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Among the Wild Ngoni
Chapter XII. In Memoriam: Dr Steele


FROM 1890 to 1895 the work in Ngoniland was superintended by Dr Steele, who was appointed to relieve me on my departure on furlough. His arrival, as the previous chapter indicates, was at a time when a distinct stage in the work had been passed and a new era begun. The formal consent of the chief and most of his head-men had been obtained, and advantage of the opportunities offered had been taken. The nature of our work had become more apparent, and it had begun to bear distinct fruit. Death had come and claimed two who fought bravely in the early battles. George Williams had resigned and returned to the Colony, and two additional white men had been initiated in the work, so that with increased and more earnest attendance at school and service in three distinct districts, with a roll of two Church members, the position of the work on his arrival was full of rich promise. It is a long story to confine to the limits of a single chapter, but the tale of the work during those years may fittingly enough be associated with the name of our dear departed fellow-worker, whose death took place at Ekwendeni on June 26th, 1895, when he was on the point of going home for his first furlough.

Dr Steele was the youngest of seven children, and when only two years old was deprived of both father and mother within the space of three months. The eldest was only seventeen, and she and the older of the brothers determined that, however dark were their prospects, they would endeavour to keep the family together, and take upon themselves the care and support of the younger members. At the age of eight he entered the Buchanan Institution in Glasgow where he remained until he was thirteen, receiving a good elementary education there which proved a sound foundation on which, by his own ardent efforts, he ultimately proceeded to academic distinction in Glasgow University. On leaving school he entered a drapery establishment, where for some years he remained and carried out his work with his naturally exact and painstaking fidelity. At this time his brother Richard (next in age to Mary the eldest) had commenced business in the boot and shoe line, and Tom, another brother, assisted him. Tom, however, determined to study for the ministry. During Mr Moody’s first visit to Glasgow, he was one of the hundred young men who offered themselves for service in the Lord’s cause, and for whom arrangements were made for special evening classes to enable them to carry out their intentions. Tom eventually passed into the University, giving up his situation with his brother, and George left his work in the drapery establishment to take Tom’s place. The boot and shoe business supplied but a very moderate income, on which the family depended, but indomitable perseverance and a strong family affection kept them together. Tom at length passed through the University and the Divinity Hall, and is now a licensed minister in the Colonial field.

When George was twenty years of age his future became a matter of concern to him. He had given himself to the Lord in heart, and now he desired to give his life to His service. His brother Richard encouraged and helped him, and so he began to prepare for entering College with a view to become a medical missionary. He attended evening classes for four years, and continued to work under his brother in the shop.

His progress at evening school was good, because he studied faithfully, and took from the hours for sleep what time his attention to business deprived him of. At length he entered the University, and it was only then that the strain of the financial struggle began. His brother Richard had given up his business and had followed Tom to Australia, and now George was thrown entirely on his own resources. It is an oft-told tale of hard work, high ideals and aspirations, overcoming in great trials. But by rigid economy practised in all details of his life, without meanness or disregard for the position he occupied, and for which he had to commend himself by habit and personal appearance, and above all with an implicit faith in God, he passed through the medical curriculum and graduated, the possessor of the coveted degrees in Medicine and Surgery. The same story might be told of many in our Scottish Colleges, and the case of Livingstone was no doubt a stimulus to him who was to be one of his direct successors in the great work of the emancipation of Africa and its ingathering to Christ.

When Dr Steele was attending Glasgow University he was one of a band of noble young men who have, like him, entered the field as medical missionaries. It is something to know a man’s friends, especially his College companions, and I need only refer to Rev. Drs Mowat, Sandilands, Macphail and Revie, all in the India Mission field. Before entering on the record of Dr Steele’s work in Livingstonia, I have pleasure in giving the tribute of Dr Macphail to the memory of his companion and friend.

