14 – On The Way To Bambarre

On the sixth day after leaving Casembe a small party of natives was met, carrying a dead lion slung across a pole.  The lion had killed a man, and it was being taken to Casembe for judgment.  Its mouth was carefully strapped and the paws tied tightly across its chest.  Some of the lions of this district stood more than five feet high and were nearly as large as a buffalo.

     One day Livingstone met a gang of slaves being driven along the path, and some of them were singing as if they did not feel the weight and degradation of slave sticks.  Livingstone asked what they were doing, and was told that they ‘rejoiced at the idea of coming back after death and haunting and killing those who had sold them’.

     On June 25th Livingstone reached the Luongo River where there were several villages, but the people were afraid of the “white man”.  They could not comprehend his color and what his purpose was so they did not want him to stop there.  The wild beasts were so numerous and daring that the villagers had to protect themselves by high hedges.  The villagers had to be very careful or they would be killed by the animals.

     On July 18th, Livingstone was very glad to discover Lake Bangweolo, one of the largest bodies of water in Central Africa, and 3600 feet above sea level.  The people that lived near the lake were called Mboghwa.  Their features would not have been unpleasant if they hadn’t filed their teeth to a point and tattooed their foreheads and chins.  Their main occupation was fishing, of which they had much skill.  One really peculiar thing that Livingstone noted was their fish hooks were made exactly like the ones used at the time in America.  The shores of the lake were shallow, and many men could be seen on stilts strapped to their knees so that they could wade further out into the lake where the fish were. 

     Livingstone engaged a very large canoe that could carry twenty men and it was in this that he visited several islands in the lake.  Every one of these was very thickly inhabited.  The lake was computed to be 150 miles long by 80 miles wide.  Its water was crystal clear and the bottom of it was beautiful white sand.  Objects were visible at great depths because of the clarity of the water. 

     Lake Bangweolo was 100 miles south of Casembe, but the beauty of the lake he had found made it definitely worth all the travel and hard times.  Just as he was planning to travel back to Casembe, the news reached him that skirmishes had broken out between the Arabs and the natives.  The following was the reason: The Mazitu tribes had overrun Casembe’s territory and so devastated it that the trade in ivory had been almost utterly destroyed.  To preserve their own interests, therefore, the Arabs had joined Casembe and defeated the Mazitu with great slaughter.  This success gave the Arabs a hope of finally possessing the entire country, but Casembe soon became aware of their ambitions, and forming an alliance with another strong chief, named Chikumbi, the two attacked Kombokombo, an Arab leader, but were repulsed.  There was now fighting on all sides, so that Livingstone could not hope to go unmolested through so large a district as lay between him and Casembe. 

    Shortly after leaving Bangweola Lake he was interrupted by a large body of furious Imbozhwa (Casembe soldiers) who mistook his party for plunderers and raised their spears and were upon the point of attacking.  An old man who had seen Livingstone at Casembe rushed out in front of his people and ordered them to desist.  It was only by a piece of extraordinary good fortune that Livingstone was not killed, but on the following day his party was again besieged by another army of natives under the false impression that he was heading a crowd of Mazitu, but for a second time he escaped harm. 

     On the 23rd of September he fell in with some Arab traders and four hundred Wanyamwezi people, who were trying to get out of the country, and together they marched northward.  In anticipation of attacks they built fences each night around their camp and kept out a sharp watch for enemies until reaching the Kalongosi River which was the southern boundary of the Casembe’s territory. 

     Livingstone didn’t expect an attack after reaching Casembe’s country, but he was mistaken.  Some of the Arabs had killed a woman and the Imbozhwa turned out in strong force and attacked the combined forces of Livingstone, the Wanyamwezi, and the Arabs.  They hastily tried to put up some kind of stockade, but it wouldn’t have done very much if it had not been for the Wanyamwezi.  They shot vigorously with their arrows and occasionally charged the Imbozhwa.  The women went up and down the village with sieves, as if winnowing, and singing songs to encourage their husbands and friends who were fighting.  Each woman had a branch of the Ficus Indica in her hand, which she waved as a charm.  About ten of the Imbozhwa were killed, but dead and wounded were at once carried off by their countrymen.  They continued the assault from early dawn until 1 P. M. and showed great bravery, but they wounded only 2 with their arrows.  Their care to secure the wounded was admirable; two or three at once seized the fallen man and ran off with him, though pursued by a great crowd of Wanyamwezi with spears, and fired at by the Arabs. 

