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Among the Wild Ngoni
Chapter XI. The Crisis: War, or the Gospel


THE year 1887 opened bright for us. We had a little school of twenty-two scholars and a class of young men too old to attend school, but who were anxious to learn the Word of God. It was now that the results of the past years of contact with the people could be estimated, when any who wished might come to us for instruction. For six years there had been nothing seen of what critics of mission work would term results, and yet we were now gladdened by observing that behind the apparent indifference of the people, and their merely worldly interests in clinging to us when we had work to offer them, the influence of the daily life of the staff had produced a marked effect. Although evangelistic work had been forbidden, the hundreds of workers who were engaged with us in brick-making, house-building, and road-making, formed an audience to which we ministered. Now when they were at liberty to come to our classes they did so, and, apparently quite suddenly, there arose a band of young men who were ready to stand by us. There was at least a mind open to what we taught, and their belief in some of their own customs was considerably shaken.

The youths who began to speak of our work as worthy the attention of the people, excited a violent storm of persecution. It was made plain to us that the edict of the chiefs, however favourable to our work, could not, and did not, change the natural mind of the population. It began to be a fight between the Gospel and the word of the witch-doctor, and the enmity of the natural and unrenewed heart of man. But to us it was full of encouragement, as it showed that these youths were not acting one thing in our presence, and another thing when among their countrymen. The leading boys in the prayer-meeting were sons of a witch-doctor who lived near the station. He also had come under the influence of Mr Koyi, and we were gratified by a step which he took in the beginning of the year. His village was the nearest to the station, and almost every day people came to consult him. The still mornings resounded with the responses of the applicants as they followed the doctor in “ smelling-out ” the case, and at times with the sound of his drums and the accompanying plaintive songs as some demon was being exorcised. When he began to perceive the nature of our work, and witnessed the effect of it on his boys, he moved his “ con-sulting-room ” to one of his other villages, about seven miles away among the neighbouring hills, in order, either to be away from the light which revealed his darkness, or out of respect to us. I believe it was from the latter, because about this time he discontinued taking with him, for the performance of his incantations in the country, his children who were attending our school and classes. In connection with these functions he required the beating of a series of drums of different pitch, and his sons and daughters were accustomed to do the work, but now he chose others and set them free. Wherever this man went he had a good word to say on our behalf, and his faith in us was further shown by his sending his wives and children to the station to be treated when sick. Yet although he attended our services and encouraged his children to cling to us, he continued to practice his profession, and his case shows how difficult it is for a native advanced in years to give up his long-established beliefs and follow a new course.

In marked contrast to that, and showing how important work among the young is, the case of one of his sons may be stated. He was supposed to have become possessed of an evil spirit [chirombo), and his father arranged for a dance to exorcise it. The son gave a passive obedience to the arrangements made by the father. I was staying at a village a few miles from where the dance was to take place. On a Sunday morning a woman, who is now an active Christian worker, came to me to ask some blue cloth in which to clothe the subject of the dance, it being supposed that this chirombo was in quest of that variety of calico. I of course refused, and a few hours later I received a note from the young man Chitezi, as his name was, requesting me to send him my Zulu Bible, as, while he had to submit to his father, he desired to show that he did not believe in what was going on. In the evening I went to see him and found his father, painted with red clay, in the midst of his divining instruments, and in a circle around him and his son, who sat reading the Bible, the drummers and dancers perfoimed. It was a strange sight. Such dances and performances were common enough in the country, but never before where the subject of them sat reading the Word of God. Parental anxiety was no doubt shown, and on the son’s part filial obedience. The one was not able to exercise implicit faith in God and the Gospel, and hence fell back on that which gave his mind rest; and the other was not strong enough to declare a separation from the superstitions in which he had been brought up.

