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Among the Wild Ngoni
Chapter IV. The State of the Country and the Beginning of the Mission Work


WHAT has been said in the introduction shows the position of the work in Ngoniland in relation to the more extended operations of the Livingstonia Mission as a whole. In the history of the Ngoni, as given in the previous chapters, we are brought down to recent times, and have now to hurriedly glance at the state of the country produced by their presence and power in Nyasaland at the advent of the Mission.

Soon after the worn: was begun at Cape Maclear, near the south end of Lake Nyasa, it was evident that if the Mission was to be established according to the idea of the promoters, a wider and healthier area must be found. To secure that different expeditions were undertaken, and it was in connection with these that the full extent and power of the Nsoni became known. Reference is made here to the reports of these expeditions by Drs Stewart and Laws, and the late Mr James Stewart, to the Royal Geographical Society, and to the Committee of the Free Church of Scotland. One of the earliest references to the power and dominion of the Ngoni, over a wide area, was made by Dr Stewart in the Free Church General Assembly in 1878, when he said, regarding the position of the newly-formed Mission to Nyasa-land, “He had recommended a change of site, and preparations had been made for carefully examining the portion of the country on the western side of the lake. There was a certain responsibility in connection with this recommendation to change the site. He was willing to face the responsibility. They had either to make a change or let go the original idea and projection of Livingstonia, and reduce the whole to dwarfish proportions, very different from what was at first intended. What was urgently wanted was a high and cool position possessing all the other qualifications and capabilities of a good site. These he thought might be got on the high lands to the west side of the lake. The warlike Ngoni were in possession of that district. If we could establish friendly relations with them the work would not be difficult.”

Thus it was, twenty years ago, that in the providence of God, through the contracted area workable from Cape Maclear as a centre, and its unhealthiness, the Mission was led to interest itself in the proud warriors of Ngoniland far away to the north among the high hills on the west side of Lake Nyasa. The reputation for war and cruelty which they had wherever they were known, made the task of finding a new site anything but easy, notwithstanding the hopefulness of Dr Stewart’s report. The following account of what was found during the expeditions undertaken, and of the origin and progress of the work in Ngoniland, should be read with interest in view of the now enormous field of the Livingstonia Mission, and the wonderful achievements of the Gospel among many different tribes.

The Ngoni at that time dominated a tract of country extending between 9‘30 and 12 S. lat. and from the western shore of Lake Nyasa to 31 E. long., comprising an area of 30,000 square miles. In this vast region the principal tribes living were,—on the lake shore, the Tonga, Tumbuka, Henga and Nkonde, while inland were the Chewa, other divisions of the Tumbuka, the Senga, Zingwa, Wiwa, Bisa, Nyamwanga, Wanda and Nyika, and other communities which were scattered remnants of tribes already broken up by their arms. When it is remembered that every year during the dry season, which extends from April to November, the Ngoni armies were engaged in raiding expeditions, sometimes to the southward against the quiet and industrious Chewa, or down to the lake shore against the Tonga, or northward to the cattle-keeping Nkonde, or westward into the land of fat sheep, ivory and copper wealth, going as far as Bangweolo, near the site of Livingstone’s death-scene, it may be imagined that the condition of these people was anything but happy or secure. I have seen an army, ten thousand strong, issue forth in June and not return till September, laden with spoil in slaves, cattle and ivory, and nearly every man painted with white clay, denoting that he had killed someone. Around Bandawe, one of the principal stations of the Mission, more blood has been shed than can be related. The Tonga, once enslaved by the Ngoni, but who revolted and fled, were the frequent objects of attack. Ngoni wars, notwithstanding the reputed bravery of the warriors, were not always very straightforward fights, but were always very bloody from the tactics they pursued. The army would lie concealed in the forest at some distance from the lake villages, and when the sun was dipping behind the hills it would rush out and enter a village at a time when all were congregated and engaged in the open air. It was but a rush through the village, but ten, twenty, or thirty men, women and children were left lying dead, and perhaps as many women carried off captive.

