large modern 

Chisamba of these later days was long ago cradled there 

in that tiny mud hut in the woods, and I should be 

insolently ungrateful were I to forget these early days of 

promise, eyes ranging over the Eastern skyline, 

" Yearning for the large excitement 
That the coming years would bring." 

But the negro must really be seen in his own compact 
and cramped stockade town, and I shall never regret 
beginning my life in Africa in one such village on the 
Kunje River. Cooped up inside the same stockade, air 
stale and sour, we black and white lived together for 
months, the same beehive huts and porridge our portion. 
" Chenda," or Pilgrim Town, they called the village, and a 
kindly old grandmother saw to my comfort. Feeble and 
wrinkled, this genial body was only one of the withered 
old " hags " of the modern explorer's book of travels, yet 
as the days passed and we got on family talking terms, 
here was a seemingly repellent old negress developed into 
a charming dowager armed to the finger tips with finish 
and polish. Listened to your verb Ndu Pandula (Thank 
you) with a pretty pleased old blush. With her old hard, 
corrugated hands she stirred my porridge day by day 



52 THINKING BLACK 

cooking all the meals with the alacrity of a girl in her teens. 
Beaming with simple truth, the more this old lady talks 
the more the scales of prejudice fall from your eyes, and 
you begin to see her striking resemblance to some English 
lady you have known. 

In Lubaland I met another such dear granny whose 
intention was better than her attainment, A beaming 
lady, seventy at a guess, she claims to be the champion 
cook of the country ; tells you, moreover, that she is the 
Chiefs cook. Proof positive this, that being Chiefs cook 
she is chief cook also. Has cooked in her day all manner 
of messes : fat snakes, soft snails, and many another menu 
item that would look more polite in French than in 
English. Boiled dogs, she tells me, are her speciality, and 
according to this authority the Lubans pet their famous 
dogs for the greedy reason that the very dog that was so 
friendly before he entered the cooking-pot might still 
agree with them — in digestion. Well, this kindly dame 
it was who came poking around my pots and pans, em- 
boldened by her " Eoyal Letters Patent" to believe that 
she, poor soul, could even cook a dainty dish for " he of 
the boots." Finally, my boy gave me hopelessly away, 
by hinting that I ate eggs, a very debased sort of diet 
to a Luban, for in that egg is not the chick yet unborn ? 
(And if we must eat eggs then, ex hypo., why not wait 
until they are just old enough to hint that there is a 
semblance to a chick inside ?) My boy, however, coming 
to the point with praiseworthy directness in two terse, 
patronising words condescended to tell this Chief-because- 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 53 

Chiefs cook that she had merely to break the shell and 
the thing was cooked in a minute. So away trotted my 
Queen of all the cooks, this and this only ringing in her 
ears as a kind of key to the new recipe, I mean the advice 
to break the shell. And break it she did. But watch 
with what kindly concern she washes that shell — and 
what do you think ? In best cocksure manner she now 
gets a stout stick, smashes it up shell and yolk together, 
the resultant omelette being studded all over with jagged 
shells sticking out like carpet tacks. Nor did she succeed 
in putting us off eggs. "Emperors' diet," we call them, 
even in Africa's dirtiest hole, for when the negro manioc 
palls, when their meat is tainted, when the cooking oil is 
rancid, every time you crack the shell of your breakfast 
egg in a heathen hovel, you equal the crowned heads of 
Europe. 

But, as I have already hinted, strange though such 
doings seem, the doers thereof almost resemble your 
own flesh and blood, the Bihean peculiarly so. This, 
too, applies to the young darkies who crowd around ; 
every lad of them suggests his English "double." You 
feel a bolt shot back in your memory, and get quite 
certain it is only the lack of a white collar and tie 
causing them to disresemble their tow-headed English 
twin-brothers Tommy Jones, John Smith, etc. Coarse fat 
pigs are the national riches, the said snorters being also 
the village scavengers. This killing of the pig is a big 
function in the Bihean family, when there is quite an in- 
fectious quiver in the air, and he is gobbled utterly up. 



54 THINKING BLACK 

The roar of the rejoicing is such that they even beat the 
Chicago packer's boast that everything about the pig is 
tinned except the squeal. Yea, they surpass even the 
America that is great in all things, great even in ex- 
aggeration. For in Africa the noise is so loud that the 
negro seems to have swallowed the squeal along with the 

pig- 
Listen ! Across stream there goes the maddening 

drum, a knot of young fellows having started the music 
as a signal for the girls to join them, this rub-a-dub roar 
being really a sort of sweetheart's call. The local crickets 
have learnt the same trick, for that shrill cry from a 
thousand cricket throats is merely the male insect rasping 
his wings as a reed instrument to attract the lady cricket 
to his side. The frogs with rolling eye are identical, for 
all their mad croaking is merely Master Toad in yellow 
waistcoat and tight green trousers w^ooing his lady with 
weird calls from the marsh. So Messrs. Negro, Cricket, 
and Toad are all at the same game on the same night 
around the same marsh ; all alike in their resolve to use 
the same African moon with the same noisy music for the 
same amorous assignation. 

But it is cruel to beat a cripple with his own crutches, 
and you must not forget that this bewitching moon is the 
negro's only candle, his only fleeting chance of an evening 
out of doors. It is not my intention to argue here the 
ethics of the thing, but let us try to understand before 
we judge. Taking it all in, cause and effect, condemna- 
tion and excuse, who shall throw the first stone? The 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 55 

lurking leopard or hyena forces him into his few feet of 
stufiy hut during all the waning phases, so now or never 
is the chance when it looms large like a new half-crown. 
Right through the night that dance froths and bubbles 
along, the whole negro from head to heels mad with the 
moonlight — the Devil's St. Vitus dance ! 

So ingrained is this jigging that even a sedate negro 
convert to Christianity has still got it in the very bones, 
"dancing before the Lord" she would call it. Here was [ 
a thing to be seen and never forgotten, the Devil's jig ^ 
consecrated to the Lord. The soul of delicacy and dis- 
cretion, I spotted an elect lady dancing out her Christian 
joy as a solemn duty, not a smile in her antics, no thought 
of the burlesque, yet to me, a new-comer, what a gazing- 
stock ! The amazing, maddening mix-up of the prayer in 
the heart and the prance in the feet ! Asked her what it 
meant at all at all, and she quaintly replied, " Oh ! it is 
only praise getting out at the toes.'' Then she actioned 
this new idea to me — this praise-getting-out-at-the-toes 
idea, I mean. Making a diagram of her own body, she 
first of all put her hand over her heart as indicating 
her central source of joy — " the generator," she called it. 
Granting then a heart pulsating with joy ; with her crooked 
old finger she now traces on her body two opposite thrills 
of joy, one shooting up and through her mouth in vocal 
praise, the other darting down to her feet — praise getting 
out at the toes in dancing ! A confession this with a 
moral, surely, for how much of God's joy is allowed to 
evaporate by the mouth in mere talk when it should 




56 THINKING BLACK 

descend to the feet in real walk. Hamlet's answer too 
often covering all results, " Words ! Words ! Words ! " 

Again, 1 say, I am glad I went to school with the 
negro in his own town. The mere globe-trotter gets a 
poor enough chance of getting to know the real African. 
It is only here, stuck in amongst his own hovel huts, you 
at last reach the region of hard fact, and a few months 
of such "slumming" is worth years of monotonous 
"Station" life. On a Mission Station the black boy is 
often only a false eager echo of the white man, whereas 
here, in his hamlet, you are verily cliez lui. Lying awake 
for hours, note-book on pillow, you can listen to their 
talk, talk, talking, this cheeky chatter you hear being 
the natural and normal idiom of the native, not that 
"wooden" Anglo-Bantu so common even among Mission- 
aries. True, for the first few days they are tongue-tied, 
and excruciatingly bored by your spying presence ; let a 
week pass, however, and then you are truly and techni- 
cally " in." This is what the African means when he 
sings to the white man the little couplet — 

" Oh, come near. 
And I'll hear." 

Sleeping inside their fenced town, the awaking at sun- 
rise is a weird business. There is no daily newspaper for 
the daily dose of information, so dream-telling becomes a 
serious substitute. To-morrow's news, that is to say, is 
more important to them than the stale doings of yesterday. 
And just as night only blots out a world to reveal a uni- 
verse, so, even so, dreaming by night is a bigger business 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 57 

than working by day. For to Mr. Negro a dream is an 
avant-courier from to-morrow, a whisper out of eternity 
for the guidance of men. Farther East I came across 
a proof of this. Coming out of the grass, I met a band 
of solemn-looking men with a curious old-world look in 
their faces. Wonder of wonders, they were a ' ' dream 
embassy," said they ; had travelled a long way and were 
afoot on a kind of Missionary journey from one great 
chief to another, his friend and faithful ally of years. 
A " dream embassy," mark you, God having spoken to 
their chief in a great dream ; and the solemnity of it all 
had so sunk into the monarch's soul that he sent off these 
Missionaries of his dream to warn his dear friend, a 
brother-king, of the ways of God with man. So serious 
a thing is this dream -telling that they have coined a 
special verb {Lotolwela), " to expound a dream." Not in 
the temper of mere expediency did I listen to their sacred 
story, the negro tete-a-tete with the Infinite, men on the 
march for many miles, their theme, God ! God ! God ! 
Picture me there a dazed Missionary listening to these 
dream-tellers — listening and wondering, listening and 
wondering — as with uplifted hands they point skywards 
and paint it all so vividly. Telling me of the stately 
goings of God in their far-away marsh ; how that He 
challenged their king as to his dignity ; how that the 
king responded with his long array of titles ; and how that 
the more he vaunted before God the less did his strength 
become. Yet again and again did God so ask him who 
he was, and just so often did their king make this foolish 




58 THINKING BLACK 

boast of dignity — only to find his strength oozing out of 
his body. But just as in painting light is brought out 
by shade, so this king learned the secret of power from 
this very secret of weakness. For finally God said He 
would "make an end," and this word "end" was the 
beginning of bliss. Said the monarch : " King ? no king 
am I, but a worthless slave. All kingship is Thine and 
all power ! " Then it was the wondrous tide of power 
flowed back into his body : the weakling now a giant ; the 
abject a strong man made strong out of weakness. Mere 
dream though it was, it has solemnly crystallised into 
dogma, and here am I a Missionary stumbling across these 
other "dream" Missionaries in the grass. In our zeal 
for God's written record we are too apt to treat all this 
as a weird and doubtful business — mere misty dream. 
Forgetful of the fact that God's own Book it is that 
declares, "in a dream ... He openeth the ears of men." 
Forgetful, likewise, that if England does not get these 
divine dreams it is because England, a land full of Bibles, 
does not need them. Forgetful, finally, that God may 
speak to those to whom He does not write. 

In Lubaland, one old man, "The Snuff'-maker" by 
name, beats the whole land at length of hair, and this 
because he has bound himself with an oath never, never- 
more to get his hair trimmed. He dreamed a dream, 
but the dream played him false ; and, as the head is the 
dreamer and not the heart, he doomed his head to the 
endless rebuff — of nevermore visiting the barber. A great 
punishment, indeed, but so, too, had that dream been 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 59 

great, a gorgeous vision of royalty and riches. Vividly 
in his sleep, old Mr. Snuff-maker saw himself acclaimed 
king of the country, loud rang the cheers as he ascended 
the dream-throne, and then — then broke a grey chilly 
dawn to undeceive and drag him down to dirt and poverty,, 
" a fading away inheritance," he calls it. But the stout 
old soul could not go back on the word that had gone 
forth from his lips. So the days grow long and the hair 
grows longer, but onward he must go on his unchanging 
way. What an opening for me to bring out my Gospel 
wares and offer this old dream-duped man " an inherit- 
ance that fadeth not away." His riches came in a 
dream and went the way they came. 

* * * 

To revert to our stockade hamlet, scavengered by pigs 
and vultures. Your mode of getting "in," remember, is 
quite akin to the way you get into their huts. This 
negro doorway is so low that you must double up like a 
half-shut pocket-knife before you can effect an entrance, 
and so, too, with the metaphoric doorway of the black 
brain. British bluff is of no avail, and only by stooping 
can you wriggle into both Africa the land and Africa 
the man. Now is the time to consult Alice's famous' 
"book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes." 
It is the old story of harvest gleaning. Good gleaners 
must be good stoopers even in this harvest-field of black 
beehive huts. You don't bow to the negro, but you 
must bow to his dwarf doorway — " stoop to conquer," in 
fact. As narrow almost as they are low, these same door- 



( 



60 THINKING BLACK 

ways of course debar a hurried egress. The story goes 
that the advent of a rare white skin one day caused a 
stampede among the frightened female population, one 
well-aimed rush being made for a very narrow but very 
inviting doorway. Unfortunately for some of these 
swarthy bipeds, a very stout dowager stuck fast in this 
rat's hole entrance, effectually blocking the ingress of her 
sauve qui peut sisters behind her. The narrator of this 
event in African history relieves our anxiety by informing 
us that the lady was eventually extricated from her 
uncomfortable position, and would doubtless personally 
supervise the building of her own front door in future. 
Deduction : You dare not (because cannot) rush the 
African town of Mansoul. 

To ask for anything in the Portuguese loaded-revolver 
tone of voice is to shut yourself out by bolts and bars, 
and all the facts and forces of the negro's life will be lost 
to you. Be sure of it, to be "Farthest In" is a poor 
enough thing if it only applies to the mere elementary 
geography of Central Africa. Yet is it a pathetic fact 
that many a man can live a long life in the land and 
never be really in Africa, and such a man regularly reveals 
his personality in the curiously candid confession : " Yes ! 
I can speak all right to the native, but cannot catch what 
he says." Now, where does this land him ? It means, of 
course, that as the years pass his ears are shut to the 
steady stream of black speech that should be daily flood- 
ing his ears and washing out of the brain his purely sub- 
jective ideas. The result is obvious, and here you have 



OUR AFRICAN APPRENTICESHIP 61 

a mau wlio will never really be in Africa because Africa 
never really gets into him. 

But mere negation is not the worst part of the story. 
For positively here is a white man who must be somebody 
in Africa, so, dissembling this much-lacking in-streaming 
flood of pure negro ideas, he pumps up his poor English 
counterfeits from the deeps of his British breast. Thus, 
too drearily often, English idiom is domesticated on African 
soil, and the user of it, though he lives for fifty years in 
the land, will never really to his last day be in Africa. 
"Bantu of the boots," is their phrase for this wooden 
Anglo- African speech. \^ 



CHAPTER V 
"Boring in" Farther 



"Jog on, jog on, on the footpath way, 
And merrily hent the stile-a; 
A merry heart goes all the way, 
Your sad tires in a mile-a." 



Still with Sound of Trumpet 
Far, far off the daybreak call : 
Hark ! how loud and clear I hear it wind 
Swift to the Head of the Army, 
Swift, spring to your places : 
Pioneers, O Pioneers!" 



"Sometimes a light surprises 
The Christian while he sings; 
It is the Lord Who rises 
With healing in His wings." 



CHAPTER V 

** Boring in " Farther 

J J/" HEREIN the traveller reads 
his first lesson in " thinking 
blacky' and discovers that to be in Africa 
the said Africa must be in him. 

BIG with fate as these early days in Bihe are, the great 
event of our real start is now looming in the near 
future, and our prospective caravan gives us a lot of 
work. For here in Bihe we find out that the launching of 
a Far-Interior caravan is as ceremonial a function as the 
sister ceremony in connection with a British battleship. It 
seems that just as God gives us the stars and we all make 
our own astronomy, so Mr. Genus Homo Africanus seizes on 
a hundred humdrum events and drives the monotony out of 
them by some formal, fashionable function. This setting 
out of a Far-Interior caravan, for instance, is one such 
event, and so orthodox in character that you must begin 
by ceremonially " going into camp," as the phrase goes. 
Now, this only means that you formally shake the dust from 
your feet, by leaving your village hut, and, picking out a 
bit of forest, you hoist your private flag on the highest 



66 THINKING BLACK 

tree : the solemn " Blue Peter " this, notifying all comers 
that your laud ship has already set out on its long voyage. 
Yet, as a matter of fact, the real start is many a month 
ahead, but deeds are the only eloquent words in Africa — 
and have you not, after all, gone a few formal yards from 
village to forest ? So, there in the woods, you build a hut, 
and out to that camp your prospective carriers troop, 
spending the dragging days quizzing you as to proposed 
route and destination. One-sided enough this heckling, 
for you must be precise and pertinent in your answers, 
whereas the negro only responds to your questions in a 
vague, non-committal voice. This policy of make-believe, 
however, has an excellent effect on the raw negro, who is 
all eyes and no ears, and the result is that right off, the 
news goes buzzing round the district that the " big devil " 
(Ochindele) really means business at last. Then comes 
the first crowd of volunteers. Be sure you write in pencil, 
though, not ink, for generally a few negro wags lead off 
by making counterfeit overtures to join your caravan, the 
false names being eagerly recorded by the impatient white 
man. Merely the "lead pencil" men these, who turn out 
to be as visionary as the Secretary of War's "spectral 
force," and this crowd soon thins to a trickle of " faithfuls." 
One by one your real Olongamha (carriers) reluctantly 
permit you to write them down, Ham, " the servant of 
servants," being for once wholly the master of this situation, 
and you of Japheth his grovelling suppliant. His whole 
talk in these preliminary days of negotiation is flavoured 
with a good spice of negro condescension, for did not this 



-BORING IN" FARTHER 67 

very black man pick us all up on the Benguella seashore 
and carry us, like mere baggage, on and into his own 
interior ? No wonder, therefore, the whole district from 
which you recruit your carriers is converted into a huge 
" penny in the slot " machine, for you must put in your 
money before anything can be got out of it. Moreover, 
this note of independence struck so early and so frankly 
in Bihe is continued through the long journey until at 
Kavungu there is a real revolt, mine and countermine, 
repulse and attack for days. Thus you see what a 
masterful mind this Bihean of ours has, the real 
"pioneers" being these old blacks, who are not bashful 
in reminding us of the fact. 

These, moreover, are the needy days when to your 
profit and loss you solemnly invest in a "Man Friday." 
Cook, Treasurer, and What-not of the caravan, "boy" he 
is called, even to his fortieth year. Nor is this compact 
between you, his master, and him, your factotum, so 
quickly sealed and settled. Fixing you with his fathomless 
black eyes, with appalling candour of comment he leads off 
by inquiring stonily if you mean to cheat him as the last 
Portuguese did, and generally " heckles " you as though you 
were a prospective local M.P. His fatal facility for jabber 
is such that he almost argues you into the belief that you 
will cheat him, his theory of this solemn compact being 
that it is all a mere speculation, on the principle of " heads 
you get paid, tails you work for nothing." However, after 
half a dozen inapposite questions (" temper- testing," it is 
called), you close with him, and Man Friday, very conse- 



68 THINKING BLACK 

quential, annexes your pots and pans with much slamming 
and banging. A child of earthenware utensils, what sweet 
music there is to him in the bang of an iron pot. This in 
fact is the very thing that makes him careless, for with his 
own fragile native thing he must be high-strung and care- 
ful even to trembling. But a donkey must be coaxed 
with carrots, and this culinary compact is generally signed, 
sealed, and delivered by a sort of " taking the shilling " on 
his part — calico, not cash, being the currency. It must be 
white and not dark in colour this fabric, otherwise you 
will have symbolised sorrow and not joy. So you go with 
the tempting tide, and having conciliated your friend the 
cook {" your mother " is his phrase), off he swaggers to the 
native quarters, all glorious in a loin-cloth as white as 
the untrodden snow. You can see that his very way of 
donning this white prophecy of happiness is, on his part, a 
sort of flourish in the face of fortune by which he, the said 
Wanga, defies the future and the fates. Indeed, as if it 
were all a page of Homer, has he not consulted the 
" Omens " for a favourable start ? 

Does this story drag? Blame our negro and let us 
move forward — Eastward Ho ! Watch now the rule of 
the Far-Interior road. Yonder a thousand miles from the 
Ocean is your objective, and the farther in you " bore " — 
that word again — your pilgrim kit necessarily assumes an 
austerely simple aspect. Like ballooning in cloudland, the 
higher you want to ascend the more ballast you must 
throw out, and even so with this Far-Interior caravan 
of ours. At the Mildmay prayer meeting did not that 



"BORING IN" FARTHER 69 

pious lady whose house had been burgled the night before 
return thanks to the Lord that " He had made her lighter 
for the upward flight " ? And we too had been robbed, 
not by person but by place, for our last and nearest bank 
lay far behind on the Benguella shore. Praise Him, 
£ s. d. is demonetized in those early days, and the only 
cheque-book you can reckon upon is God's own blank 
cheques, your Bible. Did not Billy Bray love to say, 
" The promises of God are just as good as ready money any 
day " ? So the fact gradually soaked into our souls that 
we could only run the race set before us as we laid aside 
every weight. Such surely was the pinch of this particular 
party. Narrow indeed is the way that leadeth into the 
Far Interior. In this exceptionally hard year the Garen- 
ganze trail is indeed a narrow cork-screw thing, and our 
far-off goal can only be gained by a minimum of "dead 
loads." Two pairs of boots, two shirts, and (oh luxury!) 
just two or three humble handfuls of tea for the long 
journey and longer imprisonment ahead. The pity of it, 
such a pauper provision of tea for the days of acclimatisa- 
tion lying in wait for us. At first, this terrible tea was 
reserved only for the high solemnities of our vagabond life. 
As the days of depletion advanced on us, however, and the 
tea nearly finished, it was only by the feeling of a sudden 
plunge into profligacy we dared to drink a coward cup of 
straw-coloured tea. Crouching like a devotee at a shrine, 
before a smoky fire, your Missionary, in the most appro- 
priate of kneeling attitudes for such a function, brewed 
his " cup that cheers " with all the solemnity of a high 



^ 



10 THINKING BLACK 

priest oflfering an oblation. Even long after that last tea- 
masking had given out, we were still, with a tragic 
intensity, boiling and reboiling the useless leaves, for the 
sixth time certainly. Nor did we fail to get at least white 
steaming cups of best " Memory Blend," for the tea was so 
weak that it had to be imagined. Long afterwards we 
roasted a native pea into supposititious coffee, but to 
the end this poor substitute was a doctor's dose, not 
a "cup that cheers" but a sort of pharmaceutical 
preparation. 

But our real problem is not Africa but the African. 
Wouldst thou have a key to " thinking black " ? Then 
look at him. 

Paul was accused of turning the world upside down, 
but if you mix enough with these natives and use your 
eyes a bit, an hour of it will suffice to give you the notion 
that you are standing on your head, life is all so upside 
down. Yonder is a ferryman in his boat, but see the 
black turning tables on the white by placing his back to 
the stern, face to the bow, and off he starts paddling as 
though he were stirring his porridge, not his canoe. 
Laugh you first, but he laughs last ; for to him, what 
sense is there in a white man looking one way and rowing 
another ? Wise ? Nay, he shakes his head and opines we 
Europeans are wise, but our wisdom is rather showy than 
exact. The black man, he thinks, is wiser than he seems, 
.and the white one seems wiser than he is. No wonder 
Y^ i I this looking-one-way-and-rowing-another attitude of the 



, white man becomes the negro's parable for an incon- 



"BORING IN " FARTHER 71 

sistent Missionary. Why does he not go in the direction 
he looks ? Why preach this and practise that ? 

It is now raining, be it noted, and the problem stands 
how to save his bare black body from the cold ; very 
adroitly he draws into shore and dips deep in the water 
to get out of the wet. For the fisher law is that being 
wet you must get wetter in order to get dry. Watch 
now the same man laud in the reeds, donning his clothing. 
Out there in the piercing cold he was as bare as the blast 
that stung him, but now ashore when the sun scorches he 
can be seen sporting not one but two sets of garments, the 
whole surmounted with a mighty blanket of many hues. 
Now watch the same man beginning to cultivate. There 
he is gripping his spade, and digging away in the 
opposite manner to ours — that is to say, he digs towards 
and not away from himself. Of course, after sending the 
earth flying at this rate, he is now dirty, but that means 
he is white ; for a negro is black when he is clean and 
white when he is dirty. 

Give him, if you dare, a book to read, and he will 
surely hold it upside down. Watch him with a pencil 
affecting a fair and clerkly handwriting, and he is sure to 
begin the prank from right to left. Ask him now for a 
drink of water, and being the very pink of courtesy he 
must take first drink, the gourd-cup receiving a loud 
labrose smack as first gulp. Reeking of resultant aroma 
Africanum, you may now have your sip, for has he not 
guaranteed the said water pure from poison, as saith their 
proverb, "Drink first, die first"? Even the almanac 



72 THINKING BLACK 

turns somersault, for here is an African winter as hot 
as an Indian summer sweeping over the country like a 
fire: a conundrum in human speech, "a fiery freezing- 
winter." Watch now the same negro produce a pair of 
ancient boots, and carefully as fastidiously lace them up 
with bark rope — surely this time he is going to be normal 
at last. Not he, for quite solemnly he produces an old 
pair of socks and wears them outside his boots. The 
same man again sports a starched shirt once white, but 
now unredeemedly vile, a vision of smudges. Down 
dips the sun and out come the stars, but the tale of 
,.topsy-turvyism is not yet finished. There is your old 
Northern friend the " Great Bear " on the horizon, but 
this time he is upside down. Sprawling on his back in a 
manner most undignified for a respectable constellation, 
he is one more instance of the somersault ways of this 
queer land. 

(Later.) 

But stay. These upside-down doings are not yet 
complete. 

The scene again changes, but not the subject. Enters 
a young slip of a girl who has been beaten for no fault of 
hers, yet never a tear does she shed : no tears mark you, 
and no crime did she commit. On plying them with ques- 
tions, I find that far from her innocence being conjectural 
they blandly admit she did nothing worthy of stripes. 
Yet she got them all, forty plus more, and the curiously 
candid confession is that because she was innocent there- 
fore was she beaten with many stripes. It now comes 



"BORING IN" FARTHER 73 

out that the African can wriggle out of even this injustice, 
the explanation being that the girl is a twin, and as her 
sister did the deed they must be beaten in pairs ; not 
either nor neither, but both or none. Twins they were 
born and twins they live and die. So mad are the Africans 
on this twin subject that even when Miss First gets 
married, the bridegroom is forced to marry her twin-sister 
Miss Second on the same day. (Although these sisters 
are slim little things, yet literally their names are Miss 
Elephant and Miss Hippo, all twins being forced to take 
these two traditional titles. ) There was a case here where 
twin-brothers were forced to marry the same lady, so in- 
exorably operates this dogging law. Right up from birth 
each has ever haunted the other, their food being scrupu- 
lously divided into two, the twin bairns with twin portions. 
In proffering them a gift you must sternly make it a two- 
handed one, simultaneously holding out both arms to both 
recipients. When a twin sickens mortally no doctor may 
be called nor any medicine administered, all mourning 
being deprecated. God, they say, did this deed of creating 
" terrible twins," and God must kill or cure them. The 
only way to wish them well is by cursing them, and these 
cursings the complacent twins receive as choice compli- 
ments. The hapless father and mother likewise get all 
the town abuse, each vituperation being a sort of upside- 
down blessing. Yet these are the very folks who would 
throw the old anti-Paul taunt at us about turning the 
world upside-down. Dare to suggest to them this, and 
Mr. African at once engages in a very unfavourable 



/ 



74 THINKING BLACK 

diagnosis of the mental state of a " white " who can 
hazard such nonsense. 

(19th June 1890.) 
Here comes June, and the time to be up and otF. 
Across a brook, on the third, we ^ wave good-bye to kind 
Mr. and Mrs. Arnot, and away East we go, off and out 
of Bihe. Just in time, too, for war is brewing, the 
Bihean bent on giving his last national kick at the 
Portuguese. More than that : this brewing storm breaks 
behind our backs, and we are swept before it, not out 
to the Ocean — that has storms enough — but into our 
long-loved, long-lived-in Interior. My old friend Senhor 
Silva Porto, Capitao Mor, seeing trouble ahead, resolved 
on sudden suicide, and blew himself up with gunpowder. 
A dramatic death this. Six barrels of gunpowder lined 
out as deathbed, the said six covered with a drapery of 
Portuguese flags, the old Portuguese topping it all as sad- 
hearted sacrifice. Up went the famous explorer in an 
explosion, and down went the old Bihe dynasty in that 
same smash. For this death of Silva Porto must be 
avenged. Too long ignored by his own nation, too long 
despised by the Biheans, here is his solution to force the 

^ Peccavi! I find I have been remiss in my introductions — who are the 
" We" ? In the sequence of seniority the names are Messrs. Thompson, Lane, 
and " the writer," a mere boy in those days. A threefold cord not easily 
broken, we were utter strangers to each other at the start and represented 
the three nationalities of our race. Yet I can recall with delight the splendid 
lives these good men lived before my eyes, the consummate fellowship being a 
treasure. Mere rules and regulations in Africa are a poor enough guarantee 
for a tranquil time, but if love be the fulfilling of the whole law, then love 
guided by the Word of God is better than any code of laws. 




THE ETERNAL PROBLEM: 
" How to Cross." 



I 



"BORING IN" FARTHER 75 

GoverDment's hands. And, sure enough, Bihe was 
broken : Captain Paiva's joint expedition of Portuguese 
and Boers came on the scene, the king captured and carried 
off to San Tome. There the wild Atlantic is Portugal's 
surest sentinel on that lonely isle ; there the slaves find 
themselves so hopelessly locked in for life that they eat 
earth for suicide. 

This is how we take the great plunge. An Ombala, 
or Chiefs town, rests upon the top of the rather steep 
slope slanting down to the sandy Kwanza beach, crowded 
with " dugouts." But this ramshackle village is so very 
much the key to the crossing that you must enter by its 
front gate, wriggle through the huts of the malodorous 
town to effect your exit on the shore. We don't stand 
long, however, ere there files down to the beach a long 
trading caravan, waving the big flag of little Portugal, 
and this with ours makes a fine babel in bidding for 
canoes. Meantime, Messrs. Thompson and Lane have 
crossed to receive our loads, while I remain for three 
mortal hours to direct the crossing. Then (Heaven-sent 
chance !) the old broken-backed chief comes down, and we 
sit cheek by jowl chatting Christianity. With one foot 
in the grave, here is a withered old man treating you to 
a long, disconcerting scrutiny, and quizzing incredulously 
as to our Garenganze Gospel venture. We yet await 
classification, it seems ; we are not traders, nor raiders, 
therefore he cannot get at us, cannot "place" us. 
The only category he can conceive is that of the " people 
who live by doing nothing." The Vachokwe tribe, next- 



76 THINKING BLACK 

door neighbours but one, kindly allowing for a probable 
touch of African sun, called us the Afulu, or " Softies," 
this because we refuse to point a business-looking 
revolver at their nose. Farther East still we were 
dubbed " The God-ites " because we preach the Gospel, 
and sometimes "The Feminines" because we refuse to 
spill blood. With his bunch of charms round the neck, 
you can see it is all — Church of God, for shame ! — so 
bewilderingly new, newness being naturally the bar sinister 
of African thought. Antiquity in Africa means sanctity, 
remember : a tremendous afifair this antiquity, a religion 
almost. "An old well-worn path must lead up to a big 
chief" is their way of saying that their millions of a 
majority ("the well-worn path" of precedent) has out- 
voted you and your Christianity. You, a mere Mission- 
ary in the microscopic minority of one, where is your 
well-beaten track of precedent inspiring the traveller's 
confidence ? With your white skin and creaking boots, 
he looks at you as though, perchance, you were the 
denizen of another planet. Oh ! drop with me a tear for 
the poor old men and women of Africa who hug their 
fetishes, and whose hearts are the dwellings of night. 
They have a weird way of waving you ofi", as much as to 
say, "Too late! It is not for me." Can their idea be, 
that as the grave is so soon to receive their dust, why 
should they offer Christ the wreck of their souls ? The 
sad old tell-tale faces seem each to say, with a wail : — 

"Look in my face: my name is 'Might have been'; 
I am also called ' No more,' * Too late,' ' Farewell.' " 



"BORING IN" FARTHER 17 

It is in talking with all such that the Missionary hears 
the bugle call of the long-coming struggle ahead — I mean 
the lack of conviction of sin. Unlike a man in England, 
cradled in Gospel privilege, here we meet thousands of 
souls who cannot feel remorse, for they are only the 
children of their dark ancestors who lived and died in 
darkness. Ask such an one if he is at peace with God, 
and he, a negro who was never sick or sorry in his life, 
will answer with alacrity that he never quarrelled with 
Him. No wonder that peace had to be " made " for such, 
apart from their opinion on the matter. They themselves 
say of true conviction of sin, "A shivering man does not 
need to be forced to the fire," and this is the reason there 
has been no authentic weeping for sin in any African 
Mission until a preliminary period of evangelical witness 
has been passed. Then the tears begin to glisten over 
personal (not tribal, this time) responsibility. 

(Later. y 

Across the gulf of twenty years, ours is the pure 
untarnished joy to see many such old folk rejoicing in the 
evening of life. Their morning broke grey and their mid- 
day was dark and stormy, but the glory of this evening 
sunset blots out the memory of their gloom. When one 
beholds the sacred sight of a group of grey woolly heads in 
a meeting, listening with a glaze over their eyes and a fog 
over their souls, one feels stirred anew to press on. They 

1 Occurring, as it does, quite often, this " Later " indicates that the section 
of the narrative it introduces is subsequent in time but similar in character 
to the conditions of the context. 



V 



78 THINKING BLACK 

believe, some of these old dears, believe with aged bodies 
and childhood hearts. Summer has come late to them, 
no doubt, but it is the summer of God that knows no 
winter. There they are, crooning an old "Golgotha" 
song of Christ's dying pangs. Pitched on the wrong key, 
notes all out, yet I defy you to deny that they are 
singing sense into that holy hymn. 

{20th August.) 
It is notorious that our African is a congenital liar, 
and here comes an example. Breaking your way along 
the trail, any native travellers you encounter make 
strange temporising manoeuvres until convinced you 
come peaceably. A party of six carrying food signals 
us a long distance off, and their plan is literally to 
"hedge "us. Immediately all the baskets are in hiding 
in the grass, along with five of the party who lie flat 
with bated breath, while No. 6, a bolder spirit he, comes 
slowly along the path till we accost him. His story is 
always a stupid concoction of lies, not at all cleverly 
spun, but palpably false; not mere "embroidery," that 
is to say, but the lie circumstantial. When, however, you 
divulge your identity as peaceful nobodies, away to the 
winds go his fears, and he coolly whistles up his friends 
in hiding, utterly regardless of the lie-direct this ugly 
appearance of theirs gives to his sheepish story. Nor is 
our rascal ashamed one tiny bit. For with eyes liquid 
with mirth he — ^just a plain everyday liar — enjoys it all, 
and sees no sting in the suggestion that he is one of the 
greatest tale-tellers within the confines of the solar 



*' BORING IN" FARTHER 79 

system. Suggest that he is a silly liar and he will soon 
prove that he is a master of the art by arguing that there 
was no "cuteness " in thus frankly owning up : is not the 
man who sticks to one lie forced to invent twenty more to 
maintain that one ? So there is a method in this madness 
after all. (Remember the sub- title of this book should be : 
''The Blacks as bad as the Whites.") When, however, 
the English negrophobes proceed to prove from this that 
such a long liar cannot be a man but a monkey, then it is 
— ^just then ! — this very negro proves from his very mode 
of mendacity that he is a Britisher's own brother. For, 
baffling personality though he be, this black man backs 
his lie with blasphemy, a la Whitechapel, dragging down 
the name of God into the mud of mendacity, " As sure as 

G ! " the famous formula of his sin. Why is it that 

lost blacks like "found " whites all sharpen the point of a 
lie with the name of God and thus drive it home ? Yet 
they inconsistently laugh at our preaching about God. 
There is no God to worship, no God to serve, no God to 
pray to — only a God to swear by. 

To prove that this is no mere subjective notion on a 
Missionary's part, this black link with England becomes 
realistic when you see that same negro draw his finger 
across his throat, the accompanying formula being that 
old refuge of lies : "As sure as death ! " Yerily the 
whole world is kin, for here is a black man sighting a 
white skin for the first time in his life. Watch, too, that 
parting quip he throws at you just as he disappears into 
the grass. Like a naughty British schoolboy off he goes, 



80 THINKING BLACK 

pulling down his brown eyelid with mock-anxious solici- 
tude as to there being any green therein. 

We now swing from melodrama to grim, tragedy, and 
here is a stern old priest who has just killed his young 
brother, yet not the least concerned. A famous decocter 
of poisons, his brother was chased into his own village by 
some neighbours who accused him of theft. The grim 
old priest listened to his brother's protestations of inno- 
cence, then, spreading out his hands pontifically, said in 
I really a relieved voice, " Oh ! then, if thou art innocent, 
^ I thou wilt drink this poison ordeal to justify thyself." 
So, suiting the way to the words, this son of the witch 
of Endor, with the blind and magnificent enthusiasm of 
their cult, asked his beloved younger brother to enter the 
house, passed in the lethal cup, a few minutes sufficing to 
kill his man. Meanwhile, love or no love, here is the old 
priest spurning that very corpse of the victim-brother, his 
belief^ being that inherent righteousness is so mighty that 
it can neutralise even the deadliest drug. His brother 
beloved, therefore, died with a lie in his breast — "We 
can do nothing against the truth," is the saying of these, 
the world's greatest liars. In plain English, here you 
have the impudent paradox that where lying abounds 
there, even there, truth — in theory — much more abounds. 
So here comes the conundrum : How can a nation of 
liars consistently believe we can do nothing against the 
truth, locked up in a falsely accused man's breast ? If he 
is innocent he will not die. Plied the old priest with 



"BORING IN" FARTHER 81 

questions, but at the end we were no nearer than the 
poles, for he stuck to it that neither fire, nor water, norW 
poison could kill by ordeal a really just man. So, instead^ 
of burial, the body was condemned to what is called 
"witch cremation," the smoke and flame ascending "to 
feed the stars." With the slight stammer that gives a 
charming emphasis to his remarks, here is an old liar 
preaching to me a homily on the Truth, a subject he 
knows very little about, for sure am I his telegraphic 
address is not "Veracity, Africa." The Arab's version 
of this negro inconsistency runs thus : " A crow exclaimed, 
God is the Truth." "Then," quoth the listeners, "the ) 
dirt-scraper has turned preacher." 

(Late7\) 
See how the Devil outwits the Devil. Two hours 
antecedent to my pitching camp, there had been a foul 
murder. Constructive, premeditated butchery, the very 
devilishness of this deed created quite an atmosphere 
for my message. The long-smothered tribal conscience 
begins to assert itself, and for two long days they hang on 
my evangel, the whole being uttered in a conciliating I- 
do-not-talk-to-you-but-with-you kind of tone. They now 
actually wince at the very thought of death, they, the 
w^antons, who otherwise would have been nonchalant. 
Every mention I make of it is a jag to the murderers, and 
if they are not prepared to think of death they are not 
prepared to meet him, for if the shadow alarms them what 
of the reality? Yes, murder will out. I came on the 
trail of a butchery of tlu'ee travellers, husband, wife, and. 



82 THINKING BLACK 

son. A tiny thing proved the clue, and soon this hidden 
horror was heard crying out to Heaven as loud as the 
blood of Abel. The whole thing would have been hid — 
one of the many mysteries of the marshes — had not a 
young woman died at Chisenga, the usual Nanga being called 
in to consult the oracle as to cause of death. This old 
" borderland professional " (their local title, this) was not 
lacking in the true bloodhound instinct of scenting a trail. 
Rinorinof up the underworld for information, the oracle 
himself replied that the girl had died a natural death, yet 
some other dead people were crying from the ground for 
vengeance. And now the " devil-doctor " turns fierce on 
his clients and upbraids them for hiding even a little from 
him : " Confess and I absolve," cried he. " Look at the 
poisonous cassava we eat as tribal diet : by soaking it in 
water it loses its deadly efifect, and so, too, with that bitter 
secret of murder in your breast, pour it out to your priest 
and it will lose its sting ! " But still they are obdurate, 
so the old doctor snaps his fingers at them, says that he 
is a man of many means, and again rings up the oracle, 
with the result that it all comes out. For during her 
illness that dying woman had received kindly care from 
her husband, and among other things he robed her in a 
fancy red shawl, " Now," said the wily Nanga dramati- 
cally, " that shawl was a blood-shawl." And sure enough 
in two ticks he pieced together the genuine data of a 
triple murder and plunder from this shawl clue. (If one 
may speak of the light of conscience, then they have got it 
— ^just enough to light them to Hell !). The murderer 



"BORING IN " FARTHER 83 

was a canoe-man who found out soon enough that dead 
men can chase the living both above ground and beneath. 
These three strangers had come to the ferry seeking a 
crossing, and soon they were shooting across the creeks to 
the other side. But as the time passed, the ferryman 
slowly and surely found himself in the deadly grips off 
this murderous idea to kill his passengers and grab their | 
goods, particularly that red shawl, yes^ that hlood-red | 
shawl. So he did the deed, speared the lot, and threw * 
the bodies to the crocs. But watch how heaven, earth, 
and water are leagued against him and sworn into the 
service of justice as sort of special constables to patrol 
the lonely marshes. Incredible it all looks, yet you can 
shudderingly guess what happened — the crocodiles refused 
to oblige the murderer, and kept well up river near their 
favourite promenade, the confluence. Next come the 
quick currents on the scene as sort of Scotland Yard/ 
detectives, and away they go at full speed, the three' 
corpses sailing straight for the murderer's own fishing-hut 
hard on the shore. At dawn, out comes Eugene Aram 
Africanus, to be confronted with his victims, the long 
accurate voyage perfectly piloted by God Almighty's own 
currents. Tableau ! N., S., E., and W. that murderer/ 
looked before doing the deed, looked everywhere — excepti/ 
UP. And, of course, this is only half of the story, for the ' 
expectant hostess, seeing the days pass, suspects foul play. 
There are currents on land as well as on water, and people's 
tongues will wag. And just as the river currents brought 
the corpses home to the murderer, so these land currents 



84 THINKING BLACK 

of gossip brought the charge home to him too — was ever 
man so hemmed in by a fence of his own contriving ? 

# * # \y 

The monkeys, scared off our route, are rare as 
small : you must push East with us to the Lufira Valley 
to see their frolics. There it was I found a whole town 
in the terror of a monkey battle, big yellow fellows who 
stand up to a man and fight him. With all the ready 
resources and fine tact of his tribe, this long-tailed monkey 
apes the biped in many things, particularly the deft 
breaking off a stick to thrash a man. Yonder in the 
dark grove of trees fringing the cornfields, the whole 
yellow regiment have mobilised for three days' campaign 
— sort of anti-corn-laws crusade, call it. The trouble is, 
however, that in monkeydom they are not all birds of 
a feather who so flock together, and when they are not 
fighting the natives they are having a wild time together, 
monkey versus monkey. One chap, two inches taller or 
two ounces heavier than his fellow, must have a wipe at 
his junior — the old tale this, that the common attraction 
drawing them together makes them less attractive to each 
other. Beaten off a hundred times from the ripening 
corn, there they are with a chastened optimism still 
entrenched in the grove for a night sortie, and the moon 
high in the west will see a victory the sun denied them. 
The field-owners are so philosophic over this annual 
attack that they call it the monkeys "tithing the corn." 
Followed up to their grove, these animals know so well 
the rules of the game,^ that they greet the negroes with 



"BORING IN " FARTHER 85 

showers of stones, some of which strike home. But there 
is a monkey ambulance idea, the most human touch of 
all. When a negro wounds his monkey with an arrow, 
in a jiffy the army-surgeon of the quadrupeds whips up 
the w^ounded monkey, spits vigorously over the spot, tears 
ofif a morsel of bark from a tree, and rubs in the resultant 
medicine, spitting and rubbing again and again for a 
cure. 

But the biter often gets bit in this business, and 
during the lean days of famine I found Master Monkey 
himself make excellent emergency eating : have enjoyed 
dozens of them soaked in banana vinegar. Nevertheless, 
a long good-bye to monkey stew. Never no more. The 
last I shot got his bullet in the breast ; but standing bolt 
upright, he tragically put his hand on the red oozing 
blood, and three times thrilled me by pointing indignantly 
at his wounds. Like a K.C. for the prosecution, " J" ac- 
cuse,'' those three mute but eloquent appeals to his 
wounds stabbed me with remorse. To recall the re- 
proachful glances from the large, liquid, mild eyes of a 
dying antelope is bad enough, but here is something with 
vastly more sting in it. Another and cuter monkey 
avoided death and the subsequent dinner by — what do 
you think ? — point-blank theatrically refusing to be shot. 
Seeing the gun levelled at him, he puckered his brows 
with incredulity, and waving his arms with indignation 
defied the hunter to commit such an unheard-of crime. 
"Me? who ever killed my kind?" he seemed to say. 
Needless to add, down came the unshot barrel, and off 



86 



THINKING BLACK 




stalked Mr. Monkey, an easy winner. Why not? He 
alone of all the forest fauna has learned the law of the 
lever : he alone uses a stick to prise open a box-lid. 

I wonder, in a way, if these negroes learn their gestures 
from the local monkeys. Amid all the jabber of rival 
dialects the best because most eloquent sort of lingo is 
this language of negro gesture, arms waving in the wind 
like semaphores. Not the zigzag movements of an 
excited Frenchman this, nor yet the impoverished ex- 
pedients of deaf-mutes : here, I say, you have a serious 
vocabulary of gesture, with deep abstract ideas stinging 
you with sarcasm. The mechanics of African speech 
this, so to speak ; the pulley and lever and screw of 
conversation. that magician wave of the negro hand ! 
/ "With it they demand, they promise, they call, refuse, 
interrogate, admire, reckon, confess, repent, express 
fear, express shame, express doubt, instruct, command, 
unite, encourage, swear, testify, accuse, condemn, acquit, 
insult, despise, defy, disdain, flatter, applaud, bless, abuse, 
ridicule, reconcile, recommend, exalt, regale, gladden, com- 
plain, afflict, discomfort, discourage, astonish, exclaim, 
ndicate silence, and what-not ; with a variety and multi- 
lication that keep pace with the tongue. And yet we, 
he progeny of John Bull, dare to talk for hours with 
hands down in the pits of our pockets ! Take, for instance, 
such an everyday thing as the pointed finger thus : ^" 
What is the true African idea of such a gesture ? Well, 
here's a thing so deeply abstract that it could drown you 
in its depths of irony. Certainly you will be very chary of 




A TYPICAL "MOP" HEAD-DRESS. 



"BORING IN" FARTHER 87 

pointing your finger in future. For in this action what 
do you do if not point one finger only at the black man, 
and three at yourself ? So ho ! you are trebly as bad as 
the man you point at. Else, why point one only at him 
and bend back three on yourself? Here, then, is a gesture 
you must solemnly schedule in your lexicon as The- 
Hypocrisy - so - vile - that - it - accuses - another - of - an - evil - it - 
itself-possesses-three-times-stronger.^ The moral of all 
this is that the Missionary who goes round an African 
village pointing his accusing finger at the negro ^° is 
really accusing himself in a three-to-one degree. Are 
they ungrateful ? Then we the finger-pointers are trebly 
so ^". Do we warn them to forget not all His benefits ? 
Then our very gesture is a threefold warning to do 
likewise. 

(Later. ) 
Cut off" from your nearest shop by hundreds of miles, 
what a fuss there is before you shoot supper. Emerging 
on our last stream for the day, we find it, not flowing, but 
only dilly-dallying through a green meadow dotted all 
over with red buck. Corresponding with, but by no 
manner of means resembling, an English butcher's shop, 
these qui vive antelopes out on the plain are the only 
chance we have of filling our pots for suppor. A sort of 
local "penny in the slot" meat-machine this, warranting 
rich, red cutlets. Only instead of the unknown penny, you 
slip a cartridge into the slot of your rifle and, click ! drops 
dead your antelope. So much, and no more, for the local 
2 <s* 1 I 1 ! i 1 1 



88 THINKING BLACK 

meat-shop ; now for your Luban bedroom. Yonder it is 
hidden discreetly on the edge of a thicket in the same old 
sixpence of a hamlet built on pestilential soil, and there, 
in the dust, we must sleep the sleep of the just. The 
deepening darkness, however, forces us to postpone our 
supper-shot till the morrow, and lying down genuinely 
"meat hungry" we dream of a morning fry of juicy 
venison "fixings." The sun rose, and so did we ; but our 
brave butcher's shop has vanished in the night, dashing 
for dear life. For in the moonlight {"There goes our 
breakfast," thought I), wuff ! wuff ! came a pack of jackals 
scurrying through the meadow, chasing those antelopes 
for their lives ; miles and miles they pant, heaving flanks 
and gaping, dribbly mouths telling how terror-struck are 
the buck. 

Nothing reminiscent of England here ; no copse and 
hedgerow, no down and moor, no slate roof and grey 
spire ; a wilder, denser look everywhere, and just so 
much more interesting. Farewell the gas, glare, and 
paint of thy shops, Albion ! Shops, did I say ? The 
African never dreamed the shop-idea, and only very 
grudgingly will he be so kind as to barter you an evening 
meal, kind for kind. But — shop or no shop — fish I want 
and fish I resolve to have, for their tell-tale bones are 
strewn all over the town. The Chief tried to brazen the 
matter out, but with stony severity I met his every no, 
no, no, with my sanguine yes, yes, yes. " All right," said 
he wearily, " if fish you must have, fish I must find, so 
just wait till I poison some for you" Right off" he picks 



"BORING IN " FARTHER 89 

the beans, then powders them with a pestle, then shuts 
off an arm of his river, throwing this poison-powder 
therein, then in half an hour, behold ! fifty white-bellied 
fish floating dead to order in the poisoned pool. Fish we 
wanted, and fish we get. But not now — by no means 
now. 



CHAPTER VI 
Eastward Ho! 



** I hungered for Hell. I pushed into the midst of 
it in the East End of London. For days I stood in 
those seething streets, muddy with men and women, 
drinking it all in and loving it all. Yes, I loved it 
because of the souls I saw. One night I went home 
and said to my wife : ' Darling, I have given myself, 
I have given you and our children to the service of 
these sick souls.' She smiled and took my hand, 
and we knelt down together. That was the first 
meeting of the Salvation Army." 

General Booth. 



"But all through the mountains, thunder-riven, 

And up from the rocky steep, 
There arose a cry to the gate of Heaven, 

•Rejoice! I have found My sheep!' 
And the angels echoed around the throne, 
'Rejoice! for the Lord brings back His own.'" 



CHAPTER VI 
Eastward Ho! 

T N w/iichy at last, the reader is up and 
off over the Kwanza River ^ thereby 
taking the formal " header " into the 
Far Interior. 

TO push far beyond the Kwanza from the seaboard 
means that vast savannahs are encountered that 
could easily swallow a hundred missions. Thousands 
of miles rolling ahead, and all guiltless of gates and hedges ; 
a land that could swallow up millions and still wait open- 
mouthed for more. Scarcely one lock and key in the 
land, the usual means of opening a door being the 
butt-end of a gun. Rather like Sir Thomas More's 
" Utopia" this : did he not stipulate that no door in his 
ideal State should be locked \ For years and years, fancy 
sleeping with unlocked doors in Africa : how does this 
tickle the conceit of England with its bolts and bars ? In 
one backward glance you see that England as a parish is 
only a spoilt and petted child of privileged preaching. 
Your roots are merely in a flower-pot, and not in a real 
roomy soil. How different the feeling when this wide, 



94 THINKING BLACK 

weary Africa begins to open up before you in yawning 
expanses of Gospel silence ! But note withal a curious 
thing. This advancing into Africa seems to have a 
strange reciprocal effect on a new-comer. Day by day, 
what in fact is happening is that Africa invades you a 
metaphoric mile, the Dark Continent flooding your insular 
English being at every pore. The first thing to haunt 
the Missionary, for instance, is the silent sarcasm in the 
relative disparity of mileage, Africa versus England ; and 
the mental map you find yourself making of the huge 
land has always at the bottom corner an ironical inset 
of " England on the same scale." To make a good picture, 
remember, you must come back far enough to catch 
the true focus, and here in the black bush we certainly 
seem to see our tiny, much-divided England in true 
perspective. 

Let me say it a second time — that 16th of August will 
ever remain a red-letter day among our African dates — 
we crossed the Kwanza River. For here is our real 
Rubicon, the great line of tribal cleavage, and at this 
point we take the technical " header " into the Far 
Interior. So sharp, indeed, this line of demarcation 
that the first native you meet on the off-bank is labelled 
" a heathen or Gentile " by his own pot-black brother the 
Bihean. Ochingangela is the term, and there is sting 
in it. Curious solidarity of the race this preaches, for 
here we discover the black sons of Adam to be such born 
Pharisees that each African tribe thinks its neighbour 
only a coarse " Gentile " mob. Tit for tat, right across 



EASTWARD HO! 95 

Africa, and thence right round the globe, these taunt 
names are passed along the line, each tribe sporting its 
rags of righteousness at the expense of the other. Of 
course it is always the next man who is the alleged 
"bad 'un," nay, never, never No. 1. The Bihean eats 
dogs, and the Luban eats snails, therefore each reviles 
the other on this touchy point of tribal diet. The true 
trade-mark this, of all negro Pharisees — 

" Compound for sins they are inclined to, 
By hating those they have no mind to." 

The Luban, in order to eat man more comfortably, calls 
outsiders Vahemba ; ask him if he eats "man," and he 
will say, " Oh no ! I do not eat man ; I only eat Vahemba." 
That is to say, only the Luban is a man, and a Gentile a 
Muhemba. No random idea this taunt title, if you please, 
for you may choose your coast of entrance, East or West, 
and find Africa full of a Pharisee who never saw Jerusalem. 
The abrupt first day's climb of the West Coast or the 
gradual ascent of the Zanzibar side in the East ; yes, 
choose either, for the whole world is akin. First comes 
the sleek Swahili man, as black and as negroid as any. 
Now in his raw estate was he not altogether lighter than 
vanity, and did not the Arabs from Muscat call him a 
Kaffir ? And did he not meekly and mildly swallow the 
dose without a murmur ? And being immensely pleased 
with his own dear self, does not this pride in himself make 
the usual demand on the " other " man ? Therefore, being 
a Pharisee of the good old international stock, he, scorning 



96 THINKING BLACK 

a contaminating touch, dubs all Interior natives beyond 
the pale " AVasenshi," the flouting glance of the negro eye 
being the best lexicon-meaning of the word. 

On and inward we travel, following our " will o' the 
wisp," ever following but never finding the "heathen" 
man of our quest. The Munyamweshi, for instance, is 
ostensibly one of Mr. Arab's " Wasenshi," but this burly 
Interior man denies identity — phew ! the imaginary 
envelope has been misdirected evidently. Take this man, 
now, for a guide to find the unfindable " heathen " and 
note what befalls you on the westward journey. Himself 
called a Musenshi by the snob Swahili, he too swallowed 
the dose meekly as mildly, and now prepares the potion 
for the next man. Listen to this often chanted word 
Munabushi he is using, with a lordly sweeping gesture ; 
don't, please, yawn as I tell you that this is the same old 
sing-song of Pharisaism, heathenising everybody except 
himself. And so our old friend " Barbarian " rolls on and 
on, black tit answering black tat with mournful monotony, 
for every Roland an Oliver, for every Quid a Quo. What ! 
even the cannibals ? Yes, even the Lubans do not dififer ; 
for across their Mupaka, or tribal border, they throw the 
epithet " uncircumcised " at all comers; Muhemha! is the 
shot they fire at you. 

Reflection : The Missionary in preaching does not 
need to dig up the famous old fossil Pharisee of Jerusalem 
as a relic of antiquity. He has the real and genuine thing 
all around. 



EASTWARD HO! 97 

{2btli August.) 
Do we sleep in tents ? Nay, but we creep into our 
tiny grass huts at sundown, and roll out our rugs on a 
Robert-the-Bruce mattress of fresh grass or leaves. Far, 
far cosier than a flapping tent, the wildest tornado in the 
night roars past, leaving you snug asleep in your grass den. 
Contrast a poor " Edgington " rocking in the gale like a 
ship at sea, the fly ballooning in the breeze. Besides, the 
wild wind swishing through, with the rattle of the rain on 
the tent, rousing you out of sleep. The necessary fireless- 
ness of a tent, too. Therefore for snugness plus security 
plus the faggot fire in it, give me a grass hut. In a few 
minutes you can get snug with tho knowledge of an old 
campaigner, and your weary carriers have the same jaded 
joy. I heard one of these drop his load at sundown, 

saying :— 

" Hurrah ! welcome, night I 
I don't need to carry the night." 

But don't misunderstand, please ; I am only arguing for a 
roadside hole to sleep in, and not a house as domicile. 
For years — and more of this anon ^ — we have fought the 
negro on this housing question with almost incredibly 
successful results. Their average beehive hut is a 
verminating hole, a den of disease, and indeed the most 
valuable characteristic of that heathen hut is just this 
impossibility of living in it : it drives you into the fresh 
air. Prefer the hut, and you will be bitten all night by 
large fat but need we discuss the exact zoological 

^ See p. 445 'post. 



98 THINKING BLACK 

designation of these creatures? These pests are legion, 
and what with our own creeping pace of travel by day, 
coupled with these other creeping things by night, I 
dreamed two nights in succession a curious jumble of 
a dream — a vision this of a large roomy railway station 
placarded all over with monster advertisements, ** Kea ting's 
Powder." The railway, one opines, stood for a rebuke to 
our caravan's creeping pace, and "Keatiug's" was — well, 
for the other creepers. 

But " he jests at scars who never felt a wound," and I 
would hereby emphasise the fact that a tent is next to 
necessary for the inclemencies of the rainy season travel. 
Even as early as the 9th of July surprise rains caught me 
in a forest with not a yard of canvas for cover and not one 
straw of grass for a thatch. The annual grass fires only 
the other day had roared through the land, licking up 
every stock of long grass suitable for hut- thatching — 
all, all swept off the face of the country, only green 
leaves remaining, under which we crouch for shelter. 
Down pours that ruthless rain, until the most promising 
of fires soon goes clean out, — first red, then yellow, then 
the bleak little blue flames, your firewood finally ceasing 
to smoke. What next ? — muse on your miseries ? Why, of 



" It ain't no use to grumble or complain, 
'Tis just as cheap and easy to rejoice; 
When God sorts out the Aveather and sends rain, 
Why ! rain's my choice." 

However, even an African cannot sing for eight hours, 



EASTWARD HO! 99 

and in fact, a few hours later, misery is depicted on his 
plucky black face, for he sees no prospect of an evening 
meal ahead. Everything for miles around soaked and as 
unignitable as asbestos. Caught in the rain, and five 
miles in the rear, my poor old bed-man is sounding the 
depths of desolation, crouching under a leaky umbrella- 
like tree, the dark night settling down on him in the 
cheerless forest, sans fire, sans food, sans hope. Philo- 
sopher to the last, this old man could even defend that 
pertinacious pour lashing him in fury. "We had a 
race for it," said he, "the rain and I, but the rain got 
home first." This July downpour, however, is quite rare, 
and the Garenganze rule is that only after October the 
African sky is too damp a ceiling to sleep under. Blue, 
serenely blue, for a solid six months, here is a sky never 
once out of temper, never once sulky and sour like your 
English one. 

Have we tinned provisions ? Not a box. We make 
old Africa produce its coarse meal^ — remarkable neither 
for its quantity nor quality — and nolens volens, on this 
repellent " mush " one dares to dine. No cook on earth 
could make what might be indulgently called a loaf out 
of this meal, and in order to manipulate that sodden cereal 
properly what was needed was the far subtler mysteries 
of a magician, not a cook. (Ladies may well smile at this 
statement, for as a matter of fact the deft white fingers 
of the first lady to penetrate the Interior made delectable 
pancakes with this very meal !) With a daily diet cut 
down almost to the level of a black slave's, our imperious 



100 THINKING BLACK 

appetite makes us long to seize this Africa by the throat 
and wring a few of its menu secrets from it. But, alas ! 
Africa, beyond the boast of a heady, frothy beer, has no 
culinary secrets to hide. In later days another of the 
impatient expedients was the boiling of triumphant bush 
dumplings, " Jack Horners," for if you put in your thumb 
you could not pull out the proverbial plum. " Go to ! let us 
have a * sinker,' " was the pathetic prophecy of indigestion 
ahead. Nevertheless, ours it is even here to build an 
Ebenezer by each of these cookery cannon-balls, and to 
record thankfully that we who did partake of them are 
still alive and well. So unlike Paul in all our other 
ways, it is delightful for us to think that just here we 
have stolen a march on him — I mean that, unlike our- 
selves, Paul never left his natal climate zone or average 
national dietary. 

(26^/?- August) 

Day by day, this African looking through you like 

glass. Day by day, that relentless negro stare. Thus 

you see us confronted with a painful and even awful 

aspect of this winning of first-generation Africans for 

Christ : I mean the innocent way they take you for their 

walking and talking Bible : " an epistle, known and read 

of all men." They read you off like a page of large easy 

print and come to quick calculating conclusions. At least 

Mr. Aboriginal has two eyes in his head, and behind the 

said eyes he has just enough brains to suspect that a 

I Missionary's life and lips should agree. "So we preached 

/ [and so ye believed " is only half of the story, for they copy 



EASTWARD HO! 101 

you m toto^ the very gesture and the twang reproduced 
with a fearful fidelity. Quite unconscious of the trend of 
the thing, you have in Africa hundreds of little groups 
who are unwittingly " the Smithites " and " the Jonesites " 
and " the Brownites," according to the varying names and 
fads of their various and varying Missionaries. 
* * *■ 

A vile negro calling you " Lord God ! " is a 
reminder that the deepest wound a Missionary regularly 
receives in Africa is when his good is evil spoken of. 
Take the late sainted Benjamin Cobbe as an example. 
Here was a holy man sent from God, if ever God sent a 
man to the Garenganze. Welcoming him to the country, 
I met him at the Lualaba crossing, a white, fragile-looking 
traveller, with a Pauline gleam in his eye. " Have come 
to pay my debt ! " said he, with a winning smile, and 
there you have the whole story in two words — that white 
fever face trying, but failing, to kill that glad smile. 
This Africa of ours, mark you, is far too captious on the 
subject of what kind of body you bring into it — the same 
sorry Africa that cares not one little bit whether you 
have a soul at all. 

And so, short and sharp was the course Cobbe ran, 
for it is quite true what the forest proverb says : " The 
straightest trees are the first felled." Calm and cultured, 
he was not one of the boisterous " Oh-be-joyful ! " sort of 
saint, yet did he walk with God, and got the heavenly 
face. His motto was : " To grow up, you must grow 
down " ; and a fine thing, indeed, God got out of him. 



102 THINKING BLACK 

Watch the sequel. This holy man, if you please, had 
drunk so deeply of God's wine of joy — the new wine that 
came to him last in life — that it kept him going at high 
pressure right on to the end. The new wine, in fact, was 
busily at work breaking up his old bottle of a body, for 
when these two meet in Africa then one of the two must 
be lost, but that one thing will never be the new wine — 
that is hid with Christ in God. So the fragrant saint 
died at his post, the " old skin bottle " broken in a ferment 
of fever. Africa got the holy dust, and God received him 
into glory. He foresaw it all — saw certain death ahead, 
yet resolved to pay his debt to the heathen. So endeth 
Phase No. 1. 

Now, far from this being a de mortuis nil nisi honum 
panegyric, here we come to the curious sequel. I have 
called his a fragrant life ; but as the years passed it began 
to dawn on us that the perfume of Mr. Cobbe's piety had 
stolen far out beyond our sphere. That gleam of the life 
eternal so often seen to shoot out of his hazel eyes was far 
more eloquent than long-winded speech. And, travelling 
one day in Lubaland, I was appalled to find out that a 
negro, whom I met, had promoted Mr. Cobbe to the 
literal rank of a " god." After a few exploring remarks, 
I ferreted out from the sealed sanctuary of his black 
breast a little private scheme of salvation he had concocted 
for his own particular benefit. 

And thus, even thus, did the uncanny thing run. 

Yes, he had known Mr. Cobbe in the old days — 
fragrant and holy in word and deed. The memory of 



EASTWARD HO! 103 

the heavenly things he saw in this saint never left that 
negro, and away he went back to Lubaland with " the 
living epistle " graven on his mind. " Look up, for we 
are going up — and oh, so soon ! " was a fond phrase of 
Cobbe's, so this negro thought much and long, and knew 
that the saint had really gone to God. That thing he 
had actually seen in him could not be killed by fever. 
He had only died into glory as the stars die at sunrise. 
Hence the daring idea of this poor benighted soul to 
evolve a private religion of his own with Mr. Cobbe as 
central " saviour." "Ah ! " said the negro, " when I am 
in a fix in life this is what I do, I just send up a prayer 
to Bwanna Cobbe as mediator, and he will arrange it, for 
he has a big say with God." " He will pass it along to 
God ; he will have a big say with God ! " Of course, I 
righted his wrong theology. Of course, I deplored and 
implored that this was the unkindest cut of all — that this 
was stabbing him, not kissing him. But oh ! the bitter- 
sweet reflection notwithstanding — this that a mere dust- 
to-dust man should be chosen as a daysman between God 
and his soul : " a living epistle " — a walking and talking 
Bible. They saw — may I dare the phrase ? — the gleam 
of the life eternal shooting out of his honest hazel eyes ; 
they saw, I say, and they believed in a man of God. 
How much more will they believe in the Man in the 
Glory, the Man who is Jehovah's Fellow ? 

Little wonder that Paul could even hope that " much 
more in his absence " the young church of Philippi would 
prosper, for, like many an African Missionary, might not 



/ 



104 THINKING BLACK 

Paul's princely personality attract too much of their gaze ? 
Is this, too, the reason why Philip and the first negro con- 
vert of this dispensation were so quickly separated from 
each other ? At least neither Paul nor Philip gave them 
a wrong start by permitting them to think that they 
could lean on them long, for they soon left their young 
converts. Certainly too much coddling of converts on 
the Mission Stations has fostered sickliness of soul, the 
flippant defence of many a backsliding black at the mines 
or Bulawayo being that because there is no Mission there 
can be no godliness. This poor parroty brand of black 
is, alas ! too common, and resembles the famous parrot 
out on the Tanganyika Plateau who changed masters and 
manners twice. No. 1 was a trader who taught the 
bird to swear, and No. 2 a Missionary who taught him to 
sing, poor Poll muddling up the swearing and the sing- 
ing in his old age — out of the same mouth blessing and 
cursing ; therewith blessed he God, therewith cursed he 
men. Like Rowland Hill and the drunken man who said 
to him, " I'm one of your converts," " I believe you," was 
Rowland's arch reply, "you look like ray bungling work." 
Far from such negroes having no religion, their Mission 
veneer proclaims them to have too much of it — in fact, 
the only sensible thing is to tell them that if their religion 
does not change them, they should change it. For if 
prayer does not surely make an African leave off sinning, 
will not sinning surely make him leave off praying ? 
Ignoring Christ's rule of sending out His disciples two by 
two, these renegades generally go off alone and pay the 



A TYPICAL SOLDIER'S WIFE. 



EASTWARD HO! 105 

penalty. For the same wind that blows out a candle, 
only fans two faggots into a flame, and wisdom is thus 
justified of her children. 

(Later.) 

Hats off to the African lady, she — brave heart ! — is a 
wonder. Undeniably she is stamped sterling. The 
negro may laugh at a woman because she has a few 
ounces less brain than a man, but very often the daughter ^n ''^ 
of Eve makes up in muscle what she lacks in mind./ *<: 

Witness, a woman at the salt-pans who killed her lion as! C\ xC^ 
deftly as a man, howbeit the method was quite a la Mrs. ^^ 
Beeton. Out on the salt-pans the big earthenware pots 
are kept boiling all night, with someone lying out to tend 
the fire. A widow she happened to be. Past midnight the 
fires had gone low, and the lonely watcher awoke from her 
doze to see a large lion on the opposite side of the pot 
proposing to grab her. Slightly scared as all lions are at 
a blinking fire, this very delay on the beast's part was thei 
widow's choice opportunity. Well, and what did thatj 
homely housewife do if not drench the lion with thd 
scalding salt water — yes, drenched it dead ! Mrs. Beetonj 
could not have given clearer instructions how to scald 
and salt a prize lion, and she was a local Luban heroin^ 
for a week. 

But that is only incident No. 1, and the curious coin- 
cidence of the second afifair is that a woman and her 
water-pot are again the central facts of the history. This, 
too, is a woman whose life is under a cloud : witness her 
slinking off after sundown to draw water from the well. 



106 THINKING BLACK 

Late hours, though, in Africa have their penalty, and just 
as she stooped down into the well to draw water, behold ! 
as in a mirror her own face in the same reflection with a 
leopard's. It all happened in the lightning glance of an 
eye, the leopard on the other side starting to spring on 
her at the simultaneous second when she saw his head 
mirrored with her own in the same pool. (And, re- 
member, the only shield and buckler she possessed was 
Mrs. Beeton's glory, a housewife's water-pot.) Well, 
happily for the poor woman, she instinctively, on the 
edge of the well, covered her body with this homely 
utensil to break the leopard's spring across. And not in 
vain. The success of this manoeuvre was triumphant. 
Just enough to cow the beast a very little, this little 
meant such a lot that the leaping leopard missed a foot- 
hold by one important inch, fell down the well with a 
splash — and now there is more need for the water-pot 
than ever. Thus begins a long game of hide and seek, 
woman above and leopard down that well. Once, twice, 
twenty times, the woman and the leopard played at blind 
man's buff down the hole, and every time the beast at- 
tempts to climb the well, this negro Mrs. Beeton claps 
her water-pot over the mouth of the pit, thus cowing her 
enemy. All the time, of course, she has been shrieking 
in the direction of the village, and at last some men run- 
ning up reward her bravery in the spearing of the wild 
beast. Yet this woman had only 2 lbs. 12 oz. of brain as 
against the men's 3 lbs. 2 oz., but the margin lacking in 
brain she made up in biceps. 



EASTWARD HO! 107 

{29th August.) 
Heat increasing as we push on and in, the quicksilver 
hurrying up the glass towards grill heat by 10 a.m. At 
daybreak taking up of the fragments of supper that 
remain a pocketful, we are off on the wings of the 
morning, pushing far ahead of our crawling caravan. 
Chancing on a rippling river intercepting the trail, you 
sit down on the shiny, moss-covered bank and perform a 
much more serious toilet than your fugitive cat's lick in 
the dark camp. (N.B. — A tooth-brush over a running 
stream, this is the cream of all tramp joys.) Then, at 
last, behold our crawling caravan emerge from a hurst, 
the Union Jack bearer leading the way. As we have 
given them the slip and pushed on betimes, this is our 
first encounter with our own men, so when the Indian 
file marches past each man has his morning to give, 
followed by some droll remark. Then one perchance 
starts a song, the whole line of leathery lungs taking up 
the howling chorus : this particularly when at the end of 
along fagging journey. Sirs! what singing, the whole! 
harmony not unlike the tune with which a rusty old 
coal-cart tries to solace itself when crawling down a hill. I 
How do we travel, you ask ? Have we carts or horses 
or donkeys ? No, we have none of these, howbeit a kind 
English lady was so concerned about our delays that she 
asked the touching question : " Did the wheel of your 
cart stick in the mud ? " Alas ! the only " cart-wheel " 
we have to do with is the aforesaid rut of that name, and 
a few months of this gipsying on the road makes you 



108 THINKING BLACK 

agree with Ruskiu that railway travelling is not travelling 
at all. It is merely being sent to a place, and very little 
different from becoming a parcel. Your alternative to 
tramping it is a lazy lotus life in a Portuguese 
machila, wherein dozing is the retrograde rule. 
Bowling along in your carriage and six (hammock and 
six stalwarts) while the honest blacks are sweating it out. 
Although a good ambulance arrangement, this humbling 
hammock can easily make a man as lazy as he is limp and 
lifeless. On the contrary, marching under vertical rays 
is delightful up to the sixth hour. When, however, you 
push for a camp eight hours off, all the pleasure goes out 
of a tramp after that solemn sixth hour. The lovely 
glimpses of the picturesque in the earlier and brighter 
hours all vanish, leaving you dull and dead, a mere walk- 
ing machine, unpleasantly conscious of a hole in one sock, 
and discussing in your hot head how far to camp. 



CHAPTER VII 
"Own Up and Pay Up" 



Christ the Son of God hath sent me 
Through the midnight lands, 

Mine the mighty ordination 
Of the pierced hands." 



"All Christians are altogether priests ; and let it be 
anathema to assert there is any other priest than he 
who is a Christian ; for it will be asserted without 
the Word of God, on no authority but the sayings 
of men, or the antiquity of custom, or the multitude 
of those that think so." 

Luther. 



"You might as well attempt to measure the moon 
for a suit of clothes as tell what sect some belong to." 

George Whitefield. 



CHAPTER VII 

<* Own Up and Pay Up " 

J J 7" HEREIN the reader continues 
the perilous process called 
" boring in^' and encounters along the 
trail sundry sons of Belial. 

BUT how ridiculous all this trekking seems in retro- 
spect, when we see to-day this same Central Africa 
quickly becoming a gridiron of railways. Against 
our weary retrospect of thirty-two months from England 
to the Garenganze, Sir Douglas Fox now offers a prospect 
of three days to the same goal from Benguella. Ah me, 
as the curtain of memory lifts, it is incredible to think 
that within two decades the pant and puff of the red-eyed 
engine will be heard rumbling along our old trail. And, 
remember, we are told that double band of steel linking 
the Ocean with the Katanga will mean the commercial- 
traveller stage of existence — ambassadors for Canadian 
whisky, Scotch tweeds, English marmalade, packed in 
the sweltering carriages and making the country hum. 
Not far down our Congo the very cannibals who hurled 

clouds of arrows against Stanley's canoes are to-day them- 
8 



112 THINKING BLACK 

selves firemen and engineers of the river steamboats, 
perspiring over their engines with lumps of cotton waste 
in their strong dirty hands. Malemba was one of them, 
and I chatted with him to-day in our lingua franca, 
Swahili. 

(30^^ August.) 
Watershed country as it is about here, this means 
that the rivers have not yet time and place enough 
to form yawning ravines, consequently bridging is easy 
and almost nominal. Dead level as the land looks, you 
soon discover that this very flatness is a mere artifice 
and trickery. For here, under your very nose, great 
river-systems are silently worming away in diametric 
directions ; here is cradled the mighty Congo of the 
future ; here, too, slumbers the source of the Zambezi : so 
hypocritically small here, so haughty yonder. To a 
Missionary there is Gospel as well as Geography in all 
this, the same Gospel I preached later on when crossing 
Kundelungu Range. Sharp on the watershed I halted 
my men and preached a three minutes' appeal — a short 
•enough sermon, but if they practise all I preached they 
^ V \ will find it long enough. Standing by a tree, I showed 
r-^s^ jthem how one half of the branches dripped rain that 
>Jj_9^ / flowed far West, while the Eastern branches shed away to 
the Luapula. And there you have the very pointed 
moral of their position, as good theologically as geographi- 
cally — every man of them standing on the watershed of 
life and called upon to make an irrevocable choice : one 
momentous move this way or that meaning endless joy or 



y 



"OWN UP AND PAY UP" 113 

endless woe. Of all the dunces beneath the patient 
heavens there is none like the man who denies that the 
Gospel of God is Africa's true solace and salvation. Here 
is a man who says he has gone to the extreme of sin, and 
here is a Missionary saying that Christ has gone to the 
extreme of atonement. What more does the sinner want ?j 
What more does the Saviour ? 

The villages encountered are still of the same vermin- 
ating pattern first met near the Coast. As clearly as the 
shell of a snail indicates its species, so the Chokwe ^ has 
his typical hut. Having no chimney, his roof is a long 
needle-pointed spire, their protest this against the smoke 
blearing their eyes. Hence height of roof to induce the 
smoke to curl up inside, not outside, the cone. Experience 
grows, however, and you soon see that more than mere 
sounds of the forest are invading the negro home. For 
taking another glance out of his ash-heap of a kraal, this 
time, your nude negro saw, or rather did not see, one 
straight line in Nature, so once again out of sheer servile 
allegiance to his Nature-creed the crooked negro has a 
crooked town, the black beehive huts scattered all over 
in a most random manner. Now, as that hut is itself 
only a clump of cut trees tied together with bark ropes, 
even so he still drags in forest ideas into the stockade, and 
the haphazard growth of a clump of trees is the planless 
maze of this grass town. A lighted arrow shot into the 
place would send it up in a blaze. 

^ Some years later the first to open in Chokwe were our American friends 
Messrs. Loutitt, Maitland, and Dr. Morey. Then Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and 
others followed and began farther North. 



114 THINKING BLACK 

That old-as-Adam circular hut of his, be it noted, 
is the seed plot of all his *' thinking black" ideas, for when 
natives gather in a meeting they crowd in a circle ; then, 
in true sarcastic sequence, they think and talk in a circle. 
The eye is circle No. 1, and looking out on the landscape 
of life it is a case of like eye, like landscape, 360° every 
time. He rambles round in a circle of speech in the same 
way as he sees the circularity of seasons in Nature, or the 
day and night cycle of sleeping and waking. His carved 
stools and utensils are all circular, and he borrows from 
Nature the idea that rotundity is the only safe shape of 
things. A chief argued with me for a week that by 
making a square house I had at once created four points 
of near or remote breakage — a circle has no weak point, 
so he argued. The fact is the whole prospective puzzle 
in connection with our black man is, how to make him, a 
round peg, fit into the square hole of civilisation. You 
go roaming around Africa sighing for one straight line 
and lo ! you find it not — a parable all this of black morals 
as well as of black men. 