“It was my privilege, from 1884 to 1889, to have the late George Steele as a class-fellow attending the medical classes at Glasgow University, and it is a pleasure to have an opportunity of adding my tribute to his worth. In the year 1884 the religious movement among students, identified with the name of Professor Henry Drummond, spread from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and was the means not only of leading many of the students to devote themselves to the service of Christ, but also of bringing those who had already given themselves to it into closer fellowship with each other. It was at this time that George Steele became intimately known to me; it was the beginning of a friendship which we maintained in after years by correspondence when he was in Central Africa and I in India, and which was only brought to a close by his lamented death. He threw himself heart and soul into this movement, willingly lent his aid to the work, and also joined a small society, which consisted of students who had dedicated themselves to foreign mission work. He was a very diligent, hard-working student; and like so many others in our Scottish Universities, had to maintain an incessant struggle with adverse circumstances while pursuing his studies. But this did not prevent him either from retaining through it all a very happy-hearted, cheerful disposition, or from taking a large share in the work of our Christian societies. For a season he was President of our Foreign Mission Students’ Union—afterwards amalgamated with the Volunteer Union—and many of us remember with pleasure the papers he contributed to our meetings. Towards the end of his College course he was appointed assistant at the South-side Medical Mission, and soon earned the gratitude and affection of the poor people to whom he ministered his kindness and skill. At the same time the thoroughness of his class-work was indicated by the fact that he won the medal in session 1887-8 in the Junior Division of Professor M'Call Anderson’s class of clinical medicine—an honour which brought almost as much gratification to all of us who knew him as to himself. It was some recognition of the conscientious, painstaking spirit which characterised him in all he did, and was all the more creditable to him because he was one of those who worked not for academic distinction but to qualify himself for the service of Christ and humanity.

"We spent a short holiday together in Arran before I sailed for India in 1889, and in the days of recreation one learned to love and admire him as much as in the hours of labour. His nature was singularly bright and buoyant, and his keen interest in botany and natural history added greatly to his enjoyment of country life.

“Like most of those who have been led to serve the Master in the foreign field, he was deeply interested in the work of Christ at home. He was always a loyal son of the Free Church of Scotland, and was warmly attached to Free St James’ Church in Glasgow, a congregation which showed their appreciation of him by contributing largely to his surgical equipment when he left for Livingstonia. Of his work in Africa he often wrote to me in terms which showed how much he loved it. His brief sketch of camp life among the Ngoni I read with very great interest.

“It was with very real sorrow that I heard of his death. Neither time nor distance had lessened our friendship, or my regard for one whose memory I shall always cherish as one of my most treasured possessions,”

My first meeting with Dr Steele was on board the Courland in June 1890, in the Quilimane river. His appointment to Livingstonia had been made known six months before, but circumstances had rendered my departure necessary before he arrived. When the steamer arrived I went on board, and' found him with Messrs James and George Aitken for Livingstonia, and six young men for the African Lakes’ Company. All were full of life and hope, and yet only two of the party were spared in health to return at the end of five years. Such is the sad side of life in tropical Africa! I spent several days with Dr Steele, and saw him away in the boat for his first and last journey up the Kwakwa river. He entered Africa full of buoyant hope, and during those few days, from the questions he put and the views he expressed, I was greatly impressed with his suitability for the work among the Ngoni to which he was appointed.

His introduction to African life was of an unusual description. He was at Quilimane at the time of the Anglo-Portuguese difficulties over the opening of the Zambezi and Shire rivers, and the passage up the latter was made at one point through a shower of bullets from the Portuguese guns at the Ruo. The late Joseph Thomson, the African traveller, was with them on the steamer, and his experience and ability got them safely beyond these opposing Portuguese. Dr Steele’s letters, written on the passage out and during the inland journey, are full of beautifully simple and graphic descriptions of all that he saw and passed through, but running through all is the index of his thoughts of the work he was to take up, and of the moral and spiritual condition of the tribes he passed through. Nothing escaped his notice, and all being so new, he wrote fully and in an interesting manner on subjects political, scientific and spiritual. Reading through the pile of his letters before me, one is struck by the self-effacement shown, and his surprise at certain things which disproved his preconceived notions of men and things as they are in Africa, but yet the openness of mind with which he listened to those whose wisdom and experience fitted them to be his helpers. Ardour, humility, hopefulness of disposition, and consecration to God shone out in his life from the very beginning.

