Page images

â Liwonde's and Kawinga's countries, and thence round the north ad south end of Lake Shirwa. Consequently, Liwonde's country full of evil-looking coast people and Arabs who have obtained onsiderable hold over the land, and are carrying on an industrious Jahommedan propaganda by teaching the people's children to read nd write and recite the Koran. These men, it might be imagined, guessing that our presence in the country was inimical to their Slave-trading, scowled on us as we went by, and probably only our well-armed, alert, little army of forty or fifty stalwart Sikhs and Punjabi Mahommedans prevented overt acts of malice on their part. I must, however, except from this denunciation one very worthy old Arab whom I have known ever since 1889, and who has always held aloof from the Slave Trade, Sherif Abu Bakr. This man was helpful to the British during the war at the north end of Nyasa, and his influence over Liwonde-in whose country he has made his home-is exerted emphatically in our favour. Abu Bakr alone came forward with friendly words and offerings of food, and he gave me then and afterwards much information about the Slave Trade. As a hint from him first set us on the track of a slave caravan at Mponda's which we subsequently succeeded in breaking up, I sent him a small present on my return to Zomba, to encourage him in this co-operation with us.

Liwonde himself is by no means a bad character: indeed, if he were oftener sober he might be taken as a very good type of a native Chief. Unfortunately, although no foreign forms of alcohol ever penetrate the Valley of the Upper Shiré, it is, as I have related in the Report of my journey of 1889-90, one of the most drunken parts of Africa. The people are for ever brewing a strong heady beer out of millet and maize, the well-known" pombe," and Liwonde indulges extravagantly in this drink, to such a degree, in fact, that he is rarely sober after the forenoon. This condition weakens his energy as a ruler, and he allows the Swahilis and Mahommedanized Yaos from Kawinga's town to dominate his country without attempting much resistance.

Beyond Liwonde's land we crossed a depopulated tract of beautiful, park-like country, then skirted the south-eastern shores of Lake Pamalombwe, and arrived within the country of Mkata, one of the Chiefs belonging to the Makandanji party or coalition which has been engaged in interminable wars with Mponda.


passing the frontier of Mkata's country, which was marked by a belt of woodland, a number of rather impudent men armed with guns (Mkata's soldiers) bounced out of the brushwood and asked us rather imperatively to say where we were going. We told them "to the lake," and passed on through Mkata's villages without stopping till we came to the last town of his country, which is called Likoro,


and is situated near the north-east corner of Lake Pamalombwe. Here we rested for the night, and on the next day, after a quick march of 8 miles, found ourselves rather sooner than we expected on the east bank of the Upper Shiré (about 3 miles from Lake Nyasa) immediately opposite to Mponda's mile-long town.

Our arrival was an unwelcome surprise to Mponda. He had, of course, heard of Tshikusi's mission to Zomba, and as a counterstroke to this move of the Angoni King in invoking British proteetion, he had mustered fourteen of T'shikusi's people, all who remained unsold in his possession, the rest having been bargained for to the slavers, and had beheaded them in the market-place of his town three days before our arrival. Their heads were then stuck up on the posts of the stockade, which was already decorated with perhaps 100 other bleached skulls of other Angoni or prisoners of war. This proceeding was undertaken to show Tshikusi how little Mponda. cared for the white man. He then proceeded to muster his forces to meet our attack; he had obtained 400 men from the friendly Angoni Chief Tshifisi, living behind his territory, and he had written for aid to Makanjira. But mobilization of an African Chief's force is a very slow process, especially when the men are called together to fight with Europeans, and our march from Zomba had been so quick and silent that we had caught Mponda only half prepared, and here we were, camped on the opposite bank, only 400 yards from his town, and that 400 yards represented by the whole breadth of the River Shiré. Well might Mponda vacillate and change his policy every hour, consulting continually his Swahili soothsayers, trying to read an oracle in the entrails of sacrificed fowls, or with the Arab magic of "Raml" sand marked at random with dots and cyphers to produce figures from which a horoscope is drawn, decide" Yes or No? Shall I fight the white man or not?" Whilst he weighed the chances of war we were employing our time to the utmost advantage in fortifying our position, and in attempting to negotiate a peace between Mponda and Makandanji, besides approaching Mponda on the subject of reparation to the Angoni and cessation of slave-raiding and trading. In six days our position was admirably defended by a fort designed by Captain Maguire and constructed by the Indian soldiers, the Zanzibaris, and Makuas. This place, to which they were good enough to attach my name, was a circular redoubt with a diameter inside of 90 feet. The centre was occupied by a low circular house used as a provision store and a cooking-place. Round this focus our tents was pitched; and on the side of the fort nearest the river was a magazine dug partly under

