David Livingstone 1858-1860

Kololo.  Undi (Chewa).  Nyai.  Mburuma (Nsenga).  Zezuru.  Bakoa.  Sidima.  Bapimpe.  Batoka (Tonga).  We.  Soli.  Lenje.  Matabele

David Livingstone returned to Quelimane as Consul of the Eastern Coast of Africa in 1858.

He continues to explore, this time by boat up the Zambezi.  He is defeated by the Cahora Bassa rapids – now below the dam.  So he turns his attention to the Shire River, a tributary of the Zambezi from the north.  The Shire River drains from Lake Malawi, then called Nyasa.  David Livingstone explores Lake Malawi and this is where he comes face to face with the real slave trade. 

The chief of the village near the confluence of the lake and the Shire, hearing that we were sitting under a tree, came and invited us to his village.  He told us that a large slave party led by Arabs was encamped close by.  Soon after, their leaders came to see us.  They were armed with muskets and looked a villainous lot.  They evidently thought the same of us, for they offered us several little children for sale, but when told that we were English, decamped during the night.

David Livingstone is even more convinced that his mission is to find an alternative to the slave trade.  The reason the slave trade prospered was that the slaves carried the elephant tusks fulfilling the transport requirement.  In fact, on reaching the coast, the elephant tusks were often more valuable as a sale item than the slaves.  

David Livingstone wanted to find a river route which was quicker than trekking overland.  He still considered elephant tusks as the main item of trade for the people of the interior but had ideas for crops they might grow like cotton.  As a note here, it is worth pointing out that Europe’s trade routes were water routes.  Rivers were the main arteries for trade and where there were no rivers, canals were dug to link rivers.  Trains were in their infancy in his time and certainly there were no cars.  Boats, that was the answer, he thought.  ­­­ 

As the interior of Africa had not yet been mapped properly, he decided he needed to travel around and find rivers and river routes.  As yet, the source of the Nile had not  yet been identified, and he was convinced that he could find it. 

In the meantime, David Livingstone needs to get his Kololo men back to Linyanti.  114 men had accompanied David Livingstone from Linyanti to Tete. They had been left in Tete for four years.

In May 1860, the boat takes them to Tete where they pick up the men to return home.  About one third of the men either refused to return or ran away after a few days.  They had formed attachments, had children and preferred their new home in Tete.  (We shall hear of them later in other stories as some of them became involved in the slave trade!)

They walk along the Zambezi towards Zumbo:

Mpende is one of the only two independent chiefs from Kebrabasa to Zumbo, and belongs to the Manganja.  Formerly all this tribe was united under their great chief Undi, whose empire stretched from Lake Shirwa to the Loangwa.  But after Undi’s death it fell to pieces, and large parts were absorbed by their southern neighbours, the Banyai. 

On reaching Zumbo, they needed a boat to cross.  This paragraph is just for a smile.

Seeing two small ones on the opposite shore, we halted for the ferrymen to come over, but it was evident that they were in a state of rollicking drunkenness.  We had a waterproof cloak that could be inflated into a tiny boat, so we sent Mantlanyane across.  Three half-drunk slaves then brought a shaky canoe over and we manned it with our own men.  After four trips the slaves began to clamour for drink, and as we had none to give, they grew insolent, and declared that not another man should pass that day.  Shininyane was remonstrating with them, when a loaded musket was presented at him by one of the trio.  In an instant the gun was out of his hands and a rattling shower of blows fell on his back, and he took an involuntary header into the river.  He crawled out a sad and sober man.  The musket was found to have an enormous charge, enough to blow a man to pieces. 

They continue their journey along the Zambezi below the Zambezi Escarpment.

We frequently meet families flitting from one place to another, marching, like ourselves, in single file.  The father and husband at the head, carrying his bow and arrow, bag, hatchet, and spear, and little else; next his son or sons, armed also but carrying loads; then follow wife and daughters, with bulky loads of household gear on their heads.  They meet us without fear, or any of the cringing ways of slaves, so common down the river.  When we kill any animal these traveling parties are made welcome to a good portion of meat.  

They reach the Chongwe River:

We slept the night on the left bank of the Chongwe, which comes through a gap in the hills on our right, and is twenty yards wide.  A small tribe of the Bazizulu from the south, under Dadanga, have recently settled here and built a village.  Some of their houses are square, and they seem to be on friendly terms with the Bakoa, who own the country.  …  These people profess to be children of the great paramount chief Kwanyakarombe, who is said to be lord of all Bazizulu.  The name of this tribe is known to geographers, who derive their information from the Portuguese, and are said to have been from the country of Changamira, the warrior-chief of history, whom no Portuguese ever dared to approach.  The Bazizulo seem, by report, to be brave mountaineers; nearer the river, the Sidima inhabit the plains; just as on the north side the Babimpe live on the heights, about two days off, and the Makoa on or near the river.  The chief of the Bazizulu we were now with was hospitable and friendly.

