Vol. II.



All Rights Reserved.

[Pg ii]


[Pg iii]


Country From Ambriz To Loanda—Mossulo—Libongo—Bitumen—River Dande—River Bengo—Quifandongo 1
City of Loanda—Natives—Slavery—Convicts—Theatre and Morals 20
Division of Angola—Wretched Pay of Officials—Abuses by Authorities—Evils of High Import Duties—Silver Mines of Cambambe—Journey to Cambambe—Exploration—Volcanic Rocks—Hornbill—The Plantain-eater—Hyenas 50
Province of Cazengo—Golungo Alto—Gold—Wild Coffee—Iron Smelting—Former Missionaries—Customs—Natives—Productions 84
River Quanza—Calumbo—Bruto—Muxima—Massangano—Dondo—Falls of Cambambe—Dances—Musical Instruments—Quissama—Libollo 112[Pg iv]
Country South of the River Quanza—Cassanza—Novo Redondo—Celis—Cannibals—Lions—Hot Springs—Bees—Egito—Scorpions—River Anha—Catumbella 151
Town of Benguella—Slave-trade—Mundombes—Customs—Copper—Hyenas—Monkeys—Copper Deposit—Gypsum—Hornbills—Birds—Fish—Lions 180
Country between Benguella and Mossamedes—Mossamedes—Curious Deposits of Water—Hyenas—Welwitschia mirabilis—Mirage 212
Climate—Cookery—Drunkenness—Fever—Native Treatment—Ulcers—Smoking Wild-hemp—Native Remedies 233
Customs—Burial—White Ant—Wasps—Fruits—Scents—Spitting-snake—Scarabæus—Lemur 268
Conclusion 307
Appendix 315

[Pg v]


View of the City of St. Paul de Loanda To face page 20
Bellows—Marimba—Native smiths—Rat-trap ”      93
Maxilla and Barber’s shop—Carrying corpse for burial—Quissama Women, and manner of pounding and sifting meal in Angola ”    147
Mundombes and Huts ”    185
Native-smelted Copper—Powder-flask—Mundombe Axe—Manner of securing Fish for drying—Hunters’ fetish (Benguella)—Manner of carrying in the hand (native jug)—Gourd-pipe for smoking Diamba—Wooden dish—Double-handled hoe ”    190
Welwitschias growing in a plain near Mossamedes ”    229
Pelopœus spirifex and nest—Devil of the Road—Dasylus sp.—Caterpillars’ nests—Mantis and Nest—Manis multiscutatum and Ants’ nests ”    277

[Pg 1]



The distance from Ambriz to Loanda is about sixty miles, and the greater part of the country is called Mossulo, from being inhabited by a tribe of that name. These natives have not yet been reduced to obedience by the Portuguese, not from any warlike or valorous opposition on their part, but entirely from the miserable want of energy of the latter in not taking the few wretched towns on the road. Incredible as it may appear, it is nevertheless a fact that to the present day the Mossulos will not allow a white man to pass overland from[Pg 2] Libongo (about half-way from Loanda) to Ambriz, although this last place was occupied in 1855, and several expeditions have since been sent to and from Ambriz to Bembe and San Salvador. Nothing could have been easier than for one of these to have passed through the Mossulo country and to have occupied it, at once doing away with the reproach of allowing a mean tribe to bar a few miles of road almost at the gates of Loanda, the capital of Angola.

One of these expeditions, on its return from chastising the natives of a town on the road to Bembe for robbery, was actually sent to Loanda by road. The Governor-General (Amaral) was then at Ambriz, and being unacquainted with the negro character, and having mistaken humanitarian ideas, gave strict orders that the natives of Mossulo, who had committed several acts of violence, should not be punished, but that speeches should be made to them warning them of future retribution if they continued to misconduct themselves. Their towns and property were not touched, nor were hostages or other security exacted for their future good conduct.

[Pg 3]

The natural consequence was that this clemency was ascribed by the natives to weakness, and that the Portuguese were afraid of their power, as not a hut had been burnt, a root touched, or a fowl killed, and they consequently, in order to give the white men an idea of their power and invincibility, attacked some American and English factories at Mossulo Bay, the white men there having the greatest difficulty to save their lives and property; a Portuguese man-of-war landed some men, and so enabled the traders to get their goods shipped, but the factories were burnt to the ground. This was in September 1859.

I was at Ambriz when the expedition started, so I determined to join it, and examine the country to Loanda.

The expedition consisted of 150 Portuguese and black soldiers, and as many armed “Libertos,” or slaves, who are freemen after having served the Government for seven years; these “Libertos” dragged a light six-pounder gun. The commander was Major (now General) Gamboa, an officer who had seen upwards of twenty years’ service in Moçambique and Angola, and to whom I was indebted[Pg 4] for great friendship during the whole time I was in the country. The major and two officers rode horses; two others and myself were carried in hammocks. We started one afternoon and halted at a small village consisting of only a few huts, at about six miles south of Ambriz. There we supped and slept, and started next morning at daybreak. The start did not occupy much time, as the Portuguese troops and officers in Angola do not make use of tents when on the march, and their not doing so is undoubtedly the cause of a good deal of the sickness and discomfort they suffer. In the evening we arrived at the Bay of Mossulo, where we were hospitably entertained by the English and American traders there established.

The country we passed through on our march was of that strange character that I have described as occurring in the littoral region of Ambriz. In the thickets dotted over the country a jasmine (Corissa sp.) is a principal plant. It grows as a large bush covered with long rigid spines, and bears bunches of rather small white flowers having the scent of the usual jasmine. Also growing in[Pg 5] these thickets, and very often over this species, are two creeping jasmines—the “Jasminum auriculatum” (J. tettensis? Kl.) and “Jasminum multipartitum?

Various kinds of birds abounded, principally doves and the beautiful purple starlings, and on the ground small flocks (from two to four or five) of the bustards Otis ruficrista and Otis picturata were not uncommon, appearing in the distance like snakes, their heads alone being visible over the tops of the short rough grass as they ran along. A small hare is found in abundance, and also several species of ducks in some small marshes near Great Mossulo. Of larger game only some small kinds of antelope are found.

I had gone on some distance ahead of the troops, and on approaching one large town, about a dozen natives armed with muskets stopped my hammock, and told me I must return to Ambriz, as no white man could be allowed to pass. I told them that the soldiers were close behind, and that resistance would be useless, as their town would be taken and burnt if they attempted any; they, however, still persisted in not letting me go forward,[Pg 6] so I had to wait for a few minutes till they saw Major Gamboa and the two officers approaching on horseback, when they scampered off into the bush without even saying good-bye, and on our entering the town we found it deserted save by the king and a few other old men, who were all humility, and protested that they would never more insult or ill treat white men.

Major Gamboa was perfectly convinced of the uselessness of only talking to blacks, his intimate knowledge of them telling him that the only safe plan would have been to have burnt the towns on the road and taken the king and old men to Loanda as hostages, but he had to obey his instructions, and the result was that they attacked the factories and killed a number of natives. The Portuguese, however, instead of punishing this outrage, tamely pocketed the affront, and left the Mossulos in undisputed possession of the road.

In these towns were the largest “fetish” houses I have seen in Angola. One was a large hut built of mud, the walls plastered with white, and painted all over inside and out with grotesque drawings, in black and red, of men and animals.[Pg 7] Inside were three life-size figures very roughly modelled in clay, and of the most indecent description. Behind this hut was a long court the width of the length of the hut, enclosed with walls about six feet high. A number of figures similar in character to those in the hut were standing in this court, which was kept quite clean and bare of grass. What, if any, were the uses to which these “fetish” houses were applied I could not exactly ascertain. I do not believe that they are used for any ceremonials, but that the “fetishes” or spirits are supposed to live in them in the same manner as in the “fetish” houses in the towns in the Ambriz and Bembe country. At one of the towns we saw a number of the natives running away into the bush in the distance, carrying on their backs several of the dead dry bodies of their relatives. I hunted in all the huts to find a dry corpse to take away as a specimen, but without success; they had all been removed.

Next day we continued our journey, and bivouacked on the sea-shore, not very far from Libongo, and near the large town of Quiembe.

On the beach we found the dead trunk of a[Pg 8] large tree that had evidently been cast ashore by the waves, and had been considered a “fetish;” for what reason, in this case, I know not, as trees stranded in this way are common. It was hung all over with strips of cloth and rags of all kinds, shells, &c. As it was dry, it was quickly chopped up for firewood by the soldiers and blacks.

The following morning our road lay along the beach till we reached the dry mouth of the River Lifune, a small stream that only runs during the rainy season. We then struck due inland for about three miles to reach the Portuguese post of Libongo, consisting of a small force commanded by a lieutenant. This officer (Loforte) I had known at Bembe, and he gave us a cordial welcome.

The “Residencia,” or residence of the “Chefe,” as the commandants are called, was a large, rambling old house of only one floor, and it contained the greatest number of rats that I have ever seen in any one place.

One large room was assigned to the use of Major Gamboa, two officers, and myself, a bed being made in each corner of the room. We had taken[Pg 9] the precaution of leaving the candle burning on the floor in the middle of the room, but we had scarcely lain down when we began to hear lively squeaks and rustlings that seemed to come from walls, roof, and floor. In a few minutes the rats issued boldly from all parts, running down the walls and dropping in numbers from the roof on to the beds, and attacking the candle. We shouted, and threw our boots, sticks, and everything else that was available at them, but it was of no use, and we could hardly save the candle. It was useless to think of sleep under these circumstances, for we considered that if the rats were so bold with a light in the room, they would no doubt eat us up alive in the dark, so we dressed ourselves, and pitched our hammocks in the open air, under some magnificent tamarind-trees, and there slept in comfort.

Libongo is celebrated for its mineral pitch, which was formerly much used at Loanda for tarring ships and boats. The inhabitants of the district used to pay their dues or taxes to government in this pitch. It is not collected at the present time, but I do not know the reason why.

[Pg 10]

I was curious to see the locality in which it was found, as it had not been visited before by a white man, so Lieutenant Loforte supplied me with an old man as guide, and Major Gamboa and myself started one morning at daybreak.

We had been told that we might reach the place and return in good time for dinner in the evening, and consequently only provided a small basket of provisions for breakfast and lunch; we travelled about six miles, and reached a place where we found half-a-dozen huts of blacks belonging to Libongo, engaged in their mandioca plantations. These tried hard to dissuade us from proceeding farther, saying that we should only reach the pitch springs next morning. I, of course, decided to proceed, but Major Gamboa, who did not take the interest in the exploration that I did, determined to return to breakfast at Libongo at once, leaving me the provisions for my supposed two days’ journey.

After a short rest I started off again, and about mid-day arrived at the place I was in search of. It was the head of a small valley or gully, worn by the waters from the plain on their way[Pg 11] to the sea, which was not far off, as although it could not be seen from where I stood, the roll of the surf on the beach could just be heard. It must have been close inland to the place where we had bivouacked a few nights before, and had burnt the “fetish” tree for firewood.

The rock was a friable fine sandstone, so impregnated with the bitumen or pitch, that it oozed out from the sides of the horizontal beds and formed little cakes on the steps or ledges, from an ounce or two in weight to masses of a couple of pounds or more.

Although it was very interesting to see a rock so impregnated with pitch as to melt out with the heat of the sun, I was disappointed, as from the reports of the natives I had been led to believe that it was a regular spring or lake. My guide was most anxious that I should return, and as I was preparing to shoot a bird, begged me not to fire my gun and attract the attention of the natives of the town of Quiengue, close by, whom we could hear beating drums and firing off muskets. Next day we knew at Libongo that these demonstrations had been for the purpose of calling together[Pg 12] the natives, to attack the factories at Mossulo Bay.

There was great talk at Loanda about sending an expedition to punish these natives, but, as usual, it ended in smoke, and no white man has since been allowed to pass through the Mossulo country.

Several years after, the King of Mossulo sent an embassy to me at Ambriz, begging me to open a factory at Mossulo. On condition that I, or any white man in my employ, should be free to pass backwards and forwards from Loanda to Ambriz, I promised to do so, and was taken to the king’s town at Mossulo, where it was all arranged. I did not believe them, of course, but I gave a few fathoms of cloth and other goods that they might build me a hut on the cliff at Mossulo Bay, which they did, and I then declared myself ready to send a clerk with goods to commence trading, as soon as they should send me hammock-boys to carry me to Loanda. As I expected, they never sent them, and for several years, whilst the hut on the cliff lasted, it served as a capital landmark to the steamers and ships on the coast. The Governor-General[Pg 13] at Loanda, to prevent traders from establishing factories at Mossulo Grande, warned us at Ambriz that if we did so we must take all risks, that he would not only not protect us, but that all goods for trading at Mossulo would have to be entered and cleared at the Loanda custom-house. Far from such disgraceful pusillanimity being censured at Loanda, it was, with few exceptions, considered by the Portuguese there as a very praiseworthy measure.

The rock of the country at Libongo is a black shale; also strongly impregnated with bitumen. A Portuguese at Loanda, believing that this circumstance indicated coal in depth, sunk a shaft some few fathoms in this shale, and I visited the spot to see if any organic remains were to be found in the rock extracted, but could not discover any. About half way from Libongo to the place where I saw the bituminous sandstone formation, I observed a well-defined rocky ridge of quartz running about east and west, which appeared to have been irrupted through the shale.

The ground about Libongo is evidently very fertile, the mandioca and other plantations being[Pg 14] most luxuriant, and I particularly noticed some very fine sugar-cane. Some of the tamarind-trees were extremely fine, and on the stem of a very large one a couple of the “engonguis,” or double bells, were nailed, which had belonged to the former native town there, and as they are considered “fetish,” no black would steal or touch them.

A few hours’ journey (or about fifteen miles) to the south of Libongo is the River Dande, navigable only by large barges, and draining a fertile country.

It is only within the last two years that the value of this river, for trading or produce, has attracted attention at Loanda, and I am glad to say that it was owing to two foreign houses that trading was commenced there on anything like a respectable scale. The interior is rich in coffee, gum-copal, ground-nuts, and india-rubber, and this country promises an important future; cattle thrive here, and Loanda is now supplied with a small quantity of excellent butter and cream cheese from some herds in the vicinity of this river near the bar.

Limestone is also burnt into lime, which is sold at a good price at Loanda; and were the Portuguese[Pg 15] and natives more enterprising and industrious, the banks of the river would be covered with valuable gardens and plantations; but apathy reigns supreme, and the authorities at Loanda prevent any attempt to get out of this state by the obstructions of all kinds of petty and harassing imposts, rules, and regulations, having no possible aim but the collection of a despicable amount of fees to keep alive and in idleness a few miserable officials.

The country is comparatively level, and calls for no particular description, till about eighteen miles southward the high and bold cliff of Point Lagostas (Point Lobsters) marks the bay into which runs the beautiful little river Bengo, or Zenza, as it is called farther inland.

This is even a smaller river than the Dande, though more important from its near proximity to Loanda, and the remarks as to the wonderful indifference and hindrance to the development of the River Dande, apply with still greater force to the Bengo, a very mine of wealth at the doors of Loanda! It is hardly possible to restrain within reasonable limits the expression of surprise at the fact that Loanda, with its thousands of inhabitants,[Pg 16] should be still destitute of a good supply of drinking water, when there is a river of splendid water only nine miles off, whence it receives an insignificant and totally inadequate supply brought in casks only, carried by a few rotten barges and canoes that are often prevented from leaving or entering the river for days together, on account of the surf at the bar. A small cask of Bengo water, holding about six gallons, costs from twopence to fourpence! All kinds of fruit and vegetables grow luxuriantly on the banks of the Bengo, and yet Loanda, where nothing can grow from its sandy and arid soil, is almost unprovided with either—a few heads of salad or cabbage, or a few turnips and carrots being there considered a fine present.

At Point Lagostas a good deal of gypsum is found, and also specimens of native sulphur.

Both the River Bengo and the River Dande are greatly infested by alligators, and a curious idea prevails amongst all the natives of Angola, that the liver of the alligator is a deadly poison, and that it is employed as such by the “feiticeiros” or “fetish”-men.

The Manatee is also not uncommon in these[Pg 17] rivers;—this curious mammal is called by the Portuguese “Peixe mulher” or woman fish, from its breasts being said to resemble those of a woman. Near the mouth of the Dande this animal is sometimes captured by enclosing a space, during the high tides, with a strong rope-net made of baobab fibre, so that when the tide falls it is stranded and easily killed. I was never so fortunate as to see one of these animals, and am therefore unable to describe it from personal observation, but it is said to be most like a gigantic seal. I once saw a quantity of the flesh in a canoe on the River Quanza, and was told that the greater part had been already sold, and I had given me a couple of strips of the hide of one that had been shot in the River Loge at Ambriz. These strips are about seven feet long and half an inch thick, of a yellowish colour, and semi-transparent. They are used as whips, being smooth and exceedingly tough. The flesh is good eating, though of no particular flavour, and is greatly liked by the natives. The marshes and lagoons about the River Bengo are full of wild duck and other water-fowl, and are favourite[Pg 18] sporting places of the officers of the English men-of-war when at Loanda. The Portuguese, not having the love of sport greatly developed, seldom make excursions to them.

