IN the year 1900 Bishop Carter offered the missionary archdeaconry of Zululand to Charles Johnson, which office, together with the canonry of the diocese which was at the same time conferred upon him, set the seal of the approval of his diocesan upon his labours. The opportunities of new and wider services to the missionary cause, with which the holding of these offices provided him, were a source of real pleasure to the archdeacon. His powers of leadership, his force of character, and his large and varied experience combined to fit him eminently to make the best use of these new opportunities. He possessed the diocesan spirit. It had never been enough for him to see his own work extend and consolidate, he looked out upon the diocese as a whole and longed to see the people therein brought into the Church.
The territorial designation of the diocese of Zululand conceals the fact that, in reality, the work of the Church within its boundaries includes the evangelization of two other independent Bantu tribes, those, namely, of the Swazis and the Tongas.
The Swazi people, or, as they prefer to call themselves, the Ama Ngwane, live in a picturesque and mountainous little country lying to the immediate north of Zululand proper. They are a collection of tribes, some of Sutoid origin, others of Lala or Ambo stock, and still others of Zulu descent, who formed themselves into a nation under their own king. Uswazi, from whom the people take their alternative and better-known name, was one of these kings. Their language is Zulu spoken with a difference. It has come under the influence of both the Suto and the Tonga languages, and, while in the main it retains the chief characteristics of Zulu speech, it shows the effect of these two foreign languages upon it. To illustrate this we may take the Zulu sentence "Hamba uyotat' amanzi" (Go and fetch water). As spoken by the Ama Ngwane this becomes "Hamba uyotsats' amanti." If a Yorkshire peasant entered into conversation with a man from Somerset he would probably understand much of what the latter said, though much else would escape him. So with a Ntungwa or pure Zulu talking with a Ngwane Swazi. Each would understand the drift of what was said, though each would certainly be amused by the odd manner of speech affected by the other.
Swazi manners and customs differ widely from those of the Zulus. The former are comparatively undisciplined as compared with the latter. The Swazis have never been conquered by Europeans, they ran too fast. But the Zulus, in the old days of tribal warfare, regarded an annual foray into Swaziland as rather in the nature of a rowdy bank holiday. This light-hearted point of view was not shared by the Swazis, who looked upon the Zulus as the small fag at school regards the big bully. What would they not have done to the Zulus if only they had possessed the strength!
Swaziland is Zululand in miniature so far as the physical features of the country are concerned. There are the same stretches of bush-veld, the same high rugged mountains, the same big rivers and high plateaux. Politically the two countries differ markedly. Zululand is a part of the Union of South Africa, and is misgoverned from Pretoria by the bureaucrats there assembled, or from Cape Town when the House of Assembly is in session. Swaziland is ruled by the Imperial Government. After a stormy and exciting political history, during which it was first an independent native state, next an appanage of the Boer republics, then a happy hunting ground of concession-seeking Europeans of all nationalities, it became, and remained, a name in the archives of the Colonial Office, and a convenient spot to which to send officials who were deserving but not markedly so. Until comparatively recent times it was a blessed land where financial problems, usually inseparable from governments, were never considered because there was never any finance. Other problems there were in plenty, but, as each official had lesser officials under him, such problems were passed on from greater to lesser until they vanished altogether, finding decent interment in the desk of the least official of all. Like Spain the country became a perpetual to-morrow, and was, in consequence, happy in that luxurious sense of peace which more forceful communities can never know. Recent visits from ministers of the Crown have tended to dissipate this restful ease, and there are signs that even Swaziland under its new rulers is becoming conscious of its responsibilities towards its native population. Tongaland lies partly in Portuguese East Africa, of which country it forms the southernmost portion, and partly in the Union of South Africa. The Tongas are an offshoot of the east coast Bantu, distinct in physique, in speech, and in mentality from the upland Bantu of the Union. Intermarriage with the Zulus has more or less familiarized them with Zulu speech, but their own tongue has few similarities in sound or word with that language, though it has close affinities to it in grammatical construction. The Tongas had their own king; as they still have, for that matter, though the late ruler, Ngwanaza, died recently.
Formerly they owned most of the coast lands of what is now Zululand. Certainly their settlements reached as far south as St. Lucia Lake, the Zulu name for which sheet of water is Icibi lase Nhlengeni, or "The Lake of the Ama Nhlenga," the Tonga name for themselves.
The coming of the Mtetwa people drove them north into the sandy bush of present-day Tongaland, a land with few attractions and many repellent features. There abounds game, both big and little, ranging in size from the rhinoceros to the malaria mosquito, the deadliness of each specimen's attack varying in inverse ratio to its physical proportions. If the lion has killed his thousands the anopheles has killed his tens of thousands.
The Tongas are great dealers in magic, a Tonga witchdoctor being to this day a dreaded personage amongst the Zulus. All evil diseases and possessions come, in Zulu minds, from the north, the land of the Tongas. It is, in Zulu opinion, peculiarly the home of the devil, an opinion which has been shared to the full by many sophisticated European wayfarers through its sandy wastes.
Though missionary work was started in Swaziland as early as it was in Zululand, it has never prospered there to the extent that it has in the latter country. Missionaries of ability have laboured there, but, except at Endhlozana, a mission station which is of Swaziland though not geographically in Swaziland, only a very limited amount of progress has been made. In Tongaland nothing has been accomplished by Church missions, though the Wesleyan Church has missions there. Into these two countries the new missionary archdeacon of Zululand is now to adventure. His own account of his first journey into Tongaland, which follows, is full of interest:--
July 1st. Started from home on horseback with E------, who came home for her winter holidays on Saturday. The wagon with my wife and family and supplies for our Tongaland expedition left some time ago. I should have liked to have started a little earlier than this date, but I had to stay for our teachers' meeting, which is growing yearly in magnitude and importance. I am glad our first day's journey was not a long one to-day. I sat up with a neighbour last night who is very ill, and only reached home again just at breakfast time. I should not like starting away from home now had not a change for the better set in, and I think the worst is over. We reached this place, Nondweni, early in the afternoon, and we shall be here to-morrow night too, I expect, as I have a meeting at Lephatswana out-station, about five miles from here, in the morning, and a school committee meeting here at Nondweni in the afternoon.
Tuesday, July 2nd. I walked over to Lephatswana's [One of his Basuto out-stations] after breakfast and found all the people assembled. The matter to be settled was the pressure put on certain Christian boys to induce them to go out with the heathen boys to be circumcised. The custom is for them to go out and live in booths, all the boys together in one camp under a guard appointed to look after them.
We had a great talk, the chief and the headmen of the tribe all taking part. Some of the headmen were very much in earnest in their belief that circumcision is the only national safeguard they have. One man said, "If you abolish the rite of circumcision then abolish our nation at once before it crumbles to pieces bit by bit." I answered I had no objection to the rite in itself, but it was the heathen customs that surround the rite in their practice of it that I objected to. Altogether the meeting passed off very well. The chief upheld me when I said the boys had not been compelled or forced in any way to become Christians, therefore now also let it be left to their own choice. If they wish to join in the heathen way in which the rite is observed, so be it; but if not, also so be it. The chief said, "That is fair, let not the people be compelled either way." I do not think any of the Christian boys will go with them unless compelled. May God help them to withstand the temptation, for it is a very great temptation indeed, to stand aloof and see all their fellows go out to a national ceremony, and to be despised and called "uncircumcised dog."
Wed. yd. Rather late in making our start this morning, so it was late when we arrived here at the Etalaneni. Mr. Roach is not at home, he has gone to pay Mr. Robertson a visit, so we may meet on the road somewhere as that place is on my road to Tongaland.