The Bazizulu have to be the Zezuru of present-day Zimbabwe.  They were the people who lived under Mwene Mutapa a great king who ruled an empire which existed between 1500 – 1700. 

Not sure of the Bakoa, Sidima or Bapimpe.  This area is now the Lower Zambezi.  I think that in the 1950s, all the people were moved out of the area because of sleeping sickness.  And then it became a wildlife area. 

They continue walking towards the confluence of the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers:

In the afternoon we came to an outlying hamlet of Kambadzo, whose own village is on an island, Nyampungo or Nyangalule, at the confluence of the Kafue.  The chief was on a visit here, and they had been enjoying a regular jollification in honor of his highness.  There had been much mirth, music, drinking and dancing.  The men, and women too, had taken “a wee drap too much,”.  The wife of the head man, after looking at us for a few moments, called out to the others, “Black traders have come before calling themselves Bazungu, or white men, but now, for the first time, have we seen the real Bazungu.”

It won’t be many years before the Portuguese and the Chikunda make their way to these parts.  The islands at the confluence of the Kafue will become the stronghold of Kanyemba, a Chikunda, who sets up trading posts along the river and up into area around present-day Lusaka.  To read what happens then, look at Frederick Selous story about his travels in 1877, just 17 years after David Livingstone’s visit. 

After crossing the Kafue River:

We slept near a village a short distance above the ford.  The people here are of Batoka origin, the same as many of our men, and call themselves Batonga (independents) or Balengi, and their language only differs slightly from that of the Bakoa, who live between the two rivers Kafue and Luangwa.  The paramount chief of the district lives to the west of this place, and is called Nchomekela – an hereditary title: the family burying-place is on a small hill near this village.  The women salute us by clapping their hands and lullilooing as we enter and leave a village, and the men, as they think, respectfully clap their hands on their hips. 

I assume the Balengi are today’s Lenje.  I guess too that the Paramount Chief Nchomekela is our present-day Soli Senior Chieftainess Nkomeshya.  I know that the Soli used to live along the Zambezi River but moved up to the plateau because of bad harvests, I think because of locusts.  The Soli were replaced by the Goba, but David Livingstone does not mention them.  Maybe there is a link to the Zezuru mentioned earlier. 

Along the Zambezi:

On the islands and on the left bank of the Zambesi, all the way from the River Kafue, there is a large population; the right bank is equally fertile, but depopulated, because Moselekatse does not allow any one to live there who might raise an alarm when he sends out marauders beyond.  From Moloi’s village onward, the people, although Batoka, are called Bawe and Ba Selea.  Much salt is made on the Rivulet Losito, and sold in large quantities, and very cheap. 

The Losito River is now  called Lusito and, along the north bank, near the Zambezi River, is Ingombe Iledi.  Ingombe Iledi was a trading centre from the 1200s. When Frederick Selous arrives he is looking for a place called Nhaucoe, which I assumed was Ingombe Iledi.  It is obvious that the place is well-known as a source of salt which would have been why it had been a trading place for centuries. 

We passed through a fertile country, covered with open forest, accompanied by the friendly Bawe.  They are very hospitable; many of them were named, among themselves, “the Baenda pezi” or “Go-nakeds,” their only clothing being a coat of red ochre.  Occasionally stopping at their villages, we were duly lullilooed, and regaled with sweet new-made beer, which, being yet unfermented, was not intoxicating.  Some of the men carry large shields of buffalo-hide, and all are well supplied with heavy spears.  The vicinity of the villages is usually cleared and cultivated in large patches; but nowhere can the country be said to be stocked with people.

The Bawe have disappeared from our tribal map because their land was drowned in Lake Kariba.  They were moved from the river up onto the plateau to join the other Tongas there. 

I think the Ba Selea are Soli.

They reach the Zongwe River and walk up it away from the Zambezi:

Only a few years since, these extensive highlands were peopled by the Batoka; numerous herds of cattle furnished abundance of milk, and the rich soil amply repaid the labor of the husbandman; now large herds of buffaloes, zebras, and antelopes fatten on the excellent pasture; and on that land which formerly supported multitudes, not a man is to be seen.  In traveling from Monday morning to late on Saturday afternoon, … and constantly passing the ruined sites of utterly deserted Batoka villages, we did not fall in with a single person.  The Batoka were driven out of their noble country by the invasions of Moselekatse and Sebetuane.  …

This is refering to the invading Kololo who first settled near Kalomo and raided all around.  The Matabele arrived within a few years and fought the Kololo and also raided the Tonga people.  This would probably be around 1840, so twenty years prior to David Livingstone’s visit. 

David Livingstone mentions in his chronicle that the Tonga tribes used to fight each other because of petty disputes between villages.  This was before the coming of the Kololo and Matabele.

Passing through this country, we once observed a large stone cairn, and our guide favored us with the following account of it:  “Once upon a time, our forefathers were going to fight another tribe, and here they halted and sat down.  After a long consultation, they came to the unanimous conclusion that, instead of proceeding to fight and kill their neighbors, and perhaps be killed themselves, it would be more like men to raise this heap of stones as their protest against the wrong the other tribe had done them, which having been accomplished, they returned quietly home.”  Such men of peace could not stand up before the Makololo nor, of course, the more warlike Matabele, who, coming afterward, drove even their conquerors, the Makololo, out of the country. 