The country from the Bengo to Loanda rises suddenly, and the coast line is high and bold, but the soil is very arid and sandy, the rocks being arenaceous, evidently of recent formation, and full of casts of shells.

There is much admixture of oxide of iron, and some of the sandy cliffs and dunes close to Loanda are of a beautiful red from it. The vegetation is, as might be expected, of a sterile character, being principally coarse grass, the Sanseviera Angolensis, a few shrubs, euphorbias, and a great number of giant baobabs. Though the vegetation is comparatively scarce, birds of several species are common; different kinds of doves are especially abundant, as are several of the splendidly coloured starlings; kingfishers are very common, and remarkable for their habit of choosing a high and bare branch of a tree to settle on, from whence, in the hottest part of the day, they incessantly utter their loud and plaintive whistle, and, after darting down on[Pg 19] the grasshoppers and other insect prey, return again to the same branch.

The exquisitely coloured roller (Coracias caudata) is also very common in the arid country surrounding Loanda.

The pretty runners (Cursorius Senegalensis, and C. bisignatus, n. sp.) are also seen in little flocks on the sandy plains, and are most elegant in their carriage as they swiftly run along the ground. Two or three species of bustards are also common.

The great road from the interior skirts the River Bengo for some miles to the bar, where it turns south to Loanda; and the last resting or sleeping place for the natives carrying produce is at a place called Quifandongo, consisting of a row of grog-shops and huts on either side of the road.

It is a curious sight to see hundreds of carriers from the interior lying down on the ground in the open air, each asleep with his load by his side. A march of two hours brings them to a slope leading down to the bay, at the end of which Loanda is built.

[Pg 20]


The city of St. Paul de Loanda is situated in a beautiful bay, backed by a line of low, sandy cliff that at its southern end sweeps outward with a sharp curve, and terminates at the water’s edge in a bold point, on which is perched the Fort of San Miguel (Plate X.).

The “Cidade Baixa,” or lower town, is built on the shore of the bay, on the flat sandy ground thus enclosed on the land side.

The “Cidade Alta,” or high town, is built on the high ground, at the end of which stands the fort above named.

In front of the bay a long, low, and very narrow spit of pure sand stretches like a natural break-water, and protects the harbour of Loanda perfectly from the waves and surf of the ocean.


Plate X.
To face page 20.

[Pg 21]

A small opening called the Barra (or bar) da Corimba, about a mile south of Loanda, breaks the end of this long spit into an island; the rest joins the mainland about twelve miles to the south.

The whole length of the spit is very low and narrow, so that in high tides the waves break over it in places, but, singular to say, it has never been washed away at any place.

The bay was formerly much deeper;—vessels could anchor quite near the town, and could pass out of the Barra da Corimba, but now they have to anchor about a couple of miles to the north of the town, and boats only can pass over this bar.

A number of huts inhabited by native fishermen are built on the island, also a few houses belonging to the Portuguese, who are fond of going over to it for the purpose of bathing in the open sea beyond. The cocoanut-palm tree thrives very well on this sandy spit, but only a comparatively small number are growing on it.

Some years ago the Government sent to Goa for a Portuguese planter to plant this valuable[Pg 22] palm, and to teach the natives its cultivation. On his arrival he was only afforded means to sow a very small number, and was then appointed postmaster of Loanda, an office he held for many years, till his death, and I do not believe that a single cocoa-palm has been planted since, either by Government or private individuals; and thus a valuable and easy branch of cultivation and source of wealth is entirely neglected.

Loanda contains about 10,000 or 12,000 inhabitants, of whom about one-third are whites. The houses are generally large and commodious, built of stone, and roofed with red tiles; blue is a favourite colour for painting window-sills, door-posts, &c., and gives a very pretty appearance to the city. The greater part of the houses consist only of a ground floor,—the better class have a first, but rarely a second floor. Verandahs more or less open are the rule, in which it is customary to take meals.

Not many houses have been built within the last few years; they mostly date from the time when Loanda was a wealthy city, and the chief shipping port for slaves to the Brazils, when as[Pg 23] many as twelve or fifteen vessels were to be seen at a time taking in their cargoes of blacks. The slavers on their way out to Loanda used to bring timber from Rio de Janeiro for the rafters and flooring of the houses, and so hard and durable was it that it can be seen at the present day in the old buildings, as perfect and sound as when first put down, resisting perfectly the white ant, beetle larvæ, dry rot, and mildew that soon attack and destroy native woods.

Loanda has improved immensely since I first landed there in February 1858. It was then in a very dilapidated and abandoned condition. No line of steamers communicating with Europe then existed; four and six months elapsed without a vessel arriving, except perhaps one from Rio de Janeiro with sugar and rum; the slave-trade had ceased there for some years, and hardly any trade in produce had been started, a little wax, ivory, and orchilla-weed, being almost the only exports.

There was no trade or navigation whatever on the River Quanza, and hardly any shops in the town, so that provisions and other necessaries were constantly exhausted and at famine prices. A[Pg 24] large subsidy was granted to the colony by Portugal, to defray its expenses, always far in excess of its receipts. Now there is a monthly line of large steamers from Lisbon, another from Liverpool, and a considerable number of sailing-vessels constantly loading and discharging, to attest to the wonderful increase in the trade of the place. The colony now pays its own expenses, and shows a yearly surplus; and a couple of steamers running constantly from the River Quanza to Loanda can hardly empty the river of its produce.

All the public buildings are in an efficient state, a large extent of flat, stinking shore has been filled up and embanked, ruins of churches and monasteries cleared away, walks and squares laid out and planted, a large new market is being built, and good shops and stores are now abundantly supplied with every description of European goods; and if a good supply of water were brought to the city from the River Bengo, there would certainly not be a finer place to live in on the whole Western Coast of Africa.

From most of the houses having large yards, in which are the kitchens, stores, well, and habitations[Pg 25] for the slaves and servants, the city is luckily very open, and there is as yet no overcrowding; the roads and streets are also wide and spacious. The principal street, running through the whole length of the town, is remarkably wide, and for some distance has a row of banyan trees in the centre, under the shade of which a daily market or fair is held of cloth and dry goods.

This is called a “quitanda,” the native name for a market, and the sellers are almost all women, and are either free blacks, who trade on their own account, or are the slaves of other blacks, mulattoes, or whites.

Many of the natives and carriers from the interior prefer buying their cloth, crockery, &c., of these open-air retailers, to going into a shop.

Four sticks stuck in the ground, and a few “loandos,” or papyrus mats, form a little hut or booth in which presides the (generally) fat and lazy negress vendor.

On the ground are laid out temptingly pieces of cotton, gaily coloured handkerchiefs, cheap prints, indigo stripes, and other kinds of cloths; “quindas,” or baskets with balls and reels of cotton,[Pg 26] seed-beads, needles, &c.; knives, plates, cups and saucers, mugs and jugs, looking-glasses, empty bottles, and a variety of other objects. At other stalls may be seen balls of white clay called “pemba,” and of “tacula,” a red wood of the same name rubbed to a fine paste with water on a rough stone, and dried in the sun. Resting against the trunks of the trees are long rolls of native tobacco, plaited like fine rope and wound round a stick, which a black is selling at the rate of a few inches for a copper coin, the measure being a bit of stick attached by a cord to the roll of tobacco, or round the neck of the black. Others sell clay tobacco-pipes and pipe-stems, and as all men and women smoke as much tobacco as they can afford, a thriving trade is driven in the fragrant weed. All the tobacco used by the natives is grown in the country; but little is imported from abroad, and this is mostly purchased by the Portuguese for the weekly allowance which it is customary in Angola to make to the slaves.

“Diamba,” or wild hemp for smoking, is also largely sold.

The women vendors at these booths are amongst[Pg 27] the best-looking and cleanest to be seen in Loanda, and with often quite small and well-formed hands and feet; they are very sharp traders, and all squat or lie down at full length on the hot sand, enjoying the loud gossip and chatter so dear to the African women with their friends and customers.

A square at the back of the custom-house is the general market of Loanda, and presents a curious scene, from the great variety of articles sold, and the great excitement of buyers and sellers crying out their wares and making their purchases at the top of their voices. The vendors, here again, are mostly women, and, as no booths are allowed to be put up, they wear straw hats with wide brims, almost as large as an ordinary umbrella, to shade themselves. Every kind of delicacy to captivate the negro palate and fancy is to be had here:—wooden dishes full of small pieces of lean, measly-looking pork; earthen pots full of cooked beans and palm-oil, retailed out in small platters, at so much a large wooden spoonful, and eaten on the spot; horrible-looking messes of fish, cakes, and pastry, &c., everything thickly[Pg 28] covered with black flies and large bluebottles; large earthen jars, called “sangas,” and gourds full of “garapa,” or indian-corn beer; live fowls and ducks, eggs, milk, Chili peppers, small white tomatoes, bananas, and, in the season, oranges, mangoes sour-sop, and other fruits, “quiavos,” a few cabbage-leaves and vegetables, firewood, tobacco, pipes and stems, wild hemp, mats, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, palm and ground-nut oil, and dried and salt fish. The women squat on their heels, with their wares in front, all round and over the square, while hundreds of natives are jabbering and haggling over their bargains, as if their existence depended on their noisy exertions.

To the markets, especially, the black women take their dirty babies (they all seem to have babies, and the babies seem always dirty), and they let them roll about in the sand and rubbish, along with a swarm of children, mongrel dogs, and most miserable, lean, long-snouted pigs that turn over the garbage and quarrel for the choice morsels.

There are two other marketing places, one principally for fruit and firewood, the other where fried fish is the chief article, and where a number of[Pg 29] negresses are always busy frying fish in oil in the open air. The natives swarm round to buy and eat the hot morsels which the greasy cooks are taking out of the hissing pans placed on stones on the ground over a wood fire,—these they put into wooden platters by their side, and then suck their oily fingers with their thick lips or rub them over their warm and perspiring faces and heads.

Loanda is most abundantly supplied with fish of many kinds, and fortunate it is for many of its inhabitants that the sea is so prodigal of its riches to them. The fish-market is an open space at the southern end of the town, under the cliff on which stands the Fort of San Miguel. Here, in the early morning and in the afternoon, come the fishermen with laden canoes and toss their cargoes on the sandy beach, loud with a perfect Babel of buyers and vendors. The smallest copper coin enables a native to buy enough fish for one day;—the crowd that collects daily at the fish-market, and the strange scene that it presents of noisy bustle, can therefore be imagined.

A number of women and children are always busy scaling and gutting fish, or cutting the large[Pg 30] “pungos” and sharks into small pieces in large wooden tubs, where they lie slopping in their reddish, watery blood; others are frying fish, and roasting a fish like a herring, held in cleft sticks (Plate XIV.), six or seven in each, stuck upright in the sand all round a fire, or opening fish flat to dry in the sun for sale to the natives from the interior. The fish are caught, both in the bay and out at sea, with hook and line and with nets made of native-spun cotton.

The quantity of fish on the coast is incredible. I have often watched the bay at night to listen to the wonderful swishing noise made by the fish on the surface of the water, as they were scared by every flash of lightning. Steaming once into Ambriz Bay, its whole surface was alive and boiling, as it were, with fish. The captain of the steamer, who had in his lifetime been to all parts of the world, declared that he had never witnessed such a sight.

A small shark is often caught which is much esteemed by the natives, and is dried in the sun; also the “pungo,” which attains to as much as a hundred pounds in weight. It is no unusual sight[Pg 31] to see one slung on a stick passed through the gills and carried on the shoulders of two blacks, with the tail dragging on the ground. It has very large, flat scales, and the flesh is not at all coarse in flavour. Latterly, the Portuguese have salted this fish in barrels, and when I was last at Loanda I was told of one man who had already salted 2000, and the season was not then over. It is this fish that is said by the natives to make the very loud and extraordinary noise that one hears so plainly at night or early morning, when in a boat or ship; it is said to press its snout against the vessel and then make the curious sound. I have heard it so strongly and plainly when lying in a bunk on board steamers that I have no doubt whatever the fish must have been touching the side of the vessel, and I have seen the blacks at other times splashing the water with an oar, because the loud drumming of the pungo kept them awake when lying in the bottom of a barge. The sound is like a deep tremolo note on a harmonium, and is quite as loud, but as if played under water. This low, sustained note has a very strange effect when first heard so unexpectedly in the still water. It is[Pg 32] a migratory fish, and comes in shoals on the coast only from about June to August.

Another fish like a small cod, called “corvina,” is also migratory, visiting the coast from July to September, and appears to come from a northerly direction, as it is a month later in arriving at Mossamedes than it is at Benguella, a distance of about 160 miles.

Till quite lately the roads and streets of Loanda were of fine, loose, red sand, rendering walking difficult and uncomfortable, particularly in the daytime, when the sand becomes burning hot from the sun’s rays; hence very few people ever walked even short distances, and the consequence was the constant recourse to the “maxilla” for locomotion. This is a flat frame of wood and cane-work, with one, or sometimes two arms at the side, and a low back provided with a cushion. This frame is hung by cords to hooks on a “bordão,” or palm-pole, about fifteen or eighteen feet long, and is carried by two blacks (Plate XII.). It is a very comfortable and lazy contrivance, and the carriers take it easily at the rate of about three to four miles an hour. The maxilla is provided with a light painted[Pg 33] waterproof cover, and with curtains to draw all round and effectually hide the inmate, if necessary. The Portuguese ladies were never seen walking out at any time, and when going to church, or paying visits, always went in a maxilla closely curtained that no one might see them. It is difficult to explain the reason for this, but I believe that a fear of Mrs. Grundy was at the bottom of it.

There is a very fair military band at Loanda, which plays twice a week in the high town, and once in a square near the bay. When I was last at Loanda with my wife, two other English ladies were also there with their husbands, and as we all listened to the band regularly, enjoying the cool evening promenade, we, no doubt, at first shocked the Portuguese greatly by so doing. It had at last, however, the good effect of bringing many of the Portuguese ladies out also, and they did not draw the curtains of their maxillas quite so closely as they used. An officer from Lisbon explained to my wife that the reason his countrywomen did not like to go about and be seen was that they were so ugly! But I can emphatically testify that this[Pg 34] was an ill-natured libel on the white ladies of Loanda.

There is a commodious custom-house in the centre of the town. On the quay are some benches on which the merchants sit in the afternoon to discuss current events, and to retail the choice bits of scandal of the day. There are several large and roomy Roman Catholic churches in the lower town, at which the attendance, however, is not very great, except at some of the principal festivals. I once saw, in a procession from one of the churches, in carnival time, a number of little black girls dressed to represent angels, with white wings affixed to their backs, and intensely funny they looked. On these occasions, and also at weddings, christenings, &c., quantities of rockets are sent up in the daytime, no feast being considered complete without an abundant discharge of these fire-works, to the immense delight of the black juvenile population, who yell and scream like demons and throw and roll themselves about in the sand.

At several places may be seen open barbers’ shops for the natives, distinguished by a curious sign, namely, two strips of blue cloth edged with[Pg 35] red, about three or four feet long and six inches wide, stretched diagonally over the entrance (Plate XII.). Inside, a chair covered with a clean white cotton cloth—with the threads at the ends pulled out for about four inches, to leave a lace-like design, called “crivo”—invites customers to enter and sit down, and have their heads shaved quite bare, the usual custom at Loanda, particularly of the negro women.

The dress of the blacks at Loanda is the same as elsewhere in Angola;—a cloth round the waist reaching to the knees or ankles and another thrown over the shoulders, or a cotton shirt, is the most common. Those who can afford it are fond of dressing in white man’s costume of coat and trousers, but the grand ambition of all is to possess an ordinary chimney-pot hat, which is worn on special occasions, no matter whether the wearer be dressed in cloths or coat.

The costume of the black women of Loanda is hideous. An indigo black cotton cloth is folded round the body and envelopes it tightly from the armpits to the feet; another long piece of the same black cloth covers the head and is crossed[Pg 36] over the bosom, or hangs down loosely over the shoulders, showing only the face and arms.

The correct costume is to have a striped, or other cotton cloth or print under the black cloths, but as only these latter are seen, the women have a dreadfully funereal appearance. The poorer class and slaves wear bright cotton prints, &c., and always a white or red handkerchief folded narrow and wound round the head very cleverly, suiting their dark skins remarkably well. A very common ornament round the forehead is a narrow strip of seed bead-work of different colours and patterns, and the women are fond of copying the large capital letters of the advertisements in the Portuguese newspapers, quite unconscious, of course, of the meaning of their pattern:—I once saw “Piannos para alugar” (Pianos for hire) worked in beads round the head of a black woman.