Not long after this, however, Chitezi did unmistakably confess his faith before men, in denying and opposing the pretensions of an old woman, who, as a “chief of hades” (fumu wa pansi) practised her deceptions upon the community. Such individuals travelled through the country, dressed grotesquely and painted with white clay. They were credited with the power of turning themselves into ravenous beasts, such as lions and leopards, and of devouring any who might incur their anger, or whom they might be hired by anyone to destroy. It was also believed that the spirit of some dead chief was located in them. In consequence of this reputation, when they turned up in a village in the evening, the people were so frightened that they endeavoured by gifts of cloth, beads and food to gain their good-will and so be left unharmed. Chitezi, on one occasion, turned on one of these deceivers and challenged her to turn herself into a lion. Instantly the whole community turned on him and affirmed that he was mad, and that his action would enrage the “chief of hades” and bring trouble upon them all. He challenged her to appear next evening at sun-set as a lion and he would fight her. She accepted the challenge. Chitezi, who, during the day was not quite at ease, armed himself with spears and sat on the village ant-hill to await the issue. Of course no lion came, but among the villagers the force of the incident was minimised by the woman’s having gone away, leaving a message that out of respect to his father she refrained from hurting a child of Kalengo’s. At the same time the matter was talked over and good was done by it. Only enlightenment of mind can remove the terrible fear which possesses them of what may happen if certain things are not done. It is not easy for them to give up their faith in their own practices. They are part of their life, and hence we find many instances where a patient being treated by us is at the same time undergoing their own treatment. In other cases, which at first almost comprised the whole of our medical work, it is only when their own doctors fail that we are called in. A medical missionary’s most important work, or the ultimate end of it, is not merely to cure the patient. What his purely medical work greatly aids in accomplishing is the correction of error, physical, mental, and moral, and so he is compensated for the frequently unsatisfactory medical results of his efforts in many cases. The people cannot be laughed out of their (to us) absurd positions and beliefs. Their emancipation is a progressive work towards which all our work tends. In the Highlands of Scotland, and in the lowlands as well, I have met with instances of a blind obedience to superstitious usages, as firm and as absurd as may be met with in Central Africa.

When on this subject I may relate an incident which led to my having great freedom from molestation by those possessed of evil spirits. Some individuals went, or were led, about the country by their friends, supposed to be “possessed.” At one time they affirmed the spirit could be exorcised by red cloth, and at other times by beads. They were usually well laden with such, but still the chirombo kept possession, and many overtures were made to me to help the cure by gifts. One day a strong, one-eyed man, named Luguta, whom I well knew as a bad character, was brought to the station. He fell down, and writhed and roared until the perspiration flowed from every pore, and the foam fell from his mouth. It was certainly a hideous sight, and well calculated to move anyone to pity if it had been free from deception. There was a band of young women with him, clapping their hands, which, they said, helped to quiet the spirit. They pleaded with me to give him something and let him go. I spoke to Luguta, but got no reply. My offer to give him medicine was rejected by the girls at first. They said the spirit wanted beads; but I obtained their consent, and went inside for my strong ammonia, which I applied to Luguta’s nostrils. It put an end to his deception, and he ran off, not desiring a second inhalation. I said to the girls, “If you hear of any more evil spirits bring them to me, as I have medicine which they cannot stand.” Four years before this a wattle-and-daub school had been built in the hope and belief that ere long teaching would be permitted. This large, empty house was often the occasion of ridicule by the chief and headmen, who proposed that we should keep our cattle in it. When they were told that we had built it as the school in which their children were to be taught, they asked how long we would wait — till their beards had grown grey? We were told that the white ants would destroy it many long years before it should be required. We said quietly, “ In that house your children shall be taught while they are yet children.” These words were repeated on many occasions, when there seemed no likelihood of their being realised; but yet it came to pass, although, as we had said we would do, we had to keep it propped with trees inside and outside. We had triumphed and were glad, yet it was with a feeling of regret that one morning we saw the house collapse, and we were left in the middle of the rainy season with no house in which to conduct school. The verandah of the dwelling-house, however, served the purpose, and for nearly a year we met there.

We set to work to build a brick school. I found, however, that when I was engaged in school-work the workers in the brick-field did nothing at all. Instead of turning out twelve hundred bricks a day, we got only four hundred. I determined to give out the work in contract to one of the best men who could read, at so much per thousand bricks. He was overseer under me before, but was as dishonest at work as the others. I pointed out to him how he could work to his own advantage, and that if several workers could be got to work steadily, all the others would follow. He put his wives among the workers at the different jobs, and by what means we need not inquire he got them to lead the others. The work went on. He had more than double his former pay, and we had bricks at two-thirds the former cost. This was, I think, the first native contract for work in Livingstonia, and I was freed from attendance at the brick-field, and could devote myself to other work. When the brick-making was resumed after the events to be narrated in this chapter, a contract was not given. I pointed out to Chitezi that he and the others had now given proof of what they could do when working faithfully, and that as he was learning the Gospel he would understand what he should do in all his work. I showed how his former work, which yielded us bricks at a cheaper rate than before, was still too dear for the Mission, and that he would merely be paid as overseer; but if at the end of the season he worked satisfactorily, and relieved me as before, he would receive a bonus. This arrangement he understood to be equal to the ordinary standard of payment all over among the whites. Although it was considerably less than he had received under contract, yet to his credit be it told, his work was satisfactory, and he received his bonus. He has continued ever since as a worker in connection with the Mission, although polygamy and occasional instances of drunkenness barred his way into the Church.