Friday. Reached KwaMagwaza about 3 p.m. Mrs. McKenzie [Widow of the late Bishop of Zululand, Dr. Douglas McKenzie] had gone to visit some sick people a mile or so away, so Ethel [His eldest daughter] and I took possession of the house. Mrs. McKenzie's girls made us some tea and brought it to us in the sitting-room. They told us also that Miss Bliss had gone on a visit to Nongoma, Doctor Walters' place, so Mrs. McKenzie is quite alone for a day or two. After drinking our tea we went off for a walk to see old Martin the deacon. He seems very old now, but his wife Elizabeth is, I think, as young and active as ever. We stayed half an hour or so talking about KwaMagwaza people, etc., and then returned to find Mrs. McKenzie returned. We had a long quiet evening talking over the work. She has a work here that must leave its mark. I cannot think of a more useful work than collecting a number of native girls and training them up to be a little more fitted to fill the position of "mothers of the people." A girls' training establishment is one of the most useful works in the mission field. Its influence is a lasting one. The church here at KwaMagwaza, built last year, and which was consecrated and opened at synod time, looks very well. Mrs. McKenzie has added a baptistery just lately. It was dedicated the last time our bishop was here.
Saturday. We made an early start this morning, and arrived here at Mr. Gray Jenkinson's place in time for dinner. We found the wagon here all right, and my wife and family looking out eagerly for us. They are all well, thank God, and looking no worse for their wagon journey so far. We hope to start again on Monday, all of us together in the wagon, but we shall also take the horses and donkeys on with us, so that as soon as we have gone as far as it is safe to take the wagon I shall go on through Tongaland with the donkeys and horses, and leave my family with the wagon until I return.
Sunday. Early Celebration in the Jenkinson's sitting-room. We had also a native service midday. Mr. Jenkinson holds a service for the natives on Sundays. There are a good number living on his and his neighbours' farms. They collected in quite a large number to-day, and we had the service under their front verandah. In the evening we had English evensong.
Monday, 8th. We started after breakfast. We are quite a large imposing company now we are all together--a wagon and eighteen oxen to pull it. It is like a house on wheels. The people have named it "the Noah's Ark." We have also four horses and three donkeys. The "Noah's Ark family" consists of my wife, myself, and our nine children, and two native girls and four native boys, seventeen souls altogether.
Tuesday, 9th. We reached one of the border villages, the first trek this morning, called Melmoth. Mr. Winterbottom, a clergyman from England, is staying here for a short time. We stayed all day to get stores, etc., for our journey, and ammunition for our guns, as we hope to get lots of game farther on. A terrible, high and unpleasant wind has been blowing all day, but it is calmer now the sun has set. There is a beautiful moon for trekking.
Wednesday, 10th. Started before sunrise and had a good trek before breakfast. We travelled higher and higher towards the Nkonjeni and outspanned on the heights overlooking the low bushy country of the White Imfolosi valley. We had breakfast and prayers and then "spanned" the oxen in, and started again, going down, down, down, into the low country. We outspanned about two hours before sundown. None of us have ever been over this part of the country before, so we did not know that the place we out-spanned at is a long way from water, and the boys had a long hunt for water and did not get it until long after the sun had set and the moon had risen, but we are all right now. We are in the middle of dense bush or forest of mimosa, but the wagon track is a very good one so far.
Thurs., 11th. We started by moonlight this morning and had a long trek, reaching the White Imfolosi river an hour or so after sunrise. It was not a very comfortable trek; as the stones were so rough we were shaken most terribly in the wagon. The Imfolosi is a big river, but at this time of the dry season there is no water in it hardly. In the afternoon we spanned in again and trekked past the scene of the two great battles, first near the Imfolosi where the battle of Ulundi, the last one between Cetshwayo, King of Zululand, and the English under Lord Chelmsford was fought, and second, KwaNodwengu battle between Usiblbu and Cetshwayo after he was restored and reinstalled as chief. That was the last battle that Cetshwayo ever fought. His great kraal was burnt down and he had to flee, eventually taking refuge at Eshowe, where he died. We passed, too, the graves of the Zulu kings about which many little anecdotes are told.
Just as we had outspanned, about two hours after sundown, we heard some one speaking in Zulu outside the wagon, and shortly after we saw a white face looking in at us, and were delighted to find it was Mr. Roach on his way home from the Inhlwati. He had arrived at sundown at the house of a trader living some short distance from where we were outspanned, and when he saw our "Noah's Ark" he concluded it must be us and so had come to visit. From him we heard of the bishop's movements and all the news about Enhlwati and KwaNongoma.
Friday. Made an early start, rather wet. Met another wagon. The driver and leader came and joined with us at mattins. They were Christians from near Zulu coast.
Sat. Wet all day. This will delay me somewhat, I have to meet the bishop at Dinuzulu's head kraal about twenty-five miles from here.
Sunday. Started early on horseback leaving the wagon and family to follow on to-morrow; I reached Mr. Cheesman's store about II o'clock. He is a most kind, hospitable trader. It felt quite nice to get into a house again and sit down to a talk on a proper chair. I had hoped to meet the bishop here and then we were to have gone on to Dinuzulu's kraal, which is only about a mile and a half from Cheesman's store, but the heavy rain yesterday must have stopped him. After food which Mr. Cheesman kindly got ready for me, I started by myself for Dinuzulu's kraal as notice had been given that we were coming. On reaching there I found that Dr. Walters was before me. He had also hoped to meet the bishop here. Dinuzulu's kraal and people are in Walters' district or parish, and it is a most important work, being the prince's head kraal. I saw OKa'Msweli, the Queen mother, who of course gently hinted she would be warmer if she had something to cover her, a blanket or something of that kind. I said I would see--and so she soon dropped the begging tone and began to speak about her son at St. Helena and about the people and the country, and then we got round to speak of the Great God, and Dinuzulu's letter to his people saying he hoped they would become Christians, and give themselves and children to Christian teaching, etc. The old lady is a very sensible being on some subjects. After our talk she sent to call the people together and we had our service. Doctor Walters very kindly let me preach; after the service and when we had said goodbye to them all, I accompanied Walters back to his station about nine or ten miles off; and it is here I am writing up my journal. When we arrived we found the magistrate, Mr. Gibson, and his clerk, also Miss Bliss from KwaMagwaza, cosily seated in one of the Walters' big huts (which he calls his study) feasting on tea and cake. Mrs. Walters soon brought us also a supply, and we joined the feast. I had one of my attacks of nervous headache, and Mrs. Walters very kindly coddled me up a bit and allowed me to lie down on the sofa.
Monday. Slept rather late and in fact I felt rather lazy to-day. After breakfast I accompanied Walters to the dispensary and begged a little medicine as my quinine is nearly done, and then I returned and had a long day writing.
Tuesday. I started back to meet the wagon. I found it outspanned close to Cheesman's store. All the children were in a great state of excitement on account of Austin having shot a buck (the boy's first bit of game). He is only twelve years old, and it is his first shot at a buck, and of course he is proud of his own prowess, and his young brothers and sisters are very proud of him for having knocked it over, especially as it was running.
Monday. Early this morning during our first trek we saw a man on a donkey coming down the hill towards us at a wonderful pace, who turned out to be Mr. Frere. [The Rev. L. Frere, who worked in Zululand, 1892-1903.] When we outspanned for breakfast he also offsaddled, and then told us that Mr. Robertson was sending a span of oxen to help us up the very steep hill to the Inhlwati. After we had been out-spanned about half an hour, Mr. R.'s driver came with ten nice fat oxen. After prayers we inspanned, his oxen being put into our wagon in place of some of our then tired ones and off we started merrily enough. It was a good heavy pull and a bad road up the hill. At one place we nearly killed one of our oxen, and nearly smashed the wagon also against a big rock, almost as big as the wagon, which we were trying to go round. But at last we arrived all safely and found Mr. R. looking out for us.
Tuesday. By Robertson's advice I am leaving the wagon here while I go on with donkeys and the pack-horse. The wagon track on ahead is very bad, and we shall be able to get along more quickly with donkeys. Mr. R. has been a good part of the way we are going through Tongaland, and is therefore able to give good advice. He has given me a sketch of the country and has taken a lot of trouble and interest in our journey and has altogether been exceedingly helpful. I was afraid our children would have annoyed him with their noise and rampaging about, but he is kindness itself to them, and will have them all come in to him. I am very glad to say Mr. Frere is also coming with me. It will be very nice to have a companion. It is very good of him to come, especially as he has only just returned from a visit to Sambana's country. [Sambana's country is now known as the Qugwavuma district.]