The Loanda women have a singular habit of talking aloud to themselves as they walk along, which at first strikes a stranger very forcibly; the men do the same, but to nothing like the extent that the women do. All loads are carried by the women on their heads, in all parts of Angola, and[Pg 37] the ease with which they balance anything on their shaven heads is wonderful. It is not difficult to understand that baskets or heavy loads can be easily balanced, but it is no uncommon thing to see women and girls walking along with a tea-cup, bottle, tumbler, or wine glass on their heads, and turning round and talking without the least fear of its dropping off. The manner in which they balance the “sangas,” or earthen pots in which they carry water, is the most curious of all; these are large, and have round, rather pointed bottoms; a handkerchief is rolled round into a small cushion and put on the side of the head, and the “sanga” is placed on it, not quite on its bottom, but a little on one side.

All the natives of Angola, but particularly the women of Loanda, are very fond of “cola,” the beautiful rose-coloured fleshy fruit of the Sterculia cola. The tree bearing it is very handsome, with small pretty flowers having a powerful and most disgusting odour. The first time I became acquainted with the tree was at Bembe. I was out walking, and suddenly noticed a very bad smell, and on asking a black with me where it could[Pg 38] possibly come from, thinking it was from some dead animal in a high state of decomposition, he laughed, and pointing to a tree said it came from the flowers on it;—I plucked a small bouquet of them, and when I reached home put them in a wine-glass of water to keep them fresh, and left them on the table of the padre (with whom I was then staying). When he went into his room he began to call out for his servants, and asked them why they had allowed cats to get into his room, and it was some time before he was pacified, or convinced that the few innocent-looking flowers had made the room stink to that degree. The flowers are succeeded by large pods, in which are contained five or more large seeds like peeled chestnuts, closely wedged together, soft and fleshy, and with a very peculiar, disagreeable, acrid, bitter flavour. The natives eat a small piece of “cola” with a bit of green ginger the first thing in the morning, and wash it down with a dram of gin or other spirit.

Amongst the mulattoes and black women it is usual to send a fresh “cola” as a present, and there is a symbolical language expressed by the[Pg 39] number of nicks made on it by the nail, of greeting, good wishes, &c.

A considerable quantity of “cola” was formerly exported to Rio de Janeiro from Loanda, packed in moist clay or earth to keep it fresh.

Servants in Loanda are almost all slaves. It is very difficult to hire free men or women. Those seeking service as carriers, porters &c., are nearly all slaves to other natives. Slaves as a rule are very well treated in Angola by the Portuguese, and cases of neglect or ill-usage are rare. Public opinion is strongly opposed to ill-treatment of slaves, and there is a certain amount of rivalry in presenting household slaves, especially well-dressed, and with a healthy appearance, and even on the plantations inland, or removed from such influence, I never knew or heard of slaves being worked or treated in the hard and cruel manner in which they are said to have been in the Southern States of America, or at the present day in Cuba. It is easy for slaves in Angola to run away, and it is hardly worth while to take any steps to recapture them; and if they have any vice or bad habits, it is so well known that harsh[Pg 40] measures will never cure them of it, that they are sold at once. An ordinary slave is not worth much, 3l. to 5l. being the utmost value. If proficient in any trade, or good cooks, then they fetch as much as 20l. or more. Many of the old-established houses make it a point of never selling a slave they have once bought; and when a slave requires correction or punishment, he is delivered over to the police for that purpose, and as desired, he is either placed in the slave-gang, chained by the neck to others, and made to work at scavengering, carrying stone, &c., or receives a thrashing with a cat-o’-nine-tails, or a number of strokes on the palms of the hands with a flat, circular piece of wood pierced with five holes and with a short handle.

The abolition of slavery in the Portuguese possessions was decreed some years ago. The names of all the existing slaves had to be inscribed in the Government office as “Libertos,” and the owners were obliged to supply them with proper food, clothing, and medicine, and were not allowed to punish them; while they, on their part, were required to work for seven years as compensation to[Pg 41] their owners, at the expiration of which time they were to be free. This has been allowed to remain virtually a dead-letter, the slaves never having had the law explained to them, and the authorities not troubling themselves to enforce their liberation at the end of the seven years.

The complete abolition of slavery in Angola has, however, been decreed to take place in the year 1878; and should the measure be strictly enforced, the total annihilation and ruin of the thriving and rising cotton and sugar-cane plantations, &c., will be the result, with a vast amount of misery to the thousands of liberated blacks.

It is a pity that philanthropy should blindly put so sudden a stop to a custom that has existed from time immemorial, and of which the evils are, in a country like Angola, exceedingly slight. The effect of this measure will be to destroy its nascent industry, the only means for its progress and development, and will plunge a great part of its population into helpless misery for years to come. Let slavery be abolished by all means, but only in the most gradual manner, and in proportion to the industrial and moral advancement of the race.

[Pg 42]

The natives of Angola are specially fitted for the introduction of habits of industry and usages of civilization, as they are naturally of a peaceable, quiet, and orderly disposition. The difference between them and the natives of Sierra Leone and the rest of the West Coast is very striking and pleasing. They have none of the disgusting swagger, conceit, or cant of the former, but are invariably civil and kindly, and under a firm and enlightened policy they would become more really civilized and industrious than any other natives of the West Coast.

That such would be the case is abundantly proved by what has already been done under the Portuguese in Angola, notwithstanding the intolerable system of rapine and oppression which the natives have borne for so many years from their government, a system in which only quite recently has any improvement been noticed. Were the natives otherwise than inoffensive and incapable of enmity, they would long ago have swept away the rotten power of the Portuguese in that large extent of territory.

Two good paved roads lead from the lower to the[Pg 43] upper town of Loanda; in this are the Governor’s palace, the prison, the treasury and other public offices, the barracks, and the military and general hospital. This is the healthiest part of the town, being fully exposed to the strong sea breeze, and splendid views are obtained from it of the bay, shipping, and town to the north, and of the coast and the “Ilha” or island to the south.

The country inland, immediately beyond the town, is dotted with “mosseques” or country-houses and plantations, and in one depression or valley are situated the huts comprising the dwelling-places of the native population, which have lately been removed from the back of the lower town, where they were a nuisance. In the “Cidade Alta” there existed till lately the ruins of the former cathedral: these were cleared away and a tower built on the spot, in which are a few meteorological instruments, and observations of temperature, height of barometer, &c., are taken daily. The extensive ruins of a monastery have also been levelled, and a public garden laid out on their site. These ruins gave some idea of the importance of Loanda in former and richer times.

[Pg 44]

A tame pelican has lived in the “Cidade Alta” for some years. He is fed daily with a ration of fresh fish from the Governor’s palace, and flies over every morning to the island to have his bath and plume himself at the water’s edge, returning regularly after completing his ablutions. He is very playful, and is fond of giving the nigger children sly pokes and snaps, or trying to pick the buttons off people’s coats. On the evenings when the band plays he may be seen promenading about with becoming gravity as if he enjoyed the music. He is very fond of being taken notice of, and having his head, and the soft pouch under his long bill, stroked.

About a mile from the high town, on the road south to Calumbo on the River Quanza, is an old and deep well called the “mayanga,” where hundreds of blacks flock daily to draw a limited supply of clear though slightly brackish water, but the best to be had in Loanda, the usual wells affording water quite unfit for drinking purposes.

The vegetation about Loanda is scanty, but a milky-juiced, thin-stemmed euphorbia, called “Cazoneira,” and the cashew-tree, grow very abundantly[Pg 45] on the cliffs, and inland about the “mosseques;”—mandioca, beans, &c., grow sparingly in the sandy, arid soil.

Oxen thrive, but very little attention is given to rearing them, Loanda being supplied with cattle from the interior for the beef consumed by the population.

Angola is one of the penal settlements of Portugal, where capital punishment was abolished some years ago, and whence the choicest specimens of ruffians and wholesale assassins are sent to Loanda to be treated with the greatest consideration by the authorities. On arriving on the coast, some are enlisted as soldiers, but the more important murderers generally come provided with money and letters of recommendation that ensure them their instant liberty, and they start grog-shops, &c., where they rob and cheat, and in a few years become rich and independent and even influential personages.

Although most of the convicts are sentenced to hard labour, very few are made to work at all; but I must do these gentlemen the justice of saying that their behaviour in Angola is generally very good, and murders or violence committed by them[Pg 46] are extremely rare, though they may have been guilty of many in Portugal,—the reason of this furnishes an argument against the abolition of capital punishment; it is because they have the certainty of being killed if they commit a murder in Angola, whereas in their mother country they may perpetrate any number of crimes with the knowledge that if punished at all, it is at most by simple transportation to a fine country like Angola, where many have made their fortunes, and where no hardships await them.

In Angola they are thrashed for every crime, and none survive the punishment if such crime has been of any magnitude. One of the few cases that I remember at Loanda was that of two convicts who agreed to kill and rob another who kept a low grog-shop, and who was supposed to be possessed of a small sum of money. They accomplished their purpose one night, and returned to the hut where one of them lived, to wash away the traces of their crime, and hide the money they had stolen. A little girl, the child of one of the murderers, was in bed in a small room in the hut at the time, and heard the whole of the proceedings. Before leaving,[Pg 47] the other assassin, suddenly remembering the presence of the child in the adjoining room, declared that she might have heard their doings and that it was necessary to kill her also, lest she might divulge their crime. The monsters approached her little bed for that purpose, but she feigned sleep so successfully that they spared her life, thinking she had been fast asleep.

The next day the child informed a woman of what she had heard the night before, and the inhuman father and his companion were arrested, tried, and condemned to receive a thousand stripes each. They were thrashed until it was considered that they had had enough for that day, but luckily both died on their way to the hospital. At the investigation or inquest held on their bodies, the doctor certified that their deaths had been caused by catching cold when in a heated condition on their way to the hospital from the place of punishment!

In Angola convicts cannot run away, nor would they meet with protection anywhere, and they would most certainly be killed off quietly for any crime they might commit, and no one would care to inquire how they came by their death.

[Pg 48]

The police of Loanda are all blacks, but officered by Portuguese. They manage to preserve public order pretty well, and are provided with a whistle to call assistance, as in Portugal. No slave is allowed to be about at night after nine o’clock unless provided with a pass or note from his master.

The lighting of the city is by oil-lamps suspended at the corners of the streets by an iron framework, so hinged as to allow the lamp to be lowered when required for cleaning and lighting, and it is secured by a huge flat padlock.

The military band plays twice a week. There are no places of public amusement except the theatre, which is a fine one for so small a place as Loanda, but only amateur representations are given. It was once closed for a considerable length of time on account of a difference of opinion amongst the inhabitants as to whether only the few married and single ladies should be admitted, or whether the many ladies living under a diversity of arrangements should be on equal terms with the rest. This very pretty quarrel was highly amusing, and gave rise to most lively scandal and[Pg 49] recrimination between the two contending parties, but the latter and more numerous and influential section carried the day, and ever since the doors have been open to all classes of the fair sex, and the boxes on a gala night may be seen filled with the swells of the place, accompanied by the many black, mulatto, and white lady examples of the very elastic state of morals in fashion in Angola.

There is a well attended billiard-room and café, and lately an hotel was opened. There is not much society in Loanda, as but few of the Portuguese bring their wives and families with them, and there are but few white women.

An official Gazette is published weekly, but it seldom gives any news beyond appointments, orders, and decrees, movements of shipping, &c.; a newspaper was attempted, but owing to its violent language it was suppressed for a time and its editors imprisoned. There are at present two newspapers, but they indulge abundantly in scurrilous language and personalities. There is no doubt that a well-conducted newspaper, exposing temperately the many abuses, and ventilating the questions of interest in the country, would be of great benefit.

[Pg 50]


The province of Angola is divided by the Portuguese into four governments, viz., Ambriz (or Dom Pedro V.), Loanda, Benguella, and Mossamedes. These are again subdivided into districts, each ruled by a military “chefe” or chief subordinate to the governors of each division, and these in their turn to the Governor-General of the province at Loanda. In this great extent of country under Portuguese rule, from the difficulty and delay in the communications with the central head of military and civil government at Loanda, and from the fact that the “chefes” combine both military[Pg 51] and civil functions, the tyrannical injustice and spoliation the natives have so long suffered at their hands can be easily imagined.

Other causes also concurred to produce this disgraceful state of things in Angola. The wretched pay of the Portuguese officers almost obliged them to prey upon the utterly defenceless population. The great bribery and corruption by means of which places that bled well or yielded “emoluments,” as they were called, were filled; the ignorant and ordinary class of officers, as a rule, who could be forced to serve in Angola; and the knowledge that scarcely any other future was open to them than the certainty of loss of health after years of banishment in Africa—must be mentioned as causes of the despotic oppression that crushed the whole country under its heel, depopulating it, and stifling any attempt at industrial development on the part of the natives. That this is a truth, admitting of no denial or defence, is at once shown by the fact that the sources of the great exports of native produce are all places removed from the direct misrule of the Portuguese.

The pay of the Governor-General of Angola is[Pg 52] 1333l. per annum. That of the Colonial Secretary is 444l. A major’s pay is now 10l. per month; that of a captain, 6l. 13s. 4d.; a lieutenant’s, 5l. 12s. 1d.; a sub-lieutenant’s, 4l. 8s. 11d. Some few years ago the pay was actually, incredible as it may appear, thirty-seven and a half per cent. below the above amounts: the present pay is only the same as in Portugal. When in command, a major and captain have thirty per cent., and a lieutenant and sub-lieutenant twenty-five per cent. in addition.

For the above mean and miserable pay Portugal sent, and still continues to send, men to govern her extensive semi-civilized colonies. Can any one in his senses be astonished at the result? Not a penny more did a poor officer get when perhaps sent miles away into the interior, where the carriage of a single load of provisions, &c., from Loanda would cost half a sovereign or more, and where even necessaries were often at enormous prices.

In the fifteen years that I have principally lived in, and travelled over a great part of Angola, and passed in intimate intercourse with the natives and Portuguese, I have had abundant opportunities of[Pg 53] witnessing the miserable state to which that fine country has been reduced by the wretched and corrupt system of government. This state is not unknown to Portugal, and she has several times sent good and honest men as governors to Loanda to try to put a stop to the excesses committed by their subordinates, but they have been obliged to return in despair, as without good and well-paid officials it was no use either to change, or to make an example of one or two where all were equally bad or guilty. There is, of course, but little chance of any change until Portugal sees that it is to her own advantage that this immensely rich possession should be governed by enlightened and well-paid officials. Let her send to Angola independent and intelligent men, and let them report faithfully on the causes that have depopulated vast districts, that have destroyed all industry, and that continually provoke the wars and wide dissatisfaction among tribes naturally so peaceable and submissive, and amenable to a great extent to instruction and advancement.

A few instances will give an idea of the persecution that the natives were subject to in Angola[Pg 54] from the rapacity of their rulers, and from which no redress was possible.

To assist the traders established at Pungo Andongo, Cassange, and other parts of the interior to transport their ivory, wax, and other produce to the coast, the government directed that a certain number of carriers should be supplied by the “Soba” or native king of each district, and that a stipulated payment should be made to these carriers for their services by the traders. This was immediately turned by the Portuguese “chefes” to their own advantage. The carriers were forced to work without any pay, which was retained by the “chefe;” and as fines and imprisonments helped to depopulate whole districts, and carriers became more difficult to obtain, the “chefes” in their rapacity exacted a larger and larger sum from the traders for each, over and above the stipulated pay. This frightful abuse existed in full force till 1872, when the forced liability of the natives to serve as carriers was abolished by law.

So easy and successful a robbery was this, that large sums were spent, and much interest employed,[Pg 55] for the sake of getting the post of “chefe” to the more important districts, such as Golungo Alto, Pungo Andongo, &c., even for a short time. The “chefe” being military commandant and civil judge, the population were perfectly incapable of resistance or complaint, and if such reached Loanda, it was of course quashed by the friends of the despot in power, who had themselves received a heavy sum to obtain him the post.

While I was exploring the district of Cambambe, an order arrived from Loanda for the “chefe” to draw up and forward a list of the number of men capable of bearing arms and being called out as a native militia. Such an apparently simple order supplied the “chefe” with a means of committing a dastardly robbery on the defenceless natives; and he in his turn was cheated of more than half of it by his subordinates, two mulatto militia officers, who were sent by him with half-a-dozen black soldiers to scour the country and obtain the desired information.