{3lst August.)'^ 

The sun-baked trail stretching ahead is still going due 
East like a long snake, twisting and turning now to the 
right now to the left with a whole foot-path philosophy 
in the thing. Nor would you prefer it severely straight 
like a Roman road, for this corkscrew with its secrets 
ahead possesses all the pleasure that is born of accident 
and surprise. You turn an ant-hill and know not what 
will confront you ; squeeze through scrub, then out, pit-a- 



"OWN UP AND PAY UP" 115 

pat with expectancy, on a green grassy glade. You know 
not what is ahead, nor do you want to. Here your " think- 
ing black" negro moralises once more, and insists that 
this track of ours is like the way and walk of life. The 
veil that covers the face of futurity is woven by the hand 
of mercy. If you knew a month's happening ahead, you 
would grow grey in a single night. Day by day in this 
same cart-wheel rut, however, has a curious effect on you 
the traveller : it gets on your brain, precisely as this 
sinuous trail has made an equally sinuous African. He 
gets a twist too. With chameleon consistency the negro 
has utterly become like his own zigzag path ; it is his 
way of doing things as well as his way of walking. In 
speaking — say — this slippery native can only twist in and 
out of an idea precisely as he twists along his path : 
" Going, I went, and speaking, I spoke, and doing, I did," 
being the average formula of your wriggly black. An 
adjacent lion is called a " dog," and a friend asking a 
friend to drink beer is vaguely invited to drink "water." 
Hence the famous fact that our son of Ham will never 
come straight to the point, but hedges and temporises — 
" meandering to the point " he calls it. Depend upon it, 
too, this gentleman has got to learn that_a^_straight line 



is the shortest in morals as in mathematics : is not their 



twisted itinerary exactly like their twisted morals ? Why, 
for example, is it that your savage prefers to take a long, 
roundabout way in murdering his man, lingering and 
lavishing the finest touches of the art of murder on him ? 
Round the corner of the cook-house you can catch Mr. 



c 



116 THINKING BLACK 

Chef excruciatingly murdering your supper fowl, plucking 
it while yet alive. The same boy's father, too, in killing 
a prisoner would with a refinement of cruelty insist on 
first digging out the heart. The same devious course of 
devilry is seen when they catch an eagle raiding the 
chickens. Oh yes, they release the captured culprit, 
but it is only with one leg cut ofif, one eye gouged out, 
then away the regal bird flies in misery, maimed for life. 
Yet so daring are these vultures that, at Molenga's, one 
successfully swooped down on the plate passing only a few 
yards from cook-house to table and carried oflf the savoury 
meat thereon ! 

* # * 

What next ? The ex post facto Chokwe " hungry 
country" is a relative joy compared with the treat- 
ment we receive from the Luvale people. The staple 
product of this road-blocking tribe is a wealth of Rob 
Roy bandits who live on loot. Squeezing through the 
grass is a small concern compared with squeezing past 
these stand-and-deliver ruffians. This is what the phrase 
" boring in " means. Small ragamuffin sovereigns, 
let us call them, generally this type of negro is the 
greasiest and the dirtiest that ever defied soap. " Water 
rots the skin," is their saying. Samikilenge at Peho is 
the worst of the gang, then comes Kalunga Kameya, and 
then old Kangombe. Every man of them nurses a private 
grievance and demands " cash down " for seeing the light 
of His Majesty's countenance. Most of their towns, too, 
more prominent on the map than on the planet earth. 



"OWN UP AND PAY UP" 117 

To judge from their dirty appearance tliey seem, at one 
time, all to have suffered from hydrophobia and never 
completely recovered from the dread of water then in- 
spired. These and many more form a band of black 
rogues who fatten on honest men : witness Livingstone 
in these very latitudes in 1854 and his perilous plight. 
By way of temporising, a common proposal from these 
road-blockers is a delay of some days for the Kasendo, or 
blood covenant of friendship, between the travellers and 
the lord paramount, a mere trick this, of course, " to 
bleed us " in a dear double sense. The idea of this one- 
sided covenant as unfolded is a sort of " Mutual Accommo-\ 
dation Society Limited," and I assure you it is limited 
— strictly so — our upstart Chief being sole beneficiary : 
he wants everything, even a literal suck of your blood. 
Every few miles means a new embarrassing case of a 
blatant Kinglet demanding your money or your life, yet 
most of these nobodies only dreamed in one night they 
were kings, their proof of regal succession being as weak 
and visionary as that of the Pope being the fabled 
successor of Peter. But patience must be your pet virtue 
in Africa, remember, and now, oh now, is the time to 
produce your pet. Calico and beads are their £ s. d., but 
mere current coinage is the least and last thing in their 
despotic demands. Our prudent shabbiness, in fact, is a 
necessary boon ; for they want our boots, want our shirts, 
yea, they must have the only iron cooking-pot we possess 
— perhaps. And all this under splitting vertical rays, 
the precious dry season quickly speeding past with our 



V 



118 THINKING BLACK 

Garenganze goal yet a long way off. These fine folks do 
not measure time by means of little machines carried in 
their pockets. No need in this easy land to catch train 
or tram by a fraction of a second. There is not one time- 
piece in the vast country, their only watch and eight-day 
clock being the accurate sun who faileth never. To say, 
therefore, that " punctually on the stroke of six " our caravan 
moves out of camp is an error, unless you apply the phrase 
to our slavers, who can only get their bondsmen ofif after 
j a sixth whack with a stick, "punctually on the stroke 
t_of six," indeed. 

(8^^ September.) 
But we have an anchor to windward all the time. 
Here are your September and October rushing past, I 
repeat, the punctual rains due at any time, like an express. 
And here, too, are your hot Africa and hotter Africans 
trying hard to make us a broken-spirited jumble of dis- 
traction. But we meet our Rob Roy's hang-dog look with 
the genuine and exultant retort that though indeed 
empty-handed we are not empty-headed, and therefore 
cannot give what we do not possess. Well, this demon- 
strable denial of ours is, as I have said, a real anchor to 
windward, for the African has a curiously hard-headed 
way of judging things by practical proof. But, mark you, 
until in some way you have paid this man's demands, 
normal relations with the tribe in food-buying are not 
supposed to be established. You are boycotted, and 
neither by charter nor barter can you get anything from 
them. First things first is the idea in this preliminary 



"OWN UP AND PAY UP" 119 

tribute wrangle, and the demand really amounts to the 
astounding idea that we must pay for the very faggots 
we break in the forest ; must pay for the very water we 
drink ; yea, finally and fearfully, we must pay for the 
very air we breathe. Pay for the very air we breathe, 
and if we don't " stand and deliver," then — why, soon we 
will be breathing no air at all. Ah, these road-blocking 
days are the Missionary's terrible times, when the feelings 
are at flash-point and not at all improved after a sleep- 
less night of native drum-dancing. You seem to awake 
with the feeling that you have not slept for a hundred 
years, and with a complexion like uncooked pastry. 
Content as these negroes are to drone through life, they 
glory in thus blocking the road with their delusive 
and abortive demands. 

Let me introduce you to this fiery friend of ours, Mr. 
Rob Roy. For a moment you think the whole thing 
must be an optical illusion. A globular personage, with 
the voice of Stentor and the build of Falstaff, here he 
comes mincing along to the rhythmic music of tight new 
boots — bought from the slavers. Personal remarks in 
Africa are permissible, and you will perceive that Rob is 
dressed in his Sunday best for the occasion, to wit, an 
utterly abominable soldier's uniform, probably now entering 
its teens. Fat and fifty, our friend is obviously bursting 
for relief, for the rag-shop red coat is giving him a claret- 
coloured face. With every button straining at its 
fastenings, observe how the tight-unto-choking collar 
makes his ox-neck overflow in waves of fat. After many 



120 THINKING BLACK 

a strange vicissitude of fortune, and originally fitting 
some thin, trig T. Atkins like a glove, this coloured coat 
inflicting slow tortures is seemingly not at all adapted 
to our bandit's middle-aged development. The head- 
dress is quite as remarkable too as the nether garments. 
H.R.H. as substitute for a crown walks carefully balancing 
a caved-in No. 6 policeman's helmet on a No. 10 head. 
But, alas ! the head can be empty that fills a hat. Look 
now at that tall and gawky youth strutting at his side 
wearing a wild waistcoat, a-graduating in the Luban 
school of manners. This, be it known, is Rob Roy junior, 
playing local " Prince of Wales " to his father's role of 
Rex, an "heir-apparent" he, more heir-presumptive than 
" heir-apparent," for his presumption is appallingly 
apparent. Burton was right. Mere barbarism rarely 
disgusts : it is the unnatural union of civilisation with 
savagery that makes the gorge rise. The incongruities 
are not grotesque enough to be amusing : they are merely 
ugly and painful. 

(Later.) 
What, then, is this negro's programme for the day ? 
"Drink beer, think be^r /^s the old African saying that 
describes it all. For with tipsy hilarity he promises you, 
by the graves of his ancestors, that you will be released 
to-morrow ; but his precious promises are like proverbial 
pie-crust, only made to be broken. Thus you see our 
Rob Roy glorying in his old game of the blocked road, 
his glory our shame. Each dragging day of delay he 
celebrates with one of his all-night dances, the nude 




A PRECOCIOUS PRINCELING. 



"OWN UP AND PAY UP" 121 

celebrants roaring themselves hoarse under the fig-trees. 
Though they dance in their nudity under a fig-tree, they 
seem quite unconscious of the ancient application of fig- 
leaves, and certainly they have more need of a covering 
of fig-leaves than fig-trees. Enemy of daylight and 
decent living, there goes the midnight noise of the drums 
echoing to the roar of the dancing Luvale, and the native 
proverb hits off" the dual emptiness of both drum and 
drummer : " A drum only sounds because it is empty." 
Nor is this music mellowed and harmonised by distance. 
The native has his drum so near that it seems to be stuck 
in your drum of the ear — a pandemonium of music. Be 
vigilant, for this midnight drumming is on the same 
principle (or lack thereof) that a band of thieves burgles a 
London house while one of their "pals" plays an Italian 
barrel-organ at the gate to draw off attention. Again 
and again, these Luvale folks have unthatched a hut 
under cover of the noise and decamped with a truss of 
calico. At Nalingombe we lost, not merely a bale of 
calico, but also the next needy day of delay " talking " the 
theft palaver — bale lost, day lost, temper lost. Tried in a 
lull to barter some local curios, my predilection being for 
combs and bead-work ; but they edged away, glancing with 
open animosity, after almost closing with my offer. Depend 
on it, in Luvale a collector of curios seems to the native 
to be himself the quaintest curio in his whole collection. 

(13th September.) 
What is all the delay about? The answer is that 
what we are really doing is " buying the road." You 



122 THINKING BLACK 

cross one Coilantogle Ford sort of boundary only to find 
that the Roderick Dhu you have just escaped has a dozen 
cousins of the same ilk farther ahead. Often a coarse 
English ballad is a truer snap-shot of African life than 
more pretentious poetry, and if a coarse land needs coarse 
description then here you have Luvaleland in modified 
English rhyme : — 

"There's a king on every ash-heap, 
There's princes not a few, 
There's a whole raft-load of potentates 
On the road to Tinibuctoo." 

Thus you see the divinity that hedges every tiny chief 
has to be propitiated with Ochivanda, or tribute, and the 
galling fact is that this nobody has all your own men in 
the hollow of his hand. He has marked you for his 
lawful prey. Perceiving you in perplexity means that the 
iron is now red-hot, so he strikes with a will and like a 
wild one. " Keep the trail white for us to return " is the 
catch phrase from your traitors, and at every turn they 
deplore your lack of deep respect for all constituted 
authority. They nag you and they jag you with the re- 
minder that all the chiefs will loot any further transport 
following us in, if we fail to make the path "white" by 
paying exceptionally extortionate tribute. Proverb-logic 
again routed us, and this time the reminder was that 
"the key that opens is also the key that locks." Nor 
was this all. Our Biheans rushed to more mad metaphor 
to make us yield. "Look," said they, "at this long road 
in from the Ocean : like the human body, lo ! what is this 



"OWN UP AND PAY UP" 123 

road but the gullet? Out yonder on the Atlantic sea- 
shore you have the mouth open to receive supplies. Now 
you white men (literally, "you big devils") are going 
far into the stomach of Africa, but linking mouth and 
'peptics' (Chifu) is this long gullet- way which must not 
be blocked — block the gullet-trail and you will starve, for 
the mouth is cut off from the stomach." Thus we sur- 
rendered at discretion, swallowed the affronts in a 
deplorably double sense, kept our mouths shut, and our 
long line of supplies open. For what again saith the 
proverb ? " If, exasperated one, you are tied up in 
ropes, the more you tug, the tighter the knots become." 

N.B. — In Africa a Missionary is like steel, no use if he 
loses his temper. By every trick and device, the Devil 
tries to lure from you your song, and the only safe man is 
the Psalmist sort : My heart is fixed, I'll sing — i.e. I am 
going in for singing as a habit of life in Africa. "The 
happiness of duty " is a blessed old belief, no doubt, but 
far, far better in Africa to reverse the motto and make it 
run, " The duty of happiness." " Chance sparks kindle 
chance tinder," runs the proverb, so beware ! 

(Later. ) 

Mere " Bible and walking-stick " campaign as ours is, 
no wonder the natives call us " The Softies." But again 
and again it is Mr. Softie who gets them out of a hole. 
For example, let me here record as legitimate history an 
olive-branch victory farther East that opened the Luban 
road. We are twisting along the trail, a great band of 
Mweru-bound emigrants numbering nearly three hundred 



124 THINKING BLACK 

souls. Veiy weary and very dreary that great crowd is ; 
witness this worn-out mother whose baby was born to-day 
on the long march. Born in the woods, this biped baby 
is treated like a little antelope and must travel two hours 
after he has seen daylight. Christened after the forest 
that cradled him, this title clings to him all his life ; 
imagine an English baby with no cradle but a travelling- 
trunk, and travelling with the trunk as soon as it is born. 
We are pushing on for a river camp before nightfall ; 
some have snatched at a dry faggot, remembering the 
needed fire ahead ; here and there mushrooms put in an 
appearance for the prospective supper, but we are all 
weary and pinched. Duck, a welcome sight in the 
morning, is the last thing we want to see now, for a duck 
means marsh, and marsh means weary wading, wet socks, 
and a shiver-and-sweat fever. Afar — oh the music ! — the 
voice of our terminal river begins at last to call, beckoning 
us on, and at last we come out of the forest with a shout of 
relief, for there ahead is our river — green Jordan, call it — 
beyond which is the negroes' promised land of — of camp. 
And soon we have negotiated the deep dark thing over 
an acrobatic bridge, and soon the axes are out felling a 
spacious bivouac. An odd enough company, to be sure, 
for ten tribes are represented, which augurs not discord 
but the contrary. In the old Mushidi capital stranger 
met and mated with stranger, the man from the North 
with the woman from the South ; and the family tie was 
often shown to be the merest calico concern, wearing out 
with the calico that bound it. Our camp every day is 



-OWN UP AND PAY UP " 125 

like a good-sized village, the loud after-supper hum from 
the fires being rather pleasant though a little bit noisy. 
The sweep of stockade is fully 150 yards in circumference, 
in the centre of which is my big hut, where I sleep with 
my personal boys. This palisade is so built that it forms 
at the same time the huts of the people, each man having 
so many yards of ground to stockade before he joins on 
with his neighbour, who comes to meet him half-way. 
Only one gateway is allowed, owing to the dangerous 
state of the forest, and, with all their instincts up in arms, 
the men look out jealously that no one leaves a gap. It 
is now broodingly dark, and most around the fires are 
looking with a hungry, glassy stare at the supper-pots, 
when a shrill whistle startles all — a shriek-whistle known 
too sadly well ; and then 1 And then, as a matter of 
plain, unpleasant fact, some red toucan feathers appear 
over our stockade. Everybody's jaw drops, and, in a 
flash, we know that war is in the wind, red war that has 
painted the African map from ocean to ocean. Where 
then, to be definite, are we ? Into what trap have we 
fallen? '*0h no," say the emerging warriors, "we have 
nothing against you, but to-morrow we begin." In a 
word, we have put our foot in it, have arrived just on 
the eve of a great inter-tribal battle, a wild Waterloo. 
The old tale of the hereditary hatred of the clans and 
the Highland Mac's sending round the fiery cross — fiery 
feathers in this case. A long quarrel has been in soak 
for years; boundaries have been dishonoured, clansmen 
kidnapped, ivory tribute stolen ; and now at last for the 



126 THINKING BLACK 

final argument of kings. And is God not going to have 
a say in it all, the pitched battle raging itself out ? And 
will they die like dogs without knowing that He has an 
argument with both of them ? 

Yea, here again (and blessed be our Rock !) we may 
write on earth what God has written in heaven : Bible 
diplomacy, olive-branch pleadings right through the 
night, and with the day-dawn came the truce of God ; 
a red sunrise to a "white" day. We were as bland as 
they were bitter, but we won. This is how it was done. 
Halving a group of elders, the one section went off to 
preach peace in Chona's war-camp, while the other half 
carried the olive branch into the rival Mac's. And 
although at first they were greeted with a pelting storm 
of refusals, the great armistice was at weary length assured. 
Not a mere truce, not a patchwork peace, but a sterling 
pact that has held on through nearly twice ten years, and 
ensured an open Western road. These, be it known, are 
the Luburi bog tribesmen, whom a whole park of artillery 
could not dislodge from their amphibious retreat ; 
"human otters" their title. So, even so, we open the 
way, under God ; a few burning words of daysmanship, 
a longer pleading for soul-escape as well as body- escape, 
and lo ! the rainbow in the cloud. The Western road ! 
What pioneer memories of the olden time are in the 
name ; of weary days when we bored our way far, far 
into the interior : yes, we purchased that long weary 
trail, bought (with kind, not cash) a passage with our 
meagre belongings, an old shirt here, an older pair of 



"OWN UP AND PAY UP " 127 

trousers there — and so we moved on our pilgrim trail, 
nightfall seeing us minus a rag or two and a day's march 
nearer home. Fools for Christ's sake Whose is the 
princedom of peace, we tried to meet all comers with a 
Gospel smile, listened to their Rob Roy intentions, paid 
their free-booters' levy as though it were Caesar's shekel 
of silver, and laid up treasure in Heaven according to 
Matt. vi. Even Rob Roy, I presume, comes under the 
heading "There is no power but of God." Nor does one 
find it difficult to wave a welcome olive branch in the 
face of long-drowned tribes who are weary to death of 
war's deluge. Peace has balm right round the globe, 
and you bless the Prince thereof that such is your calling, 
to brinsf men out of the midnight into the sunshine. 



r.<^"'^ 



CHAPTER VIII 
Dark Doings in Luvaleland 



"To do as all men ever would, 
Own no man master but their mood. 



" The fact is that the running of a tropical colony 
is, of all tests, the most searching as to the develop- 
ment of the nation that attempts it ; to see helpless 
people and not to oppress them, to see. great wealth 
and not to confiscate it, to have the absolute power 
and not to abuse it, to raise the native instead of 
sinking yourself, these are the supreme trials of a 

nation's spirit." 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. 



"In Africa the animalistic, self-indulgent white 
man approximates yet nearer the animal; the 
intellectually active, destitute of the stimulus of 
conversation and encounter with diverse opinion 
and nimble wits, becomes an intellectual fungoid," 

Blackburn. 



CHAPTER VIII 
Dark Doings in Luvaleland 

T N which the veil being only -partially 
withdrawn^ the black man is seen 
to have black manners. 

{17th September.) 

ALL these days our old friend Latitude 1 2° is running 
East and West on our right, more like a hand-rail 
fencing us in than an imaginary map-line. So East, 
endlessly East to the sun does our road run, that the way- 
faring man though a fool shall not err therein. The rivers 
are elusive and uncertain, wriggling across our trail for a 
few minutes like a shining serpent, then darting off, lost in 
the bush. Not so loyal Latitude 12°. Say, nearly as far 
as Longitude 22°, it is a faithful friend all the way ; now 
river, now jungle, now flats — but come river, or jungle, or 
flats, the 12th parallel unifies them all. " Sourcing it" 
is their participle that gives the geography of our route. 
On our far left the baby Kasai is babbling like a brook, 
and the 1st of September sees the far-flowing Lumese born 
a little after we left Tenda. One day more and a sharp 
turn East reveals the baby Luena, a poor trickle of liquid 



132 THINKING BLACK 

mud made up of a few ponds linked together. Long 
sandy slopes all the way, the green shoots of the rubber 
root often the only speck of relief in the trail. Farther 
back in Chokwe country the hills were huddled too close, 
their V-shaped hollows giving quite a jolt. Only after a 
long series of complex tumbles did we get out of it with 
meal-bags that had been empty for two years — days, I 
mean. But the pitcher that goes often to the water will 
at last surely be broken, and at Kasenga one of our men, 
a tough old roadster, lay down and died. Two days ago 
he gave the warning that this travelling blend of jolting 
and hunger would kill him, the honest hazel eyes of the 
fellow proclaiming that his was no shuffling cowardice. 
So there in the dead of night we were forced to dig up the 
floor of his hut and bury him like a dog, lest the natives 
got wind of it. Only dare to die in their country, only 
dare to cover the face of your dead on " ashes to ashes " 
principle, and at once they pounce down on you with the 
old nagging lawsuits. They don't bury their dead, oh 
no ! they, grandees excepted, merely stick the corpse up 
in the forest between two trees, and they demand damages 
for all burial. 

Read this. Albeit prompt payment is the Luvale 
theory of lawsuit assessment, their excessive extortion 
really frustrates quick settlement : witness a man to-day 
dunned for the debt of his great-great-grandfather. Yet 
generations ago the first instalments were paid to account, 
and dribbling down the years it has been pay ! pay ! pay ! 
all the time, "the white chalk" acquittal (receipt) denied. 



DARK DOINGS IN LUVALELAND 133 

"No chalk, no clearance" is their formula. Milonga! 
Milonga ! is the cry, and off all the young lads are carried 
by their uncles to go the round of the courts and learn the 
tricks of legal blood-sucking. Like a small pea in a very 
big pod you have a mere boy trained in word-wriggling 
and munching mouthfuls of legal terminology. This is 
the reason why a Missionary can scarcely keep a bright 
young scholar about him. The uncle is sure to turn up 
and drag him off, willy nilly, for this legal education. If 
you expostulate, the retorting relative only expectorates, 
and away they sail out through the Mission gate, the 
uncle dragging the nephew like a big steam-tug making 
off with a dainty sailing yacht. No new ideas are allowed 
to build their nests in the young Luvale's brain. Nature, 
always fertile in analogies, gives a good example of all this 
in the dozens of dogs nosing among the garbage of their 
own filthy towns. Even so, Mr. Luvale rakes up the 
mud-heaps of memory, and at last having found his quibble 
as a dog his bone, he straightaway bows to his victim with 

awful politeness : Linga ! Veta ! _^ 

Nevertheless, prompt payment is the tribal ideal, and it 
is only in the " death damages," or Chipeshi, they hit on a 
gruesome expedient to make a man pay up. A husband, 
say, is bereaved of his wife, so he must be mulcted heavily 
by the relatives ; calico, goats, and oxen all going to 
appease their counterfeit wrath. Now is their cruel 
chance for " cash down," so, like Sinbad the Sailor, they 
shut in the man with his conjugal corpse and let the days 
drag past to their extortions. Meanwhile, of course, rapid. 



134 THINKING BLACK 

revolting mortification is going apace, and weeks after it 
is all over, debts paid, " white chalk acquittal," he emerges 
to the sunlight. Semi-starved, too, all the time, only 
water and gruel his allowance. So very sad, bad, and 
mad is it all that every tiny detail is clutched at to make 
delay : " We bury only bones," is their phrase [Natu 
mhila vifuhwa haha). 

This bereaved husband, for instance, had a long pre- 
liminary wrangle with his kinsman in the mere notifying 
of his wife's death. For, be it known, "to notify" means 
that you send a personable bit of live-stock, a goat but 
preferably an ox, and only thus can the news of such an 
unlikely thing as this death get home to the man's intelli- 
gence. Sent a big goat in the first instance, this kinsman 
looked askance at the animal and said that its very small- 
ness told him his cousin had not much wrong with her — 
dead she certainly could not be with only a goat to 
announce it. People don't notify deaths per post-card 
even in Luvaleland, and to send a huge ox is the African 
equivalent to sending a black-edged mourning letter. A 
goat is a mere post-card. Here, then, is his chance to 
make vexatious delays, the preliminary trouble being how 
to get the relatives even to believe there is a death at all. 
A full week has run its course before they even dream of 
gathering for the Chipeshi (wake ?), the initial fees of 
notification being now paid. Then, one by one, the 
bereaved kinsmen trickle in, all armed to the teeth, all 
vulpine in greed, and all resolved at besting each other in 
their demands. A mere cousin though he be, the long 



DARK DOINGS IN LUVALELAND 135 

list of items in his funeral bill is stolidly fought for day 
by day : " death damages," the most complicated of all. 
For — and note this — death to a negro is indeed dissolution 
of life's pleasures as well as dissolution of a mere mortal 
body, and all the details of that woman's wedded life must 
now be paid for. Of course, she cooked his food, so now 
for paying the total cookery bill. She fetched firewood, 
milled the meal and drew water, now's the time to pay up, 
ay, pay for every drink of water and every faggot of 
fire. Mark you, pay up for every item to every kinsman, 
all at once and once for all. One item in this incredible 
invoice naturally makes you laugh, for the thing itself is 
about laughter : " To the much laughter you enjoyed for 
years when conversing with your late spouse, our legal 
cousin — total value, one goat." Not much to laugh at 
now. And so on and on, the post-mortem invoice runs, 
many a shameless (because nameless) item haggled over 
on a money basis, £ s. d. as to its very initials being 
suitably equivalent to Law Suit Damages. Alas ! the 
higher you ascend in the social scale the lower things sink, 
the worse and wilder the extortion. The great Queen her- 
self, Nyakatoro, is the lewdest of the lot, and the occasion 
of her grandchild's death was the scene of a loathsome 
Chipeshi. Weeks and weeks dragged past, but no burial, 
the mourners forced to nurse the putrefying corpse on 
their knees on the Luvale " we bury only bones " principle. 
Meanwhile, the shameless Queen is conducting an inquiry 
into the death of her Musukvlu, a " who-killed-cock-robin " 
sort of investigation this, in which she unblushingly 



136 THINKING BLACK 

reveals the names of her many paramours, all of whom 
must now pay damages for the grandchild's death. 
# # # 

Here is a strong healthy stream we must tackle. 
And being strong, not sickly, how can you expect it to 
be always confined to its bed ? Winding and rewinding 
like a watch-spring, we follow the twists of our river 
round the great S, then out we go together, both 
river and traveller, out on a pancake plain. More 
marsh than plain this becomes, alas ! for its old orderly 
up-stream flow is now impossible ; and although no 
doubt, like ourselves, this river entered on this plain 
with the very best intentions, the flat bankless 
marsh has now forced the poor stream to break all his 
good up-stream resolutions — a floundering bog, nothing 
less. Yea — and note this, gentle reader — we too end 
in bog, just as sadly and badly. For you cannot canoe 
it, so you resort to the " double man " of exploration — 
that is to say, aloft is your traveller, pickaback like a 
Japanese acrobat, on his negro steed, hands clutching at 
the woolly pow, legs twisted tightly round his neck. 
Not that this " double man " is doubly a man — oh ! no, 
for the more inches you go up in the world the lower you 
descend both in imagination and in reality. Each groping 
step in the pitchy, stinking mud sees you nervously 
clutching at the negro's head, knees driven into the 
neck and ever mindful of the white knight's fate in 
" Alice's Adventures," to wit, a beautiful parabolic curve, 
head first. And then for the sordid sequel. Gathering 



DARK DOINGS IN LUVALELAND 137 

up what little shreds of dignity are left to you, you 
roll yourself up in a blanket, while your shabby shirt 
tied to a tree branch is dancing itself dry in the wind. 
But the cold cuts like a carving-knife, and a blanket is 
inadequate. So, to finish the folly, you are facetiously 
forced to keep the shirt company — you dancing yourself 
warm, while it dances itself dry. Of course your comfy 
negro, per contra, likes all this splashing, for he never 
wore boots and never felt damp with the clammy cling 
of wet stockings. 

(Later.) 

The extraordinary insalubrity of the Luvale flats is 
appalling. In later days, it was in these sweltering 
plains Cyril Bird and brave young Copithorne poured out 
their lives for Luvaleland. Characteristically and car- 
dinally men of deep love for souls, they gave their all to 
a tribe that listened for years to the Gospel with sharp 
antagonistic ears. Once Bird left for the Ocean, osten- 
sibly to take a much-needed furlough, but the haunting 
need of that vile Luvaleland dragged him back, and the 
end was soon reached. Life like a spent steed panting 
towards its goal, the Pauline gleam in his eye and praise 
on his lips. Black-water fever they called his mortal 
malady, but he died of a broken heart, yes, broken for a 
tribe of robbers — a holiday at last, furlough in Glory ! 
Weary and worn by the vertical rays, what a whiff of 
joy in the thought : " Heaven's ahead — hurrah ! " 

Remember, there is no deep valley but near some 
great hill, and that sowing in tears culminated in others 



138 THINKING BLACK 

reaping with joy. Days grow into months, and months 
into years, and then a lady can tell of a whole town of 
Luvale ^ turning to God by Jesus Christ : men, women, 
and children, who at last look beyond the Missionary to the 
God Who sent him. Oh ! ye binders of other men's 
sheaves, remember the weary Birds and Copithornes of 
the African field. Let us not therefore judge " another 
man's servant " in this resolve of Cyril Bird to die in and 
for Africa. Much can be said pro and con, but probably 
more pro than con. Would you desert your own infant 
in a foreign land when desertion meant doom ? 

Under English laws it is a misdemeanour punishable 
with five years' penal servitude to abandon or expose an 
infant or child under two years so as to " endanger its 
life or to inflict permanent injury, actual or probable, 
upon its health." How much more the crime committed 
against the new-born African soul in exposing it to the 
vicissitudes of a pastorless existence ! Too well this brave 
man knew that mere " marking time " is of as little value 
as counting beads in worship. Too well he knew, that if 
we speak a dozen African languages with the tongues of 
men and angels and have not love, then Africa only 
claims in us one more of the mob of sounding brass and 
clanging cymbals. Ay, even if we give our bodies to be 
burned with African fever and have not love, we are 
nothing. Nevertheless, it is just here the Roman 

1 Following Mr. and Mrs. Bird came Mr. Schindler, Dr. Fisher, Mr. and 
Mrs. O'Jon, Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, and many other noble men and 
women. Kazombo was the first branch station, then Kalunda, then Kalene. 



BARK DOINGS IN LUVALELAND 139 

Catholics, farther East, make the cosy Protestants blush, 
for while we are famous " furlough " folks, they burn their 
bridges and stick to their posts. Both nuns and priests 
dedicate their lives to the land, never hoping to sight 
Europe again, while we parade England with lantern 
lectures ! These Komans laugh at us for so deserting our 
posts, and say that we are like a soldier who runs out of 
action to go and try his skill at a shooting-range. The 
real battle and real bullets are in here, in the bush, while 
away yonder on a far English platform is the amateur 
shooting - range. " I felt like a fireless chimney in 
summer," was the testimony of an old "deputation" 
Missionary in England. 

{I9th September.) 
Unless, however, this record is to remain hopelessly 
tangled, we must mention sundry Luvale traits that block 
our road. Like chief, like people. Copying the Wagogo 
on the Zanzibar road, here you have a whole tribe 
spreading its nets and lurking by the roadside for loot. 
Legal loot, though, this claims to be ; for when the word is 
passed along the path that a caravan is advancing, there 
is a tribal flutter, and this news draws them like a magnet. 
Sea-lawyers every soul of them, they flood your camp and 
pack in so tightly that the perfumed crowd exhales the 
noxious smell of a bad drain. Dr. Johnson's remark 
about Scotland is really applicable to odorous Luvaleland. 
For when they informed him, travelling by night, that 
he had entered Scotia, he retorted, " Yes, I could smell 
it in the dark ! " (Fie ! Dr. Johnson). Having the blood 



140 THINKING BLACK 

of good old Scotland in my veins, it costs me quite a 
patriotic pang to repeat this anti-Scotland slander, but 
the words, false then, are true now when applied to the 
Luvale — you literally smell your arrival. You smile, 
too, at the crowd of women perfecting the work of nature 
with dress and face smeared with red dye. Yet, after all, 
what is the difference between these and an English lady, 
who daubs two big spots of rouge on her cheeks ? How 
true it is that the vices we laugh at in others, laugh at us 
in ourselves. Ponder the whirligig of time. In the 
Apostle Paul's day at Rome, was not this the very taunt 
to restrain Roman ladies from dyeing their hair and 
painting their faces, to wit, that they would become as 
ugly as " the woad-stained Britons " ? Yes, we were the 
"niggers" of those days. Did not Propertius try to 
frighten Cynthia out of cosmetics by likening her to *' the 
coarse blue-eyed Britons"? And did not Cicero write 
to his pal long ago : '* Atticus ! . . . the stupidest and 
ugliest slaves come from Britain " ? 

In a second, with commendable promptitude, the busi- 
ness begins, jabber, babble, twaddle, cackle! — all baiting you 
like a bear. Then they break into a whirl of questions, 
who ? why? when? where? whither? — and although once or 
twice you make a wild dive for a probable answer, it ends 
in your wearily resigning all pretensions to deal with them. 
These Luvale ladies have a limited dress allowance : 
fancy one of these sable sisters of mine wearing a la mode 
a mere four-inch ribbon of calico. Pointing her black-kid- 
glove finger right in my eye, she called me " Softie." It 



DARK DOINGS IN LUVALELAND 141 

is Chindele! this, Chindele! that; and so they prattle on, 
all of them talking the proverbial nineteen to the dozen, 
yet peevish and perverse withal, and — depend upon it — 
just waiting for an opening. Yet something must be 
done, so throwing etiquette to the winds, after enduring 
it all with exemplary meekness, you gesture them off. 
But (wolf!) dare even push one, dare even flick one 
across the face with a handkerchief, and the looting law- 
suit begins. We are caught as neat as a rat in a drain, 
everything now ripe for a row. Fishing is the best simile 
for this thing, however, and one of our Biheans is the first 
foolish fish to rise to the Luvale fly, the possible lawsuits 
now being legion. 

{Later.) 
Be sure of it, from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, 
these lawsuits in Africa are legion, the be-all and end-all 
of their lazy lives. From prince to beggar they have 
resolved to trade on the local sanctions and punishments 
of society. Take this big black, shedding not the tears 
of penitence but revolt ; he blundered into litigation by 
running into a hut for shelter from the rain, and the 
housewife has the law on him. Plea : " You came 
dripping wet into my domicile, and these thy raindrops 
betoken much weeping in my house." Verdict, the wet 
man must pay for his ominous action. Next comes a 
pettifogging action because a man called his fellow by the 
wrong name : " How dare you call me Mr. Tree when I 
am Mr. Baggage? If you name me Tree, then you 
thereby saddle me with all that individual's legal responsi- 



142 THINKING BLACK 

bility." Verdict for the plain tifif, because law is not logic 
and logic is not law. But worse than all this comes a 
long string of cases, each plea amounting to the effrontery 
that it is wrong to affirm the right, the accused's error 
being that he made no error. A man named "River" 
has blood on his arm and a passer-by draws his attention 
to this fact, and in he goes among the meshes of the legal 
drag-net. Penalty : Mr, River must be paid for the 
accused's error in not committing an error. Another 
negro of the same ilk finds a legal grievance in the fact 
that truth has too much sting in it. Crossing the river 
with a fellow-traveller, a leech clings to his leg, and the 
lawsuit arises out of this friendly and kindly reminder 
that the leech was clinging to him. Leech indeed ! the 
real blood-sucker is this litigious black who cries. Give ! 
Give ! Of the same sort is this third man ; " Scar " 
(Muhofu) his name and scar the subject of his legal action. 
He is an old warrior, has a healed gash on his body, but 
instead of being proud of it as a kind of Marengo medal 
on which Napoleon wrote the lone words, " I was there," 
— instead of this, he runs a man into " the judgment 
circle " because he congratulated him on his cured wound. 
" Why mention the scar at all ? " snapped the warrior ; " 'tis 
mine, not yours." Don't ask the why of some of these 
lawsuits ; could mortal man tell ? Here is an individual 
who invited another to eat porridge that has lain over- 
night — why make a lawsuit out of that ? Here is another 
passing a few graves in the grass, and he goes over the 
names of the various occupants of the little graveyard — 



DARK DOINGS IN LUVALELAND 143 

why a lawsuit for that ? Or this man who out of sheer 
kindness warned his neighbour of impending danger — 
why have the law on him for that? Can you wonder 
that the black man will not believe the Gospel of Grace 
because it is all too incredibly good to be true ? What 
does he know about Grace ? Here, too, you learn the 
reason why your emancipated African under modern 
European laws is such an inglorious disappointment. For 
the transition is all too abrupt, and the same African who 
formerly had tribal manners rammed down his throat by 
legal code, now thinks he can lapse into grossidrete and 
indifference to details. Take, for instance, that stern old 
law of theirs against random spitting : was he not 
penalised for this ? Alas ! the new white regime has no 
such penalty, and one negro cook I knew, having run out 
of wash-up-water for his dishes, calmly sent in to his 
master two courses, all the plates of which had been 
washed (dare I write it ? ) with his own African saliva. 
^ * * 

As in Bihe, so, too, farther East, all the hamlets we 
peer into are of the same pig-sty sort. Imagine a land 
of huts from ocean to ocean ; a land in which not one 
noble castle ever lifted its grey towers above the ancient 
forest ; a land of holes and hovels, the huts built in a few 
days and lasting about as long. How true it is that the 
African leads off by debasing his surroundings, and then 
his surroundings take revenge by debasing the African. 
When you stumble across one of these in the woods, and 
send an inquisitive glance round inside, it is only to see 



144 THINKING BLACK 

what a long start the Devil has of the Missionary. The 
sin is all sinned in the noonday glare, the kind of thing 
spoken of by the prophet as " sin drawn with a cart-rope." 
The same old source of troubles, too, is this tight packing 
together in a filthy town. For the greatest enemy is 
internal : first the enemy of his own heart, then the enemy 
of his own household, anon the enemy of the next hut, 
until, finally, the enemy of the next tribe reads them the 
old lesson that a house divided against itself cannot stand. 
Born in their chains, they live in them and die hugging 
them as they rush over the precipice into the abyss. 
These chains are physical, and spiritual, and hereditary. 
In an African village you can lie awake all night 
pondering pitifully the needs of the land, and during that 
long vigil hear the snuffles and hoarse cries of a dozen 
little babies. Poor youngsters whose skin hangs loosely 
on them like an ill-fitting garment, cursed with the 
syphilitic curse. 

" An infant crying in the night : 
An infant crying for the light : 
And with no language but a cry." 

These are the poor little bairns who, as Bishop South 
sadly said, " are not born into the world, but damned 
into it." To illustrate : Take this life-history of one 
such moaning and whimpering cherub. Mother loves 
her bairn, but she must be off to the woods for firewood, 
and baby cannot go. What's to be done ? The dilemma 
is solved by a neighbour woman, one of the black barren 
type, who plots with deadly intent against the life of 



DARK DOINGS IN LUVALELAND 145 

her neighbour's child. Here, then, comes the hell-born 
thought. Now is her chance. So, dissolving in philan- 
thropic smiles, she hypocritically offers to nurse baby in 
the mother's absence — consequence : murder. The human 
fiend rubs into the gums of baby the virus of a loathsome 
and nameless disease, and the cherub dies a horrible death. 
Even the local black poet is horrified at a thing of this 
sort, and composes a Luban dirge which I translate : — 

" What is a baby's dying groan 
To the barren who have none of their own ? " 

Decidedly, we are in Luvaleland. The young boys 
about here are called the men, and the elders are called 
the " old boys," and no wonder. For these youngsters 
begin to live at full gallop when they are more babies 
than boys, and thus early sowing the wind they reap a 
roaring whirlwind : at twenty years of age they are 
weak and can scarcely trot, much less gallop, without 
the spur of stimulants. Borrowed beer, and preferably 
borrowed than bought. Sneaked tobacco, and the more 
he sneaks the pleasanter the smoke. Hemp paid for, 
ay, paid with the uttermost farthing, for this last lashes 
him w^ith passion. And so the three wicks of the lamp 
of life soon burn out in blazes, the brain, the blood, and 
the breath. " Soon ripe, soon rotten," is the proverb 
that tells the whole story, for if he must be a man at 
fourteen then he is sure of being a boy at thirty. An 
African lad knows everything too early, and therefore 
can learn nothing when it is too late. 



CHAPTER IX 
The Desert Journey 



God hath His deserts broad and brown, 

A solitude — a sea of sand — 
On which He lets Heaven's curtain down, 

Unknit by His Almighty Hand." 



"Then Israel sang this song: 
Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it" 

Numbers xxi. 17. 



••Long the blessed Guide has led me 
By the desert road ; 

Now I see the golden towers- 
City of my God. 

There amidst the love and glory 
He is waiting yet; 

On His hands a name is graven 
He can ne'er forget." 



148 



CHAPTER IX 

The Desert Journey 

J Jy^ HEREIN the reader crosses the 
desert, and finds Zebuluns por- 
tion awaiting him, yea, he ^'^ sucks of 
treasures hid in the sand."" 

{Later.) 

BUT in this impudent lawlessness is there no law-giver ? 
Not now, but (here let me anticipate) a little later 
the Portuguese pushed in a line of forts as far as 
Nakandundu, this last link in their chain of Commandants 
being a terribly typical affair. "Africa begins at the 
Pyrenees," said Napoleon long ago, and here is a Portu- 
guese who proves that Portugal is as bad as Africa. A 
prince of brigands, this official is a noonday slaver : 
instance, his sending out 12 kilos of powder to buy a boy. 
No boy marketable for the moment ; so in lieu of the 
masculine gender they drag in a young woman and baby as 
equitable equivalent. But this petulant Portuguese must 
have his boy ; so a black soldier, knowing his masterful 
man, offers to barter a boy for the baby and mother — done ! 
You, of course, call this spoiling the country, and Senhor 



150 THINKING BLACK 

Commandant heartily agrees with the idea ; spoiling is 
the very word, only he makes this poor participle do 
double duty — he spoils the country by extorting the 
spoils. Across the way, the Mission is a wakeful witness 
of it all, but this Chefe scorns intervention, pouring out 
fluent anathemas against the English. Prejudice, re- 
member, is only another way of spelling "prejudge," and 
the blood flames in such an official's face like a danger 
signal whenever the Missionary expostulates. But there 
is impending change. Soon this political Apothecary 
discovers a fly in his ointment, the British and Belgians 
advancing simultaneously. Up from the South-West 
come the former ; West from the Garenganze come the 
latter, both bent on combating this Portuguese slavery, 
both encroaching up near this Commandant's door. 
Time was when all around was no man's land, unlimited 
territory meaning unlimited despotism. Now comes the 
check. A hunted-down Luvale man runs across the 
border seeking sanctuary on British soil ; how can the 
Portuguese chief get at him ? Very simply. Salimi is 
" wanted," but he is snug under the shelter of the Jack 
in N.W. Rhodesia. But — mark this conjunction — 
Samusole is his brother-in-law, and he is on Portuguese 
soil ; so his village is surrounded by night and S. dragged 
ofi" to the Fort. Beaten every day by chicotte, he 
pays up some slaves, yet still they dun and whack him — 
all by proxy, all for that mysterious other man who is 
enjoying English protection across the border. 

This Salimi, I have said, is " wanted," but for what 



THE DESERT JOURNEY 151 

and whose crime ? He has a hamlet annoyingly across 
the frontier, you remember, and to this man's place came 
three roaming Portuguese slavers one day. Out of the 
grass spring three Britishers, and the three slavers are 
imprisoned. Then the clannish Portuguese over the way 
gnash their teeth, and now it's " Salimi this " and " Salimi 
that," until in sheer exasperation they pounce on the man 
who dared to marry such a being's sister. The old ghost 
of Nkole, you see. No wonder the natives are bad. 
Yet as a matter of fine fact the best defence of this 
oppressor is made by these very negroes who are wronged. 
As a triumph of terseness they read ofi" another " thinking 
black " lesson from their old Book of Nature, and find that 
a dozen trees all growing in a clump together dart up like 
needles to the sky. Whereas, pe?^ contra, one solitary tree 
has the tedious tendency to be crooked. The letter S — 
that's the twisty shape isolation makes many a lonely 
white man. Six or sixteen of the letter 111111 in a cluster 
— lo ! the crowding together of civilisation straightens out 
all their S-shaped crooks and cranks. This, then, is their 
defence of the white man cut off" from all his race, and the 
Bantu sono; runs : — 

" Oh ! crooked lonely forest tree, 
Yes, crooked because lonely, 
How very different things would be 
If only comrades two or three 
Could break your lone monotony." 

One could probably travel far across the fields of 
literature and fail to find a better metaphor for the 



152 THINKING BLACK 

benefits of mutual help derived from dwelling in a com- 
munity — ten trees in a clump shooting up like needles, 
and one lone tree twisted. Moral : Don't be a hermit, or 
you will be crooked and cranky. 

{1st October.) 

And so, as the thirty days in September pass, one is 
endlessly reminded by this negro babble that Africa and 
the African are merely convertible terms. Each is 
mutually and monotonously explanatory of the other. 
Here on the march, for instance, you are daily rubbing 
shoulders with a negro whose naked speech is first 
cousin to his naked body: nude negro = nude speech. 
Even in English, why forget that custom and costume 
are the same word ? Therefore in Africa the funny 
formula runs, nude costume = nude custom, and naked 
negro means naked speech. Call it objectionable this, by 
all means, but call it also consistent on the negro's part. 
For precisely as Mr. African's soul is clothed in its only 
black suit of bare skin, so too that same soul clothes itself 
in equally nude speech. 

Another key to "thinking black." Take this great 
African sun as a formative factor in our negro's character. 
Here you have the pulse of the whole black race. There 
in that fructifying, sterilising sun their hard history is 
epitomised, for in this hopelessly dry season so sharply 
contrasted with the luxuriant wet, you find the source of 
spasm in the negro's very bones. This time the formula 
runs, " Like seasons, like African " ; and just as Africa 
goes to sleep for half of the year, the very tree-sap dying 



THE DESERT JOURNEY 153 

down into the tap-root, so, even so, with our dozing negro. 
He copies his own Africa and is as lazy as a log, hibernat- 
ing like a hedgehog. The reason, this, why there are so 
few moody Africans and why per million they are of one 
humdrum type. Just as from king to beggar they are 
all N., S., K, and W. dining on one absolutely uniform 
porridge and beans, even so for thousands of miles they 
have all the same sort of sun-baked weather, same yellow 
outlook, same six-months-on-end blue sky. No use here 
for that prop of introductory conversation in England — 
the weather. Contrast the moody Englishman for whom 
Nature creates a new mood with the changing weather of 
each new day, John Bull groping through the mistof Monday 
to greet Tuesday's sunshine, and anon waking to the rattle 
of Wednesday's rain. Weather is a notorious formative 
of character in man's moods, the spirits rise and fall with 
the mercury, a varying barometer making a varying type 
of individual. 

Not so, however, when the first loud crack of thunder 
heralds the farmer's rains ; that very sound seems to 
startle him from his winter sleep. His two seasons make 
the African into two distinct men with two distinct 
manners, for here comes their great annual miracle of the 
blossoming of Aaron's rod. Nature's hurried growth 
is now a type of his own spasmodic haste, and he has 
caught the infectious quiver in the air. Some, indeed, 
do snatch at the closing weeks of the dry season to travel, 
for this is their only chance to see the face of their own 
continent after the grass fires have swept the vast land 



154 THINKING BLACK 

bare. But the first roar of the advancing rain acts as an 
alarm-bell to call in all stragglers who have wandered off 
for a journey, and now you can behold a model negro, 
hedgehog sloth all gone, stooping to his hoe in the 
morning mists. That bobbing back of his might be made 
of cast-iron with a hinge in it, so pluckily, so ploddingly 
does he bend to this farming business. The rising tree- 
sap seems in some sense to be a picture of what is happen- 
ing in the black man. Ah ! if he would only treat his 
soul as he treats his fields, all would be well. 

{Later.) 

Ten years ago I passed along the edge of a field, and 
there was the owner toiling at the hard soil, a drought 
having baked the red earth like a brick. " From the 
passing a passing word " is the local proverb, so I comply 
with tribal courtesy, bawling across the corn-field a 
regret that the soil is onerous and intractable. But the 
churlish clay has made a churlish cultivator. Back from 
my grufi" friend comes the grufi'er blasphemy : " Yes ! a 
hard G-od has hardened the soil by denying rain." 

Ten years pass, years that see this graceless man with 
many a graceless anti-God growl, a hard heart blaming 
a hard God. And now comes another instance of " the 
dramatic neatness of God's methods " — ten years have 
passed, I say, and here is the same man in the same field 
and the same passer-by. The rich red loam is no longer 
refractory, two successive days of rain have soaked the 
soil soft, the old growler's face wreathed in smiles. " From 
the passing man a passing word," and once again I 



THE DESERT JOURNEY 155 

smile across a remark about the child's-play hoeing under 
such simple conditions. Saved and knows it, what does 
he now answer — this same man in this same field to this 
same passer-by ? " Truly soft," says he, " is the soil, for 
the God Who softened my heart also softened the hard soil : 
He has rained oh my hard soul as well as on my soil." 
Do not blame that simple soul because he did not see 
the coincidence, for he did not. No calendar has he, no 
notion that here — or nowhere — is divine drama. Ten 
solid years ago, the same field, same man, same passer- 
by : a hard heart and hard soil then ; a soft, saved 
heart and soft, saved soil now. The old graceless growl is 
gone, and now for the note of joy — a full octave, a grand 
diapason. Having both a canoe and a farm, this saved 
soul is as much sailor as landsman, and can literally fulfil 
Clement's word in the second century : " Praising we 
plough ; and singing we sail." 

(20^^ October.) 
A formidable feature of our inland journey is the 
crossing of the weary Kifumadzi desert in the Luvale 
country. A curious bit of the earth's crust this to crawl 
over. In old maps here is a flat seriously put down as a 
sea, and (certes !) looking out from camp just as day is 
breaking in red on the great expanse of waste lying at 
our feet, the outlook is reminiscent of a sullen sea. We, 
as it were, camped on the beach near by, while stretching 
far beyond lies the great sandy ocean shorn by the wind 
of anything that ever grew upon it. Tufts of sere grass 
the exception. You might carry the idea a little further, 



156 THINKING BLACK 

and like ships away on the skyline, suspicion the faint 
outline of one or two palm-like trees, mere pin-points in 
the immensity. Into this desolation we plunge to-day, 
our black guides warning us that we will be cheaply 
out of it with four days' hard journeying, water the cruel 
lack ahead. We are in for Zebulun's portion at last : 
*' They shall suck of treasures hid in the sand." Thus 
spurred on, we cut off our first slice of desert in a five 
hours' journey, lurching along over tiresome sand, the 
joys of a flat-as-a-dining-table path quite lost in the 
dragging, deterrent track. Towards the close of the journey 
wells dug by former travellers begin to appear, and down 
into these we anxiously peer for a sign of water. In vain. 
Once and again, and yet again, we draw blank, all as dry 
as a kiln. Not enough water to wash your teeth in, not 
a drop. N.B. : Dig your well before you are thirsty. 
Yet still we swelter on, more than a little hungry, more 
than a little hot, more than a little dirty, seeking, ever 
seeking the water we find not. Miles and miles of un- 
mitigated desert — voila tout. 

At last our joyless, jaded men will no longer be 
beguiled on by hopes of hypothetical water, so they de- 
clare they will dig. This they do, right nobly, under a 
broiling sun, and although a solid hour of it sees no 
result, still they dig on into the second hour with plucky 
negro pugnacity and breathing as loud as a forge bellows. 
That perspiration streaming from them in the sun, they 
call " the salt melting out of the beef" All our superior 
sagacity is scorned, the Bihean being quite sure that if 



THE DESERT JOURNEY 157 

water appears at all it will be in spite of us. Finally he 
won't even answer our eager questions, but keeps a surly- 
silence, thinking, no doubt, that the sound of our own 
nonsense will make us ashamed. Approaching one of 
these diggers, tongue hanging out of the head, I was 
alarmed to see the faddy old gentleman look up with 
terror — or a good imitation of it — and beseeching me 
with the sweat of honest toil on his brow to make myself 
scarce, or the boots would drive away the water. 
'• Boots," quoth he, " are not for desert sands." But the 
darkest hour is before the dawn, and the great frosty 
chill in our soul is dissipated by a sharp pistol shot, 
" Water 1 " his eloquent, unassisted noun scorning the aid 
of verb, adjective, or adverb. 

Then a man's head peeps up above the top of the 
well, and again and again the old Greek " Eureka !" rings 
out defiance to the desert. Anon comes a song centuries 
old, and sung in all Eastern lands, one song, many 

variants : — 

" Spring up, well ! " 

At first the stuff drunk is liquid mud, first cousin to 
dirtiest ditch-water of old England, btit early visitors to 
the well find the sediment eliminated and a fairly clean 
drink the residuum. Besides, there is a real rift in this 
cloud, and barring colour and consistency this precious 
fluid is neither brackish nor bitter — why, sand is the finest 
filter going. Far better this than the many putrid 
African pools one must sample, brimful with tadpoles 
and insects as nameless as numberless. 



158 THINKING BLACK 

But, as tbe natives put it, " there can be no birth 
without a pang," so the dawn of the 21st of October sees 
us stoically beginning a second day of the desert tramp, 
the absolute sameness of the chronicle being repeated 
with the certainty of a phonograph. The silent desert 
parching in the sun can now be seen to break away in 
weary waves of sandhills, and our caravan pace has de- 
generated into a crawl, the route really not as " the crow 
flies " but as the snail crawls. And sure, there is some- 
thing of the infinite in the very monotony of this waste, 
the vast sweep of the horizon only deepening this sense 
of infinity. Our roasting English tweeds make us envy 
the negro who peels to the waist and wears the merest 
wisp of garment round his equatorial regions. Sun and 
sand rule the road, the sun smiting your head and the 
sand doing its exasperating worst for your feet. Then, 
ahead, like a lurking lion, there is the same old perpetual 
puzzle at sundown. To wit, how, where, and when to get 
the supposititious fire that will boil the supposititious 
water locked in the bosom of this desert ? 

Splitting the caravan into two, like an orange, the 
** water " section is left in camp to wring a few drops of 
drink from that dry desert, whilst the faggot-seekers 
scatter over the clean-swept sand for fuel. It soon 
comes out that, far from thinking this "fire and water" 
cleavage a mere accident of desert environment, our 
negro argues that these two elements have for centuries 
been owned as the great " Kings of Africa." Ask 
him to prove his case for the dual kingship of Fire 



THE DESERT JOURNEY 159 

and Water, and this is how he most quaintly works out 
at the Euclidean Q.E.D. "A king indeed is King Fire," 
says he, " for listen, oh listen. You pack all your 
treasures into your house, and {'sweru!') an advancing 
forest fire having licked up all the grass now leaps up at 
your thatch, and devours your all, licking up in flame 
even the last vestige of house and goods. But, look ye ! 
down dips the sun, the cold night wind darts into your 
body, and you gladly kneel before that same King Fire 
(the destroyer of your earthly all), craving his cheering 
warmth. Yea, you beseech him to cook your food, so little 
dare you disdain King Fire. 

" So, too, with King Water. The rushing water per- 
chance swallows in death your loved first-born, drowned 
perhaps in a canoe or crossing a rickety bridge. Yea, he, 
King Water, is the murderer of your darling, but darest 
thou refuse to drink him ? Contrariwise, at sundown you 
cringingly kneel with your cup and — and drink of your 
son's murderer ! Hail, King Water ! and hail, King 
Fire ! though ye slay me, yet must I cling to you." 
Certain it is that, poetic ravings apart, this kingship of 
these elements is a dry old forensic dictum among 
negroes, and (arson excepted) damages from fire and 
water in Africa are disallowed on the plea that it is an 
'' act of God." 

More : next comes a choking simoom, every man 
lying prone on the earth, head butting the sand. Good 
it is to see the reign of Law even here, for your nude 
natives are a lawless lot, and the Lord thus gives them an 



160 THINKING BLACK 

excellent example of His eternal equipoise of law — these 
howling sandstorms, I mean, rushing like fiends across 
the miles of blistering sand. For, be it noted, this 
sun burns, and burns, and b-u-r-n-s until, at a certain 
point, it seems to have overreached itself. Thus having 
disturbed by rarefaction the atmospheric balance, out 
rush the sand-hounds of the desert, these whirling 
hurricanes that easily establish equilibrium as by royal 
command. They blind and choke mere man, no doubt, 
but nevertheless the perfect balance of Nature is restored 
by a perfect Creator. Nor dare a snug — and smug — 
Missionary claim exemption from a mouthful of dirt upon 
the plea that God's message has brought him to these 
wilds : are not " the winds His messengers " too ? You'll 
only get sand in your teeth if you open your mouth in 
objection. Moral : Rain or shine, do not tamper with 
God's government of His own Africa. 

This is not all. Such real give and take is there in 
this desert panorama that we are not surprised when, by 
way of counterpoise, the pendulum swings from sand- 
storm to the old hoax of mirage. Curious policy of make- 
believe this, for here you have a dead desert that long ago 
has killed all the poetry out of the waste ; here, wonder 
of wonders, is a howling wilderness in a sham penitential 
way turning poet and cheating us with mirage. Stern 
and forbidding as the earth is about here, what is this if 
not the desert turning poet ? A mocking attempt, shall 
we call it, to produce an imaginary oasis in lieu of the 
real thing : else how can you square the undeniable fact 



THE DESERT JOURNEY 161 

that the uglier the desert the more seductive the mirage ? 
(Granted, the said bewitching mirage is as much in you 
as it is in the treacherous desert, yet is it not equally 
certain that, given no desert, there can be no mirage?) 
Be that as it may, here is the true tale of a mirage. Back 
came our faggot-searchers one by one, solemnly reporting 
a lake to be seen away on the Southern skyline. The 
oldest Biheans with us stoutly refused to believe the thing, 
until finally the wrangle came to an issue in my ofi'ering 
to accompany four of our faithfuls to see for ourselves ; 
the pro lake and^ro mirage factions being both repre- 
sented. (Rather reminiscent, this, of the pro water, pro 
fire sections we left behind.) So off we start, heading due 
South and tramping for two solid hours ; the pro lake 
prophets developing a somewhat chastened optimism the 
farther we penetrated into the void. On and on we go, 
hope finally sinking so low that it seems to ooze out of 
our boots — no lake visible, or likely to be. Only the same 
old outlook on a limitless ocean of sand. Yet here is a 
blatant "^ro-laker" at your elbow indoctrinating you 
with his eloquent fiction of a man-in-the-moon oasis, the 
earnest entreaty of the man almost winning you over to 
his dream. Certain it is, I have the black and white of 
my note-book for it, that I too caught the same momen- 
tary mirage, and declared my own private and unalterable 
conviction that the men were right, for — for there was a 
lake ! But the Bihean who was our guide enjoyed my 
greenness, and for many a day afterwards when we met, 
his face wore a suspicious smile suggestive of the fact that 



162 THINKING BLACK 

he was still chewing the cud of an exceedingly pleasant 
jest. As, however, we had the choice of either tramping 
on South at this rate for ten solid days of desert, or going 
back to camp, we preferred retreat. In all that weary 
counter-march we sighted only two living things, a jackal 
and a sad-faced gnu ; our Biheans arguing that of the two 
the jackal was a peculiarly succulent morsel. Thus did 
we prove that a desert, so obviously a death-trap in many 
other particulars, caps all its sad shortcomings in this 
accomplished mendacity of mirage. For if water for the 
moment is not your pinch, then you are sure to dream of 
the far-away leeks and garlic of Egypt. And if per- 
chance the Army and Navy Stores have cheated the 
wilderness by preserving Egyptian leeks and garlic, then 
some other dream is sure to appear as your " will-o'-the- 
wisp " of the night. Unfortunately, we had no animals 
with us : a horse or a donkey is never deceived by 
mirage. Smell, not sight, is their sure guide, and where an 
animal sniffs not moisture you may despise Africa's most 
seductive mirage. Away in the Western sky, lo ! a dozen 
dark vultures hovering for the funeral of an antelope, the 
official mourners these, come to bury a denizen of the 
plains. More than mourners, they are the African grave- 
diggers ; and, more than grave-diggers, they themselves are 
the grave, the spades their own beaks. 

* * * 

Not to mimic too much the guide-book style, let me 
write one word in retrospect on the configuration of the 
country. After crossing the Kwanza River heading East, 



THE DESERT JOURNEY 163 

we encountered that curious switchback arrangement of 
hills for the first week. Finally following this lively lot 
of steeple-chasing it over the country, we are jolted down 
into Luvaleland, literally " the Flats." Here the joys of 
the future railroad surveyors begin, and long level miles 
of country ahead will admit of a railway running like a 
ramrod due East. Kavungu, afterwards the scene of the 
sainted Cyril Bird's labours, was then only a dark den of 
robbers, and a rendezvous for all the slave caravans of the 
Interior. Here it is the muttering storm of revolt bursts 
on us, and our craven carriers strike for higher wages. 
After a five days' siege in our little forest zariba, the 
enemy pulls down his flag, and all is in train for a start on 
11th October for the last long stage of Eastward journey. 
Struck the upper reaches of the far-flowing Zambezi on 
the 18th, and on the 23rd swam across the Lukoleshe, its 
last feeder intercepting our path. This means, of course, 
that the rivers ahead all shed off" to the Congo basin on 
the North. You would have applauded the army of 
youngsters struggling across the broad Lutikina where we 
forded it hard by the rapids. With load on head they 
pluckily fought the rushing sheet of water, now and then 
making a grab at some big brother when the flow 
threatened to swish them ofi" their feet. By the 26th we 
have, far on our right, the lonely Kalene Hill, on which 
dark spot the lights of Dr. and Mrs. Fisher's house 
will not begin to flicker for fourteen years to come. And 
now we begin to pull ourselves together, for we have 
passed the longitudinal centre of the continent and hope 



164 THINKING BLACK 

wings onward. Then comes the crossing of the Lufupa 
and Lulua, two noble rivers in one day, with laborious 
bridging of the former. Camping on the off bank (oldest 
rule of the road : cross your last river for the day and 
camp!), the morrow sees us cutting across the "Zebra 
Plains " ; no misnomer the name, for, superbly beautiful, 
there they are in troops sporting in the sun. A sort of 
safe postal address this, for Zebras, I fancy. Where are we 
now? Naive nature already suspicions some impending 
change ahead, and the ground begins to echo a metallic 
sound. Pushing on, we pass within stone-throw of the 
great Miambo copper mines, a huge mass of mineral rock, 
riddled all over with marks of excavations, and all 
oxidised into green. Exactly like a great old fortress 
shaken by war and riddled with shell. Frowning but- 
tresses and gaping gashes all over. At last comes the 1st 
of November and dies memorabilis of our venture. The 
path from our camp at Miambo is a gentle slope upwards 
for an hour, then along a level ridge boasting a stubborn 
growth of sharp cactus. We are not on the easy descent 
many minutes, however, when the hedging trees on all 
sides disappear, and here is the Garenganze at last ! 
Across the laughing waters of the Lualaba, there we have 
the lovely vision of our blue Garenganze hills, and another 
(mental) vision of lively life ahead. Thus it happened 
that after thirty-two months of protracted endeavour en 
route, we pass through the Western door of Mushidi's 
empire at the Lualaba, 



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'^HE vastness of <^frica is vividly suggested by this map. India 
(1,574,450 sq. miles)y China (1,300,000 sq. miles), Europe 
(3,700,000 sq. miles\ Qreat 'Britain (122,500 sq. miles), and most of 
^Australia {2,350,000 sq. miles) have all been laid (drawn to the same 
scale) on the face of ^Africa., and still there are many 'uncovered plots, 
equal to India in bulk. The total, 9,046,950 sq. miles against ^Africa's 
1 2,000,000. 



BOOK II 

CHAPTER X 
Farthest, but Shut, In 



"Solomon, where is thy glory? 
It's gone in the wind! 
Babylon ! what of thy story ? 
It's gone in the wind!" 

RuCKERT (aPPROX. FROM GeRMAN ] 



" On crossing the Lualaba, I shall go direct S.W. 
to the copper mines of Katanga. Eight days south 
of Katanga the natives declare the fountains [of the 
Nile] to be. When I have found them I shall return 
by Katanga to the underground houses of Rua . . . 
travel in boat up the river Lufira." 

Livingstone's Farewell to Stanley. 



" You know the hopelessness of such a task [as 
African Missions] till you find a St. Paul or a St. 
John. Their representatives nowadays want so 
much per year and a contract." 

General Gordon to Sir Richard Burton. 



CHAPTER X 

Farthest, but Shut, In 

JJy^HEREAT the reader is glad, 
for at lasty after thirty-two 
months' delay on the road, he arrives at 
Mushidts great capital. 

YOU think that this great negro London is a choice 
corner of the continent. Not a bit of it. By way 
of choosing a country Mushidi has blundered on 
a bare brown stretch of soil, flanked by two ribs of 
rocky hills, scarcely any timber for fuel and a scarcer 
supply of water. The city of Tantalus this Babylon 
should be called, for the water, as it were, is up 
to your chin, yet you can never get at it : 

" Water, water, everywhere, 
Nor any drop to drink." 

The real rivers of the land, Lualaba and Lufira, just 
near enough on the map to make the teeth water, and 
just far enough to defy you to drink a drop. "Tan- 
talising," we call it, but the "thinking black" metaphor 
for this same idea is the wild phrase, " the non-biteable 
elbow " 1 " Your elbow is near to your mouth, but can 



168 THINKING BLACK 

you bite it ? " ask these thirsty ones. And the reason ? 
The story runs that Mushidi was born out East in just 
such a barren type of land, the tribe all drinking from 
wells, and never seeing a fish. Far from being dis- 
contented with their lot, they made necessity a virtue 
and put the whole tribe under stern prohibition of 
fish, this taboo going down to endless generations. 
Here, then, you find Mushidi's reason for scorning the 
banks of such a noble river as the Lualaba — did not 
the despotism of custom doom thousands of souls to 
renounce a fish diet? The dead ancestors of Mushidi 
really rule the land from their graves in the Far East, 
and they alone are the supreme arbiters in morals. 
"Thou shalt not eat fish," say a thousand dead men, 
and Mushidi's millions quake "Amen." Let the living 
defy the voice of the dead : let them say. The times 
are changed and we change with them — say this in 
Africa and at once the door of the spirit-world is 
slammed in their faces, and their guardian spirits are 
turned to be their enemies. So here we are doomed 
to drink dirty water for many a day, the potion so 
putrid that it is impossible to drink any that has 
lain overnight. 

It is at the Nkulu end of this capital that Mushidi 
has his headquarters, and here the Arabs have built 
him his Castle of Indolence in wattle and daub, a large 
but very shabby relation of Buckingham Palace. A 
cold, cheerless, mud barn, really, the grass roof forbidding 
a chimney. In Africa a room without a fireplace — and 



FARTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 169 

there are too many such — is like a head without eyes 
in it, a face without a smile. You shiver in it even 
when the air is warm, and you wonder why you do 
so. Not so the negro. The first Luban who saw a 
fire on the hearth deplored such a wicked waste of 
fuel, and on seeing the flame running up the chimney, 
actually proposed to run up after it. If all the heat 
goes out at the top, why not take the overland route, 
why not climb the roof, squat on the chimney, and 
catch it coming out ? 

In the days when I was the only white skin at 
Bunkeya I got to size up my Mushidi rather closely. 
Here the five hundred wives stream in on him with 
well-cooked dainties, for do they not all vie with each 
other to capture the Chiefs citadel, his stomach ? The 
prose of this culinary combat, if converted into the poetry 
of porridge, probably runs : — 

"The turnpike road to royal hearts, I find. 
Lies through their mouths, or I mistake mankind." 

Thus it Cometh to pass that, pampered with negro 
luxury and softened by sloth, strength is forsaking 
Mushidi's limbs as common sense his skull, and the old 
tale is once again true that luxury is the conqueror 
of conquerors. He never dreams what a great luxury 
it is to dispense with luxury. Hungry as I often am 
these days, Mushidi and I dine together on all manner 
of messes, the only other invited guests being one or 
two tiny negro tots who cannot aspire to be Mushidi's 



170 THINKING BLACK 

rivals. I suppose it is on the principle of the smallest 
stars being nearest the sun that these doll-guests are 
allowed to join us, for even a group of elders is driven 
off and expected to eat our leavings. Mushidi's favourite 
name is that of a forest tree, and the loftier the tree, 
remember, the less shade there is at its foot. So Mushidi's 
very loftiness makes him lonely enough at these feasts. 
Even aristocrats like Talashio and Mumomeka are waved 
off. Of course, knives and forks are taboo, for why bring 
weapons of death to a feast, the emblem of life ? 
Spurning, therefore, such new-fangled vulgarities of 
Europe, we follow the oldest track of the sons of men 
leading to the cooking-pot, and washing our fingers 
scrupulously, here we are in imagination sitting down 
with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, using Adam's knives 
and forks. Once, indeed, I produced a pocket-knife 
wherewith to aid mastication, but the startled king, 
alarmed at this lapse of decorum, seemed to imagine 
I was going to dine off, instead of with, him. There is 
sense, too, in this anti- knife idea, for surely we lose 
our good teeth for the similar reason as the savage 
has beauties. Our innovation of knives and forks has 
done it all ; you cannot have your cake and eat it, 
and if a knife does the work of the teeth, then you lose 
the latter for the former. 

It sounds very simple so to leap back a thousand 
years in table etiquette, but the fact is, to sup with 
primitive man you feel quite nervous about your first 
dinner-party. Only one dish is allowed, and you are 



FARTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 171 

even denied any liquid assistance to wash it down. Hav- 
ing heard rumours of our " grace before meat " doings, 
Mushidi quite seriously wanted me to shut my eyes while 
he kept his open " to see how it was done." Like the 
young heathen "Huck," it seems to him droll, so droll, 
this inability to proceed right off with our eating, without 
first of all mumbling something over the food — yet there 
is nothing wrong with it. When he asked if he should 
" say grace " too, I gave him a nasty nag by answering, 
" No ! For it is written that God hath created meats to 
be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and 
know the truth." " Say something to God about the 
food " is a curious (and not bad) phrasing of the request 
for grace before meat. Farther out East, where raiding 
is customary on the outskirts of some Christian native 
schools, the rumour runs that warriors reckon on the very 
devotions of the saints to swoop down and do cattle- 
lifting. Like Mushidi, who asks me to pray while he 
keeps his eyes open and watches, these freebooters say : 
" Yes, let us wait till they shut their eyes and pray, then 
when their eyes are shut we will steal their cattle." 
Thus the' very phrase "to shut the eyes" ultimately 
works out at the very curious idea of " living for eternity," 
the thought being that the man who so prays is oblivious 
to the mere temporalities of life, for does he not shut his 
eyes and look off to the unseen ? 

And so the royal meal goes forward with great de- 
corum, our stony silence only broken by the dip of each 
sop ("a boat" they call it) into the sauce. No spoon 



172 THINKING BLACK 

allowed, so you, the possessor of a richly developed sense 
of humour, must mop up the gravy with a sop of mush. 
Talk about manners, some of the royal notions of hon ton 
make you fancy you are dining in the moon. Yet how 
can I laugh at him when I remember that our own Henry 
the Eighth, with magnificent unconcern, did also eat with 
his fingers ? And when hungry would he not take up his 
victuals and swallow them in handfuls at a time ? Why, 
Mushidi in comparison is as polite as a dancing-master. 

Be it noted, this puzzling Mushidi is keen on writing, 
and here in Bunkeya it is a sight to see every paltry 
scrap of paper prized almost more than cloth. One man 
after another treats a bit of old newspaper as tenderly as 
a crisp bank-note, a rumour having come in from the far 
Ocean that our race was really " ruled by paper." Even 
calico is common, they say, but does not paper buy 
calico ? So they seize on every scrap they can find, and 
soon you see the Chief scrawling on it a rapid Pitman's 
system of shorthand kind of writing. Since the days of 
old when his ancestors scribbled with sepia on papyrus, 
this is the first timid dip into the great ocean of Literature 
by the mighty negro. With a dexterous sweep of your 
borrowed pencil he flashes along the paper in a curious 
switchback manner, the lines crossing and recrossing each 
other in a hopeless tangle. Oh ! ye who have seen a 
spider crawl out of an inkstand and stroll across a sheet 
of letter-paper ; never since then have you seen the equal 
in penmanship. And all this crooked calligraphy because 
we as a white race are ruled by paper, forgetful of the 



FAHTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 173 

fact that although paper rules us, we at least rule our 
paper. What a black-and-white jumble of crooked lines ! 
"Medicine," is what he calls it, and, truth to tell, so 
cryptic does it look that, in England, after vainly trying 
to decipher same, one would most naturally send it round 
to the local chemist to be made up as a prescription. 

This "black-art" notion of letter- writing has got such 
a cunning grip of the negro brain that even your own 
black boy will recall you on urgent business by scrawling 
a few lines of zigzag nonsense on a bare sheet of paper. 
The real message, of course, is verbal, but these magic 
lines of criss-cross could not be omitted. Is there any 
significance in the fact that the negro word " to write " 
is only the word " to tattoo," and does he think that we 
tattoo on paper precisely as he does on his body ? Even 
Mushidi, who does not believe in discretion being the 
better part of valour, has been known to scrawl one of 
these vainglorious cryptograms to his enemy in arms. 
I wonder, does he think that to have it out in black and 
white is better than settling scores in black and blue? 
Along with this funny stenography he (joyously, scenting 
battle !) takes great good care to send the eloquent 
present of a hoe and bag of bullets, ofi"ering his enemy 
a this-or-that choice — peace or war, bullets or hoe ? A 
sort of heathen Parcels Post arrangement this, I suppose, 
with accompanying communication per Letter Post. 

No notion has he that in this writing of ours we catch 
the living thought as a word and imprison it on paper. 
The exact idea he seems to have of the business is akin 



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phrase : " It is written " ? Is this what Job means when 
he cries : " Oh that mine enemy had written a book ! " ? 
Certainly the African has nothing in writing, hence flows 
this flood of falsehood. Hence, too, that proverb of 
theirs, "When the rabbit was promised beans he pro- 
duced a basket," the idea being that a verbal promise is only 
valid when it is uttered, and not later. Art thou promised 
beans ? Then produce thy basket and carry them off". 

Exasperated at this lack of definite data, they (and 
wouldn't you ?) have many a funny expedient to fix 
facts in the mind. When I saw the Prince Chamunda 
he was almost buried in a great coil of knotted cord : his 
perpetual calendar this, of the passing days. Run on the 
decimal system, every tenth knot is double, and as he 
gazed on the increasing heap a sorry sigh escaped him. 
Thinking me sadly lacking in scholastic culture, this man 
laughed at my month of four weeks : he made it one 
week = ten days, therefore thirty days = three weeks. If 
a month, says he, how can you divide it by four ? But 
this pioneer in time-tables was soon wiped out, for finally 
the town rose against him and shrieked that this 
" numbering of the days " was witchcraft : was he not 
merely counting out the days of his neighbours unto 
burial ? Thus they strangled reform — a badly needed one 
too, for quite an aged man will tell you blandly that he 
is ten years of age. Is this calculation correct after all ? 
Does he mean that, sleeping away three-quarters of his life 
as he does, it is fair only to count the meagre margin that 
remains of non-slept time ? Days they can count, but as 



176 THINKING BLACK 

for mere hours ! Not one clock or watch in the whole 
land, and their mighty sun overhead is so very much the 
national timepiece that whether you innovate a " Water- 
bury " or an eight-day clock, " sun " (nsaa) is the only 
name they can give such a tantalising ticker. And here 
it is in this clockless life you find the real root of his 
happy-go-lucky existence ; never did that irritating tick- 
tack tick-tack set the African nerves on edge ; never did 
that everlasting click-click of the terrible escapement of 
a watch put him on his mettle as a man. This to a 
negro — to put it mildly — would be equivalent to dying a 
peculiarly unpleasant and unnecessary kind of death. 
Time is passing, quickly passing ; " but," objects the 
negro, " why nag out the truth so brutally, why this 
relentless repetition ? " 

If it be permissible to English the famous line of 
Schiller, " The happy hear no clock," then, certes, all 
Africa would arise and claim that great German as their 
anti-timepiece champion. The pretensions, too, of this 
preposterous little thing called a " sun," still at it after 
sundown, still bustling on through the night with a tick 
like a fever pulse ! A " sun " ? why, the sun, the genuine 
article, has set long ago. Yet the commonest form of 
treating the first few watches that came in from the 
Atlantic was to keep them swaying to and fro — lest they 
stopped. But they inconsistently object to the very 
thing they encouraged. One old man solemnly resolved 
to boil his ticker by way of curing it of this " bee-like 
buzzing in the belly " ; and another negro (younger, 



FARTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 177 

therefore wiser) frankly solved the problem by eviscerating 
the inner wheels. With a kind of lofty obstinacy, these 
negroes would listen not at all to my short but masterly 
account of their delicate mechanism, and finally the poor 
palpitating watches were "killed" neatly and thoroughly, 
their tin cases becoming the smart snuff-boxes of such 
smart Africans. 