Thursday. We have been busy preparing for our start to-morrow. Frere is simply wonderful in his dexterity with his hands. He can do nearly anything in the making or mending line. Pack-saddles and pack-saddle bags are all ready now, tent and goods all packed, and we have engaged a native boy, who has been with Mr. Robertson in Tongaland, who will also be our hunter, as we hope to do something as we go to keep the expedition in meat.
Sewing and mending and making has kept our hands busy up to now, but we are now ready, food and everything packed, and we had a rehearsal this evening trying all the packs, etc., on the donkeys and the one pack-horse. I am sorry to take the horse as every one says it is sure to die, but I do not see how we can get on without it, so we must risk it. We are to start after Celebration to-morrow. There is to be a valedictory service to wish us Godspeed. It has never struck me before, but the word valedictory might be derived from the Zulu vala-valelisa, to bid goodbye, just as well as from the Latin.
Friday. We started this morning after breakfast. We had a very nice service early. All the native Christians and catechumens came and Mr. Robertson gave a short address and wished us in the name of the people Godspeed. It is arranged that my wagon with my family will stay here for a week, and then start on their homeward journey. We are quite an imposing company, Mr. Frere and myself as leaders, and then our three native boys, Timothy, Elias, and Sikola, then we have two riding donkeys and one pack-horse, Nyati, and two pack-donkeys called respectively Snooks and Baby. The riding donkeys are called Billyman and Neddy. Our first day's destination is this place I am writing from, where we arrived by moonlight. It is the store of a trader called Crossley, who is a lay-reader also working under Mr. Robertson and Mr. Frere. His place here is, as it were, an out-station from Enhlwati. Mr. Crossley has native services on Sunday. This place is, I believe, the farthest that any mission work has been established towards the north-east. Mr. Crossley received us most kindly and gave us food for ourselves and our animals. Before closing for the night I must put on record two little incidents, amusing enough at the time. First the Baby, not used to the pack, started off when the pack was put on him. He kicked and bucked and jumped, at last loosened his pack and then seemed quite contented, and let us put it on again and was then quite orderly and quiet, just as though he simply wished to show us the weakness of our packs.
The second incident was that Nyati, the quiet old horse, took fright, or pretended to do so, and started running away with the tin pots and cans flying and rattling. It was all very ludicrous, and as no harm was done we had a good laugh and then put things straight again and started again, taking the precaution to lead instead of driving Nyati. This first day's march has shown us that our packs are too heavy, so I have come to the conclusion it will be better to send the tent and waterproof sheet back, and trust to reaching native kraals every night. I am sorry to do this, especially after all the trouble my wife had taken in cutting out and sewing the tent. But we must lighten our packs.
Saturday. Up early and altered our .packs. Mr. Crossley has very kindly promised to send what we have discarded and one of the guns back to the wagon. We made a good start after breakfast. Our packs are much better now. We made a mid-day halt under some nice trees just outside a native kraal belonging to a man called Umhlaza ka Sigwayo. The women brought some mealies for our animals and some milk for us, which we bought. Mr. Crossley had given us buck meat, and Mr. Frere had some pork sandwiches. We cooked some buck venison, and with the sandwiches and milk we had a royal feed. We have evidently left all missionaries and missions behind us. I ought to put on record that I received quite a lecture on the "lack of missionary spirit amongst the missionaries." The lecturer was Mr. Crossley, and it was called forth by a remark of mine about missions huddling together in one spot. Mr. Crossley says it is because we missionaries have no fiery zeal for the Master, or we should not all hug the border, but would strike out for Tonga-land and the lower parts of Zululand, parts untouched by any missionary yet. There is truth in what he says. [There still is!--A.W.L.]
We saddled up at 2 p.m., hoping to get to Bumbeni, but we only got to this place, Mpenguli's, and he very kindly gave us a tent, so we stayed. They all came in to prayers. I spoke a few words to them about the "Being of God" which I intend to be my main subject whenever I speak on this tour.
Sunday. We had hoped to have spent this day at Bumbeni, but the donkeys objected. I roused all three native boys and sent them off at dawn, fully expecting that we should have made a start in good time for a celebration of the Holy Communion, but we waited and waited and waited, but no native boys and no donkeys. Frere started to see if he could see anything of them. I gave up all hope of a celebration, and we had a little service for the heathen people of the kraal. Frere returned and so we had breakfast. One of the women had cooked us umdoko, a sort of pap, made of (in this case) Kaffir corn. A man brought us some milk, also some mealies for our horse and the one donkey, Snooks. Good old Snooks, he stuck close and so has had a feed of mealies. I tell Frere it is his wicked donkey, Billyboy, that has led my two innocents away.
To-day has been rather a trial, we have not found the donkeys. We have all taken our share of cooking, and it has been a terribly hot day. We had mid-day service for all who would come, and a wonderful congregation turned up, which puzzled me at first to account for, but it soon became evident that the service was not the attraction so much as the hope of a feed of meat, Umpengali, our host, having killed a young fat cow. Certainly the meat was very nice and acceptable to us as well as to the congregation.
Monday. Up early, and after a cup of cocoa Frere and I and a young fellow from the kraal, who professed to be able to track animals through the bush by their spoor, started, and each went a little different way but came together again. We soon found traces of the animals, but for a long time they themselves we could not see. At last towards mid-day I heard a shout from the bottom of a wooded watercourse. I made for the place, and found Frere just undoing one of the donkeys from a trap set by the natives to catch buck. From the look of the place the poor animals must have been there since Saturday night or Sunday morning. It was the young donkey called Baby that was caught, but the other two would not leave him. It is a great wonder the wild dogs did not find and eat the donkeys up. These same wild dogs had killed a buck about a hundred yards from where the donkeys were found. We soon drove them back to camp and packed up and made a start, reaching this place, Bumbeni, by moonlight; this place is the last trading store in this direction. Young Nunn is in charge. He made us very welcome, giving our cattle and ourselves food, and made Frere and me a bed up on his trading counter, with the blankets for trade. We had evensong, and young Nunn attended as well as our own people.
Tuesday. Up early, refreshed and ready to start, but did not get off for some time, as we had to wait for a guide, for our travelling to-day has been through dense bush (thorn forest) and it would have been nearly impossible to find our way. Over and over again to-day while travelling over a very faint track did I congratulate myself on having picked up a guide. We outspanned at a long narrow lake--the only water in this part, had we missed this we should have been in some distress. It was very hot. We stayed two hours and then started again and reached the kraal of a head man called UKayi, brother of chief UMangaliso. He, or rather his inkosikazi (head wife), brought out a large pot of native beer. I saw our guide's and native boys' eyes perfectly glisten at the sight of that pot; the day was very hot and certainly the beer was most refreshing, as it was new and unfermented. I gave the old lady a present. We started again and reached the river Umkuzi, a splendid little river in the winter, but a terrible, impassable torrent in the rainy season. Beautiful large trees on either side for some distance. It was quite refreshing to get under large forest trees after travelling so long. We haunted those trees. The Umkuzi empties its water into St. Lucia Bay. St. Lucia Bay was visible yesterday, but we have been travelling too low down all to-day to see anything a few miles off. We crossed the river and came directly on to a few scattered huts of chief Ngcamane's people. Evidently this is rather a bad fever district for cattle won't live, none of the natives about here have even a cattle kraal, and therefore their huts are not built in a circle, as in the upper parts of the country where cattle abound. I suppose the reason is that the people who have cattle build their own dwelling huts round the cattle kraal, to guard their beloved cattle. Soon after crossing the Umkuzi, we carne to a lake with swampy ground extending a good distance from the water; we passed round the east end of the lake through a bed of reeds and swamp, but just as the sun was setting we came to a kraal built right in the forest under a large fig tree. A more picturesque spot it would be hard to imagine. The head man of the kraal, Umalabela, was most kind. We have arrived in the famine country in real earnest now. We had to pay 2s. for a small basket of mealies, and is. for a fowl. There was a beautiful moon, and we stayed outside for some time, then we went into the hut and had prayers. All the kraal came in to be present. I had a very interesting talk with the men. It seems this is the scene of a fierce battle between Usiblbu and Dinuzulu; they gave me a graphic description of how they decoyed Usiblbu's army with their cattle as a bait until they had the whole of the army in the middle of a bottomless quagmire, the cattle being just beyond out of reach on firm ground; and how Usiblbu's army then made a rush, hoping to reach the cattle, and how they all got stuck in the mud, and how hundreds of them were suffocated in mire, and how they were panic-stricken, tried to turn back and flee, only to be met by the owners of the cattle, mustering altogether a couple or three hundred, but who, knowing the quagmire, had chosen their ground at the narrowest part of the track. "Ah," said the man who was relating the event, "there were not many of that army who returned to their people to boast about the taste of the meat of our cattle." "Impela (that is true)," assented the others in the hut. "And they never came again," said one. "We had a surfeit of slaughter that day," said another. After allowing them to rejoice over the remembrance of their triumph, I turned to some women sitting by listening and I said, "What is your word about that time of fighting?" One who was nursing a baby said, "Ask me not, ask me not, I lost my child that night. He was helping to drive the cattle. He was but a boy, but they would not spare him. And my sister and my mother were surprised before they could get away, they were both killed." "The men laughed," said the old mother of the kraal, "because they triumphed over their enemies, but the women cried--cried for their children that were no more." But that is the way with all fighting!!