I was at Bandawe when such an attack was made on a village a few miles from the station. We were seated in the verandah of the Mission house in the calm, cool evening. The boys boarded on the station as Mission pupils were engaged in mirthful games near by. In the villages around, hidden among the banana groves or rich undergrowth, we could hear the thud of the pestle in the wooden mortar as the women, with their babies tied on their backs, were employed preparing the flour for the evening meal. The children were heard in gleeful song and dance, while the hum of voices rose as the men engaged in the gossip of the hour, seated under the village tree smoking their pipes, and the sun sank amid a splendour of colour over the western hills. All betokened peace and happiness. Suddenly a shrill cry was heard in the distance and it was at once taken up by those in the villages, the song and gentle hum of voices giving place to cries of fear and distress. Before many minutes had elapsed hundreds of frantic women carrying their infants, while older children ran frantically by their side, rushed into the station grounds or off to the caverns on the rocky hill near the shore. The men fled for their arms and soon the tumult of battle was heard. An Ngoni army had rushed a village; the peace and quiet of the evening hour now gave place to the wailing of women and the cries of children, as they re-entered their villages to find perhaps several of their friends killed or carried away captive. On one occasion such an attack was made and several women were carried off. Some men who had guns went in pursuit and traced the route of the Ngoni by the bodies of the dead whom they had slain on the way, finding they were not after all worth carrying off. Coming up to them at a river where they were encamped, still having in their possession some women, they surprised them by firing their guns. The Ngoni fled, but one woman, about to become a mother whom they could not urge to run, was speared to death before the eyes of her friends who had come to rescue her. I have seen an infant with a great ugly gash in its little body whieh was made by the spear that passed through the mother as she rushed off in the effort to escape.

The following is also an authentic story of an Ngoni war and butchery told by a European who witnessed the sight, and such harrowing tales could be multiplied tenfold.

“On Friday, Nov. 18, a band of Ngoni stealthily surrounded the village of Kayune which lies on the lake shore. They had no dispute with chief or people ; their one motive was to spear men and capture women. There was no moonlight and darkness favoured their approach. Entering the village, which had no stockade and lay half hidden in banana groves, each warrior took up his position at the door of a hut and ordered the inmates to come out. Every man and boy was speared as he rushed out and the women were caught and bound with bark rope. In the morning not a Nkonde man or boy was in the village, while three hundred women and girls were tied and crowded together like so many frightened sheep. The Ngoni feasted all day on the food and beer of the villagers.”

The sequel is, if possible, more horrible. A party of traders at Karonga, three hours’ journey distant, went out to try and rescue the women when word of the capture was received. The party came up on the Ngoni and fired upon them. They were off their guard and supposed that a large force had come against them, and they began to spear their captives, The writer goes on to say, “ Then ensued a horrible scene,— women screaming, women wrestling for life with armed savages, women and girls writhing in blood on the ground.” Eventually two hundred women were rescued. The number killed included twenty-nine men, one hundred women, thirty-two girls, sixteen boys.

No one can estimate the loss of life in peaceful tribes, or measure the anguish and distress, not to mention the incessant state of fear, in which these tribes lived, due to the position and war power of the Ngoni. When Dr Laws and Mr Stewart passed through the country in 1878, in pursuance of their search for a new site for the healthy station already referred to, they everywhere met with traces of the Ngoni power and cruel wars. Along the lake shore they found the people compelled to live in swamps amid the stench and death-dealing exhalations, struggling for an independent foothold on mother-earth, in some of which I have had, in carrying on medical and evangelistic work in that district, to be carried from door to door on a native’s back as the paths were all under water, or semi-liquid, black, stinking mud. In other places they were to be found crowded together on some neck of land or secure place surrounded by a triple stockade of strong trees. Dr Laws mentions one such, near what is now Banda we station, where the Chief Marenga (who now lives in happier times in an extensive open village) had a triple stockade round his village, the distance between the stockades being from 30 to 60 yards and the interval filled by growing jungle. At another place it was said, “ The people here might be said to be almost driven into the lake by their relentless foes, the Ngoni. The stockades ran 30 yards into the lake itself, and the greater number of the huts were actually built on the sandy beach/’ Even as far north as Karonga’s at the north end of Nyasa, they found the dread of the Ngoni pervading the community, and the old chief made a present of a young bull and a tusk of ivory to Dr Stewart to induce him to give him medicine to fight the Ngoni. Along the lake shore, north of Bandawe, the hills dip down with precipitous sides almost into the lake, and the shingly beach was occupied by villages where there was some degree of safety. They managed to barely exist by planting patches of cassava where any soil could be found on the crags above, the people not daring to go far from their homes. In the lake, towards the north end, there are rocky islands. They are huge accumulations of boulders—as if they had gradually grown out of the water by added masses—on which there was little foothold or place to make even a hut such as the natives usually build. Yet on such islands scores of poor Tonga, Tumbuka and Henga, had their only sure place of abode. Driven off the face of the earth, as might literally be affirmed, they had to rear their families, cradling them in the cracks of the rocks or crannies between the boulders, to prevent their rolling off into the water. The only shelter afforded was by making wattled shades over which a few handfuls of grass were laid to protect them from rain and sun. When they considered it safe they would paddle their canoes to the shore, and snatch a few hours work in their patches of potatoes or cassava and betake themselves again to their rocky home.