I was staying at the house of a Portuguese trader, at a place called Nhangui-a-pepi, on the road to Pungo Andongo, and about half way[Pg 56] between that place and Dondo, when these two scoundrels arrived, and arranged the following plan with the trader, whose name was Diaz. They had agreed with the “chefe” of Cambambe at Dondo, to receive a small share of the plunder they were to collect for him, but as they considered this share was not sufficiently liberal, they proposed to Diaz to send him part of the horned cattle they should obtain, for which he was to pay them in cash,—a certain amount below the value of course. This was agreed to, and they departed in high spirits.

A month after, on calling again on Diaz, I found that the two villains had already sent him seventy oxen, and that their journey was not yet completed! How many they had sent to the “chefe” at Cambambe of course I could not ascertain.

The manner of proceeding was simple and ingenious. They pretended that the Governor-General at Loanda had sent an order that all men in the district should be enlisted as soldiers and sent to the coast to serve in some war, that the names of all were down from the registers at[Pg 57] Cambambe, and they had come to revise the list, and that all would be liable to serve and be taken from their homes unless they were bribed to have the names erased.

In this way they robbed the poor inhabitants wholesale of oxen, sheep, goats, fowls, money, &c., with what success will be seen from the number of cattle only that they sent Diaz in one month, and from a part only of an extensive district.

On my arrival at Loanda some months later, I informed the governor personally of what I had witnessed, but he declared himself unable to prevent it or punish the culprits, from the impossibility of obtaining legal proofs, and from the influential position held by the principal robber.

Shortly after the commencement of steam navigation on the River Quanza, the Governor-General was asked to order the “chefes” of Cambambe and Muxima to cause stumps and snags that were dangerous to the steamers to be removed from the river. By a similar ingenious interpretation this inoffensive order of the government was converted into a means of levying black-mail on the natives of the river. The subordinates intrusted[Pg 58] with the execution of the measure declared that they had orders to cut down all palm-trees on or near the banks of the river, and would do so unless bribed to spare them. In this way a considerable sum of money was netted by the rogues in power.

The natives of the interior of Loanda are very fond of litigation, and this again is a source of considerable profit to the “chefes,” as they will not receive any petition, issue a summons, &c., without being bribed, and the crooked course of justice may in consequence be imagined.

A friend told me, that being once with the “chefe” of a district in the interior, they saw two bullocks approaching the “chefe’s” house, and on his asking a black standing near whose cattle they were, he answered very coolly that “they were two oxen that were bringing a petition!”

I need not say that I have known some honest “chefes” who discharged the duties of their ill-paid and thankless office honourably and with intelligence, but these exceptions are too rare to influence in the least the sad state into which the country has been sunk by long years of rapacity[Pg 59] on the part of its irresponsible rulers. Only a total change in the system of government can again people the vast deserted tracts with industrious inhabitants to cultivate its rich land; but, I am sorry to say, a termination to the long reign of corruption that has existed in Angola is not to be expected for years to come.

Whilst in Portugal itself patriotism and public morality are debased by an unchecked system of bribery and greed of money and power, it is too much to expect that her rich colonies will be purged of their long-existing abuses.

As might be expected, the great peninsular obstruction and impediment of high custom-house duties, so fatal to all commercial and industrial development, is in full and vexatious force in Angola, with the exception of Ambriz, where the total annihilation of trade from this cause, after its occupation by the Portuguese, was so striking, that I at last prevailed upon the Governor, Francisco Antonio Gonçalves Cardozo, to reduce the duties to a moderate figure, with what wonderful results I have already explained in a former chapter.

With the great want of roads and carriers, or[Pg 60] other means of conveyance, either for goods into or produce from the interior, transport is very expensive, and it is evident that the levying of high import duties besides on all goods for trade so enhances their value, that it becomes impossible to offer an adequate return or advantage to the native for the result of his labour or industry, or to leave much margin for profit to the merchant; consequently, the development of the country becomes completely paralysed and the revenue of the state remains small in proportion. Such a simple fact, apparent to the meanest understanding, is perfectly incomprehensible to the Portuguese! To mention one instance only: the last time I was at Golungo Alto the price of gunpowder was nearly six shillings a pound, and that of other goods in proportion! That the natives of Angola will cultivate large quantities of produce, if they can get moderately well paid for their trouble, is evidenced by the considerable exports from the country from Ambriz to the River Congo, where there are no custom-houses, and also on the River Quanza, where steam navigation enables goods to be sent up the country cheaply, and so to bear[Pg 61] the almost prohibitive duties levied on them at Loanda.

It is not only the excessively high duties paid to the custom-house that are complained of by the merchants at Loanda, but the absurd, petty, and vexatious manner in which the whole system is worked; the mean prohibitions and regulations attending the loading, discharging, and clearing of goods, vessels, and boats; the great delay and trouble about the simplest operations; the intense obtuseness of the officials, and the utter want of reason or object for such irritating proceedings. They do not prevent smuggling, as that can be most easily effected by any one desiring to do so, the lower officers and police being all common blacks or mulattoes in the receipt of miserable pay; and I remember one of the first merchants of Loanda once opening a drawer in his office, and showing me significantly, when speaking on this subject, a number of vouchers for small sums of money he had advanced on loan to the petty officers employed by the custom-house, and paid liberally at the rate of a few pence a day to prevent smuggling!

[Pg 62]

It would be amusing to see so much imposing bombast in the custom-house of a little place like Loanda, depending on a lot of poor, ragged, and starving blacks for its preventive service, were it not so annoying to see the effect of the high duties in hindering the development of the riches of the country, whose commercial prosperity is at present the only remedy for the evils of its misgovernment.

From olden times the report has been handed down of the occurrence of silver in the district of Cambambe, and the object of the Portuguese in some of their first wars in the interior was to obtain possession of the mines. There is, however, no record to show that they were successful in their endeavours; and beyond the statement that the natives of Cambambe paid tribute to the Portuguese in silver, part of which was made into a service for a church in Lisbon, nothing more was definitely known about it.

When I left the Bembe mines I was engaged by Senhor Flores of Loanda to explore the supposed locality of the silver mines, as well as various sites in Cambambe, believed in former days[Pg 63] to have been copper workings. I made a preliminary trip into the interior in September 1859, and then left Africa, returning a few months later with miners and the necessary tools and apparatus for a more complete exploration, which the indications I had noticed warranted me in undertaking.

I luckily had with me six capital Ambriz carriers, who had brought me from Ambriz to Loanda, in my journey through the country of Mossulo, which I have described in a preceding chapter, and I readily induced them to take me to Cambambe. I say luckily, as we found the greatest difficulty in obtaining carriers on the road, and we should have had to walk much greater distances than we did, if I had not had the Ambriz blacks. I was accompanied by a Senhor Lobato, of Massangano, the first man who had started trade on the River Quanza by means of barges to and from Loanda. Our route lay from Loanda to the River Bengo, and from thence inland, in an easterly direction, on the high road to Cassange—the farthest point occupied by the Portuguese in Angola.

[Pg 64]

The road, for a couple of days’ journey or more, is on and near the south bank of the River Bengo, and passes through some of the most fertile land imaginable, but, with the exception of small mandioca and other food-plantations, producing but little beyond the requirements of the few inhabitants of the country owing to the absence of cultivation.

We passed many places where towns had formerly existed, but the inhabitants had been obliged to remove farther into the interior, or to the country about the River Dande, to escape the wholesale robbery and exactions of the Portuguese “chefes.”

The second night after leaving Loanda we dined and slept at the house of the “chefe” of the district of Icollo e Bengo, a very intelligent young man, newly appointed to that place, and he gave us a painful description of the wretched condition in which he had found his district.

We were unable to obtain carriers here at any price, those that had brought us from Loanda having been hired for that distance only, as they would not trust themselves farther inland, fearing they might be forced to carry back heavy loads,[Pg 65] for which they would be paid only a miserable pittance, or perhaps nothing at all.

We had, consequently, to rely only on the six Ambriz men we had with us, but subsequently we were fortunate enough to pick up a few more on the road. In six days we arrived at Porto Domingos, on the River Lucala, a tributary of the Quanza. In these six days we passed through very varied scenery, due not only to the gradual elevation of the country from the coast, as noticed on the road from Ambriz to Bembe, but also to the variety of geological formations. On leaving Loanda horizontal beds of limestone, and then fine sandstones, occur. Near the junction, at a place called Tantanbondo, there are curious lines of nodules embedded in the limestone, and numbers loose on the surface from the weathering of the latter. These nodules are generally fractured, and re-cemented with crystalline calcspar; those not fractured are mostly of a singular, rounded shape, like an ordinary cottage-loaf. At Icollo e Bengo, finely micaceous iron ore is found; and at Calunguembe trap-rock occurs, which gives a most picturesque peaky appearance to the country.

[Pg 66]

Porto Domingos is one of the most lovely places I have seen in Africa; the vegetation of palm-trees, baobabs, cottonwood-trees, and creepers of many kinds on the banks of the river is wonderfully luxuriant. We found traces everywhere of a former very much larger population, and the same true tale of the inhabitants having been driven farther inland by the rapine of their Portuguese rulers.

After leaving Porto Domingos we arrived next day at the dry bed of the River Mucozo, a small stream running only in the rainy season and joining the River Quanza at Dondo. We passed through a thick wood, the road being the dry bed of a small stream running through it, and the ground a sandy dust of a bright red colour from oxide of iron. We and our carriers presented a comical appearance after walking an hour and a half through the wood.

The rock of the country is a kind of conglomerate, with a matrix containing much oxide of iron. At the River Mucozo this formation is succeeded by a very hard white quartzose rock, containing but little mica or feldspar, and the scenery[Pg 67] is very beautiful, the country being very hilly and broken.

Three days’ journey over a wild and rocky country brought us to the “Soba” Dumbo, formerly a very powerful king, and from whom the Portuguese have always derived great assistance in their wars, but only a handful of natives remain at the present day in the country, to mark the place of the once populous kingdom of the “Soba” Dumbo.

In the next two or three succeeding days I visited the places where, from the heaps of stones lying close to holes and excavations, it was likely that the natives had formerly worked for minerals; and that copper was what they had extracted or searched for was evident from the indications of blue and green carbonate of copper in these heaps. I saw enough to convince me that an exploration of the country was desirable, and likely to result in meeting with important deposits of copper. Of silver or other metals I saw no indications whatever.

We crossed in a southerly direction to Nhangui-a-pepi, and from thence to Dondo, and down the[Pg 68] River Quanza in a canoe to Calumbo. A night’s journey in a hammock brought us back to Loanda, having been absent exactly a fortnight on this very interesting journey, and though we suffered several times from hunger and thirst, and walked a great part of the distance from want of carriers, it was performed without any accident whatever or ill effects to health.

On my return to Africa in November 1860, I was accompanied from Lisbon by two Portuguese miners, to assist me in the exploration of these localities and in my search for the ancient silver mines. One of these men died on arrival at Loanda of an epidemic of malignant fever then raging there, and the other died shortly after reaching Cambambe, whither I had immediately proceeded.

From November to June I was actively occupied in exploring this district, and I cleared out several of the old workings, but failed to discover metallic deposits or indications of any value, though malachite and blue carbonate of copper were to be noticed abundantly distributed everywhere.

I made many excursions, sometimes of several[Pg 69] days’ duration, in that time—one in the direction of the district of Duque de Bragança, to a place called Ngombi Ndua, on the fine range of granite mountains ending south at Pungo Andongo; but beyond the universal indications of carbonates of copper, my explorations yielded no result.

A very interesting excursion was one I made about thirty miles in a northerly direction, where I passed through most beautiful mountain scenery, the formation of the country being trachyte or volcanic rock.

This evidence of ancient volcanic action is extremely interesting, as it may have caused the ridge or elevation running the whole length of Angola, which elevation has prevented the drainage of the plateau of the interior of that part of Africa from flowing to the Atlantic. This too strengthens my idea of the great River Congo being found to bend to the south, and be the outlet for the waters of the hundreds of miles of country lying behind Angola, and perhaps far beyond to the south, where, as I have already stated, there is no river of any consequence to be found.

[Pg 70]

The only other example of volcanic rock I have met with in Angola is the narrow belt or strip of basalt found at Mossamedes, and on the sea shore to the north of it for about thirty or forty miles.

This trachyte of part of Cambambe is no doubt connected with the trap-rocks noticed in my journey overland from Loanda to that district. The greater part of Cambambe is rocky, and destitute of forest or large trees; large tracts are covered with grass and shrubs, and of these the “Nborotuto” (Cochlospermum Angolense, Welw.), a small shrubby tree with large, bright yellow flowers about four inches across, and like gigantic butter-cups in shape and colour, is extremely common, and very conspicuous. In the cacimbo, or dry season, some very beautiful bulbs and orchids spring up after the ground has been cleared of grass by burning.

Birds of many species and of beautiful colouring are abundant, and in a small collection I made (see ‘The Ibis’ for October 1862), Dr. Hartlaub found several new species, and I have no doubt this district would well repay a collector. The most extraordinary bird in appearance and habits is[Pg 71] certainly a large black hornbill (Bucorax Abyssinicus), called by the natives Engungoashito. It is about the size of a large turkey, but longer in the body and tail. The following is from my notes on this bird in the above publication:—

“They are found sparingly nearly everywhere in Angola, becoming abundant, however, only towards the interior. In the mountain-range in which Pungo Andongo is situated, and running nearly N. and S., they are common, and it was near the base of these mountains that I shot these two specimens. They are seen in flocks of six or eight (the natives say, always in equal number of males and females). Farther in the interior, I was credibly informed that they are found in flocks of from one to two hundred individuals.

“The males raise up and open and close their tails exactly in the manner of a turkey, and filling out the bright cockscomb-red, bladder-like wattle on their necks, and with wings dropping on the ground, make quite a grand appearance.

“They do not present a less extraordinary appearance as they walk slowly with an awkward gait, and peer from side to side with their great eyes in[Pg 72] quest of food in the short grass, poking their large bills at any frog, snake, &c., that may come in their way.

“Their flight is feeble, and not long-sustained. When alarmed, they generally fly up to the nearest large tree, preferring such as have thick branches with but little foliage, as the Adansonia “Mucuzo” (a wild fig). Here they squat close on the branches, and, if further alarmed, raise themselves quite upright on their legs in an attitude of listening, with wide-open bills. The first to notice a person at once utters its customary cry, and all fly off to the next tree.

“They are very wary. The grass near the mountains being comparatively short, and with but little scrub or bush, it is very difficult to approach them without being observed from the high trees. I followed a flock of six for upwards of two hours, crawling flat on my stomach, negro fashion, before I obtained a chance of a shot, when I was so fortunate as to break the wing of a male without otherwise injuring it. It was quickly captured by the blacks.

“They are omnivorous in their food: reptiles,[Pg 73] birds, eggs, beetles, and all other insects, mandioca-roots, ginguba or ground-nuts, constitute their food in the wild state. In confinement I have fed this bird upon the same food, also upon fresh fish, which it showed itself very fond of, as well as on the entrails of fowls, &c. On letting it loose in Loanda, in a yard where there were several fowls with chickens, it immediately gulped down its throat six of the latter, and finished its breakfast with several eggs!

“The note or cry of the male is like the hoarse blast of a horn, repeated short three times, and answered by the female in a lower note. It is very loud, and can be heard at a considerable distance, particularly at night.

“They are said to build their nests on the very highest adansonias, in the hollow or cavity formed at the base or junction of the branches with the trunk.”

Another bird (the Scopus umbretta) is singular from the curious story of its habits, as described by the natives, but unfortunately I had not an opportunity of investigating their statements to ascertain the exact foundation for them.

[Pg 74]

All the more intelligent blacks in Cambambe gave me exactly the same description, and I leave it for future collectors to verify the statement. It is a small heron-like bird of a very uniform chestnut-brown colour, and is found near pools and marshes. It is affirmed by the natives that it never builds its own nest, but that other birds, of different species, make one for it; and also, that if a person bathes in the pool in which this bird is in the habit of washing and pluming itself, he becomes quickly affected with a cutaneous eruption similar to the itch.

The lovely “plantain-eaters,” principally the Corythaix Paulina, are very abundant all over Angola where thick forests are found. They are common in the country about Pungo Andongo, and also near the River Quanza. They have a very loud, hoarse cry, quite unlike that which a bird might be imagined to produce, which has a very singular and startling effect when heard in a forest.

It is its unearthly cry that makes this bird an object of superstition to the natives of the whole of Angola. It is said by them to be a “feiticeiro,” or sorcerer, and that it warns travellers of danger[Pg 75] by frightening with its cry animals or robbers lying in wait for them. If one of these birds should perch on a hut or on a tree within the enclosure of a town and sing, it is thought such a bad omen that the inhabitants vacate it and remove to another place. When the natives bring them in cages from the interior for sale on the coast, they never take them into the towns on the road for fear they should sing whilst in them, and at night the carrier, for the same reason, sleeps with his birds at some little distance from any town.