For the first half of the year the work in all departments went on smoothly, and we had an ever-widening circle of adherents. The children made fair progress in school, and the station and village services were attended by people from near and far. Mrs Elmslie had got a fair start made among the girls by taking some into the house for training, and by class-work in the school, and a special sewing-class to which about twenty children came.

The only thing which arose to mar our happiness in the great change resulting from getting liberty to carry on the work, was the murder of six of our Tonga carriers on the road to Bandawe, by a band of Ngoni under Nawambi, one of the most notoriously cruel and indomitable warriors in the country. The late Mr M'Intyre, teacher at Bandawe, had come up to recruit after illness, and the Tonga who carried him and his loads to Njuyu were on their way home when they were set upon by the Ngoni in the forest. We were accustomed in those days to long intervals in our communications with our friends outside, as we were dependent mainly on Tonga to act as bearers of letters, so it was about six weeks after the event before we knew there was truth in the rumour that we heard in Ngoniland. We tried to get Ngoni to go with letters to ascertain the cause of the long silence of our friends, and our fears were increased when all refused to go down to Bandawe. At last two slaves, who had formerly lived at the Lake, and to whom as we shall see we afterwards owed very much, agreed to go. On their return we found that six innocent, industrious Tonga had been killed, and our carriers saw their skeletons lying near the path. When we tried to get Mombera the chief to take up the case he declined, not being anxious to try such a warrior as Nawambi for the offence. We even failed to get from him a condemnation of the attack, or any pronouncement which would tend to secure for us and our carriers a reasonable measure of protection. Nothing was said against us or our work, and we tried to live down the clamouring for war which the incident had markedly stimulated. We had our school and other work going on as before, but our faith in Mombera’s former protestations of friendship was considerably shaken, and we observed that the attitude of the leaders of regiments, and many others, was less friendly to us than before.

We were well inured to trouble and anxiety, but the continuance of anxious days and the approach of a gathering storm told upon both my wife and myself, and we had a succession of attacks of fever which no treatment seemed to abate. Eemoval to another district in Ngoniland, although to live amid the discomforts of a native hut, quickly restored us both. This was the first occasion on which I proved the truth of Livingstone's advice, to move a patient to a different part when in a low state from which nothing seems able to rally him. Often, afterwards, good resulted from a change even from one house to another, or from one room to another in the same house. The natives have their own explanation of such a thing. They often carry a moribund patient to another village, or out into the bush, with the idea of cheating the evil spirit attacking him. The patient recovers, and they consider that they evaded the spirit. They always have a reason for everything they do, and in this connection I might mention that my wife when almost gone on one occasion, being exhausted through a severe illness, was saved by being fed with raw beef juice. The natives knew that she was apparently dying, and were tenderly sympathetic. When I had a bullock killed they knew it was for her, and the rumour went round that despite all my preaching I did exactly as they did, and sacrificed a beast to our ancestral spirit, and my wife recovered. Such things gave opportunities of meeting their difficulties and of leading them out into the light. Medical work was slow and unsatisfactory for a long time, just because it professed to be natural and not supernatural. Had we pretended to superhuman wisdom we should have had a much larger following in less time.

The explanation of the attack on the Tonga carriers and the altered disposition of Mombera and the Ngoni, before referred to, came out in the middle of the year in connection with a visit which Dr Laws paid to us in July. This was the first occasion after his return from furlough on which he had visited Ngoniland since 1883. He was put by the Ngoni in loco parentis to the whole Mission, and hence arose many of our difficulties, although to that, I doubt not, we also owed some degree of safety. At the time of his last visit to Mombera Dr Laws was requested to "bring back with him bulls to improve the stock, woolly sheep, cloth, beads, brass wire, and even dogs, without giving him means to do so. During the years that elapsed till his return, his expected visit was often the subject of conversation among the people, but it was always in connection with the wealth that he was expected to bring to them.