Again, high up on the most inaccessible parts of mountain ranges, the remnants of broken tribes, and even whole tribes, had their dwelling. They had their grain-stores hid away in the darkness of the remnants of the groat primeval forest still met with in the ravines on the mountain sides. Their dwellings were in some cases no more than a hole scooped out on the bare steep side of the mountain, and a few sticks pushed into the earth above projecting over the levelled spot, with a little grass over them. The best of them was of the rudest description, while all around the ground sloped so sharply that one could not walk without holding on to objects. Their crops were peas which they cultivated on the declivities, by sowing rows among the bracken which they left as supports, and to prevent the soil from being washed away in the rainy season. The ingenuity of such a people in providing themselves with the bare necessaries of life, could scarcely be admired properly, from the sad feeling at the thought of how they had been hunted and reduced to such a condition. On the approach of enemies they fled into the dark forest and had nature for a guard. Wherever on the mountain slope, at Mount Waller for instance, space whereon to erect a hut could be found it was utilised. Lying on board the steamer in Florence Bay with the vast pile of that mountain before us, the terraced slopes were seen to be crowded with huts, a situation from which no Ngoni army could dislodge them. One of the most remarkable sites for human habitations was found at Manchewe in the neighbourhood of Mount Waller in 1895, when Dr Laws and I were examining the district preparatory to founding the Livingstonia Training Institution.

On ledges of rock on the face of a cliff 250 feet high, a section of the Nyika tribe had their homes. Over the cliff, 200 yards apart, two rivers poured their waters in a series of waterfalls into the wooded gorge below. The face of the cliff was covered with a profusion of tree ferns, magnificent aloes in bloom, many beautiful ferns and other tropical plants, from among which tall, graceful trees sprang. A full description of such a combination of natural grandeur of rock and tree and waterfall is impossible. Here we want merely to picture human beings living between earth and sky in small circular huts, in some cases built on ledges of rock not ten feet broad, and in other cases, the houses being actually tied to tree roots which have, in growing, split the rocks, and in some cases dislodged great masses. The overhanging cliffs and mighty trees above, with the depths below, formed the natural protection to that poor hunted people. Access to the villages was had by scrambling down the fissures in the rock, or by hanging on to tree roots or other projection which would afford help and safety. The clusters of huts were partly hid by the dense undergrowth, and only those guided by the natives could have found the safe ledges along which to pass. Viewed from above one was forcibly reminded of the home of the sea-fowls on the cliffs around our coasts.

In no case was the rocky ledge on which the houses were built more than twenty feet broad, and it made one shudder to look down on the little children playing around the small huts, with the roaring cataract at one side and a sheer precipice above and below. In time of war, or danger from falling rocks dislodged by the rains, the caverns found near were the hiding-place of these inhabitants of the rock. Their homes were made seemingly in defiance of nature’s great law of gravitation, — forced over the edge of the world, so to speak, by the inhumanity of the Ngoni. If the Gospel can do anything at all to better men’s lives, there, surely, we found a fit field for it.

