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The Story of the Life of MacKay of Uganda
Chapter XII - Hostile Arabs

“Now, the pruning, sharp, unsparing:
Scattered blossom, bleeding shoot;
Afterward, the plenteous bearing
Of the Master's pleasant fruit.”


CHRISTMAS of 1880 and the early months of 1881 were times of sore and grievous trouble to the two brethren (Pearson and Mackay). The Baganda regarded them as having been created to give away articles gratis, and fleeced them of everything. Indeed, the popular impression was that “there was no place in Europe for white men, and they settled in Uganda because it was the most delightful spot in the world!” All the barter goods which Mackay brought from Uyui were ultimately disposed of, and they were frequently reduced to beggary and to temporary starvation. Mackay had to keep a sharp look out lest the brass cocks and other small fittings of the engines were stolen for ornaments. He had to work hard at the vice and lathe for daily bread, but in consequence of a great drought in the country, in the beginning of the year 1880, the chiefs were unable to pay in kind for work done, complaining that owing to the famine they could not even feed their large retinues of wives, and were obliged to send them to their country farms to subsist as they best could, by digging up the plantain trees, and eating a semi-solid stuff, found at the root of the stem.

The missionaries went on quietly teaching a few lads who came to them, and Mackay, by the aid of his faithful pupil Mukasa (named after the lubare), translated St. Matthew's Gospel into Luganda, regarding which he says: “In studying the sacred words, word for word, I see more beauty than I ever saw before, and I hope the Holy Spirit will bless it much to my own soul, and to that of my assistant. He often admits the beauty of the words of Jesus.”

The new year of 1881 dawned in, Uganda as everywhere else; but while we in Europe were enjoying family reunions, the missionaries received a bitter disappointment, by the arrival of two Arabs who confessed to having left their expected gift of home letters at Kagei. Moreover, these men were imbued with a deep and hereditary hostility to the Christian faith, and were especially angry with Mackay on account of the influence which he had gained in the country. For, although the tide ebbed and flowed, he ever remained a favourite with the king, who respected his bold witness for the truth. Mtesa was really favourable to the Christian faith, but he felt that it demanded a nobler life than the Mohammedan code of morals did, therefore he accepted neither.

The contrast between the following scenes at court, at Christmas 1880, and Bishop Tucker's wonderful account of his visit to Uganda (see Chap. XXII) at the same season in 1890, is very striking, and may be described as A PICTURE IN TWO PANELS.

Under the one may be inscribed –

“Now, the sowing and the weeping,
Working-hard, and waiting long;” 

and under the other –

“Afterward, the golden reaping,
Harvest-home and grateful song.”

The hope of the “nevertheless, afterward” sustained Mackay through it all, ,and he writes: “God's will be done. The cause is His, and also the issue of all our plans. May He bless our efforts and bring a speedy end to this sore and exhausting time of trial and persecution. After such a night as we have had, and still are in, we look for a happy morning.”

Dec. 22nd, 1880. - Mr. Pearson and I went to court where we found M M. Levesque and Lourdel. The latter goes every day with some drug for the king. It would be a farce to call his mixtures ‘medicine’ for none of their party have any idea of medicine.


“After a little the court opened, and there being many chiefs present, we were seated in the very back corner, i.e., behind them all.”

“Mtesa began asking his chiefs a host of questions about the gods of the country. Some under-chiefs had returned from plundering in Busoga, and the charms which their sorcerers had taken with them were presented to his Majesty. This was probably the occasion of Mtesa's asking his chiefs, ‘Which is the greater, the king or the lubare?’ Some said the king was the greater, others said the lubare. Talk continued on the matter for a long time, to little or no purpose, as all the chiefs are profound sycophants and echo everything Mtesa says, although one moment he said that their own gods were nothing, and Katonda all in all, and next moment, that the idols and sorcerers had divine power. Finding it difficult to hear distinctly where we sat, I called out to the king that unless I sat nearer I could not understand what he was saying. (His talk was only in Luganda.) I said that formerly I used to have a seat in front, but that now we had got pushed behind everyone, nor did I know what wrong we had done to cause us to be thus degraded. He at once ordered me to bring my seat forward, but not one of the jealous chiefs moved an inch to give me room. I therefore stepped out before them all and sat down on the floor between the king and them.”

“Mr. Pearson then asked if anything would be done to any one who embraced Christianity? Mtesa replied that there were many old people (women chiefly) in the country, who had power, and these would be sure to kill anyone who despised the gods of the country. Mr. Pearson replied that he (Mtesa) was King of Uganda, and that if he gave the order that men embracing Christianity were to be let alone, no one could touch them. Mtesa then said that if anyone went to the Bazungu (white men) to read, he surely committed no criminal offence. ‘To read,’ he said, ‘was not robbery, and one could not be condemned for that.’ I then explained that merely learning to read was not to embrace Christianity. I said, ‘If a man becomes a Christian he will know that the religion of the lubare is false, and hence will not be able to attend court when any of the lubares make a demonstration there. If a man is baptised, either a chief or a common man, will he be punished for refusing to join in the ceremonies of the lubare?’ To this no answer was given, but talk was continued on the power of the gods.”