Dr Steele reached Banda we in the end of July and settled at Njuyu in the beginning of August. From the time I left in January to relieve Dr Laws at Bandawe, until his arrival, the station at Njuyu was held by Mr Stuart, and that of Ekwendeni by Mr and Mrs M'Callum. These lonely workers, fifteen miles apart, among a troublesome people, were new to the district. Mr Stuart had but a few months’ African service, while Mr McCallum had come from his former work at Bandawe. At Njuyu especially the lot of Mr Stuart was not an easy one. Surrounded by the discontented Chipatulas, whose ambitious desire for power and wealth through the aid they expected from the white men at the beginning of the Mission had not been realised, he was subjected to many indignities as they took advantage of his novitiate. At Ekwendeni Mr and Mrs McCallum were in the throes of instructing the lazy Ngoni in manual labour and in education, and had in that new district to meet and overcome the begging habits, proud arrogance, and dark superstition of the people. Only those who have had experience in the beginning of such work can know what it means. The arrival of Dr Steele cheered the solitary and hard-pressed workers.

His first visit to Mombera was much a dread to him, as every account he had received of how new-comers were treated had made him shrink for some weeks from facing the ordeal. Then Mombera was in one of his bad moods and the reception was not very cordial. When the subject of the school, which he had said before he desired at his head village, was mentioned, Mombera would not sanction it. His first visit to Mtwaro at Ekwendeni was more cordial and pleasant, and Dr Steele’s offer of help in the treatment of his diseased joint drew Mtwaro very near to him, and compensated for the rudeness of Mombera—a rudeness which few who saw him often do not understand.

As they had been some months without a doctor, the arrival of Dr Steele was hailed with delight by the people. Medical work attaches a people more quickly than any other. While they could not understand much of what was taught, and often did not realise that it applied to them at all, all who received help in distress, and relief from pain and disease understood that, and counted the Mission-doctor their friend. Very soon however Dr Steele realised that what they desired most was wealth, and their begging habits were a continual annoyance to him in his work. Here is a graphic picture of a common occurrence in the course of a visit to the villages in carrying on medical mission work. He says, “The first place I stopped at was Zigodo’s village. This man is Mtwaro’s head councillor. To excite my pity he appeared quite naked, but two yards of cloth sent him away rejoicing. My next place of call was Sunduswayo’s where I dressed his mother’s ulcer. He told me I was to come again soon and bring him cloth. I next called at Hloj ana’s. In conversation with him about a pain in his shoulder I asked if I might bring more medicine for it. He replied that I was to stop with him next time I passed and give him a piece of cloth. Few head-men are above begging.”

Reflecting on his work and surroundings as he wrote to a friend, he drew a vivid picture of the condition of the people. “Up here, shut off from the rest of the world by the eternal hills, they have little or no notion of what is going on in the great universe outside. The white men come from somewhere, but where, they cannot tell. How to bring home to the natives the Gospel we have come to teach is the problem requiring much earnest thought, and above all, heavenly guidance. Their very simplicity of mind makes it difficult, but this condition of mind has combined with it the vices of men, so that while intellectually they are children, morally they are men, for one sees among them all the vices of human nature,—pride, avarice, greed, meanness, dishonesty, falsehood, &c. Despite these, however, they are not destitute of good parts.”

Dr Steele was not long among the Ngoni until he discovered, as others had done, that they have a standard of manhood all their own. Until a man married and owned cattle he was considered to be but a child and had no interest in tribal affairs. This made the position of the unmarried on the staff very liable to be slighted, and shut doors of usefulness against them. Dr Steele was considered, like Mr Stuart, to be a mere boy and not to be admitted to serious conclave along with men. He recounts that “ one day while Mr Stuart was engaged building the school a proud Ngoni addressed him as a child, contemptuously. ‘Yes' he replied, ‘I am a child as you suppose, but can your children build houses like these! *The man called him no more a child but was very respectful, and it seemed to dawn on his mind that manhood did not consist in the possession of wives and cattle but in knowledge and wisdom.”