When Dr Laws visited Ngoniland in July he gave a handsome present to Mombera and to the Chipatula family, yet he was received with but scant courtesy by Mombera and his headmen. It was evident that they wTere dissatisfied, and when reference was made to the slaughter of our carriers a few months before, Mombera and others made defiant charges against the Tonga, and no satisfaction could be obtained. Mombera would not listen to any serious talk, and all reference to our work was ridiculed. Dr Laws remained a week with us, but Mombera, contrary to his custom, paid no return visit, but sent begging messengers daily to the station. It was evident to us that there was a storm brewing, but we could not understand it. About a fortnight after Dr Laws’s visit rumours of discontent were afloat, to which we paid no attention, until Mombera himself spoke to us on the subject. From various conversations with the chief, we became aware that the agitation had not arisen in the part of the tribe among which we had lived and laboured,* but in the districts of the brothers of Mombera, which had never been overtaken, and over which our presence and work had consequently exercised no influence. We had no doubt of this, and the reason for Mombera’s action was that he was being harassed by his brothers, and blamed for keeping to himself all the missionaries and the wealth that they imagined we bestowed. We were told by Mombera that Dr Laws would require to come back and settle the questions which were agitating the minds of the Ngoni. These were : 1. Their Tonga wives and children who ran away some years before had not returned as was expected when the Mission began work; and as there was no expectation of their doing so, they had decided that if we could not bring them back without war, they would fetch them from Bandawe for themselves by war. 2. Having as a tribe given up war since we settled among them, and having as a consequence become poor, they wished to know how we were to enrich them, as they expected us to do if they gave up war. 3. That all the members of the Mission were to leave Bandawe and come to Ngoniland, so that instead of there being only one station the whole country might be occupied.

The questions were formidable enough, and it now became apparent to us that we would have to deal with the clamourings of Mombera’s brothers who were chiefs of large districts. We were thrown into great anxiety, as there seemed to be no way out of the difficulty. The first question had always been a source of trouble to us, and as the years went on their jealousy of the Tonga increased, because they considered them as more favoured by having the head station among them, and imagined that they received unlimited supplies of cloth and beads. The second was likewise present always, but its prominence was waning, as our work had greatly turned it out of the minds of Mombera and his own retainers, but to have to begin to fight the other chiefs on this ground filled us with great fear for the safety of our work even among Mombera s people. The third question showed that it was not missionaries but calico-distributors that Mombera’s brothers desired. The reason of their desire to have all the missionaries in Ngoniland was, that they might retain us and yet have freedom to wage war on the surrounding tribes.

The situation was at least clear to us, and we could set about making our arrangements. As the continuance of the work at Bandawe depended on the attitude of the Ngoni towards the Tonga, we in Ngoniland had to act in concert with the brethren there. Our dilemma was this : Ngoniland could be held by agreeing to Ngoni demands, but that involved casting away the Tonga and leaving them to the inhuman attacks of the Ngoni. They had helped in opening up Ngoniland—some of them even losing their lives in our service—therefore on no account could we think of that. But if Ngoniland could not be held, neither could Bandawe, and the Tonga and we together would suffer. Yet to accept the Ngoni proposals would have been to take sides with them against the Tonga, and not for a moment did we think of doing so.

I wrote and urged Dr Laws to come up and meet the Ngoni with George Williams (the Kafir Missionary) and myself. At this time we suffered under a heavy family affliction, and my wife was lying helpless in bed. Around us were the Ngoni in a very unsettled state, engaging in war-dances every day. Below the house near the river the armies of Mtwaro and Maurau, Mombera’s brothers, were encamped, bent on some expedition, the nature of which was hid from us. To complicate matters, the road to Bandawe was closed, and carriers could not be got to go down. It was a time of terrible suspense, and although not of personal danger we believed, the fear that our work among the Ngoni and at Bandawe might be ruined, filled our minds with uncertainty and distress. It seemed the darkest hour of our life among the Ngoni, and our neighbours were afraid to be on intimate terms with us.

When letters passed between us Dr Laws and I decided that as there did not seem to be much prospect of a peaceable settlement, we should endeavour to prepare at both places for being driven out. Our situation in Ngoniland was anything but pleasant or easy. Our letter-carriers were the two slaves before referred to, and in their journeys to and from the Lake they left the usual paths and travelled in the bush. They were trusty fellows and were the only ones in whom we could confide. They received their letters or loads at night and started off, getting well into the bush before daylight.

