Kazeh

Name ID 2452

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Extract Author: Richard F. Burton
Page Number: 136
Extract Date: 7 Nov 1857

We prepared to enter Kazeh

The Lake Regions of Central Africa

On the 7th of November, 1857 — the 134th day from the date of our leaving the coast — after marching at least 600 miles [960 kilometres], we prepared to enter Kazeh, the principal bandari of Eastern Unyamwezi, and the capital village of the Omani merchants. The Baloch were clothed in that one fine suit without which the Eastern man rarely travels: after a few displays the dress will be repacked, and finally disposed of for barter in slaves. About 8 a.m. … when the line of porters, becoming compact, began to wriggle, snake-like, its long length over the plain, with floatingflags, booming horns, muskets ringing like saluting-mortars, and an uproar of voice which nearly drowned the other noises, we made a truly splendid and majestic first appearance.

Extract ID: 5762

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 133
Extract Date: 1996

A pale golden sunrise

The next morning a pale golden sunrise lit the east, glinting through the feathery acacias across the clearing in front of our camp. The morning chorus began: doves, the chatter of innumerable quelea birds, and the buzzing and humming of the bees and tsetse flies.

We broke camp at 8:30 a.m. and set off, always keeping our eye out for the names Burton listed along his route: Tura, Kwale, Rubuga, Ukona, Kigwa, Hanga, and then Kazeh. Rubuga and Kigwa are on the modern Tanzanian map. On the way, we heard radio reports of an ebola outbreak in Zaire. This viral infection ruptures cell walls, beginning with those of the internal organs, and turns the victim's body into a sack of bloody pulp.

On and on we went, sometimes passing from red-soil regions into areas of rich, black earth — ideal for growing cotton. Burton specifically mentions the cultivation of cotton at Ukona: "cotton-plots, carefully hedged round against the cattle, afforded material for the loom, which now appeared in every village." Then we came upon a sandy track winding through miombo (woodlands). The railway was some distance north of us, but this was definitely the old caravan route the two explorers had taken to Kazeh. Every now and then we passed a borassus palm — the tallest fruit-bearing palm in the country — planted by the old Arab slave traders. They really are enormous trees, and are distinctive for the cluster of fan-like fronds at the top of a thin, straight bare trunk.

We got lost again, about sixty kilometres from our last camp, and asked a village elder where we were. He confirmed that this was the subdistrict of Kigwa somewhere near the Burton route. Eventually we got to the town of Kigwa proper, then proceeded to Kinamagi. We began to see more settlements and more cultivated land. The Nyamwezi tribe inhabits this area. According to Pollangyo, they are very musical people and love singing. Mango trees lined the route, their branches laden with green fruit. We crossed the railway again coming up from the south, and then, at long last, arrived at Tabora.

Extract ID: 5760

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 133a
Extract Date: 1996

Tabora from Bagamoyo

It had taken us five and a half days to reach Tabora from Bagamoyo. It took Burton and Speke nearly five months. We had driven 1,400 kilometres, though the distance from Bagamoyo to Tabora is about 680 kilometres in a straight line.

Burton, Speke, and Grant always referred to this town as Kazeh, though everyone else called it Tabora. Kazeh was founded by the Arabs about 1825 as a caravan depot. It eventually became the hub of the slave routes that spread north to Speke's "Great Lake" (Victoria), to Karagwe on its western shore, west to Lake Tanganyika, and south to the populous shoreline of Lake Malawi. Because Kazeh lay on the main route to the coast, it is not surprising that all the early explorers, including Livingstone and Stanley, journeyed through it.

Burton described the expedition's flamboyant entry into the town. As usual the explorers took steps to impress the local population with their dignity and importance:

Extract ID: 5761

See also

Ondaatje, Christopher Journey to the Source of the Nile
Page Number: 137
Extract Date: 1996

Three lakes

For the two explorers, Kazeh was a major milestone in their journey. They were ready for a rest. They stayed there for five weeks, dismissing much of their caravan and hiring fresh porters before they resumed their trek towards Lake Tanganyika.

Both Burton and Speke were now quite ill, and both suffered from trachoma, an affliction that seriously impairs vision by causing lumps to form on the inside of the eyelids. Burton at this point seemed to be in worse shape than Speke, which may partly explain why he spent most of his time in Kazeh with the Arab traders (who were also slavers). Burton says these Arabs treated him with "open-handed hospitality and hearty good-will."

Speke, on the other hand, spent much of his time in Kazeh gathering information. He writes: "Captain Burton got desperately ill, whilst I picked up all the information that I could gather from the Arabs, with Bombay as interpreter." Implicit in this statement is a growing conflict between the active Speke and the more contemplative Burton. Burton and Speke had been sent to find one great lake, the one shown on Rebmann and Erhardt's map, which they had been shown in the Royal Geographical Society in London and a copy of which they had with them. The Arabs now told them that there were in fact three lakes: Nyassa (now called Lake Malawi) to the south, the Ujiji lake (Lake Tanganyika) to the west, and the "Sea of Ukéréwé" (Lake Victoria) to the north. With Bombay as his interpreter, Speke learned from Snay bin Amir and others that "the Kitangulé and Katonga rivers ran out of the Ukéréwé Lake (Victoria N'yanza), and that another river, which is the Nile, but supposed by them to be the upper portions of the Jub river, ran into the N'yanza." They also originally told Speke that no river flowed out of the "Sea of Ujiji," but they recanted when Speke insisted they must be wrong: "I made them confess that all these rivers ran exactly contrary to the way they first stated…." Speke wrote that, at this time, "… I felt so curious to find out, and so sure in my own mind that the Victoria N'yanza would prove to be the source of the Nile, I proposed going to see it at once, instead of going on to Ujiji. The route, however, to the northward was said to be dangerous … and Captain Burton preferred going west."

Extract ID: 5763
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