As I can testify, the arrogance of the Ngoni was at times hard to endure, but an incident such as the following served to sweeten life in his case as it had done in my own. Dr Steele writes, “About four weeks ago I was called to one of the chiefs villages to a complicated labour case. All went well. The gratitude of the people seemed very sincere. The women came round me on their knees, slowly clapping their hands and saying in a tone of great relief, ‘ my father,’ a term of great respect. One woman rolled herself on the ground at my feet, but I could stand this no longer, and told her to rise up. I told them all sitting round that God sent me to heal the sick and tell them about Him. I then doctored some twenty eye-cases and returned home.” When it is mentioned that such women as needed assistance in maternity were accused of foul crimes and usually consigned to the bush to die, and their friends taken as slaves by the husband, the gratitude of the women will be known to have been sincere. No branch of medical science has been more fruitful of life-saving and of good to the helpless than that, and all medical missionaries have found it so. The glimpse we get of medical mission work in Dr Steele’s hands explains the attachment of the people to him.

A time of great anxiety came upon Dr Steele and his co-workers, Mr and Mrs McCallum, at Ekwendeni, when Mtwaro the chief, who was under treatment, died. He suffered from chronic disease of the knee joint, which I had been called on to treat a year before. It was evident even then that nothing but amputation could be of use in saving his life, but as he did not submit, palliative treatment was adopted. When Dr Steele arrived he was warned of the case, and advised not to adopt any active treatment until he became known to the people and had their confidence, for, on account of their superstition, any untoward result would be blamed against the doctor, so the people, and not the patient only, had to be considered. They could not realise the seriousness of the case or understand the treatment adopted, and might be incited by the native doctors to rise against him, and so the work be hindered. Dr Steele’s treatment was only palliative, and as it turned out, a rapid extension of the inflammation caused death in a few weeks. During those weeks, when the illness of the chief made the people very excited, the cry went forth that the white man’s medicine had killed the chief. Various divining doctors were called, the poison ordeal was gone through with dogs and fowls, but again and again the verdict was in favour of the doctor. The people were, however, very excited, and in the event of death it seemed as if trouble would come to the Mission party. Mr and Mrs Mc Callum were there alone, except when Dr Steele was with them in connection with the case, and the occasion was one of anxiety such as they only, who have witnessed a superstitious people driven frantic by some event, can understand. Mtwaro died, but while he was conscious he declared his confidence in the white men, and sought to quiet the people. For a time all work was stopped in the district, but the people quietened down and the work was resumed again, the deceased chief’s widows and children coming freely to the services and school on the station. In those days the medical man had to contend with superstition, and with the combination of divining and medicine men who witnessed the progress of the work and emancipation of the people from their clutches, and were therefore too often opposed to the Mission.

In the middle of 1891, Mr Stuart, the teacher who was with Dr Steele at Njuyu, was transferred to fill the breach caused by the invaliding of Rev. Dr Henry at Livlezi station among the southern Ngoni. In Dr Steele’s letters at that time, he writes joyfully of the extension of the preaching work into new districts; of his three schools and twenty teachers, and of the services and Bible classes. At the close of his first year he wrote thus: “In the course of another week I will have come to the end of my first year. It has been full of many new experiences, and I must say has appeared long. I am beginning now more vividly to realise that this is now my home than ever I did before. The reason is that until one gets a hold of the language you feel estranged, but when you begin to understand them better and speak their language, the feeling of separation begins to pass off, and one feels, as it were, one with them.” These words evidence how truly he was ripening for the succeeding four years of full, patient and productive service, ere he was called to the service above.

When Mr Stuart left for Livlezi, his place at Njuyu was taken by Mr Scott who had just joined the Mission. In consequence of the change, Dr Steele had all the work of the station laid on him for a time. He had the hours of every day well filled up by medical, evangelistic and educational work, and had also, as so many of all classes in Livingstonia have had to do, to lend a hand in the brick-field, and at house and school building. The work was in full swing when an event happened, which a few years before would have probably been fraught with disaster to the work. Mombera, the chief of Ngoniland, died suddenly. The death and burial are described so graphically by Dr Steele that his account of it may be given here as affording a picture of African customs in such circumstances.