Another attempt I saw at negro recording was in a 
little hut where I slept. Looking up to the beehive roof 
I spied a number of tiny white flags flying, mere ribbons 
of calico these, some grimed with soot, and one quite new. 
*' Oh ! " said the owner thereof, " these are receipts of 
debts I have paid." Commoner still is it to find little 
packets of twigs scrupulously tied together, the varying 
sizes all eloquent of some transaction represented by these 
vouchers — a long tusk of ivory, for instance, being 
memorised by a longish twig, and so on in ratio right 
round the various sorts and sizes of tusks. 

# * * 

The royal " sneeze," I find, is a solemn event here in 
Court life. For if this Mushidi can produce a successful 
sneeze in public, then the thousands of negroes acclaim 
such a sovereign act with a thunder of hand-clapping : 
" Long live the King ! Hail ! " Therefore the oftener he 
so sneezes the longer is he supposed to live, the idea 
being that a sneeze is only a superabundance of life 
overflowing in friendly fizz. A paroxysm of sneezing 
only evokes a chorus of approval, and one almost suspects 
that the old man is addicted to the very snuffing that is 



178 THINKING BLACK 

taboo. As, therefore, all his oppressed subjects are 
presumably longing for Mushidi's death, this is the reason 
for his so theatrically brandishing this sneeze in their 
faces. A sort of health certificate it is, notifying all 
comers that there is life in " the old boy " yet, for has not 
the champagne of life still some fizz in it ? Oh, that 
beaming smile of hope spreading across the monarch's 
countenance when he is waiting for his sneeze, notice of 
whose arrival has been telegraphed in advance. A-a-a- 
atchoo ! comes the mighty deed, and the roar of response 
is so loud that you can almost understand what 
Xenophon means when he tells you of the famous sneeze 
that decided the fate of Athens. For is not this sneeze 
as historic as it is international ? Compare in ancient 
Greece the greeting " Zeus preserve thee " after a sneeze. 
Or in ancient Italy the phrase, *' Sit salutiferum," with its 
modern Italian equivalent, "Felicita." Or the German 
" Gesuudheit," the French " Bonne sant^," and the North 
of England " Bless the bairn," all after a solemn sneeze. 
The contrary, too, is also seen when His Majesty is 
indisposed, a mere royal headache or cold sending a 
shiver through the land. In Russia, one tear in the 
Czar's eye is said to cost a thousand pocket-handkerchiefs ; 
but Mushidi, he goes farther, and resolves that if he 
cannot sleep he will let nobody else do so, saint or sinner. 
Many a midnight messenger does he send ofi" to us to call 
the " men of God," and he gives his royal word with a 
royal oath that our medicines mean "Life Eternal." 
'' Kapali Vali Okufa!'' he said as he gazed at the 



FARTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 179 

bottles of physic: "There is no more death." The old 
Napoleonic phrase, " As false as a bulletin," becomes quite 
the common idea at Mushidi's Court. " Eternal health " 
is his dream — but remember the average eternity of a 
negro lasts only six weeks. A most nerve-racking ordeal 
any such " treatment " ever is, because the native " witch- 
doctors " are usually attacked for failure, and frictions 
abound. A favourite method of disposing of a nasty 
drug is the common African device of taking the dose, not 
in person, but by proxy, the real sick man believing that 
if even his cousin drinks it for him, then the healing 
virtue will be the same. Have they not the same blood ? 
Or smoke your medicine in a pipe, as one patient of 
mine did. Busy with something else, and mindful of the 
dictum that the whole art of medicine consists in judicious 
poisoning, I gave the lady three tabloids, leaving her to 
dispose of them in the easy and elementary mode of such 
a pampered form of dispensing. Swallow them ? Not 
she, my lady. Meeting her an hour afterwards, the 
only answer this negro sister gave was by pointing 
silently to the huge gourd pipe she was then smoking. 
Nor could I remotely guess what the solemn-faced 
sacrifice meant by this pointing in such a scared way to 
her pipe, until my eye caught the poor tabloids roasting 
in the bowl like coffee-beans. She cannot conceive how 
decisive is a doctor's dose, but in a kindly way approves 
all she can. Put the clinical thermometer in her mouth 
for a few seconds, and she sucks it solemnly for healing 
virtue. Remove now the said instrument and wave her 



180 THINKING BLACK' 

off — back she comes to-morrow for— for a second suck, 
the thermometer having worked mightily, yea mentally. 
She means, doubtless, to be cured by degrees. But Mr. 
Missionary, being a bit of a quack in his own quiet way, 
often finds his awkward and rather prickly professional 
pride humbled. He is nettled that the negro does not 
believe in him, and shivers even in the sunshine when 
he recalls Voltaire's biting phrase about pouring "drugs 
of which we know little into bodies of which we know 
less." A good treatment in Europe can be fatal in 
Africa. Mercury, for example, specific among Europeans, 
is, dose for dose, certain death to a negro. A proof this, 
of Voltaire's phrase. 

The commoner pest is the malingerer who wants your 
healing balm. Balm, of course, in a bottle, the said 
bottle to possess a cork — for is she not in a sinking con- 
dition ? Round the corner, in brisk business fashion, 
out goes the medicine and in goes the snufi", the bottle 
with the cork having seemingly saved this sinking sable 
sister. The same lady this who treats your Gospel in 
the same way, swallows the sermon and spits out the 
salvation. Contrast their treatment of one of their own 
old devil-doctors. He, oh, he is revered, and all 
because he makes them pay through the nose, even 
demanding an initial fee, Chiteo, before he stoops to 
take any case in hand. The real professional he. One 
such I found threatening a patient with sudden gunshot- 
death if he failed to find the fees — had cured his man and 
then proposed to kill him for the cure ! He laughed at 



FARTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 181 

me for manifestly saving a dysentery case with lead and 
opium and getting nothing for it — he would have shot 
the very man he had cured. In other words, would have 
given him the lead without the opium. 

* * * 

But what is this Mushidi who thus drags his weary, 
wicked way through these pages ? 

Here is his history in a nutshell. Long ago, as a 
mere adventurer, he wriggled into the Lufira valley from 
the Far East, his followers numbering three men plus his 
wife, Kapapa — grand total, five souls. He is heading 
for Mpande, the Sanga Copper King, this chief having 
covenanted friendship with Mushidi's father, Kalasa. 
Here, then, you have the thin edge of the wedge of this 
future despotism, for this Bulunda covenant is of 
genuine sanctity among raw, unsophisticated natives. 
More than a mere chance acquaintance, he it is, this 
covenanted " friend," who must stick closer than a 
brother. 

Now, the brother, or brothers, as in the case of 
this Copper King, had failed him at the crucial point, 
and is there not a Bantu proverb that declares a brother 
is born for adversity ? Yet here was Mpande attacked 
from the North by Lubans, all his harem kidnapped, 
and no Sanga kinsman forthcoming to lend a fraternal 
hand — this, forsooth, in the teeth of the basic Bantu 
proverb-law that a brother is horn for adversity. Who 
ever dared in Africa to fly in the face of a proverb ? Is 
it not the smallest possible means of conveying the largest 



182 THINKING BLACK 

amount of wisdom ? But here in the nick of time succour 
does arrive. Look at this travel-stained band of four 
men and a woman filing into the Sanga stockade at sun- 
down : is not this Mushidi, son of the covenanted " friend," 
Kalasa? Truly, here is a friend that sticketh closer 
than a brother. And there the whole story begins, yea, 
there also it ends, for there is nothing more to tell. 
Mushidi said, " tTy suis,j'y reste." A born manipulator of 
mankind, he made his dispositions accordingly, and with a 
mere handful of men followed up the Lubans, attacked 
by night, and rescued the kidnapped Sanga folks. Watch 
the momentous sequel. There and then, in the double 
heat of gratitude to the " friend " and rancour to the 
deserting " brother," a solemn pact was sealed : punning 
a variant on the old proverb, the grateful Copper King 
in one historic precedent cut off all his blood kinsmen 
"without a shilling" in the declaration: "A friend in 
need is a brother indeed ! Thou, Mushidi, art my 
Nswana, or heir apparent ; on thee only I bestow the 
Omande shell 1 " Now, here in this daring but dangerous 
ignoring of sacred blood kinsmanship you have the 
slumbering casus belli of the long-subsequent revolt of 
the Sanga tribe. Here, too, you have the mainsprings 
of Mushidi's bloody policy in these later years — does he 
not know that on the first sign of weakness the real 
aboriginal lords of the Sanga soil will give his foreign 
carcase to the fowls of the air ? Here, too, you find 
Mushidi's subtle reason for the building of a negro 
cosmopolitan state — does he not know that in this 



FARTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 183 

vast polyglot capital the aboriginal Sanga folks are 
outvoted ? 

Let it not be supposed, however, that to root out the 
aborigines is an easier thing to perform than to plan. 
These lords of the copper country, I have explained, are 
the Va Sanga, and a very poor sort of tribe of Judah, 
because their totem is "The Lion." Copying the lion, 
they alone boast a bearded manhood, and the longer the 
beard the more ideal the Sanga man. They spend years 
on the task of teaching this tribal beard to make a 
wonderful copy of Felis leo, and the Sanga man's heart- 
break is when he can only imitate a billygoat. The black 
Sanga showing his white teeth through the foliage of a 
long black beard, and rolling his " r's " like the Northum- 
brian burr — this is all the portrait you need of him. Yet 
he has the real title-deeds, and when Mushidi trained 
these Va Sanga as elephant-hunters he little guessed that 
one day, in revolt, they would draw a most careful bead 
on every Yeke man sighted in the bush. 

(Later.) 

This negro potentate is nothing if not superlative, and 
quite early in his curious career he resolves, in a blaze of 
tinsel glory, to wed a "white wife." So, with all his 
Eastern antipathies, he turns naturally to the West Coast, 
and in the pliant Portuguese sees the very men who will 
negotiate the dirty " deal." Are they not keen black 
slavers, and might they not return the compliment by 
selling him a white wife ? He even presented his heathen 
compliments to His Excellency the Governor of St. Paul 



184 THINKING BLACK 

de Loanda, requesting the hand of any of his young 
daughters — the ivory dowry fixed at thirty tusks. Fail- 
ing in this, his quest out along the Benguella road was 
more successful. The stinging sarcasm of the proposal 
was of course quite lost on the degraded Portuguese, and 
one grim day, yes ! " Madam Mushidi " actually arrived 
from the far West. What a zenith hour for Bluebeard 
when that daring item, so long down in his programme, 
was marked off as fact stranger than fiction. Then it was 
he proclaimed himself by the name " Telwatelwawatel- 
wanekumwineputu " — the spelling is mine, reader, the 
pronunciation thine. This means, "The always-spoken- 
of-one, spoken-of-even-in-the-Courts-of-Europe," and the 
title is a one-word unit rattled off breathlessly with no 
pause. ^ But Mushidi was far too clever a person to see 
anything exactly as it was, nor did he dream of those 
domestic bickerings in store for His Majesty. A plain 
man had married a brilliant woman, but what plain man 
wants a blaze of fireworks at his fireside ? Certainly not 
this type of woman, for I once heard her call Mushidi " a 
pig." Maria de Fonseca was her name, her father a 
Portuguese officer ; the proud brother being the famous 
(or notorious) Senhor Coimbra, who lived west of 
Bailundu. The same rogue this, Louren^o da Souza 
Coimbra, who with his gang of fifty-two slaves tied in 
lots of seventeen or eighteen, fell in with Lovett Cameron 



^ If you ask me how to pronounce this long-as-a-coniet name, may I 
parenthetically reply that it is done the way a gi'eat man said he pronounced 
" Chicago " ? "I never pronounce it," said he. 



FARTHEST, BUT SHUT, IN 185 

in Luba country. This man wrote a dying charge com- 
mitting the guardianship of his empress-niece to me, and 
Maria de Fonseca was always very clannish to her own 
colour, calling them "brothers." "Queen Caf^-au-lait " 
is a happy description of her own pigment, but Mushidi 
always condescendingly calls her " our white sister." The 
sombre complacency of this degrading union is the 
dreariest part of it all, the Portuguese having merely sold 
the woman for a few hundred pounds. From the Mushidi 
standpoint, however, what he needed badly was an awe- 
inspiring prestige so great that the tribes lining his trade 
route out to the Atlantic will not dare to molest his 
caravans. For like the old AVagogo tricks on the road 
East to Zanzibar these Luvale live on the looting of 
passing caravans, and no sooner does a caravan pass into 
the Interior than these Luvale begin to plot its pro- 
spective plunder on the return journey. Thus even 
Mushidi's slave clientele run a risky game, for their road 
out west is bristling with Luvale " gas-pipe " guns. Sold 
by the stupid Biheans to the sly Luvale, the very guns 
they sold were pointed against them. This is why 
Kavungu is the great half-way point on which all home- 
ward-bound Biheans concentrate ; and only when they 
have massed in their thousands will they dare to sally out 
on the western road. Hence, then, the diplomacy of 
planning this Portuguese marriage, for with effusive 
flattery Mushidi was told it would link his capital with 
the Courts of Europe. 

Infatuated with this daring link, he even resolved to 



186 THINKING BLACK 

ape European ways, and one caravan he actually loaded 
up with ivory, the stringent instructions being to take it 
out to the thousand-miles-off ocean and receive as pay- 
ment only English earthenware goods. Long months 
elapsed before the ambitious wanderers returned, the 
eloquent rattle-tattle of the loads of doomed earthenware 
being ominously metallic and tell-tale. When Homer at 
the dawn of history reminded the human race of the 
possibility of a slip between the cup and the lip, he little 
guessed what a vision of smashed cups would meet the 
eye of Mushidi as he gazed on those broken dreams of 
earthenware. Plates and cups, bowls and saucers, all 
broken to atoms, yet all solemnly taken out of the boxes 
with exasperating good humour. Each fragment judged 
to be a thing of beauty and a joy for ever. Even the 
smallest chips of china, with infantine gurgles of delight, 
were strung round the neck as ornaments, the handles of 
the cups innovating a new fashion in earrings. Such was 
Mushidi's attempt to take the kingdom of civilisation by 
force. And that fragile china is an eloquent enough 
symbol of the very civilisation he coveted, which 
smashed in his hands. 




CHAPTER XI 
Vice Versa 



"With joyful enthusiasm they [the Britons] 
applauded this speech [of Galgacus], in their 
barbarian fashion, with songs and murmurs, and 
discordant exclamations." Tacitus. 



" Most of the inland inhabitants [of Britain] do not 
sow corn, but live on milk and flesh, and are clad in 
skins. All the Britons, indeed, dye themselves with 
woad, which gives a bluish colour, and thus they are 
more alarming to look upon in battle. They wear 
their hair long, and have every part of their body 
shaved except their head and upper lip." Caesar. 



"A group of ten and even twelve have wives in 
common, and particularly brothers among brothers, 
and parents among their children, but if there be 
any issue by these wives, they are reputed to be the 
children of those to whose house each respectively 
was first brought as a bride." C«sar. 



" Some people . . . may be Rooshans, and others 
may be Prooshans; they are born so, and will 
please themselves. Them which is of other naturs 

thinks different." {Mrs. Gamp.) Dickens. 



CHAPTER XI 

Vice Versa 

TyfT' HEREIN the reader discovers 

that a tyrant is a man who finds 

his happiness in the misery of other people. 

YET this kind of thing goes on and on, not the West 
Coast only but the East, not the East only but the 
South, a constant stream of these Mushidi caravans 
worming their way out to all the Coast settlements. There 
they gorge themselves with so-called civilisation ; there, 
too, many are sucked into the whirlpool of gin-boozing, 
and dozens disappear from mortal ken, the probable prey of 
bandits paying them out in their own Mushidi coin. All 
along the East Coast you can find a Mushidite who, when 
he first sighted the Ocean, resolved never to leave it. And 
there he is to-day, a prosperous trader or the like, Arab 
skull-cap stuck impudently on his head, with all the old 
Hodge marks of his youth gone. " Absconded " is the 
English way of phrasing this runaway's action, but he had 
no compunction in charging Mushidi 100 per cent com- 
mission on the long Ocean journey, thus crying quits. 
Did not the king claim 100 per cent from the defaulter's 
own father ? 

189 



190 THINKING BLACK 

At our end of the line, too, this identical thing is 
happening, many an Arab arriving at Mushidi's capital 
never again to leave it. Mere packmen as such often are, 
Mushidi politely plunders the trader — with the man's own 
permission, the bargain being a dark affair in which the 
new-comer is presented with a wife and fields in exchange 
for the trade goods of some defrauded Coast merchant. 
Never will Mr. Packman sight the sea again, and never 
will the owner of the goods touch even a farthing in the 
pound. Thus Mushidi squares accounts with his commer- 
cial foes. Does the seductive Coast rob him of his caravans ? 
Then he will retaliate and pleasantly plunder a venture- 
some Arab of another man's money. But by no manner 
of means are you to imagine that this tit-for-tat trickery 
is barren of result. Truth demands the candid confession 
that this alone is the thing an African can understand. 
Lex talionis is written in his bones, and it is only when 
two rival factions are united in a common bond of horror 
of each other that they desist from crime. 

* * * 

But what about the Portuguese wife? Poor Queen 
Maria de Fonseca ! Some ladies realise that their fortune 
is invested in their face, and naturally expect to draw 
interest on the said capital. Maria de Fonseca, alone of 
all her colour among a million blacks, found her capital 
invested not in her face but in her skin, and drew cent 
per cent interest accordingly. Financial interest as well 
as social ditto ; for the lady who boasted — " My face is my 
fortune, sir ! " she said — well knew that her boasted beauty, 



VICE VERSA 191 

like wealth, is easily lost, whereas a white skin is a capital 
that is at par in Africa as long as life lasts. Her favourite 
affectation in dress these days is the wearing of loud velvet 
in voluptuous folds : blue, red, or yellow velvet one day, and 
brown or green the next. Arriving in the Interior, not 
by any means in the first blush of maidenhood, here she 
is frivolling about the capital, and hating the whole harem 
of rivals. Many an envenomed glance she shoots at an 
enemy, and many a plot she hatches for the downfall of 
some poor harmless soul. Talking Chiluba with a fierce 
flippancy, she it is who, Lady Macbeth-like, urges Mushidi 
on to his deeds of blood. ^ 

(20th December 1890.) 
One of the shrewdest revenue-raising tricks of Mushidi 
is the institution of a sort of Order of the Garter : the 
" Omande shell" decoration it is called. This amounts to 
the German status of Grand Duke : independent chiefs as 
far East as Ushiland (Mirambo, for instance) come West 
here to do fealty and receive the investiture. Revenue is 
Mushidi's idea in all this, and the fees are exorbitantly 
high, slaves paid away in gangs. And all this for the 
coveted boon of the " Omande shell " status. To particu- 
larise. Apart from the steady stream of payments made 

^ Aggressively self-conscious to the very end, her dying charge to me, 
her " uncle," was that her white skin should be buried in a white coffin ! 
Preached to, rain or shine, for many a weary day, she spurned the Christ, 
Whom she thought " a fool " for " dying like a sheep." Only once to my ken 
she patted Heaven on the back approvingly for having a toilet of " white 
robes," which she thought would suit her complexion ! One day, with tears 
in her eyes, she broke down and sobbed, " A slave ! yes ! They sold me like 
a mere chattel when I was a young girl." 



192 THINKING BLACK 

by the aspirant from the very first day he sets foot in the 
capital, watch what happens during the last few minutes 
of the ceremony. Greedy all the way through, the officials 
now become vulpine, and instead of frankly placing the 
white shell on his head and finishing the business, they 
begin at his toes and propose to make six greedy ascending 
pauses before the crown of his head is reached. That is 
to say, each halt must pay toll for the Omande's upward 
progress, and the shell sullenly remains on the toes of the 
would-be Grand Duke until he pays a slave for its upward 
advance. The " toe " slave being paid down as currency, 
the shell may now gingerly ascend to the ankle, when 
another halt is declared and another slave paid away to 
trickery. The second toll having been thus paid, " ankle " 
slave his name, the shell now tardily ascends via the right 
side, and half-way up to the knee another ominous halt is 
declared for another slave to be paid away. And so on, 
to the tune of six slaves, these final fees are paid — a mere 
drop this in the ocean of greed. 

* * * 

To have a proper bird's-eye picture of our surroundings 
you must think of this black Babylon as a raging sea of 
slavery : Lubans from the North, Lamba people from the 
South, Lunda from the East, Ushi and Vemba from the 
South-East. The flotsam of negro humanity, here they 
are, so to speak, washed up on the shores of the capital, 
all jabbering out their own patois, and all daily taking on 
more local colour and simulating a sort of black cockney- 
ism. One of these, snatched from slavery, was the lad 



VICE VERSA 193 

Sankuru, and this is how it came about. His father and 
kinsmen were killed off in the attack on their villaore, and 
the little son was put down at Mushidi's feet in the same 
row as his relatives' skulls. These skulls Mushidi formally 
put his foot on, by way of " trampling on the necks of his 
enemies," but the boy was spared and came to us. Picture 
that little black boy sitting down with his hand on his 
father's skull, like a young English schoolboy toying with 
a football. Espousing the cause of the slave as we boast 
of doing, Mushidi often twits us with our ignorance of 
their wild ways. 

Alas ! it is true, they are a moral mass of putre- 
faction ; but the negro himself explains it all in his 
luminous proverb : " Slave status causes slave state." 
Body bondage means soul bondage. And so the days 
pass, these polyglot slaves swarming round the king like 
gadflies. Never before has such a mass weltered in Central 
Africa, for a real black Babylon is his insane idea. A born 
linguist, as I have said, Mushidi day by day pours out 
cataracts of vituperation on the bowed heads of his 
pudding-stone population. "Son of a dog!" and "Son 
of the dust ! " are the customary compliments he pays 
even to his own elder brother, Likuku. Vaunting himself 
to be not a man but a " wild beast," he roars more than 
he speaks, and I suppose the Shakespearean comment on 
it all would be the sarcasm in A Midsummer Night's 
Dream — " Well roared, Lion ! " This Mushidi roar, 
though, is really the most hopeful part of his harangue. 
The real danger is when he opens his mouth wide and 



194 THINKING BLACK 

then surprises his listeners with a shrill falsetto treble. 
Then it is the death-warrant is shrieked : " Die ! son of 
a dog, son of the dust." The mere torrential flow of 
language is often an escape safety-valve, just as, on the 
contrary, a silent Mushidi is an omen of his " nursing 
his wrath to keep it warm." No mere figure of speech 
this, for, night and day, it is a fatal fact that the fuse of 
Mushidi's fury is always burning, and the mine may 
explode at any moment. The Luban idiom for these 
explosions of anger is the almost facetious expression, 
" his kettle boiling over " (Futuma). Yet, doomed to 
wrath as they are, some of the slaves are so precocious 
that they can die without winking. With a strange 
saturnine humour, they even crack a joke within an inch 
of death. A sort of lull between the lava showers is the 
idea. Literally " in the jaws of death," as an audience 
of Mushidi is called, there they are, cracking their joke 
even when the said jaws are in the act of crunching them. 
And why ? Only the pure nonchalance of fatalism. Some 
are erratically quite lively when " the hour " has come ; 
hence their own negro death-ditty : — 

" Oh ! when the tortoise in the fire is dying, 
'Tis then he sends the fire-brands flying." 

Into this stubborn slave element, then, Mushidi, with 
great, and it must be admitted almost justified severity, 
carries death with derision. He merely reckons it all so 
much rank growth that has to be cut down. Many a 
time I plead for a doomed man's life, and many a time 



VICE VERSA 195 

Mushidi retorts that "Slave blood is bad blood." On 
the surface, certainly, he is right, for all who have worked 
among slaves know that bondage of body induces also 
bondage of brain. That is to say, as the slave has been 
valued only as a current coin in commerce, he fatalistically 
accepts the valuation and really becomes as dead and 
metallic to all human susceptibilities as a literal coin. 
Why then be surprised? Men who have no rights 
cannot justifiably be complained of for having any 
wrongs. Yet hundreds of African travellers have ignored 
this negro truism and slandered the slave because bis 
degrading status has degraded likewise his state. It is 
ridiculous for a man to go and treat a negro as though he 
were a demon, and then express surprise that he is not 
an angel. Even we Missionaries are reaping the harvest 
of this oppression, for the worst type of convert is a 
redeemed slave. The man is still in a fog, and has not 
yet shaken ofi" the chattel idea even in the glorious idea 
of the Gospel, Is this the reason why Gordon of 
Khartoum was betrayed by the two men he had recently 
released from captivity ? Who threw the bomb that 
killed the Czar Alexander ? Who, if not a liberate^ 
slave ? And if you breed slavery in the bone for centuries, 
how can you annul it all by the cash payment of an hour ? 
There is a magic key even for this lock, however, and it 
is found in the fact that the only way to open another 
man's heart is by opening yours to him. I find that the 
message that comes from the heart will contrive to reach 
other hearts. So literally is he a mere captive coin that, 






196 THINKING BLACK 

on the exchange value of two sixpences for a shilling, 
I have seen two boys bartered for one man. One such 
boy I have already referred to, and only do so again to 
remind you that his name is " Sikispence," representing 
his exact market value in Lubaland, one coloured handker- 
chief at 6d. 

(10 th February. ) 
From the East many emigrants have trickled in, the 
trans-Luapula Vemba people preponderating. They it is 
who have advised the king to substitute the punishment 
of " hand-lopping " for theft, instead of the death penalty, 
and this has been the source of much uproarious debate at 
Court. The cadaverous native logic is so elucidatory of 
" thinking black " that I repeat it. When Mushidi 
twitted them with the absurdity of the thing, these 
Eastern folks argued the point at great length, and with 
much frothing at the mouth. " We cut off the hand," 
said they, " because the hand steals." '* I," laughed Mushidi, 
"stab them in the heart, because the hand never stole 
anything yet, it is the heart who is the thief." This, too, 
/ -J is Mushidi's argument against tearing out the eyes with 
"'t; fish-hooks as a punishment for adultery. " Eyes ? " says 
^' he, "the real eyes are in the heart, and death is the only 
true blindness." They laugh, but Mushidi has both law 
and logic with him. Clever at repartee as he is, the 
twinkling old tyrant fairly routed them with his " summing 
up " on this mutilation subject. The king loquitur : "I 
dreamed a dream, and lo ! I saw that the human Heart 
and the human Face had a quarrel. Objected the Heart to 



VICE VERSA 197 

the Face : * Why did you not groan just now ? Why laugh ? ' 
Retorted the Face : * The cheeks only do what the Heart 
commands.' Yea, further, I dreamed a dream, and lo, 
I, Mushidi, heard a loud racking cough, most painful to 
the cougher. Said the Heart to the cough : ' Oh, you bad, 
you cruel cough, to rack me so with your coughing.' ] 
Said the cough to the Heart : ' Bad and cruel ? How can f 
I be bad, coming up as I do from the depths of such a good / 
Heart as you ? ' " / 

Not these Yemba folks only but many another droll 
emigrant tried to trek in towards Bunkeya to seek his 
fortune. For when this Mushidi leapt into the light of 
history in the Interior, the good news spread, and many 
a young man out East, catching the spirit of the thing, 
resolved to go West and win to wealth and lands of his 
own. But Mushidi, so to speak, like the dog he was, 
snarled, stuck to his bone and showed his malevolent 
teeth. He would none of them. Scared off some of the 
adventurers would not be, however, and to this day in 
the North, Lunungwa, Nwena, Kaseva, are still in posses- 
sion of lands won by their own prowess. Lands, mark 
you, that gracefully avoid Mushidi's boundary on the 
Lualaba East. 

One famous failure there was, however, and he resolved 
to go down to history as " a bad 'un " — Katigile his name. 
Ostensibly a copper trader like all the Yeke band, he was 
only one more pirate ship out on the Central African 
ocean of commerce. But K., dismally defeated as he was, 
went away back East with hate in his heart and a soul 
13 



198 THINKING BLACK 

baked hard in the fire of adversity. If he could not die 
famous he would end infamous, so he planned a devilish 
deed. Yonder far East, and tucked away in between the 
Wanyamwezi Hills, was his natal village, where the pest of 
chigoes had never yet come ; well, here is his chance : 
why not import a plague and die infamous ? This would 
ease his endless pressure of penury, this, the mad idea 
that his name, as a grey monument in history, would ever 
be linked with the introduction of such a deadly plague. , 

So he dared the deed and cursed his native land. The 
collecting of ** seed " chigoes was too easy not to succeed, 
and he safely let them loose on their bad business of hate. 
Years after, when the townsfolk out East fought in a frenzy 
of determination to eradicate that chigoe pest, many a 
curse was linked with Katigile's name. Yet some people 
say the Devil has no Missionaries, and no propaganda ! 
The heart of man never showed more truly the bad stufif 
^ ./ j of which it is made than just here in this baneful deed. . 

Even Katigile himself died with his toes eaten by chigoes, l^^^ 
cursed with his own cruel curse. 

* * m 

So the days drag past, seemingly a mere hyphen and 
connecting link. Mushidi holds on to us, and we hold on 
to the country. *' If you are tied in ropes," says the 
proverb, " the more you tug the tighter the knots become," 
so even here we learn to bide God's time. (Is it not in 
the Captivity Epistles that Paul writes of the Church's 
heavenly calling ? Seated in a dark Roman prison, was 
it not just then he claimed to be seated in the heavenlies ?) 



VICE VERSA 199 

The sorest thorn in our side these days is the resident 
Arabs at the capital. They make a dead set against us, 
buttering up " The Sultan " for hours and plotting darkly. 
Every time we pass their camp going on to Mushidi's they 
curse Christ with bitter blasphemy. The revengeful relish 
in their invectives is the darkest smudge in all our exper- 
ience ; verily, the poison of asps is under their tongue. 
Yet they pray for hours and by clockwork from the 
highest to the lowest — pray to God and curse His Anointed. 
No wonder the arm-chair Englishman misunderstands it 
all. " On one occasion," says Augustus Hare, " I was 
present at a garden party given by Lady Salisbury in 
honour of the Sultan of Zanzibar. In the middle of it 
the Sultan came up to the hostess and said, * Now, please, 
it is time for me to say my prayers. I should like to go 
to your room and be alone for ten minutes. I always do 
this four times a day.' The Archbishop of Dublin was 
so delighted with this, that on being presented to the 
Sultan he said, * I am glad to have the honour of being 
presented to a man who has made a promise and 
kept it.'" But contrast the same sort of Zanzibar 
Arab here with us in the African bush, not in an 
English flower garden. Kuomha Muungu is the great 
Arab phrase, " praying to God," but locally this formula 
has become the term for murder, Tu na hwenda 
kuomha Muungu being the double equivalent for " Let 
us be off to prayers," or (save the mark) "Let us be 
off to kill." It does not often happen that staid old 
English can hit off such gruesome drolleries, but you have 



200 THINKING BLACK 

the identical idea when you misspell " pray " as " prey " — 
these devout Arabs do nothing but prey. Theirs it is, at 
any rate, to explain why Kuomha Muungu doubly denotes 
prayer and plunder, worship and war — only another proof 
this, that we are the poles asunder. 

When the thermometer goes up the barometer gener- 
ally goes down. Even so Mr. Arab and Mr. Missionary : 
your A is his Z ; your beginning, his end — literally so, 
I mean, for the whole ABC of this Arab problem is 
only a mere matter of his own actual Arabic ABC. 
There, in that Semitic alphabet of his, beginning like 
Hebrew at the right and working across to the left side 
of the paper, there, I say, you have the whole typical 
story of Arab and Englishman. Always missing each 
other and never meeting, we work the page of life from 
left to right, and he glories in doing the diametric 
opposite. Muruturutu laughed at me in disdainful Board 
School fashion for reading out the Bible from left to 
right : it obviously offended his academical susceptibilities 
as much as seeing a native pretending to read a book 
upside down. "The blind man has bought a looking- 
glass ! " is their high-flown hint that all such pretence of 
reading is of no value. Can you eat your dinner standing 
on your head ? The which is a parable, I repeat, for the 
difference between us is one of standpoint, but stand- 
points so mutually antagonistic that blood would flow in 
rivers, as in the old days of the Saracen conquest, but for 
the English preponderance in quick-firers. The Arab 
himself sees worlds of meaning in this sharp contrast of 



VICE VERSA 201 

the two adverse races beginning to write at the opposite 
sides of a sheet of paper, and certain it is, that the gulf 
cutting off the Arab from the European is "as far as the 
East is from the West." 

Take the Gospel. " Believe or die," says he — " Believe 
and live," say we. Take polygamy. We proclaim Christ 
born of a woman, and the dignity of her sex : last at the 
cross, first at the tomb — they glory in polygamy as the 
only true code of marital morals. We crusade against 
the bondage erf the slave — they are the notorious slavers 
of Central Africa. We quote the Golden Rule, " Do unto 
others," etc., as the Christ's incipient abolition of slavery 
— they retort with the Devil's golden rule of £ s. d. 
We prove that to barter human beings is to deny that 
man was made in the image of God — they quote 
Mohammed who enjoins the selling of a slave. Now 
precisely as with this sharp cleavage of slavery, so too 
with much more. Take the Arab doctrine of force, as 
against the Christian doctrine of persuasion : here you 
have the most thrilling contrast of all. We point to 
Christ inculcating a crusade of love and peace in His 
very last commandment : *' Go ye into all the world." 
They point to Mohammpd among his last acts planning 
a bloody war of extermination. 

{Later.) 

One incident I recall, a tragedy that burnt on my 

mind indelibly this Arab versus Englishman contrast. 

It was after the smash-up. A great Arab, Kasokota his 

nom de guerre, is condemned to death by court martial 



202 THINKING BLACK 

— crime, the usual charge of high treason. The Belgian 
Commandant quaintly notifies me, as Missionary, that up 
to twelve noon I can see to the Arab's soul, and after 
that, by the clock, he will deal with his body. So there, 
sitting under the acacia tree, " this side of the portal," we 
talk for eternity. Not many minutes now, and his 
despairing, dying cry will go ringing up to God. But I 
soon discover that the convict chain round his neck is 
only a type of that other Koran chain binding this 
dignified Arab, soul and body. Rubbing shoulders as 
we are, the old gulf of East and West yawns between us 
a thousand miles. At the outset, he clutches at me as a 
drowning man will clutch at anything, and beseeches me 
to plead for his life. Urges eloquently, that here he is 
"dying like a sheep," and not a member of the Court 
knew one word of his language. With alacrity and in 
spite of official umbrage, once, twice, thrice I go to the 
Commandant with the doomed Arab's plea, only to be told 
with a civil stiffness that my business is to save him from 
his eternal doom. When, however, I get back to the 
prisoner under the acacia and tell him how sadly sealed 
is his fate, the door of Mr. Arab's heart slams on my 
Gospel. He starts to preach to me, if you please. 
Repentant ? No. He dies like Lord Mohammed, wishing 
for bloody war. Here is a man quite certain that we 
English never can perform the Arab acrobatic feat of 
crossing the narrow bridge of Sirat into Paradise. This 
bridge of vast length, as narrow as a hair, the edge thereof 
as sharp as a scimitar, spans the abyss of hell, but all 



VICE VERSA 203 



impenitent Englishmen will fall headlong before a puff of 
wind sent by Allah. There, in that one Blondin boast of 
the Arab acrobats, you have the volume of their self- 1 Vy 
righteous ideas : to the right, Jehennam, or hell ; to the I 
left, Jenneh, or Paradise ; and every mortal must walk the I kj 

_j J o: X. T r__i _i. 1 J J.: ix^^ : _r 1. a 



razor-edged Sirat barefoot, eternal destiny the issue of 
this religious tight-rope venture. The Gospel of the Christ 
Who saves His own murderers and makes a Paul out of 
a Saul, His diamonds out of soot, is nonsense to them 
What Mr. Arab preaches is a message full of all the old 
elemental passions of the race : an eye-for-eye, tooth-for- 
tooth recrimination. Two hours later, I saw that proud 
Arab's dripping, newly washed garments hanging out 
to dry, each doleful drip telling the sinister tale that 
the executioner had claimed them as his fee for the dark 
deed accomplished. Drip ! drip ! from the dead man's 
clothes came the echo of their own awful Arab warning : 
" There are no fans in hell." He lived hard, worked 
hard, died hard, and then how hard to go to hell after 
all! 

(12th March.) 
These roaming Arabs bring in rumours of far-off 
Missionaries, which reminds me that this chronicle is not 
an autobiography, and my narrative has run on too much 
in the '* nasty nominative." Let us think of others now. 
Farthest in geographically as we are, it is also our privi- 
lege to be farthest in ecclesiastically — sort of Scouts 
of the Church of God, if you please. Take our bearings. 
In 1890 the Missionary Map runs thus : Out in the Far 



■ij 



204 THINKING BLACK 

West, our nearest^ ecclesiastical neighbours in the Garen- 
ganze are those splendid American Board men, distant 
roughly 800 miles in Bihe. Often when lonely, the 
very thought of noble Currie trimming God's lamp at 
Chisamba comes in on us like a whiff of ozone from 
the far Atlantic. Then, turning South, our nearest 
Christian neighbour is the sainted Coillard far down 
in the Barotse Valley, 600 miles away. Looking North 
towards the Equator, and a good thousand miles off, are 
the graves of the Combers on the Congo. Nearer still, 
our good friends on Tanganyika Plateau, the L.M.S. of 
historic renown : my beloved friend John May was one 
of their noble men. But the best wine comes last, and 
the crowning boon of all is Livingstonia on the far East- 
ern skyline. Four hundred miles distant, there you have 
" the Bishop of Central Africa," Dr. Robert Laws. Inter- 
denominational in the best sense, this good man's sunny, 
hospitable heart has a place for all of us, and the only 
furlough I ever had was a happy year's sojourn out East 
at Livingstonia. Thus, having viewed the place in its 
deep penetralia, I know whereof I affirm : there you learn 
how true it is that the seemingly cold Scotch are only 
icebergs with volcanoes underneath ; thaw the northern 
ice and you get to the Scottish fire. Dr. Laws it was, who 
cut into the lazy lotus life of the Nyassaland negro, and 
made him honour hard work. A glance at a Livingstonia 
Report reveals a sturdy type of service that taboos a mere 
mist of fine words, and clings to sane statistics. The 

1 See p. 138, ante. 



VICE VERSA 205 

Industrial Department, particularly, turns out a robust 
type of pick-and-sliovel Christian, and this healthy thing 
has no doubt saved the land from a great reactionary 
apostasy. Thanks to Livingstonia, the Garenganze got 
its New Testament^ and teachers, and centred in Dr. Laws' 
great enterprise are the hopes of wide Central Africa. 
In a quaint old map of Africa, published in the guess- 
work days of 1815, the only brilliant bit of work therein 
was a true prophecy of Livingstonia. After creeping 
cautiously round the African coast-line, the daring carto- 
graphist put down his prophetic pen near Lake Nyassa, or 
" Maravi " as it was then called, and wrote : " Mountains 
of Lupata, or the Spine of the World." Now, all this 
was delightful, because authentic prophecy, for in the 
long-subsequent Livingstonia that appeared in those 
very latitudes, the word " backbone " is the keynote 
of it all. 

1 Through the instrumentality of Dr. Laws, our Luban translation of the 
New Testament was published by the National Bible Society of Scotland. 



^- 



CHAPTER XII 
Shut In, but Almost Out 



On that hard Pagan world disgust 
And secret loathing fell : 

Deep weariness and sated lust 
Made human life a hell." 



" Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard 
his spots?" Jeremiah. 



Ye must be born again." John. 



"The sun can mirror his glorious face 
In the dewdrop on the sod; 
And the humblest negro heart reflect 
The life and love of God." 



i 
CHAPTER XII 

Shut in, but Almost Out 

T N which the reader, being removed 

one thousand miles from his nearest 

shop, learns lijes greatest lesson, that the 

Infinite God is the God of the Infinitesimal, 

HERE it is, on the spurs of the Bunkeya Hills, Mr. 
Arnot first built his Mission hut-house, a solid 
but not too ambitious structure. And here too 
we salute those of " our own company," Messrs. Swan and 
Faulknor. Cut off from the outside world as they are, 
no doubt " the banner over them is love " ; but so, too, 
there is sadly waving over their little far-away cabin 
the yellow flag of quarantine. Faulknor, a shining saint, 
has found Africa to be one long hospital of pain. Two 
men all alone in the lonely Interior seem a poor, in- 
adequate sort of testimony, yet so normally necessary 
is it to be mighty in word and deed that the sick man 
prayed while the strong man preached, and thus he also 
serves who only stands and waits. Certainly in the 
mouth of two witnesses, word and deed, every word was 
established, for while able Mr. Swan preached Calvary his 
good friend Faulknor carried the cross of pain. Bed- 

209 






210 THINKING BLACK 

ridden though he was for many a day, he soon found that 
when God permits you to take a back seat you can have 
a very good time. Besides, as the average African can 
look through your body like glass, Faulknor's "living 
epistle" was eloquent the whole day long, and ever 
answering the challenge of the relentless negro stare. In 
Africa our faces are our coats of arms. For all of us the 
great danger in African mission work is, that often our 
preacher's bow is not so tightly strung in private as in 
public life, and the native puzzles his head over this. But 
there was many a song of triumph even under that 
drooping yellow flag of quarantine, and Richter perfectly 
describes the gains this good Canadian got out of his 
pains. The burden of Faulknor's suffering may have 
only looked to outsiders like a tombstone hung round his 
neck, whereas in reality it was only a weight necessary to 
keep down the diver while he was collecting pearls. God 
in all lands must cross His Church before He can crown it, 
and it is the late George Miiller of Bristol who tells of one 
of the pearls brought up from these depths of suffering. 
One day his vast enterprise on the Ashley Downs was down 
to zero for the orphans' " daily bread," but the dinner-bell 
rang in heaven and a much-needed gift arrived. Where 
did it come from ? Mr. Miiller says a siclz missionary from 
the wilds of Africa was the donor — this man who had been 
shut up in the Interior, grievously, almost permanently, 
disabled. Yet so grateful was this bodily wreck for a safe 
return to England that he struck his slender balance of 
resources, and poured it all at his Master's feet. 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 211 

Shunted off thus into a sort of siding, the tide of roaring 
life sweeps past us down in the valley of the Capital, an 
all-day stream of visitors trickling in to us among the rocks. 
Arriving, as we do, almost empty-handed, Mushidi despises 
us for our own impecuniosity. In harsh and unembellished 
terms he insists that we are no " whites" at all/ 

Rooming, as we utter strangers to each other do, in 
mud African houses, then, oh ! then is love's crucible, for 
often incipient fever makes a good man carp at rough fare 
— a good man, that is to say, with a bad body. How 
many people in England quote the text about brethren 
" dwelling in unity " who only see them in the busy 
street, or at a week-end meeting ? Let them come out to 
Africa and learn the trials (and triumphs) of so literally 
dwelling in unity in a hot "station." Never out of each 
other's sight. In moderation I am bold to suspect my 
friend might find me passably or even mildly entertaining, 
but in such frequent and overwhelming doses one must 
pall on one's poor brother. The trouble is, that one is 
tempted far too often to speak one's mind, forgetful of 
the fact that in speaking your mind you must also mind 
how you speak. Even the most genial of souls soon 
surprises himself more than his friend by a snap of irrita- 
tion quite foreign to his temperament. This is Africa at 
its old trick of fastening on its victim, and tightening the 
tropical grip on his soul. 

^ So, too, Dr. Moloney ; in his book he pities us and cannot " help think- 
ing that a profound mistake was committed when the Missionaries were 
dispatched into this barbarous country hundreds of miles from a European 
post." IJ^ 



212 THINKING BLACK 

/ Memo, for Missionaries : The closer any two bodies act 
together, the more oil they need. Even when Mr. A. is 
a mere echo of Mr. B., the result is that Mr. B. deplores 
his own echo and refuses to father it. A well-balanced 
Mission is like a well-balanced world : it is only kept right 
by two tendencies working in opposite directions — one 

71 throwing out and the other pulling in. Brother Centri- 
fugal is only right as he is seconded by Brother Centri- 
petal, and either dare not lack the other. I know two 
good men who had a rare royal time together for years, 
yet Brother A.'s favourite tune was, " In the sweet by and 



y -^ by," and Brother B.'s, "In the sweet Now and Now." 

^ When Brother A. saw the rain, he would unerringly 

^ ^ surmise, " This will make mud," then Brother B. would 

^ /' chime in, " This will lay the dust." Saith Brother A., " I 

am sorry it is no better." Quoth Brother B., ** I'm glad it 

is no worse." Yet these two saints (oh yes) get along 

happily together, because soaked deep into their souls was 

the divine doctrine that God's Church is a complete unity 

of various temperaments and methods. What kind of 

music would you have without sharps and flats ? The 

wheels of a watch, remember, move contrary to each other, 

and thereby alone can you get a good time-keeper. 

Yet show I unto you a more excellent way. Better, 
better far the Missionary (dear, dead-and-gone Cobbe, for 
instance) who had a happy soul balanced in equal ratio 
by the same two laws that make the planet earth such 
a well-balanced sphere, the one pulling him into God's 
presence, the other driving him out in service. 



\k 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 213 

Remember, as the days pass, our Western road is 
blocked and no supplies can cross the Lualaba, but the 
malefactors who have done it all are really benefactors. 
Well spake Hudson Taylor, when he affectionately bade 
us farewell, "The Devil can wall you round, but he^ 
cannot roof you in." We always can reckon on the 
bit of blue overhead. What to outsiders may seem the ^ 
hateful exigencies of poverty, is to us merely God remov- 
ing the clogging weights to make good our motto : The ■ 
maximum of power with the minimum of machinery. 
Granted, I say, many solid considerations against this 
idea of our meagre Missionary pioneer outfit, but granted 
also many obvious gains for all our pains. Mr. Lane on 
leaving me here in the Interior after some months of the 
bread of affliction, wrote of all his privations : " Trying 
as things were, I would not have forgone that blessed 
season of trial for all the luxuries of civilisation. As I 
take a backward look my heart rejoices, and I am 
increasingly realising the blessedness of having come forth 
looking to the Lord alone for my supplies." Paul fondly 
boasted of his " manner of entering in " among them, and 
in some severe sense your initial choice of the manner of 
entering in among an African tribe will wholly determine 
your subsequent line of action. The effervescent negro 
will easily fall down and worship a caravan that parades 
as much of the Lord Mayor's Show element about it as 
possible. What he wants is something violently spec- 
tacular and "striking," as he names his own word for 
"glory." Thus out of sheer desire for your African's 



214 THINKING BLACK 

welfare, you must needs strip yourself of impedimenta in 
order to outwit the cupidity of the black man. 

The highest compliment I have been paid in my bush 
African wanderings was when a snob chief gave me 
a dole of forty yards of calico as a pitying alms, because 
I was " out at the elbows." Of course I have since paid 
him his own with usury, but the link binding us in 
friendship is all the more real because the initial bounty 
was on his part. There is nothing to be ashamed of 
in poverty except being ashamed of it. The best pair 
af boots I had for many a day were a Portuguese 
convict's, bought from a negro. So, too, with a mys- 
terious suit of clothes which I rescued from a slaver — 
the fit was faultless. Far too faultless, for it clung to 
me as tight as a wall-paper. So, too, with much more. 
This famine and fever land in a special and extraordinary 
way clears the field for a full display of the power of 
His might, for man is often brought low with all his 
shrewd contrivances, and only God can avail. The last 
and nearest commercial banking-house in the world was 
just one thousand miles distant on the seashore. Your 
deposit account might be ad libitum, but your powers 
of cashing same in the long grass were at zero. Certainly 
the pampered civilisation of Great Britain is all on the 
side of unbelief, for everything is too cut-and-dried, 
and runs in a fixed groove, comes as a matter of course, 

I not as a wonder. Here, in the bush, it is delightful 
again and again to watch how God hears you scrape 
I the bottom of the meal-barrel. Again and again, with 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 215 

" dramatic neatness of Divine method," the dinner-bell has 
gone in Heaven for my "surprise meal." 

It was hinted to-day quite blandly that we must 
be runaways rom justice. We are nobodies : where are 
our belongings ? Yet here again we have gains for pains. ^ 
After all, we dare not ignore the fact that the mere 
temporalities of the Missionary, with his creaking boots, 
do bulk far too largely in the greedy gaze of our bush 
negro. A Missionary without God — not without supplies 
— is like a rabbit against the Russian Empire. Oh, the 
abysmal and abominable chasm between Mr. White and 
Mr. Black ! The mediocre Englishman with his mass of 
belongings is, by the negro, literally and repellently 
called Leza Mukulu ("0 great God"). The same thing 
this, as when some raw natives looking over a Mission 
fence at a simple wattle-and-daub house said, " Ye are 
the people of God : look at the size of your houses." 

Even our endless praising of God before the raw 
native is misunderstood, and certainly twice I have 
heard a negro grunt, "Yes, well you might praise God, 
He has been good to you." But aback of all this J 
there is a blacker subtlety still, I mean the endles^ 
negro suspicion that God is an Englishman : the bare-l 'N 
footed Christ of rocky roads in Palestine they cannot! 
conceive. They are sure that we are the spoilt and 
petted children of a pampered civilisation, and as they 

1 Dr. Moloney's statement that not only did Muahidi call us " white 
slaves," but that he also despoiled us of our goods, errs in the important 
particular that we had no goods to despoil. 
i4 






A} 



216 THINKING BLACK 

look at the vault of the sky curving down to meet the 
horizon in the direction of Europe, they actually believe 
that Heaven meets earth among the white men. (No 
wonder Malemba once interrupted a sermon of mine 
on the murder of Christ at Golgotha with the stinging 
retort: ''Ay, you white men were a bad lot to go 
away and kill The Best One like that : we blacks only 
kill criminals." "And then," said he, "far from being 
ashamed of what you have done, you come across the 
seas to tell us you did it." That this idea is deeply 
embedded in the negro mind can be proved by re- 
membering that the revolting blacks of San Domingo 
shouted out the same dread war-cry. Devastating the 
plantations with murder and fire and led by a fanatic, 
their bloodthirsty cries rent the air, " The whites killed 
the Christ, let us slay all whites ! " How different the 
fawning attitude of a sleek, well-fed "Mission" native 
who listens to even a corrosive rebuke with a beaming 
smile ! The fact is, these obsequious, beaming blacks 
who make an avenue for you to pass through into their 
I country, propose to treat the Missionary precisely as you 
/* I in England treat the postman — that is to say, they acclaim 
him not for what he is in himself, but for what he 
brings. And this would be delightfully all right pro- 
vided the negro welcomed us as a letter postman — God's 
postman bringing God's letter. Alas ! he thinks we are 
parcels postmen, and any of the humblest ameliorations 
of civilisation about us develop in the negro that avarice 
known locally as "the big eye." Thus, even when we 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 217 

have drained our last drop of tea, and all the meaner 
facilities of life have departed from our mud hut, we still 
see Divine intent in it all. For God had only removed 
the gilt from the gingerbread of our " white " prestige in 
order to proclaim the poverty of the Cross. And this 
mollified all our soreness. Christ's cause in Africa is too 
often wounded in the house of its friends, but never so 
grievously and gratuitously as when a Missionary of the 
Cross beats easily all his fellow-Europeans in this matter 
of first-class get up. The best houses, best furniture, 
best eating, all at " The Mission." 

Out towards the Atlantic Ocean our nearest shop is 
just one thousand miles off. 

One sacred calendar of mine contains the following 
categoric and genuine gifts, " nick of time " succour we 
call this : — 

One woman — 35 baskets of flour. 

Another — 25 baskets of flour, 4 baskets of green 
vegetables. 

Another — 22 baskets of green vegetables, i.e. green 
corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, etc. 

Another — 15 baskets of flour, etc. 

Fifteen others might be added with totals of ten, nine, 
eight, six and less baskets of flour, corn, etc. 

"His methods are sublime, » 

His ways supremely kind ; 
God never is before His time, 
And never is behind." 

And where is the man longing for apostolic pre- 



218 THINKING BLACK 

cedents who would exchange these glad trials of faith 
for a king's ransom ? Weary in the wilderness trail, you 
listen, and lo there is the bubbling brook by the way, 
and drinking you do lift the head. These are mercies 
from God's right hand. The provocative policy of our 
entering Africa loaded up with impedimenta does not give 
the raw African a chance really to help the Missionary : 
he cannot conceive of such a rich Missionary being 
honestly pinched. Give him the chance and you will 
marvel : it will be the story i}£__Ebed-melech the black 
man over again. His own colour had abandoned 
Jeremiah, and there you have the Hebrew prophet down 
a hole, no water and sunk in the mire. The accurate 
analogy this of an African Missionary cut off from his 
ocean base and, humanly speaking, in a hole. His own 
colour, I say, abandoned this white prophet, and then 
it was a black man came to the rescue. What saith the 
Scripture ? "So Ebed-melech the Ethiopian took the men 
with him, and went into the house of the king under the 
treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten 
rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to 
Jeremiah. And Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said unto 
Jeremiah, Put now these cast clouts and rotten rags under 
thine arm-holes under the cords. ... So they drew up 
I Jeremiah and took him out of the dungeon." A widow's 
! mite and a negro's rotten rags and cast-off clothes — how 
/ like God to honour them with such a royal recognition. 
Well it is we have no Society guaranteeing us a salary, 
for the said Society would be politely and cleverly baffled 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 219 

how to get at us with £ s. d. Shut off from our nearest 
bank one thousand miles, surely here is a true test of faith. 

{1st July.) 
In our little mud Mission House we have a number 
of redeemed slaves around us, but they are nearly all a 
bad lot. Studying slavery as I am daily doing here at 
its fountainhead in the Far Interior, this is the honest 
deduction of it all : rug up a man from the roots of his 
being — home, kinsmen and liberty — then transplant him as 
captive chattel, and verily, not even the warm fostering 
care of a rescuing Missionary can soften the grudge out 
of him. Here, for instance, is a case in point. A band 
of slave-children, recaptured from the Arabs, is domesti- 
cated in a model Mission known to me. The years pass, 
the ex-slaves are trained and fostered so painstakingly 
that the good Lady Missionary has literally turned the 
tables, and become the slave of the ex-slaves. Yet these 
jet-black beauties have their growling grudge still. 
Wondering what it all means, you push investigations, 
and after a few exploring remarks, you find — can you 
take it in ? — that these rescue Missionaries are only 
reckoned the-last-there/ore-the-worst link in the long 
chain of captivity. For, . remember, after all. Home is 
sweet Home to the tiniest baby negro, and the smallest 
of them, far away in captivity, sings a song of his 
fatherland : — 

"Can Vemba'G land be old? Never! 

Yes, old it may be 

And cease to be free. 
But Vemba is Vemba for ever." 



22a THINKING BLACK 

Thus each gang of slaves is really a nest of hornets, and 
patriotism is throbbing in every black breast. Try to 
bribe this exiled slave with a sugar sop and he sniffs with 
suspicion at the very sugar. Kwetu ! is his magic word 
for "Home," and there is clannish courtesy in the very 
grammar of the plural : you dare not say " My Home " 
in broad Africa. " Our Home " is the compound family 
formula. In fact, there is no such word as " Home " apart 
from plural usage, which proves that enshrined within 
the one word " Our Home " there is locked up the 
vision of all his kinsmen dear. This astounding attempt 
of a slave race to coin and copyright a speciality in such 
a word as "Home " even beats its famous English rival : 
beats it, I say, because at least we can use "Home" with 
or without any pronoun we like, but the African has so 
tricked the tongue that no word for " Home " exists 
apart from a pronoun — " Our Home "or " Your Home." 
To say mere "Home" is not merely bad form, but no 
form at all. There is no such usage. Now, lest per- 
adventure this be thought mere " Exeter Hall," you must 
stand with me, and listen to a slave crooning his 
"logical" rhyme against the very idea of human bond- 
age. Literally there are both rhyme and reason in the 
words : — 

"As a bird in the course of its flight. 
On some branch will not choose to alight, 

For it likes not the tree, 
So man's heart doth resemble a bird. 
To coerce it would be as absurd. 

For the heart must be free." 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 221 

Surely this doggerel proves that the old phrase "as free 
as a bird " is a world-wide metaphor. Thus you see that 
even in grinding slavery your despised negro chattel gets 
poetry out of his prose of life by thinking of the old 
home in the Luban marsh where " mama " (yes, the same 
old English word) is longing for her lost bairn. One such 
mother I redeemed from her fifth term of slavery, the A^-/ 
story all being told in that inconsequential tone that /fo^ 
makes one proud to live and die for old Africa. For there 
was a haggard woman explaining nonchalantly that five 
times she had sold herself into slavery because her little 
boy who changed bondmasters was a slave ; each time she 
followed up her son, gladly enduring bondage under five 
slave-owners, in order to be near her boy. This was time 
number five when I broke her chains ! And all for 
maternal love. That lad grew up to be one of our 
earliest converts on Lake Mweru, many of his best 
natural qualities coming from that slave mother. Some- 
body was right, surely, when he said so sagely : "I think 
it must be somewhere written that the virtues of the 
mothers shall occasionally be visited on their children as 
well as the sins of their fathers." 

# * * 

Probably, the most striking thing to be seen at the 
Bunkeya capital is the roaring function of a "Triumph" 
when a returning general is acclaimed as victor by the 
assembled multitude. Never did Roman general thunder- 
ing down the Via Appia with his victorious legions at 
his heels feel more inflated with feat of arms. This is the 



222 THINKING BLACK 

day when negro festivities reach their zenith and even 
deep-dyed enemies agree to sink their grudge and run 
with the full tide of good cheer. The Lunda man who, 
otherwise and elsewhere, would avoid his Luban enemy as 
though he were a pestilence, is to-day in high glee feast- 
ing on the common bounty. Thousands and thousands 
of slaves are here drinking themselves tipsy, the very 
drink being the famous "barley wine" of Xenophon and 
Tacitus. With all the sympathies and animosities of 
cats and dogs, here you have them for one brief day 
deceiving each other into a false fraternity as frothy as 
their gallons of beer. 

Twisting into the capital since daybreak, and from 
all points of the compass, you might have seen the beer 
caravans arrive, drums roaring, goats and sheep piping 
a shrill treble to swell the noise of festivity. Every rag 
of coloured calico is to-day sported in the sunshine, the 
essential bit of the rig-out being a turban of some sort. 
Meanwhile the great Mushidi, who is bent on besting his 
imaginary rival, is in the hands of his satraps, who are 
dressing him up for the show, the distinctive feature of 
his purple and fine linen being a vesture, twenty or 
thirty yards long, to which they finally add his regalia 
of *' Omande " shells. Certainly he takes the shine out 
of everybody, for hanging round his neck, like a walk- 
ing Christmas tree, they have dangled scissors, looking- 
glasses, and curious sundries. 

But where, you ask, is the victorious general all the 
while ? Denied entry, he, be it noted, has been hanging 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 223 

round impatiently for weeks on the remote outskirts of 
the city, Mushidi simulating a yawn at every mention of 
his name, and petulantly refusing "to vote" the said 
Triumph. So true to the Roman analogy is it all, that 
the riv^er Lunsala has been marked off as this General's 
Rubicon, across which he dare not come unless officially 
notified to do so. Runners, however, are daily pouring 
in from his camp to jog the king's memory with the acts 
of valour of his shrewd and restless warriors, until finally, 
out of sheer exasperation, the great " Tomboka " day is 
named. Virtually, of course, this is the old admission 
wrung from the Caesars by the Praetorian Guard, that the 
King is only King because of their swords. 

Mushidi's simile is better when he grudgingly agrees 
that his army and he are related to each other as the) 
one blade of the scissors is to the other — you can only cut | 
the political cloth as they snip together. And now all is [ 
open-mouthed expectancy, for Mushidi is borne aloft on a 
zebra-skin palanquin by more than a hundred men, and a 
far-off war-song tells of the approaching general and his 
army. Then the royal drums answer the distant call, the 
hoarse advancing cries quickly becoming louder and 
louder. Here they are at last coming sprinting round the 
corner, the advance guard flourishing their arms with 
mimic menace, every man of them sporting one or several 
putrid skulls with a trophy-taunt. Then comes Mukanda- 
vantu, the general, flushed with victory, and, following 
him, the long string of slaves captured in war. How 
reminiscent all this of Paul glorying in the fact that he 



224 THINKING BLACK 

was Christ's bondslave and led about in triumph as 
Christ the Conqueror's trophy. 

Swollen with pride and satisfaction, the generalissimo 
advances with a strut into the centre of this vast sea of 
brilliantly clad negroes, followed by the captured chiefs, 
or prisoners of high status, hard in his wake, this line of 
the captured tailing off in the broken-kneed dregs of 
slavery. They are nearly all women, however, a proof 
this that the men they fought were really masculine 
enough to die rather than be captured — hence these heaps 
of heads hidden in clouds of flies. One brute, you notice, 
has three skulls tied together dangling from his mouth, 
and Mushidi claims all these heads by formally descending 
from his throne and putting his foot on each one : a sort 
of trampling on the necks of his enemies, I suppose. 
Meanwhile, the army has fired a deafening feu de joie 
point blank in our faces, and then begins a show of sham 
fighting during which different detachments are seen in 
attack and retreat, now simulating a clever ambush and 
anon springing like panthers from the grass. There is an 
end to all this, and a facetious one. Like Nero, who was 
vain of his music, Mushidi has the vanity to think that 
he can — -dance. Dull, dazed, and dumbfounded you, a 
spectator, can scarcely believe your eyes when the old 
man is seen to descend and begin his rheumatic shuffles, a 
dancing bear indeed ! Nearly tripped by his own bunched- 
up vesture, these contortions are a speciality, and called 
the R.A.A. dance — Royal August Antics, that is to say 
Could you not more truthfully translate this R.A.A. 



SHUT IN, BUT ALMOST OUT 225 

" Reductio ad ahsurdum " performance ? Have you | 
caught the picture? An old man trying to dance with a 
thirty-yards-long loin-cloth artistically bunched out in/ 
flounces round him, and worn just as the planet Saturn\ 
wears his rings. ^ 

Nevertheless, in spite of all these fireworks and army 
antics, you can see at a glance that this mass of men 
without drill is only a poor decentralised mob run on the 
go-as-you-please idea. The only apology you can make 
for it is when you rub up your history a bit, and remember 
that this feudal system of every sub-chief collecting the 
men of his district and mobilising around the king is the 
only thing the world knew, from the days of Moses up to 
the time when Cromwell raised the first standing army. 



CHAPTER XIII 
Black Suffragettes 



"Shrine of the Mighty! can it be 
That this is all remains of thee ? 



" I have seen the wicked in great power, and 
spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he 
passed away, and, lo, he was not ; yea, I sought him, 
but he could not be found." Psalm xxxvii. 35, 36. 



" I am the green bay tree [Chitavatava] who first 

sprouted in Sanga land." The Emperor Mushidi. 



And so they've voted the Devil out, 
And of course the Devil's gone ; 

But simple people would like to know, 
Who carries his business on?" 



CHAPTER XIII 
Black Suffragettes 



W 



'HEREIN it is clearly and con- 
sistently demonstrated that even 
a worm will turn. 

{10th July.) 

MORE executions of women, which means more 
putrefying skulls and clouds of blue-bottle flies. 
Skulls heaped on long rustic tables, skulls hanging 
up on trees like hat-pegs, skulls with yawning mouths that 
would not shut even in death. This Bluebeard business, 
remember, means hard detective work, and the Emperor 
spends sleepless nights raiding his own harems. Five 
hundred (and a fraction) wives and not a padlock in the 
land. It is on this sorry score blood runs in torrents, 
for the paramours are legion, and often the true, because 
prior, husbands of the stolen women. Mushidi knows all 
this and more, knows he must keep running to the red, 
reckless expedient of killing even on suspicion. For owing 
to the ramifications of this polygamic mob of wives and 
concubines, it is now easily evident that even Mushidi has 
outwitted Mushidi. It has become his nightmare this, 
for how is he to order his house in the severe sense 



230 THINKING BLACK 

demanded by his status? Are not his most trusty 
Kalamas all equally suspect ? A Kalama is a chamber- 
lain, but the very watchmen are the thieves, and the 
Arabs are right when they say of these traitors, that 
Mushidi had given " the cat the duty of keeping the key 
of the pigeon-house " ! Exasperated as he is, it is just 
here Bluebeard yawns and resigns all pretensions to deal- 
ing judicially and fairly with his victims. Baulked in 
a systematic scheme of spying, he has resorted to 
"dreaming" his victim, ignoring the fact that even in 
upside-down Africa dreams go by the contrary. Did he 
not himself tell me the other day that having dreamed a 
banquet, there must be a famine ? Poor Mushidi ! This 
endless round of harem marriages is a bad, black business 
for the country. Killing his wronged victim as he does, 
he only comes off second best. For at least the doomed 
slave has relief from his bondsman's groan in a sharp, 
short death, but how can Mushidi escape the thraldom of his 
own heart ? He has brute power enough to kill them in 
heaps, but how much more horrible if Mushidi had the 
power to compel them to live. From what I am learning 
these days, seemingly the true definition of "tyrant" is a 
man who finds his happiness in the unhappiness of others. 
Little does the merciless old brute guess that judgment 
has a rod in pickle for himself even now. He forgets that 
to refuse to forgive is to cut down the bridge you yourself 
must one day cross. His is the old thick-headed idea 
that it is possible by digging far enough into the human 
body with a spear to arrive at the real living man. But 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 231 

even now the reflex revenge is speeding on its way to keep 
the sure law that a tyrant is best embalmed in his own 
blood. Here he is day by day despising our glorious 
Gospel ; flattery, sickly flattery, is his mode of attempting 
to spike our Gospel guns, and the glib tongue reveals a 
hard old heart seared to it all. Preach on Love with a 
capital letter, and by a wriggle he is out of the whole 
subject in a moment — what does he, a polygamist, want 
with the Love that passeth the love of women ? King or 
slave, this glibness of tongue is Africa's endless horror. 
Wherever you move the wise old saw perfectly expresses 
our longing : Rather a negro heart without words, than 
negro words without heart. 

(Later.) 
Now let me try to tackle in cold ink this horror of 
polygamy — a subject, alas, almost certain to incur the 
vitiating touch of coarseness. We have already seen 
all the Mushidi institutions built on the bedrock of 
Nature's precedents among the animals. (Precedent, not 
principle, remember, is the only law in Africa.) Here, 
then, in his colossal system of polygamy, you see 
only another instance of the Bantu curriculum in the 
University of the Beasts. A sociologist far away in 
England can work up a whole bookcase of plausible 
data on such an ancient subject, toying with his pet-doll 
theory before the study fire. But here, on the edge of 
Lufira Valley, you frankly see polygamy cradled amongst 
the zebras and antelopes. Thence, anon (and quite as 
frankly), you see the same polygamy invade the native 



232 THINKING BLACK 

town from the plains. Who, for instance, does this 
Bluebeard chief pretend to be, if not " the bull of the 
herd " ? Again and again I hear beast-precedents quoted 
in support of native customs, and all in the gruesome 
formula : "So hath the Lord commanded us." Thus 
this old Emperor with his mob of five hundred wives is 
merely an attempt to live a la the Lufira quadrupeds. At 
Munema I heard some Court gossip about an exceptional 
Amazon who was numbered among these "hen-cooped" 
wives. This woman — no slattern she ! — dared to preach 
in a dark, hinting way the far-off dream of women's 
rights, but King Bluebeard got wind of it through her 
rival. With regrettable vulgarity, Mushidi called the 
propagandist " a goat " for such silly speech. " Yea, my 
lord," Mrs. Amazon pouted, " even the goats are a 
model marriage, for the female has as good a pair of 
horns as the Billy." 

♦ * # 

- Have just had a long talk with our Mrs. Amazon, 
and a strange story this Shila woman tells. A real 
Suffragette, she is the member of a woman's secret 
society that boasts of big deeds in days gone by. 
Listen to this eye-opening history of such an incredible 
woman's movement in Far Central Africa. 

" Why is it," she asks, " that the foreign Lunda tribe 
is now in the ascendant around Lake Mweru ? " Well, 
a family dynastic brawl did it all, and a woman (again !) 
" was in the transgression." Nkuva, the lord paramount, 
was her own brother, but did he not dare to slay and 




ONE OF MUSHIDI'S 500 WIVES. 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 2S3 

skin lier son, liis nephew, to make a kingly carpet of 
the human cuticle ? To have her son thus so literally 
" trampled upon " in both life and death was too 
exasperating for the Princess, and in hot revenge she 
called in the foreign Lunda tribe from the Far West. 
This, then, is the real beginning of the famous Kazembe 
rule in the Luapula Valley, and by a woman's invitation, 
and not conquest, are they there. So typical is it all, 
that when you try to unravel the tangled tale of any 
African tribe's history, a few exploring remarks reveal 
that some silly daughter of Eve robbed them of their 
Eden — yes, box the African compass, and one key will 
unlock all the dynastic locks : Cherchez lafemme. That 
Princess, though, had to pay a big bill for this the sweet- 
ness and terror of her revenge. For when the avenging 
Lunda arrived from the West, the leader ominously 
struck his spear into a tall sycamore tree, thus arrogating 
to himself dominion over all these Luapula lands. In 
other words, having entered by the Western doorway, 
he forthwith locked the door, putting the imaginary key 
in his imaginary pocket. Thus, even thus, were the 
Shila folk driven forth from their Eden, just as, not 
John Milton, but a woman, was the real authoress of 
Paradise Lost. But watch the Suffragette sequel. 

Far from degrading the cause of woman in the Far 
Interior, this very feminine treachery stiffened the back 
of her sex, and really conduced to the amelioration of 
her lot as the degraded chattel of her black partner. 
This, in fact, is the true genesis of that "Zenobia" class 



234 THINKING BLACK 

of women chiefs to be found in the land. To this day 
the common ruse of a crushed wife is to make a 
gracefully turned allusion to that revolutionary deed of 
a negress long ago, the covert threat in her hint being 
that what woman has done, woman can and will do. 
And the husband brute has the sense to wince truculently 
at the very memory of that woman's treachery long ago, 
his sheepish, discomfited look revealing that the woman 
has struck home. Certes, there is nothing can move 
a drowsy old African like a jag from past history. 
Having no literature, the African as a consequence 
clings tenaciously to the past precedents of his race, 
the antiquity of a fact being its sanctity. 

But there is more to follow. Far more interesting 
than this ascent of woman to the status of a Zenobia 
queenship is her daring to combine, and form this great 
secret society of theirs into which no man dare penetrate. 
All pivoted on that one woman's wrong long ago when her 
son was skinned to make a human carpet. These black 
women let their unfettered fancies roam over the vast 
sphere of their sex's wrongs, and this black Club of theirs 
is the sacred confessional. Often a husband goes foodless 
if Mrs. Amazon is attending a Club meeting, and oftener 
the happy and harmless wife becomes, after initiation, 
" a new woman " indeed. 

" Budindu" is the name of this female freemasonry, 
and many a feminine titter can be overheard at the expense 
of the men. The rites of initiation are nameless, but the 
general idea is that of a Benefit Society, whose supreme 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 235 

function is to scrutinise the cause of death of any of its 
members. As African men often play their women the 
scurviest of tricks, it is absolutely necessary that these 
women combine in some sort to beat the tom-tom of their 
sex. This secret society it was that decreed a " Married 
Women's Property Act " long before the belated English 
Act of 1883, and on the death of one of their guild they 
pounce down on her moveable estate " to the uttermost 
farthing." Some of these female Club decisions have 
indeed assumed portentous proportions in the high poli- 
tics of Central Africa, a notorious instance being the 
ceding of the whole north shore of Lake Mweru to satiate 
a Budindu Club claim. For they fastened on the Lake 
King with the almost trifling plea that one of their princess 
(Inamfumu) members of the guild had been delivered of a 
still-born child, and for this " crime " the King of all Mweru 
(her husband) was forced to pay a large slice of territory. 
Beginning at the Muntemune River on the north-west 
corner of the Lake, and sweeping right round the map 
as far as Kalembwe's on the east, this poor henpecked King 
solemnly expropriated himself of all that land to appease 
the " lioness robbed of her whelp," i.e. the princess who 
bore him the still-born child. This, in fact, was the 
biggest legal fish the Club ever fried, and these Suffragette 
Lake ladies clothe themselves with impressiveness as they 
tell the twice-told tale of this, the Waterloo of their Club. 
Yet, so binding and final was this territorial decision 
that to this day, if an elephant dies in the waters of the 
Muntemune with its head pointing to the north bank, 



236 THINKING BLACK 

then the ivory is claimed by Mpweto at the Lualaba 
crossing. 

(Later.) 

As farther West, so too here in the Interior, there is 
the usual African massacre of the innocents ; " dentition 
deaths " these are called. Eead this Luban episode. 
Here is a bonnie baby doomed to die because its little 
^.rnilk teeth "sprouted" on the wrong — i.e. the upper — 
gum first. Far from being the usual little black bundle 
of screams, behold, a dear little, queer little morsel who 
must be murdered. This dental abnormity is the tribal 
terror, for every negro must go the way of his blood, must 
wear the blinkers, so to say, must follow his father's lead. 
Here, then, is a baby who dares so early to break normal 
precedent in the fashion of teeth, and the cherub must die 
as a monster. No Rachel ever weeps for such a child, 
and when the mother detects the first tooth on the wrong 
gum she flees from the innocent, frozen with fright. For 
does not the proverb say that the babe that breaks the 
normal law of dentition must be broken ? Lutala is the 
child's name, and the idea is that there is a fiend taking 
ambush inside such an abnormal baby, therefore death is 
the doom. For if a demon be inside baby, and baby be 
inside the town stockade, then woe to that town, and woe 
to that baby. The chief Nkuva is a case in point. He 
was the father of three bouncing boys all of whom he 
murdered in succession, the appearance of the upper teeth 
doing it all. When dentition drew near the poor mother 
spent three agonising days in suspense, each baby being 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 237 

spurned like a serpent when he revealed his terrible upper 
teeth first. But No. 3 settled matters, and the chief 
having spurned his babies, finally spurned their mother as 
the latent cause of it all. Instead, however, of this dis- 
graceful divorce dislocating her whole life as in England, 
she married a negro friend of mine ; their first baby had 
normal dentition, and now the lady flourishes this fact 
in the face of her ex-spouse with withering scorn. The 
Kingdom of God, however, is not for goody-goodies, and 
this very murderer of babies broke with it all and yielded 
to the Christ Who loved little ones. " Sufi'er the little 
children to come unto Me," said He — yea, and let their 
murderers come also. Was not Christ's first o9"er of 
pardon to His own murderers ? 

But in Africa it never rains but it pours, and here, 
while the ink is still wet, my boy Mirambo comes 
fluttering in with devastating tidings. Just back home 
from the South, he finds his baby-boy has disappeared. 
Query, Where is baby ? Then ekes out the tale of another 
" dentition death," this story being quite a speciality, for 
baby was so hearty that he had sprouted both an upper 
and a lower tooth at the same time. What must be done ? 
A fisherman took baby away out into mid-Lake, and baby 
even laughed with glee as the bad man tied a rope round 
his waist and on that rope a stone. Baby even crowed 
when the fisherman took him up in his arms, but splash 
went bonnie baby into blue Mweru. And all because 
he was a neutral and had teeth on both gums on the 
sajiie day ! 



238 THINKING BLACK 

A tremendous business this teething institution. 
Farther North, a Chief with quite a dandified air 
produced a royal babe who had passed the curious 
ceremony of " the justification of the child." He certified 
the youngster as his very own, the scion of a Royal 
House, with the real Kalamata nose as flat as a button and 
the real Kalamata pugnacious bawl. Or to speak in the 
language of printers and publishers, an exact edition in 
duodecimo of the larger work in folio, both bound in best 
brown leather. Baby was beplastered with white chalk, 
and feeling so uncomfortable that he bawled as loudly as 
though he were twins. For to-day his delighted mother 
could scarcely believe her eyes when she beheld her ofi*- 
spring had really sprouted a tooth normally — and bang ! 
went an old flintlock to herald the great news. A long 
swing of the pendulum this, for up to this point the 
child has been looked at askance, and reckoned only a 
mere ''It" — won't somebody invent a new pronoun? — a 
mere mushroom pretender to babyhood, your toothless 
child being a nonentity. Right on from birth, the 
Spartan mother has made him rough it, all injudicious 
coddling being considered detrimental. No rag of calico 
is bare baby allowed to wear, even out in the cold night 
air, the elastic functions of the body thus getting a chance 
to be exercised. Malnutrition they do object to, however, 
and , the cherub is nearly choked by the purely mechanical 
manner a coarse porridge is rammed down his little throat. 
The youngster's mouth is opened so wide that it mono- 
polises nearly five-sixths of his face, and through this huge 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 239 

aperture the porridge is pushed home, baby the while 
nearly kicking his little feet off as the alarming alterna- 
tive to howling. This ventral distension is finally so 
alarming that they must leave off on the plea of incapacity, 
the trouble being not too much porridge but too little 
baby-boy. Yet all this is mere dessert, for, to the 
cannibal, nothing can compensate for " God's own sacred 
way of giving milk " — his mother's breast. Of course, 
they bathe the rogue, but the bath is not such an affair of 
immense and intricate pomp as in petted England : with 
cold water in the cold air they tone up the small black 
body to play the Luban tune. 

