Chief Mguru

Name ID 1373

See also

Boyes, John (ed. Mike Resnick) Company of Adventurers
Page Number: 125
Extract Date: 1903

Mgodi

I had been fairly successful in my trading up to this time, having got together about 150 head of cattle, and I now decided to get away. The trade goods I had with me were not very suitable for this part of the country, and I hoped to return later with the right kind and a better equipped expedition. As I left Mguruís place the old Chief came out with his sons to say good-bye. I gave them presents, as they had behaved fairly well to me. After a short march we picked up six head of cattle, which we had bought from a Chief and left at his village. From there we went on to Mwezai's camp, Mgodi, where we had camped on our way up. We had been travelling behind the cattle, and the road being dry and dusty, our eyes, mouths and noses were full of sand.

We spent the night in our old camp, but I was not to have much sleep. Amongst my belongings was an old alarm clock, a cheap American thing I had bought in Hull for its lid. Something had gone wrong with the works, which rendered it useless as a timekeeper, but the alarm would still go off after being wound up. I showed this clock to the Chief, and he took a strong fancy to it, and gave me a cow in exchange for it. He seemed to think he had got a bargain, and considering the amount of pleasure the Natives got out of that clock I am inclined to believe him. He took it into a hut amongst some of his people and the alarm was going the whole night through. They wound it up time after time, and when it went off they all laughed. How they managed to keep it up so long I cannot imagine. Of course, we could not get to sleep for the noise, but they never seemed to tire of hearing it.

The Natives had some peculiar fancies. They delighted to possess anything out of the ordinary. At another village one of the chiefs gave me a cow in exchange for a hurricane lamp. It was an ordinary paraffin lantern, the vessel being about half full of oil. As we had no more to replenish it, I was not sorry to get rid of it. The Chief was strangely taken up with the light. He thought, possibly, it would last for ever.

Before leaving Mgodi we laid in a good supply of provisions, as the road we intended to take to British territory lay through an uninhabited part where food could not be obtained and water was also very scarce. On the fourth day of our march we came to Irangi. We had a badly needed wash and then got our papers ready to go to the boma. The Government officer was away hunting, but the sergeant in charge was very friendly. I camped near the Government station, and had all the Indian shopkeepers and traders round my tent during the day. While waiting I bought a number of head of cattle at a dear rate. Then I went up again to the boma to get my papers signed, and was advised not to go near Mbugwe or Arusha, where cattle disease had broken out. Having learnt that there was a path through the wilds which avoided these places, I decided to take it. All round I noticed dried up rivers, but in the rainy season the country must be a huge swamp. The Natives were Wagogo, much resembling the Masai in appearance.

Our next march was to Buyuni, going through a forest without seeing a drop of water from leaving camp at 6 a.m. until our mid-day rest at 2. Marching on again for an hour and a half, we went into camp near a very large mbuyu tree, in the trunk of which a hollow was cut about six feet square, forming a little cabin in which some of the men slept. It was now a nightly occurrence for the hyenas to come howling round.

Extract ID: 3597
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