Although the Batoka appear never to have had much inclination to fight with men, they are decidedly brave hunters of buffaloes and elephants.  They go fearlessly close up to these formidible animals, and kill them with large spears.  The Banyai were amazed at the daring and bravery of the Batoka in coming at once to close quarters with the elephant.

The Batoka had ideas in planting and protecting fruit and oil-seed yielding trees of the country.  No other tribe either plant or abstains from cutting down fruit trees, but here we saw some of which were quite two feet in diameter.  The grand old Mosibe, a tree yielding a bean with a thin red pellicle, said to be very fattening, had probably seen two hundred summers.

Having reached the plateau above the Zambezi River, they come to Chief Musokotwane on the Sinde River. 

Our men made it known every where that we wished the tribes to live in peace, and would use our influence to induce Sekeletu to prevent the Batoka of Moshobotwane and the Makololo under-chiefs making forays into their country: they had already suffered severely, and their remonstrances with their countryman, Moshobotwane, evoked only the answer, “The Makololo have given me a spear; why should I not use it?”  He indeed it was who, being remarkably swift of foot, first guided the Makololo in their conquest of the country. 

We gave Moshobotwane a present, and a pretty plain exposition of what we thought of his bloody forays among his Batoka brethren.  A scolding does most good to the recipient when put alongside some obliging act.  He certainly did not take it ill, as was evident from what he gave us in return, which consisted of a liberal supply of meal, milk and an ox.  He has a large herd of cattle, and a tract of fine pasture-land on the beautiful stream Lekone. 

I am assuming that Moshobotwane is Musokotwane.  The Lekone is the Sinde River.

Sekeletu is now living at ‘old’ Sesheke (near Mwandi).  David Livingstone meets him there after travelling from Tete for 4 months.  Sekeletu is suffering from leprosy and had hidden himself away from his people.  He trusted no-one assuming someone had caused his illness through witchcraft.  Sekeletu had not been as clever as his father.  He married only Makololo women and only appointed Makololo as headmen.  Interestingly, David Livingstone comments:

He had become unpopular among the black tribes, …

The Makololo were light-skinned, hence David Livingstone’s comment about the ‘black’ tribes – the Tonga, Subiya, etc. 

David Livingstone does not want to interfere with the treatment of Sekeletu.

An old doctress from the Manyeti tribe had come to see what she could do for him, and on her skill he now hung his last hopes.  … He was sitting in a covered wagon, which was inclosed by a high wall of close-set reeds; his face was only slightly disfigured by the thickening of the skin in parts, where the leprosy has passed over it; and the only peculiarity about his hands was the extreme length of his finger-nails, which however, was nothing very much out of the way, as all the Makololo gentlemen wear them uncommonly long.   

The Manyeti (Banyeti) is thought to be a clan name for the people who lived near Ngonye Falls.  Possibly Subiya?

Eventually, David Livingstone does offer some medicine to Sekeletu which gives some relief of the symptoms of the leprosy. 

The Kololo only have another 4 years to rule the territory. The Lozi rise up and retake their kingdom. Sekeletu dies. Most of his men are slaughtered.

While staying at Sesheke, David Livingstone gives us a description of Sebitwane’s sister:

Sebituane’s sister, the head lady of Sesheke, wore eighteen solid brass rings, as thick as one’s finger, on each leg, and three of copper under each knee; nineteen brass rings on her left arm, and eight of brass and copper on her right; also a large ivory ring above each elbow.  She had a pretty bead necklace, and a bead sash encircled her waist.  The weight of the bright brass rings around her legs impeded her walking and chafed her ankles; but, as it was the fashion, she did not mind the inconvenience, and guarded against the pain by putting soft rag round the lower rings.

David Livingstone stays at Sesheke for a month and then starts his journey back to Tete.  He travels mostly by canoe, so the journey only takes just over a month.  He meets no-one different from those he has met before.  There are only a couple of points worth mentioning:

Marching up the river, we crossed the Lekone at its confluence, about eight miles above the island Kalai, and went on to a village opposite the island Chundu.  Nambowe, the head man, is one of the Matabele or Zulus, who have had to flee from the anger of Moselekatse, to take refuge with the Makololo. 

We left Mosi-oa-tunya on the 27th, and slept close to the village of Bakwini.  It is built on a ridge of loose red soils, which produces great crops of mapira and ground-nuts; many magnificent mosibe-trees stand near the village.  Machimisi, the head man of the village, possesses a herd of cattle and a large heart; he kept us company for a couple of days to guide us on our way.

I am assuming that Bakwini is present-day Mukuni village.

David Livingstone does not return to Loziland. His next journeys of exploration will take him into present-day Malawi and westwards to Lakes Tanganyika, Bangweulu and Mweru and the people there.