Great must have been their surprise when they saw many of their Ngoni enemies standing on the heights above, calling to them that they came on a peaceful errand, and inviting the men up to speak to us. We arrived on a Saturday evening, and having made friendly overtures, we invited them up to our camp next day to join in the worship of God. For the first time in their lives and in that district, the voice of praise and prayer was heard, and these wretched people heard in the Ngoni speech the word of peace and not of war. Surely that day in that place the prophecy was fulfilled: “Let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains.” There came to them that day the dawn of a better life, as we shall see in due course.

While such a state of terror and distress was known to exist over the country lying between Ngoniland and Lake Nyasa, there remained the vast country unexplored, lying to the west and north of Ngoniland, upon which horde upon horde of savage Ngoni waged a relentless war. The same state of terror and distress obtained there, but was known only by the spoils brought back by the armies. Mr John Moir in 1879 made a long journey into that region, and everywhere saw evidence of the Ngoni raiding. Later on several Europeans passed through the district, and all met with the same story of Ngoni wrongdoing and domination. Last year a careful survey of the district was made by my colleague, Dr Prentice, to find out suitable localities for new stations, and I heard him relate in a public meeting at home, an incident which may fittingly find a place here as bearing upon the past condition of the people all over that region.

In the course of his journey he came upon a considerable community huddled together in poor houses, in the centre of a great swamp, through which he could not find a way. Thevillage was also strongly stockaded, and it was evident that they had recently rebuilt it. Finding it impossible to enter, he fortunately saw a native who had been at one of our northern Mission stations, and could understand what was said, and the object of the expedition. By him communication was had with the people in the stockaded village, and Dr Prentice and his Ngoni carriers were invited to enter. In conversation with the affrighted natives, the chief said that long ago they were hunted by the Ngoni, but that in recent years they had heard of men coming to them with a book which they had accepted, and had consequently given up war. Recently, however, they had heard that Mombera the chief had died, and on the placing of a new chief they feared that the Ngoni might again break out, so they had taken the precaution of removing their chattels to safe quarters to await the attack which they apprehended. One of the Ngoni carriers thereupon took from his pocket a copy of the Gospel in Ngoni, and declared that now the Ngoni had accepted the book, so that they need no more fear an attack, and he added, “ Long ago we came with war to destroy, but to-day we are one with the white teacher, and come to bring you good news of peace and salvation.” To have witnessed such a scene more than repaid Dr Prentice’s weariness and sickness on his long and trying march.

The only tribe that withstood the Ngoni was the Wemba to the south of Tanganyika, and many and fierce were their contentions. The picture of Ngoni power and incessant raiding is complete when I add that, in Ngoniland, there are representatives of at least sixteen different tribes found among their slaves, their original homes lying in the region from what is now the Colony of Natal on the south, to Tanganyika on the north, Nyasa on the east, and Bangweolo on the west.

Such, then, was the character and such the reputation of the Ngoni, when the Mission pioneers first met them. In 1878, Dr Laws and the late Mr James Stewart found a probable site for the new station on Mount Kaningina on the outskirts of Ngoniland, and between it and the lake. Here for a time the late William Koyi (the Kafir member of the staff, to whose life and work a special chapter is devoted) and a European were located to observe the nature of the district, and, if possible, to become acquainted with the Ngoni. They managed to form an acquaintance with a Swazi family—the Chipatula family—living not far off, and through them obtained an introduction to Mombera, the chief of the Ngoni, and to Mtwaro, his brother and successor. The Chipatula family had been at one time strong in power, and to them belonged most of the Tonga who revolted and fled to the neighbourhood of Bandawe station, subsequently chosen instead of Kaning’ina. Dr Laws realised the nature and difficulties of the task set him, although the suspicions of the Ngoni were aroused and persisted for many years, by the Mission having located itself among the Tonga slaves on the lake shore, and having for a time occupied the outpost at Kaning’ina as if to set a watch upon them. Yet the wisdom of the step, and the caution necessary in every movement, have been fully justified in subsequent years.

