Edward Mohr 1870

Nambya. Kololo.

Edward Mohr was a German botanist, an entomologist, and a zoologist, and engaged in a certain amount of mapping, being equipped with fine instruments lent by the German Government.

Edward Mohr reached the Zambezi River in June 1870 opposite Wankie’s Town when he was 42 years old. 

We had a most luxurious meal considering our circumstances, and in the afternoon I made a grand toilet and set out to pay Wanki a formal visit, in a boat sent by him for my use.  It was … stipulated that as many shots should be fired as possible on our way across the river.  These conditions were fulfilled to the best of our ability, and when we landed on the northern bank we found about sixty people awaiting us, but Wanki himself had not yet appeared.  Soon afterwards a long procession of men moved out of the village, amongst whom Wanki was easily recognisable a long way off, for he wore a high woolen nightcap, of which he seemed not a little proud; behind him marched musicians with drums and flutes.  My own costume was somewhat fantastic, part of it dating from a Leipzig carnival; and what with it, my high riding boots and spurs, and above all my silver epaulettes, which had belonged to my late father, the effect on my host was almost overpowering, and he must have thought me a very great Induna amongst whites.  I made a formal bow in European style, and, at first, surprise kept the natives silent.  The ice was broken, however, as it often is with us, by the circulation of wine; the joalla bottle was passed round freely, and we soon came to the point.  The result of the interview, which lasted about an hour, was that for a payment of white glass beads – with blue ones they would have nothing to do here – I obtained five men as guides and bearers to go with me to the Victoria Falls, three hundred pounds of durra, and five goats.  As a parting present I gave the chief a pocket-knife with five blades, receiving in return a few spears and a battle-axe. 

Edward Mohr and his party took five and a half days to walk to the Victoria Falls from Wankie’s Town along the Zambezi in present-day Zimbabwe..

On the evening of 28th June I noticed on the north-north-west, far above a vast green and apparently endless forest, some white cloud-masses, which ascended continuously in the form of four or five columns from the same spot without any change in appearance, in spite of the dead calm which prevailed every now and then.  … When I pointed this singular appearance out to Masupasila, he said it was the Sipôma (waterfall), and never as long as my pulses beat shall I forget that moment.  The name Mosiatunya (smoke sounds here), given to these falls by their discoverer Livingstone, must be of Makololo origin, and the Makololos are now almost extinct.

Edward Mohr gives an elaborate description of the falls but does not mention anything about the people there.  He does, however, state:

That they may not fall into complete oblivion, I will add the names of the men who accompanied me from Wanki’s village, who all behaved well on the whole.  They were Sililo, Gululo, Masupasila, Marulambo, Machume, Malumo, Hamataba and Tusan, a Bushman.

I was not in a position to attempt a farther march in the north beyond the Zambezi.  I had no presents for chiefs, or articles to barter with the natives; my shoes were completely worn out, my ammunition far from sufficient; and I should not have been able to persuade one of the men with me to cross the Zambesi and go into the distant “unknown” land. 

On his return:

A little to the south of the Umkoshi River we passed some stone walls, in good preservation, about one hundred and eighty feet long and eight feet deep.  This was the site of the huts of Wanki and his race, which had been razed to the ground by the Matabeles under Mozilikatze, who had also laid waste the fields …

I am assuming that Umkoshi is the Lukosi River, but it doesn’t seem right. Maybe Edward Mohr meant the Deka River.

So that you can get your bearings, I have added, in light green, Hwange National Park and, in pink, the Victoria Falls Town to Bulawayo Road.