Chapter XIX. The March to Madi
After fighting for the boats, we still had to wait the day for Kidgwiga and his men, who said it was all very well our pushing ahead, indifferent as to whether men were enlisted or not, but he had to prepare for the future also, as he could never recross the Kidi wilderness by himself; he must have a sufficient number of men to form his escort, and these were now grinding corn for the journey. Numerous visitors called on us here, and consequently our picture-books were in great request. We gave Kaeru some beads.
After walking two miles to the boats, we entered the district of Chopi, subject to Unyoro, and went down the river, keeping the Kikunguru cone in view. On arrival at camp, Viarwanjo, the officer of the district, a very smart fellow, arrived with a large escort of spearmen, presented pombe, ordered fowls to be seized for us, and promised one boat in the morning, for he had no more disposable, and even that one he felt anxious about lest the men on ahead should seize it.
I gave Viarwanjo some beads, and dropped down the river in his only wretched little canoe - he, with Grant and the traps, going overland. I caught a fever, and so spent the night.
Here I halted to please Magamba, the governor, who is a relation of the king. He called in great state, presented a cow and pombe, was much pleased with the picture-books, and wished to feast his eyes on all the wonders in the hut. He was very communicative, also, as far as his limited knowledge permitted. He said the people are only a sub-tribe of the Madi; and the reason why the right bank of the river is preferred to the left for travelling is, that Rionga, who lives down the river, is always on the look-out for Kamrasi's allies, with a view to kill them. Magamba also, on being questioned, told us about Ururi, a province of Unyoro, under the jurisdiction of Kimerziri, a noted governor, who covers his children with bead ornaments, and throws them into the N'yanza, to prove their identity as his own true offspring; for should they sink, it stands to reason some other person must be their father; but should they float, then he recovers them. One of Kamrasi's cousins, Kaoroti, with his chief officer, called on us, presenting five fowls as an honorarium. He had little to say, but begged for medicine, and when given some in a liquid state, said his sub would like some also; then Kidgwiga's wife, who was left behind, must have some; and as pills were given for her, the two men must have dry medicine too, to take home with them. Severe drain as this was on the medicine-chest, Magamba and his wife must have both wet and dry; and even others put in a claim, but were told they were too healthy to require physicking. Many Kidi men, dressed as in the woodcut, crossed the river to visit Kamrasi; they could not, however, pass us without satisfying their curiosity with a look. Usually these men despise clothes, and never deign to put any covering on except out of respect, when visiting Kamrasi. Their "sou'-wester"-shaped wigs are made of other men's hair, as the negro hair will not grow long enough. A message came from Ukero, the governor-general of Chopi, to request we would not go down the river in boats to-morrow, lest the Chopi ferrymen at the falls should take fright at our strange appearance, paddle precipitately across the river, hide their boats, and be seen no more.
We started, leaving all the traps and men to follow, and made this place in a stride, as a whisper warned me that Kamrasi's officers, who are as thick as thieves about here, had made up their minds to keep us each one day at his abode, and show us "hospitality." Such was the case, for they all tried their powers of persuasion, which failing, they took the alternative of making my men all drunk, and sending to camp sundry pots of pombe. The ground on the line of march was highly cultivated, and intersected by a deep ravine of running water, whose sundry branches made the surface very irregular. The sand-paper tree, whose leaves resemble a cat's tongue in roughness, and which is used in Uganda for polishing their clubs and spear-handles, was conspicuous; but at the end of the journey only was there anything of much interest to be seen. There suddenly, in a deep ravine one hundred yards below us, the formerly placid river, up which vessels of moderate size might steam two or three abreast, was now changed into a turbulent torrent. Beyond lay the land of Kidi, a forest of mimosa trees, rising gently away from the water in soft clouds of green. This, the governor of the place, Kija, described as a sporting-field, where elephants, hippopotami, and buffalo are hunted by the occupants of both sides of the river. The elephant is killed with a new kind of spear, with a double- edged blade a yard long, and a handle which, weighted in any way most easy, is pear-shaped.
With these instruments in their hands, some men climb into trees and wait for the herd to pass, whilst others drive them under. The hippopotami, however, are not hunted, but snared with lunda, the common tripping-trap with spike-drop, which is placed in the runs of this animal, described by every South African traveller, and generally known as far as the Hametic language is spread. The Karuma Falls, if such they may be called, are a mere sluice or rush of water between high syenitic stones, falling in a long slope down a ten-feet drop. There are others of minor importance, and one within ear-sound, down the river, said to be very grand.