Now, however, that the little one has toed the tribal 
•line and produced this terrible tooth, the father feels as 
tall as the Eiffel Tower, and he declares his son "justified." 
The technical term for this justification is the old Bible 
one, " I will give him the white stone," and this Lupemba 
is the same word for the squaring of any outstanding 
account — not a bad idea of justification for a man-eater. 
The ridiculous Mama now runs with the tide and insists 
that the tooth is a prize sample : in fact, she so hugs 
Master Tom Thumb that when I last saw him he was in 
a state of suspended animation. This, then, is the sort of 
christening of a young cannibal, the tribal test being one 
of tuskers. Yet they sell their bonnie bairns for a mere 
song, that father with cold glittering eyes coveting calico 
in exchange for his own flesh and blood — fancy a being 
wearing a warm human skin bartering his own blood 
and bone 1 You can cudgel your brains for a reason, 



240 THINKING BLACK 

but will only find it after you have settled that other 
poser of why he can eat both human beef and bone. 
The selling is surely minor in comparison. 

{10th August.) 
But what about preaching all this time ? Day by day, 
at his lordly banquet of local politics one is itching to get 
in a word of wisdom edgeways. True, our evangel is the 
very last thing Rex wants, but as even roast beef however 
well cooked makes bad dessert, I proposed that he should 
give me an opening for my creature-humbling, Christ- 
exalting Gospel. To delay to do right is to decide to do 
wrong — then why delay ? Told him that even a pagan 
like Aristotle rounded off his great book De Mundo by 
saying that it would be impious not to mention the 
Creator thereof. This sharp shunting on to another line 
he thought a bit too intrusive, and was annoyed that I did 
not take his petty polemics much more seriously. Why 
not keep to the easy-souled paths of diplomatic agreement ? 
What mad moonshine was this our persistently pointing 
up to God's sky and calling Him true King of Katanga ? 
Was not he, the black one. Lord of the land, and when 
every cock in the land crowed did it not crow " Mushidi " ? 
Every man in the country, too, did he not make the pre- 
scribed prostrations and call him " Lord God " ? He 
thinks we are fools for disdaining his negro politics, pretty 
much, I suppose, as in Paul's day the Greek's meaning for 
; the word "idiot" was "a person who refused to meddle 
fe in politics." Little he knows that to the very end of the 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 241 

age God represents its rulers as " wild beasts," the one I 
immediately preceding the coming of the " King of kings "/ 
being the biggest beast of all — The Beast. 

Only once can I recall his ever sitting out a formal 
meeting. The Chief seemed superbly indifferent during 
the whole sermon on "Blind Bartimseus," nevertheless he 
had his innings after me, preaching a counter gospel for 
the Devil. 

"We are blind, are we? Well, then, man of God, 
so be it, and please note (1) that a blind man only knows 
what he touches with his fingers : i.e., let us grip your 
Gospel in our fists, and then we will believe it. 

" (2) Remember, also, that a blind man must be careful 
of what he eats : i.e., give us time to consider your Gospel 
for a century or two. 

" Finally, no blind man ever forgot the road to his 
mouth : i.e., if we find this Gospel of yours to be beneficial, 
then we will take it without pressure." Yet people think 
of these folks as dull-witted, ox-eyed blacks. Only 
another instance of the old truth that " not many wise, 
not many noble," care a straw for salvation. The smallest 
streams hold the biggest trout, and our happiest times are, 
not with the Chief, but with outcasts in Sychar ministry. 
Depend upon it, the publicans and harlots will go into the \ 
banquet of Life before King Hoity-toity. Ah, if sin were ^ 
only better known, Christ would be held in higher esteem. 
# # # 

But do not imagine that our Mushidi will have nothing 
to do with religion. Did we but encourage him in the 



242 THINKING BLACK 

idea, this is the mad monarch who would build a cathedral 
as high as the pyramids, cementing every brick w^ith 
blood. Yes,' 

" a huge temple, decked by Herod's pride, 
Who fain would bribe a God he ne'er believed." 

Anything colossal appeals to his small mind, and indeed 
the proper noun " God " is in daily use for surpassing 
bulk or greatness. He would dearly love to send out a 
" search warrant " for a congregation, driving in hundreds 
to this Devil's fold by sjambok. He, too, would negotiate 
baptisms of the " King Menelik " order, " baptism by 
capture" as it is called. Do you know that hundreds 
of Africans in the North are pounced down on by royal 
command, and en masse driven like silly sheep into the 
river? There they are divided into bands, the Wolda 
Gabriel and Wolda Jesus, and thus they sin the bad old 
sin of making Jesus Christ King by force. Truly the 
Kingdom of Heaven sufiFereth violence. Was it not the 
Church's worst day when it was able to shout " Victory ! " 
on a successor of the Caesars holding the stirrup for a 
Christian bishop to mount his horse? But all this 
"Defender of the Faith" role is denied him: it would 
be about as appropriate to allow Mushidi to " run the 
Mission " as it is to see Bishops in the House of Lords 
or a lady in a smoking compartment. Yet he has his 
affectations of morality. Oh yes ! This is the old show- 
man who poses as an angel on a mud-heap. By way of 
wrapping the robe of the Pharisee round about him he 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 243 

daily preaches against tobacco as either snuiF or smoke. 
Pipes of wood or pipes of gourd are all taboo, and the old 
definition of this vain thing pleases him hugely : "A tube 
with fire at one end of it, and a fool at the other." Only 
by stealth can a smoker pufi" his cloud, and no snufi" is 
allowed under severe penalty. One poor fellow who forgot 
himself into the indiscretion of a pinch of snuff in the 
royal presence was maimed for life. The punishment 
farther North for this nasal inhalation is the cutting off 
of the lips. Mushidi's axiomatic definition of tobacco is 
" death," and he gets leverage for this idea in the local 
etymology of the word Fwaka ^tohaaco, i.e. the death- 
dealer. Is this the true genesis of the old Raleigh story 
of his servant suspecting he was "on fire at the mouth" 
and pouring cold water on the pioneer smoker ? 
* * # 

Mushidi, I find, is really an Emperor, because all the 
aboriginal kings for hundreds of miles stream in and do 
fealty. No fussy genuflexion this, but the simple and 
solitary shout " Conqueror ! " (Kashinde), with one 
clap of the hands. If you quiz one of these chiefs as to 
his rights of kingship, at first he shivers at the im- 
pertinence of the thing. . Pushing investigations, however, 
you find that very rarely has he real title-deeds, and not 
even the red spear of Rob Roy, to prove his rights. The 
fact is, many of these lesser chiefs have won territory in 
lawsuits ; not hard muscles but hard mouths doing it all. 
Take some data. Lokona has ancestral rights to his 
territory, because the first of his dynasty ate a dog at a 



244 THINKING BLACK 

neighbouring king's court. Behold that first Lokona 
forced to eat his first dog, yet even as he digests this 
new sort of canine mutton he meditates a lawsuit, the 
plea running : " Why should I, a salt-of-the-earth Sera 
man, be so insulted in being invited to break taboo by 
eating the dog of a barbarian ? " So to prove great 
moral wrong inflicted by such gastronomical exertions 
over an unclean pug, this founder of a dynasty turned 
sick as a Bay of Biscay voyager, the end of that victorious 
vomit being the ceding of large tracts of territory, flowing 
streams, and a good larder of antelopes in the plains. 
Quite a brisk bit of business that "beware of the dog" 
lawsuit, for to this day, far from railway train and 
teeming city, a Lokona still reigns in the sylvan quiet 
of his forest. Yea, if ever in the far future one of the 
dynasty boasts of note-paper and a coat of arms, it is 
conceivable that he will have worked in somewhere a 
victorious dog in the family crest. 

The adjacent fisher chief Muvanga, who owns the 
Bethsaida of Lake Mweru, has likewise lawsuit title- 
deeds to his bit of foreshore. What was the forensic fight 
about ? For many a year these Muvanga chiefs were 
poor highlanders forced to til] the sour soil of the 
plateau, getting only a glance of blue Mweru through 
the trees. Down below, the fisher-folk had struck it 
strong in an endless harvest of fish, being thus fat and 
filthy in obverse ratio to the leanness and cleanness of 
the hill-men. With the acumen of an old campaigner, 
however, the chief on the hill knew that his day was 




IT'S NOT THE HANDS THAT STEAL, 
BUT THE HEART. 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 245 

drawing near — a mere chance ultimately changing the 
cfolour of the map — country, I mean, for the negro knows 
nothing but the real map of nature drawn to the scale of 
eight furlongs to one mile. Well, the happy day came when 
one of the hill-men, prowling down in the plains, spied a 
crowd of Lake dwellers huzzahing over some find they 
had made — iron-ore it turned out to be. But shall we 
not rather call this an unhappy find, for did they not 
seize the wandering highlander and slay him as a sacrifice 
on the opening of the mine? Remember, in Africa, 
without the shedding of blood there is no — no anything, so 
how could they dare exploit this new mine without the 
traditional human sacrifice ? Indeed, these nude capitalists 
of long ago are rather reminiscent of modern Steel Trusts 
in the fact that they believed strongly in sacrifice, but 
only to the extent of making some scapegoat outsider the 
sufierer. So they slew this man and sprinkled his blood 
down the open mine, "cleansing by blood" the mineral 
deposit. And thus it was the clock of destiny struck for 
those hungry hill-men, their vengeance not taking the 
form of a shrill warcry but rather a long nagging 
lawsuit. For days and months they doggedly pushed 
their claim for compensation, the fisher chief Nongwe 
temporising like a shrewd old lawyer. A tangled tale 
that lawsuit, a tale of loops and ties, loose threads 
and entanglements, inconsistencies and nebulous nothings. 
But fine words even in Africa butter no parsnips, and 
finally the highlander snatched a legal victory — verdict : 
That the said Muvanga receive a slice of foreshore for dry 



246 THINKING BLACK 

season corn and a share in the fisheries of Lake Mweru. 
Thus the meekest of all the Muvangas climbed to the 
twin-summits of his ancestral ambitions, and red blood 
did it all. Then it is the nude negro makes you rub up 
your English etymology, for do not " blood," *' bloom," 
and " blossom " all come from the same root ? And here, 
in the mud-marshes of Africa, do not the tribesmen say, 
" No blood, no blossom " ? Quite an amusing side-light 
all this on Mr. Stanley's boast that in founding the 
Congo Free State he had made " treaties with four hundred 
and fifty independent chiefs whose rights would have 
been conceded by all to have been indisputable, since they 
held their lands by undisturbed occupation by long ages 
of succession by real divine gift." 

But " 'tis always morning somewhere in the world," 
and our Lord Jesus Christ Himself has added a happy 
postscript to this history — I mean, the conversion of this 
aboriginal chief whose dynasty it was that shed the 
sacrificial blood. Nongwe is his name, and his prede- 
cessor crossed over to Kilwa Island one nighx to rescue 
a prisoner, but was murdered by the Arabs just as he was 
putting out to sea for the return journey. This meant a 
stampede back upon us at Luanza, leaving the lands of his 
ancestors to elephants and game. But those Arab curses 
again were merely a sort of upside-down benediction. 
Certainly God made the wrath of Islam to praise Him, 
one vivid, electrifying flash of faith saving Nongwe's soul 
to eternity. Thus, by a long roundabout route, Christ 
the Sacrifice redeemed this chief from all the troubles 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 247 

brought upon him by that first human sacrifice long ago 
— by blood cometh sorrow, therefore by blood cometh joy. 
Yea, I might almost say that all things in poor old Africa 
are sprinkled by blood, and without the shedding of 
blood there is no — no anything. Little did these old negro 
miners guess how symbolic it all was, that spilling of 
human blood to celebrate their find of minerals — a Trans- 
vaal War, and many another wrangle, all so symbolised in 
that shedding of blood over ore. 

(Later. ) 
Hurrah ! here they come. With the breaking of the 
south-west monsoon here come the royal rains at last — rains 
that, at first blush, seem as the angels of God, converting 
bare brown Africa into a paradise of green. Let a month 
rush past, however, and you begin to take back all your 
compliments, for this grass gets out of hand, becomes 
erratic and unreliable. For the traveller, too, it is often 
one long dismal succession of drip, drizzle, and drench ; 
then, as the rank tangle shoots 12 feet high, the early 
ducal-park aspect of the meadows is lost in a wild pro- 
Jfusion of stubborn cane-grass and scrub. And thus, in a 
flash, you see the real reason in so logically legislating 
for Africa such a clean-cut system of half-and-half weather, 
the summer seemingly as absurdly wet as the winter is 
absurdly dry. For owing to the great rivers only being 
so many mere canals with inadequate banks, the end of 
the rains sees them leaping over into the plains where for 
months they wallow in merciless marshes. (The truest 
snapshot of all this was taken by Isaiah, the Prophet, 



248 THINKING BLACK 

long before the days of " Kodaks," when he described 

I Africa as the continent ''whose land the rivers have 

\spoiledy) The sleeping-sickness fly, malarial mosquito, 

' and endless etceteras are all cradled there in these 

squelching bogs of despair. In plain English, these 

marshes mean that this Africa of ours is really rotting for 

four months yearly, and all to the tune of millions of 

malarial mosquitoes humming their sweet tenor. 

Then cometh climax. For sun, stink, and sickness, get 
so bad that the God Who sitteth o'er all waterfloods calls 
an imperative halt to Nature in its mad career. And lo ! 
from mid- April to mid-October, the land swings back, 
like a pendulum, to the exciting extreme of a season 
of sun, only sun with not a dream of a drop of rain. 
Monotonous months though they seem, what is really 
happening is that this scorching sun is most surely and 
solidly drying up the awful fecundity of the marshes. 
The meteorological objective, in fact, of all this is a 
working out at that great "spring cleaning" of Africa 
called "the smokes" : now it is our dark green land is a 
weary expanse of sere yellow w^aste, even the murderous 
marshes cracked solid and dry as a kiln. " The sickness 
of the land," they call it, and now it is any irresponsible 
nobody can, with one lighted firebrand, send broad Central 
Africa up in a blaze. Then, too, it is this irresponsible 
nobody is overruled by a responsible Somebody, who 
uses this beneficent antiseptic l)laze to purge out of 
His own Africa everything tliat doth offend, from sea 
to sea. 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 249 

{1st December.) 
To-day I tumbled headlong down one of the pitfalls of 
Court etiquette by daring to wear a pair of glasses. An 
old Mutoni lectured me that on approaching such a King 
of Timbuctoo a strong point of etiquette is to doflf, not 
your hat but your spectacles, for such a man is called 
" Mr. Four-eyes " and is a horror. So, in spite of any 
little \dsual defect, you must climb down to the normal 
use of two eyes, not four. Nor may you even screw a 
monocle into your eye, for then your name is " Mr. One 
Eye" (why not "Mr. Three"?). The method in this 
madness is a real peep into the dark chamber of the 
negro brain, for he detests eye-glasses with a reason. 
And thus it runs. In Africa you must not only set a 
watch upon the door of your lips, but must also be 
inscrutably careful as to your tell-tale face, for with the 
wary eye of an experienced angler the African can easily 
fish news out of the two deep liquid pools of your eye- 
balls. To him eyes speak all languages under the sun, 
yea, they talk better than tongues ; for if the eye says one 
thing and the tongue another, then will he plump for the 
verdict of the eye. Hence this antipathy to "Mr. Four- 
eyes." To don these glasses before a chief is a traitor's 
act, for are you not thereby putting yourself as far away 
from his ferret eyes as you are bringing him nearer to 
your own ? The insinuating logic of the thing is so 
convincing that you frankly own up to having been un- 
pardonably rude in wearing spectacles. What could be 

more crushing than the ancient African rule, " Distrust a 
i6 



250 THINKING BLACK 

man that cannot look you in the face, and distrust a 
woman who can " ? 

Instead of a field-glass or eye-glass firing his fancy, 
he will lecture you on your poor eyesight, and rather 
ingeniously argues that our tallow candles and oil are the 
cause of it all. God, says the negro, has made the human 
eye on the recuperative system of a long dark night as 
offset to the hard white glare of the blazing sun, and 
every sunset God draws down the blinds of darkness. 
That balmy night is life's surest because methodic eye- 
salve. Thus it is that for centuries the negro has scored 
in having no lucifer matches but the stars, no lamp but 
the moon, his reward being that, matched against a white 
man in the woods, the spoilt child of candles and lamps 
can only see yards for the African's miles. Call this the 
law of compensation or anything you like, but do not miss 
the point that here is a compensation that really compen- 
sates. The enforced darkness nurses the eye, thus pre- 
serving the keen edge of vision. If I remember rightly, 
did not Benjamin Franklin calculate that we could pay 
off the national debt with the cost of candles and lamps 
that would be saved if we went to bed at sunset and got 
up at sunrise ? 

Nor is this all. Our sense of hearing is weakened 
likewise. For, seemingly, we Europeans cannot have our 
omelette of civilisation without breaking quite a number 
of eggs, and our handy box of matches and our candles are 
merely two more broken eggs for the omelette. That is 
to say, they are quickly killing out of us all the old savage 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 251 

sense of qHick hearing. True, we still talk about " cocking 
our ears," but in the dark we stupidly scratch a match to 
find out what made the noise, whereas the negro having 
no matches must, in the dark, make his ears tell him all. 
The drum of his ear is both match and candle, and in the 
broad racial sense the negro verily has his reward. For 
the hundreds of night sounds — rustlings, twitterings, 
raspings, tinglings, and roarings — are all known to even 
Africa's tot, the ears being called his " eyes of darkness." 

But matches are a boon, notwithstanding, and there 
often comes the painful pinch when you find yourself 
benighted without a kindly lucifer match. In these 
wilds the philanthropic beam of a farthing candle is too 
high an aspiration, but, other things being equal, the 
native can always produce light by rubbing his fire-stick. 
Often your most urgent need is a match for a midnight 
alarm. True, we have plenty of electric light, when the 
Lord switches it on in the sky ; and many a good turn 
it has done me. I was in a tight corner in the Sera 
plains when a humble lucifer would have been the simple 
solution. Black clouds had rolled up from the far 
Kundelungu range, and the heavens rang with the loud 
artillery of thunder. Then the lightning began to fork 
and flash. Driven into a deserted hamlet before the 
advancing deluge, a random choice of a hut was made — 
too random, alas ! for the thing was many sizes too small 
for one. Only just in the nick of time, for growl went 
the bursting thunder, and the torrential downpour was 
upon us. Double-d up there in a leaky outhouse with an 



252 THINKING BLACK 

odd flash of lightning for your only candle — oh for one 
of Messrs. Bryant & May's best ! (Why is it that the 
African says, "Think snake, sight snake"?) A sudden 

thought came. What if . Just then, hiss, went the 

notorious noise of an unseen "mamba" from a corner of 
the dark den, and it's oh, indeed, for a kindly match now, 
just now. My heart seemed to stop for repairs. As 
though this longing for a lucifer had actually pressed the 
invisible button of an electric-light current, flash ! came 
another single steel-blue streak of lightning, and there, 
plain as a pikestafi', a long green snake showed in the 
flash of fire. Atrociously, maddeningly, for one flashing 
moment, I sighted my co-occupant of the den, then, back 
both man and snake were hurled into the blackness of 
that pestiferous gloom. Oh for a kindly lucifer ! thought 
I. For who does not know that a snake never really 
attacks a man, only bites out of fear, and only because 
you have stumbled over him in error. Need I say that, 
as that mamba blocked the doorway, I had to tear down 
the grass wall for escape, preferring my sheets of rain 
to a snake under the other sheets. The blackness makes 
you a baby in helplessness, therefore a baby's fancies and 
fears flood the brain. Small wonder the negro has such 
a sharp sense of hearing, the slightest sound being tell- 
tale : " the sharpers," he calls the ears, and surely the 
reason is found just here in his negro life, lacking utterly 
the adjunct of match or candle. For if we played-out 
Europeans hear a noise, then straightway must we blunt 
the edge of our sharp ears by striking a light to decide 



BLACK SUFFRAGETTES 253 

the cause. Whereas the African's ears are his " darkness- 
eyes," and they must play the part of both match and 
candle. This auricular sharpness is also called " spiked 
ears," and seemingly our so-called spike of acute hearing 
has become blunt, because it thus depends on sight to 
solve the problems of sound. This, he says, is the 
reason why God, Who divided the twenty-four hours into 
darkness and light, also divided man into ears and eyes, 
the correlatives with twelve hours apiece. The Faraday 
who made the world ring with his Chemical History of 
a Candle would most surely have enjoyed this negro's y^ 

lecture on " The Philosophy of a Candle." 1/ -. 

%' i' 1 



|f\ 



CHAPTER XIV 
Thus Far and no Farther 



" When they were but few men in number ; yea, 
very few, and strangers in it. When they went from 
one nation to another ... He suffered no man to 
do them wrong; yea, He reproved kings for their 
sakes, saying, Touch not Mine anointed, and do My 
prophets no harm." Psalm cv. 12-15. 



"Beneath the cross of Jesus 

I fain would take my stand— 
The shadow of a mighty rock 

Within a weary land: 
A home within the wilderness, 

A rest upon the way, 
From the burning of the noontide heat 

And the burden of the day." 



a56 



CHAPTER XIV 

Thus Far and no Farther 

TJ/^ HEREIN the reader painfully 
learns thai a tyrant is only a slave 
turned inside out. 

(2nd December.) 

THE King disdained my salute this morning ; turned 
his back on me and muttered murder. I warrant 
you, this Mushidi in the sulks is quite a dangerous 
item in our programme. Then it is his crafty look reveals 
potential blood, your blood and nothing short of it. " White 
men ? " said King Cut-Throat the other ominous day with 
disdain : " Oh, out East near Unyanyembe we killed 
several." No thought pursues me so persistently as this : 
nag, naggingly does it try to gain admittance into the soul, 
the old David-in-the-dumps whine : "I shall one day perish 
by the hand of Saul." Those murdered whites he boasts 
of were, of course, poor Carter and Cadenhead — a touching 
tale that, if all were known. Carter, an Englishman of 
great ability and British Consul at Bagdad, one day burst 
on astonished Central Africa with four Indian elephants. 
The tale of his triumphant entry is a thing still told with 
bated breath far into the heart of Africa. Livingstone 

267 



258 THINKING BLACK 

and Stanley are as nobodies compared with this " Lord of 
Tuskers" who made the Rugarugas marvel at the sub- 
jugation of such monsters. On the 20th of October, 
behold ! the triumphal entry of these four white men 
riding their pilot elephant, the natives all amaze and 
wondering whether they are mad or dreaming. Never 
was advance guard of travelling circus acclaimed by 
English rustics as on the great day when these swarming 
negroes saw such a passing strange prodigy — a whole 
tribe struck all of a heap and stupefied ! Were not 
elephants the local terror and did they not kill many a 
native ? Yet it is one of the ironies of contemporary 
history, that there, stuck high on that elephant's back, 
you have four white men who symbolise the coming 
struggle for supremacy — two Belgians and two English- 
men ! A prophecy of history you can certainly call it, 
for who is the second Englishman if not the poor ill-fated 
Stokes ? There they are, rubbing shoulders on the back 
of an elephant, Carter and Stokes (English) with Popelin 
and Van den Huvel (Belgians). Who would have dared 
the thought that one day a Belgian would hang that 
same Stokes on a forest tree in the wilds of Africa ? 
With pleasing ignorance and charming stupidity, the 
negroes never dared to dream that those four whites were 
not one in nationality and fraternity, and had they 
guessed the coming rivalry their joy would have known 
no bounds. But long before Stokes died at the hands of 
a Belgian, Carter and Cadenhead fell unwept victims to 
the Rugarugas. Hurrah ! was the shout of these bandits 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 259 

on the 20th of October, and the following 25th of June 
saw the very same negroes shrieking death. Yet Carter 
in his death is even more famous than the Carter who 
petrified Central Africa with his marvellous Indian 
elephants. Attacked at Pimbwe on the 23rd June, 
Cadenhead fell dead to the first bullet. Seeing one white 
man dead, their 150 Zanzibaris fled, leaving Carter alone 
to face the murderers — no, not wholly abandoned, for his 
faithful mahouts and servant Mahomed — honour the 
brave ! — stuck to their master. Far into the marshes of 
Africa they still tell the tale of that brave British Consul 
who sold his life so dearly, and even the Belgians call it 
'' une scene terrible, un combat digne des anciens heros." 
Seventeen times his Winchester speaks, and seventeen men 
lie dead. But this is not all. The carbine cartridges are 
now finished, but with a defiance born of desperation he 
falls back on his revolver, the circle of fire narrowing in 
on him — a pack of howling wild beasts. Of course, they 
too could shoot, and indeed, quite early in the fight, a 
bullet had pinned poor Carter to the ground, the warning 
this, that escape is now impossible. Seeing death ahead, 
he coolly and carefully pulled out his watch, wrote a 
farewell note, and begged Mahomed to make ofi" with his 
papers to Karema. Then, after making good practice with 
his revolver for some time, " death and he lay down to- 
gether," as the murderers say. Nor do they blush to tell me 
how they mutilated the poor body with revolting cruelty. 
So there you have the meaning of Mushidi's dark hint 
to us : " Whites ? Oh, we killed several." 



260 THINKING BLACK 

(Later.) 
I thouglit I knew my Mushidi fairly intimately, but 
to-day he quite nonplussed me by spitting in my face. 
In a flash, I thought that here was a chance to share in 
the sufierings of Christ : did they not spit in That Face 
from Which one day the heavens and the earth shall 
flee away ? But a tardy explanation of this foolery 
was so suave and conciliating that I soon saw that I 
had lost martyrdom. That spit was not a mere 
expectoration but a compliment ; not a spit, in fact, but a 
spout, for his mouth was full of beer, not holy water but 
holy beer. Well, it seems that I had caught him in the 
spirit of worship which in Africa also means the worship 
of spirits by the drinking of beer. This worshipping 
(Kupara) literally means a spitting or spouting, and when 
they have spouted consecrated beer down into the ground, 
they then start and link up the living and the dead by 
spouting beer all around the place. This arrangement 
harmonises exactly with the negro's ideas of fellowship in 
dirty doings, and an Englishman would need to wear a 
waterproof and an umbrella at such a function. It really 
rains beer. Moreover, this curious custom of worshipping 
the spirits with a drink called " spirits " is very subtle, the 
hint seeming to be in the fact that a fainting, half-dead 
man can be vivified by such a drink. But the river of 
time is indeed brackish with the salt of human tears, and 
here is Mushidi crouching to the spirits and pleading their 
aid at the very moment when he is surrounded by the 
accusing bleached skulls of his victims. Yet, "nobody 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHEU 261 

really dies " is the negro saying, so to him that white 

skull is merely the last surviving wind-swept room of a 

wrecked tenement. Now only a warrior's punch-bowl, the 

very skull that 

" was once ambition's airy hall, 
The dome of thought, the palace of the soul." 

Nevertheless, if you want to guess even faintly at the 
curious convolutions of the black brain, you must seize 
upon this great system of spirit-worship, which is one and 
indivisible across Africa. The whole theory is merely the 
solemn result of the negro as a race looking steadfastly 
into the continents of death and eternity. What is this 
fiction but a farrago of sense and nonsense ? The ardent 
spirits of the living and the dead linked with these ardent 
spirits — of beer. Worshipping by fits and starts and 
sometimes only once per annum, the negro can only 
cordially dispense with worship after he has dispensed 
cordials. Do not they accuse us of the same thing when 
we place wine on the Lord's Table ? 

* * * 

But there is more in it than mere tipple — tragedy, call 
it. Watch this African's definition of spirit-worship, a 
sorry enough solution of the problem. Here it is. Shut 
up into one sentence the kernel idea is the negro attempt 
to rob the awful and unknown spirit-world of its double 
sting of loneliness and frowning distance. Does it not 
envelop him, and out from the unseen depths thereof are 
not daily darts showered against him ? Hence his solu- 
tion in this bridging process, i.e. the boast that a de- 



262 THINKING BLACK 

ceased mother is still linked with her living children 
by the very blood she has bequeathed them. That is to 
say, yonder in that frowning lonely spirit-world, menacing 
his life at every turn, he has actually a blood kinsman as 
daysman and representative. She, too, was once hungry, 
once weary, once jagged with earthly pains and penalties. 
To prove this link as both intimate and dear I have 
heard a man murmur in spirit- worship, " Oh, mother, 
behold this blood now coursing in my body, thou didst 
not merely bequeath it unto me, but it is thee ! " Here, 
then, you find the tenacity of belief that he, the living 
being, can bridge the awful gulf because the dead did 
not entirely die — did they not leave some of their own 
literal blood on this earthly side of the gulf as an in- 
tentional link ? There, then, is his bridge across the 
chasm, and if you urge that it is not real, but merely his 
own mad conjecture, he will retort that the bridging 
initiative was not his at all, but rather that of his own 
guardian spirit, who will not (because cannot) sever the 
link between the living and the dead. Instance, even 
a tiny boy, who, long ago in war, was swooped down 
on in his natal village — query : How can he worship a 
mother he never knew ? The boy's retort is that, albeit 
he was so torn away at birth from his unknown mother, 
yet surely he, too, was born as much as everybody else. 
That he never knew her is less than nothing at all to 
him, for he has only to pinch his flesh to remind himself 
that she gave him this body. So there he is, working 
away at the building of his little temple to the " unknown 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 263 

god " — his nameless mother's spirit. For although 
unknown yet is she well-known, yea, here is her own 
blood flowing in his own veins. Hence the double 
deduction he makes that, even in the spirit-world, throb 
for throb of his earthly joy is hers, even as stab for stab 
of his pain is hers too. It is all " mother," " mother," 
mark you, and no mention of his father, for often he does 
not know his name, and just as often — hush ! the mother 
knows it not either. 

And so he " bridges the gulf." For does he not believe 
that in every pang that rends his heart his guardian 
spirit has a part ? The victim of many a cruel and un- 
generous blow in life, does he not still reckon on the dear 
old maternal solicitude for his welfare ? God, he thinks, 
is too busy up among the stars to bother about him, but 
not so his "mama." Watch the subtlety of all this, for 
like a dam of rocks relentlessly solid, here is a barrier 
ever blocking the advance of the Gospel. To preach 
Christ as kinsman-advocate before God is to the negro 
only, in other words, a branch of the same spirit-worship. 
Wearied by the well of Sychar, thirsty on life's road, 
and pained with the pangs of suffering, does He not now 
sorrow with us in our sorrow ? Poor old African, groping 
after, if haply he may find. The only way he hopes to 
capture the stronghold of The Unseen is by this flank 
movement of kinsmanship — to him the line of least 
resistance, being the warm, cherishing heart of his defunct 
mother. for ten thousand Christians to advance in 
the Lord's name and shout to-night above all the wintry 



264 THINKING BLACK 

winds of Africa : " I am the way." It is easy to talk 
loosely of the Gospel of Nature softening men's hearts, 
but Paul agrees with Tennyson's " Nature red in tooth 
and claw" when he says that ''the whole creation 
groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now." 
And it is precisely this moan pouring into the negro ear 
that makes him think of God as a malignant demon, 
mocking at his pain, and pouring contempt upon his 
life. The impassive serenity of Nature in all the struggles 
and anguish of life maddens him into open revolt, for 
do not the serene stars rise and set with callous calmness 
over the storm and stress of his life ? There is the Gospel 
of Nature for you ! Moral : Herein is love : not that we 
get to love God by looking out on cruel Nature, but that 
He loved us and gave His Son a Victim of the same 
cruelty. 

(Srd December.) 
Have just had a "borderland" talk with an old devil- 
doctor, and he tells me much about his professional 
headquarters. Away down the Lualaba the natives 
have located their " Cathedral of the Congregated Dead " 
in a dark, umbrageous ravine. Their idea is that for 
hundreds of miles around the spirits all concentrate into 
this weird amphitheatre of the dead : " Chivawa," they 
call the mysterious place, and dead bodies scattered far 
over hill and dale in their graves — or no grave at all — 
have each a representative spirit here in their Parliament 
of the Dead. "The spot where spirits blend" is their 
phrase, but the blending is in loud debate when the 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 265 

demons shriek out invectives. In this Assembly there is 
no President or Mr. Speaker, and the logic of these demon 
utterances is so illogical that the Lubans have seemingly 
broken into the spirit-world at the lunatic asylum end. 
Distinctly Dantesque is this gulf of theirs, the very look 
of the place suggesting uncanny, supernatural notions. 
Reluctant daylight only trickles in here and there through 
the mountain fissures, and as Nature has such a very 
definite voice to the negro, why wonder that they all 
seem to hear her proclaim the special sanctity of this wild, 
woeful region ? " Dim religious light " with a caution. 
The acoustics of the place are so wonderful that a mere 
whisper is caught up and goes echoing on and on through 
the galleries and corridors of the mountain. When I 
passed down there a wet wind was blowing bleak, and the 
noise came groaning out from the Cathedral entrance like 
a huge organ. Far from being a mere thing of con- 
temporary gossip, this Chivawa (like its sister- 
cathedral Songa farther South) is the High Court of 
Appeal in all tough lawsuits — its yea utterly yea, and its 
nay, nay. After wrangling out hot legal puzzles in their 
hot little hamlets, the final word cannot be said until 
Messrs. Pro and Con go ofi" on their hundred miles 
tramp to throw themselves for adjudication at the feet of 
these mighty dead. " The plunge into darkness " is what 
this sort of legal gambling is called. The old vein of 
incipient flippancy is now gone utterly, and there these 
negroes lie prostrate in suspense. He who awakes out of 
his swoon to find himself beplastered with white chalk — 



266 THINKING BLACK 

let the welkin ring, for he is justified. He who, per 
contra, finds himself covered with charcoal must himself 
die the death by fire and become charcoal. With all this 
rival-religion idea of theirs, how hard it is to persuade 
such a superstitious people that the best way to see Divine 
Light is to put out their own farthing candle ! Yet these 
negroes laugh when you tell them of the prisoner into 
whose cell the light came through a little crack in the 
wall. And one day, when they came to destroy the wall, 
he bitterly lamented because it would destroy the crack 
through which his daylight came. Our message rings 
out one note, and one only : " See thy Sin, but behold 
thy Saviour." 

One rarely seen old man has a great say here : 
Kavoto, they call him, a weird old magic-magnate who 
has made the whole land hum with his dark doings among 
the lions. But how can we distinguish the bones of fact 
from the drapery of invention ? The cum grano story 
runs that from far and near he summons his lions to 
receive their fetish orders ; no doors locked in his forest 
hamlet, and they trot in and out like friendly mastiffs. 
At sundown, he sends out this " lion-call," a rumbling roar 
simulating their cry, and in they bowl to supper. Then 
it is they are commissioned N., S., E., and W. to raid 
villages and pick off the various victims of his hate, 
*' orders " being received at this Lion Depot and carefully 
executed. That is to say, A. deposits a sum in Kavoto's 
hand for the murdering of B. by lions, and the specialist 
guarantees results. The old map-makers were right 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 267 

when, in lieu of any known name to print over this spot in 
Africa, they put down the eloquent prophecy : Hie sunt 
Leones. Who told them of this Lion Bureau? The 
two mild-mannered chiefs who to-day vouched for these 
strange doings seemed greatly pained when I hinted that 
this sort of thing could not he accepted without a certain 
amount of intellectual jugglery. They repelled my 
insinuations with real Luban scorn, and to convince me, 
one of them flew off like a rocket extolling the Lion 
King's occult powers : proof after proofs he brought 
into his oration ; grand words to express poor ideas, a 
racehorse drawing a donkey-cart. Yet very sure am I, 
Herodotus would have filled pages with just such trash. 

What does it all mean ? Is not all the world under 
one's waistcoat ? Well, deducting adequate discount 
only leaves a little balance — but much in that little. 
For all Africa believes in the transmigration of a living 
man into a living lion, believes that lions lend their 
bodies to human beings for the inhuman purpose of 
grabbing their fellows. This Kavoto knows, and this 
he capitalises. Hence this opening of a Lion Shop — 
Transmigration Specialist, wonders while you wait. Pay 
your money and pick your victim, for does not the name 
Kavoto mean, the Lurker-to-kill ? Even far-off white 
men, white dabblers in the black art, have been reported 
to pay eagerly for the death of a victim ; Arabs, of course, 
being regular customers. Worse and higher still, it is 
said — well, never mind what is said. 

17 



268 THINKING BLACK 

{Srd Decemher.) 
I have just had a big brawl with M. over refusing 
to write out to the Ocean for more powder and guns. 
The old days of the poisoned arrow are passing, and 
something with a big bang is the substitute. The lion 
pulls down the zebra in the moonlight, the leopard 
springs on the antelope, and, says Mushidi, why not the big 
man versus the little man in the war of extermination ? 
*' These were my claws," said he to-day, pointing to some 
old bows and poisoned arrows of the early days. With 
the innovation of " Waterloo " flint-locks and "Crimea" 
cap-guns, of course, the execution has become more 
drastic and decisive. When Mushidi got his first guns of 
the " gas-pipe " genus, then it was he really conceived his 
" God " pretensions ; was not that flash in the pan of his 
flint-locks followed by the roar from the barrel a true 
copy of the Almighty's thunder and lightning ? But he 
bemoaned the paucity of these " God-firers." His nucleal 
armoury indeed only boasted the grand total of five flint- 
locks, and — like the small boy's five loaves of life — what 
were these five guns of death among so many negroes to 
be slain ? Thus Mushidi moaned, and the moaning 
climaxed in a midnight council, with the hatching of a 
famous miracle-lie. And thus " the gun-lie " ran. Out 
among the unsophisticated negroes the heresy was 
preached that Mushidi had not merely omnipotent guns 
but omniscient bullets. In other words, they were stufl'ed 
with nonsense that he or his delegate, by merely drawing 
a gun-trigger at random could thereby send the said 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 269 

omniscient bullet, sure as the scent of a blood-hound, 
zigzagging through the land, dealing death to all desir- 
able victims. More : they made a double lie out of 
double bullets ; two bullets like two pills being a double 
dose of death, the said bullets separating to find 
different victims ad infinitum. Superstition dies hard, but 
here in Bunkeya it doesn't die at all. So well does this 
idea of " God-firing " soak into the negro brain, that 
when I was down in the Lufira Valley the King's brother 
corroborated this idea. He had gone out into the 
savannah to try his Btvanga or luck at hunting a herd 
of red-buck round the ant-hills ; but when he had hoped 
to draw upon one of these decisively, flash ! came a vivid 
fork of lightning, half blinding him for the moment. A 
second passed, and then he saw nearly the whole heap of 
buck lying stone dead from the forked flash. Then it 
was, rubbing his hands with glee, the noble hunter 
naively said, " Fancy ! God beating me at gun-firing ! " 

It was with this blasphemous idea he pushed his 
*' God " pretensions in Lubaland on going North to 
Kayumba's. The legend of Kara ya Rova found all over 
the Garenganze took Mushidi's fancy. This Kara ya 
Rova is the legendary Creator of the Human Race, called 
literally the Captain of Humanity, and he it was who 
headed for the North with the long Indian file of human 
nations in his wake. We, the whites, were there with 
our federal ancestor, and they, the blacks, were there too. 
But spying on the march, day by day, a changing 
panorama of bewitching vales watered by noble rivers, 



270 THINKING BLACK 

they one by one dropped out and turned aside to a lazy 
lotus life in Africa. We, the hardier whites, held on our 
Northern way until we were dropped in our respective 
habitats. Pointing to the mountains, they show you 
solemnly his alleged " footprints " in the rocks, for in 
those days, say our good black geologists, " the rocks were 
soft." These footprints, of course, are a fraud and merely 
the "pot-holes" common to all the world's river-beds, 
erosive in character ; nevertheless, it was appropriate that 
this " footprints-graven-in-the-rocks " idea should catch 
Mushidi's imagination. Deceiving and being deceived, 
humbugging and being humbugged his whole life, it was 
in the essential irony of things that he. The Fraud, should 
believe such a fraud. The conscious grower of a 
metaphoric mushroom empire, he vainly longed to go 
down to posterity at least " written in the rocks," if not 
with the iron pen of history : was not he, too, *' God " as 
much as Kara ya Rova? Did not he, too, daily and 
hourly mould the fates and fortunes of men ? So the fiat 
went forth, and Mushidi, standing as solemnly as though 
he were being measured by a shoemaker, got his foot- 
prints carved out of the rocks. More than that, he had a 
backgammon board cut out in the rocks — a memorial 
to all generations. 

Here it was at Kayumba's he, resolving to make a 
water-bottle never before made by man, flayed a human 
being to make a water-bottle of the skin. Hence the 
catch has gone down to posterity, " Mushidi wa funda 
mu ku funda muntu," the horrible play on the word 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 271 

funda being that it means doubly " to teach " and " to 
take the skin off," just as, in a weaker sense, a master 
beating his slave will pun on the same word to say, " I 
will teach you," i.e. I will beat you till some skin comes 
off. This skin of a human being is most touchingly 
called " the seamless robe," the idea being that when God 
created man He clothed him with a seamless robe of skin. 
Little wonder that the memory of the other sacred 
seamless robe of Calvary came to me very vividly in 
almost an exactly similar connection as the story of the 
Roman soldiers gambling for Christ's robe. There, too, 
in Mushidi's capital were four cut-throats, with red 
turkey-twill turbans, who had returned from a fight in the 
North. Swooping down on the town, they had killed off 
most of the men, dragging South the women and boys 
as slaves, and here you have four soldiers with only one 
slave between them. Moot-point : What is to be done ? 
Why, of course, Teya Buvale, or throw the dice, for 
ultimate ownership. So there, behold them gambling 
for a slave, and now it is in the excited gabble of the 
gamblers you can overhear the snatch-phrases, " Let us 
gamble for our seamless robe," i.e. a human being. But 
on pushing investigations you find that while this is 
literally a metaphor for the actual skin, yet as a " whole 
skin " even in English means a live body, even so there 
is a double innuendo in Bantu. For the seamless robe of 
skin is to the negro a type of the unity of that slave's 
body who could not be cut up into four portions to 
accommodate the four warriors, hence this gambling : ** Let 



272 THINKING BLACK 

us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be." As 
not even a bone of Christ's body was broken, how sug- 
gestive the fate of both His robe of cloth and robe of flesh ! 

But there is a glimmer in all this gloom. In the 
darkest den of Africa, the doctrine of the Immortality 
of the Soul is flaming like a fire, and the deeper you 
dig the higher it flares. Bipeds only, too, the door being 
slammed on quadrupeds. Bird or beast, do not dare 
suggest to the Luban that animals are immortal. Here is 
a whole town actually gone off" its food and solidly refusing 
to eat until nem. con. they come to a decision on a ques- 
tion of — of metaphysics. 'Tis passing strange. When 
I came on the scene they had been at it for four hours, 
the debate a wild thing : Has a dog a spirit ? 

The judges were in the blues when I arrived, and in- 
sisted on my umpiring their hard-mouthed wrangle. The 
older folks stamp with indignation at the insolent idea, 
and the Freethinker who set this ball a-rolling is having 
it hot, the heretic ! At last they have nonplussed him, for 
he lamely confesses that, of course, dogs as a rule are — 
well — only dogs, a species of local canine mutton, that is 
to say, but this dreadful dog was — w-a-s, a wonder. The 
whole debate, it seems, masks the mouth of a trap, a 
lawyer's trap, and a law-suit is lurking in the background 
all the time. For if he can successfully insinuate that an 
exceptional dog may (ahem !) exceptionally have a spirit, 
then he is going to have the law on them, for he avers a 
dead dog is haunting him to his undoing. This dog, be 
it keenly noted, was not only a hunter's dog but really a 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 273 

greater liunter than his master. Day by day, it would 
go off on its own, lurk on the edge of the plain and, with 
the spring of a panther, drag down an antelope, a devoted 
gift to his master. This entente cordiale, between man 
and dos;, went on and on, until the neio^hbours envied both 
man and dog ; so one day — dark dies memorabilis — they 
pounced on the hunter, claiming damages for a slight 
indiscretion on the animal's part — breach of dog-etiquette, 
I mean, not man's. Stealing eggs, nothing less, was the 
accusation. Result : the culprit pug was condemned to 
have his ears cropped, and with the disappearance of the 
devoted dog's ears there also disappeared utterly any 
devoted gifts of game. Knotty point : When he lost his 
ears, did he lose his scent for game ? Answer : No, not 
at all ; he went still at it, was still successful in the chase, 
but — but snubbed his master for permitting them to crop 
ears. Did he eat his captured game then ? Certainly 
not ; how could a dog with such a prohibition bred in the 
bone, how could it dare such a deed ? 

This, then, is what it did do — and here it is we tumble 
plump into mystery. Adjacent to the townlet is a wild 
bog into which the Lualaba lavishes its waters, the dense 
tangle being hopeless and shutting in the water from view. 
Here it is the dog discovers a hole for hiding his trophies. 
Day by day (it all came out afterwards) he revengefully 
rammed down that hole his spoils of the chase, a real case 
— if you but change one word — of " a dog in the manger " ; 
he didn't eat the meat himself out of canine honour, and 
he slyly saw to it that nobody else would. Then came 



2t4 THINKING BLACK 

(what should have been) the end, but the end is not yet. 
Poor Bow-wow died, died of chagrin, some said ; died of 
disdain, said others. And now trouble begins to fall thick 
and fast among the hunter's friends. You remember that 
hole in the dark bog and you recall how the dog frequented 
the spot ; well, that hole, the folks say, is an endless shaft 
that leads down to the bottomless pit of the demons. 
This man's brother, at any rate, went there one day, broke 
through the thick papyrus down to the water, a huge 
crocodile snapped up at him and down he went with a 
shriek — yes, down the dead dog's hole. At home, too, in 
the village, it is the same thing, death after death ; illness 
after illness, and all dogging the hunter's kinsfolk who 
betrayed the dog. So here you have the whole story of 
this wrangle, but the town stops its ears and denies that 
a dog with no spirit can haunt the living. The only 
haunting a dog does locally is a slight canine indigestion 
after they have swallowed him. 

So here once more the old idea is proved that im- 
mortality is not a mere doctrine but an instinct, a much 
more serious thing. Grotesque and diversified in its 
million manifestations, no doubt, but a notorious instinct, 
and as such sure, yes, surer than the instinct of the bird 
of passage never deceived in its migrations. Sure as the 
bee when it elaborates the cell for the future honey. 
Sure, yes, surer far than that instinct of the butterfly and 
beetle when they prepare the cradle and the food for the 
offspring they will never see. Even Darwin was forced 
to own the vast ramifications of this instinct of Immor- 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 275 

tality among degraded races of men, but curiously argued 
that " if the human mind was developed from the lowest 
form of creatures, then how could that mind — human 
though it was — be trusted in its instincts ? " Of course, 
the bewildering part of all this is that the speaker is the 
same Darwin who sees elsewhere instinct as a mighty 
Q'uidinoj law rulinoj the creation like clockwork, and un- 
erringly causing the swallow, for instance, to shoot South 
overseas for the sure sunshine and the flowers. Not by 
whim or caprice, but by law — the law of instinct — does 
that swallow dart South to the sun. Then, Mr. Darwin, 
why deny to the mighty soul what you grant to the 
small swallow ? Are ye not of more value than many 
swallows ? Moral : The thirst for the Infinite proves the 
Infinite. " Sir, I hold," said Emerson — and well spake 
he— "I hold that God Who keeps His Word with the 
birds and fishes in all their migratory instincts will keep 
His word with man." 

(Later.) 

Mushidi was very meek and mild to-day as he 
received some bold blacksmiths from the South-East. 
They have him wholly in the hollow of their hand : no 
smith, no soldier — no Tubal Cain, no sword or plough- 
share ! 

The best because busiest bees in the hive of Central 
Africa are these tough old blacksmiths who turn out the 
iron ore. Long bony hands they have on which the 
muscles stand out like whipcords. Made not of flesh 
and blood, but of asbestos, these funny fingers of theirs 



276 THINKING BLACK 

can juggle with live coals of fire and scarcely be burned, 
hence the common conceit is to call their fingers " Fire- 
tongs" (Fimanto). There is poetry in these brawny 
blacks, but they live their poetry like men instead of 
singing it like birds, and far and near they surely have 
their reward. All eyes look East, Kishinga way, when 
the roar of the rains is near. Are not those hundreds of 
miles of smilins: African tilla2:e all traceable to this man 
who digs the ore from the hillside and manufactures 
hoes, spears and axes ? Although their ideas are the 
crudest of the crude, still they combine in a solemn cult 
the caste of Tubal Cain, let us call it. Bound by a code 
of stringent laws, these " thou-shalt-nots " are a pathetic 
mix-up of soul and matter, faith and works, mud and 
stars. They are sworn to temporal celibacy and severely 
dieted ; can only eat out of certain pots, and cannot, dare 
not, eat certain animals — e.g. the hare. Their furnaces 
make quite a show of hard enterprise, and the function of 
filling these is the occasion of a solemn fast when no soul 
of man other than these sons of Tubal Cain can be about. 
Then it is all the folks shut themselves indoors while this 
" furnace -feeding " process is going on, the men of the cult 
calling out menacingly the while. But as most things in 
Africa are a mad mixture of mind and mud, the fetish, 
i.e. religious element, is of primary importance in it all. 
For it is " God's ore," they say, and this Spirit-mediation 
theory of theirs is only a frank refusal of these blacks to 
admit that mere stout arms and tough muscles have all 
the say in God's own world. " Who first drinks, first 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 277 

thanks," say they. And this African of ours and his 
" other- worldliness " is deeply touching — wouldn't even 
condescend to argue with an Atheist. "How do I know 
there is a God ? " he asks. *' How do I know my goat 
passed over that wet ground if not by the footprints she 
left in the mud ? " Thus any such phrase as " laws of 
Nature" is unknown to him, for an act postulates an 
agent, and what is Nature but God's mere minion ? No 
Atheist could hoodwink a black man with the notion that 
mere laws explain everything, for your negro retorts, 
" As if a law does not require construction as well as a 
world." Another of these men proved the existence of 
God by the quiet query : " Who ever forgot there was a 
Sun ? " A proof this that he reads his Book of Nature so 
well that in every rock and tree God is staring him in 
the eyes and shouting in his ears. Yet in the teeth of 
this, such an expert as Burton could insist that " the 
necessity of a Creator, so familiar to our minds, is gener- 
ally strange to savages. In the present day, the African 
races generally have never been able to comprehend the 
existence or the necessity of a One God." Fie, Sir Richard ! 
Even Cicero lono- ao;o could declare that " there is no nation 
SO brutish as not to be imbued with the conviction that 
there is a God." So, too, Plutarch : " We may search 
the world throughout, and in no region where man has 
lived can we find a city without the knowledge of a God 
or the practice of a religion." And the whole continent 
of Africa choruses an eager " Yes ! " to these ancients. 
* * * 



278 THINKING BLACK 

Some more eye-opening " thinking black." This 
pug-nosed negro of ours has really a brain of phenomenal 
range. This you can best believe by wiping off the old 
slander that he is poor in numeration, for his unit is the 
" terrible-ten " — another pinprick this, I know, into the 
bubble of tradition. Terrible ten, indeed, for starting so 
ominously with a round number he soon soars into the 
blue of arithmetic. Thus, leaving hundred (Chitdta) and 
"thousand" (Chihumhi) far behind, he reaches the figure 
for a million (Mudinda). Then with this as a jumping- 
ground, he leaps forward into planetary arithmetic in the 
word Diita, a million times a million. Here, however, 
his mind calls a halt, for man's empire is lost in the 
numeration of immensity, nevertheless he tricks the 
tongue into coining a word — Diona — the "all" things, 
that is to say. The panther spring of the black brain is 
now baffled, but not beaten, and far up in those giddy 
heights he starts to dare classify grades of immensity. 
For t\\m Diona is (1) the speechless; (2) the voice- 
stifling ; (3) the measure-defying ; (4) the unthinkable. 
A daring "grand total" idea this, of locking up all 
expanse in the universe into one word. Asked, however, 
to be concrete, and not abstract, he says, with an apologetic 
flourish of metaphor : The grand total of all immensity 
may be stated in terms of — ashes : id est, all things 
viewed as separate units must be conceived as the finest 
powdered ashes ever known to man. For unthinkably 
fine though they be, they are yet only a mass of 
granular units ! Thus quaintly and unquestionably the 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 279 

African can philosophically say, " Praise is silent before 
Thee, God, in Zion." Very inflated all this, to be sure, 
and very much like mere man soaring up to the blue in 
a toy balloon ; yet, nevertheless, here is proof of grey 
matter in the black brain. Certainly here is a man who 
deserves better than the Government dog-bark of auto- 
cracy ; even as here is the real reason of many a black 
bark answering white bark in revolt. Depend upon it, ye 
rulers with the Rod, this black man is as strong in brain 
as in biceps. 

{Later. ) 
We Missionaries are accused of making big bouncing 
assertions about our African's mental ability, and even 
many a good friend of the negro claims to be forgiven if 
he cannot hear of this without impatience. Living as the 
black man does at the very bottom of Life's hill, the 
inference is surely a very fair one, that the African is 
mentally incapable of seeing anything in the light of an 
abstract principle. Hence that weary and too confident 
assertion that this African of ours cannot possibly be 
strong in abstract ideas. The late Dean Farrar may be 
isolated as a serious type of such friendly academic critics, 
and what I propose to do is to quote Farrar as a heavy 
philologist against the negro and then proceed forthwith 
to hand him over to the tender mercies of the tw^o great 
African grammarians. That is to say. Dean Farrar, a 
good negrophile, is to be viewed impersonally as a very 
fair type of the average Oxford Don critic who subjectively 
decides on a question really not in his sphere. Appleyard 



280 THINKING BLACK 

and the late Clement Scott will on the negro side be 
quoted as representing the two extremes of a long line of 
Bantu study. Of course, as nothing short of philosophy 
is our pro-negro claim, we will be slavishly literal, and 
cling hard to this one test-word : The Abstract. Philosophy 
is the Abstract. If, therefore, the African can be authori- 
tatively proved to be strong in the Abstract, then the 
African, ipso facto, is proved to be a philosopher. 

" Bantu is highly systematic and 
truly philosophical." 

Appleyard. 



" The vaunted wealth of Bantu 
turns out to be a concealment of 
their poverty. It is due to that 
utter deficiency in abstract." 

Farrar. 



" The (Bantu) language has the 
fullest expression of the abstract 
one has met with; broad and 
delicate in its conception, essenti- 
ally suaviter in mode, fortiter in 
re!" Clement Scott. 

Here, then, we behold in sharp juxtaposition the oldest 
story of 'pro and con cross-swearing in the world : Farrar's 
loose subjective vagaries confronted with hard, stubborn, 
objective data. What a swing of the pendulum from 
zero to hundred ! Is black white, or crooked straight ? 
This is the thing honest men yawn over — arm-chair 
dogmatism in England breaking a lance with *' the man 
on the spot" — our venerable friend Quod Erat Demon- 
strandum Esquire smiling down so condescendingly on 
plain Mr. Quod Erat Faciendum. The former correct and 
subjective to his finger-tips ; the latter with his jacket off 
sweating over objective data, filling dozens of note-books. 
For Dr. Clement Scott is surely a good example of being 



THUS FAR AND NO FARTHER 281 

very, oh ! very much Mr. Faciendum. If his above- 
quoted words seem to be exaggerated and sweeping 
(" the fullest expression of the abstract one has met with " !), 
does he not substantiate them all in his 737 pages of 
genuine Bantu idiom ? Tortuous and tricky, and to 
the tune of hundreds of instances, he it is who has 
followed the marvellous negro far into the penetralia 
of " thinking black." Emerging from it all, in a wonder 
that is almost dismay. Dr. Scott gasps — for " gasp " is 
the word — that Bantu has " the fullest expression of the 
abstract one has yet met with." And philosophy is the 
Abstract, remember ; ei'go the African is proved to be 
both brainy and beefy — in fact, has brain as well as biceps. 
Contrast Farrar's serious assertion as to the African's 
" utter deficiency in abstract " ! 



CHAPTER XV 
Red Sunsets 



"Ah, the land of the rusthng of wings, v/hich is 
beyond the rivers of Ethiopia." Isaiah. 



" In that time [from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia] 
shall a present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of 
a people scattered and peeled, and from a people 
terrible from their beginning hitherto: a nation 
meted out and trodden under foot, whose land 
the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of 
the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion." Isaiah. 



"Oh the generations old 
Over whom no church-bell tolled, 
Christless, lifting up blind eyes 
To the silence of the skies ! 
For the innumerable dead 
My soul is disquieted." 



CHAPTER XV 

Red Sunsets 

Jjy HEREAl the reader is sad, for 
the adjective is found to enter 
the superlative degree — hlack^ blacker^ 
blackest, 

{^th December.) 

ONE for Mushidi ! He tells me that lie has never 
yet suffered living sacrifices in the capital here, 
whereas all around every little H.R.H. Nobody 
cannot be buried without them. These terrible tales — 
"red sunsets," they are called — are hardly tellable, for 
here it is we reach the part of this diary that should 
really be written in red ink. The sun {i.e. the Chief) is 
sinking, and he must sink in red — a real scarlet sunset, 
and no mistake. It is quite certain that every poor 
chieflet demands his regal right to drag down with 
him to the nether world at least one or two splendid 
specimens of the human kind. Mpaki is the dread 
technical term for this institution, and these are mostly 
women-folk, the demand being that the living sacri- 
fice must have no blemish. No wonder when an 
i8 



286 THINKING BLACK 

African hears that line of the Bible he shudders : 
" The rich man died, and was buried.'^ Instinctively 
they think of a holocaust with its stream of blood ; 
and then it is Jeremiah's famous "weepers" put in an 
appearance, professional tear-manufacturers these, who 
produce — for a consideration — •" tortoise-tears " (sic) by 
the jar-ful. " Consider ye, and call for the mourn- 
ing women, that they may come ; and send for cunning 
women, that they may come : and let them make haste, 
and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run 
down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters " 
(Jer. ix. 17) — how often have these words been uttered 
in Lubaland ! Two of the prettiest wives are gloriously 
dressed and anointed with oil to accompany the corpse 
to the "west coast of Africa," i.e. the spirit-world 
(Kumhonshi), and never, never to come back again/ 
They always say that these and the like go to their 
own death with alacrity ; and when I protest later, 
they remind me of a case very well known to me by 
a personal link. That is the Mbogo Senior incident 
down in the Sera plain. At the Mpahi ceremony, 
and against all entreaty to the contrary, the infirm old 
wife of his youth insists upon accompanying her own 
consort down into the tomb of suffocation. She brushes 
aside the younger folks, and orders the catching and 
cooking of her best barn-yard fowl for her own last 
supper. She assists in her own "death toilet," her own 

1 That is to say, the setting sun symbolises the advent of dark night, 
i.e. death. 




A LUBAN LADY, 



RED SUNSETS ^87 

cleansing, and her own anointing unto her own burial. 
" Nay, who should go with my lord but me ? " said 
she in response to the "death-orchestra" of the wailing 
cunning women who were raining down " tortoise- tears." 
And then, in the evening, when the sough of the first 
night-wind passes over the great fen-bog, behold this 
old living sacrifice hobbling along with her gourd tobacco 
pipe in its little basket to attend her own funeral — no 
wail : nothing ! and the dark eternal sets in. There, in 
a death of sufibcation, she received her " John Anderson, 
my Jo ! " in death's embrace, in life and death one. 
Surely, here in a pathetic sense we see them sleeping 
together at the foot of life's hill, after many "a cantie 
day" together. On the surface, here is the kind of 
incident claimed as a feather in the cap of polygamy, 
and a mad Mormon would challenge monogamy to produce 
in like environment a like demonstration of conjugal 
afi'ection. But such conjugal love of two souls only 
proves monogamy. Only a week before their twin-death 
and burial, who should come up from the plains to pay 
us a most punctilious visit but precisely this dear old 
lady, Mrs. John Anderson, and her Jo, of course ! They 
hobbled over the hill together, a true instance of negro 
man and wife who had projected their last visit to 
" town," as they call our Luanza. A brief week thence 
saw the tragedy. 

{Later.) 
By far the most exasperating "red sunset" known 
to me was the death of my old friend of years, the great 



288 THINKING BLACK 

Chona. As Lord Paramount, lie was the owner of broad 
lands, and what could you expect? Still, that is just 
the sore point, for we had lofty hopes that the Chona 
— "Destroyer," the translation — in his peaceful death 
would create a clean and bloodless precedent for the 
young generation. Now it ekes out that one of his 
strongest reasons for not becoming a Christian was his 
fear that he would lose the divine honours of a vermilion 
sunset. What a poor King Jesus Christ was (he argued) 
to die in darkness as a felon ! How, then, did this Chona 
holocaust eventuate ? After all, it is only another proof 
that the African at home is lord of his own soil, and 
can outwit a white man any day. Even your Sherlock 
Holmes would soon find mere fertility of brain handi- 
capped by the fact that he was only one against a million. 
For, when this great Chona fell ominously sick, I saw to 
it that several lynx-eyed negroes were hanging around, 
their plea for loitering being the medicine I had sent. 
Nevertheless, long ago the old councillors, who sniffed 
treason in the very appearance of these Mission negroes, 
have plotted their being outwitted — and remember, for 
Eeynard to outwit Reynard, the subtlety must be a 
marvel. "As false as a bulletin," became a proverb 
in the days of Napoleon; so these old "death-doctors" 
copied France, and resolved to create a strong diversion 
to the North. Thus at daybreak the news (as first bulletin 
for the day) was on everybody's lips that the sick King 
had been removed by night to the North — the heat, the 
marsh, the billions of mosquitoes, the ostensible plea for 



RED SUNSETS 289 

the change of hospital. (Entre nous, the King is really 
dead in his house, but no "red sunset" can take place 
while the enemy, in the form of my messengers, is 
ambushed within the sacred atmosphere of death.) But 
they have been outwitted, sure enough ; and when all 
is in train for a start, out they spring like panthers 
from the dead King's hut, blood having already begun to 
flow in the death of the weary old nurse who got sudden 
death as her nursing fee. Silently as suddenly they 
now slam the door of the harem, wherein a dozen wives 
are cooped up like animals for the sacrifice ; and the 
slam of that door is answered by their moan. The " red 
sunset" begins. As, however, it is all ceremonial in 
character, this " charnel-house " work has a " method 
in its madness." There is, first of all, we have seen, 
that sacrifice of the old nurse ; then comes another human 
sacrifice before the royal corpse can cross the threshold. 
Then the whole Via Dolorosa to the tomb is "painted 
red" — another human life has perforce to pay toll for 
the corpse to pass the town gate ; then, en route, by 
a sort of "minute-gun" arrangement, death follows death 
till the tomb is reached. Of course, old scores are wiped 
out in blood along that "path of thorns" (sic), and 
the man or woman who on that day has no brothers 
or cousins among the wire-pullers is in peril of his 
carcass being given to the fowls of the air. But these 
things are only the beginning of sorrows and the end 
is not yet — the end, in fact, is indescribable. For the 
tomb itself is the climax in a double sense. Down in 



290 THINKING BLACK 

the huge pit there are the deaths from suffocation ; and 
up in the sunlight, on the new-made mound of earth, there 
is a thing called " the blood-plaster " (Kushinga ne milopa). 
A mere plebeian negro can only boast of a mud-and-water 
plaster, but old King Coal claims a blood-and-mud one. 

# :»: * 

Here is the reddest "sunset" of them all. From red 
we have gone to redder, and now let us round it all off 
with reddest. For the adjective has surely entered the 
sad superlative degree : the groans on the crescendo ; 
deaths amounting sweepingly and authentically to the 
" wipe out " of a ivhole town. Note the italics, for there 
is nothing visionary or elusive here. The mother and the 
babe unborn, the family of six or seven strapping sons, 
the boisterous band of precocious negro youngsters, the 
grandfathers and the grandmothers — all, cent per cent, 
dead in a heap, plus King, plus Queen, plus satellite 
concubines. Did I know the man ? Yes, very familiarly. 
Could I authenticate such a sweeping " wipe-out " of 
human beings ? Yes, to the satisfaction of every reader 
of this book. Am I talkinsf in tens or in hundreds ? 

o 

Hundreds certainly, and not tens. And that is where 
the story begins, the whole tale hinging on the sweeping 
character of this annihilation of a solid town. Figures, 
I know too well, are tricky things in Africa — witness 
the modern tentative census papers. But, granted they 
all entered a trap ; granted, likewise, this death-trap had 
no vestige of a back door ; granted, further, only three 
souls emerged therefrom, more dead than alive — and then 



RED SUNSETS 291 

surely the deduction is inexorable that the whole town 
was wiped out of existence. I seem to see that old friend 
of mine now while I write. A brave chief, he added to 
his prowess in war the exceptional merit of being a 
laborious hunter. Big-game hunter all his life, hundreds 
of animals had fallen to his old flint-lock ; but in 
his youth he had been soured by a dastardly act of 
mutilation, an enemy having cropped his ears. When 
we met, he was a dreaded "Black Flag" in revolt who 
had taken to the Likurwe Hills, pouncing down on passing 
caravans, and demanding all their powder, lest it should 
pass on into his enemy's country and be used ultimately 
against him. One such caravan so tied up was our own 
Mission's, a band of Biheans probably two hundred strong. 
Resident as I was in his enemy's country, it was a 
precarious business to cross the lines and enter his 
stronghold ; the Black Flag, remember, does not know 
the Eed Cross. That visit, however, was a success ; and 
having struck a bargain which acknowledged his right 
to the plundering us of all powder, we bade the last 
farewell. As we were parting for ever, he slyly un- 
coiled his turban, revealing the Royal cropped ears, 
much as Csesar might . have done with the wreath he 
wore to hide his baldness. "Look," said he, "I am 
fighting for my lost ears." Poor Rob Roy, he had only 
a few years of life, and then came his Turneresque 
sunset, when he dragged the whole town with him down 
to the grave. The story is a cave-tale, and would literally 
be entitled " The Last of the Troglodytes." The trap in 



292 THINKING BLACK 

which they all died was a limestone cave, and so utterly 
did they disappear from mortal ken that natives will be 
wary of all such subterranean holes in future. Briefly, it 
came fearfully and finally to this. When this chief made 
his last stand, he retreated back on this huge cave, 
resolved to die grandly, impressively, and magnificently 
— die with all his people round him like a winding-sheet — 
a common cave-coffin for the lot. Long ago he had made 
his dispositions for such a startling " sunset " ; so with a rush, 
and under cover of night, the whole town stampeded into 
the trap, a cave seductively large, provisions in abundance, 
and firewood. But alas ! unlike many of its spacious 
sister-caves with as many tunnels as a burrow, this was 
only a long deceptive "blind-alley" — blind the cave, and 
doubly blind the hunted-down negroes who entered it. 
For with a salvo of applause the enemy now rushes up 
to the cave's mouth and seals the entombed doom of 
all that horde of foolish fugitives. There is no shriek, 
meanwhile, from these runaways. Oh no, only the 
beo-inning; of the lonof, lingering end. With a refinement 
of cruelty, the enemy now sits down at the cave mouth 
and starts to "plug the leak," a process this involving 
the blocking of the cave's mouth with rocks ; then, over 
the rocks, a banking of earth — thus pathetically and 
literally making it a colossal tomb with the old orthodox 
mound of earth on the top. And so autumn wanes. 
The long days pass, days in which, with sinister signifi- 
cance, the great blue-bottle flies hum in and out of the 
chinks of the rocks to tell the tale of corruption. 



TIED SUNSETS 293 

But what about those three women who escaped? 
Listen ! Some weeks elapse ; then out through one of 
the limestone chinks you can hear a gentle moan — tell- 
tale moan of a human beins^. There it is acjain, and this 
time, out through the same chink, comes a wail of the 
moribund : " We are all dead. Oh, let me out ! " She is 
a w^oman moanino^, none other than Nanga, who used to 
live over at Munema village. Outside the bully warriors 
are shaking wdth fear at this voice from the tomb. Then 
they summon up courage to challenge her that she is 
lying, and that she has only returned from the dead to 
be their undoing. But the answer they get is her 
sepulchral offer that if they will only disentomb her, 
she will gladly permit her two hands and feet to be cut 
off, if she is found to have lied to them : " ye out 
in the sunlight, sitting down to the banquet of life, let 
me out from this Lake of Fire." So at long last here 
she comes, extricated from the cruel debris to the light 
of day — she and two poor half-dead mortals. Yes, they 
bring a gruesome tale from that " land of the dead," a 
tale of slow, lingering emaciation and dissolution. First 
the food failed, then the faggots, and then came the 
exasperated expedients for firewood — all the old gun- 
stocks and spear-shafts burned off first. Then — good- 
night ! — the great gleaming tusks of ivory. This tomb- 
cave, be it noted, was also the chiefs treasure-trove, and 
there lay the accumulated ivory of years. Thus he died 
in his glory, heated at a funeral blaze of burning ivory, 
" Emperor's Fuel," they call it. It beggars all description. 



294 THINKING BLACK 

Just one gleam of glory shoots up before darkness de- 
scends. Not long before, I found myself in that doomed 
town preaching in the moonlight with a tragic intensity. 
Surely in a glad, good way this was a silent, secret factor 
in their eternal destiny. 

(9^/*- Decemher.) 

Notwithstanding all his mad mob of cut-throats, 
I opine that Mushidi will not be able to reckon on 
even one solid band of braves when the day of doom 
draws near. Here they are in thousands, all armed with 
"Tower" guns, but nothing even faintly approaching 
the idea of a Tenth Legion of Cfesar or an Old Guard of 
Napoleon. True, he can count on many a strong in- 
dividual, nearly all the satraps round the throne being 
linked by marriage to the despot : Kasamina and 
Mumoneka, with many more, are as brave as loyal. But 
mere personal prowess can never be equivalent to the 
discipline of the machine. Besides, this free-lance idea 
only means that every leader is playing for his own 
hand ; and when that works out (as it often does) at one 
courtier against another, then the foundations are shaky. 
Really a kingdom within a kingdom is the idea, and the 
concentric waves make rings within rings of plot and 
counterplot. 

Still, there is no man in the whole land who cringes 
so submissively as just one of these great ministers, and 
Mushidi persistently repels them with a pelting storm 
of abuse. Not once but several times he has sized up 
a too ambitious type of Joab minister, and got rid of 



RED SUNSETS 295 

him in the polite old way of sending him off to kill 
or be killed in war. Even his own princes he treats 
in the same " go -to -shear -and -be -shorn " way, the 
recent case of his son Chamunda being notorious. Too 
enamoured of his father's own wife, Mushidi at once 
ordered him up to the North to fight Chona ; and after 
a year's hard struggle the poor prince came back, broken 
in two bones, a cripple for life. 

And this, remember, is the regular treatment meted 
out to any black son of Zeruiah who is too strong for 
him. With the ladies, however, it is drastically different, 
and even a dame of high status is coolly executed in 
the capital as an advertisement in harem discipline. 
Who will ever forget the great death of Queen Matayu ? 
Here was a lady of lineage, brought in from the Far 
East by the Arabs as an offset to the Maria de Fonseca 
marriage of the Portuguese, the two Oceans bidding for 
Mushidi's commerce with the debasing bribe of rival 
queens. Poor Mushidi, he has had to pay for it in 
blood, this Eastern marriage ; for does not the native 
proverb say, "Eat the bait, and you are on the hook"? 
Certainly, this Arab bait was seductive ; but as the 
days passed the news began to spread round the capital 
that the " Eastern Lady " (MuJcodi Wa Kavanga) was 
a Jezebel of no ordinary sort. Death after death by 
poisoning was brought to her door, the climax being an 
attempt on her own son. " Oh ! " said Mushidi, " we 
will soon settle that"; and forthwith he convened a 
council of elders, who doomed her to die. So there and 



296 THINKING BLACK 

then, with no dawdle, and ignoring all political com- 
plications of the future, Tete and Kavalo, two generals, 
went across to Munema, and were received of this 
Jezebel with her usual smirk of coquetry. Invited into 
her own house on a plea of privacy, she was strangled 
on the spot as a witch, the mob in the capital declaring 
that Mushidi was perfection in so scorning the high 
status of such a grand dame. Cast out on the Lunsala 
Flats, that distinguished witch's body was despised by 
every passer-by, and speedily became carrion for the 
scavenger hyenas ever on the prowl. Jezebel, I have 
called her, because that name in her last moments 
became awfully and literally appropriate. For as these 
executioners entered her courtyard, the good-as-dead 
woman cried out the most ancient greeting in Africa : 
" Is it peace ? " (Mutende f) And in that subsequent 
hurried strangling of tlieir victim they could be heard 
literally answering the old Jehu taunt : " What peace 
so long as your whoredoms and witchcrafts are so 
many ? " But Mushidi has not had long to wait before 
he learns that here is only another annoying illustration 
of the fact that women are the source of all his woes. 
The roar for revenge can now be heard on his Eastern 
boundary, the Rugarugas taking the field as champions 
of the dead Jezebel. Thus it comes to pass that the 
dead Masengo is the casus helli of his Sanga civil war, 
just as in the East another wild war is waging over the 
death of Queen Matayu. Does this justify the Spanish 
saying, " Where woman is, there trouble is " ? 



BOOK III 

CHAPTER XVI 
Nemesis, Daughter of Night" 



'Though the mills of God grind slowly, 
Yet they grind exceeding small ; 

Though with patience He sits waiting, 
With exactness grinds He all." 



"Instead of enquiring why the Roman Empire 
was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it 

subsisted so long." Gibbon. 



"Down they come these ancient nations— down 
they come one after another, for lack of righteous- 
ness." Matthew Arnold. 



.98 



CHAPTER XVI 

*' Nemesis, Daughter of Night " 

J J Z HEREIN the reader ponders 
the profound difference between 
eating what you like and liking what 
you eat. 

FTjlHE end is not far off now, for here in this large 
I rambling metropolis you see Musliidi fiddling while 
his Rome is burning. If ever the clock of destiny- 
struck with decision it is just now, the final simultaneous 
smash of such varied and conflicting elements all falling like 
one well-aimed blow. (By the way, see here, once again, 
how God can rule by His over-ruling.) For now, when 
these Rugarugas begin to drive in the Eastern end of the 
Empire, now it is the Sanga civil war has broken out 
right in the capital. And precisely as though these 
propitious events have all been elaborately telegraphed 
across the seas, now it is that Europe gets excited about 
Katanga. This year 1890 is, indeed, a climax date in the 
high politics of " the scramble for Central Africa." For, 
if to be first in time is to be first in dignity, then the 
English claim the country. As far back even as 1875 
Lovett Cameron's great journey across Africa had 



300 THINKING BLACK 

revealed the Katanga country as a highly mineralised 
territory, and ever since then Cecil Rhodes and his 
disciples had mentally annexed it for South Africa. The 
British argument for annexation, if not logical, is at least 
geographical, for is not Katanga a true dependency of 
South Africa ? Moreover, the Congo is far too unwieldy ; 
and has not Belgium bitten off more than it can chew ? 
Would Katanga have ever had sleeping sickness if linked 
up with the Cape and not with Boma ? Thus it was that 
while four ponderous Belgian expeditions are slowly con- 
centrating on Katanga, an Englishman forestalls them all. 
Much to King Leopold's chagrin, and before his elaborate 
caravans are above the horizon, Mr. Alfred Sharpe (now,, 
of course. Sir Alfred) wins his spurs by walking right into 
Mushidi's den with a mere handful of boys : proposal, 
Annexation by Great Britain. At first it was all too 
exasperating, this blunt diplomacy, a plenipotentiary with 
scarcely a shirt on his back. Repelled by Mushidi, and 
indeed almost murdered had he known it, Mr. Sharpe 
went back East, never dreaming that the grim chief was 
so struck by his honesty that he was soon to relent and 
recall him. For relent he did. If you will allow me to 
be slightly autobiographical, probably this tale can best be 
told in the first person singular. It was on this wise. 
One morning when I turned up at Court to salute, the 
King startled me out of all my company manners by 
appearing in hat, coat, and trousers, and, wearing his tie 
under the left ear, insisted that English, and English only, 
was his Court language. Then he roared loud and long, 



"NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT " 301 

and this was the kind of thing : — The King was pleased to 
say that he had slept well and — to a purpose. The King 
(invention again !) was glad to greet one more of the 
many thousands of Englishmen known to him. The 
King was pleased to order that the Union Jack of red, 
white, and blue was the only pleasing political combination 
of colours in the world. That English likewise was the 
only true speech of man, and he would make all speak it. 
This command he followed up with a rigmarole dream of 
" London Town," curious impressionist sketch of that 
great capital compounded of Arab fables and our narratives, 
the only sure thing being the blinking lamps down all the 
London streets. He had been there last night per dream 
chariot, and was just back : " Goody morning ! goody 
morning ! all of you." Next he springs a surprise on me, 
a Missionary trapped into politics. For, having thus 
personally visited England — by moonshine — and verified 
"London Town" as the world's greatest village — "The 
King's Kraal" — he now desires me to recall Kadindo 
(Sir Alfred Sharpe), and he will give him his gold, give 
him his land — or more, if he stickles for it. No mere 
passing whim this of Mushidi's, as Dr. Moloney proves 
later in his pro-Belgium book. " Captain Stairs," writes 
Moloney, "for close on four hours plied Mushidi with 
argument upon argument to induce him to take the 
Belgian flag — he was willing to receive the Ingereza 
(English) flag, but not that of the Free State." 