It was evident to us that in our possible expulsion from Ngoniland we should be unable to take anything with us, so we set about the saving of the most valuable of the Mission property. It is fortunate that on such occasions a missionary’s own possessions do not usually stand very much in the way, and I had only my microscope and books to be a great care at the time. We could not send away many things, so our first care was to get the valuable surgical instruments sent off. We could only send small parcels as our carriers had rough ground to traverse, without paths. Over 100 worth of instruments were quietly despatched, and then my microscope followed. Everything else had to be disposed of otherwise or left in the house. My books I put in tin-lined boxes and buried in the ground. Other things were treated in the same way. The well-stocked dispensary presented a difficulty. I could not closo it or have the shelves emptied lest suspicion should be aroused. I chose several spots in the garden and in one of the stores, and buried the medicines. It was the height of the dry season and the ground was hard as stone. I went out for several nights about one o’clock, and by means of an auger bored the ground under cover of darkness and scooped it out with my hands, not daring to use any tool lest the sound should attract any one who might be out of doors. We could not trust even our house boys.

All the while that this was going on, my wife was lying weak and helpless in bed, no doubt greatly hindered in her convalescence by the anxieties of the hour. For several hours every night I dug up the earth and made pits in which to bury the medicines, anon running in to pass a few minutes with my wife in her weakness. It was easy work secreting the stoppered bottles. I knew the labels would be destroyed by white ants, so to preserve the names of the drugs in the several bottles, I scratched a number on each bottle and carefully noted it in a book. For corked bottles, jars, etc., which could not be buried, I adopted the plan of putting them into an empty flour-tin, and soldering it up. In this way nearly all the drugs were preserved against the worst which we feared, and a plan of the station was made, and the spots where the things were hid, carefully marked. A copy was sent to Bandawe and to one of the other stations, and I pocketed one to carry with me. In digging in the store I had to lift a brick floor. I could only work at this when the servants were out of the house, and they had a high time of play for some days, as they were granted an unusual amount of leave. The earth taken out had to be carried away at night. There was a sense of relief when so much of the Mission property was made secure, although at the time the ait was filled with the sound of war-dances, and armed parties were collecting at the chiefs village for review.

It was an occasion requiring great prudence, and we had to act in Ngoniland, not only because of our own position, but to give Dr Laws time to arrange matters at Bandawe. Dr Laws was aware that there would probably be trouble with the Tonga. He found that, as on former occasions, they demanded the assistance of the white men in meeting the Ngoni, and some even proposed that they should accompany them in a Tonga invasion of Ngoniland. In the middle of September Dr Laws gathered the Tonga together, and put before them the whole situation, as it came out in the questions the Ngoni proposed for discussion. They declined to give up the women and children whom the Ngoni claimed, as the Ngoni had stolen them in the first instance. By the Lake steamer which had brought reinforcements for the Mission, some goods were sent away from Bandawe, and also native women and children belonging to Cape Maclear. The Ngoni were clamouring for Dr Laws, and we had to put off fixing a date for the meeting until he could see his way to leave his fellow-members safe at Bandawe. We had to try and arrange so that the flight of the Bandawe staff should be possible in the event of war, leaving us on the hills, with Dr Laws and the faithful Tonga he was to bring with him, free to act according to circumstances.

All seemed to go well for a time. We had managed to get the more valuable Mission property away to Bandawe, and Dr Laws had sent that and also much of the Bandawe goods away to Cape Maclear, and the steamer had returned to stand by and take away the rest of the staff if need be. But just as Dr Laws saw all this arranged and was ready to come to Ngoniland, his difficulties at Bandawe were suddenly and greatly increased, and we had again to postpone the date of meeting. The Tonga had become suspicious of the movements made at Bandawe, and prevented the embarking of passengers or goods on the steamer. The roads were watched day and night lest an attempt should be made by any one to go away, as they feared that if once the white men left Bandawe they would be destroyed by the Ngoni. It was therefore impossible for Dr Laws to come up before the end of October, and even then he had the anxiety of knowing that the fickle Tonga were surrounding the station, and that not one but all at Bandawe and in Ngoniland were now forced to await on the spot whatever the issue might be. We knew from the first that we in Ngoniland had to wait, but it was not expected that the Tonga would rise as they did and thwart the best efforts of Dr Laws who, with us, was enduring all the trouble on their account. As he wrote to me at the time, “ The matter comes to this, we must do our best to stick to both stations if it is possible for you up there to do so with safety. If you must leave, then some other point than Bandawe must be the point aimed at on our return, for to come here would be simply to be fixed in a trap with the rest of us. To-night I feel that here I have sought to do everything that prudence might suggest for the safety of lives and property. Now we are hemmed in, and we can only await to see what may be the next indications of God’s providence, trusting our Heavenly Father to guide us to do what is right, just and true, and altogether according to His holy will.” For a month longer the suspense had to be endured, and the letters which we were at times able to send each other are full of what was in our minds, and what was so prominent a subject in our prayers. Each letter was closed, not knowing what might transpire before another could be sent, and gave indications of what was to be done should the Ngoni rise up. We had to hide from the Ngoni the cause of Dr Laws’ delay in coming up. Had they known of the action of the Tonga at Bandawe they would have gone down with war. We had to trust our two faithful slave-carriers not to reveal what they saw and heard at Bandawe, and throughout it all they were faithful to the trust. At this time the Ngoni army went out, and conflicting rumours of its destination only added to our anxiety. It went, however, to attack some Arabs and Bemba towards the North-West.