One most singular circumstance connected with this bird is the fact that the gorgeous blood-red colour of its wing-feathers is soluble, especially in weak solution of ammonia, and that this soluble colouring matter contains a considerable quantity of copper, to which its colour may very probably be due. My attention was first called to this extremely curious and unexpected fact by Professor Church’s paper in the ‘Phil. Trans.’ for 1869; and, on my last voyage home from the Coast, I purchased a large bunch of the red wing-feathers in the market at Sierra Leone, with which my brother-in-law, Mr. Henry Bassett, F.C.S., has[Pg 76] verified Professor Church’s results conclusively, and has found even a larger proportion of copper in the colouring matter extracted from these feathers.

The ammoniacal solution is of a magnificent ruby-red colour by transmitted light. Mr. Bassett obtained the following as the result of his investigation:—

“From 300 feathers obtained 1·045 grm. turacin. Two copper determinations, made by fusing with nitre and carbonate of soda, washing out with water, then dissolving the oxide of copper in nitric acid, filtering, and precipitating with potash, gave quantities of oxide of copper corresponding to 7·6 and 8·0 per cent. of metallic copper. Church found 6·0 per cent.; on the other hand, the feathers yielded him a larger quantity of the colouring matter. General characters, appearance, &c., exactly in accordance with Church’s description; insoluble in benzol, sulphide carbon, tetrachloride carbon. The copper to be unmistakably seen by burning the smallest portion of a feather in a Bunsen burner.”

It is difficult to say whether this copper is derived from the metal contained in the food of these birds,[Pg 77] or whether they pick up, with sand and gravel, the attractive looking particles of malachite so universally distributed over Angola. Their habits would seem to favour somewhat this view, as they are extremely inquisitive in their wild state, running along the large branches of the trees in an excited and fussy manner, with outstretched neck and expanded wings, and peering down on any intruder with every expression of interest and curiosity.

At the same time, two birds that I have had in confinement in England, both for five or six years, moulted regularly every year, and reproduced the splendidly coloured feathers, of the same brightness, without the possibility of getting any copper except what might have entered into the composition of their food, which was most varied, consisting of every ripe fruit in season, cooked vegetables and roots, rice, bread, biscuits, dried fruits, &c.

In Angola many of the “plantain-eaters” to be obtained from the natives will only eat bananas, and refuse all other food, so that they cannot be brought to Europe; others, however, readily adapt themselves to almost every kind of soft food.

[Pg 78]

My first bird was a Corythaix Livingstonii, and was beautifully tame and gentle; it was most amusing in its habits, and in the notice it took of everything around it;—a change of dress, or even new or differently coloured ribbons to what it had been in the habit of seeing, excited its attention greatly, and it would utter a loud cry and open out its lovely wings in astonishment, and coming close to the cage bars examine it with the greatest curiosity. It was very fond of having a picture-book shown it, noticing especially those pictures that were most vividly coloured. It was very fond of a bath, which it used to come out and take in a large pie-dish full of water placed on the table. At night it roosted in a little, flat basket, in which it would not readily nestle till one of my sisters sang to it for a few minutes, when it would utter a satisfied kind of low, rumbling noise, and at once squat down quietly to sleep.

My last live specimen, a Corythaix Paulina was also very tame, and has only recently died from the breaking of an egg inside its body. A former egg that it laid is now in the collection of the British Museum. It had only just[Pg 79] moulted before it died, and the skin is in beautiful plumage.

It is pleasing to record an instance of a bird being considered of good omen; this is one called “Quioco” by the natives, which has a beautifully clear and loud song, and this is believed to be a sign of good luck when heard near their huts. Its scientific name is Telephonus erythropterus.

Cattle thrive excellently in this district, and might be reared in any number, as also goats, sheep, and poultry. Game is comparatively scarce. Wild animals are principally the spotted and striped hyena and the black-backed jackal. Leopards I only heard of as infesting the country about half-way between Nhangui-a-pepi and Dondo, where, during the time I was in Cambambe, they had carried away cattle and attacked several blacks. The hyenas used to visit us almost every night in Cambambe, and at one place, where my cook slept by himself in a small hut, which was also the kitchen, they frightened him so by snorting under the door and trying to force their way in, attracted no doubt by the smell of the pots and pans, that he refused to pass another night in it, and I had to[Pg 80] let him sleep in my hut. One night we heard a noise of smashing of crockery and falling of pots, &c., from the kitchen, and in the morning we found that a hyena had forced his way into the hut (built of sticks and grass), and had taken away a sheepskin from a wooden frame that served as a table, on which my cook had carefully placed my stock of plates and cooking utensils to dry, bringing the whole to the ground, and considerably reducing my limited stock of china and glass.

Nothing comes amiss to these voracious creatures, their powerful jaws and teeth enabling them to crunch up any bones, skin, &c. The hides of the oxen that were killed for food used to be thrown on the roofs of the huts to dry, and the hyenas would sometimes get at them, and if not taken away bodily we would find them almost entirely eaten up, their sharp teeth having cut through the tough raw hide as perfectly, and seemingly as easily, as a pair of shears; the ox skull and other bones of course always disappeared completely during the night.

When driven by hunger they become very bold, but rarely attack man. At Benguella, where they[Pg 81] are very abundant, such a thing as an attack on a native was unknown, although at night many blacks sleep out of doors, and often in a drunken and helpless state; but at Golungo Alto, after an epidemic of small-pox, when the hyenas preyed upon the bodies of natives who had died of the disease, I was told that they had got into a habit of attacking the live blacks at night, but no fatal case occurred.

Hyenas always hunt in couples, a male and female according to the natives, and very often several couples together.

That they seek their prey in pairs I believe to be the case, from an instance that occurred to myself in Cambambe. I had built a long hut of sticks and grass for two white men (Portuguese soldiers and military convicts) from Loanda, who had been sent me on the death of the miner I had brought with me from Portugal. The two men occupied one end of the hut, the other being taken up with the mining tools, stores, &c., and one night two sheep had been placed there also, for safety. One was tied to a bundle of shovels, and the other to a wheelbarrow, to prevent them from straying[Pg 82] about in the hut. Opposite to where they were secured was a door made of green sticks and withes.

Whilst the men were asleep a hyena forced his way under the door, and carried off one of the sheep; its cries and the noise awoke the men, who jumped out of bed and rushed out to try and save the poor sheep, but in the darkness of the night nothing could be seen, and all that was heard was the rush of the animals and shovels down the rocky and stony ground—the hut being built on a small steep rise or hill. Whilst the men were thinking what they should do, and standing only a few yards from the hut, another hyena got into it through the now open door and carried off the second sheep and the wheelbarrow, which went banging down the hill over the loose stones. In the morning the shovels and wheelbarrow were found at some little distance at the foot of the hill, but not a trace of the poor sheep.

The hyenas are remarkably wary and cautious, only coming near habitations in the darkest nights, and generally near daybreak. I was never[Pg 83] able to shoot one in the ordinary way, though I often watched with gun ready through an opening in the walls of my hut. I once, however, killed a fine spotted hyena by tying my gun to a couple of stakes in the ground, and putting an ox’s gullet on the muzzle as a bait, so arranged with a string to the trigger as to fire off the gun on the animal attempting to pull it away.

The next time I arranged this infernal-machine it nearly killed a fine pig that had set its heart on the bait, but as he luckily did not approach it in the right direction, I lost the charge of powder and ball, and the pig found his anticipated titbit suddenly vanish in smoke.

[Pg 84]


The farthest inland district in Angola under the rule of the Portuguese was that of Cassange, but a successful revolt of the natives against the oppression of the Portuguese “chefes” led to its being abandoned a few years ago.

Malange is now the farthest point, the two next being Pungo Andongo and Duque de Bragança; the latter is at present of no value or importance whatever.

The Portuguese traders are, however, established in considerable force at Cassange, as well as at Malange and Pungo Andongo, and a large trade in ivory and wax has always been carried on from that part of the country.

I am unable to describe these localities from[Pg 85] personal observation, but they are stated to be very fine and healthy, and mostly well watered. The natives have no antipathy or objection whatever to the Portuguese, their opposition being entirely to the military rulers who had abused their position; and recently the natives of the country of the Dembos, between Golungo Alto and Duque de Bragança, have also risen in arms for the same reason, and they have had the advantage so far in the struggle.

In the year 1867 I visited Cazengo and Golungo Alto, on my way to a part of the country called Lombige, where gold in dust had been discovered, and where two white men with a party of blacks were “prospecting” for Senhor Flores. It is impossible to describe in words the beauty of the districts of Cazengo and Golungo Alto, and the country about the River Lombige, a small tributary of the River Zenza, as the River Bengo is called inland.

Mountains and deep valleys filled with magnificent virgin forests cover the country. Streams and springs of the clearest water abound, and the valleys are full of monkeys and beautifully[Pg 86] coloured birds and butterflies. Most wonderful and varied effects of rolling mists, sunrise, and sunset are to be seen in this earthly paradise, and the clearness and lightness of the atmosphere are most exhilarating and agreeable after the dull oppressiveness of the air on the coast.

At Cazengo I saw the largest trees I have ever seen, and conspicuous amongst these the cotton-wood tree (Eriodendron anfractuosum), towering to an immense height straight as an arrow, without the slightest break, to the small branches at the very top covered with feathery-looking foliage, and studded with puffy balls like white silk, from the burst seed-pods. The stems and branches are thickly studded with hard, short, conical, sharp-pointed spikes, and at the base of the stem vast flattened buttresses project, which give a wonderful idea of strength and stability. In these grand forests the splendid giant touraco (Turacus cristatus), the largest of the tropical African plantain-eaters, finds a fitting habitat, and from its great size compared with the other much smaller species, is evidence of the magnificence of the forests and scenery of Cazengo and Golungo Alto.

[Pg 87]

I cannot help having a feeling of reverent affection and admiration for this family of birds, whose exquisite plumage has most likely been evolved through ages of the greatest tropical beauty, of dazzling sunshine, bright flowers, and luxuriant vegetation in lovely valley and mountain chain.

Coffee is found growing wild in these virgin forests, but it is confidently believed to have been originally introduced by the old missionaries, and since been spread by the agency of monkeys and birds.

Several important coffee plantations have been established, principally in Cazengo, and with slave labour; but they exist under great disadvantages, owing to the want of roads and means of conveyance, this last being entirely effected by carriers, who are difficult to obtain even at considerable expense. The coffee from the Portuguese planters is all sent to Dondo, and thence down the river to Loanda and the sea. That cropped by the natives is carried by them for sale to the River Quanza and to Loanda, but a considerable part is taken across the country all the way to Ambriz,[Pg 88] where, from the low custom-house duties, they receive from the traders a much larger amount of goods and powder in exchange than at Loanda. I noticed on the natives certain kinds of cloth customarily passed in trade in Ambriz, and I had a further proof of the Cazengo and Golungo Alto coffee thus going northward, in the considerable number of natives recognised in Cazengo by my servant, as having been seen by him trading coffee at Ambriz, his native place.

The town of Cazengo consists of half a dozen houses, occupied principally by Portuguese traders, the “residencia” or house of the “chefe,” and the huts of a small native population. It is about two days’ journey from Dondo (on the River Quanza), and the River Lucala is passed about six miles before arriving there.

The district of Golungo Alto gives the same name to its town, which is most picturesquely situated and surrounded by luxuriant vegetation, and is reached in another two days’ journey from Cazengo, through exquisite scenery. Starting from the town of Golungo Alto in a northerly direction, I arrived in the afternoon at the River Zenza, and[Pg 89] slept a few miles beyond it at a place called Gonguembo, at the house of a respectable black, who was a kind of government official for that district, and who was married to a very comely black woman from Loanda. I was most hospitably treated by these good people, and a clean bed in a nice airy room was prepared for me; they would not accept any remuneration for their kindness, so I had to content myself with making them a present of some handkerchiefs I had with me. Next day I continued to travel in the same direction, sleeping at night in a wood, and the day after arrived at a place called Mayengo, near the River Lombige, there only a noisy mountain torrent of most beautifully clear water. It was here that the two white men with the party of blacks were exploring for gold, and they had already obtained a few ounces of dust from the sand of the river by washing it in pans and a couple of rockers.

The following morning I proceeded about ten miles farther in the direction of the course of the Lombige, to another place where a little gold-dust had also been obtained.

[Pg 90]

The formation of the country from Golungo Alto to the auriferous ground of the Lombige is a hard clay slate, in which I observed only a few small quartz veins, and in my opinion it is a poor gold country. Not more than a couple of pounds weight of gold were obtained after many months working, and the exploration was finally abandoned on the death of Senhor Flores, which happened at the Lombige.

My friend Mr. Richard Smith, of the Metallurgical Laboratory at the Royal School of Mines, has kindly assayed a sample of gold from Lombige, with the following results:—

Gold 93·860
Silver 5·352
Copper 0·404

equal to 22¹⁄₂ carats fine.

From Golungo Alto to the south the geological formation is a hard, compact, quartzose granite rock. At Cazengo is found gneiss, granite, and a hard quartzose slaty rock, with in places a curious rock seemingly composed of disintegrated granite[Pg 91] and clay slate. The strike of the clay slate is about E. and W., and it dips to the S.S.W.

The few natives I saw about the Lombige seemed rather a fine race. They belong to a tribe called the Dembos, which is the name of that part of the country, and they have lately driven back the Portuguese, who had attempted to encroach on their territory with the customary exactions of the “chefes.”

To show that they bore no ill-will to the Portuguese, but only desired to resist the grasping oppression of the “chefes,” they escorted to the River Zenza, near Golungo Alto, a small number of unfortunate troops they had surrounded, and who, without pay, provisions, ammunition, shoes, or clothing, had been obliged to surrender, and they greatly insulted the Portuguese by offering to give these poor soldiers a month’s pay in cash! I was at Loanda when several batches of soldiers, composing the so-called expedition to the Dembos, arrived, viâ the River Quanza, in a disgraceful state of starvation and rags, and the poor devils were loud in their complaints of the way they had been treated and robbed by their own government and officers.

[Pg 92]

A more shameful manner of exposing men to disease and the enemy cannot be imagined. A local newspaper at Loanda exposed the scandalous way in which the war was conducted; and the merchants represented the true state of the case to the government at Lisbon, but no attention was given to them, as the governor at Loanda reported that there was nothing going on in Angola to call for special notice.

The great forests on the slopes of the chains of mountains and valleys of the country about Golungo Alto and the Dembos are also full of coffee trees growing wild, and they are gradually being cleared of bush or underwood by the natives so as to enable them to collect the berry. I did not hear anywhere that they had taken to planting coffee, nor are they likely to do so as long as they can find it growing wild. As far as has been ascertained, wild coffee is only found growing in the forests of the country of the second elevation from the coast, nor does it grow well in the littoral region, where the air is much too dry: it is a plant requiring a moist heat and the shade of large trees; and a certain amount of[Pg 93] elevation above the level of the sea may possibly have something to do with its proper growth.

The future production of coffee on the whole West Coast of Africa might be simply unlimited, as far as extent of ground eminently suitable for its cultivation is concerned: it becomes only a question of time and labour. The coffee plant is not the only one formerly introduced by the missionaries or Portuguese which has spread itself over a large extent of country in Angola, as I saw beautiful watercress growing wild most luxuriantly in several of the rivulets and wet places in Cazengo, and Dr. Welwitsch found parsley and fennel growing wild abundantly at Pungo Andongo.


Plate XI.
To face page 213.

Cazengo has been celebrated from time immemorial for its iron, smelted by the natives, and the bellows (Plate XI.) employed in the process appears to date from the earliest times, being in fact identical with that used by the ancient Egyptians.

The object of the double arrangement is to obtain a constant current of air from the nozzle; there are no valves in it, and the tops of the[Pg 94] cylinders are tightly closed with a peak-shaped cover of sheepskin in which there is no hole or aperture. They are worked alternately and very rapidly, and blow into a baked-clay tuyère about twelve inches long, of which the under end is much wider than the nozzle of the bellows that just rests inside it. The object of this is apparent, as, from the bellows having no valve for the admission of air, which therefore enters it through the nozzle, were this to fit tightly in the tuyère it would alternately blow into and draw air from the fire. For ordinary blacksmith’s work the forge is simply a small round cavity scooped out in the ground, the fuel being charcoal; and in this, with one bellows, a welding heat is obtained, and they are enabled to make hoes, &c., out of ordinary iron hooping or other waste scrap-iron.

Iron smelting from the ore is but little practised now in Angola, as the iron hooping from bales obtained from the traders nearly suffices for the few purposes for which this useful metal is required; but I once had the opportunity whilst travelling of seeing the operation of smelting going on at Cazengo, and of obtaining the following[Pg 95] information on the process. There was no furnace proper, simply a somewhat larger excavation in the ground, with three pair of bellows hard at work at equal distances round it. There was neither cover nor chimney to the fire, which was fed with charcoal. The ironstone was a gossany-looking brown ore, and was broken into bits about the size of small walnuts.