This, mind you, from a member of the Belgian 
expedition, and proof positive that I did not engineer the 



302 THINKING BLACK 

Anglo-Mushidi entente cordiale. Well aware am I how 
puerile all this must seem to my Belgian friends — I, a 
Britisher, puffing my own race in the third person. 
Nevertheless, there you have the naked truth of the 
matter, and history owes to Mushidi the attestation that 
he did shout : " Sons of the dust, we know the English 
to be the true people ! " No amount of arguing, explain- 
ing, and smoothing down could convince a Belsjian that 
this writing East to bring in the English was on Mushidi's 
genuine initiative. All the appearances are against us, and 
they naturally only see in all this one more instance of 
the unplumbed depths of English subtlety. Yet the fact 
is, with these good Belgians pressing down so belligerently 
from the North, Mushidi proposed the oldest and 
simplest of black tactics — namely, the exploiting of one 
white nation against the other. Memo, for Missionaries : 
Do not dabble in " high politics," so called ; our politics 
are higher than the high. 

So time goes on until one eventful day a roar from 
the North tells of the advent of the Belgians, and here 
comes brave Paul Le Marinel first. He has been following 
up the Sankuru from Lusambo, and, escalading the 
Mitumba Range, arrives at the capital only to be repelled 
by the Emperor. The founder of the first Congo State 
poste in Katanga, his arrival was desolated by a cruel 
fire, the huge caravan of supplies going up in smoke, and 
jeopardising the future occupancy of the country. Poor 
Legat and Verdickt, who remained, have many a hard 
day's fare in store for them, yet to these able men the 



"NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT" 303 

Congo State in Katanga owes all. After this first 
expedition, a pause ; then comes Delcommune, a late 
second. He has followed up the Lomami, and striking 
Lake Kissale on the 27th August, 1891, arrives at the 
capital 6th October. Item: Lost Lieutenant Hankansson 
at Kinkondia, killed by the Lubans. Item : Makes over- 
tures to Mushidi, and is repelled. No. 3 Expedition is 
still from the North, and led by a charming gentleman. 
Captain Bia of the Guides — the same explorer this who, 
in the following May, died in my arms away South at 
Ntenke's. (The same Bia this who executed the murderer 
of Major Barttelot, leader of Stanley's rear column.) But 
none of these men struck a blow, and it was reserved for 
an Englishman to hoist the Congo flag. This was 
Stanley's friend Stairs, who was then slowly advancing 
from Zanzibar ; a poor man he, daily embarrassed with the 
stabbing idea that he, an officer holding the Queen's 
commission, was called upon to repel the advance of his 
own Union Jack. He it was who intercepted Mushidi's 
written command by my hand to recall Sir Alfred Sharpe. 
Fancy an officer with a delicate and scrupulous sense of 
honour waking up to the piercing realisation that he had 
become the tool of a foreigner, drawing Belgian money 
to combat English pretensions ! The truth is, this poor 
fellow was trapped into a very delicate position, not of his 
own seeking ; and as the days advanced, the monstrous 
enigma of his anti-English duties became a nightmare to 
him. Dying as he did before leaving Africa, I have sad 
reason for believing that this brooding over the dilemma 



304 THINKING BLACK 

hastened his untimely end. Nicholas i. of Russia died of 
bronchitis : so the bulletin said. But did he ? Did he 
not rather die of Alma and Inkermann ? " His was, " wrote 
Mr. Stanley of Stairs, "one of those rare personalities 
oftener visible among military men than among civilians, 
who could obey orders without argument, and without 
ado or fuss execute them religiously : courageous, careful, 
watchful, diligent, and faithful." 

And now for the ending of an epoch, for the capital 
is at last giving unmistakable signs of that process 
known as "breaking up." From the East came Mushidi 
loner ao-o, and here comes Nemesis from the same quarter. 
Sitting talking with an Arab one day in his verandah — 
the 28th November — behold, five Zanzibaris march in 
from the East, turbaned, and armed with breech-loaders. 
The sentimental if not substantial element in this advance 
guard is that their leader is Stanley's own Masoudi, and 
he bears a letter from Stairs, who is advancing slowly 
from the Lualaba expedition, 300 strong, and armed to 
the teeth. This historic letter is one of the usual charm- 
ing billets-doux in which Captain Stairs and his four 
companions formally presented their " salaams " prelimin- 
ary to presenting their arms. They, says the epistle, are 
coming to clothe the naked land and are only bent on 
acting peaceably. Finally, after much groping about for 
Mushidi's weak spot, the letter cleverly finds it in 
rounding ofi" with the lucky phrase : " I am the English- 
man ' Lord of Artillery ' [Bicana Mzinga), W. E. Stairs." 
Finds it, in all conscience, Mushidi's weak spot, for 



"NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT" 305 

although all his instincts are up in arms against these 
intruders, yet this happy tag of Stairs as to national- 
ity quite makes Mushidi's heart "white," as he terms it. 
"They are English, do you hear, sons of the dust?" 
shouts Mushidi to the crowd of people, " and we know 
the English to be true people." Then he blows a heavy 
blast through his nostrils and orders me to write out 
his royal reply. Not a philippic this, but a chat on paper 
in which Stairs, with wave of royal hand, is invited 
to come on and put these Belgians in their proper place. 
Once or twice I was just reaching for a metaphoric bucket 
of cold water to dash on Mushidi's political plans, when 
he struck in again and again with his favourite and 
favourable description of the English people — too 
favourite and too favourable, as time would tell. 

Now comes the great Lord Mayor's Show day — 14th 
December — when I am delegated by H.E.H. Mushidi 
to push out to the suburbs and meet the advancing 
expedition, orders being stringent that I must lead them 
to a stipulated camping-ground in the capital — there or 
nowhere. Lean and travel-stained, here they come at 
last out of the grass with flags flyiug, Captain Bodson, 
the Marquis de Bonchamps, Dr. Moloney and Eobinson, 
led by Stairs, who headed the Indian file. Fresh and 
trig from Europe, how they stare at me in my bush rags 
and shaggy, unmanageable whiskers ! We greet each 
other in French and English — French, I mean, as far as 
the irregular verbs and no farther. But this wayside 
pause is soon broken, and on we surge for Mushidi's in a 



306 THINKING BLACK 

cloud of dust — dust in our eyes, dust in our teeth, and 
dust all over. And now we are approaching the exciting 
goal. The distant roar of the capital grows louder and 
louder, and soon the curse of Babel is upon us, Bunkeya s 
polyglot negroes roaring out their rival jargons of 
welcome. But scarcely has Captain Stairs set foot in 
the capital when Mushidi illogically recoils from his own 
theory that the name of an Englishman equates the 
summum honum. He who knows how many beans 
make five has more than half surmised the truth when 
it is too late. A wolf has come in sheep's clothing. 
What elegant fiction is this ? Why does this Englishman 
fly a Congo Star ? Why has he Belgians with him ? 
Why did he intercept the Mushidi missive recalling Sir 
Alfred Sharpe ? No wonder from that hour of disillusion- 
ment Mushidi's shrivelled face became an impenetrable 
mask, the old brain plotting deeply and darkly. But it 
cannot last long. Four days of skirmishing — diplomatic 
skirmishing I mean — and then the end. Is it a grim joke 
this petulant idea of Mushidi's that he wants Stairs to be 
his "blood" brother? On the 17th the same proposal, 
" I want you for * blood ' brother." The 18th ditto — same 
"blood" brother petulance. The 19th — still he invokes 
the phantom of " blood " brother. Finally comes the 20th 
and crack of doom, real red blood this time — and without 
the brother. It was like this. On the 19th, Stairs had 
hoisted the Congo Star on the high sugar-loaf hill 
adjoining Nkulu, the same peak this that had challenged 
Mushidi's fancy to put an ivory house on the summit : 



"NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT" 307 

then came the Belgian proclamation in which he was de- 
barred from ever again shedding blood. But the King 
has given them the slip, for under cover of night he has 
gone to Munema, one of his first towns in the country. 
The Munema where he is soon to die ; the Munema where 
his first wife, Kapapa, is — a weedy, depressed-looking 
woman ; the Munema where he began, and where he 
will end. So Stairs follows the King up. Directing 
operations from his fortified camp, Captain Bodson and 
the Marquis de Bonchamps cut across the valley in 
pursuit, a halt being called at the Munema gate. Four 
head-men are sent in with an ultimatum, but an hour 
passes and they return not. Are they dead or are they 
prisoners ? This brings matters to a head. After parley 
it is agreed that Captain Bodson enter alone, the body 
of troops remaining outside with the prearranged signal 
that they rush in on the first sound of firing. The same 
Bodson this, remember, prize revolver shot, whose every 
aim is a hit. So in the bold Captain goes — yes, in, never 
to come out again. Advancing on to the royal palisade, 
behold ! Mushidi surrounded by a body-guard of his 
ghillies, and in the centre the four emissaries — prisoners. 
Bodson, nothing dismayed, comes slowly on, and Mushidi, 
King to the end, lurches at the intruder with a long 
sword, then falls stone dead to the Captain's revolver. 
Now for reprisal. Bang! bang! go the "Tower" guns 
of Mushidi's body-guard, and poor Bodson falls, mortally 
wounded, with the dying shout, " I have killed a tiger ! 
Long live the King!" The Zanzibaris who rushed in 



308 THINKING BLACK 

were so maddened by what had taken place that they 
cut Mushidi's head from its trunk and carried it on a pole 
back to the camp. 

" Every bullet has its billet," and the death that 
stiffens kings and slaves alike had gripped him. 
" There's no pocket in a shroud," says the proverb, but 
Mushidi didn't get a shroud, much less a pocket in it. 
Thus it came to pass, as so often happens in this old 
world's history, that the man who had spent a lifetime 
laying violent hands on hundreds of innocents must 
himself make exit by the identical doorway of a violent 
death. " I happened," says Dr. Moloney, " to glance at 
the dead man's face. It seemed to wear a mocking smile 
which somehow wasn't easily forgotten." Even in death 
the last look he left on his face was a perfect picture of 
that curious career of his, the wolf and the pig still 
struggling together in the dead features — Satan's 
signature, indeed. Better for him had God's witnesses 
never come to his country than that, having come, he 
should have turned a deaf ear to them, and closed his 
eyes against the light. This Mushidi was emphatically 
a man " wrapped in the solitude of his own originality." 
His head — and he was proud of it— was shaped as I have 
seen no other man's, the bumps towering away like 
Alps on Alps marking him off as one capable of doing 
wild, wicked things. Ever since I have known him, a 
look of cunning craftiness clung to his shrivelled features, 
his general demeanour overbearing and haughty. With 
him it was emphatically Aut Gwsar aut mdlus, every 



"NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT" 30§ 

one in his country laid under tribute to serve hira. " He 
used," says Dr. Moloney, " to call these worthy men, the 
Missionaries, his 'white slaves,' insult them before the 
public, and despoil them of their goods." 

Across the Eastern doorway of his empire on the 
Lualaba, Mushidi had figuratively written the prophecy, 
"My death will come from the East." All travellers entering 
from the East were suspect, and the most able diplomatist 
had a hopeless task before him. Nor did the wily old 
warrior draw blank here in this death-prophecy of his. 
Yes, die he did, and from the suspected East the mortal 
bullet came. All his life he dreaded that East Coast and 
resented with extreme asperity the advance of any stranger 
along his old route. Does not the thief who burgles 
through the pantry window suspect that the policeman 
will follow by the same aperture? Little did Mushidi 
imagine that his own curiously shaped head was destined 
to make the long journey out to the Ocean preserved in 
a petroleum tin. A mere instance of the curio craze writ 
large, the Central African negro thinks that preserved 
head of Mushidi the cap and climax of it all. For was 
not this the Mushidi who made his Babylon a vast 
museum of skulls ? Skulls piled up in pyramids on long 
tables ; skulls used as drinking-cups for warriors ; skulls 
hung up like hats on pegs on the lifeless spokes of withered 
trees. Such a " dramatic neatness " do they see in God's 
methods that they speak of the dead despot's skull ever 
" dripping, dripping blood all the long journey to the 
Ocean." This curious idea of the " blood that never dries " 



310 THINKING BLACK 

sends its roots down into the belief that kingly blood 
never washes out. Of course, such a wonderful head 
performed miracles. I remember travelling in the wake 
of the famous skull of Mushidi, camping at the same spot 
as the victors. It was here Mushidi's skull performed a 
supposed miracle, for under the very tree where it was 
placed for the night, the artful ants worked hard, and 
simulating a skull they made a perfect mould of the 
" sacred skull " in the form of an ant-hill ! 

But we are doomed to black, blacker, blackest. Hard 
on the heels of the Sanga guerilla warfare comes dark 
famine, just as in the Apocalypse the red horse of the 
second seal — war — is followed by the black horse of 
famine. Galloping through the stricken land, like a sort 
of third seal, " I saw, and behold a black horse — hut he that 
sat thereon had a balance in his hand." Thus, even in 
sore trial, our God does not leave us desolate, for we see also 
divine balance where dying natives only see the rushing 
black horse. (Ay, beyond and above famine, balance, 
and seals, we see the Loving Lamb Who alone is worthy 
to open any such seals. And are not we counted worthy 
to suffer ?) The binder of the Bible, seemingly, is as 
important a personage as its translator, for my little pocket 
edition opens automatically at Genesis and Romans. 
Surely not the binder but the Author does this good thing 
for me when in trouble, my Bible opening simultaneously 
at the black side in Genesis xlii. and the bright side in 
Eomans viii. : — 

'All these things are against me" (Gen. xlii. 36). 




''NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT" 311 

"All things work together for good " (Rom. viii. 28). 
This benighted famine experience is called by the 
Arabs "seeing the stars in the day-time." Even before 
Captain Stairs' arrival from the East with his large caravan, 
the country had been steadily sinking under the indirect 
pressure the Va Sanga were bringing to bear upon Bunkeya. 
So much so, that when the new-comers arrived, the tide 
had gone far, far out in the hemmed-in capital. Food 
could not be had for the buying, and the natives every- 
where, hollow as a drum, were eking out an existence on 
roots, while they watched their corn ripening with loaded 
guns. Every thief was shot at sight, and even soldiers 
were bulleted. Thus matters stood, I say, even before 
Stairs came with his Arabs, and now begins a struggle for 
existence such as never before happened in these parts. 
His soldiers turn out to be (what alas, Koran chanters 
often are) an unscrupulous lot, and loot cruel and whole- 
sale seems to be the order of the day. The strong come 
off better than the weak, but the victors fare badly 
enough ; eighty of their number have died in the capital, 
plus seventy dead or missing. As for the poor natives, 
they are wiped out in hundreds, specially all the old folks, 
who, hollow eyes unnaturally large and bright with the 
weird lustre of famine fever, are forced to the wall. Thus 
Africa reads us the old lesson that having no imports, it 
can only as a vast continent live one year at a time. The 
least tampering with the agricultural year means blighting 
famine : explorers, beware ! 

And how do we live? Here is a subject the very 



312 THINKING BLACK 

mention of which, I regret to say, is calculated to disturb 
the gastric functions of the stomach. Even the Marquis 
de Bonchamps, from many of whose opinions I disassociate 
myself, is quite correct here. Escaping for his life to 
Europe, he arrived August 1892, and declared that for 
twenty-seven days their expedition had nothing better 
to live on than locusts, ants, and even grass. This witness 
is true. In these gnawing days of famine I can tackle 
grass with famished gusto ; grass seeds boiled to an emerald 
gruel is a famous food — Musunga wa Ghifufia, or sul- 
phate of copper porridge, the name of this green gruel. 

As an anxious alternative I also eat and enjoy thousands 
of white ants with ravenous content. The said ants with 
a good supply of salt make an excellent repast, for being 
obese little insects they frizzle finely in their own fat. 
Don't forget that one pinch of salt, though, or you have 
spoilt it all. One pinch only ? Nay, you need two — a 
pinch of salt and a pinch of hunger. This, remember, is 
no laughing matter to a hungry bush preacher, for I find 
the difference between English plenty and African paucity 
is the old candid contrast between the relish of a man who 
likes what he eats and the epicure Englishman who eats 
what he likes. Another African dainty these days is rats, 
five little rats tied to each other by their twirling tails and 
put on the famine market. Snails, too, are a widely eaten 
commodity long after every mongrel dog has been heard 
to give his last howl on entering the gaping pot of gaping 
negroes. These snails are in much demand by Lubans, and 
a brisk business is done per dozen — decimal dozen, I 




BANE AND ANTIDO.TE. 
A great snake specialist. 



-NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT" 313 

mean, for in Africa 12 = 10. Not a question this of the 
negro hlase palate but rather the pinch of hunger ; senti- 
mental repugnance loathes a shining and repulsive snail, 
but its nutritive qualities are exceptionally high. So, too, 
caterpillars. Not merely when famine stalks the land but 
tribally, the Luban gloats over these furry little creatures 
with a polite name. An apologetic African, with that 
day-in-day-out ache in the pit of the stomach, defended 
these extremes of diet in the clever retort : " Even in the 
dark, who ever forgot the road to his mouth ? " This 
famine, of course, is the metaphoric dark night to 
him. 

Here is an equally hungry fellow defends his doleful 
diet of boiled snakes by saying, '* A hungry man will 
even burn his mouth." (The snakes, that is to say, are 
figuratively scalding food. ) But as a matter of fact the 
Lusato, or boa-constrictor, does taste like delicate veal and 
is a famous Luban titbit. My friend Chivangwa has a 
lively collection of snakes of many colours and sizes, and 
these, kept in gourds, feed on flour and mice pending the 
gluttonous " snake supper." Every new moon he takes 
them out for dentistry, and instead of hanging them on 
a peg he prefers to coil them round his neck. Even 
antelopes they think inferior eating to snakes. This I 
found on sending a native back ten miles at sundown to 
bring on some venison I had killed, but on reaching the 
spot he drew blank, the antelope non est. Hours after, 
however, he lurched into camp dumping down some very 
toothsome-looking steaks in the moonlight, not mine but 



314 THINKING BLACK 

some of his own prowess as substitute. His story ran that 
as he came shambling along on the return journey, lo ! a 
long boa-constrictor blocking the way. Sprang at it, slew 
the snake, seriously skinned it, and finally cut up these 
steaks ; witness, my apologetic messenger in the moon- 
light offering me snake veal for the lost venison ! 

May I here right an old wrong about boas ? For, 
albeit the boa-constrictor is a world-word, it is quite 
certain the glamorous associations of this awful name 
are wildly astray. By very common consent the boa- 
constrictor, though " mother of all snakes," is the most 
timid of African reptiles, the natives declaring that the 
mere sight of man so unnerves him that you can go back 
hours later and still find him dazed and stock still. A 
mere boy who spies this snake in the bush, before darting 
off" to bring up a man with a spear, resorts to the simple 
expedient of plucking a spray of leaves and leaving it 
dangling before the boa's fascinated eyes. 

Not troubling with remoter contingencies, there lies 
the fascinated snake lost in wonder at that swaying 
bunch of leaves. Gazing, ever gazing at it with a look 
that looks whole dictionaries, "the agony of shyness" 
this is called. Meanwhile, scramble and scrape, the man 
with the spear is speeding on to a sure victory — sure, 
that is to say, provided ever and always the reptile's real 
name is avoided in speech. " Call him not Lusato," say 
the natives, " call him a coil of rope, lest you break the 
spell." True, therefore, to this rule, the native who first 
sighted it in the forest burst in on the villagers to report 



"NEMESIS, DAUGHTER OF NIGHT" 315 

the presence of — " a coil of rope," the ladies all remaining 
to smack their lips and discuss the juicy steaks of — " a 
coil of rope." Does not name equate nature ? Change the 
former and you transform the latter. 

Locusts, of course, are considered a Central African 
boon in feast or famine, and for all the world like shrimps. 
One can surely be a good Pauline Missionary and enjoy 
these, for were not locusts an Athenian luxury of old, and 
preferred by the Greeks, even to such dainties as succulent 
quails or best figs ? You can see any day in Africa an 
exact counterpart of the Nineveh sculpture in the British 
Museum, for the sight of boys carrying long sticks to 
which are tied locusts is as common here as it was in 
Nineveh. 

But, you say, surely the African woods are a well- 
stocked larder. We certainly find it otherwise, for 
curiously the vast and dense African forest is a poor 
refuge in the pinch of famine. Crammed full of poison- 
ous tubers as it is, very many natives nosing all over the 
forest have died sad and sudden deaths by experimenting 
on a new diet. " Touch not the aristocrats " is the dread 
forest charge to children concerning all poisons in Africa, 
poisons being called "aristocrats" because you dare not 
touch them. A good old rule I find workable is the 
eating of any fruit nibbled at by the monkeys. 

Unlike the organ-grinder's captive on a chain, these 
forest monkeys are fastidious eaters, and with endless 
supplies before them, they nibble at fruit, rejecting petu- 
lantly more than half Besides, as a monkey's mouth is 



316 THINKING BLACK 

supremely clean without a tooth-brush, one can eat with 
serenity his leavings. 

Very much of this, of course, was not by any means 
the normal Central African dietary, and the dining music 
was not always to the tune of de profundis. Never- 
theless, my practical experience of purely native food for 
more than twenty years all points to its peculiar acclima- 
tising properties, and it seems in some unarguable sense 
true that if you wish to be much in Africa, then the said 
Africa must be much in you. Certainly it is along the 
lines of an ideal African dietary that the "black water" 
problem will be solved. They challenge all puzzling 
diseases with the pungent query : " What has the invalid 
eaten ? " Hence their national saying (an unconscious 
Irishism) : " Eat one thing, and then you'll know what 
you have died of ! " Thus when he sees a European dip 
into so many difi'erent tins, the sage negro says trium- 
phantly : " That is why you ' whites ' die off so easily : we 
Africans eat only one thing, so we know what kills us." 
For this is the meaning of that most curious name the 
white man receives from his negro — Kaminamahweta. 
Supposed to be a compliment of the first water, it means 
" Mr. Tin-Swallower." Thus you see this tin-swallowing 
by the European is the African's glory, for does it not 
mean an assured income as a carrier of the terrible tins ? 



CHAPTER XVII 
Our Eastern Exodus 



"Behold I will do a new thing. ... I will even 
make a way in the wilderness." Isauh. 



" Go through, go through the gates : prepare ye 
the way of the people : cast up, cast up the high- 
way : gather out the stones : lift up a standard for 

the people." Isaiah. 



"The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, 
. . . Make straight in the desert a highway for our 

God." Isaiah. 



3i8 



CHAPTER XVII 

Our Eastern Exodus 

T J 7" HEREIN the reader^ following 
the manner and method ofCMoseSy 
pitches his tent towards the sunrising. 

THE scene now changes to the East of the Lufira, for 
Babylon is fallen, Mushidi dead and done with. 
And as the hart panteth after the water-brooks so 
we abhor the old muddy wells of Bunkeya and break away 
East to the far-flowing Lufira. The slaves long ago took 
the bit in their teeth and ran off on their own ; now, all 
alone we must make a fresh start on fresh soil, and round 
our cluster of huts the future great population will gather. 
Lofoi Valley is our first choice of a site, the Belgian fort 
being two miles down stream from our Mission camp.^ 
At first blush, this proximity of Christ and Caesar does not 
seem prudential enough, yet this of all things is the 
country's greatest need. Foreigners though they are, 
Government under any flag is the crying desideratum of 

1 The subsequent history of this venture is interesting. Mr, Campbell 

came down from Mweru with Mr. George and began at Mwena. Then Mr. 

Clarke came from the West, and he and Mr. Higgins branched off to start 

the splendid Koni station. Then Mr. Anton ; the final phase being Mr. 

Last, beginning at Bunkeya, and Mr. Zentler near Kavamba Lake. 

319 



320 THINKING BLACK 

the moment. Far from treating these Belgian new-comers 
to a cold, hostile stare, we rallied round their ensign and 
wheedled all sorts of negroes into a loyalty that has stood 
the stress of years. When there was no king in Israel 
every one did that which was right in his own eyes, and a 
like anarchy menaces us. Granted years of grinding 
autocracy and, be sure of it, the day the political pendulum 
begins to move it will go full swing to anarchy : apres 
moi le deluge. 

So off we trek East for the new start with many a 
haunting memory of the Bunkeya charnel-house. Our 
backward look at the dark den is full of sad regret that 
there we had been hammering away at the iron gates of 
Mansoul and never a surrender. Fishing, however, is 
Christ's own simile of this business of saving souls, and 
our farewell was as cheerless as that of the man who from 
dawn to dusk of a wintry day has fished a cold Scotch loch 
with never a nibble. Yet watch again the "dramatic 
neatness of God's methods," and how at eventide it can 
be light. Just then, in a brown study that was almost 
black, God gave me my first soul, a wild man of blood 
who had been an executioner in the old days, Smish was 
his name, the same in after years who became an honest 
elder and won two other elders. The sun is westering, 
and Mr. Lane and I have said good-bye to the doomed 
Babylon, of which place it was legally true that a Garen- 
ganze man could not die outside it. Stupidly, I had 
lingered too long at my good-byeing, and was in fact lost 
in one of the too many roads leading out from the capital. 



On the Lualaba. 




^'J 



t 



Wife"- 

















Sfe§i 







ii';:^^=^t:^t^:?^ 



Kis^-ii^: 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 321 

when a voice reached me in warning. AVas in no humour 
to bandy explanations with any one, but here comes a man 
out of the grass — our dear Smish of the future, who shows 
me the way. So off we go together, never to separate ; 
this whole initial adventure being the parable of our 
friendship in the future. Right away on that road I paid 
him back in kind and showed him, the lost executioner, a 
way he did not know. Now he knows it better than any 
of us. Son of Belial though he was, I soon found that for 
a' native he had a delicate and scrupulous sense of honour. 
Listened to the Gospel gingerly and with tight-shut lips ; 
no effusive reply but rather a constrained look of reflection. 
And then came salvation for even such as he — from mean- 
ness to nobleness, from limitation to enlargement. Smish 
was his name, but "Gad" it should have been, for after 
him " a troop cometh." Conceive how the old men of the 
land looked aghast at the temerity of the young genera- 
tion daring to link their lot with " strangers," this very 
word (Veni) meaning "the folks you don't know where 
they come from." " No," said Smish, " but 1 know where 
these strangers are going to, and I am going with them." 
So here comes the cleavage between the old generation 
and the young, between the " hitherto's " and the " hence- 
forward's." The former all eyes to the rear, adoring the 
past, sighing for the might-have-been's ; the latter looking 
forward, alert and surmising, '"Tis better on before." 
" Last words are lasting ones," and his dying prayer as he 
lifted up his eyes to Heaven, death dews on forehead, was, 
" Father, my journey is done — I come." 



322 THINKING BLACK 

Nestling at the foot of the Great Range, here it is on 
the Lofoi River we cradle the Lufira Valley Mission. But 
it seems a cardinal defect of this place is a tendency to be 
drowned like a rat. Only the other day we groaned (or 
growled ?) in the capital as we bought a few drops of 
water ; now here is this feast-or-famine Africa giving us 
too much. The other night we were all in our first sleep 
when the great boom of on-coming torrent broke on the 
out-lying hamlets, and then comes a stampede from all 
directions to us in the centre. For we are known to be 
on the highest spot in the vicinity. There is, however, 
such impetuosity in the rush of the dark devastating 
waters that it becomes quickly evident we w^ere all far too 
low, so the next thing is to rush for the nearest trees and 
ant-hills. In this stampede mothers lose sight of husbands 
and little ones, and those separated keep up a wild-beast 
howling to one another in the pitch dark from their 
different perches. No time for looking after mere material 
belongings, as in a case of water slowly rising upon 
us — nothing heard but that booming coming down 
the valley, above which were the shrieks, "Water ! 
Water ! Fly ! Death has come ! " The shrieking soon 
subsided into a brave acceptance of this that means 
to them so much of desolation, destitution, and death, 
for as the waters have already risen waist-deep in 
ten minutes, there is no knowing where it will stop. 
Shivering round a smoking and flickerless fire of green 
wood, there they stand on ant-hills — ant-hills we had 
always thought only a blight on the beautiful valley 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 323 

scenery, but now precious life-belts for the whole 
community. 

Mr. Thompson and I climbed up on the roof of our 
grass house after rushing about in the water, making 
more or less futile attempts at salvage work — human 
life, of course, ranking first — and you are hereby permitted 
to think of this midnight perch of ours in wet garments 
as indicating the most miserable night we ever passed. 
We stick on to the high-pitched roof with pious pertinacity, 
constantly pinching ourselves into wakefulness, for the 
tendency to doze is very tempting, but in that event so 
also is the other tendency to go clear over the edge of the 
thatch into the flood. A crescent moon rose about one 
o'clock, lighting up a scene as bleak-looking as it was 
cold and miserable : our little Mission settlement wholly 
under water, only the tops of banana trees appearing to 
mark the paths. And not only our special spot, so flood- 
proof as we thought it, but the whole country, as far as 
the eye can reach, one vast pale stretch of water reflecting 
the moonlight and looking all the more ghastly on that 
account when we thought of the hamlets submerged and 
tragedies enacted in the darkness. The longest night I 
ever spent in my life was on that roof-top watching for 
the day, and never was sound so welcome as the first 
shrill clarion of a surviving cock on a tree branch. Then 
when the Eastern sky grew red, and finally the sun rose 
to answer all our questionings begotten in the darkness, 
we were speechless, for here was a great lake — Mweru, some 
called it who were born there. Look ! glistening red in 



324 THINKING BLACK 

the rising sun, whole herds of antelopes crowding each 
other off the ant-hills, each paltry peak their true Mount 
Ararat in the deluge. See, too, the swimming snakes 
darting about, heads erect and fangs menacing. Add to 
this a thousand rats drowned and drowning. The crocodiles, 
too, have leaped the banks and are wallowing in new 
fishing-ground. Fancy an oily crocodile with unconquerable 
levity sailing in triumph into your submerged kitchen ! 
He does not need to cook to eat, albeit he has come to eat 
the cook. It took three days for the waters to assuage, 
and for more than a week everywhere we moved was 
through sinking quagmire. On venturing into our houses 
again to get a notion of the damage sustained, the awful 
smell of decomposing food, etc., drove us back. To in- 
ventory the losses is impossible, and after searching in 
vain a reasonable time for anything once possessed you 
give it up and reckon it among antediluvian possessions 
and memories. 

But again, let us ask the question : Is this proximity 
of Fort and Mission prudential ? Now, here it may not 
be amiss to suggest that the particular peril of most 
Missions in Africa is the tendency of Government and 
Mission to go their own ways, seeking as wide a berth 
as possible. But this amounts ultimately to a peril, for 
only with the civil power keeping a Mission in its proper 
place can the latter be stripped of its false prestige. 
Many a little Protestant Pope in the lonely bush is forced 
by his self-imposed isolation to be prophet, priest, and 
king rolled into one — really a very big duck he, in his 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 325 

own private pond. Caesar was not the only man who 
said lie would rather be first in a village than second in 
Kome. Quite seriously he is forced to be a bit of a 
policeman, muddled up in matters not even remotely 
in his sphere. Now only this pinch of isolation forces 
such an one to act oddly, for many a godly man has 
blushed an ex post facto regret at actions more judicial 
than judicious. To call this provocative policy of isolation 
" potential popery " seems too strong an epithet, but a 
glance at Cardinal Manning's Origin of the Temjjoral 
Poiver of the Pope is decisive. If my memory does not 
trick me, I think you will find Manning traces this 
pestilential pretension to just such a simple source, for 
when, oh, when was the Bishop of Rome trapped into 
all the toils and terrors of the Temporal Power ? Why, 
surely after the fall of Romulus Augustulus, in the absence 
of imperial rulers in Rome, the primitive Shepherd of 
Souls was forced (?) into ruling with the rod, the significant 
end thereof being a triple crown. Quoth Luther, " I am 
more afraid of my own heart than of the Pope and all the 
Cardinals. I have within me the great Pope Self " ; to 
which we say " Bravo ! " for well-beloved Martin. 
# ^- * 

Here come curious complications, and I a Missionary 
am compelled to become a Commandant. It is a fine 
saying and true that a shoemaker should stick to his 
last ; how much more the Missionary and his non-meddling 
in politics ? Yet all this, in Africa, though trite enough 
to be a platitude and logical enough to be an axiom, 



326 THINKING BLACK 

is easier to talk than live. Did not poor Pilkington up 
North die with a rifle in his hand repressing revolt? 
Did not Livingstone wear a Consul's hat? Remember, 
here in the bush you have no parading policeman who 
runs to your call ; no clean-cut institutions of civilisation 
where each ofiicial is seriously saddled with responsibility. 
Unlikely things can happen, and at this point the most 
unlikely of all falls to my lot. Hard by our Mission camp 
on the Lofoi, the Belgians have built their Fort, the whole 
garrison consisting of a picked band of English Haussas 
and Dahomey men. But on the East the Arabs are 
hemming us in, so unless the Government makes an ag- 
gressive sortie as far out as Lake Mweru, these Arabs will 
certainly construe silence as supineness and be on us like 
a bolt. What's to be done? These are the days when 
the solidarity of the white race swamps petty national 
distinctions. Did not Julius Caesar say that on crossing 
over to England he found the inhabitants of that island 
called Belgw ? Why should not these Belgians now have 
their revenge ? 

Unlike Caesar, who encountered people called Belgse 
in territory called Britain, these Belgians have found 
people called British in territory called Belgian. Witness, 
then, the curious sequel. In the dead of night Captains 
Brasseur and Verdickt sit down and write their last 
will and testament (poor Brasseur was killed in the 
second Arab sortie), and off" they start towards the East, 
leaving me a poor half-and-half creature indeed : acting 
Commandant of the Fort with my soldiers to drill and at 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 327 

the same time God's Missionary to the heathen. The 
Central African equivalent this to one's next-door 
neighbour in England shutting up house and leaving 
you his key with a request to keep your eye on the 
place. Only in this important instance your neighbour 
happens to be the local Lord Kitchener, and the Fort 
and garrison are all thrown on your shoulders — you, 
a semi-saint, semi-soldier. Such is sad, bad, and mad 
old Africa, the ex officio Commandant in you tugging 
one way and the Missionary in the same " you " tugging the 
other. The shrill call of the bugle and the soft voice 
of the evening hymn — what a muddle of memories ! 
A pile of regulations, all law, law, law ; the pages of 
the Gospel, all grace, grace, grace. Imprisoning a soldier 
for insubordination at morning parade, and in the evening, 
under the diamond stars, preaching deliverance to the 
captives. The weary suspense, too, of it all. The night 
alarms besides ; all the superficial feelings on the alert 
on a moonless night. Then, the uncertainty — would 
they ever come back, or would the Arabs eat up the 
column ? Must I defend the Fort to my last cartridge ? 
All these thoughts come to me with the impact of a 
blow, the man within the man fighting the man outside 
the man, Missionary versus Commandant. Although 
I did two years' soldiering in Scotland, be sure of it, 
there is uttered much ungrammatical and unmilitary 
nonsense in the shape of orders. My corporal, however, 
is a Haussa gem and saves me much trouble. So 
eminently and unaff'ectedly a gentleman, I can trust 



328 THINKING BLACK 

him on lonely night duty, our common bond of English- 
manship being his choicest consolation. Always scrupu- 
lously dressed in navy knickers, red turkey twill, and 
fez, he often tells me that he has resolved to die as 
artistically as a regard for a clean uniform will allow. 
The Arabs, moreover, are his co-religionists, and if taken 
he prefers death at their hands — at any rate, they kill 
you neatly and thoroughly with a knife. The maddening 
rumours, too, are as dangerous as dubious, for my native 
scouts vie with each other in running silly screeds off 
the reel. Even granting a germinal grain of truth in 
these rumours, the said grain grows luxuriantly in the 
fertile soil of a black brain, and putting two and two 
together they always make six. 

Making allowance, however, for the wear and tear 
of language, I guessed successfully some of the happenings 
over the mountains. The twenty men reported as 
court-martialed and shot turned out to be only a chief 
executed in error. The annihilation of the column — 
a terrible contingency for me — merely meant a sharp 
repulse, demi-defeat call it. So the weary days wear 
on, until my nerves are almost worn to a thread. The 
great black wall of the range stretches North with the 
vast savannah rolling miles below. How natural for 
the mind to leap those mountains, then on, on to the 
Lualaba ; on yet farther to Tanganyika ; up now to 
the Nile and down to Khartoum where Gordon, great 
lonely soul, fell so nobly. Certainly, he it was who 
wrote the words that have become my pillow of peace, 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 329 

his valediction to all weary outposts. Almost the last 
line he ever wrote : " The hosts are with me, Mahanaim." 
For if it be good Hebrew to translate this word as the " two 
hosts," then surely it is better to translate the mere words 
into the worshipping belief that my little garrison in the 
Lofoi Fort is encircled by the same shining legions of light. 
But what's that ? Ay, what is it ? A yell growing 
louder and louder, and craning my neck on the bastion 
I can spy the sleeping Haussa quarters vomiting out long 
strings of yelling women, the absent soldiers' wives these 
who can bear the suspense no longer. All night they have 
debated the fortunes of war; for ten hours they have 
wrangled over an ugly rumour down from the hills, and 
sit still any longer they cannot. A huge Amazon leads 
them in a wild war-dance, and lining out four abreast, 
club in hand, they start at the double round the Fort, 
roaring out a taunt-song against the Arabs. Round they 
go, once, twice, thrice, roaring out their wrath in song ; 
every yell supposed to energise their absent husbands 
and win the victory — cataracts of vituperation, torrents 
of curses ! They cannot pray, and they have gulped 
down their anger too long ; now for the solemn institution 
of this early morning " curse "-meeting when they dance 
the Devil's wild fandango. Nearly naked and wholly 
wild, the flap, flap of their pendant dugs is made to 
rhyme with the thud of their feet and the flourish of 
the clubs. Then having encompassed the walls of their 
imaginary Jericho three times, off the Amazons rush to 
the river for morning bath, splashing among the crocodiles 



330 THINKING BLACK 

with never a twinge of fear. The Devil's matins these 
became, my morning hymn drowned by their morning 
curses. Glad was I when, one day, far up the hills I 
heard the bugle of the retreating column, and in an hour 
they filed past to relieve me of corroding care. 

But here, as elsewhere, the loyal law of compensation 
avails. Distasteful business this soldiering was for a 
Missionary, yet even here I get my royal revenge. For 
years afterwards I was permitted to chaplain these 
troops, many of whom were my old soldiers. A wild 
lot they were : cannibals, hundreds of them, who 
subsequently revolted and murdered their white officers. 
When Baron Dhanis, the Belgian Commandant (an old 
Greenock boy, like myself) broke the back of the Arab 
domination, he little dreamed what a defeat he organised 
out of his victory, by permitting the crass crime of 
"converting" these cannibals into the soldiers of a 
civilised state. In delusion and confusion he caused 
these old Arab cut-throats to be enrolled en masse, 
the veneer of the barracks, smart uniform and deadly 
Albinis only helping to hide the horrible man-eater 
wrapped up in this official envelope. Conversion, for- 
sooth, this was called, as though the wolf in sheep's 
clothing has lost the old appetite for mutton. No 
wonder the march of events soon swept dozens of 
young Belgians into the cannibal pots : Leroy, Inver 
Mellen, Andriane, Louis Dhanis, and many others.^ 

' The subsequent regime by Governor Wangerniee and his successor 
wa^ a true triumph of sane, solid method,s. Bravo 1 Belgium,. 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 331 

The same grotesque contradiction could be seen when 
Baron Dhanis surprised and beat the Arab auxiliaries at 
the town of a cannibal cut-throat, by name Bantubenge. 
"He of the crowds" this cognomen means, and seldom 
have name and nature reflected each other so well. For 
crowds there were. Now, the Arabs were bad, but here 
is a brute who dines daily on "black beef," yet this is the 
very man to whose tender mercies the Baron handed over 
"hundreds" of young children ranging in tender years 
from two to seven, and even ten. Nearly all belonging to 
Kitalo, Dhanis committed the unprecedented error of 
trusting such a demon with the custody of these lost 
lambs. Bantubenge — ugh ! — whose name denotes death. 
In a few days they were all dead, sold for a piece of 
handkerchief to his hungry cannibals. Not dozens of 
children but hundreds, for the Baron's own words are : 
" Des centaines de jeunes enfant s de 2 a 7 et m^me 10 ans." 
This was the famous victory of the 5 th May, but all these 
poor innocents delivered (?) from the joug Arahe would 
have been far safer with their old masters. In other 
words, and without euphemism, the terrible truth is that 
when these Belgians took such cannibals under their wing 
as auxiliaries, cannibalism became a thriving semi- 
official concern. They even condoned their eating of their 
own black fathers and mothers. One instance of this 
happened during the attack on Gongo-Lutete by a man 
from Pania. Stationed as guard, he shot a man in the 
dark and came in to report. In the interval the body 
was brought in, and what was the guard's surprise to 



332 THINKING BLACK 

find that he had killed his own father, "the author of 
his days." Now, although the Commandant gave 
orders for decent burial, what did the son do but pass 
along the remains to his comrades for consumption ! 
Tribal taboo forbade him the meal, but he could connive 
at his own father's disappearance in the pots. The 
volunteer drummer of this expedition fared no better. 
He disappeared, and some conjectured that he had been 
killed by a lurking foe. Not at all. A day or two later 
he — all digestive apparatus and no conscience — was dis- 
covered dead in a hut by the side of a half-consumed 
corpse. Had eaten neither wisely nor well — dined him- 
self to death, in fact. 

Only a week later, a young Batetela, not more than 
fourteen years of age, came up to the Baron's tent when 
he was dining and borrowed his knife. No sooner the 
possessor of his weapon, he slipped round the tent, cut the 
throat of a little girl, three or four years old, who belonged to 
him, and proceeded to cook her. Put on the chain as he 
was, this punishment was neither adequate nor exemplary, 
for soon a number of children began to disappear in the 
district. Caught again, this time they found him with a 
bag hanging round his neck and the leg and arm of a young 
innocent. He was shot. No wonder many of these 
liberated prisoners felt they had really fallen out of 
the Arab frying-pan into the roasting-fire of, so-called, 
liberation. "Prisoners of war " they were called, most of 
them poor naked nobodies, the sport of each new political 
move in the country. The " nether millstone " class is 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 333 

their title, because they get all the crushing. Your big 
Chief escapes in Africa, and so do the negro gentry, only 
the scum of heathendom left to bear the pangs of imprison- 
ment. Let them make a try for liberty and see what 
befalls them. A band of these miserables rushed off one 
day, hoping to break through to their old homes. 
"Deserters," they were called, and followed up; but on 
asking the local Chief which way they had passed, he 
pointed eloquently to his mouth and smacked his lips 
in a way that told the whole story. They had all been 
eaten save one, and he an old boy of Hinde's. 

More revoltes man-eating. Eapidly incriminating 
evidence is very soon forthcoming on this marrow-freezing 
theme. Here, at my feet, is a young lad, Lumba, his 
story at sunset appropriately set off against a blood-red 
sky. Parting carefully his clotted hair, he discloses an 
ugly hole in his skull, the dig this from a cannibal axe. 
As serious as mathematics he makes a careful count of 
the living and the dead, and quite eighty of his friends 
were cooked and eaten before his eyes — licked clean up, 
bones and gravy. Very young as he was, these blatant 
cannibals offered him his life on condition that he would 
eat his own brother, and twice the laddie shut his little 
jaws like a rat-trap and snapped refusal. This vile perse- 
cution ran on into two days, and if Monday saw him 
treated to whips, Tuesday was certainly reserved for their 
scorpions. Finally, making a wild dash for freedom, 
clean over the pot of his boiling brother, he sprang into 
the bush, the cannibal guard sending an axe whizzing 



334 THINKING BLACK 

into his skull — the axe, forsooth, that was red with his 
own brother's blood now drinking his. Yet still he ran 
on for dear life, a large ant-bear hole ultimately affording 
a very inviting shelter from the hue-and-cry in the forest. 
And next day he awoke from a long swoon the proud 
possessor of the axe that split his skull — but could also 
split firewood for a needful forest fire ! 

Enough of horrors, do you say ? "Well, yes ; but you 
cannot give an idea of Lubaland without alluding to 
them — and I can only hint and indicate. To make 
hideousness more hideous, witness a man, Lukatula by 
name — history will spue out his name with disgust! 
— one of the Belgian revokes. Supreme he among 
the children of Cain. All around Kavamba Lake he 
had it noised that the white men were a low lot 
because they ate fowls, for what was the domestic fowl 
but the village scavenger ? Only human flesh was worth 
eating, for was it not true that only man was careful of 
what he ate ? As, therefore, man alone is careful of what 
he eats, the argument ran that man should be careful to 
eat man. Pharisee to the last drop of blood in him, here 
was a serious sickener — human flesh the only pure food of 
the race ! For long weary months this diabolic epicure 
had his scouts out, catching strings of little boys and 
girls, all doomed to the pot, all reckoned titbits ! Figures 
are, I know too well, very tricky things in Africa, but it 
seems sure that the climax of all these uncanny realities 
was reached here in this sad Lubaland when Lukatula 
shut two hundred souls in a house and roasted them 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 335 

alive. An eerie, weird, and awful business to reflect 
on, here you have cannibalism in full flower and blooming 
in torture — two hundred men, women, and children 
penned up in a mud house, the terrible thatched roof 
sent roaring up in flames. But surely, you suggest, a 
feeling of shame shot hotly through the murderer as he 
beheld these two hundred Lubans in articulo mortis'? 
The obvious answer is that what, to us, is a nightmare 
and tragedy is to him something far difierent — a whiff 
of roasting viands from the Devil's kitchen, nothing more. 
Quite civilised in his way, this man's favourite plate is 
appropriately an enamel soup-dish from the West Coast, 
centred with the King of Portugal's crown, and encircled 
by the Portuguese colours. A reeking mackintosh his 
fashionable garment under vertical rays, over which he 
slings a very horsy pair of field-glasses. Granted (and 
gladly) this was a very special blaze of barbarity, specially 
wanton I mean, what was the cause ? Merely the shaving 
of the cannibal's head after a long spell of letting his hair 
grow long. Month after month had passed and Luka- 
tula's fast - grizzling wool was ominously allowed to 
grow unchecked, dark hints thrown out that the day of 
his head-shaving would be " the day of many tears." 
And come it did, that close shave of his head being 
equivalent to a closer shave to many whose lives that 
day were in jeopardy. 

Here in September you have white African winter, 
but it is the whiteness of electric light and as hot as an 
engine-room. Compared with Africa our English shiver- 



336 THINKING BLACK 

ing summer is not summer at all, it is only Richter's 
" winter painted green." A woman, Mrs. Horns, tells me 
that farther North she went with her sister to take the 
village tribute to the Chief Chofwe, and they slept two 
nights in the district capital. Chofw^e sent along to their 
quarters and regretted his not having a fat goat to send 
them for the cooking-pot : was therefore compelled to 
send them, with apologies, a shivering naked boy — as 
substitute for soup ! Here it is this lady Masengo presses 
a point to the honour of negro womankind ; insists that 
no woman ever did eat human flesh, that the men only 
do so, that a w^oman defies any man to bring " man-meat" 
into her house, and that all her household pots are in- 
violate. This witness is true. The rule is that the 
cannibal club resort to the dark "groves" (Mushitu), and 
there they keep a special supply of large pots for their 
revels. The town ladies are jealous of it all, and insist 
that these men are unclean until the village priest cere- 
moniously cleanses them after " the red mania." This 
means that blocking the path of their return to the town 
is the purging process by wdiich alone the man " unclean 
by a dead body " can enter his own house. Indeed, priest 
or no priest, many a wife sues at law many a husband for 
his man-eating orgies, any stroke of bad luck in her house 
being traceable to the dead man eaten by her husband. 
" The dead do not really die," say they. But no sigh of 
sorrow, mark you. It is all No. 1, and a fear that the 
dead man will haunt the living to his undoing. 

Another aspect of cannibalism. All Lubans are not 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 337 

as brave in initiative as the lion and the leopard, and 
hence the institution of the cannibal vampire, the human 
hyenas who feed upon the dead. These are the cowards 
of the cult who prowl among the tombs. Up here in the 
Butembo forest you have a weird old man living in the 
woods, a solitary and cynic, the human steaks hanging in 
the smoke of his faggot-fire. This old vampire once upon a 
time played the lion, and killed brother-man as fair prey, 
but now he has descended in the scale : prowess all gone, 
a vampire hyena, nothing more. Other cannibals eat the 
produce of their own vine and fig-tree caught in fair fight, 
but this old vampire can only haunt the dead. These 
tomb-haunters are curious in one respect. They, too, 
sing a dirge of exhumation, a curiously perverse song like 
the perversity of their "owl-deed" (sic). The idea in 
this dirge is a conciliating of the supposed dead man's 
resentment at being so disturbed in his sleep of death. 
This dirge is uttered in the moonlight with a sepulchral 
whine, and runs — 

" Va Jika mu Kanwa 
Panshi va tina Mwashi." 

" We rescue thee, corpsfC, from the cold wet ground, and 
honour thee with mouth-interment." 

An old friend of mine, the Chief Swiva, had a creeping 
experience of this song, and was once very nearly cut up 
in error by these very vampires, all because he feigned to 
be dead. You doubtless demur and ask why any reputable 
man could, should, or would pretend to be dead ; but 



338 THINKING BLACK 

that is where this too true story comes in. The facts are 
demonstrable data, " chiels that winna ding," and thus 
they run. The village of this Chief Swiva had the mis- 
fortune to lie on the trunk road, and was thus much 
harassed by passing Government caravans plundering his 
people. Of course, in those days, before the splendid 
Wangerm^e regime, very many of the State soldiers were 
frank cannibals who would travel with a smoked human arm 
or the like tied to their load — Katondo, for instance, did so 
at Muntemune and to my knowledge. Thus the endless 
rebufifs and indignities from such a horde of brutes made 
Swiva long to lala dimo, as he put it, i.e. to die and be 
done with it. But suicide is an unworthy death for a 
chief, and the negro is a creature of monkey expedients, 
so he slowly matures a plan. Why not a mock funeral ? 
Why not sham sickness and death and burial ? Do not all 
the local spiders, dor beetles and genus Mater, feign death 
like a fox when touched ? Thus the weary months pass, and 
finally poor old Swiva sees no hope of peace ahead save in 
simulating death. This he resolves to do, and one daring 
day the false death-wail goes up at midnight ; a wail 
this ostentatiously prolonged throughout the next day. 
Visitors pass in and out of the village bemoaning a 
faithful friend departed, and there, in the dark mud hut, 
swathed in his sham shroud, lies the malingering old 
Swiva, heaving gently to the systole and diastole of a 
hard but sad old heart. (The King is dead, ye negroes 
not in The Know, yet long live the King !) But the 
fiasco of it all is now about to be made manifest, for far 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 339 

along the road comes the well-known yell of advancing 
soldiers : a yell this that stabs Swiva to the bone and 
makes the shamming corpse lie as still as the real thing. 
And now they pour into the bereaved (?) village, the 
cannibal song drowning the mock death-wail — what 
next? The dance begins outside the Chiefs house, a 
dance jigged to a vampire song telling of the singer's 
deadly intent. Be assured, my reader, that whenever 
the double entente of that dark song reached poor 
Swiva's ears, as he lay, tied up like a mummy in six mats, 
he wished he were really dead, and not shamming it. 
But Swiva is a man of sixty summers, and there lies the 
wily old Chief motionless, still hoping against hope that the 
wild protestations of his own people outside will restrain 
the cannibals from making a sorry supper off his body. 
Ah, now it is the song he so often laughed over begins 
to be crooned over his own creeping flesh. 

" We rescue thee," crooned the dirge, " corpse, 
from the cold wet ground, and honour thee with mouth- 
interment." 

What happens ? Poor old hypothetically dead Swiva 
through a chink in his mummy-wrappings sees the gleam 

of a knife, and nay, Hot one word more dare I add. 

Sufficient if I hereby officially inform you that all the 
smothered wrongs and amenities of a down-trodden Chief 
were uttered in that one rending shriek of Swiva. In 
scorn, he tore the trappings of the grave from him, and 
in deadly fear the cannibals tore out of the Chiefs hut. 
Needless to say, as from the dead, he did there and then 



340 THINKING BLACK 

arise a model Chief, with a new-born dignity that would 
brook no nonsense. Ever since his day of simulated 
death Chief Swiva, in fact, has been very much alive. 

Where are we, then ? What are your cannibal's latent 
ideas of things ? Or is this man-eating merely a vulgar 
expedient to satisfy the qualms of hunger ? Here is a 
cannibal at my elbow who will tell us all. When I ask 
him about Budianane (the technical term this), he tem- 
porises, of course, in the usual cannibal way. However, 
as he has exactly the look of the cat that has been at the 
milk, he soon breaks the sorry seal of confession. Now, 
all that man's story is simply the old bundle of contra- 
dictions, for the subject of cannibalism halves in two like 
an orange : on the one hand the greedy omnivora who 
must have broth ; on the other hand a whole priesthood 
ritual with human flesh as the buttress idea. All this, of 
course, is typically African ; for as we saw, see, and shall 
see, the concrete and abstract are inseparable : " shadowing " 
each other is the literal idea we see in the Bantu abstract 
prefix. The coarse concrete side of man-eating, then, is 
simply the African carrying out the "beast-precedents" 
to a legitimate conclusion. Granted there are beasts 
major and beasts minor, but the negro at once schedules 
himself down among the carnivora. Is not (he argues) 
human war merely man the carnivorous shedding blood like 
the lion and leopard ? The big animal grabs at the 
little one even as the big negro swallows the small one : 
the deduction is therefore inexorable that you must eat 
what you kill. Again, and yet again, have I heard 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 341 

cannibals taunt non-cannibals with tbe mere wanton 
killing in war and yet not eating what they kill. This 
taunt is technically embalmed in the phrase, Shikani 
Yanyoka = the (wanton) hatred of the snake, the point, 
of course, being that a snake merely spits its virus with 
deadly intent to kill, and not at all with an honest desire 
to dine off the carcass. Hence the great Kansanshi 
cannibal club sings a song in this same strain at their 
revels : but to catch the idea of this cannibal apologia I 
must put the words into the melting-pot and recast the 
song in our own English rhyme : — 

" Other men only kill like the snake, 
They kill, nota bene, for killing's sake; 
The Kansanshi, however, make no mistake. 
They kill to partake of a human steak." 

Plainly, then, the taunt is obvious, and really amounts 
to the plea that if people must indulge in the madness of 
man-slaying, then they should have method in their 
madness and follow up the man-slaying with man-eating. 
" To botanise on one's mother's grave " is a poor sarcasm 
to a cannibal : in Lubaland they make a supper out of it. 
The idea, then, that genus homo is merely one of the 
carnivora is deeply actuating them in their gruesome 
deeds. Yet how wonderfully these folks listen 1 Here is 
a puzzle of an audience, for all seem to enjoy the Gospel 
of Peace, yet sure am I not one of the crowd enjoys 
the peace of the Gospel. They swallow the sermon but 
reject the salvation — problem, to find the reason of this. 



342 THINKING BLACK 

After plying them with questions, I find the answer is as 
old as the days when the common people heard Christ 
gladly. It is surely this : all other religions under the 
sun make man seek God ; this Gospel I preach whets their 
curiosity, because God is seen seeking man. Beyond all 
doubt there is such a thing as the scientific study of 
comparative religions, but Christianity is not one of them. 
There is only one Gospel : there are many religions. 
* * * 

I gladly drop the curtain on these sorry deeds, and 
would now proceed to business — the Master's surely — by 
pointing out that, with this new complication of revolt, 
our road North is as straitly shut as the road West. 
"We have no alternative but to look East for succour. 
Yet, even there, the circle of Cain is closing in on us, for 
what is the East but the Arab headquarters ? We may 
seek to ignore them, but they never forget us. Indeed, 
precisely now, with cold, concentrated malice, they are 
shutting us in from three difi'erent points on the Eastern 
skyline : Muruturutu in the North-East, Shimba due East, 
and Chiwala moving up from the South-East. Chuckling 
with glee that their old slaves the rebel Belgian soldiers 
have voted for slavery, they are now advancing to join 
hands with the Biheans and wipe us out, the compact, of 
course, to be sealed in blood — our blood. Thus, North, 
South, East, and West, the Devil is making a bold bid to 
win back the vast Interior to its old allegiance to slavery, 
the Arab in particular being bent on having nothing less 
than a huge dividend-swelling concern. But if the 



OUR EASTERN EXODUS 343 

sufferings abound, so too the consolations, and like a 
whiff of ozone from the Indian Ocean comes the whisper 
that the British are actually working up into the Interior. 
How my heart goes pit-a-pat at the news ! One Arab, 
with a glassy stare, even tells me tremblingly that — 
news ! news ! — they have already laid siege to Mulozi's 
stronghold, and if we are in high glee he is in high 
dudgeon at the tidings. Like a toothless negress, who 
will never see anything to laugh at, this besieging of 
their Karonga headquarters is a hard knock at my Arab 
informant. Who will cash his ivory cheques now, seeing 
Mulozi his old pawnbroker is nearly bankrupt? The 
shrinking of the planet is proverbial, and here is another 
proof of the smallness of our globe. Our whole concern 
now is how to successfully wriggle out East by crossing 
the Arab lines and, suh silentio, join hands with our own 
British kin. The problem of route, however, is a minor one 
compared with the problem of secrecy, for in Africa a 
mere glance is like proclaiming everything at Charing 
Cross. With this triumphant reactionary majority 
hemming us in, the stern demand is to be as secret as 
the grave, for in Africa three can keep a secret only when 
two of them are dead. So, too, with any new venture such 
as this projected breaking through to the East, for every 
three conspirators you can always reckon on four spies. 

Therefore, on the native principle of " not setting your 
snare while the partridges are looking on," I slip off 
towards the East like a thief in the night, the outline of a 
plan dawning hazily on my mind. All my movements 



344 THINKING BLACK 

are necessarily of the non-committal kind. Yonder, 
across the Lufira Flats are the red ramparts of Kunde- 
lungu. There the Lord maketh you to ride on the high 
places of the earth, a great unbroken wall of uniform 
height lying athwart the Eastern trail as far as the eye 
can reach. Beyond that tableland is Kavanga, "the 
Eternal Gates of the Morning," the Africa of the Great 
Lakes and our own English kinsmen. Why should not 
the West join hands with the East ? And this is how we 
do it. 




CHAPTER XVIII 
Boring out East 



As far as the East is from the West." 



They pitched their tents towards the sun-rising." 



"O, the little birds sang East, and the little birds 

sang West; 
And I smiled to think God's goodness flows around 

our incompleteness- 
Round our restlessness, His rest" 



"All these things 
are against me." 

Gen. xlii. 36. 



"All things work 
together for good." 

Rom. viii. 28. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

Boring out East 

J J Z HEREIN, Mushidi being dead 
and done with, the perilous pro- 
cess begins called ^''boring out^ 

liTEARINGr this plateau wall, the blue blur sharpens 
\ into bold black lines, and you soon find it swerv- 
ing from a straight N, and S. course to form 
many a large "dream" valley down which roars an angry 
torrent from the watershed. " Box canons " all of them, 
and shaped like a U, with occasionally a sharp-shaped V. 
The river long ago dug out these ravines and is now 
wriggling down the middle like an S. Hamlets crouching 
in the reeds on either side of the river-bed dot these 
valleys sparsely, the people all high-strung and excited. 
Mugavi, a nervous little quicksilver man, is very kind as 
we pass through his place, and there is a curious loadstone 
of affinity when black and white thus defeat Babel by 
chatting in a common lingo. You seem to walk straight 
into each other's hearts. To be tongue-tied as to the 
negro's language means that an unnavigable ocean washes 
between your two souls, cutting you off from converse : 



348 THINKING BLACK 

was it not when Paul spoke to the mob in their own 
Hebrew tongue, "they kept the more silence"? The 
women are nearly naked, and seemingly not at all 
troubled with the European quibble of frocks and frills. 
One dowager, who queened the town, beat them all, but 
she only attained to short ballet-dancer's skirts of skin. 

Here is a Nimrod chief, a man of muscle who boasts 
a good kennel of hunting dogs, the objects of his extreme 
solicitude. Their trophies are exhibited, from wild boar 
to roan antelope, and he starves them, paradoxically, to 
feed their ferocity, not, as he explains apologetically, out 
of neglect. One of the curious category of upstart 
"hunter-chiefs" this, the tendency being for even a 
stripling who has killed his half-dozen elephants to en- 
trench himself inside a stockade of bamboos. Good shots, 
all of them, they vulgarise kingship and claim to preside 
over the destinies of their own hamlet — and the next 
man's. Meantime the real Lord Paramount sits stony 
and stern inside his own stockade, plotting young Nim- 
rod's downfall. 

This chief sends his two sleek young sons with me, 
"to see the Great Lake and River": it is their first 
journey in life, and they are all a-quiver with vanity at the 
prospect of actually seeing the great unknown East. So 
there, with the moon hanging overhead like a great Chinese 
lantern, we have a farewell meeting : all agape, they listen 
as I sermonise them on the sacred subject of a God who 
so loves their soul and so hates their sin. On the morrow, 
in the Kasanga Valley, a large house was struck with 



BORING OUT EAST 349 

lightning and several people fell insensible to the ground. 
The owner of the hut turned up at my meeting and wildly 
controverted some of the things I was saying on God's 
love ; describing the lightning incident as " God coming 
down with red eyes." The old African heresy this, that 
equates "God" with "wrath" {huJcadi). Instead of 
catching up this negro on a mere technicality, however, I 
at once conciliated my man by admitting that Nature 
could be cold and cruel, but that " herein is Love : not 
that we loved God (one fraction of a bit), but that He loved 
us." Across mountain and flood, marsh and meadow, one 
moaning voice is heard in Africa, *' No man hath seen God 
at any time " : that is all the so-called gospel of Nature 
can do for the negro. N.B. — Short all these sermons of 
ours must be, for in Africa if you exhaust your subject 
you easily exhaust your hearers. " For a running deer, a 
running shot " is their preacher's proverb on brevity, and 
in fifteen minutes the sermon should be done — no, not 
that ; I mean the preacher should be done, for often it 
takes fifteen years for the fifteen minutes' sermon to 
be done. 

Curious that these " sons of the mountains " have 
lightning conductors in the form of a tall bamboo, and 
their idea is that lightning is not a fluid, but a dragon 
{Kalumha) ranging the skies, and specially attracted by a 
bamboo rod. 

The " goatway " as it approaches the Kana rivulet is 
laid out with such masterly cunning and trickery that you 
dare not escalade the mountain except in the wake of a 



350 THINKING BLACK 

negro who is "in the know." The Valomotwa can crawl 
flat on their bellies year in and year out, under the trunks 
of trees purposely felled to hoodwink strangers. Breaking 
through grass, they walk backwards and restore each blade 
to its natural position, defying wit of man to know where 
they have gone. To-day I chanced on a mountaineer 
doing this crafty thing, and peeping at him with oblique 
glances of the eye saw his triumph of trickery. That tell- 
tale grass he put as softly aside as a surgeon parts the hair 
to examine a scalp wound, the result being a clever fraud 
in trail-hiding. Even thus do your troubles multiply, for 
the local negro is endlessly laying all his plans with con- 
summate care in order to trap the pioneer. 

But African troubles are like African babies, they grow 
bigger if you nurse them, and the morning brings counsel. 
Tumbling out early, you negotiate the Kundelungu wall 
with the wind whistling through the trees. Most clutch 
at a faggot from the roaring camp-fire, and up this 
mountain staircase we wind, the said faggot held off" to 
windward so that the play of the wind sends a tongue of 
flame licking the bare black body. Anon, and far up the 
mountain, you hear a triumph " coo ! " from the summit, 
half taunt, half brag, from a dwarf negro who is first up. 
The lean, lanky six feet of humanity in front of me laughs 
at the idea of the dwarf being for once "the tallest man 
in the caravan " ; and probably our Tom Thumb was right, 
after all, when he answered their taunts by saying, like 
Lincoln, "A man's legs ought to be long enough to reach 
the ground." Breathing as loud as a forge bellows, here 



BORING OUT EAST 351 

we are at last on the top, just in time to greet the sun 
coming up over it at the same time as ourselves, a crisp 
and cross east wind blowing in our teeth. Eocks, grasses, 
and trees ha.ve all caught the flame of the morning. 
Yonder, far below, Kasanga Valley lies at our feet, villages 
looking mere dots on a map, the river a thin thread 
wandering through an expanse of green and gold. Out 
through the valley mouth the Lufira Flats stretch away, 
far, far away to the West, the vast panorama dramatically 
opening out to its very widest by way of tragic farewell. 
For this, mark you, means a long "good-bye" to that 
Western slave-track and the wide waste of lonely land 
stretching out to the Atlantic. 

Early the next day we reach the Eastern edge, and in 
order to keep a resolve really to meet the Valomotwa in 
their own holes, we left the trail in tow of one of the 
sagest guides I have ever known. I have the honour to 
appraise you of the fact that we followed this falcon-eyed 
" path-borer " as meekly as sheep follow their bell-wethers. 
And the result ? A long day's game at explorer's bo-peep, 
rolling about among the rocks on the steep brow of the 
range. Thin saplings cut obliquely, and left half severed, 
were the unerring guide, all along the route, the sort of 
" scent " this in a very heathen paper-chase. Without 
this key to the labyrinth our quest v/ould have been 
hopeless beyond all conjecture, but with it the eye gets 
accustomed to the arrangement, and we are conducted 
along expectantly from one cut sapling to another, until 
noiselessly and suddenly we are really on them, escape 



352 THINKING BLACK 

impossible. The men spring for their quivers of hulembe 
(poison) arrows, opining we are Shimba's Rugarugas, 
but I approach empty-handed and ask, scoldingly and 
indignantly enough, what they mean by fleeing incon- 
tinently from us, their bona fide visitors. As if by magic, 
their demeanour is now cowed and respectful, as though 
they realise the game is up ; for here, on the lonely frontiers 
of the world, could they flee farther or higher ? Later, 
and they are ashamed of themselves, treating us with real 
Highland hospitality : we have outwitted their black 
Vigilance Committee, and the whole visit turns out rather 
resembling the proverbial month of March — in like a lion, 
and out like a lamb. Moral : In Africa a storm can clear 
the air and does not always prophesy bad weather. We 
were not the predatory creatures of their dreams, and how 
could I blame them for thus taking refuge in their " muni- 
tions of rocks," then springing up to eat us, not to greet 
us ? Did not our own early Britons flee back before the 
advancing Saxons and hide themselves in the mountain 
fastnesses of wild Wales ? 

Another thing. It very soon leaks out that this hamlet 
we have struck is only one of many — that, in fact, the 
rocks, like rabbit-warrens, swarm with people, who file in 
looking daggers and grudging us their secret. 

How is this for a proof that the whole world is kin ? 
Here, where never white saw black nor black saw white, 
what did I see to-day ? Two little mountaineers, speaking 
the pure Gaelic, are in hot and high dispute over some 
childish matter. " All right, what will you wager ? " asks a 



BORING OUT EAST 353 

three-feet-high youngster whose brow is creased in a 
worried little frown. "I bet three beads," retorts his 
opponent, and forthwith they link their two little fingers 
of the right hand solemnly to conclude the Ohipikwa, or 
wager. And all this with the customary placidity of the 
Epsom racecourse — yes, here at the world's end. To the 
tramp Missionary it is difficult to say whether one is more 
harassed or exhilarated in being so startlingly reminded of 
the solidarity of the race. Is it not the tempter's endless 
taunt that this negro of ours is too unlike the European 
even faintly to understand our point ? Yet little do these 
toy gamblers guess that they are tying themselves up in 
the same bundle with all the absconding clerks, bank- 
tellers, cashiers, treasurers, trustees, and speculators who 
ever put their money on the wrong horse. Reflection : 
So the old round world is kin after all. 

G-unpowder has never reached these simple folks, and 
the hunting is all done on tiptoe with silent poisoned 
arrows. They plead that one bang from a gun would be 
too tell-tale, booming along the valley. These canons of 
theirs are whispering galleries, that, with a great awaken- 
ing clang, echo and re-echo the secret of even the hunter's 
footfall. As free as a bird, there never was such a thing 
as game laws, the forest being called Butala wa Leza, or 
God's larder. The innovation of English game laws would 
be high treason, for do they not say, " The antelopes were 
made for man, not man for the antelopes " ? Sure am I a 
black local parliament would, with the whole force of its 
judgment and rhetoric, annul all laws against hunting. Err 



354 THINKING BLACK 

these negro politicians no doubt would in many pertinent 
particulars ; bring in a Bill they might, to call winter 
summer and Friday Tuesday, but as for game laws ! And 
no wonder, for to the black man of the woods life's 
limitations are too manifold to admit of such a serious 
restriction as venison. The negro cup is small, so let him 
fill it to the brim. And here, once again, around the 
flaming faggots I send out the old shout of Salvation among 
these Kundelungu glens. Although weary to the marrow 
of my bones, the very thought of the rocks thrilling for 
the first time with God's praise is enough to rouse an echo 
thrill in one's cold old heart. As you muse the fire burns, 
and then it is you pour out on them the flood of longing 
entreaty, the whole ministry reacting on your sickly soul 
like a bracing tonic. Thus do we drink of the brook by 
the way. Why doubt that after many days the blessing 
will come ? Grey and gloomy and grand the forest arches 
over us, each tree preaching to us the old sermon of the 
oak. Which runs : The creation of a thousand forests is 
in one acorn. After all, you may count the apples on a 
tree, but can you count the trees in even one apple ? 

(Later.) 
Yes ! and come it did, for fourteen long years after- 
wards wonderful news reaches the Lufira Flats from 
these very hills. Down comes a man with a long 
string knotted into more than thirty knots. Each of 
these knots, be it known, represents a man or woman 
who has professed conversion to Christ, and Mr. and 



BORING OUT EAST 355 

Mrs. Anton went up to verify the strange news con- 
tained in this strange mountaineer's string " note-book." 
There they were, women in the majority, on the same 
range at Lofoi, praising God among the rocks ; by a sort 
of spiritual spontaneous combustion the heather was on 
fire. For the Word of God is not bound, and these lonely 
hearts were profoundly converted. In later years, on Lake 
Mweru, these w^omen make the best Evangelists. Of a 
Sunday you can spy some old negro ladies toddling out to 
the suburbs, a six or eight mile walk, in order to pass along 
their good news. Look closely at one of these and you can 
see the dear old face wreathed in most contagious smiles, 
the very manner of her joy proof positive that she has 
got what the world cannot take away. With her there 
is no case of logic versus love, for lo ! k)ve is her logic. 
Her manner, too, so nicely balanced between boldness 
and timidity. 

"Just knows, and knows no more, her Bible true, 
A truth the brilliant Frenchman never knew." 

(" Heart " is a word that the Bible is just full of. " Brain," 
I believe, is not once mentioned.) Theories are for the 
human brain, but the human heart must have a person, 
and woe to this old dear if her faith has not given her 
a Person to talk to all along life's weary road, for her 
own tribe now turns the cold shoulder on her. Say 
nearly sixty years of age (on the wrong side), she has 
wakened up to realise with a glad surprise that God 
the Multi-Millionaire has invested all His capital in 



S56 THINKING BLACK 

her soul The night is fast approaching when for her 
there can be no work, so off the frail oki saint goes with 
this great thought energizing her journey of Evangel into 
a toddling trot. If life be indeed "a sheet of paper 
white, on which each one of us can write a word or two, 
and then comes — Night " — I say, if this be a just simile 
of life, then, to pursue the parable, we may add that this 
old lady has discovered her sheet of paper is getting so 
small that she must economize space and write close the 
remaining words. 

Lady, indeed, one must call her, for if you overhear 
what she says to her equals it is all besprinkled with 
polite phrases : "But, Sir" — or "No, Madam," the whole 
being normal tribal usage, not mere make-believe. You 
might, in fact, be reading Boswell's Johnson, the re- 
spectful " Sirs " so marvellously many. To seek to 
establish a ratio of success is, of course, invidious, but 
personally I prefer the soft-voiced pleading of these 
old ladies to the loud young man who winds up with 
his seven last woes. For Grandmother is really a 
weeping sower, and with tears in her eyes and Christ 
in her heart, she warns of impending doom. Then a 
sort of sob steals into her story, the sincerity of that 
sob making the warning all the more solemn. In her 
own sad experience, I know for a fact that one of these 
old dears has discovered that tears are a true telescope 
lens through which she can pierce far into the heavens 
above, so no wonder she believes in being a weeping 
sower, for tears cannot blind if they be telescopes. 



BORING OUT EAST 357 

Contrast many a young negro preacher who can cover 
such an amazing territory of Christian truth in his 
sermon, forgetful of the fact that to preach the ever- 
lasting Gospel does not mean to preach everlastingly. 
# # * 

The ant-bear (Mpendwa) very annoyingly burrows 
his holes right in the path, and the unwary traveller 
could with great ease break his leg in any one of them. 
So sly are these curious sloths, that many a native on 
the wrong side of forty has lived his life without seeing 
one. My man, a Lambaite, killed four of these scarce 
monsters in a most cold-blooded, efficient manner. With 
all their wit centred in their two-inch-long claws, they 
tunnel far underground, and the trick is to out- 
manoeuvre him in his network of subterranean subtlety. 
Hibernating as they do for half the year, the solemn 
way they go to bed for their sloth-sleep has won for 
them the negro phrase, " drunk with sleep." Like five 
long red sausages, each six feet in length, there they 
were, packed in, snout first, thick tail pointing outwards. 
With a warrior light in his eye, my man wriggled into 
the tunnel with his huge spear and killed No. 1 in a 
long chokinor moan. Then followed the solemn " sealinoj 
of the tube," the process being repeated with the certainty 
of a professional until four out of the five all died by 
his long lance. An adequate English analogy would be 
to imagine the London Tube Railway throwing up 
quantities of fresh meat out of the earth ! No. 5, how- 
ever, had sapped a new tunnel of escape, escape in this 



358 THINKING BLACK 

case being not by exit, but a deeper burrow, defying man 
to breathe therein. 

Given good paint and a better painter, here you have 
a mountain incident that would hang as best Academy 
picture of the year. Last night a native after sundown 
was holding his breath as he picked his way down the 
face of this precipice, eye and ear pledged to perpetual 
vigilance in the really awful venture. So engrossed was 
the benighted traveller in testing every fearful foothold 
that he was wholly unconscious of a hungry old lion 
stealthily stalking him from behind. Intrepidly venture- 
some, this man-eater had already gained on his pro- 
spective prey by taking two chasms at two noiseless 
bounds. Is there going to be no slip between that cup 
of a ravine and this lip of a precipice ? The astounding 
answer is that here is a lion planning murder who 
commits suicide. Madly springing at his man over 
the chasm, but not reckoning on the narrow ledge of 
treacherous schist for a foothold, down he dashes over 
the last jutting crag of time into the gulf of eternity, 
a dark yawning abyss, hundreds of feet deep. The next 
day, far, far below, he was raked out by the people of 
the plain, broken in every bone. 

