Chapter IV. Ugogo, and the Wilderness of Mgunda Mkhali
Pulling on in the same way again - when not actually engaged in shooting, scolding and storming at the men, to keep them up to the mark, and prevent them from shirking their work, which they were for every trying to do - we arrived on the 28th at the "Boss," a huge granite block, from the top of which the green foliage of the forest-trees looked like an interminable cloud, soft and waving, fit for fairies to dwell upon. Here the patience of my men fairly gave way, for the village of Jiwa la Mkoa was only one long march distance from us; and they, in consequence, smelt food on in advance much sweeter than the wild game and wild grasses they had been living on; and many more of them could not resist deserting us, though they might, had we all pulled together, have gone more comfortably in, as soon as the rear property arrived next day with Baraka.
All the men who deserted on the 25th, save Johur and Mutwana, now came into camp, and told us they had heard from travellers that those men who had been sent on for reliefs to Kaze were bringing us a large detachment of slaves to help us on. My men had brought no food either for us or their friends, as the cloths they took with them, "which were their own," were scarcely sufficient to purchase a meal - famines being as bad where they had been as in Ugogo. To try and get all the men together again, I now sent off a party loaded with cloths to see what they could get for us; but they returned on the 30th grinning and joking, with nothing but a small fragment of goat-flesh, telling lies by the dozens. Johur then came into camp, unconscious that Baraka by my orders had, during his absence, been inspecting his kit, where he found concealed seventy-three yards of cloth, which could only have been my property, as Johur had brought no akaba or reserve fund from the coast.
The theft having been proved to the satisfaction of every one, I ordered Baraka to strip him of everything and give him three dozen lashes; but after twenty-one had been given, the rest were remitted on his promising to turn Queen's evidence, when it transpired that Mutwana had done as much as himself. Johur, it turned out, was a murderer, having obtained his freedom by killing his master. He was otherwise a notoriously bad character; so, wishing to make an example, as I knew all my men were robbing me daily, though I could not detect them, I had him turned out of camp. Baraka was a splendid detective, and could do everything well when he wished it, so I sent him off now with cloths to see what he could to at Jiwa la Mkoa, and next day he returned triumphantly driving in cows and goats. Three Wanyamuezi, also, who heard we were given to shooting wild animals continually, came with him to offer their services as porters.
As nearly all the men had now returned, Grant and I spent New Year's Day with the first detachment at Jiwa la Mkoa, or Round Rock - a single tembe village occupied by a few Wakimbu settlers, who, by their presence and domestic habits, made us feel as though we were well out of the wood. So indeed we found it; for although this wilderness was formerly an entire forest of trees and wild animals, numerous Wakimbu, who formerly occupied the banks of the Ruaha to the southward, had been driven to migrate here, wherever they could find springs of water, by the boisterous naked pastorals the Warori.
At night three slaves belonging to Sheikh Salem bin Saif stole into our camp, and said they had been sent by their master to seek for porters at Kaze, as all the Wanyamuezi porters of four large caravans had deserted in Ugogo, and they could not move. I was rather pleased by this news, and thought it served the merchants right, knowing, as I well did, that the Wanyamuezi, being naturally honest, had they not been defrauded by foreigners on the down march to the coast, would have been honest still. Some provisions were now obtained by sending men out to distant villages; but we still supplied the camp with our guns, killing rhinoceros, wild boar, antelope, and zebras. The last of our property did not come up till the 5th, when another thief being caught, got fifty lashes, under the superintendence of Baraka, to show that punishment was only inflicted to prevent further crime.