12 – Arrival At Lake Tanganika

The country was somewhat more open on the route north than that which Livingstone had passed through to reach Chitapangwa’s village, but food still continued to be scarce.  In about 20 miles they came to a village called Moamba, which was ruled by Chitapangwa’s brother.  Livingstone was well received and provided with meat and guides, which was much to his surprise, for it had been thought that here he would meet with hostility. 

     After they left this village, though, food became scarce again.  On top of his other troubles Livingstone was attacked with fever.  Wearied, sick and hungry, he still continued his journey being sustained wholly by his determined will power.  On March 31st he came in sight of Lake Tanganika. 

     Its shores were extremely mountainous and it was a steep climb down for them to reach the lake itself.  Because he was so high, he could see that the lake seemed about 20 miles broad and that there were four different rivers pouring their waters into it.  After staying there for a while to rest up, he wrote the following in his diary about the area:

     Its peacefulness is remarkable, though at times it is said to be lashed up by storms.  It lies in a deep basin, whose sides are nearly perpendicular, but covered well with trees; the rocks which appear are bright red argillaceous schist; the trees at present all green; down some of these rocks come beautiful cascades, and buffaloes, elephants, and antelopes wander and graze on the more level spots, while lions roar by night.  The level place below is not two miles from the perpendicular.  The village Pambete, at which we first touched the lake, is surrounded by palm-oil-trees  –  not the stunted ones of Lake Nyassa, but the real West Coast palm-oil-tree, requiring two men to carry a bunch of the ripe fruit.  In the morning and evening huge crocodiles may be observed quietly making their way to their feeding grounds; hippopotami snort by night and at early morning.

     The Balungu people, who inhabited the south shores of the  lake were very friendly, but were also very cowardly and lazy.  Other tribes would attack them repeatedly and take their women and children captives without them even putting up a fight.  Their politeness was remarkable, though.  While Livingstone marched with them, they made it their utmost priority to do everything for him to keep him comfortable, and they bowed and saluted on every occasion, just as if he were a member of  royalty. 

     In the town they were all busy preparing food or clothing, mats or baskets, while the women were cleaning or grinding the corn, which involved much hard labor.  It was first dried in the sun, then put into a mortar, and afterward with a flat basket they cleaned off the husks and the dust and ground it between two stones.  Then they had to bring wood and water so they could cook it. 

     Their mode of salutation among relatives was to place their hands around each other’s chest, kneeling;  they then clasp their hands close to the ground.  Some of them would even kiss the soil before a chief, though generally they would just kneel with their forearms close to the ground and the head bowed down to them and chanting a welcome.  The clapping of hands to superiors, and even equals, is in some villages a recurring sound all day long.  Aged persons were usually saluted because they were reverenced. 

A Wedding in Africa

     Livingstone’s intentions were to just travel along the lake’s coast until he learned that one of the  tribes was at war with the Arabs.  He was afraid of getting in the midst of it, so he turned southwest, with the intentions of making a circuit back to the lake.  The country through which he was now traveling was very fertile, and the food supply of every village was abundant, but this lasted for a distance of only 50 miles.  While they were making a detour to pass through one of the villages, Nsama, one of the former chiefs that Livingstone had stayed with and come to love, sent word to him to visit him in stockade.  He had been taken prisoner in the war of the tribes and had been defeated in a huge battle.  Though previously he had been regarded as invincible, now his influence was almost totally destroyed. 

     For trading purposes, though, the other tribe wanted to make peace with him.  They wanted to settle with him by him giving one of his daughters in marriage to their chief.  Nsama was not at all agreeable to this, and the people were really worried that he would not agree to it.  In the midst of all the chaos, a daughter of Nsama came riding into the camp and said that she would sacrifice herself for the sake of peace, and become the chief’s wife. 

     She was a nice, modest, good looking young woman.  Her hair was rubbed all over with grease and a red pigment made from the cam-wood, which was a much used ointment.  She was accompanied by a dozen young and old female attendants, each carrying a small basket with some previsions in it.  The Arabs were all dressed in their finest, and the slaves were dressed in fantastic costumes.  They flourished swords, fired guns, and yelled loudly.  When the girl was brought to Hamees’ (one of the Arabs) hut, she descended from her perch and passed in through the door with her maids.  They all had small, neat features.  After this the chief told Hamees to go through the door after them, and the marriage ceremony was finished. 

     Nsama’s people generally had small, well-chiseled features, and many of them were very handsome.  They looked nothing like the natives on the west coast.  The one thing that made them look unattractive was the fact that they filed their teeth to sharp points, which greatly disfigured their mouths.  Other than that, the only real difference between them and the Europeans was their color.  Many of the men and women had very finely-formed heads.  The fashion in which they wore their hair really made them look attractive.  The forehead was shaved off to the crown, with the space narrowing as it went up. 

     His stay at Hara where Nsama had been in prison,  was lengthened by the rainy season and Livingstone gained the friendship of Hamees.  When he left the village on September 22, he was accompanied by several Arabs, with Hamees following at a short distance, and then was supplied guides to take him to Lake Moero.  This new journey of his was through a beautiful country which was very thickly populated, but the natives were terror-stricken at the sight of guns because of the previous bloody battles that had gone on recently there.  They would not come out to barter with Livingstone, but ran and hid themselves.  This made food very difficult to obtain, but fortunately they had brought a sufficient amount along with them. 

     When they reached the Kalongi river the natives were more friendly and there the river was abundant with fish.  They were making rapid progress now and on November 1st they entered the village of Casembe.  This was where they had planned to go, so they were very glad to finally get to their destination. 

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God has radically changed my life, and I want to share the awesome things I am learning with you. I have found that the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher when I listen to, obey, and apply what He teaches to my life.


About Cathy Deaton


My name is Cathy Deaton, Owner of Fan the Flame Ministries. God has radically changed my life, and He has shown me that I am to share the awesome things I am learning especially with the Millennial Generation (1981 – 1996), but I love connecting with Christians of all ages. I have found that the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher when I listen to, obey, and apply what He teaches to my life. You truly can make a difference for God in an uncertain world.