Wednesday. Last night was a night to be remembered. I never spent a worse night in my life. The mosquitoes were something cruel. Their proboscis was able to pierce through my thick rug, and the hut was simply full of the little brutes. There were two men of the kraal sleeping in our hut, and they kept a fire going all night, with an idea, I suppose, of smoking the mosquitoes, and so subduing them a bit, but it seemed only to make the hut unbearably hot for the human occupants--the mosquitoes seemed to enjoy it. I thought, while trying to defend myself, of a story I heard from a man, I think of the west coast of Africa. He said, "the only way to 'circumnavigate' the African mosquito is to have a hut with two beds in it, around one bed you carefully fix mosquito nets, and you quickly without noise retire to the other bed, where you will be able to sleep in peace, for the whole of the ingenuity of the mosquito will be exercised in getting through to the inside of that carefully net-guarded bed." I can testify to the persevering pugnacity of the little brute! When we started this morning we could see the reason why the mosquitoes were in such numbers at Umalabela's kraal. It was literally in the middle of a swamp, a little island in the midst of stagnant water, the lake Oyengwe on one side and the Umkuzi on the other, each throwing out beds of reeds nearly surrounding the kraal--a deadly place in summer, I should think, unless the inhabitants forgot to get sick because their whole attention was taken up with defending themselves from the swarms of mosquitoes. N.B.--never to make that hut a stopping (I had nearly said "sleeping") place should I ever come this way again.
We reached this place, Chief Ngeamani's kraal, early in the afternoon. The chief was away from home when we arrived, having gone to meet part of Sam-bana's expedition party and assist it to cross the Umkuzi river. He returned, however, late in the evening. He is very affable and pleasant. When he heard that I was from Chief Hlubi's district he was simply full of questions. He knows Hlubi well, and has evidently a great respect for him. He said, "Why do not you Abafundisi (missionaries) come and teach my people? You must love Hlubi with a great love that you cannot turn your eyes to other parts!" I explained that we were working in other parts, and that we should soon come to his people too. He answered, "Mr. Robertson told me that teachers would come, but they have not done so yet!"
Thursday. Chief Ngeamani accompanied us some distance this morning, and we also got a native guide. Our way lay through a very interesting country, quite a typical African scene such as one sees in picture-books--groves of palm trees--the natives make a wine from the palm which when fresh is rather nice, not unlike cider. The people at this time of the year are living principally on this stuff. This is the beginning of the palm country. All the way along this morning, while Chief Ngeamani was accompanying us, the people of the country met us bringing this unfermented wine, ubusula they call it, as a present. And as the day was very hot, it was very acceptable. The chief had no doubt sent on a messenger ahead telling the people to do it. It was amusing to see him point to a shady clump of trees, and say, "Come, there is some ginger beer there," and on getting to the place find a couple of great gourds full of ubusula. Where he had got the words "ginger beer" from it is hard to say, unless from Europeans who have called it by that name in his hearing.
Towards mid-day we arrived at a cattle station belonging to the chief. Here we were entertained on amasi curds. We stayed about an hour and a half, and then upsaddled and came a very long stage to this place, KwaNozaza. We were all very glad, I think, to come in sight of our destination when we reached the kraal. The owner of the kraal, Nozaza, was away from home, but his inkosikazi gave us a very warm welcome; she remembered all about Mr. Robertson coming, and was glad to hear about him again. The whole kraal came to prayers and were very attentive to the few words of my address. The inkosikazi brought us some sweet potatoes and milk. We are in sight of a beautiful lake. Very tired I Frere a little feverish, so I gave him a dose of quinine. He seemed better after a sleep.
Friday. Up early. There was a hunting party starting for the shores of the lake, and as I wanted to see the lake I determined to go with it, and I am glad I did. I have had a very hard day, but it was worth the labour. Exploring the shores of the lake--the natives call it Usibaya, at first I thought it a tidal bay, as it is, at its lower end, close to the sea, but on arriving at the shore I found the water fresh but with a brakish flavour. The lake looked to be about two miles long by about from half a mile to four miles broad. It is full of fish, also swarming with crocodiles, and there are a good many hippopotami. The country round about is elevated, and I should say fairly healthy. It is densely populated, and there are nice stretches of forest land. I had to go through one bit of forest and it was very thick and dense. My poor helmet got battered about a great deal crawling through one part where the undergrowth was very dense. I was quite glad to get into the open again. I did not see any pigs with my own eyes, but there were a good many traces of them. My hunting days of old came back to me, and some of their luck too, for I managed to bag two nice buck, which were carried to our camping kraal by the natives. When I found that the distances were really greater than I expected, I had sent back word to Frere to send the pack-horse, Nyati, to meet me on my return, and I was glad towards sundown to see that horse waiting for me, and also to find that Frere, good old fellow, had sent a tin billy with some tea; and the native had it ready for me. I was feeling rather done up, and that tea was beautiful, as I was afraid to drink much water; reached camping kraal soon after dark.
Saturday. Ngwadkla's. We had a delightful journey to-day, from Nozaza's. We have got to a better elevation: large stretches of higher land free of trees. This is certainly the place for a mission centre: I feel sure it will be fairly healthy and free from fever, and from this place the unhealthy districts could be worked. Mr. Robertson of Enhlwati was very earnest in his opinion that this is a very desirable situation for a mission. He said, "Explore the neighbourhood, you will be struck with it." He also told me that he had offered to come here and stay for a year to commence the work, if some European would come with him, and continue the work after he, Robertson, left. Two or three other people, who have been trading and hunting in this direction, have also spoken of this place as being a desirable centre for mission work. Its qualifications are: It is just on the border between lower Zululand and Tongaland. It is comparatively healthy. It has a large population of natives, Zulus on the south, etc., Tongas to the north, etc. God grant that in the near future permanent work may be started here, and that his blessing may be on it! I am willing to help if the Master so wills it; the chief is very willing we should commence here.
Sunday. Early Celebration under a splendid fig tree. We were very disappointed later in the day, for we had hoped to have a service at mid-day for the natives. But the headman made a brew of beer in honour of our coming. Directly I heard he had made beer I knew by experience that there could be no divine mission service that day. Poor people, they know no better. They were all excited, and some were intoxicated. So before matters got very bad we saddled up and left. We always have a few short prayers after saddling up, just before starting, when everything is ready for the start; and this morning the people turned out of the huts of the village where they had been drinking beer, when they heard we were about to start. They were very noisy and excited, especially some of the old women. Even during the few minutes we were kneeling down, while I said the little office of prayer, they could not all keep silent, although the headman tried to make them. I was much struck last night at a little incident that occurred during evening prayer. I had just ended my usual short address when my words were taken up by Ngwadhla, the Umnumzane (owner of the village), who commenced: "The missionary speaks to us of the God above who speaks to us through all his many words every day, but we will not hear him. How can we listen to God when we will not listen to our own father who speaks into our very ears. Do, my son, listen to me when I speak. It may be that if these my sons would listen to me their father they would then listen to the words of God, their ears are very dull." May he learn that by listening to God and being obedient to him he will enable his children to be obedient also to their earthly father!