The blood of these unfortunate creatures still stained the ground whe Captain Maguire visited the town the day after we came.

round and protected by a strong platform of earth heaped over a out wooden framework. On this platform, which was about 8 feet bove the level of the fort, a sentry stationed night and day could ok over an immense stretch of perfectly flat plain to the verge of ake Nyasa. The fort was defended by a rampart of bamboos, nclined outward at a slight angle, and supporting about 3 feet of and thrown up against it from the outside. Below the sand ampart was a counterscarp or level ledge, and below this again a deep ditch with perpendicular sides and 4 feet broad. Across the ditch there was a glacis of sand.

Meanwhile, Makaudanji assumed a hostile attitude somewhat suddenly. I have since thought this must have arisen from pressure brought to bear on him by Makanjira, who had heard of our approach, and whose guilty conscience at once assumed that our object was to punish him. Makandanji suddenly forbade his people to sell us food, broke off negotiations for peace with Mponda, and asked us to leave the country. He took the further and more imprudent step of imprisoning two of our Swahili police, whom we had sent with messages; or, to be quite exact, he first tied up one man, and then, when we sent another to inquire what this meant, he tied him up


Accordingly, determined to stop anything like the formation of a hostile league of Yao Chiefs round us, I decided to punish promptly Makandanji's unfriendly behaviour, and dispatched Captain Maguire with a force of forty-four Sepoys and ten Zanzibaris to effect the release of Njiwa and Mwaraba (the imprisoned men).

He started before dawn, and, by daybreak, he had entered Makandanji's town, having first repulsed the enemy, who opened fire on him before he could attempt negotiations. He succeeded in releasing the prisoners, and then, being once more attacked, he drove the enemy to the hills, and destroyed that part of the town from which they had fired on the troops, returning by noonday to Fort Johnston.

Meanwhile, a curious and thoroughly African proceeding had taken place. Mponda, as soon as he heard that we had started to take action against Makandanji, resolved to deal his old foe a crushing blow; so he gathered together all his canoes and rapidly ferried across the Shiré, above and below Fort Johnston, 2,000 armed men, namely, 1,700 Yaos and 400 Angoni (from his ally Tshifisi). This force met and assembled close to Fort Johnston, and, at first, We thought they had come to attack us at a disadvantage; but they merely waited till their numbers were complete, and then started off for the outlying villages belonging to Mtshiriko and Makandanji.

This Chief is now known by the name of Tshindamba.


Most of the men of these places had left their homes to fight us, and, therefore, Mponda's people gained an easy victory over them. and carried away the bulk of the women and children. It was a shocking sight to see these poor creatures in droves of twenty and thirty at a time being brought down to the river-side by their captors to be conveyed across to Mponda's town. I counted over seventy crossing the river at Fort Johnston, but, we were told, there were many more, as, indeed, we afterwards discovered.