William Koyi had been able to find out the Ngoni centre of power, and to be received by Mombera in a friendly manner. Between Dr Laws’s first and second visits to Kaning’ina, however, a rising took place among the Tumbuka and Tonga slaves in Ngoniland, which at the time threatened to destroy all hope of access to the Ngoni. They believed that the freedom of man which the Mission expedition, with its retinue of native servants and carriers belonging to different tribes, embodied, had emboldened their slaves to revolt. Many of the Tonga fled to the lake shore, but the Tumbuka,

less successful in their effort to escape, were forced up Hora mountain (where now one of our Ngoniland stations is situated), and starved into surrender. Being allowed to come down to drink at the fountains around the base of that bare, rocky height, the Ngoni fell upon them, and many hundreds were massacred. I have seen the skeletons lying crowded together around the foot of the hill, and also upon it, some being found in caverns and at the foot of precipices where they had been slain.

We need not describe in detail the transactions between the Mission and the isolated workers holding the outpost at Kaning’ina—a situation often fraught with great personal danger through the opposition of the Ngoni and the treachery of the Chipatulas, who all the while pretended great friendship. The fact was, the Chipatulas were diminished in power and influence among the Ngoni, and hoped, by means of friendship with the white men, to regain their power. An example of their duplicity we find in the statement of the dead chief, Chipatula’s brother, when Dr Laws first met him. He was asked about the chief, and his reply was that the chief was dead, and that until he (Chisevi, the speaker) should go out of mourning and be crowned, Mombera, a headman, was ruling, whereas at that time the chief over all the country was Mombera, and the Chipatula family were ordinary members of the tribe.

In 1879 Dr Laws first met Mombera. Ever since then Mombera shewed a strong affection for Dr Laws and unbounded confidence in him, and through him as “the father of the white men,” in those who followed him and lived under him. The only parallel to this mutual regard which I know is in the case of Moffat and Umziligazi, the confrere of Mombera’s father in the far south in the beginning of the century, as recorded in “Robert and Mary Moffat.” Here we have two bloodthirsty, despotic chiefs, far apart but of the same blood, visited by two missionaries of the Cross, and without in the least degree to all appearance accepting any of their teaching, forming a strong attachment to them, and till death maintaining it, and speaking often of it. Living, as I did, with Mombera for six years before he died, I never knew of his having stopped a single war party from attacking the helpless Tonga around Dr Laws’s station at Bandawe because of his belief in God; but over and over again, because of his attachment to Dr Laws, he refused to sanction war; and to-day thousands of Tonga men and women owe their life to Mombera’s affection for Dr Laws. Happy, indeed, must he be who was thus used of God in saving the lives of so many people, that they might, as they now do, hear and receive God’s Word.

But to proceed with the narrative. On the 24th January 1879 Dr Laws arrived at Mombera’s town and pitched his tent. Of his interview with Mombera, he reported: “We explained to him that the object of our coming into the country was to be friends of all the people, to teach them about God and what He has done for us; that we also wished to teach children, so that they might be able to read God’s Word for themselves. We showed them a Kafir Bible, from which William Koyi read a few verses. We introduced Mr Moir as one who was ready to trade with them if they desired to do so, and who loved God’s Word as we did. We gave Mombera a present of various articles, with which he expressed himself very much satisfied. The bead councillor of the village answered for him that they were glad of our visit, and that they were willing to be friends, and thanked us for our present. They expressed their disappointment that we should remain among the Tonga on the Lake shore, or even at Kaningina. ‘Why,’ said they, ‘do you not come up and live with us? Can you milk fish that you remain at the Lake? Come up and live with us and we will give you cattle. We are the rulers ; the Tonga are under us, although they have broken off from us at present, and run away with our children; we wish you to make them send back our children. They say they do not like to live with us because we are cruel. We are cruel, but not to our children, only to those against whom we go to fight. Our children we must have back, and we would have gone and fought with the Tonga, and driven them into the Lake, had you not visited us and said war was bad. We have been defeated ; but when we set about fighting, we do not give up our object, though the last Ngoni should be killed. You say there should be peace; send back our children and there will be lasting peace.’

