Name ID 1366

See also

Boyes, John (ed. Mike Resnick) Company of Adventurers
Page Number: 122
Extract Date: 1903

Fighting near Myera

On our next march we heard that fighting was going on near by between Government troops and Natives, because the latter had refused to pay hut tax. Next day we met some men who said they had been fighting near there that morning. The country here presented a totally different aspect from that we had grown accustomed to lately. We climbed some foot-hills and came to a fine grassy plain on which herds of cattle were grazing. The plain was dotted with huge rocks. The Natives rushed out to meet us, and the chief, or jumbe, as he is called, handed me in a very dignified fashion an old German newspaper which he carefully produced from a goat-skin bag hung round his neck. He evidently believed this paper to be a document of some importance. After I had glanced at it I handed it back to him, and he seemed quite satisfied.

The Natives informed me they had sent for the head chief and he would be there on the morrow. Early in the morning he came down to the camp and I entertained him with a tune on my gramophone, with which he was delighted, as were all his men. This was the first time they had heard or seen anything of the kind. The next day the chief brought his seven wives and his little son to hear the gramophone, and they were greatly amused with it. The little boy closely watched my face while the music was being played as though he believed I created the sound, I now had my first opportunity of trading, and bought six head of cattle. The chief, whose headquarters were at Myera, three hours distant, sent in food for the men, and I gave him and his men presents. They impressed me, however, as a folk easily roused to a fighting mood, for they were really savages. Their huts were precisely the same as those of the WaMbugwe.

We soon saw evidences of the fighting. Some of the huts were partly demolished, but, being very strongly constructed, they were not easy to destroy. The Government troops had done as much damage as possible, and raided cattle. As we went along we saw ruined villages, but the Natives appeared to understand that we were not connected with the Government and did not show any hostility towards us.

One of the Natives was acting as guide for us, as there was no proper path. The scenery was of the same uninteresting character; trees a great rarity, sandy soil, and nothing growing but short sweet grass; a suitable country for sheep farming, but not very attractive for European settlers. It was very hot here during the day and wintry cold at night. The Natives did not appear too friendly, and we kept a good guard.

I now sent men out in all directions to trade. The local cattle were of excellent quality, large and strong, and I hoped to get into friendly trading with the owners, though the reports brought in proved them to be treacherous. They wore little or no clothing, and very few ornaments-only a little brass wire and beads-and were typical, simple savages. They were different in appearance from the other tribes we had met, of a light brown color, tall, and very lithe and strong, though lightly built. It was easy to tell they had never been out of their own district, for a looking-glass or mouth organ was sufficient to astonish them.

Extract ID: 3605