We left the beer and the noise behind us. Guided by a young fellow that the headman had given us, we went along a most interesting part of the country, free of scrub and forest except in small clumps, dotted here and there, like as in an English park. Game was very plentiful, but we could not get near enough to make sure of killing. After two and a half hours' travelling, we came to a kraal consisting of three huts, belonging to a man named Ngwina, where we held a short service. We had a nice talk with the headman, who is a relation of the chief of the district. We learnt that the locusts have devoured all their crops for the last two years, and that they have really no grain whatever; they have a little cassava root; they have also a wild fruit resembling a plum, which grows on a little shrub about a foot high all over that part of the country. He brought us some of this fruit to taste, and we found it rather pleasant. They use also the kernel of the stone, which when crushed up resembles thick cream, which they mix with the cassava root, but from the taste I had of the dish it seemed to contain a lot of prussic acid. A girl called Nokufa, and her little brother, a most intelligent little fellow called Umsweli, appeared most interested in my account of how the little Zulu boys and girls were being taught in school. I showed them some writing and told them that it could take a message for any distance, and speak to the person to whom it was sent, and I read very slowly to them a passage or two from a letter from a boy living at the Johannesburg goldfields, at which they were thunderstruck.
Monday. Up very early: donkeys lost, Timothy, Sekola, and Elias sent off to look for them, returning about 8 a.m., having found them again caught in a trap set for game. We had in the meantime made some cocoa, and were therefore ready to start. Having secured a guide named Mahlabangome, we saddled up and made a start. Our route to-day took us through forest and dense brush, which if it did not quite tear us out of our saddles, did considerable damage to our clothes. We were much struck with the immense quantities of vegetable ivory which grows on that species of palm which is so abundant here. This will no doubt become an industry of the country when it is more opened up. After little over two hours' ride, we halted near a picturesque lake, the surface of which was nearly obscured by the giant leaves of a species of water-lily, such as may be seen in the tropical houses in Kew Gardens. Throughout our ride we had seen but few kraals, and we were therefore somewhat astonished by the sudden appearance of a whole crowd of men, women, and children, who I suppose had seen us off-saddle, though we could not see them. They were very friendly, asking us all manner of questions, and bringing some of the products of their land for sale, sweet potatoes, cassava roots, eggs, and fowls, but no mealies. F. opened the market and bought freely: but prices ruled high: as the people declared that the famine, caused by the locusts, had made all food very scarce. Our principal medium of barter was looking-glasses, beads, blue calico, and knives. Salt is also in great demand, but we have not much of it; so we are forced to economize.
After resting for one hour and a half, we made another start. After travelling for about an hour through palm forests, it became evident that we were drawing near to the queen's kraal, which is indicated by the numerous paths, all converging in the one direction. Shortly before sundown we arrived at the military kraal occupied by the head induna, who is guardian of the royal kraal, belonging to the Queen-mother, Mababane.
The great man himself was absent, but a messenger went to report us to the queen and show us how to enter the "Great Place." Leaving our boys to off-saddle, I advanced with F. to the entrance to the isigodhlo.1 After waiting a few minutes, a little thin old woman, dressed in blue calico, her neck and breast literally covered with charms of all descriptions, and accompanied by about a dozen handmaids, came forth to meet us. She held out her hand, but without speaking--one of the women explaining that she--the queen--could not speak to us until the amadhlosi (spirits of her departed ancestors) had been propitiated by a suitable present. I explained that I understood all about that, and that the present was in the pack and should be shortly forthcoming; and that she might consider it as already offered. On hearing this, her face broke into a broad smile, and with her hand on her "charms" she said, "What do the white men want?" I explained that we were abafundisi (teachers) who wanted to come and teach her and her people about the great God. Her answer was that she was glad to see us herself, but could not give any answer until we had seen the king.
She gave us a hut to stay in during our visit, and sent a messenger at once to report our arrival into the country to the king, UNgwanaza. In the evening, after she had received our present of a rug, she came with her indunas, and we had an informal but very interesting meeting. The people were very attentive; the queen asked a great many questions regarding the habits of Europeans, and the Christian religion; and when we knelt in prayer they all followed our example, covering their faces with their hands. The queen asked us to stay over the next day to give the messenger time to reach the king, which we agreed to do. Besides what we gave to the queen we brought a present of a blanket from Mr. Robertson for the head induna of the royal guard, with which he was very delighted, and which induced him to open his heart to us more than he would otherwise have done. All the country round there seemed to be terribly poverty-stricken, having suffered from the visits of locusts. The head induna brought us a fowl as some acknowledgment of Mr. Robertson's present; and the queen cooked us a dish of native beans. These offerings were tendered with profuse apologies, the queen saying it was the only food they had. F. laughingly called the dish of beans "the fifteen shilling dish," that being the value of the rug we had given the queen.
It was while we were staying here that we heard an interesting story of a European who had been living in the country for a number of years and had been given one of the king's sisters to wife. He was called by them "Madevu," and had gained the confidence of the king. When the disturbance at Delagoa Bay broke out between the Portuguese and the natives of that part, Madevu proposed to Ngwanaza, the king, that he should send a strong force of native warriors under his--Madevu's--command to assist the Portuguese on the understanding that they would acquire a considerable portion of loot as a reward; a bait which never fails to attract these natives. The king called up nearly the whole of his available fighting force, and despatched them, each regiment under its own native induna, the whole expedition being under the direction of Madevu. On arriving at Delagoa Bay--so the story runs--Madevu handed the whole force over to the Portuguese to be taken to Mozambique, ostensibly as free labourers, but to all intents and purposes as nothing less than slaves. This little scheme was, however, frustrated by a native who had been the victim of a similar trick, who happened to be one of the rowers of the boats sent to bring them off to the ship. On seeing them approach the boats to embark, he realized the position of affairs and cried out to them, "What are you doing, have you said goodbye to your mothers at home? for you'll never see them again." Suspicion had already been aroused by the unusual action of the Portuguese in separating the young men from the old: and this, coupled with the words of the man in the boat, showed that something was wrong, and they refused to embark. In the end they returned home, taking Madevu with them, who was forced to confess his treachery, giving as an excuse the large reward for native labour offered by the Portuguese; and in the end, owing to his influence with the king, his life was spared, and he was simply ordered to leave the country. It is said that the friend who warned them sacrificed himself to save his people, for he was immediately knocked on the head.
This story fitly illustrates the pernicious influence of low-class whites on the too trusting native.
We were very much struck by the enormous quantity of ardent spirits--chiefly gin--consumed by the natives of this district. We had already noticed that they had no difficulty in obtaining any amount of imported spirits brought in by banyan traders, from the Portuguese, but we had never seen drinking so universal as it is here. Men, women, and children were parting with everything and anything they had for the white man's liquor; the disastrous consequences were only too evident in their faces, manner, and general deterioration.
Tuesday. Started about two hours before sundown after saying goodbye to the queen and headmen, who all turned out to witness our departure, and as we knelt down as usual to say our little office of prayer before starting, they all silently squatted on the ground, reverently covering their faces with their hands. We had to make a considerable détour to avoid one of the numerous bottomless quagmires so often seen in this part of Tongaland. We reached Ukekeke's kraal just after sundown: the headman was absent, but the women and boys very hospitably placed a hut at our disposal. Here we managed to buy a few mealies for our animals: we also got tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and a fowl, and very glad we were of this addition to our provender, as our supplies had nearly run out during our stay at the poverty-stricken kraal of the queen.
We invited them as usual to come in to evening prayer, and they came in a body, bringing even their little children with them; and some of them even tried to join in the evening hymn, which was not conducive to harmony. I gave a short address, which was listened to with great attention, especially by the poor haggard old women.