“‘What is Nende?’” asked Mtesa.

“Kyambalango replied, ‘Nende is a man; Nende is a god.’

“The Katikiro said, ‘Nende is an image.’

“‘Sekibobo!’ said  Mtesa, ‘what is Nende?’”

“(Sekibobo is one of the three greatest chiefs.)”

Sekibobo was sitting a little behind, as he was troubled with catarrh, and etiquette forbade him to sit in his usual place. But before Sekibobo could make up his mind, not as to what Nende is, but as to what answer would please the king most, Mr. Pearson, who was sitting behind the chief, called out, ‘Nende is a liar; Nende can neither walk, nor speak, nor eat.’ Mtesa repeated this for the benefit of all, and from many a sycophant came the echo, ‘Nende is a tree, and cannot speak or eat.’ Some, however, dissented, saying that Nende is a god; when I proposed that Nende should be brought and set on the floor before us all, that we might see what he is. This created some merriment, while others were shocked at the idea of such sacrilege, and the katikiro replied, ‘The woman who has charge of Nende will not allow him to be brought.’

“Again we, asked if people could with impunity come to us to be taught the knowledge of God?”

“Mtesa replied that before Stanley came he was a Mussulman, then he became a Christian, and when Lieutenant Smith came here he used to teach one part of the day and he (Mtesa) the other. I said, ‘Those were happy days, but they are long gone by.’ The king laughed and continued, that now he found so many religions in the country, each asserting itself as the true one, that he did not know what to do. He then called M. Lourdel forward, and also Babakeri (an old, soldier of Baker's, and a heathen, but a favourite counsellor).”

“We put the question very plainly, repeating it again and again, that there should be no mistake.  We said that we did not ask the king to order his people to follow Christianity, we only begged that he would give permission (rukhsa = liberty) to any one in the kingdom, high or low, to accept any religion he chose; if anyone liked to continue a believer in the lubare, he might do so; if anyone chose to go to the Frenchmen to be taught, he might do so; if anyone chose to become a Mohammedan, he could do so; and if anyone chose to come to us to be taught the Book of God, he might do so.”

“First the Arabs were asked by the king if he should grant our request. They replied that they had nothing to say, as the older Arabs were not present that day. One old fanatic, however, commenced a harangue on the absolute truth of their creed, as they stuck to the Koran and the patriarchs. I declined to have them consulted in this matter as, I said, they had come for trade and not as teachers and no one wished to take their Koran from them.”

“Next Mtesa asked Babakeri if he should give the liberty we begged. This fellow, after some hesitation, replied, ‘Yes, sir, give liberty.’ Mtesa, too cunning to listen to good advice which he feared might result in leaving him less absolute than he is at present, tried a new artifice to evade the question. ‘Suppose,’ said he, ‘I divide the country, and give Singo (Mkwenda's country) to the English to be taught, and Kyagwe (Sekibobo's) to the Frenchmen, that they may teach every one; then will there not be rows between them?’ We replied that in Zanzibar both English and French lived and taught in peace, and in Europe also, and that we should make no trouble with the French teachers.”

“M. Lourdel did not assent to, or dissent from, our proposition for liberty, nor did he say that his party would cause no dispeace on our behalf, but he said that he and his brethren would treat in the same friendly way all comers, whether believers in their teaching or not.”

“The next objection raised by Mtesa was that if the people adopted a different religion from himself and the chiefs, there would be rebellion in the country. We explained that the religion of Jesus Christ taught men to honour the king and everyone in authority.”

“M. Lourdel assented to this on behalf of their teaching, saying that they taught nothing wrong, but such commandments as ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ which no one could object to. Mtesa then proposed that the Frenchmen and ourselves should first agree on religious matters, and then he would listen to us both. This was merely a ruse to try to get us to enter on discussion, which he enjoys, especially if it occasion ill-feeling between the disputants. We were silent, however, and his ruse failed.”

“The king, finding our request still strongly pressed by us, in spite of his evasions, proposed to defer his answer until he had first consulted with his chiefs. The katikiro, in his usual time-serving manner, declared that the king was a follower of Katonda, and all the people were followers of the king, therefore they were followers of God. Seeing that this was given out merely as an off-put to our request, we reasserted that liberty was the source of all intelligence, and that Baganda were men, not sheep, merely following blindly any belief; for Mtesa was truly king of the Baganda in this life only, and it would not do to answer God at the great judgment that they had simply followed the king's religion.”

“In the course of the discussion, Mtesa said that M. Lourdel had given him to understand that he and his brethren were padres (= teachers of religion) alone, while we, i.e. Mr. Pearson and I, were fundis (= workmen). Of course we dissented from this, casting no aspersion on the padres, but asserting that we were teachers of religion just as they were, and had been sent here for no other purpose; any skilled labour we had done we did merely out of friendship, and not because we were sent here to do such. At one time we could have given Mtesa credit for sincerity in such discussions as that of to-day. Now I fear there is no desire in the man's heart except the gratification of his lusts and desire for riches.”

