Chapter VII. Usui

Taxation recommenced - A Great Doctor - Suwarora pillaging - The Arabs - Conference with an Ambassador from Uganda - Disputes in Camp - Rivalry of Bombay and Baraka - Departure from the Inhospitable Districts.

We were now in Usui, and so the mace-bearers, being on their own ground forgot their manners, and peremptorily demanded their pay before they would allow us to move one step farther. At first I tried to stave the matter off, promising great rewards if they took us quickly on to Suwarora; but they would take no alternative - their rights were four wires each. I could not afford such a sum, and tried to beat them down, but without effect; for they said, they had it in their power to detain us here a whole month, and they could get us bullied at every stage by the officers of the stations. No threats of reporting them to their chief had any effect, so, knowing that treachery in these countries was a powerful enemy, I ordered them to be paid. N'yamanira, the Mkungu, then gave us a goat and two pots of pombe, begging, at the same time, for four wires, which I paid, hoping thus to get on in the morning.

I then made friends with him, and found he was a great doctor as well as an officer. In front of his hut he had his church or uganga - a tree, in which was fixed a blaue boc's horn charged with magic powder, and a zebra's hoof, suspended by a string over a pot of water sunk in the earth below it. His badges of office he had tied on his head; the butt of a shell, representing the officer's badge, being fixed on the forehead, whilst a small sheep's horn, fixed jauntily over the temple, denoted that he was a magician. Wishing to try my powers in magical arts, as I laughed at his church, he begged me to produce an everlasting spring of water by simply scratching the ground. He, however, drew short up, to the intense delight of my men, on my promising that I would do so if he made one first.

At night, 22d, a steel scabbard and some cloths were extracted from our camp, so I begged my friend the great doctor would show us the use of his horn. This was promised, but never performed. I then wished to leave, as the Wasui guides, on receiving their pay, promised we should; but they deferred, on the plea that one of them must see their chief first, and get him to frank us through, else, they said, we should be torn to pieces. I said I thought the Kaquenzingiriri could do this; but they said, "No; Suwarora must be told first of your arrival, to prepare him properly for your coming; so stop here for three days with two of us, whilst the third one goes to the palace and returns again; for you know the chiefs of these countries do not feel safe until they have a look at the uganga."

One of them then went away, but no sooner had left than a man named Makinga arrived to invite us on, as he said, at his adopted brother K'yengo's request. Makinga then told us that Suwarora, on first hearing that we were coming, became greatly afraid, and said he would not let us set eyes on his country, as he was sure we were king-dethroners; but, referring for opinion to Dr K'yengo, his fears were overcome by the doctor assuring him that he had seen hosts of our sort at Zanzibar; and he knew, moreover, that some years ago we had been to Ujiji and to Ukerewe without having done any harm in those places; and, further, since Musa had sent word that I had done my best to subdue the war at Unyanyembe, and had promised to do my best here, he, Suwarora, had been anxiously watching our movements, and longed for our arrival. This looked famous, and it was agreed we should move the next morning. Just then a new light broke in on my defeat at Sorombo, for with Makinga I recognised one of my former porters, who I had supposed was a "child" of the Pig's. This man now said before all my men, Baraka included, that he wished to accept the load of mzizima I had offered the Pig if he would go forward with Baraka and tell Suwarora I wanted some porters to help me to reach him. He was not a "child" of the Pig's, but a "child" of K'yengo's; and as Baraka would not allow him to accept the load of mzizima, he went on to K'yengo by himself, and told all that had happened. It was now quite clear what motives induced Suwarora to send out the three Wasui; but how I blessed Baraka for this in my heart, though I said nothing about it to him, for fear of his playing some more treacherous tricks. Grant then told me Baraka had been frightened at Mininga, by a blackguard Mganga to whom he would not give a present, into the belief that our journey would encounter some terrible mishap; for, when the M'yonga catastrophe happened, he thought that a fulfillment of the Mganga's prophecy.

I wished to move in the morning (23d), and had all hands ready, but was told by Makinga he must be settled with first. His dues for the present were four brass wires, and as many more when we reached the palace. I could not stand this: we were literally, as Musa said we should be, being "torn to pieces"; so I appealed to the mace-bearers, protested that Makinga could have no claims on me, as he was not a man of Usui, but a native of Utambara, and brought on a row. On the other hand, as he could not refute this, Makinga swore the mace was all a pretence, and set a- fighting with the Wasui and all the men in turn.

To put a stop to this, I ordered a halt, and called on the district officer to assist us, on which he said he would escort us on to Suwarora's if we would stop till next morning. This was agreed to; but in the night we were robbed of three goats, which he said he could not allow to be passed over, lest Suwarora might hear of it, and he would get into a scrape. He pressed us strongly to stop another day whilst he sought for them, but I told him I would not, as his magic powder was weak, else he would have found the scabbard we lost long before this.