“Mombera died somewhat suddenly. I saw him the Sabbath before, when at his village conducting a service lie has been chief of this section of the Ngoni for many years, and his death has therefore caused a great sensation throughout the country. Poor Mombera! If he had been inclined to know the Gospel, he has had good opportunity for years, but he never showed any interest in it, and died as he had lived—a heathen.

“The people came from all parts to take part in the mourning ceremonies. He died in Empikisweni and his body was carried to his own village, Engaraweni, where he was buried. We left the station early in the morning and arrived at the village about noon. On nearing the village, many people were seen coming in companies to mourn. The men all carried shields and spears, and some had also guns. As is the custom, the people had removed all their ornaments, and some had bands of grass tied round their heads. When we entered the village, the men who were with me stood together, and raising their shields over their heads, began to utter a wild continuous cry, *Baba be! Baba be!’ i.e. *My father! My father!’ The cry was taken up by each new company and continued for a time when they retired to make room for others. After this we went to the public place — the cattle - fold — which was crowded with men. There we waited till dark.

The continual wail and all our surroundings produced a strange effect on us.

“When they had consulted as to the grave they set to work to dig it. At this stage a sister of the late chief appeared at the grave and began to mourn. Suddenly Mperembe, another Ngoni chief and brother of the deceased, sprang up and began to mourn. He placed his hands clasped behind his head and advanced with a dancing motion to the grave. All the men in the cattle-fold did the same. This went on till nightfall when the work of digging the grave was suspended.

“Next day about ten o’clock the grave was dug and preparations were made for the interment. All the morning, however, the late chiefs wives were engaging in a ceremonial. Some of them carried the chiefs shields in front of them and approached the grave mourning loudly and retiring again. All the old women took a prominent place in the ceremonies. Before the burial the cattle-fold was cleared of all except married men. Just before the corpse was brought in, the chiefs wives formed a strange procession. They crawled up to the grave on their hands and knees in single file, mourned for a short time, and then retired. They were all dressed in skins and had their heads covered with cloth and great bunches of feathers.

“Some men now left to bring in the corpse. They went towards the hut with their hands clasped behind their heads and wailing loudly. They returned bearing the corpse, which was followed by a large number of women carrying things belonging to the late chief to be put into the grave with him. The men stood in circles round the grave with their shields high above their heads and wailing piteously. This continued for a quarter of an hour, and then they gave place to the numerous companies of young men who at this point came in to mourn. Company after company filed in, and for a long time this went on. After the body was placed in the grave the chiefs pipes, pillows, etc., were put into the grave. One grave was completely filled and another had to be dug into which the remainder of the chiefs personal belongings were put.”

The furlough of Mr McCallum in 1892 and my return to be at Bandawe necessitated further changes in the staff. Mr Stuart relieved Mr McCallum at Ekwendeni; and in view of future developments of the work, Dr Steele, accompanied by the late Dr Henry, made an extended journey round the country so as to find out in what direction our developments should be made.

The work at the various stations was now fully-organised in open-air and school-services, day-schools, and Bible-classes for men and women, and its effects were seen in the changed habits of many around the stations. At Njuyu under Mr Scott a great advance had been made in school-work, and singing had been greatly improved by the introduction of a harmonium. The elderly women’s class, begun by Mrs Elmslie years before, was being better attended, and the time spent in it was bearing good fruit—the women not only being eager to be taught the Word more systematically, but evincing a willingness to be taught to read and write. At Ekwendeni, not only had the principal people of the district been reached, but a mighty advance had been made through Mr McCallum’s school, in that master and slave had been brought together on the same level, and the first natives on the staff there belonged to both classes.

In 1892 Dr Steele had the joy of baptising the first Ngoni woman, who was the fruit of the adult women’s class referred to, and eight men. The church roll now numbered eleven adults and four children. Two years before, the first converts were baptised. But still there was much ungodliness around the stations, and gross darkness. The dry season brought together great companies of people to drink beer, and then, as Dr Steele wrote, war was a subject much talked of, and several bands of reckless young men went out, among whom were some who were attending school and Bible class. He wrote at this time, “ But some people from whom I expected better things are still remaining very superstitious, and are inclined to say hard things about us, and to treat badly those who believe our message. Lately one of our people was at one of the late chiefs villages some four miles from here. He was maltreated because he affirmed that the dead would rise again. One man got so exasperated that he rose and left the hut. They still harbour silly notions about us, such as that I killed Mombera, the chief. They call me an Umtakati, i.e. a witch, a villain who can harm people by bewitching them. Many of the people are still inclined for war, and this along with their superstition and ignorance makes them disinclined to receive our message, and they become jealous and envious of those who have believed and are perhaps getting in advance of them. Some speak well of us and of our work, and others cast reflections on them for doing so, and out of jealousy and spite they defame us.