I was informed that the first operation took some hours, and did not reduce the iron to the fused state, but only to an apparently metallic spongy condition, without much diminution in the size of the pieces. These reduced pieces are separated from those only imperfectly acted on, the latter being again submitted to the first process with fresh ore; the former are then raised to a high heat and welded together with a hammer, on a block of iron for an anvil, into a small bar.

In the management of the fire, and in welding, the natives employ water and sand in the same way that our smiths do. The bellows and the tuyère are slightly inclined downwards, and are secured to the ground by strong stakes driven into it on each side, to which are attached cross pieces passing over the[Pg 96] bellows and tuyère (Plate XI.). I have seen these bellows in every part of Angola, and in Loango and Cabinda, north of the River Congo, among tribes speaking entirely different languages, but it is of exactly the same pattern everywhere.

The natives of the interior, like those of Loanda, that is to say, of the country comprised between the Rivers Dande and Quanza, speak the Bunda language. The division on the latter river is very marked, the Quissamas and the Libollos on the southern bank speaking a distinct language. The natives beyond the River Dande speak the Congo language, and its dialects of Ambriz and Mossulo.

This large Bunda-speaking population offers points of great interest, and most strongly and favourably impresses the observer, auguring well for its future civilization as far as it can go. It speaks volumes for the superiority of this part of the negro species to know that very fair reading and writing in Portuguese has been handed down from father to son from the time of the former missionaries to the present day.

It is impossible not to admire and honour the wonderful work of those good men. Palpable signs[Pg 97] of their industry, and of their example and teaching may still be seen everywhere in Angola. Plantations of cocoa-nut and oil-palm trees, groves of orange, lemon, and other fruit trees, the introduction of the coffee and other useful plants, the ruins of extensive monasteries with which were associated their schools of industrial arts, all bear witness to their good work, and last but not least the love and veneration in which their name is held amongst all classes of blacks, who consider a padre almost as a god;—their name for a priest is Ngana Nganga (God’s sir), Ngana being “Senhor,” sir, and Nganga their word for God.

Although as completely imbued as their more uncivilized brethren with the belief and practice of “fetishes” of all kinds, they still retain many of the usages taught them by the missionaries;—they will have their children baptized by a padre to give them one or more Saints’ names; and though they will call a girl or boy such a name as “Thursday,” if he or she happens to have been born on that week-day, or the name of a tree or plant, or place, or any circumstance they may fancy connected with its birth, yet it must also bear the[Pg 98] name of Antonio Domingos, or Maria Roza, or some other favourite combination of Portuguese Christian names. The christening is celebrated with the usual accompaniment of sponsors, and, as is customary in Catholic countries, these will not intermarry or live together as man and wife, or with the parents of the child.

A sheet of foolscap paper is a very usual article to receive from the traders with other goods in barter for produce; this they roll up carefully, and hang by a bit of string to their stick or pack.

For pen they use the quill of any bird; their ink is charcoal or burnt ground-nuts ground fine with the juice of the wild tomato; for wax or gum they use the very sticky mass enveloping the seeds of a beautiful red-flowering parasite (Loranthus sp.).

These natives are extremely fond of writing to one another, and also to the “chefes” or authorities, and their letters and petitions are sometimes most amusing and laughable, as they have the usual love of their race for pompous or high-sounding words and phrases.

They are fond, on occasions, of wearing coats[Pg 99] and trousers, often made of very extraordinary quality and patterns of cloth, and boots and shoes. Their houses or huts and customs otherwise are not distinguishable from those of the natives of other parts of Angola.

A curious hard-wood shrub (Decamera Jovis-tonantis, Welw.), called by the natives Nduí, is considered a sure preservative against lightning, and branches of it are placed on the huts to save them from being struck by the electric fluid. This belief is peculiar to the Bunda-speaking race. It is also only among these people that tapioca is prepared, though rarely, from the starch of the mandioca-root, by drying it over iron or copper plates.

A very singular custom is common to them and to the natives of Novo Redondo farther south. When a relative or other person visits them, a dish of “infundi” or “pirão” is prepared, and should there not be a bit of meat or fish in the larder (no uncommon circumstance by the bye) they send out to a neighbour for the “lent rat” as it is called. This is a field-rat roasted on a skewer, and it is presented to the guest who, holding the skewer in his left hand, dabs bits of the “infundi”[Pg 100] on the rat before he swallows them, as if to give them a flavour, but he is very careful not to eat the rat, or even the smallest particle of it, as this would be considered a great crime and offence, and would be severely punished by their laws. It is supposed that the host has duly preserved the dignity of his house and position, and has performed the rites of hospitality in presenting his guest with meat and “infundi,” though he has not tasted a morsel of the former, which is returned intact to the owner from whom it was borrowed. This example of a sham, knowingly played by both host and guest as an act of politeness, seems very curious in the extremely unsophisticated state of the negro:—in our superior state of society, shams as patent to all are too common to attract attention.

The Bunda-speaking natives of Angola are extremely indolent: by the better class, such as those who can read and write, it is considered derogatory to perform any manual work whatever. A little trading in wax or other produce is the most they indulge in, and this is principally made the means of obtaining goods or money on credit from the traders, or in some other way imposing[Pg 101] on them. They are specially clever at any little roguery of this kind.

In the mornings, the rising generation may be seen assembled in groups squatted on the ground, wrapped up in a cotton cloth manufactured in the country, and with a printed alphabet in their hands lazily learning their letters. No inducement that I could offer of pay or anything else, whilst I was exploring in Cambambe, would make them work, and as their style of living is exactly the same as that of other blacks, the plantations, tended by their women and female slaves, suffice them for their daily wants. I lived on beans for a week on that occasion, as I would not pay half a sovereign in money or cloth for a single fowl, and sheep and goats in proportion. When the tax-gatherer came round with the soldiers, and they had not the wherewithal to pay him, I had my revenge, and bought a large number of fowls at a penny each, goats and sheep at about a shilling a head, and fat oxen at five to ten shillings each, from the very blacks who a day or two before had refused to sell oxen at any price, and fowls, &c., only at such exorbitant prices.

[Pg 102]

I had to provide food for the forty or fifty blacks who were with me, and an ox was generally killed every day for them, but not being used to so much animal food it did not agree with them. One morning they came to me headed by an old native of Ambaca, who presented me with a petition written in high-flown language, praying that I would not give them any more meat, but that I would order beans and “infundi” to be cooked for their rations instead. Of course, I assented to the desired change, which, moreover, was more economical.

The natives of Pungo Andongo are the most deceitful, and the worst generally. Those of the district of Ambaca, contiguous to Cazengo and Golungo Alto, are a very extraordinary set of blacks. They are distinguished by a peculiar expression of countenance, manner, and speech, which enables them to be at once recognised as surely as a raw Irishman or Scotchman is with us. They are the cleverest natives of Angola, speak and read and write Portuguese best of any, are the greatest cheats of all, and are well described by the Portuguese as the Jews and gipsies of[Pg 103] Angola. They are the greatest traders in the country, and collect and deal in all manner of hides, skins, and other articles, for which they travel great distances and amongst other tribes. They will least of all work at any manual labour; trade and roguery are their forte, and they have often suffered at the hands of other tribes for their cupidity.

During a famine, a few years back, in the Quissama country, which the Ambaquistas (as the natives of Ambaca are called) used to visit with farinha, &c., for the purpose of purchasing rock-salt to trade with in other places, they bought a large number of the Quissamas as slaves, at the rate of a small measure of meal each; but the succeeding season, on a number of Ambaquistas going to Quissama, they were robbed, flogged, branded with hot irons, and otherwise tortured and punished, and finally put into canoes and started down the river, arriving at Muxima in a lamentable condition, and only a few recovered from their ill-treatment. This revenge was taken by the Quissamas because the Ambaquistas took advantage of their dire necessity for food to buy their sons and daughters[Pg 104] as slaves for small portions of meal. To the present day, to vex an Ambaquista, it is sufficient to ask him if he has any Quissama rock-salt for sale!

Of course they have never been to Quissama since; and should the Portuguese desire to conquer that country, as yet not reduced to submission, they could count upon a large contingent of volunteers from Ambaca. Ambaca is said to be comparatively flat, but very fertile, and it has lately been sending a large quantity of ground-nuts to the River Quanza.

In Cazengo and Pungo Andongo the largest gourds I have ever seen are grown, which when dried are employed by the natives as vessels to carry oil, water, “garapa,” or other liquids; or, the top being cut off, are used as baskets for meal, beans, &c. I have seen them so large that they were enclosed in a rope-net, and when full of “garapa” or water were a good load for two men to carry, slung to a pole on their shoulders. The plants are generally trained up the sides and on the grass roofs of the huts, on which they produce a plentiful crop of flowers and fruit. I have also[Pg 105] seen the gourds supported on a kind of nest of dry straw or grass, placed in the fork of a three-branched stick stuck in the ground.

Cotton is grown sparingly everywhere. It is picked from the seeds and beaten on the ground with a switch to open it out, and then spun by hand. This was the constant employment of the natives, particularly of the women and girls, but quite lately this industry has greatly fallen off, owing to the greater importation of Manchester goods. The cotton-thread was woven by the natives into strong thick cloths, but these are now not easy to obtain for the same reason.

Food is most abundant:—mandioca, maize, beans, massango (a kind of millet), ground-nuts, &c., growing with the greatest luxuriance in the fertile ground and lovely climate. Beautiful and tame cattle are easily reared, as well as sheep, goats, and poultry; but, as usual, the great indolence of the natives prevents them from availing themselves of the wonderful capabilities of the soil and climate to any but an infinitesimal degree.

It is rare to see any stores of food, so that if, as sometimes happens, especially in the littoral region,[Pg 106] the rains should fail, a famine is the result, and hundreds die.

When a little indian-corn or other seed is kept, it is enclosed in large, smooth, spindle-shaped masses of long straw, and these are hung to the branches of the trees. The straw keeps the wet from entering to the corn, and it also keeps out rats, as, should they run down the short rope, they slip off the straw and tumble to the ground.

Large and small pots for cooking and holding water are made in many places. They are made of clay, and are burnt by being built up in a heap in the open air with dry grass and covered with the same, which is then set on fire and allowed to burn out; when cold, the pots are found completely baked, without the use of anything like a kiln. Clay pipes for smoking are also made, and burnt in the same manner (Plate V.).

Many of the towns in the interior, in the more out-of-the-way places, are completely isolated for several months by the growth of the high grass towards the end of the rainy and the beginning of the dry season. In travelling it is the custom of the guides to lay a handful of grass on the paths[Pg 107] that they wish the rest of the party to avoid; and this is the universal practice of the natives all over Angola, to indicate the path to be taken by others following them, and which from the height of the grass and the number of intersecting paths, would be difficult to keep without some such mark. Blacks, of course, never travel but in single file, and I was once asked by a negro the reason why white men always walked side by side, and not one behind the other as they did, but my reply failed to convince him of the advantage of our plan.

For some years the “chefes” have had the paths leading from each capital town of their divisions kept clear of grass and weeds for a breadth of from six to twelve feet by the natives of the town nearest it, but even then the blacks not only walk in single file, but, what is very curious, tread out and follow a winding path in it from side to side. Their own paths are never straight but invariably serpentine, and this habit or instinct is followed even when a broad, straight road is offered them.

Whilst I was at Cambambe, a somewhat eccentric Portuguese (not a military man) was “chefe” of[Pg 108] Pungo Andongo, and he took it into his head that he would break the natives of this habit of walking in single file, and he actually fined and otherwise punished a number of them, but, of course, he never succeeded in making them alter the custom except when passing before his house. The blacks will never move a stone or other impediment in the road. If a tree or branch fall on it, and it is too large to walk over comfortably, no one pushes it aside, however easy such an operation may be, but they deviate from the path and walk round it, and this deviation continues to be used ever after, although the obstacle may rot away or be otherwise removed.

I twice saw in Cambambe the remarkable “spit-frog” described by Dr. Livingstone. This insect is of the same shape as the ordinary British “spit-frog,” but is quite three-quarters of an inch in length. Its scientific name is Ptyelus olivaceus. The larvæ, like the British species, have the property of secreting a copious watery froth, in which they envelop themselves, a number being found together on a thin twig or branch, and the amount of water secreted is so great as to drop[Pg 109] constantly from the branch on which they are living, so that the ground beneath becomes quite wet. Though the amount of water abstracted from the atmosphere is something enormous for so small a creature, the very hygroscopic state of the air there is quite sufficient to account for its source.

Lizards are very abundant on the rocks, and there are some very pretty and brightly-coloured species. Chameleons are also abundant, and the natives are everywhere afraid to touch them. The Mushicongos believe that if they once fasten on the wool of a black’s head, nothing can take them off, and that they are poisonous; but their dislike of these harmless creatures does not prevent them from trying a curious though cruel experiment—the quick and mortal action of nicotine—on them. They insert a bit of straw or grass into the wooden stems of their pipes, so as to remove a small portion of the nicotine and other products of the combustion of the tobacco, and when the poor chameleon opens its jaws in fear, they pass the moistened straw across its tongue and mouth, and in a very few seconds it turns on its side, stiffens, and is quite dead. This very small quantity[Pg 110] of the poison is wonderfully rapid in its fatal action.

The ground is cultivated with a hoe like that described in use about Ambriz, but with a double instead of a single handle (Plate XIV.).

The natives, like those of the country to the north, eat considerable quantities of the ground-nut, and from the following analysis by B. Corenwinder (‘Journal de Pharm. et de Chimie,’ 4th series, xviii. 14) its great value as an article of food is apparent:—

Water 6·76
Oil 51·75
Nitrogenous matter 21·80
Non-nitrogenous matter containing starch 17·66
Phosphoric acid 0·64 } 2·03
Potash, chlorine, magnesia, &c. 1·39

The proportion of phosphoric acid found in the perfectly white ash was                31·53%

I am convinced that, from the amount of nitrogenous matter, and the form in which the large quantity of oil is masked in the ground-nut, its use[Pg 111] by invalids and persons of delicate constitution would be attended with valuable results. The nuts are delicious simply roasted, or, better still, afterwards covered with a little sugar dried on them in the pan.

A small plant bearing pods containing one or two roundish seeds, and like the ground-nut ripening beneath the soil, is also sparingly cultivated in Cambambe and the surrounding districts. It is the Voandzeia subterranea of botanists.

The round fruit, about the size of a small apple, of a handsome leaved plant is employed by the natives of the same places for washing their cloths, &c., instead of soap, and Dr. Welwitsch named the plant the Solanum saponaceum from this circumstance.

[Pg 112]


The River Quanza is the gem of the Portuguese possession of Angola. South of the great River Zaire, or Congo, it is the only river navigable for any distance, and is the natural highway to the most fertile and healthy countries of the interior, yet, such has been the apathy of the Portuguese, and so utterly and culpably neglectful have they been in developing the vast resources of their rich possessions, that, till the year 1866, only an insignificant amount of produce or trade came to Loanda by that river.

Mr. Augustus Archer Silva, an American, long established in business at Loanda, obtained from the Portuguese Government a concession for the[Pg 113] steam navigation of the river, after great trouble and opposition, and on the 21st of September, 1866, I accompanied him in the steamer “Andrade” on her first trip to the Quanza.

We started from Loanda at midnight, and arrived at about eight o’clock in the morning opposite the bar, where a dozen of the so-called bar pilots came on board, and a more surprising manner of coming through the heavy surf that breaks over it can hardly be imagined.

On their knees, and squatted on their heels, each on a perfectly flat, plain piece of thick board, about eight or nine feet long and two or three feet wide, evidently the bottom of an old canoe, the blacks pushed off from the shore, and with a single-bladed paddle propelled their primitive boats to the steamer, a distance of over a mile. At high tide there was sufficient depth of water, and the “Andrade” steamed safely into the river. Our trip that time was only as far as a place called Bruto, about thirty miles up the river, and we returned to Loanda in a few days, the steamer decorated with flags and branches of palm-trees, making her look like a floating island.

[Pg 114]

This trip was the commencement of the most important era in the modern development of Angola. The great and yearly increasing trade on that river is entirely due to its steam navigation, and fostered principally by the efforts of its spirited promoter.

The trade of Loanda has since increased to a wonderful extent, and has enabled the province to pay its own expenses, which were formerly supplemented by a grant from Portugal.

Several large and small steamers hardly suffice to bring to Loanda the large quantity of palm-oil, palm-kernel, coffee, ground-nuts, and other produce from that river. Mr. Silva has unfortunately lately died on his way home, unrewarded by Portugal for his signal services to Angola; and it is to be feared that his widow even will not receive any recognition of the great benefits that his long years of disinterested efforts so justly merit.