“In the midst of the talk on the gods versus the Almighty Creator, he suddenly sent out for a calabash, and having got it, made some obscene observations to his chiefs.”

“Before the talk on religion was finished, he listened to the report of the plundering batongole just returned from Busoga. A chief was ordered at once to go to bring the women, cattle, and slaves, which they had left a day’s march from the capital. One of the returned batongole, being accused, I fancy, of appropriating too much of the spoil to himself, was ordered without ceremony to be killed. An executioner, of whom there is always a host present at every court, jumped forward with perfect delight in his face, rope in hand, to drag off the delinquent. The fellow bought himself off, however, with the greatest calmness, for some women and cattle. The executioner stepped back disappointed.”

“In the discussion, a few moments afterwards, Mtesa said, ‘God hears everything I say. He hears when Mackay speaks, He hears when Mapera or the Arabs speak!’ Oh the savour of death unto death which our teaching seems to have been to him arid to the whole court! Human life and eternal life equally despised, while his conscience has become seared against what he knows, as well as we, to be great sin. Lasciviousness seems to have turned his soul and mind, like his body, into utter subjection to itself. The first chapter of Romans most accurately describes the state of this king, court, and country.”

“After mentioning the solemn fact of all having to answer to God in the next world, Mtesa suddenly asked me if he could get a white princess by going to England!  Prudence prompted me to answer, ‘I am not an English princess, therefore I cannot give you a reply.’”

“The conference ended by Mtesa laying the case thus before the court: ‘If we accept the Muzungu's religion, we must then have only one wife each; while if we accept the religion, of the Arabs, we cannot eat every kind of flesh.’”

“Thus it is that a trifling restraint on the flesh is balanced against eternal life and peace with God. It was not possible to-day for us to say more on this subject, but we pray the Lord to give us another opportunity of presenting, not the disadvantages, but the enormous advantages of Christianity, before the eyes of this lascivious king and his equally lascivious courtiers.”

The Capital of Uganda

“On the way home, P. Levesque said to me, that he was quite delighted with the nature of the request for liberty which I had so strongly pressed, as being as necessary to them as to us.”

“A page was sent in haste after us, with orders to M. Lourdel to come to court next morning.”

Dec. 23rd. - Expecting to find the subject taken up again to-day, Mr. Pearson and I went early to court. We went in to the inner court, where we found P. Lourdel already sitting. He shook hands, but seemed guilty of something, for he could not look me in the face. We sat down, but were soon told by Koluji that the king asked us (i.e. Mr. Pearson. and myself) to go farther away, into the next outer court! We went at once, while M. Lourdel remained where he was.”

“Soon after, we were joined by Mufta, who told us that M. Lourdel had gone back to the court last evening, and had had an audience of the king. Mufta was also there, but outside, and overheard M. Lourdel denouncing us Protestants as ‘rebels’ from the true Church. That of course meant that they alone should be given liberty to teach in the country, while we, who had asked liberty alike for them and for ourselves, were to be denied it! This, however, exactly accords with what M. Girault said to me at Kagei, when I told him that we Protestants were very tolerant towards them, and were willing to acknowledge to Mohammedans and heathens, for our mutual benefit, that they and we were alike believers in Jesus Christ and in the same Book of God. M. Girault replied that ‘they would not, however, be tolerant of us, for God was intolerant of error, and it was their devoir to teach everywhere that we were teachers of lies’!”

“By-and-by court opened, and we got in through the crush. The great and only business of the day was the appointment of chiefs to go on two great plundering expeditions. Wakoli had been here some time, having brought some ivory, to beg for a large army to aid him against his neighbours in Busoga or beyond it. Another chief from Gambardgara, whose father had died, but who was not chosen for the throne, had been here some time begging Mtesa to send an army to place him in power.”

“It is not necessary for Mtesa to have much of an excuse for sending an army to ravage. Two great forces were therefore granted, one for the east and the other for the west. Four great chiefs were appointed to each, with of course their subalterns, and all their retainers. A young lad, now a big Mutongole, called Mukaalya, was appointed captain of the force, against Busoga; while Tole, a renegade coastman, for a long time a settler here, was appointed commander of the force against Gambaragara.”

“Our blood could not but boil within us, as we beheld the mad excitement in the whole court, when these fellows were ordered off to murder and plunder. ‘Nyaga, nyaga, nyaga, nyo!’ said the ‘humane king,’ as he gave the captains the orders, i.e. ‘Rob, pillage, plunder!’ One's heart sickens at the thought of the carnage - rather cold-blooded butchery - that will result, all, too, on the strength of English guns and gunpowder.”