For example, the second wife of the late chief, of whom I had good hope, has disappointed me, and because the third wife has been bravely defending us the second has brought a charge against her of having killed the chief. We must have patience and live these things down.”

"In 1893 Mr and Mrs McCallum returned from Scotland, and Dr Steele was enabled to open a new station at Hora by locating them there. This is the district of Mzukuzuku, a famous general in the old Ngoni army, and the one where the great massacre of Tumbuka took place about 1880. For the second time Mr and Mrs McCallum had to begin the arduous task of introducing the Gospel to a new region, and although each successive year saw the whole tribe more amenable to the Gospel, the work was trying enough. As we nowT witness at this date, the pioneering both at Ekwendeni and at Hora was successfully accomplished, and the developments now visible are in great measure due to the work of these two missionaries at the commencement. As recorder of the history of the work it is my duty and pleasure to state that.

There were now three stations manned by Europeans. Comfortable brick houses were erected at each, and, as the country is healthier than other parts of Livingstonia, the work was vigorously pushed forward. In 1894 the number of schools had increased to nine; special instruction was being given to over thirty native teachers who were all under indenture for five years. The Bible classes increased in number and attendance, and the village services were being conducted by Christian natives as well as by Europeans. While this new district at Hora had been opened to the work, an attempt which was made to get into that of Mperembe, a brother of the late chief, failed as it did on a former occasion. But Dr Steele and his colleagues had learned that persistency of effort in districts open, and frequent calls upon outside parties, would eventually win the way for the Gospel, and the whole history of the work showed that great patience was necessary. No district could be taken by a rush, and so what was gained was held by patient and persistent effort.

Here is a picture of a day’s work. “You will rejoice to know that the new bell is now erected and doing duty. I don’t spare it. Since it was erected I have commenced a morning service. It is rung at sunrise and we all turn into school, i.e. Mr Scott and myself and our eight boys, teachers, workers, and the general public. First a hymn is sung; then I tell the day of the month and the text for the day which all repeat after me several times. Selected portions of Scripture are then read and all join in the Lord’s Prayer, after which each goes to his work. Again at half-past seven the bell is rung for the school and our breakfast. School commences at eight, and this junior school is conducted entirely by natives under Mr Scott’s superintendence. The junior school is over at half-past nine, and the senior school for the teachers which, till twelve o’clock, Mr Scott and I conduct, begins. We rest till two, and on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, I have my women’s school from two till four; on Wednesday and Friday the catechumens, and at five o’clock all public work is over for the day. On Wednesday evenings there is a prayer meeting.” The same order practically obtained at Hora and Ekwendeni, special attention being paid to teaching the teachers, not only for school-work but with a view to qualify them also to become evangelists, such work being put into their hands whenever their consistency of character and attainments made that advisable. In the beginning of 1894 there were 760 children attending the schools in the three districts.

In 1894, as the staff had been reinforced by the arrival of the Rev. Messrs Dewar and MacAlpine, and the settlement of the latter at Bandawe, I was free to return to my former field in Ngoniland. My place, as indicated, had been ably filled by Dr Steele, who was in charge of the whole district. At my request he continued to occupy my former station and to act as mission-ary-in-charge of the district until, a year thence, he should leave for home. I settled at Ekwendeni where the first temporary house built by Mr McCallum had been replaced by a substantial brick building erected by Messrs Stuart and Murray, and relieved Mr Stuart who left on furlough after five years splendid service. We were then in still closer contact through our work in Ngoniland, and had frequent intercourse together. He again had the joy of receiving seven more adults into the Church by baptism at Njuyu. It was the station where the work had been carried on for the longest period, and the fresh baptisms were an occasion of interest far beyond, and reacted on the other stations, so that early in 1895 we find the Church roll increased to 59 by further baptisms at Njuyu and Ekwendeni, while at Hora, the youngest of our stations, several had already made a profession of faith and been admitted as catechumens.