“We explained to them that our commission was to bring the Gospel to every creature, to the despised Tonga as well as to the Ngoni themselves; that we required to have a port on the Lake, so that we might get a supply of provisions, calico, etc., from home, and this we could not have if we were living with them while the Tonga between us and the Lake shore were our enemies; that we showed our desire to benefit them by not confining ourselves to the Lake shore alone, but establishing a station at Kaning’ina, near Chipatula, where they could easily learn about us at any time, and have the false reports they heard about us from the Tonga rectified by a visit. Regarding the sending back of their children we explained that we had not come to interfere with their quarrels, but that we were willing to do what we could as peacemakers, and advised that they should have patience and live in peace, as the best way of having their children brought back to them; and this we considered it to be their duty to do, seeing that the Ngoni had been the original invaders of the country and the disturbers of the peace. They asked that, if a white man could not be left there, one of their own tribe should be sent to them. We told them that in course of time we would endeavour to send a teacher to them also. The chief sent us a small elephant’s tusk as a present, and sent a calf to our tent as food. He also sent a small tusk which he said he had intended as a present on our first visit.” On a subsequent visit paid to Mombera by Mr Stewart, he refused to see him, being displeased that the Mission should have visited other tribes first. It was evident that the Ngoni desired an exclusive alliance with the Mission, and, as will afterwards be seen, this idea led to frequent trouble, at times great and prolonged. In the end of that year Kaning’ina observing station was given up and Bandawe founder!. Dr Laws very properly gauged the situation when he wrote in October: “I do not think it would be advisable to continue the station in that district meantime. More good could be done by pushing it forward into the country of the Ngoni."

Two years elapsed before this could be accomplished, during which time all round Bandawe station Ngoni raiding went on. These raiding parties did not always represent Mombera’s army, but were bands of wild youths who were eager to obtain wealth, or wives and slaves, and frequently were led by members of the villages which they attacked, and who to revenge some wrong done by their chief went up to the Ngoni and formed a league with them. Reading through the journals of Bandawe station in those days we continually meet with references to Ngoni raids on the surrounding villages, and the continued unrest of the Tonga, which rendered the work of the Mission futile, and created difficulties and dangers in living among them, as they clamoured for Dr Laws and the Mission party to join them in fighting the Ngoni. It was no easy task to live among them and declare inability to help them in righting their wrongs, and to have the nature of the work misjudged, by expecting and demanding temporal good by force of arms.

For example, on November 17th, 1881, the following entry occurs: “Chikoko came to-day asking about the Ngoni and what was to be done. He described them as a wild beast, and said, ‘You cannot hold discussion with a wild beast, you must go to him with a gun. The Ngoni are like a snake, we, like a frog. When a frog sees a snake he goes off hop, hop, hop, to save himself. That is how we do, and the people are leaving their villages and coming to the beach all round.’ He asked for guns and powder. This Dr Laws at once refused to give him, and told him we had no intention of fighting with the Ngoni. We brought the Gospel to the Tonga, and meant to take it to the Ngoni, and if we fought with them it was not likely they would be willing to receive it. ‘But,’ said Chikoko, ‘they will kill you, and destroy your goods.’ Let them destroy them if need be—God will protect us.”

“Tuesday, Dec. 6. In the morning a report reached us that a party of Ngoni had made a descent on the Matete valley and had killed five men (three by another report), and had made misasa on the east side of the stream. In the forenoon Chikoko, Chimbano, Katonga, Marenga, Mpimbi, Marengasanga, and other chiefs assembled, wishing to have a consultation with Dr Laws. Dr L., S., and MC. heard them. They said the Ngoni had come down bringing a man who had come from Matete, having made a narrow escape from the hands of the Ngoni who had surprised him and his companions while at work in their gardens. The chiefs asked Dr L. what they should do. Dr L. reminded them that it was not his work to settle their disputes, and that they must consider with themselves what they should do, and do as if there were no English here. But before, Dr L. was willing to go and speak with the Ngoni, would he not go to Matete to-day and see them? Dr L. replied that that last time when he was ready to go no one knew exactly where the Ngoni were, and to-day he was busy with other work. Dr L. thought it very probable that should he go he might be accompanied by a great many more than he would desire, and that they would be anxious to begin a fight with the Ngoni in which he would be implicated. Chimbano said that they were now hearing God’s Word and obeying it: that we had told them war was bad, and that they should not sell people. They did not want to fight but live in peace, and here were the Ngoni coming and killing them, if Dr L. waited till the steamer came with those whom he expected to go on to Mombera’s, they would all be killed, and the white man did not want to live in the wilderness without them. As for the Ngoni, they were too wicked to receive God’s Word. All the villages of the Tonga for many miles north and south had been destroyed by the Ngoni, only Chintechi remained—Mankambira and Kang’oma had sold some of their people for guns, and now they were able to repulse the Ngoni, so they had better do the same.