Eastward ho ! Left the toy-town in the rocks and 
were soon buried in thick woods, which only once broke 
on a " parkland " centred by a palm, the useful Hyphaene. 
At 8.30, to the surprise of everybody, we stood on the 
Eastern edge of Kundelungu Range and looked down on 
the beautiful Luapula Valley stretching far to the East, 



BORING OUT EAST 359 

rolling away in rich slopes and watered by a thousand 
streams — " a delightsome land." First glimpses, though, 
are fictitious, and the boys who are ahead cheer us on. 
Swinging round a shoulder of the hill, we emerge from its 
terminal clump of trees, and, perched out on a last ledge 
of rock, away on the N.E. we spy our first and most 
wonderful view of Lake Mweru — a mighty sheet upon 
which the morning sun, painted as never Turner painted 
it, is shining like a mass of liquid gold. But who could 
dare to describe that colour ? — " not colour, Mr. Euskin, 
but conflagration." Even if it were possible, it would be 
profanation. With no East shore visible, and not having 
seen a sister-sheet of water like this Mweru since our last 
sight of the Atlantic, the sheer extravaganza of the sight 
makes one shout for joy. Born as I was by the seashore, 
now it is the curtain of memory rises, and this wide 
waste of waters welcoming us as we emerge from the long 
choking grass makes us feel as though we had escaped 
from a tropical trap. Away to the South, banks of 
morning mist are rolling up from the lagoons of the 
Luapula, and only very faintly can we guess Kasembe's 
capital, sleeping prosperously in the sun, on the British 
side. British, indeed, that soil, for the other day Ehodes 
painted all those trans-Luapula lands red on the map, a 
clannish colour the red sun repeats every morning it rolls 
up like a ball of fire. Here comes a dissolving scene 
which memory makes its own for ever, every moment a 
memento. For slowly, but surely, time that tempereth 
all things takes the flare out of this red flambeau, twenty 



360 THINKING BLACK 

minutes representing as many dissolving shades in the 
softening scheme of colour : step by step, shade by shade, 
working up from monochrome through tint after tint, 
through rose into pale lemon, through sea-green into the 
ultimate azure. Tell me, please, is plain Peter Bell my 
negro neighbour taking it all in as he looks moodily at 
vacancy ? Apparently, I am ohserving while he is only 
seeing, for a beam of light in the eye is not charged with 
thought, is it ? Or can it be that he, a landsman, is 
thinking of this Lake as the murderer of fishermen in 
their coggly dug-outs, the red sunrise symbolic of the 
red blood of its victims ? To him this painted poetry is 
the plainest of plain prose, for in cruelty this Lake is feline. 
It licks your feet and purrs very pleasantly, but it will 
crack your bones for all that — then wipe its foaming lips 
as if naught had happened. But the grandest bit of 
Geography in the whole landscape is the glorious West 
side, away up North towards Luanza, where the sharp 
headlands have given the West marshes the slip. Rising 
sheer from the Lake, these bluffs are seen buttressing the 
whole North-Western Coast, dozens of little streams vying 
with each other how to leap over the cliff gracefully with 
waterfalls like a white mare's tail. The last of these is a 
gaunt spike of headland called Chipuma, alongside which 
the river Luanza flows into Mweru — our home in the far 
future. 

But in Africa you too, like plain Peter Bell, must get 
all your poetry out of the prose of life. So off we go 
jolting down the hillside, heading for the first town in 



BORING OUT EAST 361 

the valley whose lights we watched last night winking 
out one by one. But we draw blank, for all have taken 
to the grass on our approach, fearing the advent of the 
Arabs, who are raiding the whole valley. Shimba is the 
Arab leader's name = Lion. The eerie stillness reigning 
in the abandoned town bodes no good for the morrow, so 
we dart on into the valley, heading for Chilolo Ntambo's. 
Quite a political portent in his way, this plucky man has 
strongly entrenched himself in the plains, resolved to 
break or be broken. Meanwhile, and in curious contrast, 
the scattered aboriginal chiefs are at their old game of 
hateful and baneful plotting ; hysterically crying out one 
moment, " Come and kill Shimba ! " and the next rush- 
ing up among the rocks for refuge. Torn into tribal 
tatters as they are, the Arabs come on the scene and, of 
course, instead of killing the flames of negro faction, they 
kindle them. Then it is the old cry rings through the 
glens, the bitter wail of Rachel weeping for her children. 

As fighting is again imminent, and Shimba is gathering 
for another attempt, I send on messengers to carry the 
olive branch, their business being to clinch the cardinal 
postulate that I am "a thing of naught" (Wagere). 
Ergo, being a mere pilgrim travelling through, they must 
not expect me to help them in this mundane matter of 
aiming a gun-barrel in their trumpery squabble. When 
I told this candid cut-throat that it was the honourable 
business of the Church militant to suffer blows rather 
than strike them, he seemed almost inclined to adroitly 
interpose a big black fist between his face and mine by 



362 THINKING BLACK 

way of testing the temper of my peace platitude. Press- 
ing on, an armed escort emerges from the grass with a 
roar, but these brimstone blacks acclaim us as brother cut- 
throats and seem quite sure we will kill three negroes for 
their one. Once, twice, and yet thrice I break in on them 
with a disclaimer — no, they don't want my olive branch, 
for when I'm for peace, like King David, then they are for 
war. Tell them to mortify the flesh and they will indeed 
agree to do so, but it is their enemy's flesh they mean 
to mortify with a spear-thrust. Thus encircled by a ring 
of rascals, we trudge on, only to encounter escort No. 2 on 
the edge of their stockade den, the horrible huzzahs 
suggesting that this out-at-elbows Missionary is reckoned 
a staunch supporter of their war. Remember, all this is 
a mere ovation to my white skin, not white character, 
and it is not at all flattering to recall the fact that yonder 
red-haired hobbledehoy of an Englishman, smoking his 
short pipe at the corner of Seven Dials, would get as 
royal a welcome. Besides, ovation notwithstanding, you 
need not go away and fancy everybody in the town is 
thinking of you : nay, verily, he is like you, he is think- 
ing of himself. Not even a very tiny idea had they in 
the back of their heads that Christ was versus Barabbas. 

But in Africa I have long ago learned that you must 
put up with a great deal if you would put down a great 
deal, and here is no exception. Greeting the Chief, this 
kindly man has the kindly idea that he should decorously 
shake hands with me a la Europeen, so for the first 
time in his life he experiments on a hand-shake. Then 



BORING OUT EAST 363 

after laboriously moving my arm up and down for some 
minutes like a stiff pump-handle he lets it go, only to be 
seconded by his wife, a small and very daintily finished 
little lady. This dame, I suppose, thought she had made 
quite a toilet. Ordinarily dressed in a simple and strong 
homespun, to-day she thinks herself irreproachably 
gowned in an old ragged and coloured blanket, marred 
with as many patches as blotches. Why is it that, right 
down from the days of Mother Eve, as soon as a woman 
arrives at self-consciousness her first thought is of a new 
dress? In the local homespun she would have been 
handsome, but now she is horrid. A sprinkling of loud 
yellow patches on a red ground is her ideal. They 
despise even fine lace, think it a rag, and call it " a lot 
of holes tied together." Alas ! evil communications do 
indeed corrupt good manners, for in half a tick this new 
stiff pump-handle salute with high and low is de rigueur. 
But Chilolo is a real and reliable sort of a man and would 
make a good impression if sketched when he is speaking 
in his firm and yet quite unostentatious way. If dis- 
simulation is the mask of the soul, then sincerity is its 
face, and I like the transparency of this old hero. Smoking 
a meditative pipe, he told the tale of these Arabs' entry 
into the country on the old plea of honest trade. Told of 
their picking a quarrel after a thousand hateful impertin- 
ences. Told finally of attack and repulse in quick suc- 
cession, with the promise of a real big battle on the 
morrow. Such, then, is "the man behind the gun," a 
desperate enemy but a fine friend. An African this 



364 THINKING BLACK 

who in many things is far and near belauded as a Chief 
with a delicate and scrupulous sense of honour, and 
certainly Mushidi showed his usual shrewdness when he 
gave this man long ago a kind of governorship (Diyanga) 
of the Luapula Valley. 

But these bellicose blacks have hearts of adamant 
where God's Gospel is concerned, and only met my appeal 
with mortified glances. Every man of them said in his 
heart — and a horrible saying it is — that God was a fool 
to leave His Son to die. In Luba the very phrase " a 
fool's death "is rendered "a sheep's death" (Isa. liii. 7). 
Chilolo's son, a young exquisite, was as solemn as a 
sermon when he said that no black man would believe in 
such a God. And here was I, all alone in that hot den, 
with lacerated feelings and blistered feet — ah, how a 
Missionary suddenly shrivels up into himself with one 
whifi" of such loneliness. But I cannot go back, so I must 
go forward — and what a goal, the linking up with our own 
English race from East ! Any day something thrilling 
may happen, for coincidently with our moving in from the 
Western Atlantic are they not also boring up here into 
the Interior from the Indian Ocean ? The exact picture 
of this exciting thing is to be found in thinking of us as 
engaged in the excavation of a tunnel, and here we have 
at least reached the delirious point where we almost 
begin to hear the pickaxes of the excavators at work in the 
other side of the tunnel ! Of course the plan of route 
ahead is not even optional now. It seems it has fallen to 
my lot, and I hope to my delight, as well as my duty, to 



BORING OUT EAST 365 

strike Mweru at its South- Western corner, and negotiate 
the first trans-Lake voyage in dug-outs. 

But here it is a long line of lion incidents occur, the 
curious persistency of the thing being like the African's 
proverbial rain that never comes but it pours. At any 
rate, they seem to be all the fashion, whether biped lions 
or quadrupeds, for here is this putrid scoundrel of an 
Arab calling himself Shimba = The Lion, and even Chilolo 
claims the suffix-surname Ntambo, which also means 
" Lion." Certainly the roaring in name soon became a 
roaring in reality. Forewarned of trouble ahead, in the 
phrase Ntanda ya kava, " the forest is on fire," we 
began by camping early and building a strong skerm, as 
war-parties do. That night, however, we drew a blank, 
the only incident being a troop of elephants rushing past 
at sundown, making a noise like thunder. Plunging into 
the fens near by, they bathed for more than an hour, and 
with glee seemingly. Nearing Mbovola's village, however, 
we find the villagers outside, frantic with excitement, and 
bravely roasting a large lioness which had daringly leaped 
the fifteen-feet-high stockade and killed a woman ; move 
on and into this village, but just as we enter at one side, 
down goes the portcullis , gate with a smash at the river 
entrance, breaking the leap of the large male lion ac- 
companied by two little ones, all seemingly bent on 
avenging the lioness. Then, day and night, the drums 
din their deafening noise, all hope lost of your sleeping up 
arrears of the past wakeful nights. 

Nor will the villagers let us ofi" the next day, so here 



366 THINKING BLACK 

we rest. This bereaved and famished lion having made 
up his masterful mind to avenge his consort, twice 
attempted to spring the stockade, but was driven off. 
Thus our first fears were justified of a long lion trail, and 
the links soon became many in the chain of prophecy. 
The appalling rinderpest has killed off all the antelopes, 
hence the famished lions are forced to raid the hamlets 
and play for higher stakes. 

Farther along, Mbayo, in the same valley, very 
pluckily killed a large male lion with an elephant-spear. 
Well primed with liquor, this tall native met his man- 
eater at the village gate. Just as it sprang for him, he 
fixed his spear as an infantry soldier does his bayonet on 
the command " Prepare for cavalry," the lion running 
himself through the heart in his spring. The famished 
fraternity came round during the night, and those royal 
rogues actually ate up their dead comrade, making much 
noise in the mastication. It is madness to send our 
little boys to draw water or fetch firewood here without 
an escort. But the end is not yet. Farther along in that 
same valley — to be exact, at Kapara's — a great lion was 
killed measuring thirteen and a half feet from tip to 
tail. He, poor fellow, was a shaggy veteran with blunted 
teeth, starving seemingly, for his ribs were looking 
through. This lion must have welcomed death, as his 
poor right paw was a swollen festered mass, a large acacia 
thorn deeply embedded in the quick. Thus we bowl 
along into the savannah, the rank grass, ten feet high, 
shutting out view of everything save a little blur of blue 



BORING OUT EAST 367 

overhead. After a few hours of this kind of work, 
needle-pointed grass seeds showering down, the long stalks 
rebounding sharply on the face, a kind of smothering 
sensation is the result, and you wish for just one whiff of 
ocean ozone. With hundreds of spear-pointed seeds 
sticking out of your shirt it is easy to become a very 
porcupine in temper as well as appearance ! The 
science of walking through grass of this description which 
overhangs and hides the path is very simple, what a poet 
has described as "following some fine instinct in the feet." 
Like a blind man who cannot see the trail, you throw 
forward your feet in a pawing manner, pull your body 
after them, and feel along in this fashion. Boasting of 
carnivora as it does, this savannah is a lively, dangerous 
place, and one has to be always high-strung and vigilant 
in the long grass. Even down to the shore of the 
Mulungwishi River where we embarked, these lions 
dogged our steps, and actually farewelled us with a double 
episode. It was on this wise. 

In the far distance grey Mweru Lake was hoarsely 
threatening a storm, and the scudding clouds revealed a 
furtive moon. There, jammed into the thick aquatic 
grass, lay our canoes for the morrow, the beach so tangled 
that we, for the night, were shut into a tight little skerm 
to save our skins. At one in the morning an ominous 
scrunching, and the famished lions are eating our 
canoes. Eating our canoes ! Very vaguely and at 
random I aimed for the matted clump of marsh, but even 
this guess shot caused the noise to stop with alacrity far 



368 THINKING BLACK 

too sudden for it to have been a miss. Then came day- 
break and the discovery of our nocturnal damages ; as for 
the canoes, the breakages were merely in the singular and 
not in the plural, but how singular — only the fifth boat 
crunched to pieces ! So, too, the lions ; one only had 
been wounded, and she caused a lot of trouble before she 
died. Shimpauka, one of the right sort, followed her up 
but lost traces in the tangle, then stupidly let go his best 
charge at a buck, reloading with only a poor pinch of 
powder as he presumed he had lost the lion. Hardly, 
however, had his gun spoken when he discovered his 
stupid error. For there, sure enough, and only a dozen 
paces farther ahead, lay my lady, not nearly dead but 
merely nursing her broken leg. If she offers battle (and 
she must), then she will fight and fight to the death. 
Then the terrible trouble began, for the dense growth had 
spoiled matters and forced him to see this thing through 
— retreat impossible. So he drew a careful bead on the 
lioness, the thought maddening him the while that here 
he was firing a stupid squib, sure only to jag the exas- 
perated beast into mad recrimination. And what do 
you think ? There you see the doleful duel begin in 
which, tit-for-tat, the wrath of a man is matched against 
the wrath of a lioness. Their blood is up. On rushes 
the beast and on rushes the black ! The strong, strapping 
fellow, in a frenzy of determination, and longing to get it 
over, hugs the huge lioness in a strangling grasp, and over 
they go on the ground in a whirl of man and lion. The 
lioness has dug her claws into the mass of muscle on the 



BORING OUT EAST 369 

man s back ; and the man, smarting with pain, grips at the 
lion's carotids like a vice, only, however, to get his three 
fingers crunched off. But his right hand is free, and still 
he clings with all the tenacity of terror to that beast's 
throat — yes, clings to conquer. A gasp, a dying gurgle, 
and the lioness owns up to the lordship of man — choked 
stone dead. To this day, all you can get out of the 
maimed hunter is a hissing intake of the breath, and a 
sharp clenching of his teeth, with the staccato whine : 
" Oh ! if I only had had one tiny point of steel to jag her 
with ; yes, even a nail or a needle to claw her when she 
was clawing me." 

But all this is exceptional, you say. Incredible as it 
may seem, this getting into grips with Felis leo is not at 
all uncommon. Here is my man, Kasansu, who has had 
almost the identical experience, only in his case no shot 
is fired, the lion frankly and fairly under-muscled. This 
same long grass did it all, for although doubly armed with 
gun and spear, the lion and the man were in grips before 
the latter (startled, indeterminate) even remembered that 
he was armed — disarmed rather, for in panic both spear 
and gun were thrown to the winds. The beast, of course, 
was too terribly fresh to succumb to mere throttling, so, 
when they rolled over, Kasansu, by a clever wriggle, 
got on to its back, and gripping the nape of the lion's 
neck, willy, nilly, pinned his hairy head on the ground. 
Believe it, there was much champing of the bit on the 
lion's part at this curious compulsion to eat humble pie, 
but the man's roaring for succour had brought on the 



370 THINKING BLACK 

scene a youDg fellow whose only weapon was a hoe-handle 
— wood, only wood, when steel was the clamant need. 
Nevertheless, the youngster, after much entreaty, was 
persuaded to come on with his stick, the lad's haunting 
terror being that Kasansu out of sheer exhaustion would 
let go his grip of this licking-the-dust lion. But it all 
ended in victory. Crack ! crack ! crack ! and the lion's 
skull was soon broken by this simple hoe-handle. In 
later days a relative of this lion in the same district — 
" Charlie," they called him — died only after running up 
a big butcher's bill of nearly sixty dead natives. To be 
exact, fifty- seven. 

(Later.) 
Blood still dogs us, and here comes another death, a 
weird one. Picture my boy killed by such an incredibly 
unlikely animal as the ratel, a sort of skunk that feeds on 
honey. I can well conceive how the whole thing may 
strike the reader of this chronicle as absurd. It happened 
at Mungedi's, and the curious tale runs that this three-feet- 
long badger gets systematically drunk from an angry 
alcohol he distils from the beehives. Living as he does so 
wholly on honey, the ratel has learned to sample it in all 
stages of fermentation, and finally has struck the idea of 
making his own distillery ! This he does by digging a 
pot-like hole with his three middle claws on the wet bank 
of a river. Now he rams home the honey with a careful 
admixture of water, and off" he goes to await the issue of 
the loyal law of fermentation. In two days or so, back 
he comes to find his alcohol foaming up out of the hole, 



BORING OUT EAST 371 

and in a few minutes Mr. Badger is rolling drunk. The 
liquor swimming through his veins like a glorious fire 
makes him mad for murder. In height not much more 
than a foot, anterior claws say two inches, here is my boy 
killed by a drunk skunk. The skin is so tantalizingly 
loose that if you grip it, he can actually turn in it and 
grip you. Another instance of Africa being a topsy-turvy 
land, an animal being doubly a distiller and a drunkard. 



Beneath all this opulence of colour there lurks the 
sinister thought that Palpalis is ambushed in every green 
clump, transforming it into a weeping willow. For this 
vile fly means sleeping sickness, and sleeping sickness 
means a wipe-out. Now meandering through mossy 
glades, now thundering down the gorge, these Congo 
tributaries really ring hollow at heart. Only the birds and 
beasts have a good time down here. There, serene in it 
all, the black darter sits sentinel on a snag jutting out of 
the water, and sunning his dark shining-green wings out- 
stretched. Oblivious of the masked murder all around, 
clouds of snow-white egrets with bright yellow bills in 
the still reaches of the river fly lazily up and down 
to their favourite feeding haunts. On, on you glide 
down the gorge to the steady dip of your paddles, 
the river brawling over the rocks and preaching as we 
pass. True for you. Father Congo ! In Africa we do 
find that a Christian is not a canal cut out by a foot-rule ; 
not a canal, but a river. And a river has its deeps and 
23 



372 THINKING BLACK 

shallows ; has its floods and shrinkages ; is, in fact, God's 
own parable of a missionary. It only passes on what it 
gets. It only babbles like a baby when it is shallow. 
And it ever darts strongly and surely for the sea when 
too full for sound and foam. 



CHAPTER XIX 
Kavanga : the Gates of the Morning 



There's a legion that never was listed, 
That carries no colours nor crest, 

But split in a thousand detachments 
Is breaking the road for the rest" 



"I propose one more society in the Church— an 
S.S.S.S.— or Society for the Suppression of Super- 
fluous Societies." E- P« Marvin. 



"Good it is we have no Society guaranteeing a 
stated salary. For cut off as we are from our 
nearest bank by one thousand miles, the said 
Society would be politely and cleverly baffled how 
to send our quarterly remittance. 

From Author's Letter. 



CHAPTER XIX 

Kavanga : the Gates of the Morning 

T N which the lost-in-a-forest traveller 
learns that the Lord of Eternity is 
the Lord of One Hour. 

BUT the amalgamated worries of Africa seem all shut 
into the three days we are lost in the savannah, 
groping and guessing our way. Cutting back from 
the Luapula, we adopt the very risky but necessary plan 
of striking pathless across country. Through forest-land 
heading all the while for a certain far-off faint blue point 
on the tableland. " The Plantations of God " is the 
admonishing native forest name for what to me was a 
trap. Here it is you put your foot where never even 
black man preceded you, and here too you learn the 
lesson of all the twists in the African trail. It is the old 
line-of-least-resistance idea, for day after day you must 
accommodate yourself to the new and changing aspect of 
country lying across your track. A shag leads off by 
blocking the way, and the shorter the shag the more 
dangerous it is, because hidden in the grass. Your boot 
saves you, a white man, but even then you would rather 

876 



376 THINKING BLACK 

save the boot, for you only escape a cut at the expense of 
cutting your own precious foot-wear. Now it is that this 
leather covering appears to the barefoot native both a 
marvel and a portent, for instead of thinking that the 
boot merely covers the foot that wears it, his idea is that 
those few inches of shoe carpet the whole forest with 
leather. A good lesson this, that even in the smallest 
boons of life there is nothing like the widest point of 
view, mere inches multiplied to miles. Literally only so 
many inches, but actually they cause the whole earth 
you walk on to be covered with leather, so it all depends 
on how you look on a little thing. This tale of jags, 
however, is only one per cent of the story, for the re- 
maining ninety-nine of your caravan boasts, not boots, 
but that delicate pneumatic tyre— ra bare black foot. 
Hence all these doublings and twistings of the negro 
trail, for your naked companion must go gingerly along 
this never-trodden ground, every wobble being out of 
deep reverence to some hidden shag or jag in the dense 
growth. For in order to avoid a pneumatic puncture, 
he must feel his way along, as against the white man 
with his leather " clogs " {sic) who can cut across country 
crunching down all oppositions. Then after the shag 
comes the stupid young ant-hill demanding another 
wriggle from the traveller, but this is minor compared 
with the long detour round a fallen tree : is it not easier 
to dodge than dislodge it ? This means a twist twenty 
feet round the end, and long years after this tree has 
been burned out of existence the pawky path still per- 



KAVANGA : GATES OF THE MORNING 377 

petuates that very tree's downfall in the same old bend. 
Often, too, as a happy accident of environment, wide, 
roomy elephant-ways open up before you seductively, so 
off at a tempting tangent you go, although conscious of 
the cowardice of the thing. For how could a roaming 
elephant know your path ? Then the blue landmark on 
the plateau looms out warningly from an opposite point 
in the skyline, compelling you to play the man and 
plunge again into the nasty scrub. Finally, all this high- 
stepping is so fagging that we lie down under a tree and 
rest like the Seven of Ephesus : a night in which you 
dream of being lost, for ever lost in some mad maze — of 
wandering, for ever wandering in a wilderness of woe. 

No wonder on the morning of the 20th of June, the 
awakening is almost a glad thing, lost though we are in 
pathless bush. At least the erstwhile dreamer can con- 
sole himself with the faded adage about dreams going by 
contraries, and you spring from your couch on the ground, 
proud, at least, you have shaken off that feeling of utter 
lack of volition ever haunting a dreamer. But a tabloid 
for your soul is as necessary as an anti-fever tabloid for 
your body, because after a day of jagging thorns we had 
a night of jagging mosquitoes. (To get "keyed up" for 
the day is our bush phrase for the true tonic effect of a 
tabloid of quinine. ) These blood-suckers make you rise, 
tingling with fever, but here comes the tabloid for your 
soul : the Book of Hosea opens at the sunrise words, " His 
goings forth are prepared as the morning." No doubt, 
" lost " is the true tale of our folly, nevertheless there you 



378 THINKING BLACK 

have the honest " Bible " of the route, a prepared path for 
a prepared morning. The curative property of that simple 
sweet line was wonderful. So away we start once more, 
and right off get soaking wet in the thick dew — not the 
modest dew of an English meadow sward, but dew distilled 
ten feet from the ground on spear grass and showering 
down on you like a spray-bath. One native taught me a 
lesson in this thick dew as to "counting my blessings" 
even in times of trial. " God is good," said he, " for the 
thickest dew in Africa falls in hardest drought," a reminder 
that God in all lands " tempers the wind to the shorn 
lamb." But, at least, in this drenching dew I have a coat 
on my back, whereas all my poor fellows are shivering 
nude, so they deserve the palm. Indeed, as you tramp 
along, here is a point steadily and surely gaining ground 
in your brain, to wit, that this man Friday of yours is a 
most companionable comrade and much more real as a man 
than his wordy preacher. On the march, for instance, his 
thirst is the real thing, and not the ill-tempered craving 
of an Englishman ; so, too, with hunger, his is the hard- 
gnawing sort, the deep hunger of faintness he gladly 
satiates with the sundown meal of coarse mush. Ah, 
" ye have heard of the patience of Job," but know also 
that here are men of grit and tenacity of purpose. Cold 
numbs, hunger gnaws, and they, down at the very bottom 
of life's hill, give never a twitch or twinge by way of 
grumble. In comparison we, as a grumbling, greedy race 
of Europeans, are all self, self, self, from the soles of our 
feet to the top of our crown. 



KAVANGA : GATES OF THE MORNING 379 

Nearing noon the boys fire a broadside of their match- 
locks into a dense cavalcade of elephants, a mere pinprick 
in the armour-plating : £10,000 of ivory on the move — 
what a sight ! Each tusker with five or more wives 
according to the length of ivory. The tusks, too, of 
varied sorts and colours, some not at all normal, and one 
great bull with only one tooth. Another has a freak tusk, 
and while the normal one gleams gracefully up in posi- 
tion, its twin tusk twists down in the opposite direction, 
the great beast looking a horror. But remember, animals 
though they are, this is not a mob but an army, and one 
great bull seems to lord it over the whole battalion. In 
response to a most aristocratic wave of his trunk, like a 
Field Marshal's baton, away they rush straight ahead, 
clearing for us, not a path but a royal avenue. The 
coincidence of our far-ofif landmark, the steel-blue wall 
of Kundelungu, coming for once into dead line with the 
track of this army corps of elephants, is surely eloquent 
of the goings forth of our God being prepared as the 
morning. Here at last is your prepared path — and made 
by elephants, too. 

But there is more to follow. Not for nothing are 
these woods christened by the negroes "the Lord's 
Larder." "Plantations of God" is their second name 
for the same idea, and as the native would not dare to 
dream of driving God out of His own garden, why should 
I ? " Every beast of the forest is Mine," said The Same, 
Who proves it by sending this densely packed herd 
galloping true for objective. (Why recognise God in 



380 THINKING BLACK 

great things and exclude Him in small ? Why forget 
that the Lord of Eternity is likewise Lord of an Hour ? 
Was not the microscope discovered at the same time 
as the telescope ?) But — I repeat it — there is more to 
follow. Let those who deny the efficiency and sufficiency 
of Faith for desert diet just wait one moment and watch 
how these very elephants feed us. A mere way in the 
wilderness is as nothing to a table in the wilderness, and 
spread out like lunch at a picnic, "God's elephants" — 
the negro phrase this — doing it all. Picture this big 
blundering Jumbo made of God unto us not merely our 
advance-guard to cleave an onward path, but an elephant 
it is that providentially becomes our kitchen gardener in 
the wilds. Remember, or you have missed the point, 
the last and nearest patch of cultivation we have left far 
away East along the Luapula, yet here, hidden in the 
desert — can I believe even one of my five senses? — 
like a vision from heaven we emerge on a glorious surprise 
of green pumpkins that eye of man never saw — an " ele- 
phant garden," they call this green Goshen. For one 
measureless moment I could not believe my eyes — 
elephants, the notorious robbers of green crops, now 
paying back the human-kind in their own stolen vege- 
tables. Yet how easy and elementary the explanation. 
Hundreds of miles away, along the green banks of 
Luapula, a band of these rogues had raided the squash 
gardens in the moonlight ; then, having cleared out the 
field, off they rush for the forest, far, far from the 
dwellings of man. But however excellent Jumbo's 



K A VANG A: GATES OF THE MORNING 381 

digestion, tliese obstinate pumpkin seeds would — well, 
would not digest, hence these glorious gardens all from 
stolen fruit. Natural law in the spiritual world, verily. 

At night in the woods we built a large fire, a mighty 
roarer five feet high, fed with logs eight feet long. The 
great blaze flares through the night, and at daybreak we 
slink out, in the raw morning air, to rub our fingers at 
this all-night (and all-right) blaze. But we soon find 
that these parts are alive with tsetse, so the only way 
to avoid their tormenting sting is to go off in the moon- 
light, travelling six hours — not per day, but per night. 
High in the west hangs the monster moon as white as a 
new half-crown. But our path, remember, is fringed 
with an endless grove of trees, and the moon weirdly 
throws their sharp black shadows on the ground. 
Peeping out from these ghostly traceries of trees, we 
guess here and there the tiny ribbon of trail hardly 
hinting its presence, and this elusive little path is our 
precious all. Only eighteen inches wide though it be, 
it is a sure guarantee of real standing ground, every- 
where else a mass of shags and jags. Newcomers laugh 
at it, call it "the corkscrew," " crooky-crooky," and 
other naughty names ; but in later years the man who 
ought to know is he who " bikes " it. What, a " bike " 
in such a tangle ? Yes, why not ? Hypercritical as he 
is forced to be, he is pledged to praise it with a reason ! 
For, nota bene, the negro and the cyclist are bound in 
a common bond of horror lest they puncture their 
double Dunlop tyres, the negro's bare toes being as 



382 THINKING BLACK 

perfect a pneumatic tube as the cyclist's. So, when 
that bare-footed black tiptoes it through the bush, 
dodging every suspicion of a jag, how unerringly can 
a bike follow where his tender toes have trod ! Thus 
the very serpentine shape of that path is its choicest 
character, for every twist and turn indicates that 
Mr. Negro has dodged a shag or thorn, and how could 
a white man afford time to turn back every blade of 
grass to discover hidden holes and obstacles ? A parable 
all this of our African life — the black man leads, and we 
follow. The best place to prove all this is out West, 
a mere mile out from any European's " station," for he, 
good man, generally scratches a wide road out from his 
gate. And long before a break in the trees shows just 
the peep of his gable, this pioneer road tells of a white 
man ahead. But does your negro use even this new- 
fangled clearing with its almost painful Roman straight- 
ness of aim ? Oh yes, but only in his own old wriggly 
way. There, right in the new road you spy the same 
old twisty trail, a path within a path, a circle within a 
square ; the African still dictating to the white man, 
still utilising him up to a certain point and then throw- 
ing him over. Parable, indeed, for is not the negro's 
way of walking like his way of working? Plays with 
us and our methods, taking just what suits him, rejecting 
all the rest. 

The 26th of June is our third day of this kind of 
thing, and the facts and the philosophy of the situation 
alike point to a new enemy attacking us in the honey- 



KAVANGA : GATES OF THE MORNING 383 

bird. Our meal-bags depleted, the bewitching cry of 
this bird quite disorganises the march, one man after 
another dropping out of line to follow its lead. Finally, 
the percentage of this defection ranges so alarmingly 
from zero to a hundred that we call a halt for stragglers, 
as it is extremely dangerous to lose sight of one another 
in this wilderness. To your great surprise and greater 
indignation, one, two, even three hours pass in waiting ; 
man after man dropping in with a lordly gift of whitest 
honey and a pleading, propitiatory smile to atone for his 
crime. (" Own up and pay up," remember, is the forest 
rule.) Would gladly buy for instant, indignant use some 
of that wax Ulysses stuffed into the ears of his sailors 
to pass the Sirens safely. Now it is you resolve never, 
never more to enter on such a ruinous game of travel 
as this "heads — I win, tails — you lose" groping and 
guessing in pathless bush. Oh, those shameful hours of 
fret ! fret ! fret ! Did not John Wesley say, " I have 
no more right to fret than I have to curse and swear " ? 
Surely this is the kind of facetious forest described by 
Gordon Gumming as a forest of fish-hooks relieved here 
and there with a patch of penknives. 

One sight I saw there, far from human ken,, and 
never shall I forget it — a sort of glimpse away back at 
prehistoric m'an. As far as cold ink can do it, let me tell 
you what I saw — a theme this for blinding tears. There, 
leaping about from tree to tree, exactly like a monkey, 
was a horrible human being stark naked. A poor woman 
this who had lived nearly all her days as an animal 



384 THINKING BLACK 

amongst animals, the bony fingers like talons of a hawk 
being all the weapons of her forest warfare. The body 
cunningly coloured like the grey bark of the trees in 
which she lived, you can scarcely for a moment locate 
her, until you catch sight of the black eyes gleaming like 
coals of fire. Then comes a shriek followed by a fierce 
cataract of what the natives call *' monkey curses " 
{Mafinge akorowe), and ofi" she springs from tree to tree, 
twisting her face into a grotesque sneer. She has 
forgotten how to speak wdth human modulation and can 
only screech, a literal proof this of the Spanish saying, 
" Live with wolves and you will learn to howl." Then 
a snatch of curious song reaches us from the top of one 
of the highest trees, a song-dirge containing a half-hint 
that she was rebel against her race, with a reason : — 

"The black stork croaked into the town 
A truth that made the folk all frown ; 
'Twas a message weighted with grief : 
•The Earth is God's: man's a thief!'" 

She had fled the dwellings of man, poor soul, driven mad 
by the injustice of her own tribe, not a human being now, 
but the " black stork " roosting on branches and shouting 
in rebellion against man the robber, ** The Earth is 
God's : man's a thief." Here is a proof, surely, that 
insanity is often only the logic of an accurate and 
overtaxed mind. Even the tough blacks with me nearly 
wept at this sight of sorrow ; and one old philosopher, 
after a solemn and dignified pinch of snuff", said, " Truly 
the human race is only a huge beehive : we, the human 



KAVANGA: GATES OF THE MORNING 385 

bees, go in at the same door, but we don't sleep in the 
same rooms." Nor did this old orator doubt that God 
would visit her tormentors even in this life with condign 
punishment for their evil deeds. Only he was careful 
to explain how this judgment might not come. " They 
will not," said he, " become mad, but they may become 
too wise, for God sees to it that those who steal bananas 
must pay for them in honey." Rather like what Anne 
of Austria said : " God does not pay at the end of every 
day, my Lord Cardinal, but at the end God pays." Or 
to mix metaphors a bit. Here we have the old error, 
that because the lightning zigzags it does not know 
where to strike. These leafy bowers, though, were 
palatial compared with the cold ant-bear burrows this 
poor woman slept in when the forest was aflame with 
lightning heralding wild torrents of rain, her only diet 
raw wild ants and rawer snakes. There in that living 
tomb of clammy clay she passed the wild weather, a 
curious watch-dog contrivance being the capturing of a 
jackal (Mumhulu) which she tied as sort of sentry to the 
mouth of her lair. 

" Oh, dwarfed and wronged and stained with sin. 
Behold ! thou art a woman still ! 
And by that sacred name and dear, 
I bid thy better self appear." 

Cringing forward conciliatingly in her direction, I 
tried to edge nearer, but no good ! The least suspicion 
of my approach made her frantic, and off she sprang from 
branch to branch like a wild thing. Fail though I did, 



386 THINKING BLACK 

like a stinging whip-lash to the conscience came the 
thought that we might have saved her had we been only 
in the country in time. 

The pathless forest breaks occasionally, and for a 
stretch of three hours or so you see it thinning out ; not 
now the dense dark thing of the morning, but dotted 
over with large acacias, mimosas, and Euphorbias. A 
curious example of the grotesque in vegetation, these 
candelabra top each sugar-loaf ant-hill with the humor- 
ous hint that after sundown they will be lit up as forest 
lamps. The stiff spokes have the insidious suggestion 
that they were artificially hammered out of bronze, and, 
child of the desert as this tree is, surely the Taber- 
nacle "pattern" (Ex. xxv. 9) lampstand was moulded 
therefrom ? What suggests this most forcibly is the odd 
Borassus palm here and there towering in the background 
of these same Euphorbias. Here at least we know 
where we are. Did not this very ventricose palm pose 
as the mason's model for the swollen column of the 
ancient temples of Egypt ? And is not Egypt the door 
of Africa? The Hall of Columns, for instance, of Seti i., 
what is it but only so many Borassus palms petrified in 
a row? The same thing this as the Greeks modelling 
their porticoes and peristyles from the date palm. If, 
however, these candelabras hint at the bizarre in Nature, 
farther on we encounter the tragic. Monster cobra-like 
Lianas hold giant trees of great girth in their death- 
grip, the victims in every case nearly strangled, and 
holding out pale, pathetic arms, preaching to us as we 



KAVANGA: GATES OF THE MORNING 387 

pass. Was ever parable so eloquent of sin strangling the 
soul? 

On and on you forge, the tiny track left behind 
scarcely making any impression on the stubborn grass. 
Dare to drop your penknife, compass, or anything, and 
never was needle in haystack so hopelessly lost. Yet 
even here your negro is an eye-opener, and once again the 
gulf is seen to yawn between white and black, between 
Mr. Know Nothing and Mr. Know All. Watch what 
happens. You make a dive into your pocket for — say, 
— your compass, and lo, the conviction stabs you that 
it is lost Very vaguely, somewhere away back in that 
maze of forest it fell to the ground — nay, not the ground, 
for that, too, is almost as lost as your compass below the 
thick tangle of undergrowth. Yet here is a lynx-eyed 
group of blacks actually daring to describe that hopeless 
maze of country for miles far to the rear. They know 
that forest as though they had planted it. As though they 
had planted it ! Shooting back in memory to the last point 
where the compass was in use, there they are chattering out 
an astoundingly intimate description of that mad tangle, 
tale of twists, loops, and detours. Precisely as a London 
policeman lecturing Hodge ticks off on his fingers the 
requisite number of streets he must pass in order to reach 
the British Museum, so too with these negro blood- 
hounds and their topsy-turvy forest. Now only a blurred 
and exasperating memory to Mr. Musungu, here you 
have them stringing it off like so many London streets. 
This sort of thing : '* Yes, back to that last ant-hill, not 



388 THINKING BLACK 

the minaret-shaped one but the dome. Then beyond 
that, the calabash tree with the broken arm. Farther 
back now to the sycamore with the hollow in the trunk, 
the hollow one (N.B.) and not its brother at the 
side. Beyond that again the clump of bamboos in 
the dip — yes, the same clump in which the guinea- 
fowls rose." And so in thought away you go, back, 
far back through that tangle, the native having 
made a mental cinematograph of the intricate twists 
and turns as he passed : trees, grasses, hollows, and 
stones all assorted and ticketed in the archives of the 
black brain. 

Who will say summarily and simply what all this 
"thinking black" means? Wherefore these superacute 
senses of the raw bush negro ? Here is the African's own 
answer as scratched down in my note-book from his own 
lips, the third person singular being originally in the 
narrative nominative. True to the Roman saying that 
there is always something new coming out of Africa, the 
negroes here pretend to have made the great discovery of 
the ages — a sixth sense. This they call Chumfo, and 
sure am I it reveals a whole continent of undiscovered 
negro character. Why is it this negro can smell his way 
along? Why is it a black man miles away can get 
wind of your doings ? What is it that silently tells him 
all the mixed motives of things, their why's and their 
wherefore's ? Why is it that two can only keep a secret 
in Africa when one of them is dead ? Answer : The 
mighty sixth sense. But what is this sense No. 6 ? As 



KAVANGA : GATES OF THE MORNING 389 

a matter of fearful fact, here we have something very 
serious. What is it ? The negro answer is that the so- 
called sixth sense is only the lightning collapse of all the 
senses into a sudden instinctive unit : not 5 + 1 = 6, but 
5 = 1. This away at the dawn of cognition is their 
definition of what we call instinct. Instinct, that is to 
say, is the whole five senses collapsed into that unit of 
sensation which may be represented by the formula : 5 = 1. 
Now, it is this unity of savage soul that accounts for the 
marvels of the bush life. He can smell his way. He is 
all alacrity. His wisdom is not syllogistic but unconscious. 
Those five gateways of the soul we call "senses" are 
wide open to Nature, and the " marconigrams " stream in 
as divergent Five to collapse at once into convergent One. 
Ask him to argue the point and he would smile : arguing 
is the five-senses side of the subject ; at the centralised 
one-sensorium he only knows. This, too, is the reason of 
the sanctity of all dear " grandmother " philosophy among 
the sons of men, for " Granny " does not argue the point 
a la J. S. Mill. She lets Mill patrol the five gateways 
outside, knowing that they all radiate in on her central 
point of instinct : — 

"I do not like thee, Dr. Fell, 
The reason why I cannot tell." 

Mill would have voted for Dr. Fell and proved him 
lovable : " Granny kens muckle mair." And thus the last 
is first, mere logic beaten by instinct ; for in God Most 
High have we not the apotheosis of instinct? The 

24 



390 THINKING BLACK 

Divine Omniscience being intuitive and independent of 
logic certainly partakes rather of the nature of instinct 
than of reason. True for you, Dr. Holmes : You can hire 
logic, in the shape of a lawyer, to prove anything you 
want to prove. 



CHAPTER XX 
"Great White Lake" 



"Where the sand has drunk hot tears 
From the brimming eyes of millions 
Through the long ungracious years." 



The tired Lake crawls along the beach 
Sobbing a wordless sorrow to the moon. 



"Gone down the tide: 
And the long moonbeam in the hard wet sand 
Lay like a jasper column half-upreared." 



CHAPTER XX 

« Great White Lake " 

T N which there devolve on the reader 

the duty and delight of daring the 

first crossing of Lake Mweru in dug-outs. 

LA US DEO, this longest lane in all our wanderings 
lias its glad turning on the 27th of the month. 
With a great gush of gratitude, we fell in with- 
a tiny tell-tale track gradually growing more defined as 
it led us out through a dense forest, thick with the lordly 
Ficus Indica and the larger acacia. White with blossom 
these latter were, as though holding high festival, the 
forest jubilant. Emerging at last, we look down on 
Mulangadi's far-stretching sorghum plantations lying in 
the rich valley of loam watered by the Lwizi. "Well 
done ! " everybody shouts as we realise the real extent of 
these sorghum fields, the white tops waving visible as far 
as the eye can see. What a cheering coup d'ceil for 
famished men 1 Mrs. Experience in Africa is, no doubt, 
the best because the only teacher, but I regret this 
excellent school dame always asks such terribly high fees. 
When will one learn even her A B C of expert travel ? 

893 



394 THINKING BLACK 

We broke another old law of African exploration which 
insists that when the last stream is reached you should 
cross and camp. on the off bank; and here is our penalty 
this morning, for the Lufukwe has burst in the night, carry- 
ing away bridges and destroying the cornfields. Moral : 
In Africa, to-day's " won't " is to-morrow's " cannot," and 
now what shall we do in the swelling of Jordan, how shall 
we negotiate the crossing of this turbulent tributary? 
Well, somehow or other, after two hours' swimming and 
battling back and forward, nobody distinctly remembering 
how, we get over at last. Shall always remember the 
little boys bobbing about in the turgid water, frantic all 
of them with cold. Two went swirling down-stream like 
bits of cork and were nearly drowned. Pushing on, we 
reach a hamlet and get the meeting of the week at a most 
unlikely place. 

The Chief, a Sanga hunter of great prowess, I found in 
the hands of his wives, who sat in affectionate proximity 
to their lord, doing up his hair into a most fantastic 
coiffure. Purring away like a big black tom-cat on 
having his fur smoothed the right way by a skilful hand, 
his funny face looked out on me from a forest of hair. 
And by way of a looking-glass he, feeling immeasurably at 
peace with mankind, occasionally cast vain regards into a 
large bowl of water that, he said, *' shadowed " his black 
beauty. Well, this big, vain, soft-hearted fellow, if not 
vulnerable himself, led us out again and again in the 
Gospel ; and there was the Chief Kapwasa from up-stream, 
just over his shoulder, taking it all in. But truth is not 



"GREAT WHITE LAKE" 395 

ours to pare and bate down, so they had to get it — the 
Evangel of a heaven above and a hell below. This Chief 
dances round about me with boisterous cordiality, his sole 
word of greeting being " I ! I ! " A poor enough welcome 
if he knew it, for is it not excellent Latin for " Depart ! 
make yourself scarce " ? Away back to Adam, I am their 
first white skin, and the most complimentary description 
of our lobster-like integument is this : " The skin of a 
baby," It gets more serious, however, this pigment 
puzzle, but the final decision is benighted enough : " God," 
say they, " must have passed through Africa in the dark 
and did not see us properly, but when He reached you 
whites it was light, so He did not miss any of you. Ye 
are sons of the day." The same idea this as when the 
Chief, desiring to let me know I was very clever, said, 
pointing to the solar angle, " Yes, you were born at half- 
past seven in the morning ! " a dense negro being told 
that he was born at twelve o'clock midnight. Contrari- 
wise, the negro having been made in the darkness, some 
of the night got worked into the composition of his body, 
so, black is he born and black he behaves. This twist 
West, though, is a detour, and we must again head for the 
East. 

Mweru, the " Great White Lake " as it is called, 
is still some distance ofi*, yet here it is a surprise sheet 
of water flashes out from among the trees in the North 
— Lake Musengeshi this, and a discovery. Sailed round 
it in dug-outs ; took soundings all over ; mapped it by 
prismatic and watch, and baptized the thing "Mary 



396 THINKING BLACK 

Lake " — Mary for my mother and Lake for itself. Almost 
as big as Lake Dilolo, a curious thing about this hidden 
lacustrine gem is that it is only thirty years old, a sort 
of glorified lagoon, and born in a night The mother 
Lake is Mweru; but one mysterious year the Luapula 
swept a fearful flood into the Lake, the water rising so 
high that it leapt the low ridge of hills at the South 
end, drowning the inhabitants and roaring out its shame 
into the basin of this future Lake. Thus Mweru paid 
for it all in creating a small rival, the assuaging waters, 
land-choked, being, so to put it, forced to open shop 
as a private firm, Mary Lake the new signboard. 
Signboard, I mean in the literal sense, for half-way 
on into the Lake we sighted a giant tree of dense 
foliage, and there in the bark we cut out the four 
letters of the new name, a memorial to all generations. 
Pushing on now, we breast its low girding hills, and 
liere is the real thing at last, a wide world of water. 
Known to the mob as Mweru, this Lake really boasts of 
the " boa-constrictor " title " Mwerumukatamuvundanshe," 
for in Africa must not a big thing have a big name ? 

We billeted at a fishing kraal, an aged, ill-smelling 
place, owned jby an aged, ill-smelling man, the person 
probably Shakespeare described as having " a very ancient, 
fish-like smell." Shook his head a hundred times before 
I was done with him : could not make me out at all 
at all, and seemed very sure I was as bad as mad. 
Nevertheless, his heart was better than his head, for 
in order that his hospitality might incur no reproach 



"GREAT WHITE LAKE " 397 

he presented me with two fowls — two formidably fat 
fowls, and may I be as fit to die as they were. The 
dear old Gospel had a poor reception — rousing rejection 
rather. Told him I had come to allure to brighter 
worlds and lead the way, and he hinted that I might 
take my way and clear, then his, oh ! his would be a 
brighter world. The question is a fair one whether 
I did not antagonise my old friend with a too abrupt 
mode of preaching and failure to polish down the 
asperities of speech. We live and we learn, I trust, 
and the greatest of all lessons in Africa is wisdom to 
adapt the ''how" to the "when." Alas, as you will 
see, subsequent complications proved too sadly that he 
had every right not merely to snarl at but to shoot 
me. And thereby hangs my tale. 

As though divining my thoughts, this old man 
turned the tables by starting the oldest wrangle in 
Africa — given canoes hidden in the reeds, and an 
impatient traveller, to find the "how" and the "when" 
of your voyage. 

All my men, poor landlubbers from the Western 
plains, refuse resolutely even to think this trans-Lake 
venture. Looking out disconsolate at Mweru, they recall 
their own Lufira ditch and see here the skies coming 
down to open and swallow the black specks of canoes. 
Po pa pera dikumbi they call it, "Where the firma- 
ment ends," and they argue that if the sky ends there, 
man must end earlier. " Why, I ask you, by a threefold 
why (Patatu), should we dare this voyage ? " said one 



398 THINKING BLACK 

of these solemn-faced sacrifices about to be offered up. 
With no book but nature, every little picture is to the 
negro Christian a parable ; and here again, looking out 
on this vast expanse of skyline, you get some more of 
his " thinking black " philosophy. He has been shut 
in all his life to the plains, never saw such a pitiless 
waste of waters. He looks, and looks, then a dreamy 
thought comes into his eye and he sighs, " Ah yes ! 
what a tragedy that we humans can see far farther than 
we can walk ! " In other words — how little our life agrees 
with our lip ! How little our word squares with our deed ! 
To top all my trouble, yonder is Kilwa Island lying 
off in mid-Lake, the robber's den from which this Arab 
Shimba launches his bolts. Darting about like black 
ducks, you can see his scout-canoes patrolling the Lake, 
and the problem now stands how to slip past these 
lynx-eyed blacks and cross Mweru. The very dirt on 
my calico coat (a thing my boy tailored for me) is now 
a boon, for one startling speck of white in a canoe 
would tell tales. Remember, we have Arabs behind us 
as well as Arabs in front, and, as Lord Macaulay puts 
it, " Those behind cry * Forward,' and those in front 
cry 'Back.'" Therefore, on we agree to go, and God 
be with us on the waters ! 

Dawn of the 4th of July saw us shooting out into 
the hot and oily waters of an uncharted sea, Mweru 
at this end describing many strange curvatures quite 
unknown to the R.G.S. Capes, bays, and deltas all 
foreign to the map, yet old-fashioned enough to the 



"GREAT WHITE LAKE " 399 

negroes. My cook can turn a phrase as neatly as he 
turns a pancake, and on taking in this vastitude of 
skyline he said, "Who ever fought successfully with 
Grod ? He killeth even aristocrats." Yesterday we were 
in the grips of revolt — no, never, never more to agree. 
Here we are to-day kinsmen dear, bound in the common 
bond of fear that the Arabs may nab us. I felt then 
more than I had ever felt before the essential kinship 
of men. Clouds of water-fowl rose on our approach, so 
dense that blindly banging with a No. 12 we bring 
them down freely. A spur- wing goose so falling nearly 
killed one of my men, the point of spur being a terrible 
dagger, and quite serious enough to brain a black at one 
blow. The estuaries, however, are the certain postal 
address of Mweru birds of every hue, and from far 
and near the congeries flock to a glorious dress parade. 
To commit that bit of bright-coloured scenery to paper 
would be impossible, the thing is all too grand and 
elusive. Pelicans, grey, white, and salmon-pink with 
yellow pouches — as serious as a sermon; whistling tree- 
ducks, black and white, zebra-barred and chestnut ; dainty 
lily-trotters, black and white, golden yellow, chocolate 
brown ; bronze-green cormorants and black darters ; 
kingfishers, crowned cranes, curlews, sandpipers. Ibis 
religiosa, spur-winged plovers with yellow wattles, black 
water-rails with lemon beaks and white pencillings ; 
herons galore, large grey herons, purple slate ditto, 
Goliath ditto. Last, not least — yea, king of all, the rosy 
jOiamingo, rare as royal, and peeping selectly out above 



400 THINKING BLACK 

the papyrus. One of these birds I cannot place, Nseva 
they call it, and they flock so thickly that they are 
a proverb for a united phalanx of patriots. Runic rhyme 
this proverb, and Englished thus : — 

"A thousand Nseva rise at once, 
Each one refusing precedence." 

Any one of an arithmetical turn of mind, I invite to 
consider carefully the following figures indicative of the 
thickness of this flock — at one bang 114 (one hundred 
and fourteen) fell to the right barrel of a Greener. 

Most wonderful of all, some far-travelled storks are 
there, daring birds that have shot far down from the 
North :— 

"Wild birds that change 
Their season in the night, and wail their way 
From cloud to cloud down the long wind." 

Feeding on snakes, frogs, and fish as staple diet, the long 
Southward journey gives them an en route chance of a 
crab here, a shrimp there. In hard times, where sterile 
stretches of desert must be crossed, their crop and stomach 
are crammed full of shells. It would seem a wild ex- 
aggeration to suggest that these storks ever saw Egypt, 
but not far East from here the whole truth of migration 
came out. True, a bird cannot talk, but what if one day it 
brings a letter, to wit, a light metal ring bearing a number 
and date fastened to one leg ? And what if the said 
ring proclaims the said stork to have been liberated away 
up in North Germany ? The ounce of avoirdupois fact 



"GKEAT WHITE LAKE' 401 

contained in this metallic message dangling from the dead 
stork's leg is surely worth the ton of scientific fiction 
written on this subject of migratory birds — yes, Prussia 
is the name on the ring, and 5th July the date thereof. 
There is another link, too, in this story, and that im- 
mensely important as indicating the actual stork-route 
into Africa. For, be it known, this stork had a brother- 
bird released from Northern Germany in the same July 
with the same metallic data. But he, poor bird, is not 
made of steel and was shot in Tunis, just as he was 
entering on the Great African panorama — a needless 
death seemingly, yet how necessary as a link in our chart 
of bird-migration ! For here we see what really happened. 
Sailing South out of Prussia, full speed ahead, over Bavaria 
they go, over the Lake of Constance, South, ever South, 
until the Alps are cleared. Leaving the Adriatic far on 
the left, down into Lombardy they dart, right over 
Florence and out into the Mediterranean with stately 
beating pinions. Africa is now ahead, the land of sun, 
sand, and surprises beckoning them on, but Tunis sees the 
death of Stork No. 1. (Alas, man and stork alike, how 
often, Africa, hast thou killed a new arrival with one 
such brutal knock-down blow ! ) But Stork No. 2 knows a 
thing or two, and he plans a route far from gunshot 
range ; nothing less than the taking of Africa in its 
longitudinal length, and sailing serenely down the middle. 
Not many shot-guns there, quoth Mr. Stork. So there 
he starts on his long African journey, fifty solid degrees 
of latitude ahead. Out of Europe into Tripoli, out of 



402 THINKING BLACK 

Tripoli into the Libyan desert : sand, only sand, rolling 
like a sea ; sun, only sun, parching and pitiless. Think, 
now, this weary Libyan, the only water in wells, and the 
only wells far and farther between. Think, more desert 
and vaster, for now he enters the Sahara, where enemies 
of the air begin as well as enemies of sun and thirst. 
But still he sails on, sleeping in a salt marsh one night, 
roosting up a yellow acacia tree the next ; but oh, what 
joy when he reaches a lake ! So fond of a bath is the 
good fellow, he sometimes goes to sleep up to his knees in 
water ; in high icy lands they are often taken out in the 
morning, frozen in all night. Still South to the sun he 
comes, crossing over a branch of the Nile and sailing over 
the pigmy forest ; but we are all pigmies to Master Stork, 
so high in the air is he, so low down are we. And now 
he is nearing us, for away to the East he can spy the blue 
Tanganyika, while to the West the great Congo twists 
and turns like a great water-snake. Through these two 
he comes, and away far below he can see a curl of blue 
smoke from a passing village ; sometimes spies a group of 
hunters out in the wilds cutting up game ; sometimes, too, 
he sees a lion kill a zebra. And now here is another 
expanse of blue stretching out to receive him, for what 
is this but old Mweru with our chimney smoking 
away on the Luanza cliff? But the end is not yet. 
Veering S.E., he heads for his doom, and one crack 
from a shot-gun ends it all, life's panorama done for ever 
— story ended, stork ended in a flutter of flying feathers 
thus !!!!!!!!!! 



"GREAT WHITE LAKE " 403 

But let us continue our voyage. Gliding past 
these birds, a huge aviary that beggars all description, 
on and on we fare; then somebody spies certain 
suspicious specks of black far out to sea — Shimba's 
scouts, probably. At this point there is much ambiguous 
whispering, then a mild mutiny breaks out as to whether 
we dare push on. Ten, twenty, and thirty minutes pass, 
and now the black hulls of the canoes are seen bearing 
down on us for all the world like tiny torpedo-boats : the 
leading log makes straight for my boat, a miniature 
replica of the old sailor's print of the Arethusa bearing 
up to engage the Belle Poule. But it is a mere scare : 
these are Arab scouts who sail up quite close, offering the 
Fontenoy privilege of first shot, then, having verified 
who and where we are, away they dart back to report at 
headquarters in the island. The result of that encounter 
was as sad and sorry a thing for me as could well happen. 
For when Shimba saw that we had given him the slip he 
swore a sudden vengeance, put to sea with a flotilla of 
dug-outs, cut across Lake to my old fisher-friend who 
grudgingly gave me the canoes yesterday, burned his 
village to the ground and dragged him off in chains. 
Not much cause for congratulation here : my visit has 
been a visitation — see, away in the distance the village 
in flames ! Can you wonder at that old man for years 
and years shooting an envenomed glance at the very 
mention of my name? What a monstrous enigma it 
must have seemed to him, my preaching of peace and 
claiming to be an ambassador thereof, whereas the net 



404 THINKING BLACK 

amount of peace we brought to that poor town was — fire 
and sword, and the old patriarch dragged off in chains. 
True, we had outwitted Shimba, but what a fly in the 
ointment ! 

Happily, this cut-throat soon finds out he has gone 
a little too far, for an escaped fisherman runs away 
West with the tidings, and after nearly a week's journey 
bursts in on the Belgian Fort with a haggard and agonised 
look to tell the tale. Now it is Commandant Verdickt 
dares a deed that proves him to be the bravest of the 
brave. Following in our wake, he strikes the Lake at 
the same South end, crosses over to Kilwa Island in 
crazy canoes with a handful of men, and dares to try 
to carry the Arabs' stone fort by storm. Forlorn hope ! 
Himself in loud white jacket, a target for the elephant- 
hunters, one of his traitor soldiers dares to wipe off" an 
old score with his own corporal, killing him from the 
rear. This means, of course, a pitiful stampede, and 
poor Verdickt, after living a charmed life, is nearly 
drowned on the return journey. But the veil that 
hides the future in Africa is indeed woven by the hand 
of mercy, for had we known, dared we move? The 
way of man is not in himself, and here is our harmless 
little journey spelling out blood, blood, and yet more 
blood. 

On and on we sail, blissfully ignorant of it all, our 
second day on the Lake giving promise of surprises. 
The old canoe-man is a marvel, talking all the way 
pettingly to his log ; calling it by its baptismal name, 



"GREAT WHITE LAKE " 405 

and forbidding any man aboard to whistle, lest lie 
bring the wind. The poise of this paddler is a marvel, 
his stroke so rhythmic and sure that he can carry on 
for hours without making a false move. Late in 
the afternoon we see symptoms of approach to land ; 
not mainland, however, but rather a large unknown 
island answering to the terse euphonious name of 
"Tangled Isle" (Disokwe). Beyond this we sight the 
real East shore, finally grounding among the reeds at 
Lukanga. Stiff as buckram, we spring out of our 
cramped-up canoes, and fall into Livingstone's old trail 
when he came up to see Mwonga : the Doctor's compass 
and watch survey is delightfully accurate ; has a look 
of plod about it. Heading North towards Kalungwizi, 
we foot it many a weary mile. Then one glad day I 
hear the tootling of an old cracked bugle, and, at last, 
through the trees, across the flashing water, behold, 
a bunch of ribbons, once the dear Jack of Old England ! 
All that follows in quick delirious succession is marked 
on my mind with vivid distinctness, a memory for life. 
Run down the slope with the innocent joy-bells of my 
heart ringing, and drop into a canoe : far too excitedly, 
though, for we get nearly drowned in the turbulent 
crossing. Then, as in a dream, a white man, eyes dancing 
with delight, grips my hand, and we can scarcely utter 
a word — he from the Indian Ocean and I from the 
Atlantic. Thus West and East join hands. This, be 
it known, is one Bainbridge vice Kidd, who died before 
my arrival — the same poor Bainbridge who was to die a 



406 THINKING BLACK 

few days after I left him. With all our many months' 
hoardings of enforced reticence, did we sleep that night ? 
No ! we talked the sun up. Sitting inside the snug 
bastions of the Fort, the soldiers bring a pile of faggots, 
and there we splice the two ends of our East and West 
cables, comparing notes. Only representative of his 
Queen, there he is, day by day, looking off into our 
wild unknown Interior, two big business-looking revolvers 
ever lying on his table, and full of forebodings. Gazing 
moodily over at our terra incognita, little does he guess 
I am " boring out" to join him. 

A few weeks ago his chief had been buried in the 
grave hard by our fire, and — he is to follow suit in a 
week. The poor fellow pours out his soul into the night ; 
for, burdened with responsibility, he is now a miniature 
edition of Great Britain in breeches, the death sentence 
in his power, and he too, alas ! in the power of the death 
sentence. Kinder to me than a kinsman dear, he — the 
same man who in England would have treated me to 
d stony British stare — he, even he, had mercy on my 
limping along in old slippers in the rain. Gave me a 
shirt, gave me hose, gave me medicines. Miniature 
edition of Great Britain indeed, he not only represented 
England's Army and Navy, but, quite unconscious of 
the inroads I was making on his slender stock of supplies, 
I fear I treated him as though he were an agent of the 
other Army and Navy — Victoria Street ! 

But it is only past midnight under the solemn stars 
you get past the outer fringe of things, right home to 



" GREAT WHITE LAKE " 407 

the soul of a man. Loneliness is at his heart like a 
knife, and now is the time to push the right royal claims 
of the Lord Jesus Christ. Far too long have good folks 
in England sheered off delicately when these subjects 
are approached, but only by facing them can we con- 
ceive what a trap Africa is to a newcomer. Arriving as 
many young men do in this land wholly unawakened 
to the graver issues of life, the first glance they get 
amounts to a moral slap in the face. Perchance even 
the scarce Missionary he meets is of a sour, mournful 
type, who has missed a glorious deed of helping this 
newcomer. Too often it is a fact that this Africa robs 
a Christian man of his victor's song and leaves him a 
broken-spirited jumble of distraction. But the fact is, a 
mere Missionary in Africa is lost in its vast mileage, 
a poor pin-point in the immensity, and the lonely 
Europeans are long miles apart. Then he wakens up 
to find what an elegant fiction is that loose talk in 
England about the joys and manliness of a " man being 
alone on his own feet." Fleeing from cities and the 
" fight for bread " of congested towns, he soon discovers 
the value of dear old English ways. Even the starchy 
fads of fashion are seen in a new and almost favourable 
light. At sundown his thoughts, like homing pigeons, 
travel fast and far across the seas to his native land. 
He dreams of the old dainties and decencies of life 
and longs to be there. He drops that nonsense about 
a clerk in an English office being " chained to his oar-pen 
like a galley-slave." Finally and comprehensively he 
25 



408 THINKING BLACK 

sums up a hundred African needs in the dear old phrase, 
" the thin crust of conventionality." Then it is England's 
boy shrinks suddenly into himself, the awakening being 
rude and poignant. Nor dare a Missionary, who serves 
the God Whose name is Jealous, be silent, for He hath 
cursed the man who " winketh with the eye." Gentle- 
men, to ignore is to wink, and thus to palliate, so 
"suffer the word of exhortation." 



CHAPTER XXI 
A Page of History 



" Father Nile presents his compliments . . . and 
begs leave to inform the world that the Father, at 
the suggestion of the Reverend David Livingstone, 
has removed his head-quarters to a delightful region 
[Lake Mweru] about eleven degrees South of the 
Equator, or Equinoxious line, where for the present 
he is to be found by his friends. Carriages to set 
down at Cazembe, a couple of hundred miles or so 
South of Burton's Lake Tanganyika. N.B. You are 
heartily welcome to any refreshments which you may 
bring with you. Niggers about here don't need to 
be shot." Mr. Punch, 1869. 



"Cartographers in Afric's maps 
With savage pictures fill the gaps. 
And o'er the inhospitable downs 
Place elephants instead of towns." 



CHAPTER XXI 

A Page of History 

Tyf/' HSR 6 IN the reader^ now in 
glimmer now in gloom^ watches 
these negroes work out their destiny in the 
darkness. 

AND now, having " bored " out East, let us take our 
bearings : where are we ? 

In this all-encompassing gloom it is vital that 
you fasten on one fact : by so reaching the shores of Lake 
Mweru, we now see a faint streak of light shooting up 
from Lake Nyassa and along the Tanganyika plateau. 
Like a beacon light visible at sea from far, we strain our 
gaze towards Nyassa, gladdened to know that yonder is 
God's lighthouse of Livingstonia, shining true. And 
lighthouse, remember, is the true metaphor to symbolise 
Dr. Laws' work out there ; lighthouses do not ring bells 
and fire cannon to call attention to their shining, they 
just shine on. Likewise Livingstonia. Nor are our 
Eastern hopes futile. For many a day that transport 
link with Chinde succours us, albeit the real route of the 
far future is due South to the Cape. 



412 THINKING BLACK 

Will my good-natured reader again let me write in 
the first person singular ? for the next link in our story 
is the day when we came round the North shore, a 
white man and a 'handful of blacks. The date is 
November, 1893. We have crossed the Lake in canoes 
and are now heading back Westward, seeking for a 
Mission site on the Eastern edge of our Garenganze 
country. My crew and I go to sleep curled up on the 
sand of the North shore of Lake Mweru : that is to say, 
when sleep comes our way. In the white horses roll 
foaming, almost getting at us, and the African lets a 
long-tongued flame from the faggots lick his skin. As 
the wind increases its whistle, each of the fisher-lads 
quietly scoops a grave of dry sand into which he de- 
scends, sweeping back a few inches depth of sand by way 
of blanketing. Huddled thus all in a heap, oh the 
confidential chats we have ! Natives, I find, like you to 
poke into their little histories, and generally the most 
ordinary-looking little boy has a career of crosses. One 
lad of sixteen said that when a boy he used to hear of 
God far East among the Romanists, but his family 
crossed into English land, and, said the boy, " Who ever 
heard of God among the English ? " But against this put 
the remark of a young Roman Catholic pupil as he pointed 
to his brass crucifix : " Yes, I wear God round my neck." 
Our appeal to a man to break with the dark tribal past 
only evoked a song about potatoes, which I construed as 
indiff'erence. On reducing the song to writing, however, 
it was not noisy, empty doggerel, but a preaching parable 



LUANZA 

The Mission Town built on the Cliff 

overhanging Lake Mweru. 



r>' 






m 


■li:* 



W^ 












A PAGE OF HISTORY 413 

of my appeal. Said the song : " Lombe, you remember, 
introduced potatoes, and what was reckoned poison is now 
staple diet." This is their way of expressing my desire. 
Yes, they treat the Gospel as though it would poison 
them ! But who would have guessed that a man singing 
about potatoes was really pleading for an acceptance of 
the Gospel? By the by, this mention of diet reminds 
me of the curious tendency in Africa to enter a long spell 
of monotony in one kind of food. In the mountains you 
are dosed with honey, and in the plains the everlasting 
fowl is your fare right round the clock — ^just a little too 
much of toujours perdrix. So, too, on the Lake here, it 
is fish, and fish, and more fish : — 

"A paddle, a row or sail, 
With always a fish for a midday meal. 
And plenty of Adam's ale." 

Finally, on the North-West shore, near Luanza, we 
made a find of a charming slice of English-looking 
territory, the Chief coming up with a red fez stuck 
impudently on his head, and claiming proprietary rights 
to the soil. He might have been a Duke of twenty 
descents, so tall his talk, so short his stature. Well, 
after long hours of the old parrot cry of "property in 
danger," we finally settled the meum and tuum of the 
thing, and next day was appointed for the delivery of the 
titles. This curious ceremony opened with the angry 
roar of the Chiefs drums that lent themselves to anything 
but dulcet harmonies ; then we all crossed the boundary 
brook and climbed the bluff, a great ring of roaring 



414 THINKING BLACK 

blacks being now formed round a noble tree — " the tree of 
witness " this was called. Here the Chief, nodding affably 
to me, stepped out into the centre of the ring and asked 
me to join him in the " signing of the title-deeds." For 
all I could guess from this ring it might have been a 
prize fight that was planned : can it really be, thought I, 
that instead of settling the matter in black and white, it 
has to be finished in black and blue ? As matters turned 
out, however, our conveyancing ink was Napoleon's kind 
— gunpowder. For, cutting out a large square on the tree, 
the Chief called on me to fire a bullet into the mark ; then, 
with an air of amused paternity, he, with a bang, planted 
his copper bullet alongside my lead one. So there it was, 
" signed, sealed, and delivered," the living tree carrying in 
its bosom the two " witness-bullets," the human ring 
round it a warning to all men that this tree was invio- 
late from the woodman's axe. Postal address : Luanza, 
Lake Mweru via Chinde. The cliff rising sheer from the 
blue Lake, a narrow ledge of flat land for our township, 
the Bukongolo Range walling the town high at the back 
and sheltering it from the wild west winds, that is 
Luanza. The other day, when the present King Albert 
of Belgium came along, we sat on the cliff verandah look- 
ing across to the far British shore, and I asked him what 
he thought of our outlook. " Oh," said he, " here I sit 
imagining myself at Folkestone looking over at Calais." 

w -n^ -7^ 

Here it is, then, on this bluff overhanging Mweru, we 
settle down in the dark to hold on to the country — motto : 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 415 

Work, wait, and win/ To " pioneer," I know, is a word as 
much abused as used, but note what it means to us here. 
The Arabs have wiped off all the hamlets from the map 
and driven the Shila folks to the caves in the Bukongolo 
Range — problem : pioneer a population first of all. Kuva, 
the Lord Paramount, owing to the stress of war, is hiding 
away somewhere in the rocks of Bukongolo, and we must 
fish him out of his cave — problem : pioneer a kingship in 
our need. Here, too, on the cliff there is no trace of 
a village, everything swept before the Arab bands of 
raiders — problem : pioneer a township. Nor hut nor 
tent have I — problem : pioneer a house. Nor food nor 
vegetables nor fruit — problem : pioneer a garden and 
orchard. Nor book nor written speech have they — 
problem : pioneer a literature. Etcetera, etcetera. This 
" etc. etc." representing the needle-to-the-anchor kind of 
business in which you are a jack-of-all-trades and very 
particularly master of none. Too many irons in the fire, 
no doubt, but in they go — shovel, tongs, poker and all. 
We did not come out here to eat bananas, and these are 
the words I wrote in chalk on the first mud walls of my 
pioneer cabin — 

" The compass was not invented by an astronomer, 
Nor the microscope by a natural philosopher, 
'Not the printing press by a man of letters, 
Nor gunpowder by a soldier." 

1 The first to rally to our help at Luanza was Mr. Campbell from the 
West, then Messrs. Arnot and Cobbe from the East. Next came the first 
lady who ever penetrated these wilds, Mrs. Crawford, her party including 
Messrs. Gammon, George, and Pomeroy. After this came the " John Wilson " 



416 THINKING BLACK 

Quite a cheery reflection this for Mr. Robinson Crusoe 
Africanus. 

*: * * 

But who said it was four thousand miles to Old 
England ? Mocking at mere mileage, there goes the 
homely tapping of a woodpecker, each warm-hearted tap ! 
tap ! tap ! hinting that round the next bend of the Lake 
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland may 
come into full view. Nor is this all. Flir-r-r ! goes a 
covey of red-legged partridges trying on the same happy 
hoax, the very birds apologising for the long lapse in 
letters, and sending us these home-felt sights and sounds 
of theirs as substitute. The poor little Mission garden 
is also a policy of make-believe, and resembles Stevens' 
Indian one, the most pathetic thing in a whole land of 
exile. The native trees and shrubs and plants with 
huge leaves flourish rankly. But the poor little home 
flowers, the stocks and mignonette and wallflowers ! 
They struggle so gallantly (like the Mission lady and 
Mission baby) to persuade you that this is not so very 
far from England, and they fail so piteously. They will 
flower in abundant but straggling blossoms, but the fierce 
sun withers the first before the next have more than 
budded. It is a loving fraud, but a hollow one. The 
very wallflowers cannot be more than exiles. Yet here 
in this aff'ectation of a garden you have the pulse of the 

party, the only remaining member of which is Mr. Higgins. Then don't 
forget Miss Jordon ! Both winning and wise, Mr. and Mrs. Higgins have 
held on all these years without release, the last stop-press news being that 
their far-off Luanza liouse has gone up in smoke. 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 417 

whole African puzzle. For granted you battle with and 
win a feeble flower from the silly soil, where is the 
perfume ? And precisely as you sniff in vain for the old 
whiff of the mignonette, even so with the emigrant English- 
man. He too loses his bloom and fragrance, and Africa 
soon robs him of his genial smile. But he that hath 
ears to hear can get a thousand such sermons all over 
Africa, and every day. For instance, learn a parable of 
the fig tree. Glance at those Mission doors, a pioneer 
effort in carpentry. The good fellow made a dive into 
the adjoining jungle, and after felling a fig tree he 
laboriously ripped the planks for his first doors and 
tables. The which is a perfect parable. For that wood 
was as green as the Missionary who cut it, and after a 
few months those tightly fitting boards, so full of sap, 
shrank into yawning cracks, a sorrow and an eyesore. 
How like the fresh young Missionary, the first year how 
neat and trig ; the second, how warped and shrunken ! 
For as long as sap is sap and sun is sun, the latter will 
soon suck up the former, and the Mission door will be 
like the Missionary who made it. Learn, therefore, a 
parable of that fig tree. When its branch is yet young 
and tender, and shooteth forth its leaves, then ye know — 
that it is not the time to make doors and tables ! Their 
very word for "leaves" has a Biblical ring in it. It 
means " the tellers," the idea being that they mark the 
change of seasons, and all appeal to the leaves, i.e. " the 
tellers," as proof positive that the season has changed. 
Thus the phrase, "When ye see the leaves then ye 



418 THINKING BLACK 

know that summer is nigh," is as African as it is 
Biblical. 

Nowadays we are all better off and dine on a better 
diet — better off, yes, but are we better? Sharp is the 
contrast between a London "slummer" and the modern 
African Missionary on his highly respectable station. 
Pause half a moment and consider. Note this curious 
new word "Station" we begin to use in Africa, a new 
word for a distinctly new idea. You will search the 
dictionary in vain for its meaning, and the Acts of the 
Apostles too. Yet this term can with special fitness 
stand for the idea, because this is the thing that anchors 
the Missionary. Not a sheep-run nor a railway station, 
but a Mission Station — in a word, an isolated estate 
some hundreds of yards or acres square on which the 
Missionary lives as magnate of the district. Station in 
name and station in nature is such a place, for it forces 
the preacher to be as stationary as his station : the native 
must come to the Missionary, and not the Apostolic 
contrary. And what if this lightly-come lightly-go negro 
runs off seeking pastures new ? Hoiv can the stationary 
Missionary follow himf The danger is that in this 
Africa ever on the move, this Africa peopled by roaming 
tribes, the natives spasmodically scratch the soil in one 
valley for three or four years and then flit to new districts 
for new fields. Remember rural Africa cannot boast one 
plough, only hoes ; and this is fatal to fixed population. 
He only scratches the soil and then moves on ; not one 
of them will play the man and dig deep. Nor has he 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 419 

any coal, only forest faggots, and tbese he soon runs 
through, owing to his deforestation for corn-growing. 
Here, then, in lack of firewood we see another factor 
driving him on. Face this moving-on problem. 

Up go the stately buildings of the white man and 
down go the mud huts of his black neighbour. No. 1 
just getting in as No. 2 is moving out. Alone the 
Missionary finds himself, the clannish coalescence of his 
parishioners outwitting his plans. Leading up to this 
point, all has been hypocritical silence, and the foreigner 
with innocent serenity thinks his black neighbours are 
a fixture, so he settles down to build, which also, alas ! 
means building to settle down. " Strangers and pil- 
grims," yes ; but the Devil has all the pilgrims and Christ 
all the strangers, for we saints are anchored with 
impedimenta when the sinners — the natives — are up and 
away. There on the off-bank of a brawding stream you 
have the pro tern, native village only a few thousand 
yards distant in measure but many thousand miles in 
mind and manners. Behold the grotesque contradiction 
of the thing 1 — a middle-class Missionary acclaimed as the 
local Carnegie, staggering rich, no poverty of the Cross, 
no stigma of shame, but contrariwise a grovelling negro 
lauding him as lord and master — a poor enough start for 
the dear old Gospel. So very much is the African a 
servant of servants that he outwits the Missionary, who 
should be a servant of all ; and here in this initial wrong 
Christ is wounded in the house of His friends, Christianity 
equating wealth, not poverty. Bring the African to book 



420 THINKING BLACK 

on this subject, call it all a blindiDg delusion, tell him 
you are really as poor as he thinks you are rich ; I say, 
tell him this, and into that negro eye of his comes a 
magpie gleam accusing you of mendacity. To split a 
hair on the difference between real and relative riches is, 
to the naked negro, an unworthy juggling with words — 
are we not " the people of Grod," and does not the very 
name of the Creator mean greatness and prestige in local 
lingo ? 

* * # 

But let us look at our Lake now. For six months 
in the year there is a South-Wester thundering in 
on our shore, a wind adversely in the teeth of our 
schooner ^ when travelling up-Lake. Beginning in April 
and blowing through the dry season, the monsoon is 
so distinctly rainless that the season commonly takes its 
name from it. A good guess at Meteorology this, for, 
blowing over the highlands of the Transvaal as it 
does, where could it get rain from? The commence- 
ment of rains coincides with the change of monsoon. 
A deterrent on the water, this same wind is a saving 
boon on land, blowinor in on us on the bluff when the 
heat is at its height. Not the wild salt winds of the sea 
with famous curative virtues — oh no ! — for when a man 
has incipient fever they strike a chill to his marrow, 
generally bringing the attack to a head. Towards 
October we approach the change of seasons, when we 

1 Well done, Greenock 1 Across sea and land loyal hearts sent that 
splendid iron boat, and for years it was indispensable. 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 421 

have our greatest meteorological disturbances on the 
Lake, and on the cliff at Luanza we need all the hold 
we have of the rock, the wind heralding torrential rains 
sweeping down the gorges in wild rugging gusts. Look- 
ing out to the Lake, you can descry a hardy fisherman 
nursing his "dug-out" in a grey, cruel sea: exactly the 
opposite of the old Francis Drake style, these canoes 
have high viking prows, and sterns almost flush with 
the water. He has christened his log by a lucky name, 
and when far out, talks pettingly to the boat as his own 
familiar friend. Transacting, as he thus does, in honest 
ways, the honest business of a fisherman, it is a pity 
he spoils it all by a curious mid-Lake ceremony called 
" the cursing." What this amounts to is bluntly a fierce 
cataract of oaths in which he apostrophises all the dead 
men in the Lake. Singling them out by name, he curses 
them with all the gall and bitterness of a presumably 
doomed man — the presumption being that, all alone as 
he is in far mid-Lake, the dead men will drag him down 
to the deep. Then there is a pause, but the stubborn 
silence of the Lake only stiffens him in his resolve to 
keep cursing. Making a clean circle of the Lake hamlets, 
he challenges all the dead chiefs by name, the volley 
of oaths (Mafinge) being to the accompaniment of a 
curious rat-a-tat noise he makes with a drumstick on 
the side of the boat. The livelier the fish rug at his 
two long lines tied to his two great toes, the louder do 
these curses rend the air. Sure, if ever food needed to 
be " sanctified by prayer," these fish, the fruit of cursing, 



422 THINKING BLACK 

deserve a purifying " grace before meat " ! Yet what 
shall we see the great Kazembe clo with these very fish ? 
Will he, too, not dine to a cataract of curses ? — the very 
fish cursed in their catching being again cursed in their 
cooking. 