My first visit to the River Quanza was in 1859, when almost the only trader there was a Portuguese of the name of Manoel Lobato, established at Massangano.

Travelling was then performed in a large canoe,[Pg 115] with two or three or four blacks, who punted it with long poles along the sides of the banks. The trip from Calumbo to Dondo used to be performed in this way in about six days, and very pleasant indeed it was. Only a few barges used to leave the river for Loanda with produce, and these would sometimes remain at the bar for weeks, under the excuse of waiting for a good bar, but generally from the attractions of a small town near, where the crews (natives of Cabinda) would stop and amuse themselves. Even of canoes there were but few, and the banks were consequently covered with different kinds of waterfowl and other birds; and on several occasions when I subsequently had to travel in a canoe on this river, I used to supply myself and the half-a-dozen blacks with me with abundance of food in the shape of ducks, &c., simply by shooting them off the banks or in the water as we went along. In the mornings I would walk for miles along the river side, under the shade of the thick palm forest.

With the steamers and increased traffic it is more rare to see birds on the banks in the same numbers; they have mostly taken to the lagoons[Pg 116] and marshy places extensively bordering this beautiful river.

The mouth of the River Quanza is about fifty miles south of Loanda; the course of the river is then so far northerly, that a well-kept path or road south from Loanda reaches it at a distance of twenty-one miles at a place called Calumbo. This road to Calumbo used formerly to be much infested with lions, but with the greatly increased traffic they are seldom now seen or heard of. Lions used to come close to Loanda even, and I was shown a walled enclosure which one had cleared, dragging a calf with him over it. The blacks always use the word “Ngana,” or “Sir,” when speaking of the lion, as they believe that he is “fetish,” and would not fail to punish them for their want of respect if they omitted to do so.

The scenery on this road is very pretty, but is of the same character as that of the littoral region at Ambriz and Mossulo; gigantic baobabs, euphorbias, aloes, prickly shrubs and trees, delicate creepers, and hard, wiry grass.

From the mouth of the river to Calumbo there are large mangrove marshes, and there is a native[Pg 117] town called Tumbo, the inhabitants of which are mostly engaged as pilots, mangrove wood-cutters, and fishermen.

The mangrove tree grows here to a large size, and is cut and sent to Loanda for beams, piles, &c.; the longer thin trees are also in great request for roof timbers, scaffoldings, and other uses. The mangrove is a very hard and heavy wood; a pole of it sinks in water almost like a bar of iron, and it is magnificent for fuel. It is sent to Loanda in rafts floated out of the river to the sea, and navigated with a sail.

As the mangrove-wood is so heavy, the natives first make a bed of palm-stems, which are also valuable for hammock-poles, roofs, &c., and on these the mangrove timber is piled, and all securely tied together with tough creeper-stems. These rafts, called “balças,” are worth at Loanda from 200l. to 300l. and upwards each.

Calumbo boasts of a “chefe,” and of the most voracious mosquitoes in Angola.

There is a considerable assemblage of huts and mud-plastered houses at Calumbo, belonging to the native population, but the river floods the[Pg 118] whole place almost every year. There is also a beautiful avenue of cocoa-nut palm trees planted by the old missionaries, who appear to have had an extensive establishment here, but all that remains of it at the present day is a pretty church in very good repair, and picturesquely situated on a slight eminence on the banks of the river about a mile from Calumbo. The low ground about Calumbo is exceedingly fertile, and is beautifully cultivated immediately after the floods.

The best land is on the southern bank of the river; on the northern bank there is but little ground under cultivation, and the marshes are left to breed clouds of mosquitoes.

The river from its mouth to Calumbo passes through level country, and the banks are covered with mangrove, “bordao” palm, and other trees and plants. The mangrove disappears before arriving at Calumbo, where the water is perfectly sweet, and the banks are mostly bare or lined with sedges and papyrus. The appearance of the low, hilly ground behind is very much like that of the cliffs on the sea shore, being mostly covered with a perfect forest of baobabs. At Calumbo there grew[Pg 119] a baobab with a monstrous trunk; this was with great difficulty cut down by order of the vandalic idiot of a “chefe,” who objected to the leviathan tree because it stood in the middle of the road along the bank of the river!

A few miles higher up the river we arrive at Bruto, belonging to my friend Senhor Felicianno da Silva Oliveira, who has there a magnificent sugar-cane plantation, distillery, and farm, and also does a considerable trade with the natives in ground-nuts and other produce. This gentleman is well known as one of the most intelligent and energetic industrial explorers of Angola. I knew him first in Benguella Velha, where he had extensive cotton plantations, &c.; but, convinced of the great resources of the River Quanza, he started, some years back, the cultivation of sugar-cane at Bruto with complete success, but entailing incessant work that only those who have any experience of the vast difficulties of such an undertaking, without capital and in a wild country, can appreciate.

A large extent of cultivated ground, well built and commodious houses and stores, steam sugar-cane[Pg 120] mill, and stills for the production of rum from the juice of the sugar-cane, beautiful herds of cattle, garden, lime-kiln, &c., are proud monuments of his well-directed efforts, and a bright example to his, in general, apathetic countrymen. It is to such men that the authorities should give every assistance, but I am sorry to say that it only takes the form, at most, of empty praise. The Government at Lisbon, to favour men who devote their energies to the development of her provinces, did give exceptional privileges to the “Banco Ultramarino” or Colonial Bank for this purpose, but its operations at Loanda, instead of being principally directed to aiding planters, &c., with capital, have been hitherto restricted to a system of miserable usury.

In a draft on England for a small amount that this bank once discounted, it was stipulated that it should be paid in gold, and not in Bank of England notes, as from information that had reached Loanda of a commercial panic in London, it was considered a proper precaution to adopt, in case such notes should suffer depreciation in value!

In digging the foundations of the cane-house,[Pg 121] Senhor Oliveira discovered a beautifully carved ivory crucifix in the most perfect state of preservation. This work of art is about two feet high, and evidently belonged to some monastery existing there.

At Bruto there is a fine lagoon in which abundance of fish is netted, and there are some lovely woods and valleys near, which abound with birds and monkeys.

I obtained some exquisite little kingfishers (Corythornis cyanostigma) from a kind of little bay in the banks of the river near Bruto. This bay was covered with the leaves and flowers of the water-lily (Nymphæa dentata and stellata), and trailing on these were long stems of a plant many yards in length, covered with bright green leaves and lovely purple bell-shaped flowers. I sat down behind a bush and watched this beautiful nook for some time, looking at a number of water-hens and other birds running over the water-lilies, and, with the kingfishers, chasing their insect and finny prey.

Beyond Bruto the river scenery is much finer, cliffs and hills on either side covered with the[Pg 122] everlasting baobab, and the valleys filled with a luxuriant green forest of trees and creepers, with here and there brilliant patches of colour from the abundant flowers of the latter—the banks of the river a foreground of papyrus and sedges of unfading green.

At intervals the lines of hills recede inland, and show vast spaces occupied by lakes and lagoons fringed with almost impenetrable virgin forests containing trees of fine timber.

At about fifty or sixty miles from the coast, and about half-way to Dondo, on the southern bank of the Quanza, is the town of Muxima, built on a bare, white limestone rock, on which the hot sun seems to have baked the mud huts with their straw roofs to a dark brown. A fine large red-tiled church, and the ruins of a small fort on the top of a steep rocky hill, give a picturesque appearance to the otherwise glaring and scorched desolation of the place. Hardly any movement of the natives is ever seen at Muxima when passing it on the river; there is no trade or industry whatever in the place, and the town has always the appearance of a deserted ruin as represented in[Pg 123] a dissolving view. The Portuguese have a “chefe” here, with a few black soldiers, but it is such a forsaken, dead-alive place that there is always a difficulty in finding an officer for the post.

The church at Muxima is held in the greatest veneration by the natives far and wide. It is considered as a great “fetish;” and even the natives from Loanda seek there the intercession of the Virgin Mary as represented by an image in that church; and I was shown a chest full of plate, chains, rings, and other offerings of the pious pilgrims to its shrine.

Alligators abound, and places are staked round on the banks of the river to enable the natives to fill their vessels with water without danger of being drawn in by these hideous monsters. On a hot day they may be seen dozing on the mudbanks, stretched out flat like great logs of wood. The blacks affirm that the alligator is fonder of eating women and girls than men;—this belief may very likely be due to the fact that it is the women who generally fetch water from the river, and that consequently a greater number of them fall victims to this brute. They have also the belief,[Pg 124] common to the natives of all Angola, that the alligator’s liver is poisonous, and that it is used as a poison by the “feiticeiros” or sorcerers.

Numbers of hippopotami also inhabit this river, but since the steamers are constantly navigating it they are seldom seen, and appear to have migrated more to the lagoons. Formerly it was most amusing to watch these huge and inoffensive beasts; I have seen them lift their great heads out of the water and stare quite familiarly for two or three minutes with every appearance of curiosity in their little round eyes at the canoe passing, and then slowly sink with a snort and great bubbling of the water from their nostrils. One wide bend of the river, where the water is very still, used to be the favourite resort of the hippopotamus, and was called by the natives “hippopotamus corner” from this circumstance. I once stopped my canoe off there for some time, to witness the gambols of some twenty of these animals, large and small, evidently playing and chasing one another, lifting their heads and shoulders right out of the water, and snorting and booming away at a great rate.

There were formerly natives who used to hunt[Pg 125] these animals for the sake of their flesh, fat, and teeth, and I went ashore to two or three huts where some of these blacks lived to buy for my boatmen a quantity of the dry and salted flesh and bacon of a hippopotamus they had recently killed. It was cut into long thin strips which were hanging to dry over some lines stretched from poles in the ground. I tasted some of the flesh and fat cooked with beans by my men, and it was very nice; and had I not known what it was, I should never have distinguished the taste from that of insipid pork or bacon.

The manatee is also not uncommon, and also a large fresh-water tortoise (Trionyx nilotica) which is speared by the natives and much esteemed for food.

Fish is extremely abundant, particularly a short thick fish called “cacusso,” which is the principal food of the natives on that river. A fisherman once gave me the names of over forty species of fish to be obtained in the Quanza; and at Dondo a large fish is caught, and is much valued by the Portuguese for its delicious flavour.

Fish is principally caught by throw-nets, or by hook and line, also in fish-baskets or traps.

[Pg 126]

Beyond Muxima the appearance of the banks becomes really charming. A delicious panorama of mile after mile of the most beautiful dark forest of high feathery-topped oil-palms stretches on both sides, but principally on the north bank.

Under the shade of these palms is seen a succession of picturesque huts, in every variety of unsymmetrical quaintness, of weathered grass roofs, mud walls and whitewash, and crooked doors and windows. Many of these huts are embosomed in a fence of growing hog-plum stakes, and surrounded by a thicket of lime and orange trees, plantains, papaws, &c., the luxuriant and ever bright green foliage contrasting beautifully with the sombre, almost black hue and shade of the palms. Where there are no palm trees the vegetation is equally lovely, a profusion of creepers festooning and covering the highest trees. Amongst these, the cotton-wood trees and giant baobabs are the most conspicuous, their sparsely-covered branches generally crowded with hundreds of long-legged herons and other birds. One of these vast trees with but few leaves, and the branches thickly covered with lines of long-legged and long-necked grey[Pg 127] or white birds standing bolt upright, has a most extraordinary and unexpected appearance.

The palm forests resound with the cooing of innumerable doves, and are a favourite haunt of a white-headed eagle or vulture, complained of by the natives for the havoc that it commits on the palm-nuts, on which it is said chiefly to subsist.

The palm-tree is also the favourite resort of several species of the beautiful little nectarinæ or sun-birds, who appear to find on the crown and leaves the small spiders and other insects that constitute their principal food. They are always especially busy about the gourds placed at the tops of the trees for the purpose of collecting the palm wine;—whether it is that they are fond of the juice, or whether this attracts the insect prey they are in search of, I know not. Palm-trees standing alone generally have as many as a hundred or more of the pretty nests, made by a species of weaver-bird, suspended from the leaflets. These birds are very noisy, and take not the least notice of the people passing beneath—in fact, they seem to prefer building their nests in solitary palms in the middle of a native town. The natives never think[Pg 128] of molesting small birds, and the children have not the cruel propensity for stone-throwing and bird-nesting that our more civilized boys have.

Many of the sandy islets and shallows of the river are frequented by clouds of different species of gulls, attracted no doubt by the great abundance of fish.

The scenery continues of the same character as far as Dondo.

A little above Muxima there is a fine perpendicular cliff, at the foot of which runs the river. This is called the “Pedra dos Feiticeiros,” or “Fetish Rock,” and from it the Quissamas throw into the river the unfortunate wretches accused of witchcraft. They are said to be first stunned by a blow on the head from a knobbed stick and then thrown over the cliff, to ensure their not escaping the alligators by swimming ashore. Before arriving at Dondo we reach the important district of Massangano, where the River Lucala, the largest tributary of the Quanza, runs into it.

The town of Massangano stands on high ground, but only the old fort and “residencia” of the “chefe” are seen from the river, these being built[Pg 129] on the high cliff overlooking it. The fort contains a couple of ancient iron guns, evidently loaded by the breech in some way which is not at present very clear. From the fort an extensive view is obtained of the splendid country below. I once spent a few days at Senhor Lobato’s house at Massangano, and made several excursions in the neighbourhood. The country around is beautiful and very fertile. There are a number of traders established there, and a large assemblage of native huts and houses. There is also a fine old church, the only remaining evidence of the existence of the old missionaries. Both this and the church at Muxima contain great numbers of small bats. The roof inside is completely covered with them. I have noticed a very curious circumstance in Angola with regard to these bats, and that is the way they issue at dusk from any window or crevice communicating with the interior of the roofs or other dark places that they occupy during the day.

At regular intervals of about thirty seconds to one minute, a small puff or cloud of these bats is seen to issue together, and so they continue till all[Pg 130] are out. This strange habit of leaving their hiding-places intermittently, and not continuously as might be expected, cannot easily be explained, nor why they assemble together to go forth in distinct batches only. Whether they return in the same manner I cannot say. Once out, they seem to spread apart immediately, and fly away in all directions, and do not appear in the least to keep in flocks like birds, though they may roost together in communities.

The town of Dondo is about twenty miles from Massangano. It stands in a small, triangular, level plain surrounded by hills on all sides, the base of the triangle being the River Quanza and the low line of hills on its southern bank. From the configuration of the ground, shut in on all sides from winds, it is perhaps, as might be imagined, the hottest corner of Angola. The heat in a calm summer’s day is almost stifling, and the nights, generally cool everywhere else, are not less oppressive. Formerly the town was on the high land above, at Cambambe, as the town itself was called, but the exigencies of trade have peopled the present town of Dondo.

[Pg 131]

It is a growing and flourishing place, where a number of traders and agents of Loanda houses are established, and is the receiving port for embarkation of the produce and trade of the neighbouring districts and of those of the interior. Thousands of tons of ground-nuts, coffee, wax, palm-oil, ivory, &c., are shipped yearly at Dondo for Loanda by the steamers. There is a fine large square in the middle of the town, where a fair or market is held every day, and to this the natives resort from all parts around with produce and provisions. Many different tribes from the interior are to be seen at Dondo, both from the northern and southern banks of the river, who have brought produce for sale to the white men. The “residencia” of the “chefe” is on a hill to the south of the town, and the view from it is truly magnificent. As far as the eye can reach it is one gorgeous scene of mountains, dark palms, and forests, range after range, till lost to view in the horizon. There are two views in Angola that would alone almost repay the trouble of travelling there. One is that just described, and the other from the hill at Tuco on the road from Ambriz to Bembe.

[Pg 132]

About six or eight miles from Dondo up the river are the first cataracts of Cambambe. Immediately on leaving Dondo the river is enclosed by high hills or cliffs on both sides, and winds a good deal, so that a succession of fresh and seemingly more beautiful pictures is constantly presented to the traveller’s admiration as he ascends the river in a boat. The river is wide and deep, and the slopes and perpendicular sides of the hilly walls on either side are of endless variety of colour, both of rock, moss and lichen, plant and tree. Deep red iron-stained sandstone, conglomerate, blue clay slate, huge white-stemmed baobabs, dark masses of palm-trees, plots of large-leaved plantains, masses of trees overgrown with creepers, meet the eye in ever varying combination, and gradually the wide valley worn by the water becomes narrower and narrower, until at last it is a deep gorge with almost upright walls of clay slate, and the passage for the great body of water is barred right across by vast rocky ledges and peaks, over which, in the rainy season, it rushes and dashes with a deafening wild roar and mad flinging up into the air of showers of water and foam. The last time I saw these[Pg 133] rapids I was accompanied by my wife, and we landed on a bank of gravel a little below the cataract and walked and scrambled on the rocks, till we were on a great ledge quite close to, and but little over the level of the waters; but, it being the end of the dry season, they were so far reduced as to run between the rocks in a swift dark oily-looking mass, and at such a considerable inclination and speed as to give the idea of vast and irresistible force. On the rocks covered over and splashed by the water, were growing masses of a curious semi-transparent plant with thick stems, and bearing minute white flowers.