“Dr Laws reminded them that a few months ago Chimbano had gone and made war on Mankambira when told he was doing wrong, and that such was a strange way of obeying God’s Word, and if he chose to sell his people for guns, the mrandu would be between God and him. Dr L. further said, ‘You want us to go and fight the Ngoni.’ Yes, that was the very thing. Well we are not going to do it, we have told you so before, and we tell you so again. When we came here we told you we were not to take part in any of your quarrels and fight for one side or the other. We have orders to this effect from home, and Christ has commanded His Word to be taken to all nations. We went before to Mombera and made friends with him. We do not wish to fight against him, nor against you, but to teach all. The Ngoni have received the Word of God in the south and may do so on the hills here, but it is not likely they will receive us with it if we fight with them here.’ There was a good deal more talk to the same effect, but not being able to change our intention they showed their spite by calling off all their people at work on the station, and issuing orders that the first one found working with the English was to have his house burned down. In the afternoon only two or three of the Chewa and Tumbuka tribes were found working. In the evening many people assembled, armed, and marched by moonlight towards Matete. Last night a watch was set and two men were detected in an attempt to open the byre and fled. The watch set again to-night as Tonga movements might be as hurtful as Ngoni ones.”

The next approach to Mombera and the Ngoni occurred as described in the following entries in the Bandawe Journal:—

“Tuesday, Jan. 10th, 1882. To-day William Koyi with Albert and Jodi and carriers of goods started for the hills to visit Mombera, going first to the village of the Chipatula family.”

“Jan. 25th. Albert returned from the hills to-day, bringing a letter from William Koyi. They report great scarcity of food among the Ngoni. . . . William Koyi has not yet seen Mombera, but he has had communication with Ng’onomo. Many of the people were favourable to us but many were inclined to show hostility.”

A temporary peace between the Ngoni and Tonga was at this time established. William Koyi took possession of Ngoniland for Christ, and inaugurated a long period of waiting ere the chief and his headmen permitted the work to be fully carried on. Dr Laws also visited Mombera that year, and again in 1883, but despite earnest entreaties no permission could be got to open schools, and in Chipatula's village alone was preaching allowed. In the end of 1883 the Ngoni broke the peace they had agreed to, and attacked Fuka’s village near the Bandawe station, and burned down the Mission school which had been erected there.

Such were the Ngoni and their neighbours at that time. War, bloodshed, famine and death, with untold misery among those spared, was the condition of countless thousands over the region raided by the Ngoni. But a great forward movement had begun in the Livingstonia Mission, by the building of a wattle-and-daub hut near Mombera’s head village with the determination to stay until expelled, full of faith that one day the Gospel would win its way among the people and become the bond of unity between bond and free, raider and raided, in Ngoniland, and in the regions beyond. In the end of 1882, Dr Laws wrote about it:—

“Aug. 30, 1882. William Koyi is doing a noble work among the Ngoni which no European could have accomplished. The people are jealous and conservative in the extreme, and by no means ready to credit disinterested motives in others. William, by living among them, has already to a great extent disarmed their suspicions. He is respected by all, and I think enjoys the confidence of Mombera, the head chief. General liberty has not yet been accorded to us to preach, but public opinion is rapidly moving in that direction, and it only awaits the decision of one or two of the head men of the tribe to make the length and breadth of the land free to the Gospel. Schools are at present prohibited, but even with regard to this a change is coming over the people so that liberty to teach the children may next be expected. Much hard work will have to be done, but that is nothing, if the tribe can be won for our Lord. The necessary basis of the work is the good-will of the people, and I think this foundation is being surely laid."


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