Mponda came across to our side of the river to congratulate his men. I sent out and remonstrated with him, demanding that these people should be released at once, and allowed to go back to their villages, saying that we fought with men, not with women and children, and that our only quarrel was with Makandanji (Tshindamba). Mponda was in a state of great perturbation. It was evident he had no control over his men, flushed with success, and that, at the same time, he was afraid to offend me. He said, "Give me three days, and I promise you all these people shall be returned. As soon as my men are drunk with pombe, I will take the slaves away and send them back to you to be returned to their villages." I was obliged to assent to this proposal, as I had only a handful of men with me to oppose Mponda's forces, and I hoped a little reflection would impel him to restore his captives.

Shortly after Mponda had left, Captain Maguire returned from Tshindamba's with the released Zanzibaris, and several hostages from Tshindamba, whom, after intrusting with messages to their Chief, advising him to come in and make peace, we released.

The result of this action against Tshindamba was, that he, Zarafi, Mkata, and the rest of the clan, all came into Fort Johnston, after a few days, and signed a Treaty of Peace with us, promising to give up the Slave Trade, and to support the Administration of the Protectorate in its efforts to maintain peace.

The three days elapsed, and I called on Mponda to fulfil his promise. But the time given for reflection had hardened his heart. Moreover, in this interval, the real source of all these slave-raids and intestine wars had made itself manifest. A large caravan from Kilwa Kivinje had recently arrived in South Nyasaland, and had first of all "put up" with Makanjira. Then it passed along the south-east coast and stayed for some days at Saidi Mwazungu's (Saidi Mwazungu was a half-caste Swahili Arab, Makanjira's chief adviser). Saidi Mwazungu had ferried them over to Mponda's coast in one of Makanjira's dhows, and had been caught in the act by the Universities' Mission steamer, the Charles Janson, which brought us the news. Captain Maguire, with thirty Sepoys, had travelled in the Charles Janson to the place where the caravan had landed, but was not in time to intercept it, though he found

veral slaves in the stocks ready for sale, and released them and ought them to Fort Johnston. Meantime, it was becoming >parent that our presence here was highly inopportune to all rties. Each Chief was desirous of selling all the people he could y hands on to the Kilwa traders in return for cotton goods and unpowder. Tshindamba, no doubt, regretted that he had ever alled on us to mediate between him and Mponda, and he actually, s above stated, turned hostile to us in his impatience to get rid of ur unwelcome presence. These Kilwa slave-traders were impudent rascals, who went about the streets of Mponda's town advising his people to fight us sooner than surrender their newly-captured slaves.

At the conclusion of the interval conceded to Mponda for the restitution of his captives, seeing no intention on his part of giving in, and further learning that he had ordered his people to sell us no food, so that hunger might eventually oblige us to leave, I delivered an ultimatum stating that if some slaves, at any rate, were not given up by 9 o'clock in the evening of the third day I should attack his town. In order to facilitate the return of the slaves in numbers and with celerity, I dispatched a large steel barge of the African Lakes Company to Mponda's town at the decisive hour, 9 o'clock, to fetch over a consignment of the slaves. The boat, however, was not allowed to land. Mponda's people shouted out that they were ready to fight, and that Mponda had gone away to the mountains with his women and ivory. We waited still another hour, and as no better answer came, but isolated shots began to be fired at the fort, I gave the order to bombard the town. Accordingly, Captain Maguire wheeled the 7-pr. gun into position, and fired two incendiary shells into where most of the enemy seemed collected. This set several houses on fire, and greatly surprised the people. They shouted out that they wanted peace. We replied, saying that we would stop further action if they would send over their Headmen to treat with us, and to bring some of the slaves with them as a sign of their willingness to give in to our We waited for another hour, but no one came; and it seemed that during this interval they had taken advantage of the armistice to evacuate the town and carry off their valuables. We fired shells, mostly incendiary, into various parts of the town, and set portions of it on fire. There was no response on the part of the enemy till the early morning, when, apparently, the warriors returned in force and commenced firing at us across the river. We therefore landed in two parties with fifty Sepoys and nine Zanzibaris, drove the enemy out of the town after two or three sharp tussles, and then burnt the whole town and destroyed the stockades as far as possible, so as to render it untenable.


« PreviousContinue »