Wednesday. Made an early start, and reached a kraal where we halted for a few minutes to get a drink of milk. At I o'clock we reached the Kwamvubu drift across the Umosi, a treacherous kind of lake perhaps 120 in length, but varying in width from ten to one hundred yards, and which can only be forded at rare intervals. We off-saddled at one of the most picturesque spots I have ever seen in South Africa. A forest of tall trees, intersected with glades of meadow-like stretches of land, extended on all sides, the lake with its fringe of tall reeds forming a pretty background. Here we found a large village, the people of which were very civil to us; how they were living was a mystery to us, as they seemed to have nothing to eat, the same story being told, as elsewhere, that their dreaded enemy the locust had devoured their crops for the last two years. Started again, and crossed the Umosi nearly drowning the Baby, who would turn aside to drink. We reached the kraal of Manyoka, the king's half-brother, and found the whole kraal drunk, a new supply of gin having arrived that morning. One painful but ludicrous scene was that of an old woman who was trying to carry her drunken husband on her back; but she had to give up the attempt and leave him outside all night. We were greatly disturbed nearly the whole night by the fearful noise of singing and quarrelling.
Thursday. Up early and glad enough to get away from the drunken kraal.
About 9.30 we reached a nice open country, and off-saddled at the kraal of Kwamazamdoda. Timothy shot a koran, a species of bustard, and made a pen from one of its feathers. Later on he shot a buck: there seems to be lots of game in this place. Evidently a good healthy place for men and cattle; a large number of native villages scattered about; the water seems good. A very suitable place for a mission station. The people treated us very kindly, bringing many kinds of food, especially the cassava root, which we traded. They also made us some black porridge from kaffir corn, which tasted much nicer than it looked. An incident happened here, showing how they spend whatever money they may acquire in white man's liquor. We gave 2s. for two fowls, and immediately a little boy was sent off with a stone jar which he brought back full of gin, from a banyan trader who was selling it in the neighbourhood. I hope that some day we shall be able to establish a mission which will, I trust, do something to check this universal drinking. I suppose one of the chief reasons why dissolute traders object to missionaries is on account of their opposition to the sale of drink. After a couple of hours' rest at this place we saddled up, arriving after a very hot ride at the kraal belonging to Okankawitshane, the king's head induna, about three miles from the royal kraal. Found them all drunk. After some trouble we managed to get a messenger--a little less drunk than the rest--who, on the offer of is., went to announce us to his majesty. He returned just after dark, saying that he had announced us, but the king had given him no answer. It was clear he had spent the shilling in drink, as he was more intoxicated than ever. There was nothing for it but to roll ourselves in our rugs, and make ourselves as comfortable as we could for the night.
The headman of the kraal, having somewhat slept off his debauch, had put a hut at our disposal.
Friday. Up early and sent the same messenger, Uzehlisa, off again to the king to ask for an audience. About mid-day he returned to say, "Come," and we, F. and I, started with the induna, carrying the present for the king. As we went, five or six more people joined us, so that we were quite a procession when we arrived at the royal kraal. I confess I was not at all prepared for the state in which the king lived. His kraal occupies a space of about 150 acres, with a very high fence round. It is entered by three main gates, which are guarded by inceku (sentinels). When we entered the enclosure we found ourselves in a well-kept clear space, the cattle kraal being in the centre, and the royal huts being in a semicircle on one side. The king's private apartments were also enclosed.
As soon as we entered the space we were met by a very royal-looking middle-aged woman who was the king's own mother. The king has many mothers, his father having been a man with many wives. The queen-mother was at first frigidly reserved, and met us with the words, "What do the white men want?" I replied that I wished to see the king, and she answered, "I am the only king you'll see to-day." I put the best face I could on the matter, and asked her if we could not sit down and have a talk. She rather unwillingly consented, and led the way to a shade under some trees, where seats (were) brought, and we sat down. Our interview was by no means a private one, for about a regiment and a half of native warriors came up and squatted within earshot, and also a large number of women and girls--evidently the queen's handmaids--sat down facing us on either (side) of the queen. I opened the conversation by explaining that we were missionaries who had come a long way to see the king and to ask leave to preach the Word of God to his people. She said that the king was not visible that day as his wife--his head wife, who had been laid up with a fever for some time--had died the day before, but if I had anything to say she would receive the message. Taking this for consent, I preached to them all about the great God, to which they listened very attentively, especially the queen. When I finished she thawed in a wonderful manner and commenced asking questions, which showed that she had taken in a great deal of my address. Our interview lasted altogether a little over two hours, and at the close I asked if there would be any objection to my offering up prayer. She evidently was pleased, for she said "Pray for us too." When I knelt she turned to the warriors and said, "Why don't you kneel, what are you squatting down for?" They all shouted out with one accord "Bayete!" (Your Majesty) and fell on their faces to the ground. The queen, evidently noticing that Mr. Frere covered his face with his hands, issued an order that they were all to do the same, which was received with the usual reply to a royal order "Bayete!"
We sent our present to the king with a message of condolence in his bereavement, and rose to take our leave; the queen shook hands with us both, and asked us to come again; and as we were departing a messenger from the king arrived to say that if we would return in the morning he would see us. We reached our quarters at the induna's kraal late in the afternoon, and started on a fishing expedition to the lake about half a mile away, where we succeeded in catching our evening meal. The normal state of the people at this kraal, in fact all the people round the king's kraal, seems to be one of intoxication--men, women, and children, all drunk. I asked the people when they were assembled in the evening whether it was good for them to drink so much of the white man's spirits. The men said, "It is very bad for women to drink, but not for us men." The women said, "It is good for us women, but very bad for the men."
Saturday. Mr. Frere thought I might have a better chance of seeing the king if I went by myself, so he kindly consented to stay behind, and I started with the induna directly after breakfast, and found on reaching the king's kraal that he had a great indaba on; there were a large number of headmen and warriors assembled, squatting on the ground, each with his shield in front of him, and there were four witchdoctors dressed up in skins and feathers, trying, or pretending to try, to find out who had been the cause of his wife's death.
The superstition of these people is that there is no such thing as natural death except from very old age; and that every death from sickness or any other cause has been brought about by the machinations of some enemy working through spiritual agency, or by poison. I said there were four witch-doctors, but only three were really engaged in "smelling out," i.e. divining, the fourth was on the ground, supposed to be in an ecstatic trance, or exhaustion, but he had a very strong smell of gin about him.
The ceremony went on with great noise, for close on three hours, while I waited patiently (?), for the (king) had sent a message to say he would see me directly the ceremony was over. At last his majesty arose from his place in the midst of the warriors, and the doctors retired without coming to a final decision. Whether my presence in any way frustrated their efforts I cannot say; but anyway they hesitated in fixing the guilt on any particular offender. His majesty sent another messenger to say he hoped I would wait a little until he had washed the dust from him.
In about half an hour he returned at the head of his warriors, and advanced to meet me. I arose and he shook hands with me saying, "Saku bona umfundisi" ("We see you missionary"). The king is a young man of about two and twenty, very fat, and of a pleasing countenance: he was dressed in the usual umutsha, and had an ostrich plume in his hair, and a robe thrown over his shoulders. He apologized for having kept me waiting so long, saying that they, pointing in the direction of the departing witch-doctors, would not let him come sooner. I asked him if he believed that they could tell him the cause of his wife's death, to which he answered, "I do not know, they say they can. What do you say about it, Umfundisi?" I seized the opportunity to speak to him about life and death, and about the great God who held all things in his hand. He and his people listened most attentively while I spoke; then he asked many questions, about God, mission work, education, and European civilization, etc. After a good deal of talk, he had a book brought which turned out to be a very old Letts' diary, but unused. He first asked me to write down the alphabet; and then to write some sentences in English and explain to him what they meant, I accordingly wrote "King Ngwanaza has this day expressed a wish that missionaries of the Church of England should come into his country and teach his people; he promises to point out sites for mission centres." I translated it to him, and he seemed much pleased, saying that he would indeed be very glad if teachers would come. I find that here, as well as at other places I have been to, the name of Chief Hlubi--in whose district 1 have been working for so many years--is very well known by repute, and respected. When the king understood that I was from Hlubi's district, he said, "Why do you not come here yourself, and teach my people?" After some further talk, I proposed to offer prayer; I knelt down, he and all his people doing the same, with their faces to the ground. It appears that a young native, called Isaac Mavilo--who was baptized by Wesleyans in Natal--made an attempt some years ago to commence school work in the king's kraal, and the king built a large hut for him. But from some cause or another this work came prematurely to an end, so that the whole country is without one Christian teacher. The king allowed me to depart, saying that he was very glad to have seen me, and as a token of his goodwill towards us gave me a fat bullock to kill, which, as native etiquette enjoins that such royal bounty should be shared by the people, was soon despatched and eaten.
