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The Story of the Life of MacKay of Uganda
Chapter XIV - Going to Market


“Tis fit that we should do our part,
Becoming, that mankind should learn
That we are not to be surpass'd
In fatherly concern. 

Wm. Wordsworth

WRITING on 1st January, 1882, Mackay says, “Once more we are spared to open a new year. May it be more of God than the last, and whatever it brings with it, may the kingdom of our Lord Jesus be more advanced, and His blessed name much more fully known and believed in, in this heathen land. The work is great and the time is short, but the strength is not of man, but of God.

Jan. 8th. - Had a pleasant afternoon with my young men, studying two of the Psalms. Oh, how welcome is Sunday when it comes round, bringing a few hours' leisure to obtain some spiritual refreshment in this land of carnality!”

Much secular work continued to be prosecuted during this year. Mackay finished his wonderful house, and the fame of it spread far and wide, so that high and low, rich and poor went to see it. Windows! and hinged doors with locks! a double storey, and a stair with a balustrade! Such things had never been dreamed of. Then, more strange still, “the white man had made an oven in which he baked bread.” The consternation of the native potters knew no bounds when Mackay got two clay pots and cut a square door in the side of each, and a hole for a chimney in the crown of the larger one. He allowed them to bake the curious-looking sherds in their own way, after which he contrived to make a very practical oven, by building the two one over the other with fire below, and the smoke passing up between. He also made a brick-kiln, and having at last succeeded in getting his steam machinery from Kagei, where it had been lying rusting for years, chiefly owing to the intrigues of hostile Arabs, who were especially jealous lest he should build a better boat than their own, he erected a steam saw-mill. But the wonder of wonders was the cart, which he painted brightly in red and blue.

One day, when Mr. O'Flaherty was at court, and there was some talk on wealth, and what the wealth of a country consisted in, he told the king that he ought to cultivate his land, and work his iron, and make a market where people could buy and sell daily, adding, “This seems to be the last country in the world that God made, for everywhere else people buy and sell, and have markets, and become rich thereby, but here there is nothing of the kind.”

Immediately it was decreed that, there and then, an enclosure was to be built in the palace grounds where people could buy and sell; but so ridiculous were their ideas of barter, that the court not only decreed that anyone selling anything anywhere else would be chopped in pieces, but they agreed at this sitting what was to be the price, in cowries, of every article!

Mackay having broken in a couple of bullocks to pull the cart, set off one day to the market, three miles distant, to buy a load of plantains. When he got there, it was raining heavily and no one about, so he unyoked, and went to see a young elephant which had just been caught. Meantime the king, to whom every trifle is reported, heard that Mackay had come to market and had left disappointed, so he ordered his wives to go at once and sell plantains, and to take a good look at the cart so as to be able to tell him all about it!

The Wonderful Cart

After an amusing description of the native curiosity as to how he fastened the oxen in, most believing that he tied them on by the tail, he continues: “Off we went, and the crowd after us, down the steep hill, when I clapped on the brake, and thus kept the cart from overpowering the oxen. At the foot I jumped in amid the delighted yells of all. At every step the crowd grew, and yelled, and screamed with delight, and at every yell the oxen increased their pace; but all ran along, before, beside, and behind, until I had a roaring retinue a thousand strong, a procession quite as great as if the kabaka himself had headed it. Panting and breathless they followed to the swamp, or more than a mile. Here we had to outspan and cross with care, but with no mishap. Yoked again, and drove home, when a new crowd collected, and it was difficult with their noise to prevent the oxen from being injured by going so fast.”

A few days after this adventure, Manoga, a chief, the king’s tailor and factotum, called on Mackay and remained to dinner. He said that “they had been talking in court about the journey in the cart, and that the king had been told that the vehicle was a most formidable affair, that it was uncontrollable and killed people!”

Mackay put the chief in the cart and drove him along the walk in front of the Mission-house, with his own hands. He was delighted, and expressed his wonder that people should say such things about the cart, seeing that it could be made to go slow or fast, at will.

One wonders at such childishness, but he had ever such idle suspicions to contend with. Whether he drew water from the depths of the earth, and made it flow through a pump, or whether he showed them how to catch the sun’s rays in a lens, until they danced and screamed with delight, sooner or later the majority were sure to attribute the marvellous powers of the white man to witchcraft. Still, as such secular work awoke the interest of the natives, and helped to educate them, he did not allow himself to be discouraged, but continued to prosecute all kinds of works for the public weal. He made them bridges and viaducts, which excited as much astonishment as Stephenson’s railway over Chat Moss did the English public. He spared no pains to prove to them that he had their interest at heart; and time removed suspicion and enabled them to see that he who did so much for their temporal needs must be in earnest when he pressed home Divine truths also.

Writing to a German friend, he says: “As to the opinion that a missionary’s life is richer in faith and nearer to God than the lives of other Christians, I believe that this ought to be so, but in actual life everything seems to join in preventing this from being the case. Though we may do much, our teaching is feeble, the example of our daily lives feebler still. God be praised, who in spite of our unworthiness and feebleness can and does bless His own word!”

When his friends pressed him to return to England to recruit, he replied: “I cannot forsake my work till God gives me some indication that the time for that is come. With our present feeble force, and work of many kinds growing in our hands, I have no right to leave while I have strength left me.”

Spiritual fruit began to be gathered in the spring of 1882, and on the anniversary of the arrival of Mr. O'Flaherty, five young men, whom the missionaries believed had received the truth, were baptised. In his journal is the following entry:

18th March, 1882. - The week is over, and I feel glad, not only that it is so, but also for the events which have transpired.”

“Several days’ hard work I had in cleaning out the house and rearranging the rooms, so as to receive our guests to-day. For not only would our house be full at the dinner, but we expected some of the Frenchmen also, while a suitable place had to be prepared for a sort of chapel in which the candidates should be baptised.

“Five lads were to-day enrolled in the visible Church of Christ, through baptism, by Mr. O'Flaherty.”

“1. Sembera Kumundo, who received the Christian name of Mackay.

“2. Mukasa (same name as the lubare), who received the name of Edwardo, after Mr. Edward Hutchinson.”

“3. Mukasa, who received the name of Filipo, as Mr. O'Flaherty is generally called here.”

“4. Buza Baliao. He has received the name of our beloved late friend, Henry Wright (spelt Henri Raiti).”

“5. Mutakirambule. He has received the name of Yakobo.”

“Our earnest prayer is that these lads, all of them grown up to manhood, may be baptised not only by water, but by the Holy Ghost and with fire. Lord Jesus, make them all-in-all Thine own, and may they be indeed the seed of Thy Church in this land. We have long looked for this day. Now that we have seen it with our eyes, may we give our Lord no rest until He will give these young Christians His grace and Spirit.

“There are many other lads reading here regularly, and who are candidates for baptism. Many of our best pupils have gone to the country also.”

“The Baptismal Service we translated into Luganda during the week. The service was over early. All forenoon I had plenty to do in getting dinner ready for about thirty lads. M. Pere Levinhac made himself very pleasant. I had baked a loaf and made a raisin pudding or dumpling. We slaughtered a cow yesterday, and made a good brew of banana beer. Two days ago I went to the market with the cart, and brought back eighteen large bunches of plantains. I had four large potfuls boiled, besides two pots of beef. So all had enough and to spare, for there remained over, and all seemed delighted with their treat. Our female servants and guests were not forgotten either, and came in for a share of the beef, bananas, and beer.”


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