Chapter III. Usagara
A circumstance arose here, which, insignificant though it appeared, is worth noting, to show how careful one must be in understanding and dealing with negro servants. Quite unaccountably to myself, the general of my Wanguana, Baraka, after showing much discontent with his position as head of Captain Grant's establishment, became so insolent, that it was necessary to displace him, and leave him nothing to do but look after the men. This promoted Frij, who enjoyed his rise as much as Baraka, if his profession was to be believed, enjoyed his removal from that office. Though he spoke in this manner, still I knew that there was something rankling in his mind which depressed his spirits as long as he remained with us, though what it was I could not comprehend, nor did I fully understand it till months afterwards. It was ambition, which was fast making a fiend of him; and had I known it, he would, and with great advantage too, have been dismissed upon the spot. The facts were these: He was exceedingly clever, and he knew it. His command over men was surprising. At Zanzibar he was the Consul's right- hand man: he ranked above Bombay in the consular boat's crew, and became a terror even to the Banyans who kept slaves. He seemed, in fact, in his own opinion, to have imbibed all the power of the British Consul who had instructed him. Such a man was an element of discord in our peaceful caravan. He was far too big-minded for the sphere which he occupied; and my surprise now is that he ever took service, knowing what he should, at the time of enlistment, have expected, that no man would be degraded to make room for him. But this was evidently what he had expected, though he dared not say it. He was jealous of Bombay, because he thought his position over the money department was superior to his own over the men; and he had seen Bombay, on one occasion, pay a tax in Uzaramo - a transaction which would give him consequence with the native chiefs. Of Sheikh Said he was equally jealous, for a like reason; and his jealousy increased the more that I found it necessary to censure the timidity of this otherwise worthy little man. Baraka thought, in his conceit, that he could have done all things better, and gained signal fame, had he been created chief. Perhaps he thought he had gained the first step towards this exalted rank, and hence his appearing very happy for this time. I could not see through so deep a scheme and only hoped that he would shortly forget, in the changes of the marching life, those beautiful wives he had left behind him, which Bombay in his generosity tried to persuade me was the cause of his mental distraction.
Our halt at the ford here was cut short by the increasing sickness of the Hottentots, and the painful fact that Captain Grant was seized with fever.[FN#6] We had to change camp to the little village of Kiruru, where, as rice was grown - an article not to be procured again on this side of Unyamuezi - we stopped a day to lay in supplies of this most valuable of all travelling food. Here I obtained the most consistent accounts of the river system which, within five days' journey, trends through Uzegura; and I concluded, from what I heard, that there is no doubt of the Mukondokua and Wami rivers being one and the same stream. My informants were the natives of the settlement, and they all concurred in saying that the Kingani above the junction is called the Rufu, meaning the parent stream. Beyond it, following under the line of the hills, at one day's journey distant, there is a smaller river called Msonge. At an equal distance beyond it, another of the same size is known as Lungerengeri; and a fourth river is the Wami, which mouths in the sea at Utondue, between the ports of Whindi and Saadami. In former years, the ivory- merchants, ever seeking for an easy road for their trade, and knowing they would have no hills to climb if they could only gain a clear passage by this river from the interior plateau to the sea, made friends with the native chiefs of Uzegura, and succeeded in establishing it as a thoroughfare. Avarice, however, that fatal enemy to the negro chiefs, made them overreach themselves by exorbitant demands of taxes. Then followed contests for the right of appropriating the taxes, and the whole ended in the closing of the road, which both parties were equally anxious to keep open for their mutual gain. This foolish disruption having at first only lasted for a while, the road was again opened and again closed, for the merchants wanted an easy passage, and the native chiefs desired cloths. But it was shut again; and now we heard of its being for a third time opened, with what success the future only can determine - for experience WILL not teach the negro, who thinks only for the moment. Had they only sense to see, and patience to wait, the whole trade of the interior would inevitably pass through their country instead of Uzaramo; and instead of being poor in cloths, they would be rich and well dressed like their neighbours. But the curse of Noah sticks to these his grandchildren by Ham, and no remedy that has yet been found will relieve them. They require a government like ours in India; and without it, the slave trade will wipe them off the face of the earth.
Now leaving the open parks of pretty acacias, we followed up the Mgazi branch of the Mgeta, traversed large tree-jungles, where the tall palm is conspicuous, and drew up under the lumpy Mkambaku, to find a residence for the day. Here an Arab merchant, Khamis, bound for Zanzibar, obliged us by agreeing for a few dollars to convey our recent spoils in natural history to the coast.