But here, incredulous as it may seem, the wheel goes 
full circle once again, and the erstwhile curser can now be 
heard singing a solemn Te Deum. Yet this fisherman, 
remember, claims he is only cursing demons, for forthwith 
with the same mouth blesses he God. Certain it is that 
for centuries this quaint old song of deliverance has been 
sung as a cast-iron formula by all Shila men who were 
capsized but came safe to land. Greeting him with song at 
the Njiko, or landing-place, all the women-folk burst out 
into a " God-song," as it is called, the escaped fisherman 
joining them in the chorus. Simple enough in its diction, 
the whole value of this praise-song is to be found in its 
archaic terminology, the very grammar of the thing being 
steeped in most ancient twang : — 

"O God, the minnows 

Had nigh feasted on me ; 
But Thou, O God, 
Didst rescue me ! " 

Then, when the " praise procession " reaches the hamlet, 
first among all his treasures to be produced is the o-reat 
" horn of salvation," as it is called, a horn this crammed 
full of charms, and in symbolic idea a real cornucopia. 
All life's successes are ascribed to its mediation, and the 
" horn is exalted" accordingly. This song of deliverance 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 423 

idea, remember, is not peculiar to one tribe only, for the 
very vilest type of cut-throat negro does the same thing. 
The infamous Rugaruga, for instance, whose very name on 
the Lake became, as we have seen, the verb to murder 
and loot, these too have a cast-iron formula of " God's 
thanks " when they escape in war. Say a bullet whizzes 
past his ear, and at once, conscious of having been saved 
from death, he interjects the ancient prayer : " God, 
my Deliverer, never again will I revile Thee ! " Not a 
chance idea this, please note, but a technical prayer, 
proving once more that God hath not left Himself without 
a witness, even in the darkest hour of a dark land. Right 
in from the far Ocean, piercing the darkest hole of Africa 
with a shaft of light, is this all-pervading knowledge of 
God-Creator. 

Without labouring the point, I have already urged 
that the most obdurately deaf negro (deaf to your 
entreaties, I mean) would resent with extreme asperity 
any notion that he denied the immortality of the soul : 
that is not arguable. Let me prove this by describing one 
memorable meeting I held in that same Kalamata's town 
among the cannibals, a meeting held on the day subsequent 
to my seeing a man eating human flesh. You wonder how 
these hell-hounds can understand the Gospel ; especially if 
the fugitive preacher has to push on past their place a few 
miles before his camp for the night is reached. Well, here 
is a typical meeting on virgin soil, and you, my reader, 
shall judge whether Paul spake not the truth when he 
wrote that "God hath not left Himself without witness," 



424 THINKING BLACK 

The deep-voiced sycamore-drum calls them in, an ugly, 
verminating throng almost in puris naturalihus — there 
behold ! the uttermost man in the uttermost parts of 
the earth. (Yonder, too, on the throne of God, do not 
forget the Christ Who can save to the uttermost.) Sup- 
porting me on my near right is the Chief, as Chairman, 
with whom I propose a loud Socratic dialogue, not as 
preacher, but merely inquirer, with note-book respectfully 
open. No skimming, skirting, and shirking of difficulties 
here ; I simply ask and he simply answers ; why not ? 
" A big horse takes a big fence," and this big black is on 
for big business. Note, please, also, that I have given — 
on the strength of Paul's above-quoted words — the bold 
initial guarantee that I will neither intrude nor innovate 
one new-fangled idea in the meeting. The theme for the 
day is " God ! " and having got a thousand voices to hush 
the ineffable Name three times, we settle down to Bible- 
business. Well, to anticipate, it turns out that the 
subject of our choice is a gold-mine ; not only about God 
is it but from God too. Asked their name for Him, the 
answer comes sharp and short from the Chairman-Chief, 
" Vidie Mukulu," i.e. the great King. And here comes 
the opening in question No. 2 : " Yon, the King of these 
parts, tell me, please, what your kingship involves." 
Answer — a long string of kingship paraphernalia : Primo, 
a King has laws ; secundo, a King has a Chipona cha 
Chidie = a, judgment-seat; tertio, a King has subjects, 
loyal or rebellious ; quarto, rewards and punishments, 
and all rebellions quelled within his borders. And now 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 425 

comes the Missionary's opening, for had not a thousand 
voices, nem. con., declared that God was the great King 
(Vidie Mukulu^)1 Sharp and sudden, you flash in upon 
them the question, " And so God has all these kingship 
rights too ? " Now is the momentous moment for the ap- 
pearance of the Holy Bible. " A King has laws, has he ? 
Well, here they are, the great King's." "A King crushes 
rebellion, does he ? " And so on you go, rigorously in- 
novating n-o-t-h-i-n-g, but merely building on their own 
adjective "great" governing their own noun "King" — 
God demonstrated a great King preaching great peace by 
the great Lord Jesus Christ to His subjects in revolt. Thus 
out of his own mealy mouth you judge Him a great King ; 
even to this man-eater postulating a great Judgment-Seat, 
great Laws. All this, too, far, far in a Central Africa 
beyond the reach of any Mission by whatsoever name 
named. How vivid many a Pauline statement becomes ! 
Eun down the Acts, and note those Apostolic speeches ; 
to a congregation with its vellum copies of " Prophets and 
Psalms" these were profusely quoted. But when Paul 
took his plucky plunge into Gentiledom he ever preached 
and practised God nigh at hand, God touching their 
Gentile lives at every point : yea, in God they lived and 
moved and had their being. Quite a different thing 
this, remember, from the folly of pretending to preach 
to the God in a man — how can God be in the soul 
when Paul says, " At that time ye were without God " ? 

1 This great God-title is most interestingly found even in the far North, 
beyond the Luban language limit. 
26 



426 THINKING BLACK 

The only God in a negro is the god of this world, the 
Devil. But look at our blue Lake again. 

To speak of Lake Mweru's " trough " as geographers 
do of Tanganyika is wrong, for although the Bukongolo 
Range rises sheer on the West, trenched to a singular 
degree with brooks and streams, all leaping into the 
Lake, yet Mweru is not the big evaporation-vat that 
Tanganyika and every other locked-in lake must be. 
The Lukuga drainage notwithstanding, Lake Tanganyika 
water is notoriously nasty. In spite of all that 
salt, sulphate and carbonate of lime, and sulphate of 
magnesium dissolved and washed down every year by 
erosion of water, the whole is soon in motion and joins 
the Lualaba exit-flow, every cubic foot of water entering 
at the Southern doorway having to pay toll at the 
Northern exit. As though guarding this exit doorway, 
there is a patrol of pugnacious hippos, known familiarly 
to all natives. The old patriarch of this clan is a dis- 
agreeable veteran who often lies sunning himself at full 
length on the flat rock just midw^ay across the Lualaba 
mouth. He definitely hunts men, and has shivered 
many a canoe with gusto. The Vasayila, or harpoon- 
men, have for years exerted all their blandishments on 
his tough, tight skin, but he has lived to a green old 
age, rich in honours. Of course, there is sorrow on 
the Lake, as all the little fishing hamlets know well, 
and often a dug-out puts out to sea never to come 
back again, the forementioned ring of hippos having 
al] to do in the matter. For this reason, no native has 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 427 

been known to cross Mweru direct, all insisting on making 
the detour round the North end. Along the shores, the 
canoes dart about like wild-fowl, while far out you can 
descry an odd, daring Shila man, his dug-out appearing 
as a dark speck, rising and falling on the crest of the 
wave. "Nursing" his canoe he calls it, and even in a 
grey, cruel sea that game of pitch-and-toss he plays with 
the Lake is a safe thing, even in the angriest storm. 
Down dips the dug-out into the water-trough, only to 
reappear riding the wave with the safety of a duck. A 
mere log, it must mount every wave, nor dare it cleave 
even one : no wonder, therefore, it curtsies so deeply to 
the blast out of sheer respect. He is making a try for 
something good for supper and has, all the while, en- 
shrined in his vision, the picture of the log-fire with wife 
and children squatting round. Long before Europe got 
wind of the idea, these canoes were fitted with invisible 
marconigram apparatus, for the most tenacious legend 
of these fishermen is that they are perfectly au courant 
with their wives' doings at home. This mysterious union 
is so real that any act of infidelity on her part is doomed 
to react prejudicially on her fisherman out at sea. Thus 
all cases of drowning are brought home to the "guid- 
wife," just as, on the contrary, she accepts with smug 
complacency the tribute of being the eflicient cause of 
a good haul of fish. For during all the time of her 
husband's absence in mid-Lake has she not kept the 
dozen " taboo " rules sacredly ? She dared not, for 
instance, raise her hand to the shelf in her hut, nor 



428 THINKING BLACK 

dared she shake hands with any one. To cook food was 
also severely taboo during her fisherman's absence, nor 
could any stranger cross the threshold in his absence. 
This last custom, indeed, is so rigid that the tribal name 
is derived therefrom, the fisherman always drawing a 
circle barrier round his hut to debar entrance in his 
absence. Hence Shila = to draw a line, from which the 
in extenso tribal name comes, Vashilanandanediango. 
Thus the Lake-dwellers boast of a name as long as the 
Lake's own title. 

Such long names are quite a cartographic curio, and 
are explained by the Central African idea that as name 
equates nature, therefore anything big must have a corre- 
spondingly big name. Hence it is these great Lakes of 
the Interior all boast long " boa-constrictor " names 
unknown to map-makers. For instance, as we have 
seen, the plain Mweru of the R.G.S. maps is only 
Mweru in the same short sense as Tom = Thomas, or 
Will = William. Only, however, in the serious debate of 
the forensic negro elders can you hear Lake Mweru 
called by its full-dress name of Mwerumukatamuv- 
undanshe. 

Obviously too big for plain workaday speech, this 
long comet of a name loses its streaming tail, and brief, 
blunt Mweru is the normal usage. Nor is this a fancy 
freak peculiar to one corner only. Take the good Living- 
stone's own Bangweulu as another example. In his 
anxiety that people should not call it " Bungy-hollow," 
he himself was "out" in the spelling of his two final 



A PAGE OF HISTORY 429 

vowels. But the important point to note is that even 
this longish name is only a mere apocope, like its twin- 
sister Mweru. For the Tom = Thomas analogy is as 
nothing to the fact that Bangweulu is only the curtate 
form of the real name, Bangweuluwavikilwanshimango- 
mwana. If you laugh at the fisher-folk for such a long- 
winded title, they will quote the proverb, " Big thing, 
big name." And if you still refuse to bow to the sanity 
of the idea, they clinch their postulate with the sister- 
proverb, " Little beef, little juice." Now, although this 
seems mere black verbosity, these long names are really 
a philological boon, deciding at a glance the real inner 
meaning of the Lake's name. A geographer in London 
without the clue of this full name could toy with his 
pencil for weeks, trying to solve the meaning of brief 
" Mweru," and would fail, because the solution is all 
locked up in this hidden longer name. For instance, 
the Mweru mouthful, parsed literally, is unerringly 
rendered " Great-White-Lake-Locust-Drowner " {i.e. too 
wide an expanse for locusts to dare to try to cross with 
impunity). So, too, with the geographic mouthful repre- 
senting the true name of Bangweulu. This only means 
" The- Lake -so-stormy- that-it-must-be-propitiated-by-the- 
voyager - and-so-wide - that - you - must - take -provisions- 
aboarcl-for-a-trans- Lake- voyage." So, for orthographical 
pains you get philological gains, and the names are as 
easy to parse as they are hard to pronounce. 



CHAPTER XXII 
Black Man = Black Manners 



" The thing that hath been, it is that which shall 
be : and there is no new thing- under the sun." 

Solomon. 



"When I was a boy in Gaul I beheld the Scots, 
a people living in Britain, eating human flesh ; and 
although there were plenty of cattle and sheep at 
their disposal, yet they would prefer a ham of the 
herdsman or a slice of female breast." Jerome. 



" For are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians 
unto Me, O children of Israel ? saith the Lord. " 

Amos. 



CHAPTER XXII 

Black Man = Black Manners 

TJ/^ HEREIN the reader finds that the 
African so debases his surround- 
ings that the surroundings take revenge 
and debase the African. 

IVORY is pouring into the villages, and with it come the 
fine old fellows who tackle Jumbo, following him up 
even into the marshes, where they run a risk of being 
snapped at by a crocodile. An odd elephant has been known 
to avenge man and teach Mr. Crocodile a lesson, one instance 
having occurred when I was at Kashobwe's. The elephants 
came down in the tropical effulgence of moonlight to bathe 
in the fen-marshes, their gleeful splashing quite lively. 
Timid little baby calves shrinking on the edge and 
refusing to plunge, the mother coming up and squirting 
a shower-bath as their share in the fun. Comical little 
rogues these, standing about four feet high, skin falling in 
folds and far too big for them. There they are, looking 
exactly like a dozen youngsters wearing the coats and 
trousers of their elder brothers. This submerged marsh, 
however, be it noted, is alive with " crocs," and these 

433 



434 THINKING BLACK 

reptiles quite coolly commence to nip poor Jumbo's toes, 
forgetful of the fact that Jumbo's trunk is Jumbo's glory. 
At any rate, Nemesis falls like a bolt from the blue, for, 
smacking like a long whip, down comes that elephant's 
trunk, twisting round the crocodile's tail, and — tableau ! 
With one half-shriek, half-squeak, the long greenish- 
yellow croc is sent flying over the marsh — flop ! 
splash ! thirty yards ofi". That deft tight grip the tusker 
took of the huge reptile's tail, and the way in the moon- 
light he waved it theatrically aloft like the figure-of-eight 
smack of a whip, doubtless made that crocodile unto the 
third and fourth generation resolve never again to nibble 
at an elephant's toes. 

The mannish type of woman here even tackles a 
crocodile, and Madam Luban is not too finicking in the 
choice of a weapon. These ladies are quite deft with 
the short national knife, and two of them attacked a 
crocodile in best Amazon manner. They had gone down 
to the fishing-weir to empty the wicker baskets when 
a lurking croc shot out at them with a snap. Taking 
advantage of the fact that when this beast misses a first 
grab he must pause to unlock his teeth, these plucky 
women attacked him with their two short knives and 
finished him in a few minutes. But what a weird 
business, the long yellow crocodile writhing with his 
wounds, and snap, snapping his white teeth in chagrin ! 
The two women flowing with blood yet never a wince ; 
two paltry penknives doing it all. And all the while 
yonder is a heron fishing on a sand-spit, chuckling with 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 435 

glee. Quite the largest of these Saurians ever seen 
hereabouts was found farther up, dead by its own act 
of folly. Nor knife nor spear killed this monster, only 
its own vile voracity : the crocodile killed the negro, and 
the killed man killed the crocodile. Washed up on the 
bank, the dead monster lay four feet high — not long — 
with a tell-tale human armbone sticking out of its chest. 
The old fisherman who acted as sort of "Crocodile 
Coroner " on the occasion, clearly and convincingly proved 
that the reptile, instead of making one sure bite of his 
victim, had snapped off this arm then grabbed a second 
time before swallowing the first. Thus in murdering the 
man it committed suicide, the ragged end of the humerus 
boring through to tell the tale that it had stuck athwart 
the gullet and worked right out. "King over all the 
children of pride " as it is, little did the old fisherman 
guess what a grisly pun he made of the crocodile's name 
by dubbing them "the Undertakers" {Vakoka Panshi). 

But to return to our mighty Jumbo. 

Mere beefy bulk, though, is nothing in forest prowess, 
and this same ponderous elephant positively trembles at 
the thought of a tiny leech. And no wonder, for many 
an elephant dies an awful death from a leech sucking the 
inner membrane of his trunk until the monstrous tusker is 
maddened to death. Goaded to its doom by a tiny leech, 
like a locomotive thundering down the line, ofi" this six 
tons of madness rushes at fifteen miles per hour — " Any- 
where, anywhere, out of the world ! " You can come 
across a huge clearing in the grass, where the writhing 



436 THINKING BLACK 

giant has nearly beaten his own brains out, the agony all 
centred in that finest and most delicate of all his organs, 
the " marconigram " trunk. Yes, one tiny leech can 
puncture that huge balloon of beef, the vulnerable point 
this vaunted trunk. On Lake Mweru this is called " the 
leech doom," and is the cause of that curious ceremony 
all elephants perform when they come across drinking- 
water. This function is called " the benediction" (Kupara), 
and the elephant passes a scared, wistful gaze over the 
sheet of water, at the same time waving his trunk like a 
mesmerist again and again over the solemn, treacherous 
pond. But the trunk, as a matter of fact, is no magician's 
wand, but the supreme headquarters of Jumbo's cunning, 
and supplying him with, not so much a sixth sense as a 
sensorium commune. Instead of "praying" a sort of 
grace-before-meat kind of petition, as the native suggests, 
he is really wringing from the water the " leech secret." 
Certainly the merest soup9on of leech-treachery is enough, 
and with one trumpet-roar the idea of disgust is so strong 
that it gives him momentum for a fifteen-mile run. Is 
this the reason why an elephant has been endowed with a 
trunk ? I mean, if clear water is so needful to Jumbo, 
then does not this very length of trunk permit him to 
drink from the bank without entering the water and 
thereby stirring up the muddy sediment ? 

{Later. ) 
Again I say. Bravo ! for the men who risk life and limb 
following them up. The average African hunter is a 
stalwart who works hard, walks far, and is named " friend 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 437 

of the forest." What s^Dlendid evangelists these wandering 
Nimrods make ! Take an instance. An elephant-hunter 
gets soundly and profoundly saved, so at once God claims 
his witness far afield. His elephants, of course, claim his 
presence out there too. Away beyond the edge of 
cultivation he goes, following up the spoor of his elephants ; 
dipping down into gorges, skirting precipices, sinking into 
bulrush bogs — 

"To preach as never sure to preach again. 
And as a dying man to dying men." 

Then he comes back to tell us all about it at our 
Saturday night prayer-meeting, a weird tale of the lonely 
bush and the stately goings of our God. It would test 
the most skilled in mental acrobatics to explain away 
such personal intervention of Almighty God to and for 
that hunter of His. " What will prayer do for you ? " 
laugh his old hunter chums. " All that God can do for 
me," is the royal reply. The misses as well as the 
hits are all reported as occasions for praise. And his 
favourite Bible proof is that " the Lord preserveth man 
and beast." Listen to his quaint exegesis — preserveth the 
man when He grants a hit, preserveth the heast when He 
grants a miss ! That is to say, locked up in the custody 
of this one verse you have all the fates and fortunes of the 
hunter and his prey : God for the man, yet God for the 
beast — yea, God all and in all. 

But one flash reveals the diamond. And this exhorter 
in the prayer-meeting soon gets to close quarters with his 



438 THINKING BLACK 

younger brethren, the local preachers. " You think," 
says he, " that this preaching in your own suburbs is 
evangelising Africa (a mere radius of a few miles) ; but 
in my wanderings I come upon an Africa you know not — 
lost villages in the far bush, groups of towns that never 
saw the map. Oh, my elephants lead me to strange 
corners and among stranger folk. They lead the way 
and I must follow ; and sometimes, lying across our track 
ahead, we see shafts of ruddy light shooting up, and here 
we are on a lonsj-lost villasje. Once in olden times it was 
fabled that they had a visit from a Northern tribe, but 
since then they have lived and died lost in the bush. So 
what do I do ? I let my herd of elephants escape, and 
stay with these scared-of-eye Africans — did not God lead 
me to them ? And if God's way is our way, will not His 
joy be our joy ? " 

He has lost his elephants owing to this intercepting 
town — 

" But all through the mountains, thunder-riven. 
And up from the rocky steep. 
There arose a cry to the gates of Heaven : 

* Rejoice ! I have found My sheep ! 
And the angels echoed, around the throne, 
' Eejcice ! For the Lord brings back His own ! ' " 

Thus he tells his tale. His profession is elephants, 
but his confession is Christ. And who would compare 
profession with confession — what are literal elephants to 
spiritual sheep ? Not once but several times has he 
broken in on such old-world folks — a true Mission to the 
lost, far truer than many a high-sounding enterprise born 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 439 

in a committee-room or baptized on a platform. Watch 
him, this apostle of the Nimrod cult. A veteran of life's 
battles with a war-worn face, there he stands in his plain 
loin-cloth, the very plainness of the old hunter being a 
plainer rebuke to the young generation of over-dressed 
Christians. He adorns the doctrine, and they are too 
apt to adorn themselves. A mighty hunter before the 
Lord. 

As we have already seen, of course one swallow does 
not make a summer in Africa. But (if one dare execute 
such a straddle on cross metaphors) here is a straw that 
indicates the current among the cannibals. I refer to a 
curiously foreign feature of life in here, a great tribal 
meeting on sanitation summoned by the deep-voiced 
Nkumfi, or sycamore-drum, the Chief taking his seat by 
my side and seconding everything. Being thirsty, I 
proposed to indulge my baser nature with a cup of water, 
but found it filthy with contamination. If " Afric's 
sunny fountains " would only roll down water instead of 
sand at times, it would be a decided improvement. 
" Golden sands " sounds poetic, but in Africa we must 
get all our poetry out of the plain prose of life, and this 
trek I have drunk red water and black water, yellow 
water and white water, but worst of all was this green 
stuff to-day. Ah yes! I believe in "holy water" 
provided it is of the right kind. Pushing investigations, 
we soon find out that here is a vast tribe living on a 
dunghill of disease, the whole insanitary condition of 
the place a clear case of ten thousand dirty men shaking 



440 THINKING BLACK 

their dirty fists in Nature's face. " Dirt-cheap," as a 
phrase, may be excellent English, but here in Lubaland 
dirt is not cheap, oh no, but costly, disease-gendering and 
deadly, in fact. Hence this curious innovation — a lecture 
on sanitation. Here they gather, massed in their thousands, 
my business being to pulverise prejudices. It turns out 
a famous gathering they will never forget, that seething 
black cloud melted from the distrust of an attack on old 
heathen ways of life to excited acquiescence when the 
thing was taken right out of our hands and made law. 
Shot after shot rang into the hill behind the town 
by way of ratification, and towards the end I darted in 
with — Christ crucified. They are utterly delighted to 
know that we, in the night of the Druids and later, were 
as bad as they. It was very good of them to let me 
down so softly, for my sanitary address was more poignant 
than polite. In order to convey the truth with entire 
fidelity, I had, in fact, dredged the dictionary for 
adjectives with some sting in them. Besides, we must 
remember that these dirty doings of theirs all enshrine 
great traditions, and I was really combating prejudices 
of a most bristly kind. However, at glad last, a ray of 
intelligence actually pierced the mists of the cannibal 
brain, and the whole mob caught at the extremely 
elementary idea that there is a weak futility in poisoning 
yourself with filth. Yet once again I admit that 
Aristotle was right, and that this one swallow does not 
make a summer in Africa. 

Of course, crooked Nature has likewise trapped the 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 441 

Mweru negro into very crooked sanitation — the old 
story of the negro debasing his surroundings and the 
surroundings taking revenge by debasing the negro. A 
hundred huts packed together means that a smothered 
incipient cough beginning away at the corner of the 
hamlet is, in a few days, heard infectiously cough, cough- 
ing its way round the beehive town. But if so with an 
elementary cough, how about the infectional terrors of 
sleeping sickness ? In Lubaland, as I now write, whole 
towns are being wiped off the map — the Nodder they 
call that disease. So, too, smallpox licks up a whole 
population, the disease sweeping through the land like 
the annual grass-fires. Here, then, we see them crowding 
and verminating in their filth. Living in crowds they 
must die in crowds, like the flock of five duck you can 
shoot with one cartridge from that same stockade. For 
the Luban duck are like the adjacent smallpox Africans, 
they stupidly flock thickly, a half-dozen easily falling to 
one shot. In Lubaland one burning arrow silently fired 
into that grass village did literally burn the whole of 
the mushroom edifices out of existence — a perfect type 
this of what inflammable diseases do all over our weary, 
Christless land. 

Such, then, is the precious price they pay for the 
plan of higgledy-piggledy. For the crooked ways of the 
crooked negro have not yet been exhausted, and long ago 
it must have been obvious to the most superficial reader 
that this crooked sanitation must also breed a crooked 
set of morals. Laugh at the Missionary as the modern 



/' 



^ 



442 THINKING BLACK 

traveller must, we dare not hide the fact that the soul 
of all improvement is the improvement of the soul. The 
infectious cough going round the town is only the type 
of the infectious immoral gossip — there is no secret 
hidden in that whole grass town. The hundred huts are 
only a whispering gallery, and what is told in the Bantu 
ear is made known on the Bantu housetops. Mere bairns 
are corrupt and tainted at the cradle, life has no more 
secrets for them. Preach against it, and they only poke 
the proverb at you, " What baby lion ever trembled at 
his father's roaring ? " Pour out on them your most 
withering scorn, and they nag you thus : "If the tree has 
grown up crooked it is because no one straightened it 
when young." Thus the negro river of morals is fouled at 
its own fount ; the said fount being, so to speak, not a cool 
mountain spring high up in the clouds, but rather one 
of their own hot springs hiccuping down in the sweltering 
plains. Even the Missionary who makes a clutch at 
these waifs being swept past in the current of sin can 
only give them two hours or so of corrective school 
training ; but, alas, against these few and fugitive hours 
in the day you have the retrograde lapse of twenty-two 
hours into heathen hovel-life. Think of a whole heathen 
family packed like pigs in one tiny little beehive hut ! 
Still clinging to forest figures of speech, they call these 
tots of theirs Tunsaala, or twigs, elders by parity of 
reasoning being big branches on the tribal tree — a happy 
Missionary metaphor this to encourage any one working 
in Africa among the young. " For," say they, " how do 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 443 

you set the camp logs blazing in the forest if not by first 
of all coaxing a few tiny twigs to catch fire, the six-feet- 
long logs soon flaming furiously from this humble initial 
ignition?" N.B. : The young teach the old, the twigs 
lead up to the branches, and the chips of the old blocks 
will send the said old blocks blazing. It's coming, oh, it's 
coming ! 

This packing of the domicile into one den, remember, 
is only an enlarged photo of the domicile packing itself 
with mush at supper-time. The same family who crowd 
each other out in one tiny hut is likewise seen crowding 
round one tiny pot, the big paws and the little paws all 
digging into the thick porridge in the same ratio as a 
soup-ladle and a salt-spoon. The negro argues that God, 
in perfect design, has dieted mankind according to the 
divine gradation in the size of human hands. Baby 
cannot eat too big spoonfuls if he uses his own little fists : 
"Little meat gives little sauce" is the native apology on 
this score. There is probably a moral in all this peculiarly 
pertinent to our poor prayers, to wit, what God gives us 
is better than what we can take. A Luban child asks 
her aunt for some pea-nuts. " Take a handful," says the 
elder. " You give me a handful, auntie ; your hand is 
bigger " — to which we say, Bravo ! for little Miss Salt- 
spoon, who scores an easy first against Mrs. Soup-ladle. 
Here, then, once again, you have a fruitful source of 
disease — a common pot with a dozen fists of varying 
degrees of cleanliness all putting the public health in 

jeopardy. Like the little beehive roof of his hut, with 
27 



444 THINKING BLACK 

all the matchwood rafters shooting up and converging 
into one apex, so, and much worse so, with these human 
hand-ladles and spoons, all shooting into the centre of 
gravity, all digging out from the mass of mush their 
voracious supper. Speaking is taboo at this sacred 
season. "Table-talk" is only the happy lot of other 
lands who boast of tables, but Mr. African dines on 
the earth that boasts of seed-time and harvest, and in 
the first instance gave them that bountiful meal. But 
the high crime and misdemeanour of the town is to dine 
alone — their very word " criminal " has this meaning, 
" Mr. Eat- alone." Such a one is a thief and has gone 
over to the wild beasts. For the notion of people 
assembling in order to absorb food is certainly not a 
natural idea : the lower animals never invite each other 
to dinner — on the contrary. 

Here, then, is Africa's challenge to its Missionaries. 
Will they allow a whole continent to live like beasts in 
such hovels, millions of negroes cribbed, cabined, and 
confined in dens of disease ? No doubt it is our diurnal 
duty to preach that the soul of all improvement is the 
improvement of the soul. But God's equilateral triangle 
of body, soul, and spirit must never be ignored. Is not 
the body wholly ensouled, and is not the soul wholly 
embodied ? Too often in Missionary literature the writer 
talks about these " humble abodes " of his black parish- 
ioners, whereas the real phrasing of the matter is that they 
are more humbling than humble. The more grandiose 
our Mission stations, the more striking and impossible the 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 445 

native huts. The louder, too, the call to gut out these 
clotted masses of tropical slums. Ignore this as Africa's 
burning question, and you commit the sad old folly of 
the Middle Ages — I mean when the Church built big 
cathedrals and men lived in hovels. Ever since those 
days back in Bihe when I lived with Mr. Negro chez lui, 
I have a plan simmering in my mind, a plan that involves 
long one- street villages lined out for miles. The thing 
can be done, and we Missionaries should do it. Oh yes, 
we are here for souls, but — I repeat it — the negro soul is 
as wholly embodied as the negro body is wholly ensouled. 
In other words, in Africa the only true fulfilling of your 
heavenly calling is the doing of earthly things in a 
heavenly manner. 

(Later.) 
Penning, as I do, these lines long years after, 
here on my table is a measuring- tape that witnesses the 
success of this idea. That tape has helped to line out six 
miles of street frontage along our tangled Mweru. A 
whole tribe pluming itself on its dirty dens actually, 
en masse, took the idea up, burned its old huts and built 
long one-street hamlets along the edge of the cliff. Even 
the preposterous Lubans caught the idea of the thing, 
and the last developments in 1909 are a wonder. Writing 
on the spot, let me tell what happened. I am off these 
three weeks at a Luban town, living with a negro in 
his own mud hut ; we go halves with the domicile and 
are in close touch. Just one year ago I had a rousing 
time here, then passed on, and seemingly after long years 



446 THINKING BLACK 

things have come to a head at last. Found them, as 
a township, a dark mass of dilapidated huts, and the 
problem was how to get them out of that hole and give 
them a fresh start. That was a year ago. Now all is so 
changed that " marvellous " is the true adjective qualifying 
the truest of nouns — change. After many years' tentative 
work in Africa, there seems (from a letter before me) a 
serious concession that it has been largely along wrong 
lines. The error lay in training exotic carpenters and * 
joiners, who at once deserted their own tribe and went 
far ahead, to return never, never more. The clamant 
need is confronting the tribe as a whole, and "housing" 
it along sane, simple lines — two- or three-roomed cottages, 
that is to say. 

To get a whole town so to arise after the sleep of 
centuries is a very thrilling thing ; there is a quiver in 
the air, and you feel in a very true manner you are getting 
nearer the root of things. They do it all, their own 
houses built by and for themselves. Then away at the 
end of this new town of theirs, you can see the roof of 
the Bible-school, the point this where we link up the 
spiritual with the temporal. Man can see to the housing 
of a town, but God alone can see to the homing of it. 
And, remember, in the old dens of darkness the fount of 
life was poisoned : no home, no holy felicities of life — a 
human pigsty. The children of these holes we daily 
clutched at as they were daily swept past us, but the 
Mission school only has them for two hours, as against 
the long reactionary remainder of the day (and night !) in 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 447 

heathendom. Hence this happy solution in the housing 
of the people, with the hope that God will "home" the 
people we have "housed." 

Of course in fighting filth of this sort you must be 
ruthlessly efficient, and one old man even took the field 
and defended my action when I could scarcely do so 
myself. Kinder to me than I could be to myself, he, 
referring to the breaking with many a past custom, said, 
"How can you enter through an old abandoned door- 
way without first breaking the many cobwebs blocking 
entrance ? " A concession this — and from a very old high- 
and-dry Tory — that their ancient ideas were cobwebs, 
nothing more. And here is my reward this trip, for I am 
now living with a raw Luban in his own three-roomed 
house : mark you, in his house, when a year ago you 
could not have slept in his town, the pestiferous hole 
being nigh mortal. 

These lines are penned to the flicker of a tiny lamp 
burning linseed oil : not true linseed, really sesame, and 
not a bad light. This oil is grown for us by the Lubans : 
a new crop is just being planted, and these oil-growers 
speak about "growing" our light for us. Thus literally 
" light is sown for the righteous." Who ever heard of 
the Israelites having mineral oil ? Obviously it must 
have been sown ; and Christ the Light was sown in 
sorrow too. 

But what about tools ? you ask. Talk about 
economising your hardware — here is a snapshot I saw 
to-day, eloquent of the penury of centuries. The negro 



448 THINKING BLACK 

— one of the illustrious family named " Smith " — was 
squatted under a tall clump of millet thirteen feet high, 
two old worn-out garden-hoes in his hand. Mere " scrap- 
heap " iron now, they had done the season's farming for 
him : witness the waving millet in the background. 
" Now," quoth the negro endearingly to his broken scraps 
of hoes, " you have made unto me a harvest, and, go to ! 
let us make an axe to build a house wherein to dwell." 
So, sure enough, the transformation is soon going on 
apace. First of all he manipulates two antelope-skins into 
a bellows, and then (dressed in skins himself) he starts to 
blow as loud as his bellows. Then comes the funny 
business of a funnel for his blast furnace ; this moulded 
out of mother earth like the blacksmith himself. Then 
we reach the item of coals — a heap of red iron-wood 
reduced to charcoal, which he soon puff-puffs into a blaze. 
And lo, the fire being now as red as it is ready, this son 
of Tubal Cain throws his two bits of hoes into the furnace 
and grips his hammer. But what is this hammer? A 
nice round stone. And what the anvil ? The hammer's 
own cousin — another block of stone. There are tongs, 
too — five, six, or seven strips of thick green bark all at 
hand, bark that bends at will into any shape of tongs he 
desires. The very greenness of these bark tongs is their 
major value, for when, in welding, they bite the glowing 
iron, instead of burning like a match these tongs simply 
spit out their native juice, so that each pair of tongs can 
bite the red iron three times before ignition. " Fighting 
flame " is what this Smith-by-name and Smith-by-trade 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 449 

negro thinks he is doing, and the paradox of his poverty 
is that he can always boast a wealth of these stone-age 
anvils, hammers, and tongs, the very iron having been 
dug out of the earth as a stone. 

Thus he whirls round in his circle of existence, exactly 
like the earth he dwells on. For the earth opened to 
yield the iron — that made the ore — that made the field of 
grain — that made strong the man — that made and unmade 
the hoe — that made the axe — that made the cool cottage 
in which he dwells : verily, this is the-house- that- Jack- 
built. Why wonder that this model black strokes himself 
down with complacency in the borrowed words: "Take 
us all, professions and trades together, and you will find 
by actual measurement round the head and round the 
chest, and round our manners and characters, if you like, 
that we blacksmiths are the only genuine aristocracy at 
present in existence " ? 

More about polygamy. Things certainly get*'curi- 
ouser and curiouser," as Alice had occasion to remark 
in her travels in Wonderland. Among the Lubans man is 
reckoned such a frigid monster that a woman is graciously 
permitted to cook his meal, but may not eat of same. 
She is caught in a cobweb of Mbala laws and by-laws, a 
stringent point being that she cannot even speak during 
the whole period of cooking and consumption of food. 
Only after her giant is refreshed is this '* covenant of 
silence" formally annulled by the breaking of a stick 
or straw into three fragments, each fragment kissed by 
the lady as she throws it away, and then the remaining 



7 



450 THINKING BLACK 

third bit is broken between them. Sequel : three 
pretences of shaking hands, the fingers not meeting, 
however. And all this mummery at food for ever and 
a day, and after every meal, the man receiving his 
homage with a smug complacency. This kissing of the 
fragments of stick by the lady-love is, of course, the 
only kissing known in the tribe, for one of their bits 
of banter against the white race is that they " lick each 
other" as a greeting. The same woman this who has 
built her own house, including even the final touches 
of furnishing ; the firewood and pots all her own finding 
too. Let a Missionary pitch his tent in this town 
and soon swarms of these ladies seek his serious 
opinion anent their crooked conjugal relations. These 
ladies suffer manifest distress and keep buzzing round 
like a swarm of bees ; snip-snap for hours, the African 
women beating the men at putting posers. Now it is 
one understands why, in the only negro lady's con- 
versation contained in Scripture, it should be noted that 
she asked (even !) Solomon "hard questions." From the 
days of Sheba's queen they are all alike pouring out 
puzzle-speech the livelong day. Wave them ofi", beseech 
them to stop, implore them to change the subject : oh 
no, all their gabble is concerning the holy estate. My 
rule is to tell all such unblushingly that the woman 
who wants her husband to be diff'erent generally wants 
a difi'erent husband. Very often, though, the men are 
brutes nnd to blame. 

The usual story is that the plaintiff is Mrs. No. 1, 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 451 

that she married him long ago when the world was 
younger and he and she at the mating age. Then 
came Mrs. No. 2 ; a pause, then Mrs. No. 3 intrudes 
on the friendship of Mesdames Nos. 1 and 2. Accord- 
ing to this lady, it seems a mistake to say it takes 
two to make a quarrel, for here you have a woman 
arguing that two wives for one husband would be 
passable. What she does declare to be deadly is this 
terrible triangle, for just as it takes three straight lines 
to enclose a space, so seemingly it takes three wrangling 
wives to make a quarrel. At any rate, soon enough, 
the husband's snappish retorts tell No. 1 the tale that 
she has been superseded — yes — she who for so long 
took hungrily the crumbs of affection that fell from 
his table. The upshot of all this matrimonial muddle 
seems to be that ideal wedlock is considered only a solid 
bread-and-butter arrangement, and the best cook wins 
the worst of husbands. No royal glance of love ever (?) 
flashed from mate to mate, and the woman who ousts 
another woman only does so in order to enslave herself 
Yet for centuries this has gone on, a concubine cook 
exerting all her blandishments to win a man's stomach, 
not his heart. Is this the reason why the word for 
stomach (Munda) is the same as for "heart"? No 
simple fireside virtues in demand here. Cook, only 
cook, and soon enough they find that the love that 
has ends, quickly has an end. 

But there are more horrors here, and all suggestive 
of this land of uncounted tears. Between me and my 



452 THINKING BLACK 

night's rest, lo, a heart-broken little girl weeping her 
eyes out in the long grass. The spot is tangled, and 
there is a rough overgrown heap — her mother's grave. 
This orphan is seven years of age, and in the adjacent 
village she was belaboured with blows to force her to 
marry an old negro rake. So, with tear-soaked face, 
away she darts from the dwellings of men, out, away 
out to her mother's grave in the bush, one moan and 
one only : " Oh, mother, why did you leave me out 
here in the land of perplexities?" (Pano fa kanshia). 
This led to a stormy encounter with the old 7'oue, and 
if anger be "a punishing of oneself for the fault of 
another," then was I sorely punished. Without any 
beat-about-the-bush circumlocution, here you have the 
darkest smudge in a dark history — the baby-brides of 
Africa. Here is a curse that must be faced and fought, 
all the angels of God fighting for you. Yet they can 
argue even this. Trying to talk me out of my 
abhorrence, they insist that " baby-betrothal " is only their 
tribal system of " Life Insurance," the idea being that 
if the child comes to an untimely end then the husband 
must pay the insurance money. But they forget to 
say that " Mutual Insurance " is the real idea, and this 
cuts both ways, the child having to pay for her old 
husband's demise. Here, then, is a so-called Insurance 
really ensuring one thing — the misery of the tiny 
widow. 

Our Sera neighbours over the hill are a bad lot. 
There I found more people buried alive. But is this kind 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 453 

of thing really authentic ? The answer is that the best 
sort of African proof is always that genuine thing you 
yourself stumble over in the grass, accidentally. Here is 
an instance. Down in the Sera plain I put up for the 
night in a random hamlet on the edge of the bulrush-bog. 
At sundown here come a crowd of merry bairns round 
me, as happy with their white visitor as a cat in the 
fender. But now for a change of metaphor. Then they 
begin to prattle like starlings, putting many a poser to 
poor me, big questions from little folks — why not ? 
Should not a big horse take a big fence ? Next we 
exchange names as per Luban courtesy. The first little 
girl of my gossip is much more strikingly well dressed 
than all the crowd, so much that one opines she is a 
personality, the local magnate's daughter perhaps. But 
when I probe inquisitively about her nice beads, nicer 
calico, and fantastic hair-coiffure, it soon begins to dawn 
on me that this really harmless interlocutor is painfully 
embarrassing. Had village elders been around, of course, 
I would never have got wind of that tragedy at all, but 
here are a dozen precocious little chatterers telling me 
the tale. Describing, if you please, most graphically how 
they killed this little mode de Paris girl's mother at the 
last funeral. That she is no Chief's daughter at all at 
all ; and that, in fact, she has only been paid so much 
" hush-money " for her mother's death, witness these 
blue beads and fancy calico. Mother had gone on the 
long, lonely journey with the Chief, who had always an 
escort in life, and must not be deprived of one in death, 



454 THINKING BLACK 

the orphan child receiving " solatium and damages " for 
her mother's sacrificial death. She herself, though, would 
grow up, only to be one day fuel for the same fire. So 
much for the tell-tale vouchers you stumble over among 
the villages, and the next best criterion is the thing you 
overhear in Africa. Remember, the " Socratic method " 
of fishing for facts, by questions, is Africa's greatest peril : 
is not an African only an echo of his querist ? (Besides 
— oh, pitfall for the unwary — unless you conjugate your 
verb of interrogation in the subjunctive mood, you don't 
ask a question, hut dictate an ansiver.) On the 7th 
January, down the Lualaba, I overheard and jotted down 
a " sacrifice " talk going on : the white man is supposed to 
be sleeping, and this is what comes over his shoulders. 
Chimunwa's brother stretched out his lame leg to his 
listeners, then tenderly and approvingly patted its only 
four toes. Quoth he : " Ah, you may laugh at ' Game- 
leg ' ( Chilemahulu), but proud am I to have only four toes." 
" Why ? " chorused the company expectantly. " The lack 
of my fifth toe on my left foot," answered he, " is my 
life. They were going to make me one of the sacrifices 

at 's funeral, but a sacrifice with a blemish won't do, 

so I got ofi" scot free." The point again made in that talk 
was that as in life the dead Chief owned the country and 
its inhabitants, it was obviously absurd to think he should 
be allowed to go all alone on the " long journey " of 
death without company. Then came a snatch of pure 
Bantu which unconsciously was a literal quotation from 
Isaiah : "The bed is shorter than a man can lie on in the 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 455 

world of the dead." This, to prove the loneliness of the 
tomb and the need for company. 

To press again for the reason of all that murder is 
to receive this time a utilitarian explanation. Piercing 
below the stratum of the sacrificial idea, you reach that 
deepest deep in human nature, the law of self-preservation. 
It is only the African Tsar's plan for securing himself 
immunity from the anarchist's bomb — merely the King's 
threat that if they kill him, then in revenge he will die, 
dragging many down with him to the grave. Hence the 
neo;ro sono^ of warninor — 

» 
"As the forest trees rock 

When the wild winds blow. 
The King's death is a shock, 
For how bloody the woe ! " 

But is there no glint of sunshine in it all ? Yes — and 
very much yes. Life is full of contrasts in Africa, and 
one such bloody sacrifice was really the means of breaking 
a bad heart of adamant. This was our pioneer elder of 
the Gareno^anze church, the late Smish, who was an 
executioner in the old days. Behold him hurrying to 
her premature death a young mother with her babe, when 
the poor doomed womaii at the grave's mouth took the 
baby and, forgetful of her own impending death-pangs, 
sobbed out, "Oh, deal kindly with my bairn ! " (Ikala 
viya Tie Kana Kami). Smish never forgot that stab — 
I mean the royal glance of maternal love this mother 
flashed to her bairn was never forgotten. Poor baby, on 
being torn from her, did not know how he stabbed his 



456 THINKING BLACK 

dear dying mother in the expostulating cry, " Mama ! 
Mama ! " Years after, in contrition of heart, the memory 
of that dying sob stabbed his soul, and when he heard of 
Christ praying for His enemies he thought likewise of 
that dying woman's prayer. 

Watch how we conciliate these cut- throats. Picture 
a tall hunter of powerful build, with a smile that would 
frighten a bull-dog. But when his tale is told, it is a 
wonder he has a smile at all. Have not two years dragged 
past since his right arm was torn to pieces by the burst- 
ing of his old "five feet of gas-pipe" gun? The story 
runs that, being a big brave black, he had enough of the 
child left in him to want his weapon to go ofi" with a bang ; 
so, one day in hunting, he loaded up inordinately, the 
charge of powder nearly a foot deep in the barrel. Of 
course, the bang that should have flattened the elephant 
on the ground burst back on the hunter, and the biter 
was bit. Thus began the twenty-four dragging months 
of agony, when the quacks from far and near exploited 
the gaping wound until the one became many. At last, 
we come on the scene, and the problem now stands how 
to break this ring of rascals and cure our man. Well, 
plucky Mrs. Crawford, after much judicious wheedling, 
finally conciliated the whole gang of kinsmen, the stoutest 
objector being the man's own wife, who resentfully snifi'ed 
a very gem of a snifi* in protest. To the last, this good 
lady — one of the well-meaning, fussy type — turned up 
her nose at the idea of a " death-sleep " operation ; but 
this turning up of her nose was not to be wondered at, 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 457 

for the said snub-nose is naturally adapted for that pur- 
pose. Yet was she a kindly little body, and no doubt it 
was out of genuine affection for the sufferer she resented 
the terribly business-like look of the table and gleaming 
instruments. Just as a peaceful cat dozing in the sun- 
light becomes a thing of bristling wickedness and fury 
when an enemy comes on the scene, even so Mrs. Hunter 
and her dislike of this " death-sleep." But, at last, we 
won her round. Result : a splendidly successful ampu- 
tation of the arm by my pioneer wife, the poor hunter 
getting the first moment of peaceful calm in two years 
when he entered that soft fleecy cloud of chloroform. 
Then after three days, all the premature wrinkles of pain 
smoothed out of his brow, and once again the old joie 
de vivre flamed up in his face — a triumph of antiseptic 
surgery. In the coming years, no doubt, when Africa is 
a gridiron of railways, smart brick hospitals will grace 
these latitudes, but no surgeon will ever boast of such 
fame as this " death-sleep " lady and her pioneer 
operation. 

The scene changes, and here is a whole town in the 
terrors of toothache, my dental patients numbering not 
ten, twenty, or thirty, but actually more than fifty, " The 
lion of the mouth is roaring " is the tribal phrase for tooth- 
ache, and the only remedy known is to attack the tooth 
with an axe. That is to say, they bring the tortured 
negro up to the axe, then fitting in a plug of hard wood 
against the stubborn tooth, the axe crashes against the 
plug, sending the tooth, in some cases, down the man's 



458 THINKING BLACK 

throat. No wonder when the theory of my forceps spread 
abroad the whole town tumbled to the thing with joy, one 
woman with perfectly good teeth running up like a mad 
thing and distorting her mouth for me to operate. " Oh 
no," explained she, with a soft sigh, " I have not tooth- 
ache, but the lion of the mouth will roar after you are 
gone." The raw bulk of my dental patients, however, had 
one sing-song plaint translated thus into honest, thick- 
skulled Hodge dialect : " You needn't mind which, they 
all aches at times." Yet this is the tribe that boasts the 
ancient proverb, " The teeth have no substitutes," and the 
very notion of an Englishman wearing false teeth sets 
them frantic with excitement. So ho, the ancients were 
out, for the teeth have excellent substitutes. The Luban 
fad in the fashion of teeth is that the four lower front 
teeth must be knocked out, and any of the household not 
so maimed is compelled to shut the door every night as a 
punishment. 

On the Garenganze shore of Lake Mweru, and nestling 
at the foot of the Bukongolo CHif, you find the average 
fishing settlement hidden in a cloud of millions of 
mosquitoes. The typical hamlet lies at the north of a dark 
glen down which runs a mountain stream, and on the 
Lake side it is shut ofi" from view by dense pith-tree 
forests, a weird picture these, approximating to a mangrove 
swamp. Year by year, the rich foreshore along the foot 
of the cliif is growing in size, the mountains sending down 
boulders and also a rich diluvial soil which mixes with the 
beach sand. This amalgam is a garden land passing rich 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 459 

and, owing to the inroads of Mweru, just the desideratum 
for rice -growing. For such a huge expanse of water, the 
crocodiles are surprisingly scarce, an African river always 
boasting more than a lake. This penchant for rivers by 
" crocs " is seen even on the Lake, where the confluence of 
any stream is a sure, almost the only sign of the enemy. 
And no wonder the fisher-folk coined the phrase *' stealing 
water" from Luapula. In order to strike fear of these 
oily lurking crocodiles into the hearts of their youug 
people, the ordinary message a mother delivers to her 
child is : "Go and steal some water from the crocodiles ! " 
This persistent dread of being snapped has given the Shila 
child phenomenally quick eyes, and their mode of mani- 
pulating the water-jar has almost an element of jugglery 
in it. I remember one dark day when a fisherman lost 
his child by a crocodile, and on going out for his nets 
found that there too they had forestalled him, a huge one 
having torn his nets to tatters. Nor does the fatalistic 
negro even attempt to better things for the tribe. The 
elephant's penchant for " warranted pure water," however, 
is often a means of its death, the harpoon-trap being 
usually set iu his tracks leading to water. Here is an 
example just at my elbow. There is a great roaring out- 
side, and it turns out that a young lad, Walepa, has killed 
a monster elephant. Ever since Mrs. Crawford put this 
lad under chloroform and cut off his arm, Walepa had 
been thought useless, but he certainly killed his elephant 
in a most ruthlessly efficient manner. The negroes who 

plume themselves on having two arms are now showering 
28 



460 THINKING BLACK 

compliments upon him, punctuated with hand-clapping. 
The boy had heard that elephants were coming to drink 
at an adjacent river, so setting out with his brother he 
struck their trail leading to water. Taking advantage of 
an overhanging high tree, he climbed and set a trap -spear 
overhead, the missile of death pointing " dead-on " the 
elephant's trail leading to water. But how was he to 
make sure that the spear as it crashed down would pierce 
a vital spot ? This he planned most slyly. Climbing the 
tree with a small gourd of water, he asked his brother to 
stand with back bent full in the trail below. And now 
for the stroke of genius. He forthwith proceeds to sight 
the spear by aiming at his brother's backbone with the 
dripping water : drip ! drip ! until a drop finally struck 
the backbone. What next ? The heavy spear is now 
aimed '* dead," and the youth descends, as he naively puts 
it, " to see what God will do with a boy's spear." Sure 
enough, a brief hour sees the whole boyish plot crowned 
with fruition. Shivering with fear, the crash of approach- 
ing elephants is heard, and the monster bull, as it trumpets 
near the water, receives its death-blow from the descending 
barbed spear. The negroes glory in that filthy, frothy 
meat, but it is not edible to Europeans. It would need 
not a cook, but a magician, to prepare it. The ivory is 
valued at sixty guineas. But King Leopold's long arm 
reaches out for all the ivory, the resultant revenue to 
be nobly devoted to charity — the charity that begins at 
home. 

Ranging the Lake with your eye in April, you can 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 461 

descry a curious procession of Sindbad-the-Sailor floating 
islets, " Bob-abouts " ( Visera) their name. Really clotted 
masses of papyrus, duck-weed, and Phragmites, these have 
been swept down by the Luapula current, the rug and tug 
of the eddies tearing them from the parent bank of the 
river. So launched in the first instance on their long 
voyage by the swirling Luapula, this same current pilots 
them far down- Lake, their destination being any of the 
capes jutting out to debar farther advance. Funny fact 
though it looks, it is really these floating islands that have 
crowded Kilwa in mid-Lake with leopards, and the islanders 
tell the tale quite circumstantially. There came a dark 
day when, like a pirate flying the black flag, one such 
floating island grounded on the South shore of Kilwa with 
a young male leopard aboard, a poor quadruped Adam 
this, without an Eve. One year passed and yet another, 
and lo, a charming lady-leopard came across, cabin 
passenger, if you please, in the cosy depths of another 
floating island. At this point in the fisher narrative the 
naked old " Admiral " of canoes sticks his hands into 
imaginary pockets and drops his jaw. Need he add the 
sequel ? Both at the mating age, that quadruped Eve 
really robbed them of their Eden, for are there not now as 
many leopards as negroes on the island ? The theory that 
these leopards swam across such an expanse of Lake is 
absurd, albeit a leopard is the best swimmer of all African 
Carnivora. The snug depths of these floating islands are 
shady and seductive enough to account for such curious 
cabin passengers. But better far than all this is the 



462 THINKING BLACK 

splendid shelter all such afford to a poor fisherman in a 
dug-out when struck by a white squall. To avoid sudden 
swamping he darts his canoe, nozzle first, into the soft 
pulpy island, and away they sail together, island and 
canoe, the fisherman as dry as a kiln in his cool shelter of 
rank floating grass. " Life-belt Island " we named one 
such, for it saved a sailor's life. Here is a native who 
believes that God could not love His Son, since He gave 
Him up to die. His reason is that his grandfather was 
the famous Mwalumuna, who taught what true paternal 
love was. When far out on Mweru his canoe foundered. 
Letting his wife sink, he battled on and on for hours in the 
rough water, with his five-year-old son now on his back 
and now on his breast. Sunset saw them safe on Kilwa 
Island among the Arabs, who laugh at the idea of such 
risk of life. Their proverb runs, " If the water come like 
a deluge, place thy son under thy feet " — a reference this 
to the Arab tradition that when Noah's rebel sons felt the 
flood gaining on their mouths to choke them they put their 
sons under their feet. 

The hippo is a great factor in fisher-life, and poor 
young Duvivier was killed ofi" Mulonde River by a 
wild one not far from our door. The majority of Mweru 
hippos have been galled ofi" and on by the harpoons of 
the fishermen, and the only safe shot is from the land. 
Duvivier had given his animal a first shot and was 
hoping to draw upon it decisively when the maddened 
brute charged from beneath, so that probably the brave 
young fellow was engulfed in its mouth, for I could 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 463 

not find his body after dredging for four days. The 
curious fact in connection with these Mweru hippos is 
that they are grouped in austere " schools," called 
Matanga, the various schools all known intimately 
and boasting of personal names like genus homo. Thus 
the old grandpa hippo is " Mulonde senior," while grandma 
is popularly known as " Mrs. Kafulo," the sons and 
grandsons all boasting of a serious "postal address" 
appellation. Great excitement prevails among the 
children of the fishing hamlet when a bumpy- faced little 
baby-hippo pops its head above water to proclaim its 
advent into hippodom. A queer little caricature of a 
hippopotamus, heated wrangles take place among the 
youngsters over its christening name, and I found one 
small boy at Mulonde offering to fight the whole crowd 
(in the order of seniority), rather than yield his nomination 
for the brand-new pink hippo-baby's name. Feeding as 
they do at the rate of five bushels per night, the poor 
fishers' fields are raided recklessly ; but a Shila man only 
shrugs his shoulders and, pointing out to the waves of 
the Lake, says, " Yonder is my well-furrowed field ! " 
The same idea this as when, paddling his canoe, he claims 
to be " a miller of water " instead of a miller of flour. 
This serious fact as to a hippo's fixed domicile is only 
proved by the occasional seeming exception when a 
young bull-hippo "marries out" of the school. For 
although he hives off and marries into another school 
many miles distant, yet whenever he is badly wounded 
you can see him putting out to sea, and blowing like 



464 THINKING BLACK 

a porpoise as he steers straight for the old " postal 
address." In the grip of an imperative intuition, that 
homing hippo makes a bee-line for the old place where, 
as a pink baby, it was christened by the fishers' children. 
It is a Medo-Persic law among hippos that they must 
die where they were born. 

But to return to our Lake-dwellers. These Shila 
fishermen are plucky salts who hunt the hippo with 
harpoons on their "coggly" dug-outs. The Lake is 
full of a very pugnacious sort, which crush their canoes 
on occasion. On the 3rd July, at the South end, a boat 
of hunters shouted to me to come and help, and sure 
enough on coming up with them I found, like whalers 
playing a whale, they had a hard hippo in hand. He 
had received two harpoons and was making away with 
them both — tugging at the rope like a dog pulling at 
his chain. The local hippo clan had turned out to the 
rescue, surrounded their less fortunate fellow, put him 
most loyally in the centre and kept him there, defying 
the hunters to break through their clannish circle. It 
was a real sight to see that belt of big heads keeping 
hippo guard. Once and again the men broke through, 
evoking only reverberating roars from the enraged 
guardians, and narrowly escaping a capsize. On came 
the sturdy " dug-outers " with loud, ostentatious splashing. 
On came the heroic hippos with a rush to the tourna- 
ment. And what a kill ! Floating usually four hours after 
death, this one died in the sulks and his brethren of the 
hippo school tucked him away under the tangled papyrus. 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 465 

Farther along a bull-hippo charged me in a dug-out in 
his best swashbuckler style. Waited for him quietly, as 
in two or three plunging springs he came on, bowling and 
bellowing in rage ; then got a bullet in through his open 
mouth. A momentary and momentous hush, then up he 
comes with a suffocating, explosive noise, spouting blood. 
Anon, taking the whole Thames-at- Westminster-Bridge 
width of the Lualaba, he floundered and writhed in his 
death-struggle, lashing the placid water into foam. The 
final act was to throw himself theatrically up in 
the air, then, with a sucking swirl, he sank like a 
stone. The curious touch about it all is that these 
hardy blacks are naked to the blast, the idea being that, 
as they must get wet, a cold clammy calico clinging to 
their body is worse than a natural and normal nudity. 
In fact, these droll Shila folk take this matter of dress 
so seriously that they have worked out at a solution 
exactly the opposite to ours. For the same man who 
fishes in purls naturalibus can be seen, under broiling 
vertical rays, sporting two blankets, our nude fishing 
friend being now rolled up like a huge sausage in his 
coils of calico. 

A smile got the better of me when old Nyemba began 
to speak seriously of " his goats," meaning the local 
school of hippos. This note of proprietorship in his 
possessive pronoun was smile-provoking when one re- 
flected that the said hippos claimed old Nyemba 's fields 
so very much as theirs : does not each hippo sup on his 
five bushels of vegetables per night without asking the 



466 THINKING BLACK 

Chiefs permit ? On leaving, I reminded Nyemba of this 
by way of a parting quip ; but a challenge of this kind 
rarely finds him reluctant, so the old man bade me 
condescend to wait a moment for obstinate, ocular proof 
that the precious hippos were really his. In relating 
what happened, I confine myself to facts, eschewing 
imputations. The Chief mysteriously whistled up all 
the local ladies, and made them group themselves on 
the end of the island, the water, be it noted, as clear 
as plate-glass, and for hours no hippo visible. Had not 
I been searching for hippos the whole morning, pre- 
pared to shoot upon the least hint of a ripple ? Well, 
at the Chief's magician signal this band of women sent 
out a weird shriek to the water, and as by a miracle 
a school of five black hippo heads came up to the glassy 
surface with a gasping roar as obedient salute. One 
responsive glance they gave at the group of women, and 
in a second all was calm again, the hippos bobbing below 
water. Real living hippos, truth to tell, albeit I had 
spent weary hours trying in vain to sight even one 
for our larder, all declining obstinately to show up. Yet 
here was old " black art" Nyemba with a school of hippos, 
so to speak, hidden up his sleeve, the homelier diction 
of the sleeveless Luban for this phrase being " hidden up 
in his armpits." But the old Master of Ceremonies 
resolved to " rub in " this idea of his proprietorship 
of these hippos, so once again he made assurance doubly 
sure. " Try again, my girls," he shouted to the women 
waving his stafi" like a magician's wand ; and once more, 




IFrom Stereograpli, Undn-uood 0- T 

FOUR THOUSAND POUNDS OF BEEF 
At 6d. the lot. 



nciei-iuood, London. 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 467 

like a gramophone record, tlie same magic shriek rent 
the same still air with the same magic appearance of 
the hippos. I spent the whole night wondering what 
this Aomo-hippo league meant at all at all, and — and I 
am wondering still. Call it " black art " if you like, 
I prefer to think of old Nyemba as an artful black : the 
phenomenally long time these huge hippos were sub- 
merged is not such a puzzle after all, for it seems as 
if the hippo's very ungainly bulk is in its favour. That 
is to say, with lungs full of air, his specific gravity 
thereby becomes almost equal to that of water, with the 
result that he can coolly walk or run along the bottom 
of the river-bed as though it were dry land. 

With a land of this sort that can boast not one 
butcher's shop, sometimes the Missionary with his own 
right arm can open up a long-shut tribe by a happy kill 
of hippo — fancy thousands of pounds of beef for one 
bang of a gun. The killing of one such monster gave 
us our first footing on the Luapula. By a long detour 
of miles and months here we come out on the Luapula, 
striking the left bank a few miles below the Falls — 
object : to pick a Mission site at Johnston Falls.^ Ad- 
vancing from the West this time has made the muddle, 
for the off'-bank is agog with excitement, my quondam 
friends "turned to be my enemies." Across the stream 
they throw many a dainty morsel of black logic : " You 

1 Mr. Pomeroy began here, then came Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, then Mr. 
Campbell and others. The second phase of this station was when Mr. and 
Mrs. Lamond and Mr. Sims retired back from the river to Kaleba, Mr. and 
Mrs. Campbell branching off to begin work on Lake Bangweulu. 



468 THINKING BLACK 

came " (this is the sort of thing) " from the North only 
three months ago, and now you come from the West, 
therefore you are not you." My answer, of course, is 
the eager echo : " I certainly am I, but you are not you, 
because 1 guard the entente cordiale (Chipwane) while 
you set it at naught." There goes Chief after Chief filing 
past on the off-bank with the biggest muster of guns 
he ever made, every man of them munching this apple 
of discord, *' Why advance from the West, when you 
came from the North ? " A reminder this, that in Central 
Africa nearly all the polemics arise from our negro's 
prejudices as to a suspected point of the compass — 
instance, Sir Alfred Sharpe repelled for coming from the 
East, and Hannington murdered because he entered 
Buganda from Busoga. Nor avails it to reply like a 
wordy windbag. Deeds are the only eloquent words in 
such a fix, so I produced quite a knock-down argument 
by — inviting the whole tribe to dine with us. Depend 
upon it, the world's slums are all alike, slum street, slum 
town, or slum tribe, and the simplest solution is — to open 
a huge soup kitchen, free tickets for Chiefs and slaves. 
This is that line of least resistance so inelegantly rendered 
in the Luapula alliterative proverb, " Brow of brass, but 
belly of butter." Curious way of capturing a tribe, 
camping on its utmost border and asking your enemies 
out — to supper. Without money and without price 
those soup tickets — and no wonder 1 For the net local 
cost of my four tons of hippo-meat worked out at the 
round sum of — sixpence. Eight thousand nine hundred 



BLACK MAN = BLACK MANNERS 469 

and eighty pounds of meat, not at 6d. per lb., but the 
whole 8980 lb. costing a single and solitary sixpence. 

This is how it came about. Slipping over to the 
hostile bank by stealth at sundown, I killed a monster 
hippo in its very best days. Tried the temple shot, and 
the bullet zigzagged through the brain — magic bullet 
that, for did it not metaphorically slay also the enmity of 
my hundreds of enemies ? Listen to yonder glad cry on 
the off-bank ; the news catches on, drums beatinor and 
clouds of canoes darting across in the dusk to verify the 
kill. Canoes, nota bene, yet there were no such things in 
these latitudes yesterday — oh no, scarcely knew what a 
canoe was. Now, where the carcass is, there are the 
vultures gathered together — and in boats, too. Yesterday 
they shot angry glances at us — now, picture the same 
softened eyes with that dreamy look one sees in a kitten's 
when it smells frying fish. Yesterday they were lolling 
in the sun, a tribe of indolents. Here they are at a later 
phase rushing on this beef with the tense concentration of 
a crowd making for the refreshment-room at a station 
where the train stops three minutes. But do not quote 
too quickly against them Paul's " whose god is their 
belly " ; do so, and you are at the bad old business of 
beating a cripple with his own crutches. He has got a 
reason, and here it comes. That is to say, such a serious 
chemist is this negro, that if you give him plain flour 
with no " relish," he will go to bed hungry rather than 
touch mere carbo-hydrates without the adequate albumi- 
noids, In other words, that ravenous shriek of his you 



470 THINKING BLACK 

hear at the hippo banquet has one meaning only — 
Nitrogen ! Why is it that the African alone has special- 
ised here and coined a word for *' meat-hunger " [Kashia) ? 
Why a special substantive if not that there is a specially 
substantial craving behind it ? He ravens on that meat, 
his very blood and bone crying out like chemists for the 
needed nitrogen. Red raw flesh covered with blood is the 
thing beloved of the negro — torn off the animal just after 
it has been shot, muscles still quivering. 



CHAPTER XXIII 
The Year of Love " : an Epilogue 



" For while the tired waves dimly breaking 
Seem here no painful inch to gain, 
Far out, by creeks and inlets waking, 
Comes silent, flooding in, the main." 



"The noisy waves are a failure, but the silent tide 

is a success." Phillips Brooks. 



"Such a tide as moving seems asleep, 

Too full for sound and foam." Tennyson. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

Epilogue 

(Luanza. ) 

KNOW ye, therefore, that unquenchable hope was 
crowned at last, for the glad year 1905 was 
termed MivaJca wa Lusa, or " the Year of Love." 
Somebody drew blank when he said that Hope makes a 
good breakfast but a bad supper, for there is no throb of 
joy akin to the darkest hour merging into dawn. For 
look what befell us. At Koni, Johnston Falls, and 
Luanza it was the same story and the same time. 

All these sterile years the Gospel had been stored up 
in Garenganze folk mentally, like so much sound money 
that returned no interest. They listened, and they 
watched us with their ferret eyes, and, of course, they had 
their difficult questions to ask, yet answer some of them 
we could not. I admire your African, because you can 
never get out of a difficulty with him under the fog of a 
definition. He may have a funny figure-of-eight twist 
in his query, but it is always to the point. Alas ! the 
average white man's remarks to the negro, though lacking 
point, are always pointed. The story of these long sterile 
years of sowing was supremely simple from the African's 
standpoint. Intruding, as we had done, into his darkness 



474 THINKING BLACK 

with our Gospel of God, the said Gospel made too prepos- 
terous and impossible a claim upon him. Hence his blunt 
black challenge to the Missionary: "Well, you just sit 
down here and live your Gospel for twenty years or so, 
and then we will believe you." Thus, for nearly a genera- 
tion, did the negro's face set in those obstinate lines of 
Christ-rejection so well known to us, and it has taken all 
that time for the truth to get home to his hard heart that 
all our Gospelling was not the mere effusion of a passing 
excitement. This " pegging away " is what the African 
calls " the pertinacity of a fly," the compliment being 
equivocal, as most African flies have a sting in them. 
Some flies, like some Missionaries, even give " sleeping 
sickness" — a curious sort of jag that must be if it makes 
you sleep instead of wakening you up. And " sting " is 
the very idea in bush-preaching, for the unblushing sin 
forces Evangelist to be as plain as John Bunyan. Hence 
that negro obstinacy, and, if you have only pertinacity 
enough, the said obstinacy can easily work out at 
malignity. Mr. Pecksnifi" has not yet been born in 
Central Africa, and, as we have seen, the nude negro has 
nude speech : one cheery old gentleman used to exhort 
us in the 'pros and cons of this attack of ours on the 
citadel of the negro soul. " Remember," said he, " if you 
hit the body only on one spot you will soon raise a lump." 
This is true enough, for although you can easily laugh and 
chat yourselves into the good graces of a negro, yet 
remember that is only the nominal surface black man you 
have conciliated. Scratch this coloured Russian on the 



EPILOGUE 475 

subject of sin and you verily find a Tartar. The hint of 
obstinacy is seen in the very set of the jaw. No, mere 
sophistry will not break him, and only the power of God 
can make him throw the doors of his nature open to the 
Christ. But the " raising of a lump " is only one side of 
the " pegging-away " story, and the very cheery face of 
our old exhorter was enough to make you ask where his 
lump w^as after so much sermon-tasting. " But," says 
this old man, ' ' there is another aspect to this Gospel- 
thumping of yours, and remember also, white man, 
that if you beat the drum on one spot only you will crack 
it." Sure enough, the very next day one of the biggest 
drums the Devil owned in the country was cracked. 

B was a notorious thief who had been in the Belgian 

chain more than once, and many a time he had wept, not 
the tears of penitence, but of revolt. For years, with a 
customary placidity, he had gone the hard way of 
rebellion. " Wasted" was the word my pen had almost 
tricked me into writing concerning the pile of religious 
ammunition directed against all such. But "is not My 
Word a Hammer ? " said the Lord, and that holy hammer 
broke him. For what the Congo law could not do (by 
sjambok and chain), in that it was weak through Butugu's 
sinful flesh, God did in power. Ah, there is nothing 
breaks the rebel's back like the flash of memory — "My 
God hath remembered me." 

Leading up to this "Year of Love," what was the raw 
native's line of defence, or had he any ? Slaves, for 
instance, whose souls were ploughed with the ploughshare 



476 THINKING BLACK 

of anguish, why did they not troop under the Christ's 
banner ? The curious answer is found in their deep-seated 
idea that this only was of God, this, the raw heathendom 
in which God had caused them to be born. Not once, 
but a hundred times, have I heard the native claim " God " 
as the Author of it all. " God's law " (Mukanda wa Leza) 
was the phrase for all their tribal customs, and the very 
variety of men and manners on the face of the earth was 
their argument against the unity that is in Christ. There 
are genuine phrases that have gone the round of the 
Garenganze for centuries, which, literally translated, look 
like the language of pious resignation : " Ah, God's time 
has not come yet." "Had it been God's gift to you, you 
would have got it." "God is great: whoever conquered 
Him? He killeth even the aristocrats." And so on, in 
dark fatalistic sing-song, the name of God bandied about 
on every subject, and blowing in on the soul like a cold 
Arctic blast. I have met serious students of theology 
who were embarrassed because the Africans have no idea 
of Satan and his sinister personality, whereas the real 
puzzle would be to find out how they could possibly know 
of the existence of a specific fallen angel named Diabolus, 
alias Satan. The master-stroke of the Devil is that he, 
in Africa, has not only lied most subtly all the centuries 
against God, but has hidden himself behind his own lie. 

"And so they've voted the Devil out 
And of course the Devil's gone, 
But simple people would like to know 
Who carries his business on." 



EPILOGUE 477 

Yet God was over all even then, and in some crude 
sense these poor wanderers from Him were under a 
schoolmaster leading them to Christ. Crudely, granted, 
yet even Paul dignifies that intuition of theirs by the 
exalted name of " law " when he insists that they, too, are 
a "law unto themselves." One of the strongest threads 
in the fabric of their national life is the austere creed of 
taboo, and here is a fresh " as we go to press " example. 
Just a minute ago I tried hard to get a tiny boy named 
Kasongo to eat a fish. Pinched with hunger, here was a 
little nipper with no "moral" backbone, yet he shut his 
milk teeth, and defied all my entreaty. No, he dare not 
break tribal taboo, dare not touch fish, wheedle him as 
you may. Poor superstition of course it all is, but at 
least the negro breed is thereby stronger in grit and 
tenacity of purpose, and in some sense this loyalty to law- 
keeping does not soften the fibre of his black mind. In 
fact, the day this type of negro weeps for sin will be the 
same glorious date when that very negro will welcome 
Christ into his life by the front door of fearlessness and 
not by the back door of cowardice. Nor will you need to 
spend long hours indoctrinating him with ideas as to the 
sanctity of law per se. He has got that in his bones, for 
in his own tribal taboo did he not "play the game"? 
Thus Christ subjugates all things unto Himself, and 
instead of casting away the old spear of taboo, he now 
converts it into a Gospel ploughshare. Is there no taboo 
in the Ecclesia ? I trow there is. Are there no holy 
" thou shalt not's " in Christianity ? And did the negro 
29 



478 THINKING BLACK 

not spend his life learning how sacred even a human 
" thou'shalt not " can be ? 

Then, again, quite a bright streak of hope is seen in 
the conversion of chiefs of honourable status in the land. 

K , one of these, tells his conversion in a manly, 

precise way. Chief on the Bukongolo Range, he says he 
often came down from the hills to attend the meetings, 
ay, even in the rain he made a try to be there. " Believe ? " 
says he; "No, I wore out two gospel halls in Christ- 
rejection." Quaint idea to think of wearing out a hall as 
you wear out an old pair of boots. The first mud hall 
was eaten by white ants and had to be replaced by an- 
other, and as K saw even a third hall while yet a rebel 

at heart, this poignant fact was the straw that broke the 
camel's back : "I have actually worn out two meeting- 
houses in Christ-rejection." No beauty he, only one of 
the old cut-throats who did Mushidi's dirty work for a 
dirty reward. But the Gospel has even done something 
for his ugly face, for the old doggy and insinuating leer is 
gone and the gleam of the life eternal shoots out of the 
eyes. How true that a negro's black face is, after all, not 
\ I the same thing as his countenance ! God makes a man's 
( I face, but a man makes his own countenance. Certainly hand- 
some is as handsome does in Africa, and old K has got 

one thing at any rate out of Christianity, for the dynamic 
of the Cross sends him to bed with a sweet mouth and 
a clean mind. At first, all alone in his own town, he had a 
hard battle, the saved chief and his wilful people being at 
daggers drawn. Christ seemingly, as of yore, had not 



EPILOGUE 479 

come to send peace in their midst, but a sword, and the 
old tug-of-war between right and wrong began. No 
sugar-plum expressions here, for light fights darkness 
with a glittering blade, the gleam being all the brighter 
in the inky blackness. Like a living tree in a timber- 
yard, he grew nobly, and now, after six years, he has won 
a small nucleal band of Christians who daily meet in 
his town. Thus those stunted, stifled souls at long last get 
a chance. Like a toy town hall in the centre of his village 
you can descry a nice schoolhouse he has built for his 
people. 

Too many Africans see Christ in a book as we see 
places in a map, but here is a genuine case of a young 
man converted by merely reading John's Gospel. Too 
big for our elementary school, he went his own way in sin, 
but still clung to his copy of John as a fetish. Then old 
Africa — the Africa of sin and sorrow — began to wind its 
tentacles round him, and he was speedily becoming the 
usual bleared -of- eye negro with whom Jesus Christ is the 
Great Unmentionable in his unhallowed hut. But he 
was reckoning without God and the Word of God, which 
is not bound — did he not still cling to his copy of John's 
Gospel ? Well, watch the divine logic of events involved 
in the treasure of a truth that " where the word of a King 
is, there is power." One day the gun-cotton of John's 
Gospel came in contact with the tinder of his rebellion, 

and this K was literally exploded into the kingdom. 

For out from the pages of " John of the Bosom " came the 
assertive call, " Follow Me ! " and that one word rugged 



480 THINKING BLACK 

off the terrible tentacles from his soul. K can only 

explain his conversion in the quaintly choice words : " I 
was startled to find that Christ could speak Chiluba. I 
heard Him speak out of the printed page, and what He 
said was, 'Follow Me ! ' " And then it was he entered the 
new era of reading the Old Book, for was it not a fact 
that now God v»'as staring out at him from every page, 
and shouting in his ears ? Those rays of light that darted 
out of Galilee long ago have lit up these poor dark glens 
with gladness. Simply and satisfyingly a soul settles for 
eternity on the living Word of God. An old negro chief 
from the South end has just sent in a message to his 
brethren here, and there is the same ring of assurance as 
to the Word of God. " Tell my brethren at Luanza," 
says he, " that Christ keeps me down here all alone by 
the Gospel according to Mark." The only portion of the 
Bible he has, to him " Mark " equates the whole revelation 
of God, and even "Romans" and "Ephesians" are only 
portions of the great " Marko," his first and faithful friend. 
Sterile though the soil be, the seed is the Word of God : 
you may count the apples on the tree, but who can count 
the trees in the apple ? You may tell the acorns on the 
oak, but not the oaks in the acorn. 

