Chapter IV. Ugogo, and the Wilderness of Mgunda Mkhali
At last, after thousands of difficulties much like those I encountered in Uzaramo, the hongo was settled by a payment of one kisutu, one dubani, four yards bendera, four yards kiniki, and three yards merikani. The wazir then thought he would do some business on his own account, and commenced work by presenting me with a pot of ghee and flour, saying at the same time "empty words did not show true love," and hoping that I would prove mine by making some slight return. To get rid of the animal I gave him the full value of his present in cloth, which he no sooner pocketed than he had the audacity to accuse Grant of sacrilege for having shot a lizard on a holy stone, and demanded four cloths to pay atonement for this offence against the "church." As yet, he said, the chief was not aware of the damage done, and it was well he was not; for he would himself, if I only paid him the four cloths, settle matters quietly, otherwise there would be no knowing what demands might be made on my cloth. It was necessary to get up hot temper, else there was no knowing how far he would go; so I returned him his presents, and told the sheikh, instead of giving four, to fling six cloths in his face, and tell him that the holy-stone story was merely a humbug, and I would take care no more white men ever came to see him again.
Some Wanyamuezi porters, who had been left sick here by former caravans, now wished to take service with me as far as Kaze; but the Wagogo, hearing of their desire, frightened them off it. A report also at this time was brought to us, that a caravan had just arrived at our last ground, having come up from Whindi, direct by the line of the Wami river, in its upper course called Mukondokua, without crossing a single hill all the way; I therefore sent three men to see if they had any porters to spare, as it was said they had; but the three men, although they left their bows and arrows behind, never came back.
Another mule died to-day. This was perplexing indeed, but to stop longer was useless; so we pushed forward as best we could to a pond at the western end of the district where we found a party of Makua sportsmen who had just killed an elephant. They had lived in Ugogo one year and a half, and had killed in all seventeen elephants; half the tusks of which, as well as some portion of the flesh, they gave to Magomba for the privilege of residing there. There were many antelopes there, some of which both Grant and I shot for the good of the pot, and he also killed a crocute hyena. From the pond we went on to the middle of a large jungle, and bivouacked for the night in a shower of rain, the second of the season.
During a fierce downpour of rain, the porters all quivering and quaking with cold, we at length emerged from the jungle, and entered the prettiest spot in Ugogo - the populous district of Usekhe - where little hills and huge columns of granite crop out. Here we halted.
Next day came the hongo business, which was settled by paying one dubani, one kitambi, one msutu, four yards merikani, and two yards kiniki; but whilst we were doing it eight porters ran away, and four fresh ones were engaged (Wanyamuezi) who had run away from Kanyenye.
With one more march from this we reached the last district in Ugogo, Khoko. Here the whole of the inhabitants turned out to oppose us, imagining we had come there to revenge the Arab, Mohinna, because the Wagogo attacked him a year ago, plundered his camp, and drove him back to Kaze, for having shot their old chief "Short-legs." They, however, no sooner found out who we were than they allowed us to pass on, and encamp in the outskirts of the Mgunda Mkhali wilderness. To this position in the bush I strongly objected, on the plea that guns could be best used against arrows in the open; but none would go out in the field, maintaining that the Wagogo would fear to attack us so far from their villages, as we now were, lest we might cut them off in their retreat.
Hori Hori was now chief in Short-leg's stead, and affected to be much pleased that we were English, and not Arabs. He told us we might, he thought, be able to recruit all the men that we were in want of, as many Wanyanuezi who had been left there sick wished to go to their homes; and I would only, in addition to their wages, have to pay their "hotel bills" to the Wagogo. This, of course, I was ready to do, though I knew the Wanyamuezi had paid for themselves, as is usual, by their work in the fields of their hosts. Still, as I should be depriving these of hands, I could scarcely expect to get off for less than the value of a slave for each, and told Sheikh said to look out for some men at once, whilst at the same time he laid in provisions of grain to last us eight days in the wilderness, and settle the hongo.
For this triple business, I allowed three days, during which time, always eager to shoot something, either for science or the pot, I killed a bicornis rhinoceros, at a distance of five paces only, with my small 40-gauge Lancaster, as the beast stood quietly feeding in the bush; and I also shot a bitch fox of the genus Octocyon lalandii, whose ill-omened cry often alarms the natives by forewarning them of danger. This was rather tame sport; but next day I had better fun.