Wednesday, July 28, 2010

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DR DAVID LIVINGSTONE ENCOUNTERS WITH THE NGONI

  • Wednesday, July 28, 2010
  • Samuel Kadyakale
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  • From the writings of Sir Harry Johnstone First Governor of The Nyasaland Protectorate May,1913

    "The evidence of Livingstone and other travellers of the fifties, sixties, and seventies, brings home to us the wide- spread devastation caused by bands of Angoni-Zulus. These Zulu raids over East-Central Africa during the nineteenth century were one of the greatest disasters of its history. They had their origin in the convulsions caused in Natal and Zululand by the conquests of Chaka the Destroyer, and their effects long remained written on the surface of Nyasaland, North- east Rhodesia and German East Africa.

    "It was wearisome to see the skulls and bones scattered about everywhere; one would fain not notice, but they are so striking that they cannot be avoided," is an extract from Livingstone's journal as he comes in contact with the Angoni raids in South-west Nyasaland.


    As he begins to leave the basin of the upper Luangwa for the unknown Bemba regions beyond, he notices the uninhabited condition of the country due to the slave raids of the Awemba; a fresh factor in African history. The Awemba or Aba-emba did not come from the south like the Zulus, but from Congoland, and their irruption into South-Central Africa was one of the results of great tribal disturbances there due to the conquests of the Sudanese Bushongo. Livingstone writes in December, 1866: "I shall make this beautiful land (North-east Rhodesia) better known, which is an essential part of the process by which it will become the pleasant haunts of men. It is impossible to describe its rich luxuriance, but most of it is running to waste through the slave-trading and eternal wars."

    Yet while condoling with the Mang'anja survivors from the Yao slave-raids in Nyasaland, he was asked by the men amongst them for guns and powder, not to defend themselves only, but so that they might imitate the Yao and go slave-raiding; and he noted in 1866 that the much-harried A-chewa people, instead of loathing the Mazitu, or "wild beast" Angoni Zulus for their raids, admired them and strove to dress up their young men like them.

    Dr. Livingstone's Expedition to Lake Nyassa in 1861-63

    " At 11 degrees 40' we entered the borders of a tribe of Zulus, called Mazitu or Mazite,who came originally from the south, opposite Sofala or Inhambane. Here the shores of the lake were strewed with skeletons and putrid bodies of the slain. Our land party dreaded meeting the inflictors of the terrible vengeance of which the evidences everywhere met the eye, without a European in their company. So I left theboat,and a mistake separated us from it for three days. The country is mountainous and the spurs of the mountains comes sheer down to the lake. While toiling along up and down steep ravines our most strenuous efforts could not make 5 miles a day in a straight line. The boat had gone on 20 miles, and a storm prevented its return. We met seven Mazite, who seemed as much afraid of me as the men were of them. I went to them unarmed. They wished me to sit in the sun while they sat in the shade, and rattled their shields (a proceeding that inspires terror among the natives) when I refused and came and sat down beside them. They refused to take me to the boat or to their chief; thought that my note-book was a pistol and on parting sped away up the hills like frightened deer. The country had been well peopled, but now skeletons lay in every hut among broken pots and other utensils. No food could be found, and, but for four goats we had with us, we should have starved" -Dr.David Livingstone

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