In the following pages I have endeavoured to describe all that appeared to me most important and interesting among the events and the scenes that came under my notice during my sojourn in the interior of Africa. If my account should not entirely harmonise with preconceived notions as to primitive races, I cannot help it. I profess accurately to describe native Africa - Africa in those places where it has not received the slightest impulse, whether for good or evil, from European civilisation. If the picture be a dark one, we should, when contemplating these sons of Noah, try and carry our mind back to that time when our poor elder brother Ham was cursed by his father, and condemned to be the slave of both Shem and Japheth; for as they were then, so they appear to be now - a strikingly existing proof of the Holy Scriptures. But one thing must be remembered: Whilst the people of Europe and Asia were blessed by communion with God through the medium of His prophets, and obtained divine laws to regulate their ways and keep them in mind of Him who made them, the Africans were excluded from this dispensation, and consequently have no idea of an overruling Providence or a future state; they therefore trust to luck and to charms, and think only of self- preservation in this world. Whatever, then, may be said against them for being too avaricious or too destitute of fellow-feeling, should rather reflect on ourselves, who have been so much better favoured, yet have neglected to teach them, than on those who, whilst they are sinning, know not what they are doing. To say a negro is incapable of instruction, is a mere absurdity; for those few boys who have been educated in our schools have proved themselves even quicker than our own at learning; whilst, amongst themselves, the deepness of their cunning and their power of repartee are quite surprising, and are especially shown in their proficiency for telling lies most appropriately in preference to truth, and with an off-handed manner that makes them most amusing.
With these remarks, I now give, as an appropriate introduction to my narrative - (1.) An account of the general geographical features of the countries we are about to travel in, leaving the details to be treated under each as we successively pass through them; (2.) A general view of the atmospheric agents which wear down and so continually help to reduce the continent, yet at the same time assist to clothe it with vegetation; (3.) A general view of the Flora; and, lastly, that which consumes it, (4.) Its Fauna; ending with a few special remarks on the Wanguana, or men freed from slavery.
The continent of Africa is something like a dish turned upside down, having a high and flat central plateau, with a higher rim of hills surrounding it; from below which, exterially, it suddenly slopes down to the flat strip of land bordering on the sea. A dish, however, is generally uniform in shape - Africa is not. For instance, we find in its centre a high group of hills surrounding the head of the Tanganyika Lake, composed chiefly of argillaceous sandstones which I suppose to be the Lunae Montes of Ptolemy, or the Soma Giri of the ancient Hindus. Further, instead of a rim at the northern end, the country shelves down from the equator to the Mediterranean Sea; and on the general surface of the interior plateau there are basins full of water (lakes), from which, when rains overflow them, rivers are formed, that, cutting through the flanking rim of hills, find their way to the sea.
On the east coast, near Zanzibar, we find the rains following the track of the sun, and lasting not more than forty days on any part that the sun crosses; whilst the winds blow from south-west or north-east, towards the regions heated by its vertical position. But in the centre of the continent, within 5§ of the equator, we find the rains much more lasting. For instance, at 5§ south latitude, for the whole six months that the sun is in the south, rain continues to fall, and I have heard that the same takes place at 5§ north; whilst on the equator, or rather a trifle to northward of it, it rains more or less the whole year round, but most at the equinoxes, as shown in the table on the following page. The winds, though somewhat less steady, are still very determinable. With an easterly tending, they deflect north and south, following the sun. In the drier season they blow so cold that the sun's heat is not distressing; and in consequence of this, and the average altitude of the plateau, which is 3000 feet, the general temperature of the atmosphere is very pleasant, as I found from experience; for I walked every inch of the journey dressed in thick woollen clothes, and slept every night between blankets.
The Number of Days on which Rain fell (more or less) during the March of the East African Expedition from Zanzibar to Gondokoro.
1860 Days on 1861 Days on 1862 Days on which which which rain fell rain fell rain fell
*** *** January 19 January 14 *** *** February 21 February[FN#1]12 *** *** March 17 March 21 *** *** April 17 April 27 *** *** May 3 May 26 *** *** June 0 June 20 *** *** July 1 July 22 *** *** August 1 August 20 *** *** September 9 September 18 October 2 October 11 October 27 November 0 November 17 November 20 December 20 December 16 December 6