At length, on the 27th October 1887, the great meeting of the chief Mombera and his headmen with us was convened. We met at eight o’clock in the morning, and did not end theindaba until four in the afternoon, and thus sat in the open cattle-fold under a hot tropical sun for eight hours, the discomfort to Dr Laws being very great as he was suffering from fever and had to go to bed for two days when he returned to the station. When the indaba began we were asked to state what we had to say, but we refused to begin, saying that they had called us and we would hear them. Mombera thereupon said that all the missionaries must come and live with them, and leave them free to attack their former slaves, the Tonga. We reasoned with them about the necessity of having a station at the Port of Bandawe in order even to carry on the work among the Ngoni on the hills. They conceded the point, but when it came to the question of fighting the Tonga, we had to spend hours of talk ere we got the concession that no war should be carried to the neighbourhood of our station at Bandawe. The embassy from Mtwaro was not agreeable to any cessation of war, and at length declared that they at their end of the country never saw us or received anything from us, and they were determined not to submit to stay at home while we went up and down to the Lake. Our road, they said, did not lead past them and there were no crumbs for them. We seized upon this remark and offered to open a station in Mtwaro’s district, which satisfied them. We could have told them that we had tried for years to enter their region but were hindered by Mombera; we refrained in the circumstances.

The only man that day who could not be won over was Mombera, but as it was a tribal matter the decision of the councillors was binding on him and the matter ended. The story is soon told, but as the day w^ent on the demands of the Ngoni were crushing to our hopes of peace, and we had even begun between ourselves to formulate a plan for saving Ngoniland and Bandawe by Dr Laws himself exchanging stations with me for a time. As Dr Laws wrote at the time, he “ well knew the worth of their request to have him, that it was simply inspired by the desire to squeeze as much calico, etc. out of us as possible.” But from the quarter whence came the heaviest assault that day — Mtwaro — the solution came also, when his ambassador desired to have a station in their district. With light hearts we went home and soon messengers were speeding through the forest, over hill and mountain-torrent, bearing the glad news to our friends who had meanwhile been left in uncertainty at Bandawe, and hearty were our praises that night at worship with the natives. The Tonga who had come up with Dr Laws had been confined to the station, but now they freely and joyfully mixed with our Ngoni neighbours. Peace had been declared and at no time since has it been broken. On one occasion years after, when some wild youths went on a marauding expedition to the neighbourhood of Bandawe, Mombera, the chief, called them up. He said, “You are not chief. I am chief. You went to Bandawe with war. Cut their legs,” and they were thereupon hamstrung. “You killed Tonga. Cut their wrists,” and the tendons were divided, and the miserable wretches crawled away to hide and die.

