Chapter X. Karague and Uganda

Escape from Protectors - Cross the Kitangule, the First Affluent of the Nile - Enter Uddu - Uganda - A Rich Country - Driving away the Devil - A Conflict in the Camp - A Pretending Prince - Three Pages with a Diplomatic Message from the King of Uganda - Crime in Uganda.

Crossing back over the Weranhanje spur, I put up with the Arabs at Kufro. Here, for the first time in this part of the world, I found good English peas growing. Next day (11th), crossing over a succession of forks, supporters to the main spur, we encamped at Luandalo. Here we were overtaken by Rozaro, who had remained behind, as I now found, to collect a large number of Wanyambo, whom he called his children, to share with him the gratuitous living these creatures always look out for on a march of this nature.

After working round the end of the great spur whilst following down the crest of a fork, we found Karague separated by a deep valley from the hilly country of Uhaiya, famous for its ivory and coffee productions. On entering the rich plantain gardens of Kisaho, I was informed we must halt there a day for Maula to join us, as he had been detained by Rumanika, who, wishing to give him a present, had summoned Rozaro's sister to his palace for that purpose. She was married to another, and had two children by him, but that did not signify, as it was found in time her husband had committed a fault, on account of which it was thought necessary to confiscate all his property.

At this place all the people were in a constant state of inebriety, drinking pombe all day and all night. I shot a montana antelope, and sent its head and skin back to Grant, accompanied with my daily report to Rumanika.

Maula having joined me, we marched down to near the end of the fork overlooking the plain of Kitangule - the Waganada drums beating, and whistles playing all the way we went along.

We next descended from the Mountains of the Moon, and spanned a long alluvial plain to the settlement of the so-long-heard-of Kitangule, where Rumanika keeps his thousands and thousands of cows. In former days the dense green forests peculiar to the tropics, which grow in swampy places about this plain, were said to have been stocked by vast herds of elephants; but, since the ivory trade had increased, these animals had all been driven off to the hills of Kisiwa and Uhaiya, or into Uddu beyond the river, and all the way down to the N'yanza.

To-day we reached the Kitangule Kagera, or river, which, as I ascertained in the year 1858, falls into the Victoria N'yanza on the west side. Most unfortunately, as we led off to cross it, rain began to pour, so that everybody and everything was thrown into confusion. I could not get a sketch of it, though Grant was more fortunate afterwards; neither could I measure or fathom it; and it was only after a long contest with the superstitious boatmen that they allowed me to cross in their canoe with my shoes on, as they thought the vessel would either upset, or else the river would dry up, in consequence of their Neptune taking offence at me. Once over, I looked down on the noble stream with considerable pride. About eight yards broad, it was sunk down a considerable depth below the surface of the land, like a huge canal, and is so deep, it could not be poled by the canoemen; while it runs at a velocity of from three to four knots an hour.

I say I viewed it with pride, because I had formed my judgment of its being fed from high-seated springs in the Mountains of the Moon solely on scientific geographical reasonings; and, from the bulk of the stream, I also believed those mountains must obtain an altitude of 8000 feet[FN#16] or more, just as we find they do in Ruanda. I thought then to myself, as I did at Rumanika's, when I first viewed the Mfumbiro cones, and gathered all my distant geographical information there, that these highly saturated Mountains of the Moon give birth to the Congo as well as to the Nile, and also to the Shire branch of the Zambeze.

I came, at the same time, to the conclusion that all our previous information concerning the hydrography of these regions, as well as the Mountains of the Moon, originated with the ancient Hindus, who told it to the priests of the Nile; and that all those busy Egyptian geographers, who disseminated their knowledge with a view to be famous for their long-sightedness, in solving the deep-seated mystery with enshrouded the source of their holy river, were so many hypothetical humbugs. Reasoning thus, the Hindu traders alone, in those days, I believed, had a firm basis to stand upon, from their intercourse with the Abyssinians - through whom they must have heard of the country of Amara, which they applied to the N'yanza - and with the Wanyamuezi or men of the Moon, from whom they heard of the Tanganyika and Karague mountains. I was all the more impressed with this belief, by knowing that the two church missionaries, Rebmann and Erhardt, without the smallest knowledge of the Hindus' map, constructed a map of their own, deduced from the Zanzibar traders, something on the same scale, by blending the Victoria N'yanza, Tanganyida, and N'yazza into one; whilst to their triuned lake they gave the name Moon, because the men of the Moon happened to live in front of the central lake. And later still, Mr Leon, another missionary, heard of the N'yanza and the country Amara, near which he heard the Nile made its escape.

Going on with the march we next came to Ndongo, a perfect garden of plantains. The whole country was rich - most surprisingly so. The same streaky argillaceous sandstones prevailed as in Karague. There was nothing, in fact, that would not have grown here, if it liked moisture and a temperate heat. It was a perfect paradise for negroes: as fast as they sowed they were sure of a crop without much trouble; though, I must say, they kept their huts and their gardens in excellent order.