“This is the fifth time in the course of two years that a great army has been sent by Mtesa into Busoga, not to war, but avowedly to devastate and murder, and bring back the spoil - women, children, cattle, and goats. The crime is awful. The most heartrending of Livingstone's narratives of the slave hunts by Arabs and Portuguese on the Nyassa and Tanganyika shores, dwindle into insignificance compared with the organised and unceasing slave-hunts carried on by this ‘enlightened monarch and Christian king.’”

“This is the man who yesterday was claiming to be a spiritual guide to his people, and summus episcopus in the state. Only yesterday he uttered the sentiment, ‘God hears every word I utter while I lie here.’”

“Almighty God, look down on the enormous accumulation of crimes of this bloodthirsty, avaricious king and court, and bring to confusion their cruel expeditions against their poor neighbours.”

“The Arabs delight in these expeditions, and generally send men to bring a share of the spoil in slaves, these being more cheaply obtained at first than after the return of the army to the capital. To many an officer, whom we met afterwards on our way home, and at our house begging powder (but in vain, for we refuse in toto), we solemnly gave the charge; to spare shedding blood, for God's eye was over all.”

“Munakulya, the only one of the chiefs who has all along continued (after a fashion) an earnest inquirer after truth, and a diligent reader of the Word of God, went this day back, rising up in court and begging the king to appoint him also to join the plundering expedition, that he might get a share in the booty. We feel sorely downcast. Our last hopes seem gone. The lads who had, learned the most, and seemed most impressed, have been put out of the way. Others who have been taught more or less (and they are many) are afraid to come to us any more. The few chiefs of whom we had hopes have gone back, while the other chiefs and the king seem only daily to become more hardened and hopelessly sunk in every form of vice and villany.”

“But is any case too hard for the Lord?”

 “Christmas Day. -  This time last year the great reaction in favour of the lubare was at its height. To-day, after all that has happened between, matters seem little farther advanced in favour of the reception of Christianity here.”

“Many, many hours of discussion, and many occasions of prayer on our sad prospects, have been spent by my brother Pearson and myself during this month. God gives us guidance in our perplexity and deep searching of heart, that we may put away all that has hindered us from having His blessing.”

Monday, Jan. 3rd, I881. - Down with fever. Mr. Pearson went to court, Mufta being there also. The king commenced asking questions on religion, ending in nothing as usual. After this had been going on for some time, Mr. Pearson asked if anything would be done to any of the people who embraced Christianity? Wilfully misunderstanding the question, Mtesa replied, ‘Do you mean to make me a Christian by force?’”

“Again and again he was told that we used no force, and no one demanded that he should be a Christian; we only wanted his people to have liberty to come to be taught. ‘To be taught what?’ he asked. ‘The Book of Jesus Christ,’ answered Mufta. ‘Do I not know that Book? have I not read it?’ ‘You know it by head, but not by heart,’ answered the lad again.”

“‘Well,’ said Mtesa, ‘if you want liberty, you must fill my belly; you must give me a daughter of the Queen to be my wife: unless you do that, you shall not have liberty to teach - that is my only answer.’”

“Wednesday, Jan. 5th. - Being considerably better from the attack of fever, I was able to. accompany Mr. Pearson to court. We expected that the newly arrived big Arab would be there, and we were anxious to hear what news his letters from the coast brought. He allows having got letters for us at Uyui, but he left them behind at Kagei! Very considerate! Probably enough, he would not bring them on that we might have no information independently of him.”

“This Arab generally goes by the name of Kambi Mbaya (bad camp), but his proper name is something like Rashir bin Shruhl (?).”

“Court opened as we went up the hill. The letters were being opened as we entered. There was one from Seyed Burgash, but short, and so far as we could make out, only compliments. We saw none from the Consul. The Arab presented a musical box (of which Mtesa has already several), and a revolver. Then he asked for canoes to bring his goods from Usukuma. Gabunga (Grand Admiral) was called forward, and a Mutongole appointed to get fifty canoes quickly.”

“I have heard the Wangwana say that this man has brought four hundred guns - a present from Seyed Burgash, who asks Mtesa to fight Mirambo - while he brings one hundred more guns on his own account not to sell, he says, but he will not refuse ivory if the king gives him any!”

“Then he stated that Seyed Burgash had sent a force of two thousand soldiers to Unyanyembe, determining to open the road from the coast to there, while he (Burgash) asked Mtesa to open the part from Unyanyembe to Uganda - abolishing honga and Ruga Ruga. Further, he said that it was necessary to fight Mirambo, ‘who was only a Mpagazi,’ but had usurped power in Unyamwezi.”

“Then Mtesa of his own accord asked Mufta what it was that we had demanded the other day. Mufta replied that we asked liberty to teach in the country; to which Mtesa answered that he would give no answer until his men returned from England. We said nothing; but the way in which the new Arab gave himself out to be some great one, tempted us to say to Mtesa that the expense, which we and our friends had paid, to take his envoys to England and bring them back, was a greater present to him than the sum of all the presents he had ever received from all the Arabs together, yet for all that he despised us and treated us worse than his commonest subjects. To this he replied that he believed England to be very far away, and he knew that the expense had been great.”