     Those who had a bunch of animals’ tails with medicine tied to their waists, came sidling and ambling up to near the unfinished stockade, and shot their arrows high up into the air, to fall among the Wanyamwezi, then picked up any arrows on the field, ran back and returned again.  They thought that by the ambling gait they avoided the balls, and when these whistled past them they put down their heads, as if to allow them to pass over.  They had never encountered guns before. 

     When a man was killed and not carried off, the Wanyamwezi brought his head and put it on a pole on the stockade; six heads were thus placed.  A fine young man was caught and brought in by the Wanyemwezi.  One stabbed him from behind, and another cut his forehead with an axe.  Livingstone called in vain to them not to kill him.  As a last appeal, he said to the crowd that surrounded him “Don’t kill me, and I shall take you to where the women are.”  They told him that he was lying and it was just a trap, and then killed him. 

     For two weeks or more the Imbozhwa kept up the siege, and finally forced the Arabs to restore all the prisoners taken.  They still did not leave, though, and when a small party of Wanyemwezi went out to feel the enemy, they were set upon and driven back.  At length it was decided to quietly abandon the stockade at night, and under the cover of darkness just leave as quietly as possible.  This worked successfully, and on December 11th Livingstone and the Arabs with their strings of slaves yoked together in heavy slave-sticks, started for Ujiji. 

     Livingstone hated traveling with the Arabs because he detested the slave trade in Africa.  He knew, though, that he would never make it back to Ujiji alive if he went by himself.  Fortunately, no more enemies appeared to impede the march.  The journey was a slow one though, because the slaves kept escaping and they kept having to stop so the Arabs could go after them.  Most of the time they were able to get away and the Arabs never found them. 

     There were many streams that had to be waded and this, with the worry and lack of rest, brought the fever back again on Livingstone.  On New Year’s Day the party came to the Lofuko River.  The only way they could get across was to wade waist deep in the water.  This exposure, coupled with his already feeble condition caused him such severe illness that he was unable to march any further.  He was attacked by pneumonia in the right lung, and soon his brain became so affected that he lost count of the days of the week and month.  In his delirium he fancied himself lying dead on the road to Ujiji.  The Arabs were very kind, however, and carried him for sixteen days until they arrived at Tanganika Lake.  When they got there arrangements were made to transport him by canoe to Ujiji, which was more than one hundred miles north of the point where he was at that time. 

     The lake, air, and some medicine that the Arabs gave him revived him somewhat, and when they embarked for Ujiji on February 27, 1869, he was able to sit up for a little while at the time and eat small amounts of gruel. 

     High winds on the lake proved to be a serious obstacle, and sometimes they had to spend days at the time on shore because of the dangerous waves.  It took them until March 14th to reach Ujiji. 

     When they got there, Livingstone was greatly disappointed to find that most of the goods he had ordered at Zanzibar were not there because the Arab that Livingstone had paid to bring them there had stolen most of them.  This was really a big blow to him because he needed the medicine and other things that he had thought would be there.  He was so sick that he had to have assistance rising from his bed.  He didn’t let it get him really down, though, because his patience and courage were so strong. 

     It was while he was at Ujiji that he started thinking that the Tanganika was just a really wide river instead of a lake.  He started thinking this because he had noticed that there was a current of about one miles per hour flowing northward all through it.  This led him to think that the river might be connected to the Nile, and that all the large chain of lakes in Central Africa were all connected.  He came to the conclusion that the Nile was fed by all of them, and that’s why it was such a great river that never dried up. 

     He determined that as soon as he was able he would explore the region around Lake Tanganika and would go as far south as Lake Bangweolo, and then westward into the Manyuema country.  He wanted to do this to see if the large river on that side of Lake Tanganika was the Nile or the Congo.  He again sent to Zanzibar for men and supplies, but had no clue if he would receive them or not. 

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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.