« PreviousContinue »
healthy. In another sense, too, this outer belt is both rich and unhappy. Into it come those men and things representing “civilization” from afar. To it, from the interior, gravitate those of the natives who are influenced ly contact with those men and things, deprived to a great extent of the old uncivilized condition and its innocencies and partially imbued with what of civilization has come to them. Mankind, too, in this outer belt is often only too rank and unhealthy in his character. It is truly “ darkest Africa ;” for, first, the slave trade and then the rum bottle have in many parts been the preponderating representatives to them of outer civilization.
The next layer is a step or terrace of Hat sandy semi-arid country, narrow in the tropics, widening toward each extreme, until it bulges out in the north into the Sahara desert, in the south into the Kalahari, some parts always bare and sandy or covered with a sparkling saline or alkaline deposit, some parts forming broad savannas or prairies, bearing rich grasses in the rains, burnt bare in the dry season; others covered with thickets of thorns or stunted and crippled trees under the same variations of seasons. This is the land of the ostrich and the pelican, the scene of vast prairie fires or whirling dust spouts; it is the land also of the nomad man. Across the Sahara the wandering Arab leads his camels from oasis to oasis; amid the wastes of the Kalahari the homeless Bushman finds a congenial hunting territory; in the narrow, tropical parts such semi-nomads as the Somali, the Wamasai, and the Wagogo lead their cattle from place to place, as the grass and water serve them with the
This terrace or flat sandy belt being crossed, we come to the true central region of Africa, a long irregular oval-shaped elevation of mountain masses, spreading out in many places as vast plateaus and forming altogether that mysterious elevated region reported from time to time by old investigators as well as compilers of native reports as the Mountains of the Moon. In the crevices of this central mass, in rocky basins, in fathomless chasms, in vast depressions of the plateaus, lie those great natural rainwater tanks known as the central African lakes. On and around it are the richest and most beautiful and healthful countries. Spreading over it and around its beautiful waters are the most intelligent and industrious of the native African tribes, their native industry and enterprise yet almost undisturbed by the
busy excitement of civilization. Hence there may fairly be drawn something like a sample of the real African native character and condition. They live in families; among them the family tie and the rights of property are regarded ; conscience pronounces criminal and offensive the same irregularities as are so regarded among civilized peoples ; in stature and physical condition they come up to the best standards. I argue that the life and condition which presents this state of things after isolation for thousands of years from all we call civilized can scarcely be called evil or degraded.
Among these people, both pastoral and agricultural, are to be found in progress the germs at least of all the useful arts—the procuring and working of both iron and copper, pottery-making, the spinning and weaving of cotton cloth, the very beautiful development of plaiting of all kinds of vegetal fibers into string, rope, mats, baskets and cloth; and where valuable materials and products are naturally confined to particular localities, as is the case sometimes with oil, salt, etc., it is manufactured and distributed. Too often are people described as lacking in industry who are not the same as ourselves; but it seems to me ridiculous that a man should be called lazy because he has ample leisure between his busy times, who has made with his own hands, from nature's absolutely raw material, his house, bis axe and hoe and spear, his clothing and ornaments, his furniture, his corn mill, all things that he has, and who, though liable often in a lifetime to have to repeat that whole process over again, has the energy and enterprise to commence afresh. Too often have the same people been called savage and bloodthirsty who, through all experience and by all their traditions getting naturally to regard unintroduced armed strangers as enemies, have the same desperate energy to defend themselves and their own which, as displayed by our own ancestral relatives, we love to term patriotism and courage.
In a fairly central position on this great central elevation is the elongated basin surrounded by a mountain rim in the bottom of which, in a long chasm, lies Lake Tanganyika, in a position alike so central and so unique that I have termed it the Heart of Africa. Inside the mountain basin rim, the rainfall all converges into Tanganyika; outside, it all flows to the outer shores of the continent by the Nile, the Congo or the Zambesi. Fifteen years ago the waters of Lake Tanganyika, having very slowly gained upon the evaporation (the then only means of carrying off its surplus) attained to the height of the lowest gap in its rim and commenced to flow out, and thence its surplus water ever since has found an exit and now forms part of the ('ongo system. Tanganyika is 100 miles long and from 15 to 50 miles in with, and is 2,700 feet above the sea.
To leave, however, this very rough general description of Africa at this point would convey a wrong idea. We have describeıl the veriant slope from the coast, the terrace of flatter country, the central elevation and its heart; now we may imagine a series of great ridges and furrows and other radial features diverging from the heart of Africa to its very shores, besides certain isolated ridges and peaks, some of them snow-clad, and certain isolated depressions forming lakes or swamps; first the three great furrows of the Nile, Zambesi and (ongo and the three great ridges formed by their dividing water-sheds, and so on through fan-like expansions of rim or ridyes and furrows until the previously described concentric formation, although still there, is considerably cut up.