“‘Seyed Burgash,’ I said, ‘after he saw England, gave a concession of land to both English and Frenchmen to settle and teach.’”

Mtesa. ‘Yes, and when I come back from England do you think that I shall refuse to give you a concession of land?’”

We. ‘But we have already taken your envoys there, and now they are near. Please send quickly to Usukuma and fetch them; for collecting canoes enough, usually six months are required, and we cannot wait so long for supplies. When Mr. Pearson was working for you, he nearly died of hunger. It is not the custom of white men to beg, and we will not ask you always for plantains and goats, but you own the whole country, and it can cost you nothing to give us a fair patch of ground with plantain trees on it.’”

Omnes. ‘Oh I you want to get a chieftainship!’”

We.  ‘No, we want no authority in the land, we only want a place where we can grow our own food. We mean to buy and not to beg, and we are prepared to buy a piece of land if you refuse to give it us gratis.’”

Mtesa. 'This country is like a woman; it is our mother; we cannot cut off am arm of our mother and give it to you. And do the Frenchmen want to buy land also?'’”

P. Lourdel. ‘No, we do not want to buy land.’

We. ‘Even if we buy the land, it remains here; we cannot take it with us when we go.’

Mtesa. ‘When will you go?’

We. ‘We are prepared to go to-morrow if you order us, or to stay if you like, only we do nothing by force; we came here by your permission, and will go when you like only if we stay we must be allowed to teach any people that like to be taught.’”

Arab (Kambi Mbaya). ‘What can they teach?’ (with a sneer).”

We. ‘We wish to teach the great truths of eternity and God.’”

Mtesa. ‘When my men come will they not bring a letter from the Queen, asking by force that I give you land?’”

We. ‘No, our Queen will ask nothing of you by force.’”

Mtesa. ‘She wants only friendship?’”

We. ‘Yes.’”

Arab (Kambi Mbaya). ‘Ask them, whom they have got in Zanzibar to listen to their teaching? The white men in Zanzibar have got no land, nor do they build; they only rent houses at a high price.’”

We. ‘That is not so;’ (to the Arab) ‘Do you forget about the English mission at Mnazi-Moja and at Bweni, and the French Mission at Bagamoyo? They have got land from Burgash, and cultivate it and build on it.’”

Arab (Kambi Mbaya). ‘I don't know anything about that.’”

“[N.B.- This man has just come from Zanzibar, and knows everything about the missions there.]”

Mtesa. ‘Are there both French and English teachers in Egypt?’”

All Arabs. ‘No, there are none.’”

We and P. Lourdel. ‘There are many teachers, both French and English, in many parts of Egypt.’”

Arabs. ‘These men lie.’”

Mtesa. ‘You are vexed and angry, then, about food. Why, if anyone is hungry, he need only tell me, and I will give him food at once. Why did Mr. Pearson not tell me that he was in want?’”

“[N.B.- Mr. Pearson did tell Mtesa repeatedly that he was in want, while he only begged the king to pay him some of the many thousand shells which he (Mtesa) was owing him for cloth, etc., which he had sold to him; to this day, however, Mtesa has paid only a fraction of what he owes us. Of course the remainder, never.’ ]”

We. ‘No, we are not angry about being left to starve, but we are vexed to find that you are playing with us and with religion. One day you have said that our religion is the only true one, another day you adopt the religion of Mohammed, and a third day you follow the lubare.’”

Mtesa. ‘The Frenchmen have one religion and you have another; they cannot be both true: first agree to have one religion in Europe, and then come and I shall let you teach my people.’”

Mufta. ‘The English and the French have only one religion; their religion is one, but their mode is different.’”

“[N.B.-We have ever striven to make the heathen and Mussulmans understand that the Frenchmen and we are both alike followers of Jesus Christ, and differ only in small points (something like the sects among the Mussulmans themselves). But the Roman Catholics will not assent to this, foolishly (for themselves) asserting always that they only are proper Christians. P. Lourdel did not contradict to-day, however.]”

Mtesa. ‘When I was well and able to go about, I was able to see what condition everyone lived in. Now I am sick, I cannot get about. These white men, what do they want? The Arabs were here in my father's time, and are virtually now adopted children of mine: but these white men are strangers of but yesterday.’”

Arabs. ‘We are sons of the country; but what do the white men want here except to make dispeace?’”

Mtesa. ‘I have a regiment of drilled soldiers, and my father had none. Has not Seyed Burgash new institutions which his father had not?’”

Arabs. ‘Yes. You and Seyed Burgash are just the same. You are the only two kings in Africa!’

Mtesa. ‘The Arabs want ivory and slaves, and they bring me cloth, and guns, and powder; but the white men will not take ivory or slaves, - they say that they want only to teach the people. What do they mean?’”

Arab (Kambi Mbaya). ‘We hunt only for a few tusks, which we sell to get our daily bread, but these white men want to eat up the country!’”

We. (to the Arab). ‘What country are we eating up? (i.e., conquering). Who has eaten up Zanzibar, and the coast, and Unyanyembe? and who is just now bringing an army into the interior to fight? Are these white men or Arabs?’”