On my settlement at Ekwendeni we originated quarterly conferences of the workers, meeting at the different stations in rotation. These were occasions not only of great good to the members, but the plans of work, reports of progress, and discussion of difficulties, engaging our meetings, bound us very closely together, and strengthened our united efforts among the heathen. By having with us Christian natives, the Church members in the different districts were brought into closer contact, and the work made to appear one, and the Church one. The last year of Dr Steele’s service was very full of work, and the prospects all round were very bright. A new development had taken place in the end of 1894 by the arrival of Miss Stewart, the first missionary for the women, and she began work at Ekwendeni. At Njuyu the special work of my wife when there had been in part continued by Mr Stuart and Dr Steele. At Ekwendeni and then at Hora Mrs McCallum’s work had made progress among the women, and produced good results; and now at Ekwendeni my wife’s efforts were supplemented by Miss Stewart, and she struck out among the wives of catechumens and converts who were not reached by the ordinary schools. Thus the work was going on when the last months of Dr Steele’s all too brief service had come.

In April he left to attend a Council meeting at the newly-opened Livingstonia Training Institution. He had food with him for five days, but as it was the rainy season and as his guides led him by a new and untried path over rugged mountains, they were detained, and the journey lasted nine days. He arrived at the Institution in an exhausted state, and we believe that in this way his strength was undermined, and when the last fever came he was unable to cast off its effects.

He returned to Njuyu, and as his furlough was due, prepared to leave for home. His last three Sabbaths were spent at the three stations, when he baptised forty-one adults and several children, the results of his own and his colleagues’ work. He had sent off his boxes to the Lake and was to follow them himself in a day or two, but fever struck him down, and in five days, through utter exhaustion, he fell asleep, at the age of 34, on 26th June 1895. His funeral was attended by the whole of the Ekwendeni population, as well as many who had come from Njuyu and Hora. At the open grave a service was conducted. Amid the great sorrow of his colleagues—four of whom were present—and the great gathering of natives, his remains were committed to the dust among the shady trees within sound of the music of the Lunyanga river. There was widespread gloom in Ngoniland. I here append the tribute I wrote in our half-yearly report at the time of his death, and thus close an all too imperfect record of a coble life and a noble work.

“No one was more beloved in our Livingstonia circle. His cheery, hopeful nature surrounded one with an atmosphere of attraction to him, and the deep springs of his disposition were easily touched by distress, whether among whites or blacks.

“His five years’ work in Ngoniland forms an interesting chapter in the history of the Mission. He arrived just as the cloud which long hung over the work was dissipated, and the country thrown open to the Gospel, and the first fruits had been gathered. Speedily gaining a knowledge of the speech and habits of the people, he set to work, and by close attention to schools, which were called for by the desire for instruction, he saw the agency greatly extended and made eminently successful as a nursery for the Church.

“As an ordained missionary he gave himself heartily to the work of strengthening and instructing the Church members, and of gathering in the fruits of former sowing. As an evangelist he was never happier than when preaching the old Gospel, and going from village to village with the good news. His medical work he always looked upon as a valuable means of bringing the people to God, and so, while maintaining a healthy professional interest in his “cases,” he worked for the main end in all he did, and gave his best to the work. He was welcomed everywhere, and there are few corners in Ngoniland where his voice has not been heard preaching the Gospel, and his gentle hand laid on the suffering to give health and peace.

“Besides having acquired the Ngoni language he had made considerable additions to our knowledge of the Tumbuka tongue by compiling a dictionary.

“Preparing to visit Australia and Scotland, but taken to the Father’s House ! We cannot understand it! But still, as when four of his colleagues stood by the bedside and witnessed his triumph, we preserve the feelings which filled our souls and give God thanks for what He enabled him to be and to do in the work in Ngoniland.”


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