Sunday, Aug.--After early celebration, which we held in the hut, we started away from the king's kraal, hoping to get to our last camping-place in time to hold a service there. I sincerely hope that this, our visit to the king, has been the breaking of the ice; and that we shall be able to follow it up by opening a permanent mission centre in the immediate vicinity. One cannot but feel that the people are very ready to receive God's messengers. We reached this place, Kwamazamdoda (the place I already have referred to, as being such a splendid situation for a mission station) about mid-day, and received again a kind welcome from the people of the village. I think I have never come into contact before with a people who had so little idea of God. To make them understand at all one has to commence by explaining about the creation, how that God, the Great Spirit, in the beginning made the heavens and the earth; and that it is the same God who sustaineth all things now. I am more struck than ever with the suitability of this place for a permanent mission centre: it is comparatively healthy, thickly populated, and a convenient distance from the king's kraal.
After our little service, we made another start, leaving the route by which we had come to the left, and skirted the banks of the Usutu; a beautiful sheet of water, navigable even for large boats or small steamers up as far as the confluence of the Pongola. The Usutu is a tidal river for about eighty miles from its mouth to as far as the Pongola, where the two rivers join. Our route now lay through dense forests of tall trees right in the heart of which we came to a clump of native villages, where we stayed the night. The natives informed us that tigers were very numerous, and, as they had received a visit so recently as the night before from several, we thought it wise to fasten our animals close to our hut door inside a little fence of posts. We loaded our guns and put them ready for emergencies, but the night passed without any disturbance. It was here that we heard of an ugly quagmire situated a few miles ahead, and that the resident magistrate from Sambana's country, when on a visit recently to the king's kraal, while trying to force his way through, had lost one of his horses, which sank into the mud and was smothered.
Monday. On starting this morning we made a détour to avoid the place where Mr. Saunders the magistrate lost his horse; and in doing so we lost our way in the forest, which delayed us for about an hour and a half, but luckily coming to a native kraal we were put on the right road again. About mid-day we off-saddled for breakfast in a grove of palm-trees near a clean running stream, and in sight of the Pongola river. Good water is both scarce and valuable in this country, so much so that we had to carry two tins for our supply, which we now replenished. After breakfast and a rest, we made another start, travelling on still through forest land, until about 3 o'clock, when we off-saddled at a native kraal, where we found a young man who had been baptized while working in Barberton. He was dressed in European clothes, appeared to be bright and intelligent, and told us that he collected as many people together as he could on Sundays and had prayers with them; but as yet there were no converts. It was good to see this one solitary Christian, not only keeping alive his own faith but struggling to impart a little knowledge of God to the dense mass of heathen around him. It is impossible for anyone living in a Christian country in the midst of an active Church organization to realize the difficulty of one Christian standing alone in the midst of heathendom. Truly a bright spark in a night of darkness. We knelt and prayed together, and left him with the hope that God would bless his simple endeavour.
Towards dark we arrived at the kraal of a native induna, who proved to be an unpleasant contrast to anyone we had yet seen in this country. He not only at first refused to do anything for us without payment beforehand, but when we agreed to his exorbitant demands he even then kept us waiting outside for about two hours, before he would give us shelter for the night. I am glad to say that this was the one solitary case in which we met with such a reception since we entered the country. We were greatly disappointed, because this was the man to whom we had been directed by the king to show us across the Pongola Drift.
Wednesday. Our friend the native induna has thawed a good deal since last night: he promised--for a consideration--to show us the best ford to cross the Pongola, so after a cup of cocoa we started, and he led the way; first to some kraals where he pressed some young men into our service (also for a consideration), and thus reinforced we made for the river. We found that at this season of the year it was fortunately very low, but still not at all easy to cross. The banks were very high and steep and muddy, but with the help of the young men who carried our things across on their heads we managed with some trouble--as the donkeys would not face the water for some time--to get over in safety. But even now our trouble had but just commenced, for we saw stretching in front of us about a quarter of a mile of reeds and bog, which the natives told us was not very deep, but which proved deep enough to wet all our packs and nearly smother one of our donkeys, and when at last we managed to struggle through I was covered with mud up to the neck.
We off-saddled, and, undoing our packs, spread our things in the sun to dry. The Pongola Valley is, I should say, a fever-stricken district: even in this dry season there are large stretches of marshy land and reed-fringed lagoons on either side, and in the rainy season the natives say the whole place is converted into an inland sea. When our things were dry and we had breakfasted we made another start; and right glad we were to leave the Pongola behind us.
We are now in Sambana's country, the newly annexed country, the river we have just crossed being the boundary between the two countries. Our track now lay through quite a different kind of country, and one very difficult to travel in on account of the dense dwarf thorn bushes through which we could hardly force our way. If the packs had not been firmly strapped to the donkeys, and enclosed in strong canvas, they would have been torn off again and again. After a hard trek we reached a kraal where we found some very nice people. It was curious to notice that people living so close to each other, and only separated by a river, should be so different in character and appearance. I could only attribute the improvement in the people in Sambana's country to the restrictions placed on the importation of European liquors by the British Government since they have annexed the country. I was much impressed by the tokens of joy and contentment shown by the people at their annexation.
No little praise is due to those officials who have carried through this delicate task with such tact and good feeling. The whole village assembled for our little evening service, and listened most attentively to the few words I addressed to them.
Thursday. Leaving our natives to take the donkeys and packs by the shortest road to Sambana's kraal, we, F. and I, set out for the magistrate's office, intending to join them later on. After a ride of twenty-five miles, including a steep ascent of over 2000 feet up the Lebombo mountains, we arrived just after sundown at Mr. Saunders' residence. He himself was absent, having gone to meet the resident commissioner, Sir Marshall Clarke, who was on a tour of inspection. The sub-inspector of native police, Mr. Norton, was left in charge, and he received us most hospitably. He told us that Mr. Saunders and Sir M. Clarke were expected the next day. Only those who have travelled for so long a time amongst native kraals can appreciate the great pleasure it was to us to sit down once more in a European chair, to a European table, with the accessories of civilization. What we noticed very much, and felt most unpleasantly, was the sudden change in the temperature from the low country to this high elevation. The magistracy is situated in rather an exposed position on the top of the Lebombo range; and in consequence of this change of climate I caught a severe cold. It is noticeable that people who have gone through the low country and have escaped malarial fever have generally been attacked directly they reach a high altitude.
Friday. Soon after breakfast Mr. Saunders returned accompanied by Sir Marshall and Lady Clarke. It is always a pleasure to meet Sir Marshall, as he shows such a sympathetic interest in mission work, and is ever ready to assist the missionaries in their endeavours to improve the condition of the natives. After lunch we started for Chief Sambana's kraal, where we expected to meet our boys with the donkeys. Mr. Saunders very kindly asked Mr. Norton, whose corps of native police is stationed close to Sambana's kraal, to send a messenger to announce us to the chief, where we arrived next morning. We were glad to find our donkeys and natives at Mr. Norton's, having reached there the night before.
After breakfast, to which Mr. Norton very kindly invited us, we rode over to the chief's kraal, who received us favourably. Mr. Frere was already known to him, from having visited him a short time previously. I ought to say here that it is Mr. Frere's earnest wish to come at once and start mission work among Sambana's people, whose consent and co-operation it was our present object to obtain. The chief is a stately old man, and listened to us as he sat under a tree surrounded by his headmen. His first enquiry was, as to whether we should expect him as chief to compel his people to attend school services; and he seemed greatly relieved when we assured him that their attendance would be entirely voluntary. After a long talk, he turned to the headmen and asked them if they thought it would be good to have teachers in their country, and they replied unanimously, "It is good." A little incident occurred here, which, as it had no fatal consequences, was very amusing. One of the headmen was speaking when he suddenly jumped into the air with a howl. The chief said very quietly, "What's the matter with you?" and he exclaimed, "Ngi lunywa ufecel a! Ngi lunywa ufecel a!" (I am bitten by a scorpion) to which the chief replied, "If you are, need you make so much noise?" I had some eau de luce in my pack, so I quickly undid it and gave him some to apply to the place; and the chief begged for some for himself, as scorpions and other venomous reptiles are very numerous about here.