Arab (Kambi Mbaya). ‘The Arabs want only to make peace in the country, and you therefore cry out against them, because you want the country for yourselves.’”

We. ‘It is not well so to abuse white men, for you must remember that although the Arabs bring here guns and powder, yet every gun and every keg of powder comes from the country of the white men, and all are brought in their ships. It is only by permission of the white men that these things can ever come at all. They could stop sending them if they like.’”

Arab (Kambi Mbaya). ‘Try to stop our trading in slaves on this lake, as you try at the coast. I defy you! I shall march past Mpwapwa with all my chains full, and my hundred guns loaded, and who will hinder me? I shall go right to Zanzibar with gangs of slaves and defy the English Consul to touch me. I come from Seyed Burgash, and care nothing for the Consul - I am not afraid of him.’”

“[N.B. -  This speech was made with great vehemence and great bitterness. It appears that Kambi Mbaya had been reported by the Mpwapwa missionaries to the court for having passed them with slaves. On reaching Zanzibar he was apprehended by Burgash, but released at once (he says) on asserting that he used the chains only for thieves and deserters.]”

We. ‘We have not come here to say anything against you. It is not our business to apprehend slavers. When you Arabs bring guns and other goods to sell, we never interfere with your trade. We only ask that you will not make unprovoked attacks on us, who are only talking with the king on religion and on private matters of our own.’”

Ahmed Lemki (Arab). ‘I can tell what these white men are doing at Nyassa to eat up the country.’”

Mtesa. ‘Tell us.’” [This Arab seems to have been apprehended with a crew of slaves on the coast by one of our cruisers.]

Ahmed. ‘At the coast they place a boat with steam and cannon at each side of every port, and watch for every dhow that passes and seize it. Formerly we could buy any amount of slaves at Nyassa for two doti (= 8 yds. calico) each. Now these English have conquered the King of Nyassa and taken his country, and put a steamer on the lake, and we have no more trade.’”

We. ‘There is no King of Nyassa. The country there is like Unyamwezi, full of petty savage chiefs, but the English have conquered none of them.’”

“[It pleased Mtesa to hear that there was no big king near Nyassa, to compare with himself.]”

Mtesa. ‘What did the white men come here for?’

Arab (Kambi Mbaya). ‘Yes; just ask them if they were ever asked to come here, and if they had any recommendation from the coast.’”

All Chiefs. ‘Nobody asked them to come here.’”

We. ‘The king himself sent to Ukerewe more than once begging Lieut. Smith to come to him, and again he sent to Mruli and brought Mr. Pearson and others.’”

General hubbub and discussion.

We. ‘We ask Mtesa if Stanley told the truth or a lie, when he wrote saying that he (Mtesa) wanted Englishmen to come to teach Christianity?’”

Mtesa. ‘I asked Stanley to send me white men to make cannon and guns and powder. I collected brass and charcoal for Mackay to make me a cannon to fire salutes (!) with, but he refuses.’”

Mackay. ‘When we talked about the cannon I had only come to the country, and did not then know that you sent these expeditions to ravage countries.’”

“At the word ku-nyaga (= plunder and murder), Mtesa feared we should rebuke his wanton robbery and devastation of Busoga, etc., so he immediately dismissed the court.”

“[Mtesa wilfully misconstrues always what I had said to him two years ago about making a small brass two-pounder. He had been pestering me for many days about making such things, while I had always been begging for pupils to teach work in wood and iron. I then told him that if he gave me ten lads to teach, I should give them knowledge enough in working metals to enable them to cast a small gun after they had been with me three years. The lads were promised, but never came, while soon after Mtesa was sending to Busongora and other parts to exact coils of brass wire from his tributaries. I have ever since refused to say anything on the matter, as he did not fulfil his part of the engagement. It must also be remembered that small cannon (of which Mtesa has over half a dozen) are of no use whatever to him, except for firing an occasional salute. Baganda have no idea of artillery practice, nor could they afford the gunpowder necessary for it.]”

“Mr. Pearson and I, unwilling to have any more such humiliations in court similar to this day’s, sent a note to Mtesa asking permission to go to Kagei in the canoes which he sends for his envoys. We put it on the ground that many months must elapse before these can be brought here, and our supplies must fail long before then.”

“After much prayer and deliberation we have come to the conclusion this is, on the whole, the best step to take, as once at Usukuma we could send on his envoys and presents from England, and safely state the only terms on which we could return again to the country.”

“May our God grant us a peaceable answer!”

“Showing that they still remember something of what they have been taught at court, I may not omit the following remarks, which were made in the course of to-day's Baraza:”

Katikiro. ‘They want to teach the common people. Are our people their children?’”

Mtesa. ‘They say that all men are their brethren.’”

Chiefs. ‘Yes; our people have bodies like them, and heads like them, faces and bellies like them.’”

Mtesa. ‘They say we shall all be burnt in the fire after we die!’”

