CHAPTER XI. THROUGH UKAWENDI, UVINZA, AND UHHA, TO UJIJI.
Happy auspices, - Ant-hills. - The water-shed of the Tanganika Lion. - The king of Kasera. - The home of the lion and the leopard. - A donkey frightens a leopard - Sublime scenes in Kawendi, - Starvation imminent. - Amenities of travel in Africa. - Black-mailers. - The stormy children of Uhha. - News of a white man. - Energetic marches - Mionvu, chief of tribute-takers. - An escape at midnight. - Toiling through the jungles. - The Lake Mountains. - First view of the Tanganika. - Arrival at Ujiji, - The happy meeting with Livingstone.
We bade farewell to Mrera on the 17th of October, to continue our route north-westward. All the men and I were firm friends now; all squabbling had long ceased. Bombay and I had forgotten our quarrel; the kirangozi and myself were ready to embrace, so loving and affectionate were the terms upon which we stood towards one another. Confidence returned to all hearts - for now, as Mabruk Unyanyembe said, "we could smell the fish of the Tanganika." Unyanyembe, with all its disquietude, was far behind. We could snap our fingers at that terrible Mirambo and his unscrupulous followers, and by-and-by, perhaps, we may be able to laugh at the timid seer who always prophesied portentous events - Sheikh, the son of Nasib. We laughed joyously, as we glided in Indian file through the young forest jungle beyond the clearing of Mrera, and boasted of our prowess. Oh! we were truly brave that morning!
Emerging from the jungle, we entered a thin forest, where numerous ant-hills were seen like so many sand-dunes. I imagine that these ant-hills were formed during a remarkably wet season, when, possibly, the forest-clad plain was inundated. I have seen the ants at work by thousands, engaged in the work of erecting their hills in other districts suffering from inundation. What a wonderful system of cells these tiny insects construct! A perfect labyrinth - cell within cell, room within room, hall within hall - an exhibition of engineering talents and high architectural capacity - a model city, cunningly contrived for safety and comfort!
Emerging after a short hour's march out of the forest, we welcome the sight of a murmuring translucent stream, swiftly flowing towards the north-west, which we regard with the pleasure which only men who have for a long time sickened themselves with that potable liquid of the foulest kind, found in salinas, mbugas, pools, and puddle holes, can realize. Beyond this stream rises a rugged and steep ridge, from the summit of which our eyes are gladdened with scenes that are romantic, animated and picturesque. They form an unusual feast to eyes sated with looking into the depths of forests, at towering stems of trees, and at tufted crowns of foliage. We have now before us scores of cones, dotting the surface of a plain which extends across Southern Ukonongo to the territory of the Wafipa, and which reaches as far as the Rikwa Plain. The immense prospect before which we are suddenly ushered is most varied; exclusive of conical hills and ambitious flat-topped and isolated mountains, we are in view of the watersheds of the Rungwa River, which empties into the Tanganika south of where we stand, and of the Malagarazi River, which the Tanganika receives, a degree or so north of this position. A single but lengthy latitudinal ridge serves as a dividing line to the watershed of the Rungwa and Malagarazi; and a score of miles or so further west of this ridge rises another, which runs north and south.
We camped on this day in the jungle, close to a narrow ravine with a marshy bottom, through the oozy, miry contents of which the waters from the watershed of the Rungwa slowly trickled southward towards the Rikwa Plain. This was only one of many ravines, however, some of which were several hundred yards broad, others were but a few yards in width, the bottoms of which were most dangerous quagmires, overgrown with dense tall reeds and papyrus. Over the surface of these great depths of mud were seen hundreds of thin threads of slimy ochre-coloured water, which swarmed with animalculae. By-and-by, a few miles south of the base of this ridge (which I call Kasera, from the country which it cuts in halves), these several ravines converge and debouch into the broad, [marshy?], oozy, spongy "river" of Usense, which trends in a south-easterly direction; after which, gathering the contents of the watercourses from the north and northeast into its own broader channel, it soon becomes a stream of some breadth and consequence, and meets a river flowing from the east, from the direction of Urori, with which it conflows in the Rikwa Plain, and empties about sixty rectilineal miles further west into the Tanganika Lake. The Rungwa River, I am informed, is considered as a boundary line between the country of Usowa on the north, and Ufipa on the south.