Quiet being restored, we knelt down and had prayers. Before leaving, the chief offered a wooden house, situated close to his kraal, which had been built by a Boer, to Mr. Frere, to be used by him as a schoolroom, and for services, if he would come up and commence at once; which we gladly accepted.
After saying goodbye to them all we started on our way back, the chief sending a guide to show us the best way down the Lebombo mountain.
We stayed for the night at a kraal on the top of a pass.
Sunday. We made a very early start and managed with some difficulty, with the aid of our guide, to get our animals with their packs down the pass, and reached the Pongola river, where we held a celebration of the Holy Communion under a large tree. As we had nearly come to the end of our food, F. went off with the lines to see if he could get any fish, and returned in about twenty minutes with four very large ones, enough to feed a party twice our size. We soon had them on sticks fizzling before our camp fire.
After breakfast, we gave full instructions to our native boys as to the road they were to take, and F. and I started ahead (leaving them to follow slowly with the donkeys and packs) making as straight as we could for Nongoma, which is Dr. Walters' station, and where I hoped to overtake the wagon, with my wife and family. On the second day we arrived at a trader's store, belonging to a Mr. Eckersley, who was not at home himself, but his wife, entertained us most hospitably. This reception was very welcome, as our route since leaving the Pongola had been through a dry, famine-stricken country.
After refreshment to man and animals we made another start, reaching Nongoma without any incident. Here we received a warm welcome from Dr. Walters and his wife, who told me that my wagon had started back, and must be now about a couple of days' journey ahead. I was glad to find they had left my two horses, Kolboy and Tommy. Here I parted from Mr. Frere, leaving him to go home to the Nhlwati, and I saddled up Tommy and started off to catch up the wagon, which I found near the White Umfolosi. I was heartily glad to be back once more with my family, and the comparative comfort of the wagon. After a rest of a day, we trekked for home, which we reached in safety, having been absent altogether about three months.
The trip altogether has been a most interesting one, and has brought home to me what I had not fully realized before, viz., how large a portion of this extensive diocese yet remains untouched by any Christian teacher. Here are vast tracts of country inhabited by a large heathen population willing to receive God's messengers. Can nothing be done for these poor people? Have they no claim on Christian England, inasmuch as they are also among those for whom Christ died? Will not some of those who are now enjoying the priceless privileges of Christianity raise a helping hand? Funds are wanted, men are wanted. It must be remembered that any good to be looked for from flying visits such as ours will--humanly speaking--be very small indeed, unless followed up by the establishment of permanent mission centres in the country.
During the thirty years which have passed since the Archdeacon wrote this description of his journey, it has been impossible to open any work in Tongaland. Several attempts have been made to commence work in that country, using the mission station at Ingwavuma as a base. But nothing permanent has been achieved. The present incumbent of St. Mary's, Ingwavuma, is engaged in a fresh attempt to plant a chain of out-stations in Tongaland. But the remark with which Archdeacon Johnson ends his journal is still true, namely, "Funds are wanted, men are wanted." The Bishop of Zululand has at no time during the past thirty years had either the men or the money necessary to achieve anything lasting there. We are in danger of trying to do what we condemn past generations of missionaries for attempting. That is, to enter a difficult and unhealthy country with absurdly inadequate forces. What is needed for the evangelization of the Tongas is a properly equipped missionary force consisting of a priest of experience, who has also had some opportunity of becoming acquainted with the language of the people, a doctor and a nurse, a schoolmaster, and an industrial worker. A body like this, properly equipped and with no real anxiety about funds, would be able to accomplish a. vast amount of useful and permanent work in a short time. The priest and the doctor should be Europeans; the nurse, the schoolmaster, and the industrial worker could be chosen from amongst the Zulus themselves.
Some such enterprise as this has been the dream of Zululand missionaries for years. But the dream is as far from realization to-day, to all appearances, as it was thirty and more years ago.
Meanwhile the solitary priest of St. Mary's, Ingwavuma, will do what he can to establish and to build up a chain of out-stations, reaching from the foothills below his station to the sea-coast. If he can do this and secure native workers for these stations he will have done something, at all events, to answer the appeal which Archdeacon Johnson made on behalf of this Cinderella of the diocese some thirty years ago.
The following extract from the pages of The Mission Field of May, 1927, will serve to round off the narrative of Archdeacon Johnson, as it describes the state of Tongaland in that year.
The Rev. Austin Oakley says:--
In July of this year I fulfilled my promise to the catechist in Tongaland to visit his people down there and to administer the sacraments. I started off early one morning for the misty plains that lie at the foot of the mountain, with a couple of boys to help carry my goods. It was not at all clear where the mission was. Nobody had been down there since the 'eighties, when Archdeacon Johnson made a six weeks' tour in the country. The first day's trek brought us to Ndumu store, where we slept, and the second to the Pongola river about midday. Late at night we got to the next store, Pela Ndaba, and started off the last lap on a rainy and very warm morning. At the river we had been met by some of the mission people as guides. The country seemed to change day by day. On the first we were passing through thick bush where one felt the influence of the magic the Tongas are famed for in the twisted trees and dark alleys. Beyond the river, on the second day, we struck the sandy country with shallow pans of water. In these the Tonga women, strangely like South Sea Islanders, with their bobbed hair and bandeaux, were gathering lily-roots waist-deep in the water. The country was now open pasture land, with little vegetation but wild date-palms and the famous lala palm, which provides drink from its root and stem, and basket-work from its tough leaves. Far behind us in the west the high Ingwavuma mountain had sunk to a smooth swell on the horizon, and on the east were the white sand-dunes, half-covered with heavy dark vegetation, which hid the Indian Ocean from us. Towards sunset on the third day we came at last to the kraal called Meangqabeni or The Forts, which was our journey's end. On its border was a very boggy marsh, over which I was carried, and so arrived.
It was a really warm welcome, and I realized it meant a great deal to those who gave it. I believe they felt they were now entering into a wider fold and that they had a shepherd.
Early in the morning I went to look at the church, for church there was. It was made of reeds and lala palm, and wonderfully neat and clean, with an altar and sanctuary. I laid out the vestments, spread the altar cloth and offered the Holy Sacrifice with great joy and happiness, thereby dedicating the church to that high use. The rest of the day was spent in the neighbourhood, visiting the people and the sick.
Everywhere was the same warmth and cheerfulness, and on the next morning, including the children, ninety people gathered for baptisms and eucharist. Feeding the priest and his people was a real strain on the catechist, and I felt I ought not to stay longer than was necessary, so about mid-day I packed up and started on the ninety-mile trek home. A neighbouring chief had asked for a mission at his kraal, so we went out of our way to see him. The whole congregation escorted us, singing and dancing on the way, and before we parted knelt down for the blessing of the priest.
The starting of another small centre at Msudu's kraal was seen through successfully, and in the bright moonlight we entered the gates of the king's kraal at Mehlumeni, the catechist breaking into loud praises of the chief as we crossed the threshold. Here we slept, and in the morning I had a talk with Ngwanaza, the paramount chief of Tongaland, and said prayers in the presence of himself and his large family before setting out again. After an absence of only nine days we arrived home.
One hopes this is a beginning of work among the Tongas. I think one of the most significant things about it is that hitherto it has been an entirely native effort. The church has been .built, the people got together and taught by a single catechist, with no help of any sort. This is a good start, if it only means that there is a sense of independence and self-help. Provided the priest can make his journeys with some regularity during the winter months, supervision is not a difficult matter. The ideal to aim for, I think, is the establishing of a chain of stations from the Hill to Meangqabeni, but that cannot be done in a day.
The archdeacon's journeys into Swaziland were largely a repetition of his experiences in Tongaland, with the important difference that whereas in the latter territory there was no Christian work being carried on when he visited it, in Swaziland the Church had centres from which evangelistic work was done. His diaries of his Swaziland tours show him as the experienced missionary and administrator, ready to deal with all the happenings of the journey, fully equipped to cope with all the difficulties inseparable from work carried on amid a primitive people. But it would be wearisome to reproduce accounts of journeys which, interesting as they were to experience and to chronicle, yet bear a strong family likeness to each other.