Yet such thick lips can drop pearls. It is delightful 
to see God taking up these Gentiles, and speaking with 
other lips and a stammering tongue, stiff old phrases 
going into the melting-pot of negro mouths and being 
poured out in fresh fluidity. " The Book of Acts," for 
instance, becomes " Words concerning Deeds " ; " the 



EPILOGUE 481 

Lord's Table " becomes the '* Feast of Memories," or the 
*' Table of Tears " ; and as worship is in the spirit they 
have cleverly coined the verb "to spirit" as the true 
ideal of approach to God, for what but spirit can reach 
" The Spirit " ? Perceive the astute negro at this most 
sensible word-coinage, for pepa is the verb " to spirit," 
just as, say, " a drink" is a noun with "to drink" as its 
satellite verb. Sensible all this surely, for there you 
have an otherwise materialistic negro ignoring the mere 
sight of his eyeballs and talking away to nothing visible 
with shut eyes — he is " spiriting," i.e. worshipping. Deep- 
sea sounding some of their happy thoughts are. " Eter- 
nity," for example, is called "the lifetime of God 
Almighty," and the gift of Life Eternal is merely a 
pledge that they will live as long as God lives, eternal 
death being " a dying as long as God is living." When 
you, their white teacher, blunder along in your exposition 
it is not uncommon to see a far-away look on your 
hearers' faces, painfully suggestive of the fact that they 
are all off on a scent of their own ! For what to you 
may be a mere commonplace of normal Christian thought 
— "Book of Acts," for example — is to him full of sweet, 
subtle suggestion — " Words about Deeds " — a full current 
of new thought switched on. Sure, here it is we all learn 
how much we have yet to learn, every truth in Africa 
being like a bit of Labrador spar — it has no lustre as 
you turn it in your hand until you come to a particular 
angle, then it shows deep and beautiful colours. But 
what if you miss the said angle precisely when your 



482 THINKING BLACK 

negro spies it ? This fact it is that sends your audience 
off on its own, the speaker losing the lustre at the precise 
moment when the black man has caught the accurate 
angle of flashing light. Thus, in Africa, what you do 
not say is often more eloquent than your long windy 
homily. Yes, black as coal every one of them ; yet, after 
all, diamonds are made of soot, albeit the how, when, and 
where of the miracle we may not know. Moreover, it 
doth not yet appear what this black land of ours shall 
be, but we know that God with swift, silent steps can 
come and give the crystallising touch that makes the 
diamond flash out of the quondam soot. " Rags," the 
Arabs call our black parishioners, forgetful of the fact that 
rags make the whitest paper : so what man can do in the 
paper line surely God can surpass in souls. 

Quite a serious theologian the negro becomes, and here 
it is, greatly daring, he taps all the unsuspected sources of 
language. In the things of God this young black Christian 
is in some sense a sort of negro Columbus setting out to 
discover a new world of wonder. His word for " heaven " 
is a good example of the Luban's finesse and regard 
for detail, coupled with a knowledge of sound philology. 
Shells we find on the beach, for pearls we must dive, and 
most appropriately has he dived for this great pearl- word 
" heaven " — is not each gate of The Glory a pearl ? The 
plain philology of this word *' Mwiulu," then, gives you 

J the meaning of " heaven " as " the entering into all the 
highest times, and places, and manners, and methods of 
living life." This means that Christians, as " the heavenly 



EPILOGUE 483 

people," are, literally and not exaggeratingly, '* the folks 
who enter into all the highest places, plus the highest 
times, plus the very highest manners, plus the only first- ( 
class methods of service." Far from this long definition 
sucking all the juice out of such a luscious fruit as the 
word " heaven," a negro at my elbow claims that I have 
omitted two links in the chain of meaning : the link of 
cause, and the link of design. So that while the entering 
into all the highest times, highest places, highest manners, 
highest methods is ours, we must not omit this entering 
into life's highest causes and highest designs also ! No 
chance example this, as dozens of instances prove. Take 
another. If you quote the Psalm to him, " Our times are 
in Thy hand," he will be forced to translate it in the 
gorgeous words — " All my life's why's and when's and ) 
where's and wherefore's are in God's hand ! " The sane S \. 
grammar of this is that particles of space are all necessarily 
units of time, place, manner, and degree (just as in 
English we say " the space between the table and the 
door," and " the space of half an hour"). 

Simple in strength and strong in simplicity, the best 
sort of young black Christian delights to push out into 
the adjacent hamlets with the Gospel. Far from being 
professional preachers, they " talk" the Gospel — a straight 
talk in his ow^n town being more tantalising to a raw 
negro than a hundred sermons. For in a sermon he 
knows where he is (or rather, you do, for he often nods), 
but these terribly personal talks jag him into contrition. 
After all, there is no need for shooting at sparrows with 



484 THINKING BLACK 

I heavy artillery, and Africa's true evangelisation begins 
when the simple negroes start to talk about redeeming 
love among themselves. No English twang or mannerisms 
in that negro talk. With the converted African, Christ's 
mercy, like the water in a vase, takes the shape of the 
vessel that holds it. Your constant joy is to hear in a 
foreign lingo some simple old fact of faith taking a new 
meaning by one twist of the negro tongue. Here is a 
Chief who takes up the cudgels for his abandoned (?) race, 
and claims that if the Gospel is really for everybody then 
they have as much right as we to an offer of same. To 
meet his challenge, I read out the record of the impotent 
man at Bethesda, and venture to urge that here is one who 
has the same complaint as ignored Africa : " Sir, I have 
no man." So we get the opening, and advancing into 
the salvation of the subject I tell that tale of divine cure 
-the cure of the man that had no man to help while 
others got the good things. Then we come to the point. 
What I now want is an assurance from my petulant Chief 
that here at last he understands my drift. "Oh," he 
said, "that is very simple: the thirty-eight-years-sick man 
is like unto our abandoned Africa ; the man said, / have 
no man, but Christ said, Tm your Man." 



L'ENVOI 



¥ ^OTVN goes the sun like a ball of fire over dark 
i M Luhaland. The first sough of the cold night wind 
goes through like a dart. The distant dogs in the 
fishing hamlet howl. The frogs croaky croak, and the bitterns 
bump, bump. To climax weirdness, the fire has recently 
swept through the long yellow grass, covering the land with 
a dark pall. The sluggish stream by which we camp seems 
a mere trickle of liquid mud, the only hint of water being the 
deeper dye of green down its hollow. There you draw your 
drinking water the colour of bad tea ; there, too, at sunset 
the reed-buck comes down to drink. And as the darkness 
deepens the sighing sounds of Africa's dark are heard saying — 

" THE NIGHT COMETH WHEN NO MAN CAN WORK:' 
* * * 

Afar the Golden-Crested Crane is calling ! ^ | i 




INDEX 



Abbreviated names, 428, 429. 

Abstract, The, 279-281. 

Acacia thorn, 366. 

Acacias, 202, 386, 393, 402. 

Achokwe, 12. 

Acts, The Book of the, 480, 481. 

Africa, Topsy-turvy, 70, 230, 371. 

Vastness of, map facing 164. 

"sunny fountains," 439. 
African, The debased, 143, 144, 442, 

diet, 99, 100, 316, 413. 

"Divide," The, 20. 

forests, 315, 353, 375 ff. 

hamlets, 88, 144, 347, 439-442. 

hunter, 436-439. 

ladies, 51, 52, 105. 

liars, 78-80. 

names for white men, 21, 22. 

orphan. An, 453. 

sayings, 249, 262, 313. See Sayings. 

skies, 99, 153. 

winter, 72, 335. 
Albert, King, 414, 
Alexander, Czar, 195. 
Alice in Wonderland, 59, 136, 449, 
Alma, 304. 

Amazon, A negro, 232. 
American Missionaries, 37, 50, 51, 113, 

204. 
Amos, 432. 

Amputation of arm, 457, 459. 
Ancient Britons, 7, 140, 326, 352.' 
Anderson, Mr. and Mrs., 467. 
Andriane, killed by cannibals, 330. 
Anglo- Bantu, 56. 
Angola, 3. 
Animals — 

Ant-bear, 334, 357. 

Antelopes, 87, 88, 231, 313, 348, 366. 

Badger, 370. 
Boar, Wild, 348. 
Buck, Red, 87, 88, 269. 

Reed, 485. 
Crocodiles, 83, 274, 324, 433-435, 459. 
Dogs, 52, 95, 244; 272-274, 348. 



Animals — continued. 

Elephants. See under name. 

Indian, 257-259. 
Fish, 88, 89, 168, 413, 477. 
Frogs, 54, 485. 
Gnu, 162. 
Goats, 232, 336. 
Hippos, 426, 462-470. 
Hyena, 55, 296. 
Jackals, 88, 162, 385. 
Leeches, 435, 436. 
Leopards, 106, 461. 
Lions. See under name. 
Monkeys, 84, 85, 86, 315, 316. 
Pigs, 53, 54. 
Rabbit, 175. 
Ratel, 370. 
Rats, 312, 324. 
Snails, 52, 95, 312. 
Snakes, 52, 251, 252, 324, 385. 
Boa-constrictors, 313-315. 
Mamba, 252. 
Toads, 54. 
Zebras, 164, 231. ■ 
Anne of Austria, 385. 
Annexation, Attempted, 300. 
Ant-bear, The, 334, 357. 
Antelopes, 87, 88, 231, 348. 
killed by rinderpest, 366. 
Lost, 313. 
Ant-hills, 114, 322, 386. 
Ants as food, 312, 385, 
Antiquity, 76, 234. 
Anton, Mr. and Mrs., 319, 354, 355. 
Appleyard, 280. 
Apprenticeship, African, 50. 
Arabs, Bitter blasphemy of, 199. 
building Mushidi's palace, 168. 
canoes, 398. 

contrasted with Europeans, 200, 201. 
condemned to death, 201-203. 
consult lion king, 267. 
Danger from, 326, 
den, 398. 
designs, 342. 



INDEX 



Arabs' domination broken, 330. 

in Mushidi's capital, 190, 199. 

leader, 361. 

lines, rSlipjiing through, 343. 

Murdered by, 246. 

name for negroes. 95, 482. 

on Kilwa Island, 361. 

prayers, 199, 200. 

provide wife for Mushidi, 295. 

raiders, 415. 

Roaming, 203. 

sayings, 81, 230. 

scouts, 403. 

slavers, 32. 

tradition, An, 462. 
Arethusa, The, 403. 
Arguments of cannibals, 337, 

341. 
Aristotle, 240, 440. 
Arithmetic, African, 278. 
Arnold, Matthew (quoted), 298. 
Arnot, Mr. and Mrs., 74, 209, 415, 
Arrows, Poisoned, 268, 352, 353. 
Ashley Downs orphans, 210. 
Asking questions, 140, 450, 454. 
Atlantic, FareM-ell to the, 33. 
Attacked by hippo, 465. 
Axe thrown at boy, 333, 334. 

Babies, African, 144. 
Baby-betrothal, 452. 
Baby cutting its teeth, 236-238. 

drowned in Lake, 237. 

hippos, 463, 464. 

Newborn, 124. 

pioneers, 18, 19. 

The Mission, 416. 
Babylon, A Black, 167, 192, 193. 
Badger's distillery, 370. 
Bagdad, British Consul at, 257. 
Bagsters, One of the Bible, 37. 
Bailombo, The, 34. 
Bailundu, 37. 
Bainbridge, 405. 
Ballad, English, 122. 
Bamboo, 348, 388. 
Bamboo lightning conductor, 349. 
Bananas, 85, 323. 
Bangweulu, 428, 429, 467. 
Bantu, 280, 281, 340. 

ideas, 10, 231, 271. 

of the boots, SI. 

saying, 2, 454. 

song, 8. 

tribes, 8, 9. 
Bantubenge, 331. 
Barbarians, 96. 

Barley wine of Xenophon, 222. 
Barotse Valley, 204. 
Bartimseus, Sermon on, 241. 



Barttelot, Major — Murder of, 303. 

Baskets of food, 217. 

Batelela, 332. 

Bay tree, A green, 228. 

Bearded tribe, A, 183. 

Beast-precedent, 231, 232, 340. 

Beasts in prophecy, 241. 

not immortal, 272. 
Beer, 120, 260. 
Beetles, Dor, 338. 
Beeton, Mrs., 105, 106. 
Belgse in England, 326. 
Belgians, 258, 300. 

and British advance, 150. 

arrive at Mushidi's, 302. 

flag, 301. See Congo. 

Fort, 319, 326-329. 

King, 300, 414, 460. 

mistaken for English, 305. 

officers killed by cannibals, 330. 

proclamation, 307. 
Bell, Peter, 360. 

Belmonte, Silva Porto of, 32, 74. 
Benguella, The Western Zanzibar, 32. 

Landing at, 4. 

Nearest bank at, 69. 

road, 184. 

Slavery at, 27, 28, 30. 

Waiting at, 7fr., 20. 
Bethesda, 484. 

Betting three beads, 352, 353. 
" Beyond the Sea" innovations, 4. 
Bia of the Guides, Captain, 303. 
Bible-School, The, 446. 
Bible Society of Scotland, 205. 
Bicycling in the trail, 381. 
Big game hunter, 291. 
Big kill of hippo meat, 467-469. 
Bihe, 7, 41, 143. 

Early days in, 37, 50, 65, 445. 

Journey to, 31, 34. 

Slaves journeying to, 31, 47. 
Bihean dynasty falls, 74. 

guide, 161. 

slaver, 30. 
Biheans, 32, 185. 
Billy Bray, 69. 

Bird, Cyril and Mrs., 137, 138, 163. 
Birds killed at one shot, 400. 

on Mweru, 399. 
Birds — 

Bittern, 485. 

Cormorants, 399. 

Cranes, 399, 485. 

Curlew, 399. 

Darters, 371, 399. 

Ducks, 124, 441. 
Tree, 399. 

Eagles, 116. 

Egrets, 371. 



INDEX 



BiKDS — contimied. 

Flamingo, 399. 

Fowls, 116, 397, 413. 

Goose, Spurwiug, 399. 

Herons, 399. 

Honey-bird, 382, 383. 

Ibis religiosa, 399. 

King-fislieis, 399. 

Lily-trotters, 399. 

Nscva, 400. 

Parakeet, 48. 

Parrot (Story), 104. 

Partridge, 48, 413, 416. 

Pelicans, 399. 

Plovers, Spur-winged, 399. 

Sandpipers, 399. 

Storks, 400-402. 

Swallows, 275. 

Toucan, 1'25. 

Vultures, 116, 162. 

Waterfowl, 399. 

Water-rails, 399. 

Woodpecker, 416. 
Black and white, Nothing down in.. 174. 
Black Portuguese, 33. 

Thinking. See Thinking Black. 
Blackburn quoted, 130. 
Blacksmiths, 275, 276, 448, 449. 
Blackwater fever, 137, 316. 
Blank cheques, God's, 69. 
Blanket, The negro's, 71, 465. 
Blocked roads, 6, 9, 10, 119, 213, 342. 
Blue sky, 99, 153. 
Bluebeard, An African, 229, 232. 
Blue-bottle flies, 229, 292. 
Boa-constrictors, 313-315. 

names, 396, 428, 429. 
Boar, Wild, 348. 
Bodson, Captain, 305, 307. 
Bodyguard, Mushidi's, 307. 
Boers and Portuguese, 75. 
Bog, Crossing the, 136. 
Boiling a watch, 176. 
Bonia, 300. 

Bonchamps, Marquis de, 305, 307, 312. 
Bone kills croc, 435. 
Book of Nature, The, 151, 277. ' 
Booth, General (quoted), 92. 
Boots and bare feet, 375, 376. 

not for desert sands, 157. 

Portuguese convict's, 214. 
Borassus palm, 386. 
"Boring," 33, 116, 406, 411. 
Born in the morning, 395. 

white, 4. 
Boys, African and English, 53. 

in Luvaleland, 145. 
Brain, 278, 279, 355. 
Brasseur, Captain, 326. 
Breaking up of Mushidi's, 304. 



Bridging gulf to spirit- world, 262. 
British, Approach of the, 343. 

and Belgian advance, 150. 

Museum sculptures, 315. 
Britons, Ancient, 7, 140, 188, 326, 

352. 
Broken earthenware, 186. 
Brooks, Phillips, 472. 
Brother, Mushidi's, 269. 
Browning, 20. 
Bryant and May's, 252. 
Buck, Red, 87, 88, 269. 
Buganda, 468. 

Bukongolo Range, 414, 415, 458, 478. 
Bulawayo, The Mines at, 104. 
Bull of the herd, 232. 
Bulletin, False as a, 179, 288. 
Bullets, Mushidi's, 268, 269. 

or hoe, 173. 
Bunkeya, 197, 221, 311, 319. 

Hills, The, 209. 

imprisoned at, 9. 

negroes, 306. 

only white man at, 169. 
Burial at midnight, 132. 
Buried alive, 12, 452, 453. 
Burning of Missionary's house, 11, 416. 
Burton, Sir Richard, 18, 120, 166, 277, 

410. 
Bush -preaching, 474. See Preaching. 
Busoga, 468. 
Butembo forest, 337. 
Buying name, 22. 

road, 121. 

Cadenhead, 257, 259. 
Csesar (quoted), 188. 
Calais, 414. 

Calendar of knotted cord, 175. 
Calico and beads, 117. 

coat, 398. 

Present of, 214. 

Stolen, 121. 
Calvary, Gambling at, 271. 
Cameron, Lovett, 184, 299. 
Campbell, Mr., 319, 415, 467. 
Camping, 35, 65. 
Canadian Missionary, A, 210. 
Candles injure eyesight, 250. 
Cannibals, 95, 423. 
Cannibal arguments, 340, 341. 

atrocities, 331 ff. 

dirge, 337, 339. 

Meeting of, 424, 425. 

soldiers, 330. 

taught sanitation, 440. 

vampires, 337. 

workers on railway. 111. 
Canoe eaten by lions, 367. 

man. An old, 404, 405. 



INDEX 



Canoes, Begging for, 397. 

destroyed by hippos, 426. 
Cape, The, 300. 
Captivity Epistles, The, 198. 
Caravan, Cook of the, 67, 68. 

Forming the, 65. 

Government, 338. 

]iko Lord Mayor's Show, 213. 

Missionary, 12, 17, 107, 291. 

plundering, 12, 139, 185, 291. 

Slave, 28, 163. 

Trading, 75. 
Carnivora, 340, 367. 
Carpenters, Training of, 446. 
Carpentry, 417. 
Carrier, Death of a, 132. 
Carriers, 17, 18. 

Engaging, 66 ff. 

revolt, 67, 163. 

Waiting for, 19. 

Weary, 97. 
Carter, 257, 258, 259. 
"Cartwheel " track, 7, 107, 115. 
Cassava poison, 82. 
"Catcli-your-pal " movement, 9. 
Caterpillars as food, 313. 
Cathedral of the dead, 264. 
Catumbella Hills, 27, 33. 

purchasers of slaves, 28. 
Caves, Driven into, 415. 

Shut up in a, 291-294. 
Chamunda, Prince, 175, 295. 
Chaplain to the troops, 330. 
"Charlie," 370. 
Chenda or Pilgrim Town, 51. 
Cheques, God's blank, 69. 
Chicago pig-killing, 54. 
Chief, Chofwe, 336. 

Conversion of, 246, 478, 480. 

Fisher, 244. 

flys to Luanza, 246. 

Funerals of, 285 ff., 453. 

gives concession at Luanza, 414. 

Kapwasa, 394. 

Luban (quoted), 26. 

Native, 116, 117. 

Nkuva, 236, 237. 

Present of, 214. 

Swiva, 337-340. 

See Rob Roy. 
Chigoes, 198. 
Children betting, 352, 353. 

Hands of, 443. 
Chilolo Ntambo, 361, 362, 363, 365. 
Chiluba, 191, 480. 
Chimneys, 169. 
Chimunwa's brother, 454. 
Chinde, 6, 33, 411. 
Chipuma, 360. 
Chisamba, 50, 204. 



Chisenga, Death at, 82. 

Chiwala blocks the road, 342. 

Chloroform, 457, 459. 

Chofwe, Chief, 336. 

Chokwe country, 28, 113, 116, 132. 

Chona, 295. 

Funeral sacrifices of, 287-290. 

War camp of, 126. 
Christ and Temple sellers, 30. 

Triumph trophy of, 'z23. 
Christians, Negro, 355, 356, 398. See 

Conversions. 
Cicero, 26, 43, 277. 
Circular objects, 114. 
Clarke, Mr., 319. 
Clement's word, 155. 
Climate, The effect of, 5, 41, 152. 
Climbing a mountain, 350. 
Clocks and watches, 176, 177. 
Cobbe, Benjamin, 101, 212, 415. 
"Cobweb path," 9, 10. 
Cobwebs, Breaking the, 447. 
Cocoa cultivation, Slaves for, 29. 
Coddling tbe converts, 104. 
Coiiantogle Ford, 122. 
Coillard, M., 204. 
" Coil of ro])e," A, 314, 315. 
Coimlira, Senhor, 184. 
Coleridge, 43. 
Colonies, Portuguese, 5. 
Combers, The, 204. 
Commandant, Made a, 325 ff. 
Compass, Points of the, 468. 
Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur (quoted), 130. 
Congo, The, 2, 3, 23, 204, 402, 

basin. The, 163. 

flag. The, 303, 306. 

Free State, 29, 246, 300, 301, 302. 

Law, 475. 

Mouth of the, 6. 

Names of, 23. 

Source of the, 112. 

The realm of, 2, 3. 
Conversions, 154, 155, 354, 355, 473 ff. 

of Chief, 246, 478. 

of young man, 479. 
Converts, Coddling the, 104, 
Cook, The best, 451. 

Caravan, 67, 68, 

The Chiefs, 52. 
Cooking men's meals, 449, 
Copithorne, Mr., 137, 138. 
Cormorants, 399. 
Corn, Green, 36. 
Corpse, Embracing a, 13. 
Countenance and face, 478. 
Counting apples, 354. 
Court etiquette, 249. 
Covenant of silence, 449. 
Cranes, 399, 



INDEX 



Crawford, Mrs., 99, 415, 416, 456, 459. 

Creation's gi-oan, 264. 

Creator of Human Race, 269. 

" Creator, The," 48. 

Crickets, 54. 

Crime at the Fort, 44. 

Crimea cap-guns, 268. 

Crocodiles, 83, 459. 

and elephant, 433, 434. 

in Hood, 324. 

killed by women, 434. 

kills man, 274. 

Largest, 435. 
Cromwell's first standing army, 225. 
Crooked negroes, 113, 441. 

trees, 151. 
Cropped ears, 291. 
Crossing the bog, 136. 

the desert, 155 ff. 

the Kwanza, 75, 94. 

The Lualaba, 101, 236. 

the Lufukwe, 394. 

the Lufupa, 163, 164. 

the Lukoleshe, 163. 

the Lulua, 164. 

the Liitikina, 163. 

Lake Mweru, 365, 398-405, 412. 

rivers, 124, 394. 
Crucifix, Natives wearing, 412. 
Cumming, Gordon, 383. 
Cunningham, Mr. and Mrs., 138. 
Curios, 121. 
Curlews, 399. 
Currie, Mr., 37, 50, 204. 
"Cursing," The, 421. 
Customs, Lnban, 449, 450. 
Cutting teeth, 236, 237, 238. 
Cynthia, 140. 
Czar, The, 178. 

Dahomey men, 326. 
Damages, Death and burial, 132-136. 
Dances, 54, 55, 120, 121. 
Dancing before the Lord, 55. 

man, 17. 
Darter, 371, 399. 
Darwin, 274, 275. 
David's fear, 257. 
" Death dealer," The, 243. 

ditty, 194. 

of Mushidi, 307-309, 319, 347. 

Notifying, 134. 

Queen Matayu's, 295, 296. 

sleep, The, 456, 457. 

ofSmish, 321. 

Sure as, 79. 
Debased Africans, 144, 442. 
Debts, Paying, 132. 
Deifying the Missionary, 101-103. 
Delcommune arrives, 303, 



Dentistry, 457, 458. 
"Dentition deaths," 236, 237. 
Desert of Kifumadzi, 155 ff. 
Devil, The, 476. 

doctors, 180, 264 ff. 
Dew, 18, 19, 378. 
Dhanis, Baron, 330, 331. 

Louis, 330. 
Dickens, 31, 188. 
Digging, 71. 

for water, 156, 157. 
Dilolo, Lake, 396. 
Dilunga's child, 30. 
Dining with Mushidi, 169. 
" Dirt-cheap," 440. 
Discovery of murder, 82, 83. 
Doctor, The native, 17. 
Dog, Debate about a, 272-274. 

Eating his, 244. 

as food, 52, 95. 

Hunting, 348. 
Doorway of huts, 59, 60. 
Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan (quoted), 130. 
" Dramatic neatness of God's methods,' 

154, 215, 309. 
Dream embassy. A, 57, 58. 

of Mushidi, 196, 230, 301. 

An unfulfilled, 58, 59. 
Dreams, 56, 57, 230. 
Drinking first, 71. 
Drink-sodden slavers, 41, 42. 
Drought, The long, 248. 
Drowned at river crossing, 42. 
Druids, The, 440. 
Drums, native, 121, 222, 224, 424, 439. 

cracked, 475. 
Duck-shooting, 441. 
Ducks mean marsh, 124. 

Tree 399 
Dug-outs, 75, 395, 421, 426, 427, 464. 
Duvivier killed by hippo, 462. 
Dwelling in unity, 74, 211. 
Dysentery case, 181. 

Eagles raiding chickens, 116. 
Earthenware for Mushidi, 186. 
East Coast, 6, 189. 
Eating alone, 444. 

a dog, 244. 
Ebed-raelech, 218. 
Ebenezers, 35. 36, 100. 
Education, Legal, 133. 
Eg£!s, 52, 53. 
Egypt, the door of Africa, 9. 

the fourth plague of, 13. 

Mamelukes of, 50. 

Monuments of, 8, 9. 

Temples of, 386. 
Ekonga mountains, 84. 
Elbow, The non-biteable, 167. 



INDEX 



Elephants, 348. 

and crocodile, 433, 434. 

Dense cavalcade of, 365, 379. 

dying in Muntennine, 235, 236. 

fear of leeches, 435, 436. 

hunters, 183, 437-439. 

Indian, 257-259. 

killed by boy, 459, 460. 

provide pumpkins, 380, 381. 

ways, 377, 379. 
Eloijga, Mount, 34. 
Embodied and ensouled, 444, 445. 
Emerson, 275. 
Emperor, Mushidi an, 243. 
Empty meal-bags, 132, 214, 383. 
Enfant terrible, Africa's, 19. 
" England on same scale," 94. 
English flag, 301. See Union Jack. 

game laws, 353. 
Englishman hoists Congo flag, 303. 
Englishmen in Africa, 406, 407. 
Entering the bandits' stronghold, 291. 
Entry on elephants, 258. 
Epictetus a slave, 50. 
Escaping from snake, 252. 
Ethiopian, Ebed-melech the, 218. 
Etiquette, Court, 249. 
Euphorbias, 386. 

Europeans and Arabs, 200, 201, 202. 
excited over Katanga, 299, 300. 
laws, 143. 
ways. Aping, 186. 
Exaggerated reports, 328. 
Executioner, An, 320, 455. 
Executions of women, 229. 
Experience the only teacher, 393. 
Expostulating in vain, 150. 
Expounding a dream, 56. 
Ex-slaves, 49. 
Eye-glasses, 249. 

Eyes, Negroes', 4 ,67, 100, 210, 250-253, 
387, 473. 

Faggot-seekers in desert, 158. 
False teeth, 438. 
Falstaff, 119. 
Famine, 214, 310 ff. 
Faraday, 14, 253. 
Far-Interior caravan. A, 65. 
Farrar, Dean, 279-281. 
Fascinated snakes, 314. 
Fatalism, 476. 
Faulknor, Mr., 209. 
Fay, Mr., 37. 
Fees, Demanding, 180. 

paid in slaves, 192. 
Feigning death, 338, 339. 
Female goats' horns, 232. 
Ferryman, A, 35, 70. 
Fever, 137, 138, 211, 214, 377. 



Ficus Indica, 393. 

Fight with hippos, 464, 465. 

with lions, 105, 366, 368-370. 
Finding hidden hamlets, 352, 438. 
Finger, Pointing with the, 86, 87. 
Fire-flies, 13. 
Fire on the hearth, 169. 

and water, 159. 
Fires, Forest and grass. 98, 159, 248. 
First to cross the forest, 375. 

sight of Mweru, 359. 

stage to Bihe, 31. 

voyage across Mweru, 365. 
Fish, 413. 

taboo, 168, 477. 

Poisone'-l, 88, 89. 
Fisher, Dr. and Mrs., 138, 163. 
Fisher chief. A, 244. 
Fishermen on Mweru, 421, 427, 459, 

464. 
Fishing kraal, 396, 485. 

weir, 434. 
Five days' siege. A, 163. 

hundred wives, 169, 229, 232. 

times sold, 221. 
Flag of Belgium, 301. 

of Congo State, 303, 306. 

of England. See Union Jack. 

of Portugal, 74, 75. 
Flags as receipts, 177. 
Flamingo, 399. 

Flats, The Lufira, 163, 344, 351, 354. 
Flies, 13. 
Flies, Blue-bottle, 229, 292, 

Sleeping sickness, 248. 

Tsetse, 248, 371, 381. 
Floating islets, 461. 
Flood, 322, 324. 
Flowers, The home, 416. 
Folkestone and Calais, 414. 
Follow your leader, 17. 
Fonseca, Maria de, 184, 185, 190, 191, 

295. 
Food in famine, 312 ff". 
in time of need, 217. 
Footprints, Mushidi's, 270. 
Forests, Crossing the, 375 ff". 

God s larder, 353, 379. 
Forsaking an infant, 138. 
Fort, Arab— Kilwa Island, 404. 
Belgian — Mweru, 404. 
reached, British, 406. 
Crime at the, 44. 
Injustice at the, 43, 47. 
"Four-eyes, Mr." 249. 
Fowls, 116, 397, 413. 
Fox, Sir Douglas, 111. 
Francis Drake, 421. 
Franklin, Benjamin, 250. 
Friday, Man, 67, 378. 



INDEX 



Friendship, 181. 
Frogs, 485. 

Frontage, Six miles of, 445. 
Funeral bills, 134, 135. 
Chiefs', 285 ff., 453-455. 

Gambling for the seamless robe, 271. 

for a slave, 271. 
Game laws, 353. 

leg, A, 454. 
Gammon, Mr., 415. 
Garenganze, The, 269. 

at last, 164. 

Church, The, 455. 

Eastern edge of, 412. 

England to. 111, 117, 118. 

hills, 164. 

Missionary's influence in, 37, 38. 
Gas-pipe guns, 185. 
General Booth (quoted), 92. 

Gordon, 166, 195, 328, 329. 

A negro, 222, 223. 
Generals, Mushidi's 296. 
Genesis and Romans, 310. 
"Gentiles," 94. 
George, Mr., 319, 415. 
Gestures of monkeys and negroes, 86. 
Gibbon, 47, 298. 
Gifts in time of famine, 217. 
Girl weeping in the night, 452. 
Globe trotters, 56. 
Gnats, 13. 
Gnu, 162. 
Goats, 232, 336. 

Gordon, General, 166, 195, 328, 329. 
God, "An Englishman," 215. 

too busy to care, 263. 

the great King, 424, 425. 

The knowledge of, 277, 423 flf. 

pretensions, Mushidi's, 240, 269. 
"God-ites," 76. 
God-titles, 425. 
Goose, A spur-wing, 399. 
Gongo-Lutete, 331. 
Gospel, Acceptance of the, 413. 

for Africa, 113. 

Despising the, 180, 231. 

an innovation, 4. 

in Garanganze, 473 ff. 

Only one, 342. 

Preaching the, 364, 395, 397. 
to cannibals, 341, 342, 424, 425. 
to old chief, 75. 
to dreamer, 59. 
to old people, 77. 

too good to be true, 143. 

of Nature, The, 264, 349. 
Government, Missionaries and the, 

38. 
Grace before meat, 171. 



Grass fires, 98, 248, 485. 

as food, 312. 

huts, 97, 323, 441, 442. 

The long, 18, 33, 247, 366, 367, 369, 
375. 

seeds, 367. 

village. Burning of, 441. 
Grave, Livingstone's, 21. 
Great Bear, The, 72. 

Lake, The, 348, 395. 

Lakes, 344. 

tribal meeting, 440. 
Greenock boy. A, 330. 

The gift of, 420. 
"Groves," Cannibal, 336. 
Guns, Antiquated, 185, 268, 456. 

Hall of Columns, The, 386. 
Hamlet, 56. 

Hammer, God's Word a, 475. 
Hammocks, 108. 
Hand-lopping for theft, 196. 
ilannington, 468. 
Haukansson, Lieut., 303. 
Hard questions, 450. 

soil softened, 154, 155.. 
Hare, Augustus, 199. 
Harpoon men, 426. 

trap for elephants, 460. 
Haussas, 326, 327, 329. 
Head of Mushidi, 308. 
Hearing weakened, 250-253. 
Heart of the negro, The soft, 37, 195. 

the real culprit, 196, 197. 

versus brain, 355. 
Heat of Africa, The, 3, 5, 107, 137, 248, 

in the desert, 156. 
Heaven, 482, 483. 
Heavenly calling, The, 445. 
Hell, Arab word for, 203. 
Henry the Eighth, 172. 
Herds of elephants, 379, 438. 
Herodotus, 267. 
Herons, 399. 
Hidden trail, 350. 

tribes, 350-352, 438. 
Higgins, Mr. and Mrs., 319, 416. 
High Court of Appeal, The, 265. 
"Hill Difficulty," 36. 
Hill-men gain footing on Mweru, 244, 

245. 
Hinde, 333. 
Hippo-meat, 468-470. 
Hippo patrol. A, 426. 
Hippos, Death struggle of, 465. 

Fight with, 464, 465. 

returning to die, 464. 

Schools of, 463. 

Whistling up the, 466, 467. 
Hoe or bullets, 173. 



30 



INDEX 



Holmes, Dr., 390. 

Home, 29, 220. 

Home flowers, 416. 

Homer, 68, 

Homing and housing, 446, 447. 

Houey, 413. 

-bird, 382, 383. 

intoxicates badger, 370. 
Horace, a slave's son, 50. 
Horn of salvation, A, 422. 
Horns, Mrs., 336. 
Hosea, The Book of, 377. 
House burnt, Missionary's, 11, 416. 

struck by lightning, 348, 349, 
Housing question, The, 97, 441-446. 
Hudson Taylor, 213, 
Human "brooms," 18. 

hands, The size of, 443, 

hyenas, 337. 

race, The Creator of the, 269. 

sacrifices, 285 S"., 454. 
Human skin as carpet, 233. 

as water-bottle, 270, 
Humerus kills croc, 435. 
"Hungry country," The, 116. 
Hungry to bed, 88. 
Hunter-chiefs, 348. 

converted, 437-439. 
Hunter's dog. A, 272-274. 
Hunting dogs, 348. 
Hush-money, 453. 
Huts, Native, 97, 113, 143, 419, 441, 

442, 
Hyena, 55, 296. 
Hymns, Old people singing, 78. 
HyphsRiie palm, 358, 

Ibis religiosa, 399, 
Idiom, Native, 56. 

" Idiot," The Greek definition of, 240. 
Ilala, Livingstone's grave at, 21. 
Ill-treatment of slaves, 46. 
Immortality of the soul, 272-274, 423. 
"I'm your Man," 484, 
Indian elephants, 257-259, 

file, 8, 17, 

Ocean, 343, 405. 
sighted, 33. 
Industrial Mission, 205. 
Infant sorrows, 144. 
Infection, The spreading of, 439, 441, 
Influence of wife, 427, 
Jngeresa, Livingstone's name, 21. 
Injustice at the Fort, 43, 47. 
Inkermann, 304, 
Insanitary villages, 440, 441. 
Insects — 

Ants, 312, 385, 478. 

Beetles, Dor, 338, 

Caterpillars, 313. 



Insects— C(m<i«««rf. 
Crickets, 54, 
Flies, 13, 224, 

Blue-bottle, 229, 292, 
Fire, 13, 
Gnats, 13. 
Midges, 14. 

Mosquitoes, 248, 377, 458. 
Tsetse {Palpalis), 248, 371, 381. 
Locusts, 312, 315, 429, 
Moths, 13. 
Spiders, 338. 
Instinct, 274, 275, 389. 
Inver, killed by cannibals, 330, 
Iron boat from Greenock, 420, 
Isaiah, 247, 284, 318, 
Island on Mweru, 405. 
Kilwa, 246, 398, 461. 
Islets, Floating, 461. 
Ivory, 379, 433. 
burned for fuel, 293. 
claimed, 235, 236, 460. 
laden caravan, 186. 

Jack, Union, 107, 150, 303, 405. 
Jackals, 88, 162, 385. 
Jehannam or hell, 203. 
Jehu's taunt, 296, 
Jenneh or Paradise, 203. 
Jeremiah, 208, 218, 286. 
Jerome, 432, 

Jezebel, An African, 295, 296. 
Joab, son of Zeruiah, 294, 295. 
John's Gospel, 208, 479, 
Johnson, Dr., 139. 
Johnstone Falls, 467, 473. 
Jordan, Miss, 416. 
Journey begins, The, 33. 
i* of Mushidi's skull, 309, 310. 
Julius Csesar, 326. 

"Justification" of a child, The, 238, 
239. 

"Kaffirs," 95. 

Kalamas, Mushidi's, 230. 

Kalamata, A true, 238. 

Kalamata's town, 423. 

Kalasa, Mushidi's father, 181, 

Kaleba, 467. 

Kalembwe's, 235, 

Kaleue Hill, 138, 163. 

Kalunda, 138. 

Kalunga Kameya, 116. 

KaluDgwizi, 405. 

Kan, 43. 

Kana rivulet, 349. 

Kangombe, 116. 

Kansanshi, cannibal club, 341. 

Kaiiyon, The, 34. 

Kapapa, 181, 307. 



INDEX 



Kapara's, A lion at, 366. 

Kapwasa, 394. 

Kara ya Rova, The legend of, 269, 

270. 
Karema, 259. 

Kasai, The source of the, 131. 
Kasamina, 294. 
Kasanga Valley, 348, 351. 
Kasansu wrestles with lion, 369, 370. 
Kasembe's capital, 359. 
Kasenga, 132. 
Kaseva, 197. 
Kashobwe, 433. 
Kasokota, 201. 
Kasongo, 477. 

Kasonkomona the ferryman, 35. 
Katanga, 111, 299, 300, 302. 
Katigile, 197. 
Katondo, 338. 
Katumwa, 43. 
Kavalo, General, 296. 
Kavamba, Lake, 319, 334. 
Kavauga, Gates of the Morning, 344. 
Kaveke, 12. 

Kavoto, the Lion King, 266, 267. 
Kavovo quoted, 26. 
Kavungu, 163. 

Caravans bound for, 12. 

half-way point, 185. 

Revolt of carriers at, 67. 
Kayumba's, 270. 
Kazembe, 233, 422. 
Kazombo, 138. 
Keating's powder, 98. 
Keve, Crossing the, 34, 35. 
Khartoum, 195, 328. 
Kidd, 405. 

Kifumadzi desert, 28, 155 ff. 
Killing the Best One, 216. 

the watches, 177. 
Kilwa, 246, 398, 461. 
King Fire, 157. 

-fishers, 399. 

The Great, 424. 

of Katanga, 240. 

of Mweru, 235. 

Water, 157. 
Kings, Native, 116, 117. 
Kinkondia, Killed at, 303. 
Kinsman-advocate, 263. 
Kishinga, 276. 
Kissale, Lake, 303. 
Kissing, 450. 

Knives and forks taboo, 170. 
Knowledge of God, The, 277, 423. 
Kofwali case, 44. 
Koni, 319, 473. 
Koran, The, 174, 202. 
Kundelungu Range, 112, 344, 350, 354, 
358, 379. 



Kunehe River, 42. 

Kunje River, 51. 

Kwanza River, 33, 75, 93, 94, 162. 

Lak, The village of, 46. 
Lake formed, A new, 396. 
an imaginary, 160, 161. 
Lakes, The Great, 344. 
Afiican — 

Bangweulu, 428, 467. 

Dilolo, 396. 

Great White Lake, 395. 

Kavamba, 319, 334. 

Kissale, 303. 

Mary, 395, 396. 

Musengeshi, 395. 

Mweru. See under name. 

Nyassa, or " Maravi," 204, 205, 411. 

Tanganyika. See under name. 
Lamba at Mushidi's, 192. 
Lambaite, A, 357. 
Lamond, Mr. and ISlrs., 467. 
Lamp, No, 250, 251. 
Lampstand in Tabernacle, 386 . 
Lane, Mr., 74, 75, 213, 320. 
Language, Speaking the negro's, 347. 
Largest crocodile, 435. 
Last, Mr., 319. 
Law unto themselves. A, 477. 
Laws, Dr., 204, 411. 
Lawsuits, 48, 132, 141-143, 245. 
about dog, 272-274. 
Final appeal in, 265. 
Lecturing in England, 139. 
Leeches, 435, 436. 
Legat, 302. 

Legend of Kara ya Rova, The, 269, 270. 
Le Marinel, Paul, 302. 
Leopard on floating island, 461. 

killed by woman, 106. 
Leopold, King, 300, 460, 
Leroy killed by cannibals, 330. 
Letter, Mushidi's, to Sir A. Sharpe, 302, 
303, 306. 
Mushidi's, to and from Stairs, 304, 
305. 
Lianas, 386. 

Libyan Desert, The, 402. 
Life like a sheet of paper, 356. 
"Life-belt Island," 462. 
Light is sown, 447. 
Lightening the loads, %%, 69. 
Lightning conductors, 349. 
kills herd, 269. 
shows snake, 251, 252. 
strikes house, 348, 349. . 
Likuku, 193. 
Likurwe Hills, 291. 
Lily-ti-otters, 399. 
Lincoln's saying, 350. 



INDEX 



Lining out the villages, 444, 445, 446. 
Linking up East and West, 3G4, 405. 
Linseed oil, 447. 
Lion commits suicide, 358. 

Depot, Tlie, 266, 267. 

eats canoe, 367, 368. 

killed by hoe, 370. 
by Mbayo, 366. 
by woman, 105. 

stories, 365 ff. 
Lioness kills woman, 365. 
Lions, Famished, 366. 

Cannibals like, 337. 
Literature, No, 174, 2S4, 415. 
Living Epistle, A, 103, 210. 

the Gospel, 474. 

together, 74, 211. 

with Mr. Negro, 51, 56, 445. 
Livingstone, 18, 21, 257, 410, 428. 

a consul, 326. 

farewell to Stanley, 166. 

Name of, 21. 

song. A, 21. 

The trail of, 405. 
Livingstouia, 204, 205, 411. 
Locusts, 429. 

as food, 312, 315. 
Lofoi, The camp on the, 326. 

Fort relieved, 330. 

River, The, 322. 

Valley, 319. 
Lombe, 413. 

London Town, Mushidi dreams of, 301. 
Long Grass, The. See Grass. 
Looting caravans, 12, 139, 185, 291. 
Lost in the savannah, 375 ff. 

property, 387. 

villages, 438. 
Loutitt, Mr., 113. 

Lualaba, 164, 167, 168, 197, 213, 264, 
328. 

bog, 273. 

crossing. The, 101, 236. 

Hippo in, 426, 465. 
Luanza, 421, 

Chief flies to, 246. 

Old couple visit, 287. 

River, 360. 

sighted by stork, 402. 

site found, 413. 
Luapula, The, 112, 196, 359, 375, 461. 

flood, 396. 

Pumpkins brought from, 380. 

Valley, First view of the, 358, 359. 
Governor of, 364. 
Kazembe's rule in, 233. 
Luba country, The, 185, 196, 334, 

485. 
Lubaland, A dreamer in, 58. 
Luban cannibals, 337. 



Lubau dirge, 145. 

chief (quoted), 26. 

children, 442. 

house, 447. 

ideas of immortality, 272, 

idiom, 194. 
Luban liking for caterpillars, 313. 

manners, 120. 

saying, 20, 364. 

slaves, 29. 

women, 105, 434, 449. 

words, 9. 
Lubans, 95, 96, 192, 222. 
Lubiri bog tribesmen, 126. 
Luena, The, 131. 
Lufira, The, 35, 167, 319, 397. 

Flats, The, 344, 351, 354. 

Valley, 181, 231. 
Mission in, 322. 
Monkeys in the, 84. 
Lufukwe, The, 394. 
Lufupa, Crossiug the, 163, 164. 
Lukanga, 405. 

Lukatula's cannibalism, 334, 335. 
Lukoleshe, Swimming the, 163. 
Lnkuga, 426. 
Lulua, Crossing the, 164. 
Lumba's escape, 333. 
Lumese, The, 131. 
Lunda, 192, 232. 

land, 28. 

men, 222. 
LuDsala Flats, 296. 

The river, 223. 
Lunungwa, 197. 
Lupata, Mountains of, 205. 
Lusambo, 302. 
Lutala, 236. 

Luther quoted, 110, 325. 
Lutikina, Fording the, 163. 
Luvale, 121, 139, 140, 185. 

bandits, 9. 

ladies, 140. 

land, 28, 155. 

lawsuits, 132. 

man, A hunted, 150. 

town turning to God, 
Lwizi, The, 393. 
Lying, 78, 174. 
Lynn, Joseph, 41. 

Macaulay, Lord, 398. 
Mahanaim, 329. 

Mahomed, Carter's servant, 259. 
Maitland, Mr., 113. 
Making tools, 447-449. 
Malarial mist, 18. 
mosquito, 248. 
Malemba, 112. 
Malingerers' medicine, 180. 



iO 



INDEX 



"Mamba" snake, 252. 
Mamelukes, 50. 
Man-eaters, 330, 331 fF., 423. 

hunting hippo. A, 426. 
Mangrove swamp. 458. 
Manning, Cardinal, 325. 
Map-makers, 267, 410, 428. 
Map of Africa, 22, 116, 245. 

Not on, 438. 

Old, 155, 205. 

Wiped off, 441. 
Map to face p. 164. 
Marengo Medal, A, 142. 
Maria de Fonseca, 184, 185, 190, 191, 

295. 
"Married Women's Property Act," 235. 
Marshes, 14, 124, 248. 
Martha and Mary, 12. 
Marvin, E. P., 374. 
Mary Lake, 395, 396. 
Masengo lady, 336. 
Masoudi, Stanley's man, 304. 
Massacre of the innocents, 236, 237. 
Ma.ster, Choosing a, 48, 49. 
Matayu, Queen, 295, 296. 
Matches a boon, 251. 
Maternity convalescence, 29. 
May, John, 204. 
Ml)ayo kills lion, 366. 
IMbovola's village, 365. 
Meal, 99. 

bags. Empty, 132, 214, 383. 
Meandering to the point, 115. 
Meaning of names, 428, 429. 
Measuring tape. The, 445. 
" Meat hunger," 470, 
"Medicine," 4, 173. 
Medicine by proxy, 179. 

smoked in a ]iipe, 179. 
Meeting the Belgians, 305. 

Mr. Cobbe, 101. 

oF the two white men, 405. 

place of spirits, 264, 
Mellen killed, 330. 
"Memory blend," 70. 
Menelik's baptisms, King, 242. 
Mercury fatal to negroes, 180. 
Methods, God's, 154, 215, 309. 
Miambo copper mines, The, 164. 
Midges, 14, 

Midnight messengers, Mushidi's, 178. 
Mildmay prayer meeting, 68, 69. 
Military triumph. A, 221, 225. 
Mill, J. S., 389. 

Milton's Paradise Lost, 2, 3, 233. 
Mimosa, 386. 

Minerals found by Lake Dwellers, 245. 
Mines at Bulawayo, The, 104. 
Mirage, A, 160, 161. 
Mirambo, 191, 237. 



Mission baby. The, 416. 

garden. The, 416, 

hut, 209. 

school, The, 446. 

station, 38, 56, 215, 217. 

veneer, 104. 
Missionary bearings, 203, 204. 

belongings, 215, 

Deifying the, 101-103. 

house burned, 11, 416. 

pays "Nkole," 10, 11. 

protects, 150. 

Watching the, 100. 
Missionaries in Africa — 

American, 37, 50, 51, 113, 204. 

Anderson, Mr. and Mrs., 467. 

Anton, Mr. and Mrs., 319, 354, 355. 

Arnot, Mr. and Mrs., 74, 209, 415. 

Bagster, 37. 

Bird, Cyril nnd Mrs., 137, 138, 163. 

Campbell, Mr., 319, 415, 467. 

Clarke, Mr., 319. 

Cobbe, Benjamin, 101, 212, 415, 

Coillard, M., 204. 

Combers, The, 204. 

Copithorne, Mr., 137, 138. 

Crawford, Mrs., 99, 415, 416, 456 
459. 

Cunningham, Mr. and Mrs., 138, 

Currie, Mr., 37, 50,204. 

Fay, Mr., 37. 

Faulknor, Mr., 209. 

Fisher, Dr. and Mrs., 138, 163. 

Gammon, Mr., 415. 

George, Mr., 319, 415. 

Hannington, 468, 

Higgins, Mr. and Mrs., 319, 416. 

Jordan, Miss, 416. 

Lamond, Mr. and Mrs. , 467, 

Lane, Mr., 74, 75, 213, 320. 
: Last, Mr., 319. 
I Laws, Dr., 204, 205, 411. 
j Livingstone See under name. 
I Loutitt, Mr., 113. 

Lynn, Joseph, 41, 

Maitland, 113. 

May, John, 204. 

Morey, Dr., 113. 

O'Jon, Mr. and Mrs., 138. 

Pilkington, 326. 

Pomeroy, Mr., 415, 467. 

Sanders, 37. 

Schindler, Mr., 138. 

Sims, Mr., 467. 

Spark.s, Dr., 41. 

Stover, 37. 

Swan, Mr., 43, 44, 209. 

Taylor, Mr. and Mrs., 113. 

Thompson, Mr., 74, 75, 323. 

Wilson, John, 415. 



11 



INDEX 



Missionaries in Africa— continued. 

Woodside, Mr., 33, 37. 

Zentler, Mr., 319. 
Missionaries dwelling together, 74, 212. 

and Government compared, 38. 
Mitumba Range, The, 302. 
Mixed negro population, 192. 
Mohammed, 201, 202. 
Molenga's, 116. 
Moloney, Dr., 9, 211, 215, 301, 30n, 

308, 309. 
"Monkey curses," 384. 
Monkeys as food, 85. 

food, 315, 316. 

Gestures of, 86. 

Shooting at, 85. 

Yellow, 84. 
Monotony of diet, 413. 
Monsoon, Breaking of the, 159, 160. 
Moonlight dances, 54, 55. 

scene, 433, 434. 

Travelling by, 36, 381. 
More, Sir Thomas, 93. 
Morey, Dr., 113. 
Mosquitoes, 248, 377, 458. 
Mother and babe, 29, 124. 

divorced on account of baby's teeth- 
ing, 237. 

Grave of, 452. 

Love of, 221. 

worship, 262. 
Moths, 13. 
Mount Elonga, 34. 
Moving money, 28. 
Mpande, 181. 
Mpweto, 236. 
Muddy wells, 157, 319. 
Mud hut. Living in a, 51, 445. 
Mugavi, 347. 
Muhemba, 95. 
Mukanda-vantu, 223. 
Mulangadi, 393, 
Miiller, George, 210. 
Mulonde River, 462. 
Mulozi's stronghold, 343. 
Mulungwishi River, 367. 
Mumoneka, 170, 294. 
Munabushi, 96. 
Jhinema, 232, 293, 307. 
Mungedi's, 370. 
Muntemune River, 235, 333. 
Munyamweshi, 32, 96. 
Mupaka, 96. 
Mm-der of baby, 145. 

Discovery of triple, 81-84. 
Lingering, 115. 
Wholesale, 334, 335. 
Murderer of babes, converted, 237. 
Muruturutu blocks road, 342. 
Muscngeshi Lake, 395. 



Museushi, 96. 
Mush, 99. 

Mushidi, birth of, 168. 
and blacksmiths, 275. 
Bodyguard of, 307. 
Brother of, 209. 
I Capital of, 124, 167, 168. 
i Caravans of, 186, 189. 
I Cliamberlains of, 230. 
dancing, 224, 225. 
Death of, 307, 309, 319, 347. 
despises the missionaries, 211. 
Dreams of, 196, 230, 301. 
Earthenware of, 186. 
an emperor, 243. 
j Empire of, half across Africa, 9. 
I the western door into, 164. 

in European dress, 300. 
and eye-glasses, 249. 
Father of, 181. 
Footprints of, 270. 
Generals of, 296. 
and the Gospel, 240-242. 
. Governor appointed by, 364. 
I and grace before meat, 171. 
' " Gun-lie " of, 268, 269. f 

"God" pretensions of, 240, 269. 

Harem of, 229. 

Head of, 308. 

History of, 181. 

and letter to Sir A. Sharpe, 302, 303, 

306. 
and letters to and from Stairs, 304, 

305. 
mutters murder, 257. 
offended, 268. 
quoted, 2, 228. 
retires to Munema, 307. 
roars, 193. 
and the skulls, 193. 
Son of, 295. 
spitting, 260. 
Troops of, 294. 
Triumph of, 221-225. 
unable to sleep, 178. 
Wives of, 169, 229, 232. 
Wife of, Kapapa, 181. 
White wife of, 183, 1.84, 190, 191. 
AVhite slaves of, 9, 215, 309. 
writing, 172, 173. 
Musician, The native, 17, 18. 
Musole and her child, 30. 
Musungu, 387. 
Mutoni, Lectured by, 249. 
Muvanga, The fisher chief, 244-246. 
Mwalumuna, 462. 
Mwena, 319. 

Mweru, Belgium sortie to, 326. 
Converts at, 30, 221. 
Crossing, 365, 398, 405, 412. 



12 



INDEX 



Mweru, Elephants at, 436. 
women evangelists, 355. 
First view of, 359. 
frontage, six miles, 445. 
Full name of, 396, 428. 
Hill-men at, 244, 245. 
hippos, 462-465. 
King of all, 235. 
Livingstone, song at, 21. 

trail at, 405. 
Kugarugas on, 32. 
sighted by stork, 402. 
and Tanganyika, 426. 
405. 



Nakandundu, 149. 
Naked feet, 376, 382. 

negroes, 152. 

speech, 152. 
Nalingombe, 121. 
Nanga, Consulting the, 82. 
Nanga, the survivor from cave, 293. 
Napoleon, 142, 149, 179, 288. 
Names of Mushidi, 184. 

Long, 396, 428, 429. 
Naming the hippos, 463. 
Native carriers, 6. See Carriers. 

children corrupted, 442. 

eyes, 4, 67, 100, 210, 387, 473. 

in the dark, 250-253. 

diet, 99, 100. 

endurance, 378. 

evangelists, 349, 437. 

gestures, 86. 

huts, 97, 113, 143, 419, 441, 442. 

proverb. See Proverbs. 

songs, 21, 29, 151, 219, 220, 341, 422, 
455. 

travellers, 78. 
Nature, The book of, 151, 277. 

The gospel of, 349. 
Ndala, 30. 

Negress, Old, 51, 52. 
Nero, 224. 
New names, 22, 23. 
New Testament, The, 205. 
Ngoi and Mujikle, 12. 
Nicholas i. of Eussia, 304. 
Night alarms, 125. 

dances, 54, 55, 120, 121. 

in the flood, 322, 323. 

sounds, 251-253. 
Nile, The, 328, 402, 410. 
Nineveh sculptures, 315. 
Nitrogen, 470. 
Nkole, 9-12, 151. 
Nkulu, end of capital, 168, 306. 
Nkuva, 232, 236. 
Noah, Arab tradition of, 462. 
Non-biteable elbow. The, 167. 



Nongwe, 245, 246. 

Notifying a wife's death, 134. 

Nseva, 400. 

Ntenke's, Captain Bia's death at, 308. 

Numbering the days, 175. 

Numbers, The Book of (quoted), 40, 48. 

Numeration, African, 278. 

Nwena, 197. 

Nyassa, Lake, 205, 411. 

Nyassaland negroes, 204. 

Nyemba's hippos, 465-467. 

Officers killed by cannibals, 330. 

Ohwa, Senr. Z. of, 42. 

Oil, 447. 

O'Jon, Mr. and Mrs., 138. 

Old folk, 76. 

converted, 77. 
Olive branch. Bearing an, 361, 362. 

victory, An, 123-127. 
Omande shell. The, 182, 191, 192, 222. 
Ombala, 75. 
Omens, 68. 

One-street villages, 445. 
Opening up new station, 467-469. 
"Open sore," The, 28. 
Operation, A surgical, 456, 457, 459. 
Origin of Temi^oral Power of Pope, 325. 
Orphanage, Miiller's, 210. 
"Our" Home, not "My" Home, 220. 
Out-at-elbows missionary. The, 214, 362. 

P. B., Senhor, 47. 
Paddling canoe, 70. 
Paiva, Captain, 75. 
Palm, 3, 358, 386. 
Pania, 331. 

Paper, Importance of, 172. 
Papyi-us, 274, 400. 

duck-weed, 461. 
Parable of black morals, 114. 

Fig tree, 417. 

of the Lake, 398. 

of negro ways, 382. 
Parables, Native, 14, 412, 413. 
Paradise Lost, 2, 3, 233. 
Parakeet, 48. 
Parrot story. A, 104. 
Partridge, 48, 413, 416. 
" Path," Bantu meaning of, 8. 
Path-borer, A, 21, 351. 
Patriarchal hippo. A, 426. 
Patrol of hippos, 426. 
Paul, The Apostle, 13, 100, 104, 203. 

the bondslave, 223. 

The Epistles of, 198. 

"manner of entering in," 213. 

and nature's groan, 264. 

Preaching of, 425. 

at Rome, 140. 



13 



INDEX 



Paul, Testimony of, 423, 424. 
Paying debts, 132, 134. 
Pea-nuts, 36. 
Peace instead of war, 126, 127. 

with God, 77. 
Pecksniir, Mr., 474. 
Peho, 116. 
Pelicans, 399. 

Perfume, Flowers without, 417. 
Petroleum tin, Mushidi's head in, 309. 
Pharisees, African, 95, 96. 
Phillips Brooks, 472. 
Philosopher, The African a, 280. 
Phragmites, 461. 
Pick-a-back, 136. 
Pig, Killing the, 53, 54, 
Pigmy forest, 402. 
Pilgiim Town, 51. 
Pilgrim's Progress, The, 36, 474. 
Pilkiugton, 326. 
Pimbwe, 259. 

Pioneer, The, 18, 20, 21, 67, 415. 
Pipes taboo, 243. 
Pith trees, 458. 

Plantations of God, The, 375, 379. 
Pleading with condemned Arab, 201- 

203. 
Plovers, Spur-winged, 399. 
Plutarch, 277. 

"Pneumatic tyres," 376, 382. 
Pointing with the finger, 86, 87. 
Points of the compass, 468. 
Poison ordeal, 80. 
Poisoned arrows, 268, 352, 353. 
Poisoned fish, 88, 89. 
Poisonoiis foods, 315. 
Policeman's helmet, A, 120. 
Polygamy, 201, 231, 287, 449. 
Pomeroy, Mr., 415, 467. 
Pope, The power of the, 325. 
Popelin, 258. 

Population, A mixed, 192. 
Portuguese advance, 149, 

aliases, 22. 

in Bihe, 41. 

and Boers, 75. 

captives, 12. 

commandaut, 44, 149. 

convict's boots, A, 214. 

Fort, The, 43, 44, 47, 150. 

lethargy, 6, 32. 

machila, 108. 

slavers, 27. 

wife, Mushidi's, 184, 185, 190, 191, 
295. 
Potato song. The, 412. 
Poverty and riches, 419. 
Powder and guns. Refusing to write for, 

268. 
Prsetoriaa guard, 223. 



Praise getting out at the toes, 55. 
Praising God misunderstood, 215. 
Preaching in forest glens, 354. 

to cannibals, 112. 

to chief, 75. 

to Mushidi, 240, 241. 

to soldiers, 327, 330. 
Precedent, 8, 76, 231. 
Prepared ways, 377-379. 
Preserving man and beast, 437. 
Priest murders brother, 80. 
Prince of Wales, A local, 120. 
Prisoner in his cell, 266. 
Propertius, 140. 
Protestant Popes, 324, 325. 
Proverbs, 2, 30, 71, 122, 123, 175, 181, 

198, 200, 231, 349. 
Proxy, Medicine by, 179. 
Prussia, Storks liberated iu, 401. 
Psalms (quoted), 16, 123, 228, 256, 437, 

484. 
Pumpkins, 380. 
Punch, 410. 

Purification after cannibal feast, 336. 
Pyramids, 9. 

Pyrenees, Africa begins at the, 149. 
"Python," The, 49. 

Quarantine, 209. 
Queen Gaf^ an lait, 185. 

Matayu, 295. 

Maria de Fonseca. See Portuguese 
wife. 

Nyakatoro, 135, 

of Sheba, 450. 
Questions, Asking, 140, 450, 454. 
Quinine tabloids, 377. 

Rabbit, The, 175. 
"Rags," 482. 
Railroads, 111, 163. 
Rains, 98, 99, 118, 247. 
Ratel kills African, 370. 
Eats in flood, 324. 

as food. 312. 
Reading and writing, 71. 
Receipts, Records of, 177. 
Red buck, A herd of, 87, 88, 269. 

sunsets, 285 if. 
Redeemed slaves, 219. 
Redeeming slaves, 30. 
Refusing to become cannibal, 333, 336. 
Relief of Fort Lofoi, 330. 
Returned Missionaries, 139. 
Revolt, 330, 342. 
Rhodes, Cecil, 300, 359. 
Rhodesia, N.W., 150. 
Rinderpest, 366. 
River, Following the, 136. 

torrents, 347. 



14 



INDEX 



Rivers, African, 247. 

Bailombo, The, 34. 

Congo, The, 2, 3, 23, 153, 204, 402. 

Kana, The, 349. 

Kasai, The, 131. 

Keve, The, 34, 35. 

Kunehe, The, 42. 

Kunje, The, 51. 

Kwanza, The, 33, 75, 93, 94, 162. 

Lofoi, She, 319, 322, 326, 330. 

Lualaba, The. See under name. 

Luanza, The, 360. 

Luapula, The. See under name. 

Luena, The, 131. 

Lufira, The. See under name. 

Lufukwe, The, 394. 

Lufupa, The, 163, 164. 

Lukoleshe, The, 163. 

Lulua, The, 164. 

Lunicse, The, 131. 

Lunsala, The, 223, 296. 

Lutikina, The, 163. 

Mulonde, The, 462. 

Mulungwishi, The, 367. 

Muntemune, The, 235, 338. 

Mupaka, The, 96. 

Nile, The, 328, 402, 410. 

Sankuru, The, 302. 

Zambezi, The, 6, 112. 
"Road," An African, 7, 17. 
blocking, 119, 120, 342. 
buying the, 121, 126, 127. 
Roaming tribes, 419. 
Rob Roy chiefs, 9, 116, 119, 120, 127, 

243, 291. 
Robbers' den. A, 163. 
Robinson, 305. 
Roderick Dhu, 122. 
Roman Catholics, 138, 139, 412. 
prison, Paul in, 198. 
soldiers gambling for Christ's robe, 

271. 
triumph, 221. 
Romans, The Epistle to the, 13. 
Rome, The Bishop of, 325. 
in Paul's day, 140. 
Slaves in, 50. 
Rotten rags, A negro's, 218. 
Rowland Hill's "convert," 104. 
Rubber root, 132. 
Riickert, 166. 
Rum and gin, 41, 42. 
Runaway slave. A, 45. 
Rugarugas, 32, 258, 298, 299, 352, 423. 
Ruskin, 359, 

Sacrifices, Human, 285 ff., 454. 
Sahara, The, 402. 
Salimi, 150. 
Salisbury, Lady, 199. 



Samikileuge, 116. 
Samusole, 150. 
San Domingo revolt, 2] 6. 
San Thome, 29, 75. 
Sand the finest filter, 156. 
Sanders, Mr., 37. 
Sandpipers, 399. 
Sanga Chief, A, 394. 

civil war, 299. 

Copper King, The, 181. 

Rescued, 182. 

warfare, 310. 
Sanitation, 440. 
Sankuru, 193. 

The, 302. 
Saturday night prayer-meeting, 437. 
Saxons, 352. 
Sayings, African, 37, 56, 76, 77, 79, 116, 

276, 277, 384, 385. 
Schiller, 176. 
Schindler, Mr., 138. 
Schools of hippos, 463. 

Mission, 446. 
Schooner, 420. 
Scotland, 139, 204, 205. 
Scott, Clement, 280, 281. 
Scout-canoes, 398. 
Scratching the soil, 418. 
Sea, First sight of the, 33. 
Seamless robe, The, 271. 
Seasons, The African, 152. 
Secret Society, Women's, 232. 
Seeing farther than we can walk, 398. 
Sekeseke case. The, 47. 
Selling the children, 30, 42, 339, 340. 
Sense of hearing, The negro's, 251-253. 
Sera man. A, 244. 

plain. The, 286, 453. 
Seti I., 386. 

" Settled in walking," 20. 
Shags, 9, 375, 376, 381, 382. 
Shakespeare, 193, 396. 
Shaking hands, 362, 363. 
Sharpe, Sir Alfred, 300, 301, 303, 468. 
Shawl a clue to murder, 82, 83. 
Sheba, Queen of, 450. 
Shedding blood. Without, 245. 
Sheet of paper. Life like a, 356. 
Shell, TheOmande, 182, 191, 192,222. 
Shila folks, 232, 233, 415, 427, 459, 
. 464. 

song, 422. 
Shimba, The Arab leader, 361. 

blocks road, 342. 

The den of, 398. 

the lion, 361, 365. 

The Rugarugas of, 352. 

The vengeance of, 403, 404. 
Shimpauka and the lioness, 368, 369. 
Short sermons, 349. 



15 



INDEX 



Shut up with corpse, 133, 134. 

Signing the title-deeds, 414. 

Sikispence, 30, 196. 

Silence at meals, 444. 

Silva Porto of Belmonte, 32, 74. 

Simoom, A, 159, 160. 

Sims, Mr., 467. 

Singing praise, 123. 

when it rains, 98. 
Sirat, The Bridge of, 202. 
Sirens, 383. 
Sixth sense, A, 388. 
Skin carpet, A human, 233. 

the seamless robe, 271. 

water-bottle, 270. 
Skull of Mushidi, 309, 310. 
Skulls, 193, 229, 260, 261, 309. 
Sky, The African, 36, 99, 153. 
Slave caravans, 28, 29, 163. 

children, 29, 219. 

degradation, 195. 

girl clubbed, 30. 

mortality, 31. 

redeemed, 219. 
Slavers, Portuguese, 149. 
Slaver's widow sells slaves, 31. 
Slavery, 201, 342. 

in Benguella, 27, 29, 30. 

its efifect on Portuguese, 5. 

Inter-negro, 48, 49. 
Slaves, Price paid for, 30. 

in Rome, 50. 

Trick for gaining, 45, 46. 
Sleeping in grass huts, 97. 

on the shore, 412. 

sickness, 248, 300, 441, 474. 

in tents, 97, 98. 

under tree, 377. 
"Slough of Despond," 36. 
Small-pox, 441. 
Smish, 320, 455, 456. 
Smiths, Negro, 23, 448, 449. 
Smoking medicine, 179. 

taboo, 243. 
Snails as food, 52, 95, 312. 
Snake in hut, 252. 
Snakes as food, 52, 313, 385. 

swimming, 324. 
Sneeze greetings, 178. 

Mushidi's, 177, 178. 
Snuff taboo, 243. 
"Snuff-maker," The, 58. 
"Softies," 76, 123, 140, 141. 
Soil softened, Hard, 154. 
Sold for drink, 42. 
Soldiers' wives, war-dance of, 329. 
Solomon, 432. 
Song, Cannibals', 337, 339, 341. 

of deliverance, 422, 423. 

Native, 21, 194, 412, 455. 



Song of wild woman, 385. 

Songa, 265. 

Sorghum plantations, 393. 

Soul, The immortality of the, 272-274. 

"Sourcing it," 131. 

South, Bishop, 144. 

Sowing in tears, 137. 

Spanish proverb, 228, 

Sparks, Dr., 41. 

Speaking tlie language, 347. 

Speech, Naked, 152. 

Spiders, 338. 

Spirit ? Has a dog a, 272-274. 

To, 481. 

worship, 260-266. 
Spitting, Laws against, 143. 

Mushidi, 260. 
Squeal, The pig's, 54. 
St. Paul de Loanda, Governor of, 183, 

184. 
Stairs, Captain, 9, 301, 303-307, 311. 

arrives, 305. 

Death of, 304. 

intercepts Mushidi's letter, 303, 306. 
" Stand and deliver," 119. 
Stanley, 246, 258. 

Cannibals who attacked, 111. 

Livingstone's farewell to, 166. 
Stanley's column, Leader of, 303. 

man, Masoudi, 304. 

tribute to Stairs, 304. 
Starry night, 36. 
Starving lion killed, 366. 
Station, The Mission, 38, 56, 104, 215, 

217, 418. 
Still-born child. A, 235. 
Stokes, 258. 

Stooping, The necessity of, 59, 60. 
Storks migrating, 400-402. 
Stover, Mr., 37. 
Strangers and pilgrims, 419. 
Strangling a lioness, 369. 
Suffragettes, Negro, 232. 
Suicide of incendiary, 11. 

of lion, 438. 

of Silva Porto, 74. 
Suit of clothes, A well-fitting, 214. 
Sultan of Zanzibar, 199. 
Summer and winter, 72. 
Sun, The African, 152, 156, 160, 248. 
Sunrise, 36, 56. 

on Kundelungu Range, 351. 
" Sun's little Sonny," 14. 
Suppers, Indigestible, 36. 
Surety for a stranger, 11. 
Surgical operation, 456, 459. 
Swahili, 95, 96, 112. 
Swallow darting South, 275. 
Swan, Mr., 44, 209. 

The Slavery of To-Day, 43. 



16 



INDEX 



Swimming the Lufukwe, 394. 

the Lukoleshe, 163. 
Swiva, Chief, 337-340. 
Sycamore drum, The, 424, 439. 
Sychar's well, Christ at, 263. 

Tabernacle, The, 386. 

Taboo, 168, 170, 243, 427, 428, 477. 

Tacitus, 188, 222. 

Talashio, 170. 

Talking the sun up, 406. 

Tanganyika, 328, 402, 410, 411, 426. 

Plateau, The, 104, 204. 
Tangled Isle, 405. 
Tantalising, 167. 
Taylor, Mr. and Mrs., 113. 

Hudson, 213. 
Te Deum, 422. 
Tea, 69, 70, 217. 
Teeth, False, 458. 
Teething, 236, 237, 238, 239. 
Temperaments, Various, 212. 
Ten years after, 154, 155. 
Tenda, 131. 
Tennyson, 264, 472. 
Tents, Sleeping in, 97, 98. 
Tete, General, 296. 
Thermometer, Healing virtues of, 179, 

180. 
Thief converted, 475. 
" Think snake, sight snake," 252. 
"Thinking Black," 8, 12, 14, 70, 114, 

115, 151, 152, 167, 196, 278, 281, 

388, 398. 
Thirty knots for converts, 354. 
Thirty-two months' journey, 111. 
Thompson, Mr., 74, 75, 323. 
Thousand miles to bank or shop, 214, 

217, 219. 
Thunderstorm, 251, 252. 
Timidity of boa-constrictors, 314. 
Tinned provisions, 99. 
"Tin-Swanower,"Mr., 316. 
"Tithing the corn," Monkeys, 84. 
Title-deeds of Luanza, Signing the, 413, 

414. 
Toads, 54. 

Tobacco, the death-dealer, 243. 
To-morrow's news, 56, 57. 
"Too late," 76, 386. 
Tools, Native, 447-449. 
Toothache, 457, 458. 
Topsey-turvey Africa, 70 ff. 
Toucan feathers, 125. 
"Tower guns," Mushidi's, 294, 307. 
Town wiped out, 290-294. 
Trail, The narrow, 6, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 69, 

114, 375, 376, 381. 
Buying the, 126, 127. 
Hiding the, 350. 



Trail, Keeping open the, 122. 

Livingstone's, 405. 

"Shags" on the, 9, 375, 376, 382. 
Translation of New Testament, 205. 
Travellers, Native, 78. 
Travelling, mode of, 107, 108. 
Tree, A crooked, 151. 

of witness, The, 414. 
Trees, Giant, 386. 
Trees, African — 

Acacias, 386, 393, 402. 

Banana, 323. 

Calabash, 388. 

Euphorbia, 386. 

Fig, 121, 417. 

Ficus Indica, 393. 

Lianas, 386. 

Mimosa, 386. 

Palm, 3. 

Borassus, 386. 
Hyphccne, 358. 

Pith, 458. 

Sycamore, 388. 
Trials, Missionary, 211. 
Tribute, 118, 119, 122. 
'i'riumph, A military, 221-225. 
Troglodytes, The last of the, 291-293. 
Trunk, The elephant's, 435, 436. 
"Truss of Calico," 30. 
Truth, 80, 81. 
Tsetse fly, 248, 371, 381. 
Tubal Cain's followers, 275, 276, 448. 
Tunis, Stork killed at, 401. 
Turner, 359. 

Twigs and branches, 442, 443. 
Twins, 72, 73. 
Twisted speech and manners, 115. 



Umbundu polish, 47. 

"Undertakers," The, 435. 

Uniform, A mixed, 120. 

Union Jack, The, 107, 150, 303, 405. 

Unyanyembe, 32. 

Ushi, 191, 192. 

Utopia, 93. 

Yachokwe tribe, Tlie, 75. 

Vahemba, 95. 

Valomotwa, 350, 351. 

Van den Huvel, 258. 

Va Sanga, 183, 311. 

Vastness of Africa, map facing p. 164. 

Vegetation, Forest, 386. 

Vemba, 192, 196, 219. 

Verdickt, 302, 326, 404. 

Via Dolorosa to Chiefs tomb, 289. 

Villages, Native, 113, 143, 144, 485. 

Lost, 438. 
" Visese," Senhor, 12. 



17 



INDEX 



Voltaire, 180. 
Vultures, 116, 162. 

Wagogo tricks, 139, 185. 
"Wake," 134, 135. 
Walepa, 459. 

Wales, Britons hiding in, 352. 
Walk of life symbolised, 115. 
Wangermee, Governor, 330, 338. 
Wanyamwezi Hills, 198. 
War averted, 125, 126, 

between Arabs and Africans, 361. 

brewing at Bihe, 74. 
Wascnshi, 96. 
Watches and clocks, 176. 
Watching the corn, 311. 
"Water, bad, 157, 163, 439, 485. 

digging for, 156, 157. 

-bottle of human skin, 270. 

-fowl, 399. 

-rails, 399. 
Waterloo flint-locks, 268. 
Watershed, The, 112. 
Waylaying caravans, 139. 
Weather, The, 153. 
Weeping at mother's grave, 452. 
Well of Sychar, 263. 
Wells, Digging, 156, 157. 
Wesley, John, 383. 
West Coast, The, 3, 95, 189. 

and East joining hands, 344, 364, 405. 
Western road blocked, 213. 

opened, 126. 
Wet, Getting, 71, 141. 
Whistling up the hippos, 466, 467. 
White ants, 312, 478. 

chalk acquittal, 132, 134. 

lady. The first, 415. 

Lake, The Great, 395. 

man. The first, 395. 
The only, 169. 
Parables of, 4. 

men and black, 79, 215, 395. 
killed by Mushidi, 257, 259. 
Names in Africa of, 21, 22. 

officers killed, 330. 

slaves, 215, 309. 

wife. The, 183, Sec Portuguese wife. 



Whitefield, George (quoted), 110. 
" Whites killed the Christ," 216. 
" Wilson, John," party, 415. 
Winds on the Lake, 420. 
Winking with the eye, 27, 28, 408. 
Winter and summer, 72. 
Witch-doctors, 179. 
Wives of fishermen, 427, 428, 
"Wolda Gabriel," The, 242. 
"Wolda Jesus, "The, 242. 
Woman and Commandant, 44. 

and leopard, 106. 

kills lion, 105. 

sacrificed. Old, 286, 287. 

Wild, 383-386. 
Women, African, 348. 

and cannibalism, 336. 

evangelists, 355. 

Questions of, 450. 

Secret Society, 234. 
Woodpecker reminds of home, 416. 
Woodside, Mr., 33, 37. 
Wounded monkeys, 85. 
Writing, 71, 172, 173. 

Arabic, 201. 
Written speech, No, 415. 

Xenophon, 33, 178, 222. 

Yeke band, The, 197. 
Yellow flag of quarantine. The, 209. 
monkeys, 84. 

Z., Senr., 42, 45. 
Zambezi, The, 6, 112. 

The source of the, 112. . 
Zanzibar, 95, 303. 

road, The, 139. 

Sultan of, 199. 

A Western, 5, 32. 
Zanzibaris, 259, 304. 
Zebra Plains, The, 164. 
Zebras, 164, 231. 
Zebulun's portion, 156. 
" Zenobia" class of women, 233. 
Zentler, Mr., 319. 
Zcruiah's sous, 295. 



MoROAN & Scorr Ld., London, Enqland. 



Showing flothors 



LO/\ 



OVO RED ON DO 



% 

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CRAWPORD 

Thinking Black 



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.FRICA 

co/oured 61 UZ.