Katikiro and Chiefs (jeering and laughing). ‘Oh, we shall be burnt in the fire, but the white men will be let go, eh!’”

“Much laughter and idle talk followed these remarks there being no opportunity in which we could well say a word. Why they should have chosen the doctrine of future punishment to make merriment of, I do not know, as in all my teaching I never preached much, if anything at all, about retribution for sin in the next world. I always spent most of the time in trying to impress on them that God is love, unlike their lubare (= spirit), which they are ever in fear of, and making offerings to, in order to conciliate.”

Thursday, Jan. 6th. - At midday, the usual hour, seized again with this wearisome intermittent fever - cold shivers, pains all over, ultimately settling in the head, and sickness. Got into bed, but a hundred blankets could do nothing to give heat, even if I had them. A fire lighted at the side of my bed, on the floor, makes no warmth in the first stage of the attack. After half an hour, a burning fever, and one tosses about as if in severe pain, yet only a feeling of wretchedness remains. Then a few cups of hot tea bring on perspiration, and a dozen hours of broken dreams and fantastic visions leave one next morning weak and sick and fit for nothing at all. Emetics and purges and doses of quinine seem to do good, although the remedies are worse than the disease, and leave permanent effects for evil afterwards, - weakened organs and a deranged nervous system. One has during recovery always the discomfort of thinking too that a similar attack may occur next day or the day after. I have just had three attacks in a week.”

Friday, Jan. 7th. - Mufta came early, saying that he had read our letter to the king last night. Mtesa replied that he would not let us go until his men came back, adding that he did not detain us as hostages on their behalf, for when he sent some men to the coast some time ago some of them died on the way, but that was no one’s fault. His saying that probably implies that he does detain us on that ground, for we have no idea of where Stokes is with the Baganda. In fact, we cannot tell if they arrived safely even at Zanzibar. Kambi Mbaya told us that after he left Uyui he heard that Stokes was in Ugogo, but when questioned by Mtesa, he said that he had no news of Stokes whatever.”

“The Frenchmen sent us a note in the evening saying that Ahmed (the little Arab who has a hatred of the English because they deprived him of his slaves), and other Arabs, this day in court were pouring down calumnies on my head. Were it not that our dependence is alone on the omnipotent arm of our God, we should stand every day in great danger from these wicked Arabs and from the equally wicked king of this country.”

Saturday, Jan. 8th. - Mr. Pearson went up to court alone, but was refused admittance even at the outside gate. This is something entirely new. We have often been denied entrance at the inner doors, but the outer courts were never closed before. He asked for Mufta and was told that he was not there, while we found that he was there. Pearson then went to call on the Frenchmen, to get from them some account of what evil things had been said by the Arabs against us yesterday in court.”

“Their tale narrates the most diabolical series of falsehoods that evil men could have concocted. The newly-arrived Arab called Kambi Mbaya, whom I never saw until the other day, when he opened fire on the English in Baraza (nor have I seen him since), and lsmail Belooch, who comes to us almost every day professing the most sincere friendship - these two men yesterday in open court laid to my charge a series of terrible crimes. They had evidently made up beforehand the part which they meant to act in concert with the king, for Kambi Mbaya had an interview with Mtesa the day before, while Ismail we know has been ‘making friends’ with Kambi Mbaya. M. Lourdel and Mufta were both present at the Baraza, and their reports agree with each other. Mtesa is said to have commenced the subject, saying, ‘Makay mulatu’ (‘Mackay is mad’). All chiefs thereupon repeated, ‘Makay mulatu,’ the Wangwana asserting the same also. Then Ismail and Kambi Mbaya declared that I was a felon of the blackest type; that I had fled from England because I had murdered two men there; that I had got on board a steamer with two revolvers in my hands, and threatened to murder the captain instantaneously if he didn't convey me at once to Zanzibar; that in Zanzibar I committed more murders and had to flee from there again; that in Unyanyembe I had gone about with the two revolvers trying to shoot Kisessa, the governor; that here my presence was certainly dangerous to the king, for I was insane and only went about to kill people; that I was terribly afraid of the story of my crimes reaching Mtesa's ears, and that on that day I had given Kambi Mbaya a present and implored him on my knees not to make my evil-doings public!”

“They had no crime to allege against me as having committed in this country, except that one day when a number of the Arabs called on me I asked them ‘why they all came into the house armed with their dirks?’”

“No doubt all this story suits the king’s purpose admirably. M. Lourdel says that he (Mtesa) is unwilling to quarrel with the English generally, yet he must assent to the Arabs’ hatred of us, while he does not want our religious teaching; hence he has devised the scheme of throwing all possible charges upon one individual, hoping by not accusing the other to keep on good terms with him, and thus have Stokes brought on with a new supply of valuables to fall a prey to his own clutches. As the Frenchmen say, ‘he has the heart of a tiger.’”

“Meanwhile we have sent another letter to Mtesa asking that both Mr. Pearson and I be allowed to leave, I for England and Mr. Pearson for Usukuma, with the view of finding where the men who went to England are, and of hurrying them on with the king’s present.”

