Chapter V. Unyamuezi
After passing Masange and Zimbili, we put up a night in the village of Iviri, on the northern border of Unyanyembe, and found several officers there, sent by Mkisiwa, to enforce a levy of soldiers to take the field with the Arabs at Kaze against Manua Sera; to effect which, they walked about ringing bells, and bawling out that if a certain percentage of all the inhabitants did not muster, the village chief would be seized, and their plantations confiscated. My men all mutinied here for increase of ration allowances. To find themselves food with, I had given them all one necklace of beads each per diem since leaving Kaze, in lieu of cloth, which hitherto had been served out for that purpose. It was a very liberal allowance, because the Arabs never gave more than one necklace to every three men, and that, too, of inferior quality to what I served. I brought them to at last by starvation, and then we went on. Dipping down into a valley between two clusters of granitic hills, beautifully clothed with trees and grass, studded here and there with rich plantations, we entered the district of Usagari, and on the second day forded the Gombe nullah again - in its upper course, called Kuale.
Rising again up to the main level of the plantation, we walked into the boma of the chief of Unyambewa, Singinya, whose wife was my old friend the late sultana Ungugu's lady's-maid. Immediately on our entering her palace, she came forward to meet me with the most affable air of a princess, begged I would always come to her as I did then, and sought to make every one happy and comfortable. Her old mistress, she said, died well stricken in years; and, as she had succeeded her, the people of her country invited Singinya to marry her, because feuds had arisen about the rights of succession; and it was better a prince, whom they thought best suited by birth and good qualities, should head their warriors, and keep all in order. At that moment Singinya was out in the field fighting his enemies; and she was sure, when he heard I was here, that he would be very sorry he had missed seeing me.
We next went on to the district of Ukumbi, and put up in a village there, on approaching which all the villagers turned out to resist us, supposing we were an old enemy of theirs. They flew about brandishing their spears, and pulling their bows in the most grotesque attitudes, alarming some of my porters so much that they threw down their loads and bolted. All the country is richly cultivated, though Indian corn at that time was the only grain ripe. The square, flat-topped tembes had now been left behind, and instead the villagers lived in small collections of grass huts, surrounded by palisades of tall poles.
Proceeding on we put up at the small settlement of Usenda, the proprietor of which was a semi-negro Arab merchant called Sangoro. He had a large collection of women here, but had himself gone north with a view to trade in Karague. Report, however, assured us that he was then detained in Usui by Suwarora, its chief, on the plea of requiring his force of musketeers to prevent the Watuta from pillaging his country, for these Watuta lived entirely on plunder of other people's cattle.
With one move, by alternately crossing strips of forest and cultivation, studded here and there with small hills of granite, we forded the Qaunde nullah - a tributary to the Gombe - and entered the rich flat district of Mininga, where the gingerbread- palm grows abundantly. The greatest man we found here was a broken-down ivory merchant called Sirboko, who gave us a good hut to live in. Next morning, I believe at the suggestion of my Wanguana, with Baraka at their head, he induced me to stop there; for he said Rungua had been very recently destroyed by the Watuta, and this place could afford porters better than it. To all appearance this was the case, for this district was better cultivated than any place I had seen. I also felt a certain inclination to stop, as I was dragging on sick men, sorely against my feelings; and I also thought I had better not go farther away from my rear property; but, afraid of doing wrong in not acting up to Musa's directions, I called up his head men who were with me, and asked them what they thought of the matter, as they had lately come from Rungua. On their confirming Sirboki's story, and advising my stopping, I acceded to their recommendation, and immediately gave Musa's men orders to look out for porters.
Hearing this, all my Wanguana danced with delight; and I, fearing there was some treachery, called Musa's men again, saying I had changed my mind, and wished to go on in the afternoon; but when the time came, not one of our porters could be seen. There was now no help for it; so, taking it coolly, I gave Musa's men presents, begged them to look sharp in getting the men up, and trusted all would end well in the long-run. Sirboko's attentions were most warm and affecting. He gave us cows, rice, and milk, with the best place he had to live in, and looked after us as constantly and tenderly as if he had been our father. It seemed quite unjust to harbour any suspicion against him.