We had also received an invitation to visit Mtwaro, between whom and the chief Mombera, his brother, there was a feud at that time. Each blamed tbe other, as was referred to in a former chapter, and while under Mombera we were not permitted to visit Mtwaro. When, a few days after the indaba, Mahaluli, Mtwaro’s ambassador, visited us, we desired him to settle with the chief that we be permitted to accept the invitation. He did so, and we lost no time in going to Mtwaro. Our way was plainer than on a former occasion, when we went to treat a child of Mtwaro’s, who was sick. We received a hearty welcome, and when the boy who had been sick was brought out and proudly shown as now in good health through the white man’s medicine, it was evident that the effects of the medical work were wider than in the good recovery of the lad. Some days were spent at Mtwaro’s, and a frank invitation to remain among them was addressed to us. They had heard of the medical work, and they wanted a medical man. They had heard that we were rich, and would give them much cloth. When we spoke about our work, they were not sure if they should give their children to be taught. The old fear that they would be bewitched by our words, and would not engage in war, was expressed. They had heard of the Book, and what it had done, but they thought we ourselves should “ practise the Book,” and give rain and good crops and success in battle, but leave the children alone. We were prepared to hear such things, and illustrated how they should think otherwise. We had with us Njuyu boys, who could read and write, and we astonished them by showing what could be done by means of writing. A boy was sent out, and then the chief dictated certain words, which I wrote down, and the boy on being recalled read them. I was then sent out, and things were hidden, and I was requested to say what they were and by whom secreted, which I did as the boy had written them down. But it appeared to them as if it were only the magic of their witch - doctors, and they thought that it would be unsafe to let all the children into the secret. When we came to talk about God and His Word some of the old men left, being afraid; but before the visit ended we were permitted to conduct a service, and in the singing they were specially interested. We were offered a site for a house and garden, and requested to come and build.

Another visit of importance was thereafter paid to Ng’onomo, the Prime Minister of Mombera. He was a very old friend, but was the leader of a large army, and frequently out raiding. He invited myself and my wife to “come one day, stay two days, and leave on the fourth day.” We were received in a friendly manner, and as a Sunday intervened we held a service. He did not attend, but ordered his people to do so, and we had a large gathering near our tent. It was the first Christian service ever held in the district, and, for uproarious behaviour of the audience, was never surpassed anywhere. They roared with laughter when we and our Njuyu men closed our eyes in prayer. Some men who had been at an Njuyu service understood our object, and tried to quiet the people. That was not easily done, and they fell to cursing and swearing while the prayer went on. An address followed, which was listened to with some attention. The chief, Mombera, arrived while we were there with a large retinue, to pay Ng’onomo a visit. Cattle were killed, and large quantities of beer were brought in from other villages. The Sunday was spent in riot, and the only quiet we could get was by going out to the bush and spending some of our time there. We were close to the Hora Mountain, and the ground was strewn with human skeletons—the remains of the poor Tumbuka who were slaughtered some years before by the Ngoni. The arrival of the chief, and the debauchery which ensued, prevented all serious talk with Ng’onomo, and we were glad when we could leave the place and return home.

When we again settled down at Njuyu the work, which had all been interrupted, was resumed, and the school and services at Chinyera, five miles distant, were begun again by Mr Williams. We also set about transferring our medicines from their place in the garden to the dispensary shelves, and under cover of darkness that was done. They were uninjured by being buried, and we restored the labels. Books suffered, and certain other things buried in insecurely-closed boxes; but we were too overjoyed at the safety of the work to be pained by our losses. In a short time all was as before, and we had our hands full.

The rainy season of 1887-8 passed without trouble to us, and during the next two years we greatly extended our work of preaching and healing as we were free to move about almost everywhere. We were unable, for want of a man, to open the station at Mtwaro’s till near the end of 1889, when Mr and Mrs McCallum, from Bandawe, began work there, and conserved the results of our frequent visits and operations there in the interval, proving earnest workers in a field where many difficulties were present. Our attempt to gain access to a large district under another brother of Mombera, named Mperembe, proved futile, as we were repulsed on several occasions because we would not pay our way by presents of cloth and other goods.

For a few months in 1889 I had the assistance of a European at Njuyu, and school-work flourished. On his retiring, Mr Charles Stuart, who had newly arrived to reinforce the staff, was located at Njuyu, and had to take up the whole work. As in the end of January 1890, I had to go to Bandawe to relieve Dr Laws who was ill, and thereafter in May to start for home on furlough, which was considerably overdue. Ere leaving, however, I was privileged to see the accessions to our staff; the baptism of our first converts, Mawalera and Makara, two of those who came by night to be taught in the dark days of our history; the extension of the work to Chinyera and Ekwendeni, and the institution of five schools. A beginning had been made, and the long, weary years of waiting crowned with liberty to go about and “heal the sick, . . . and say unto them, The Kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.” Our fallen wattle-and-daub school was replaced by a brick building, which in a few months proved too small to accommodate the scholars, and was replaced by a large, brick school, which in its turn had to be enlarged.


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