“Of course, if God enables us to reach safely the south end of the lake, Mr. Pearson will not come back here, nor permit another missionary to fall into the trap, until from an independent position there proper conditions be obtained, on which alone our mission can again be planted here.”

“God is over all, and He is our God and our sole defence. In fever, when one’s nerves are weak, many doubts arise in the mind, and through morbidly dwelling on the number of our bloodthirsty enemies, faith almost fails. Yet the fever subsides, and courage rises with better health, and one cannot but feel a deep inward peaceful consciousness that, though we are absolutely shut off from every human help, yet we have protection more secure than any Consul can afford, even the omnipotent arm of Jehovah. ‘The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him; for He seeth that his day is coming.’”

“This evening, after bearing such false witness yesterday against me, Ismail called with most cool impudence on Mr. Pearson. The latter would not see him, however, but called out from inside the house that he refused to see him because of the lies he had told yesterday in court against me. Ismail asked confusedly, ‘What lies? when? who told lies?’ Mr. Pearson made no answer. The Belooch went on, ‘Oh! the Frenchmen must have been telling lies to you. They have told falsehoods, and not I.’”

“This is not the first occasion on which Ismail has openly played the double part of friend and poisonous snake. None of us have ever given him any occasion to abuse us, yet he has invariably given evil counsel against us whenever he had opportunity, all the while professing sincere friendship to us. He is a fanatical Mussulman, although entirely ignorant of his creed. He is a fair specimen of the Wangwana who are our daily enemies here.”

“Every fresh arrival of Arabs creates a fresh outbreak against us. The whole of their malice I do not hesitate for a moment to attribute to our public testimony as Christians and as Englishmen against slavery. Some of them use the pretext of their religion for blaspheming the Nazarenes, while others raise rumours of English aggression., and others again merely fabricate charges against us individually.”

“All this will go on so long as the supply of slaves is here unlimited, and the demand is apparently as great as ever in Arabia and Persia.”


The Capture of an African Slave Boy

1. The Boy     2. His Home    3. The Slave Dealer’s Attack on the Village

“The efforts of our cruisers on the coast are successful only in driving the traffic by a land instead of the easier sea route. The slave dealers are only harassed, not crushed, and, like wounded animals, rendered only more vicious than before.”

“Driven from the Nyassa region as being now unprofitable, and too far south for the risks of the land route to the northern ports (Brava, Lamoo, etc.), they are coming to Uganda in increased numbers every year; for here protection is sure, living is cheap, and human flesh cheaper still. Where in all Africa are raids for cattle and slaves carried on such a gigantic scale as by the King of Uganda? I may safely say that he keeps a fresh force of ten thousand men, without a month's intermission all the year round, engaged in the openly avowed act of devastating the neighbouring tribes, merely for the sake of slaves and cattle. Mtesa is the greatest slave-hunter in the world, and he carries on his murderous raids on the strength of guns and powder, brought up country, by Arabs it is true, but supplied to the Arabs by Banyans and Hindus, subjects of the British Government; while the Banyans and Hindus in Zanzibar purchase the powder and the guns, destined to be used in first buying slaves, and then in murdering the parents in order the more easily to catch their children for slaves. They purchase these articles from Europeans in Zanzibar, - many of them Scotchmen and Christians too!”

“The powder and the guns bought by slave-hunting Mtesa from slave-buying Arabs, who get them from British subjects, who again get them from the British themselves, are mainly carried to Zanzibar from Europe in steamers belonging to the ‘British India Company,’ the directors of which are philanthropists and Christian gentlemen, giving largely in aid of missions, and themselves actively engaged in opening up the Nyassa region to legitimate trade.”

“Thus, while with one hand these energetic, praiseworthy men are taking the best possible steps for the abolition of slavery on the Nyassa, they are with the other hand carrying on the terrible traffic in women and children on the Victoria Nyanza, and every year causing death to thousands of more distant savages, who cannot procure the deadly weapons supplied only by the British merchant, for Banyans and Hindus are British merchants.”

“For the above terrible charges laid against me, some proposed in court that I should be put to death. Even the charge of carrying my revolver is false, for I almost invariably march unarmed, only my umbrella in my hand. Mtesa, however, said that the best thing to do was to send me home, as being a raiser of much noise and row in court. He knows very well that this charge too is unfounded. Even one of the Romish missionaries complimented me on the quiet manner in which I talked with Mtesa, while Arabs and others spoke with vehemence.”

“We now can understand to the full the meaning of that blessing which we are promised when men shall revile us, and persecute us, and shall say all manner of evil against us falsely for His sake. We are His, and it matters not what man can do to us.”

Mtesa had no intention of allowing Mackay to leave the country. In fact, the latter had found great difficulty in getting permission even to go as far as Uyui. Mtesa really disliked the Arabs, and knew very well the above charges were pure inventions; but he wanted guns and gunpowder, therefore it was his policy to appear friendly towards these traders.

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