The great central mountain mass, buttressed by its far-stretching ridges, forms the backbone, from which, outward and downward, in intricate articulations, extends the complicated bony skeleton of Africa.
Set like sparkling jewels in its crevices and depressions, the great lakes send forth the streams which, flowing through gaps in their surrounding mountain barriers, rushing through narrow channels, oozing slowly through elevatel flats or bounding in beautiful cascades over steep steps, and carrying the vitalizing Huid in every direction through the length and breadth of Africa, form its system of circulation.
Borilering the great lakes and clustering on the slopes, forests of gigantic trees form the flesh and muscle of this great creation; preserved in perpetual verdure wherever water constantly remains and in long extending lines and network fringing the everwinding banks of the streams, and finally joining with the verdant belt of the sea-coast to form the brilliant epidermis of the whole, and forming background and filling to the network of these prominent features, in broad concentric curves and in belts and patches, the more stunted thorny growth, long grass, broad savanna and sandy plain, ever changing in color and aspect. The great new and beautiful world of Africa lies
us; 250,000,000 intelligent and courageous people have become exposed to the influence, for good or evil, of the civilized races. What shall we do with it and them? Quite possible is it fairly and honestly so to explore and deal with both country and people as to develop its resources and benefit them, while adding to the world's treasury of comfort-bringing products and human brotherhood the riches and the friendship of a new continent; but it must be by peaceful and just measures and by honest trade with wholesome wares.
As a practical way of leading you in imagination to the heart of Africa, and as indicating the circumstances and experience upon which my observations on Africa are based, I shall describe
I one of my many journeys.
In the year 1882 I had the honor to be leader of the largest European expedition that has yet entered Africa, having in it, for instance, 200 more men than the Emin Pasha relief expedition. There were ten Europeans, all told, who represented survey and navigation, medicine, carpentry, blacksmithing, and other specially selected talent for the purpose of exploration and civilization, as well as those specially devoted to the teaching of Christianity, which was the ultimate aim of all. We entered Africa from the village of Saadani, on the eastern coast, opposite Zanzibar, our destination being the shores of Lake Tanganyika at Ujiji.
To make not only our progress sure, but work and residence at our destination safe and possible in such a land, we had stores of groceries, medicines, tools and clothing, and a large quantity of calico and other cloth, which forms the currency of the country, for the purchase of supplies and payment of wages to porters, servants and workmen.
The special locality to be worked being the countries surrounding Lake Tanganyika, to which that extensive and beautiful inland sea vives access, we carried with us also, for its navigation, a sailing boat built of steel, of the form of a sea-going life-boat, and constructed in small sections and pieces for transport. This boat I designed myself. Six of the sections were to travel on specially constructed light carts, drawn by African natives, and the rest, in small pieces, were to be carried by the porters in the ordinary way.
The mode of travel was walking, except when now and then an invalid was carried in a hammock. The method of transport was by means of native porters, hundreds of whom devote themselves to this work. They are paid $5 per month as wages, payable at Zanzibar on their return to the coast, less such advance in kind as they may draw from their leader along the road. In addition, they get a regular allowance of two yards of white calico per seven days, each man, as barter with which to obtain food.
The organization and start of such a party took some time, and parties of from 100 to 300 were dispatched along the road as things were ready, until, when I started with the final rear guard, we had on the road over 900 of these porters, with their headmen and petty officers, all under complete organization.
The first start of the boat-section carts was the scene of apparent disaster. The men, wild with excitement and uniting their shouts with those of onlookers, were beyond all restraint for the moment, and as they rounded a sharp turn to get out of the village of Saadani, over went the carts, one after the other, on their sides; and it was some time before I could train the men to steer more carefully or to move yently down a declivity. In time, however, the whole thing worked well. The fore compartment of the boat, going stem first, often forced its own way through masses of brush and creeper, helping to clear the way for the narrower sections, whose carts insinuated themselves through surprisingly small gaps. The men themselves were most zealous in the service, and as we emerged from lengthy stretches of jungle, ascended steep river banks, or jolted whole days over rugged stony places unharmed, we made up our minds that these carts would "go anywhere.” In twenty days we reached Upwapwa, 200 miles from the coast, and joined an advance party awaiting us; and after a few days rest and reorganization, we started once more westward.
The first village beyond, in the country of Ugogo, was thirty miles off. The first day was a comparatively easy march to a watering place, but the next two days gave us tough work. The thick, tangled, thorny scrub became quite dense, and for those two days we had to cut our way through it foot hy foot. Hour