The singular appearance of this plant, so exactly like a sea-weed, attracted our attention, and as I had never before observed it anywhere in my travels in Angola, we secured specimens, which we dried and preserved, and on forwarding them to Kew it was found to be a new genus of Podostemaceæ, and has been described by Dr. Weddell in the ‘Journal of the Linnean Society,’ xiv. 210, † 13, as the Angolæa fluitans.

It is said that coal has lately been discovered[Pg 134] near the river on its southern bank, and not far from Dondo.

Of the old town of Cambambe, situated on the high ground over the cataract, but little else remains than the church and a few houses. The River Quanza is not navigable beyond the rapids, except perhaps for short distances and for small canoes. At Nhangui-a-pepi it is only a broad shallow stream, but with a very rocky bed; its source, however, is far beyond Pungo Andongo.

About the higher parts of the river a gigantic species of the “Bagre” (Bagrus) is found. This is a siluroid fish, and my attention was first called to its extraordinary dimensions by seeing a black using the flat top of the skull of one as a plate or dish. I was then in the province of Cambambe, and several times had an opportunity of asking natives from Pungo Andongo the size of these fish: one man told me that they were captured so large that two men were required to carry one fish slung on a pole on their shoulders by passing the pole through the gills, and that the tail then drags on the ground. Another black, who was a river fisherman, explained to me that the “bagres” were[Pg 135] caught with an iron hook made on purpose by the native smiths and baited with a piece of meat; he gave me an idea of the thickness and size of the hook with a piece of twig, and it was as large as an ordinary shark-hook; he further drew on the ground the size of this large fish, and it was six feet long. Other natives who were with him joined in the description and corroborated him, and I am perfectly convinced that they spoke the truth, and were not exaggerating much. I wrote to some Portuguese traders at Pungo Andongo, asking them to send me the head of one in spirits, but of course I never got it.

Only the northern bank of the Quanza is subject to the Portuguese (with the exception of the town of Muxima), and the natives inhabiting it are greatly civilized and well behaved, and very civil. They are, of course, not industrious, the women cultivating the usual mandioca and other produce for food, and manufacturing palm-oil. A little tobacco is also cultivated by them, and the leaves when fully grown are gathered, and a string passed through the stem. This string of leaves is stretched round their huts to dry, and the large[Pg 136] leaves thus hanging give them a curious appearance.

The first trips of the steamers caused the natives on either bank the most intense astonishment; they would race them along the banks, shouting and yelling; and when the steamers stopped at any place, crowds would flock round and come on board to stare at the machinery, which was universally pronounced to be a white man’s great “fetish.”

All natives are very fond of the “batuco” or dance, of which there are two kinds. The Ambriz blacks and those of the Congo country dance it in the following manner:—A ring is formed of the performers and spectators; “marimbas” are twanged and drums beaten vigorously, and all assembled clap their hands in time with the thumping of the drums, and shout a kind of chorus. The dancers, both men and women, jump with a yell into the ring, two or three at a time, and commence dancing. This consists almost exclusively of swaying the body about with only a slight movement of the feet, head, and arms, but at the same time the muscles of the[Pg 137] shoulders, back, and hams, are violently twitched and convulsed. The greatest applause is given to those who can most strongly shake their flesh all over in this way. It is difficult to do, and appears to require considerable practice, and seems very fatiguing, for in a few minutes the dancers are streaming with perspiration and retire for others to take their places, and so they will often continue for a whole night long, or in dark nights, as long as the great heap of dry grass that they have provided lasts—the illumination being obtained by burning wisps of this grass, two or three blacks generally having the care of that part of the performance. The natives at these dances are dressed as usual in the ordinary waistcloth, the men arranging theirs so as to allow the ends to trail on the ground. There is nothing whatever indecent in them.

The “batuco” of the Bunda-speaking natives of Loanda and the interior is different. The ring of spectators and dancers, the illuminations, the “marimbas” and drums are the same, but only two performers jump into the ring at a time, a man and a girl or woman; they shuffle their feet with[Pg 138] great rapidity, passing one another backwards and forwards, then retreat facing one another, and suddenly advancing, bring their stomachs together with a whack. They then retire, and another couple instantly take their places. This performance might be called somewhat indecent, but I do not believe that the natives attach the most remote idea of harm to the “batuco.”

The “marimba” is the musical instrument par excellence of the natives of Angola. In Plate XI. is represented the better made ones. It consists of a flat piece of wood, generally hollowed out, and with a number of thin iron tongues secured on it by cross bits, but so as to allow them to be pulled out more or less for the purpose of tuning. In front is affixed a wire, on which some glass beads are loosely strung that jangle when the instrument is played, which is done by holding it between both hands and twanging the tongues with the thumbs. The light wood of which the “marimbas” are made is that of the cotton-wood tree. They are also made with slips of the hard cuticle of the stem of the palm-leaf instead of the iron tongues, but these are the commoner instruments.[Pg 139] Others are made smaller and with fewer tongues.

The more complete ones have an empty gourd attached to the under part, which is said to give them greater sonorousness. The blacks are excessively fond of these instruments everywhere in Angola, playing them as they walk along or rest, and by day or night a “marimba” is at all hours heard twanging somewhere. The music played on it is of a very primitive description, consisting only of a few notes constantly repeated.

Another common instrument of noise, much used to accompany the “marimbas” and drums at the “batucos,” is made by splitting a short piece of palm stem about four or five feet long down one side, and scooping out the soft centre. The hard cuticle is then cut into little grooves across the slit, and these, energetically rubbed with a stick, produce a loud, twanging, rattling kind of noise.

A musical instrument sometimes seen is made by stretching a thin string to a bent bow, about three feet long, passed through half a gourd, the open end of which rests against the performer’s[Pg 140] bare stomach. The string is struck with a thin slip of cane or palm-leaf stem held in the right hand, and a finger of the left, which holds the instrument, is laid occasionally on the string, and in this way, with occasional gentle blows of the open gourd against the stomach, very pleasing sounds and modulations are obtained.

Another very noisy instrument with which the drums and “marimbas” are sometimes accompanied at the “batucos,” is made by covering one end of a small powder-barrel or hollow wooden cylinder (open at both ends), with a piece of sheepskin tied tightly round it. A short piece of round wood, about six or seven inches long, is pushed through a hole in the middle of the sheepskin cover, a knob at the end preventing it from slipping quite in. The hand of the performer is then wetted and inserted into the cylinder and the piece of wood is lightly grasped and pulled, allowing it to slip a little, the result being a most hideous, booming sound.

I would strongly recommend my youthful readers, if they would like to create a sensation in a quiet household, to manufacture one of these[Pg 141] simple and efficacious musical instruments, and I would suggest the application of a little powdered resin instead of water to the hand, to produce a full tone.

I once saw at a town near Bembe a musical instrument which I thought rather ingenious. A small rectangular pit had been dug in the ground, and over its mouth two strings, about six inches apart, were stretched with pegs driven in the ground. Across these strings ten or twelve staves from a small powder-barrel were fastened. These were struck with a couple of sticks, on the end of which was a little knob or lump of india-rubber, and an agreeable sound was produced. I have seen two Kroomen from the West Coast, at the River Zaire, playing on a similar kind of instrument, but the flat pieces were laid across two small plantain-stems, and were of different sizes and thickness, so as to produce a kind of scale when struck by the performers with a couple of sticks each. The rapidity with which this instrument was played was really marvellous, and the music sounded like variations of their usual plaintive song, always in a minor key, and one seemed to be[Pg 142] playing bass to the other’s rapidly-executed treble. This air is played or sung ad infinitum, and the second bar is often repeated. The Kroomen on board the steamers on the coast always sing it and harmonize it prettily, when it has a very pleasing effect indeed.

Bar of music

The southern bank of the Quanza, from its mouth to opposite Dondo, is called the Quissama country, and is inhabited by the peculiar race or tribe of negroes of the same name. They have not been subjected to the Portuguese in modern times, and I apprehend that in former years, when the Portuguese were in great strength on the River Quanza, they were never considered worth the trouble of subjugating, as they certainly are not now. The former missionaries also do not appear to have been able to do anything with them, as not a trace exists there of the habits of civilization they so successfully introduced, and which are so apparent in the natives of the greater part of Angola, where they were formerly established. Their greatest stations were on the Quanza, where[Pg 143] their efforts were most successful; and there can be no reason to suppose that any other obstacle existed to the Quissama natives participating in their teaching or example than the resistance due to the very low type, both physical and mental, of this tribe, so apparent at the present day. The missionaries must have had a station of some importance at Muxima, in their own country, as shown by the very fine church still existing there, besides those at Calumbo, Massangano, Cambambe, and perhaps at Bruto.

The Quissama negroes are very black in colour, undersized, exceedingly dirty, and have a remarkably ugly cast of countenance. With the exception of the tribe of Muquandos, south of Benguella, the Quissama blacks are the most miserable-looking race in Angola. They have a wild, savage look, not seen in the faces of any other tribe, and have not the free mien or attitude of perfect ease of other blacks, but appear frightened and very suspicious. Everywhere on the river they cross over daily with their produce for sale to the different houses of the white traders, as well as to the petty native grog-shops and traders on the river from[Pg 144] Calumbo to Dondo, but they never drop their distrustful behaviour, and cross over to their own side without delaying more than necessary. They will not allow traders to establish on their side of the river;—one or two that are said to have done so were robbed, and their houses burnt. They are on terms of perfect friendship with the natives and white men of the northern bank, and at Calumbo and a few other places their land is cultivated by the natives of those places.

The greater part of the Quissama country is very barren, and perfectly destitute of water except on the banks of the river itself, the Quissamas employing baobab trees, hollowed out for the purpose, as reservoirs for the rain-water falling in the wet season. It is very scantily populated except near Massangano and Dondo, where their chief towns are, and where they manufacture a considerable quantity of palm-oil.

When the oil season is approaching, the white traders go over from Dondo to their principal towns to settle with the “sobas,” or kings, the price per measure at which the oil is to be sold. Though so wild in appearance, they are most[Pg 145] inoffensive and peaceable, and are in the greatest fear lest the Portuguese should take it into their heads to annex their territory, which they could most easily do if they thought it advisable.

The Libollos, or natives of the Libollo country, are a very much finer and cleaner race than their neighbours the Quissamas, and their country (according to the accounts I received from several Portuguese and natives) most beautiful and fertile, and covered in great part with palm-trees.

The manner in which they have lately cultivated large quantities of ground-nuts, and increased the production of palm-oil, proves that they are an industrious race.

They are antagonistic to the Quissamas, and very favourable to the Portuguese, and have often offered to reduce them to the power of the latter, if these will give them leave and supply them with guns and ammunition. On one occasion, when I was at Dondo, an embassy arrived, through the Libollo country, from some powerful tribes of the Bailundo district—the most warlike of the tribes of the interior—also offering to conquer the country for the Portuguese on condition of being[Pg 146] allowed to plunder and carry off prisoners as slaves.

These warlike tribes to the south of the Libollo and Quissama countries are known in Angola by the name of Quinbundos, and are the handsomest natives of any, being all very tall and well formed. They come in caravans to Dondo, principally laden with beeswax, singing on the march, and at night when assembled together, a song with chorus with great effect. They put up at the Libollo and Quissama towns, and come over to the northern bank to trade with the white men. They plait their hair in thin strings all round their heads, and in each plait they put several beads, mostly made of red paste in imitation of coral. The Quissamas are not cannibals, as described by an English tourist, whose sensational story about them, written after a few days’ trip in the steamers on the Quanza, is full of gross inaccuracies.

The dress of the men is a waistcloth of fine matting or cotton cloths, obtained from the traders; that of the women is very singular, being the soft, beaten inner bark of the baobab-tree made into a thick sort of skirt, which is fastened round the[Pg 147] waist, and has extra layers at the back to puff it out still more, something in the manner of the “dress-improvers” worn by the fair sex in our own country. (Plate XII.). Nature has provided the Quissama ladies with an abundant development of what the Spaniards call “enthusiasm,” and on this account the use of the extra thicknesses on the back of their skirts is really quite unnecessary; but they are not satisfied, and consider this fashion an improvement. Their appearance, therefore, is very comical, particularly when they run, as the thick short skirt moves up and down, and swings round with every motion of the body.

Maxilla, and Barber’s Shop

Plate XII.
Maxilla, and Barber’s Shop.—Carrying Corpse to Burial.—Quissama Women, and manner of pounding and sifting Meal in Angola.
To face page 147.

They are very dirty in their habits, never appearing to make use of water for washing, and their baobab skirts are always black with grease, smoke, and perspiration. I had to order the two dresses in my possession, one for a married woman and the other for a girl or young woman, to be made on purpose, as I could not touch any of those offered to me for sale.

The women, when they come over to the northern bank, sometimes wear a handkerchief or other cloth over the breast, and even over the baobab skirt,[Pg 148] but this latter they must wear, according to the custom of their country. They carry the produce of their plantations in large conical baskets on their backs, secured by a band round the forehead (Plate XII.). It is, as far as I know, the only tribe in Angola that carries a load in this manner.

The Quissama blacks are extremely poor, their arid country producing hardly anything besides the food necessary for their bare subsistence, and a little beeswax. The principal food of those near the river is fish.

There is a deposit of rock-salt in the Quissama country somewhere between Muxima and Calumbo (said to be south of the former), and at some distance from the river. It has never to my knowledge been visited by any white man, nor would the Quissamas readily allow one to go to the place; but the most curious thing connected with this salt is that they cut it into little bars with five or six sides or facets, about eight or nine inches long and about an inch thick, tapering slightly to the ends, and closely encased in cane-work. These pass as money, not only on the river,[Pg 149] but in the interior, where they are at last perhaps consumed.

During the Abyssinian war, some of the correspondents described exactly the same shaped pieces of rock-salt encased in similar wicker-work, as being obtained and employed in that country for the same purpose. This is extremely interesting, and opens several questions as to a possible common origin for the custom in the far and dim past; and the case of the bellows already described is another similar instance.

Many of the native words mentioned by the same correspondents are identical with those used in different places in Angola. I am very sorry now that I did not devote more attention to the investigation of the languages of the natives of Angola, and in particular that of the Quissama tribe, which is different to the Bunda language, and is also said to be different to that of Benguella Velha and Novo Redondo farther south. The number of distinct languages and dialects in Angola is very curious, and a similar multiplicity of tongues has been noted by travellers in other parts of Tropical Africa. None of the[Pg 150] languages in Angola are guttural, or spoken with a “click.”

There is a great deal of most interesting detail to be worked out in Angola in every branch of natural history and ethnology.

My chapters are little more than an indication of the wealth that lies there buried for future explorers, and of the success that will attend their investigations.

[Pg 151]


The country south of the River Quanza is very different from that to the north of it, just described, not only in its physical aspect, but also in the tribes of natives inhabiting it. The evidences of a former degree of civilization, and of the good work of the old missionaries, are not here visible, and I should almost imagine that this part of Angola was not under their care to anything like the same extent.

From June 1861 to the end of 1863, I was engaged in working two copper deposits at Cuio and Benguella, and in exploring the coast from Cassanza, about eighty miles from the River[Pg 152] Quanza, as far as and including Mossamedes or Little Fish Bay.

In these explorations I did not go inland a greater distance than about thirty or forty miles at Mossamedes, and forty or fifty at Novo Redondo. I cannot, therefore, speak from personal knowledge of those most interesting places in the interior, Bihé and Bailundo, or the Portuguese districts of Caconda, Quillengues, Huilla, Capangombe, &c.

The geological character of the coast-line from the Quanza to Mossamedes is gneiss, mostly very quartzose, then with a good deal of hornblende and mica near Cuio, passing to a fine-grained porphyry and fine granite with large, distinct feldspar about Mossamedes. Close to the sea these primary rocks are joined by a line of tertiary deposits, principally massive gypsum, and sandstones of different thicknesses curiously separated by layers of the finest dust. Farther south, between the River San Nicolao in 14° S. lat. and Mossamedes, there is a strip of columnar basalt and trap-rock of only a few miles in width.

The character of these rocks is sufficient to account[Pg 153] for the very sterile nature of the country; in fact, most of it is completely a rocky desert, without a drop of water, and covered with but little grass, and frightfully thorny bushes. Although this is the general character, there are numerous places of the greatest beauty, particularly at a distance of twenty to thirty miles from the coast, where the first elevation is reached, and where the vegetation, as in the rest of Angola, changes to a luxuriant character.

The country about Cassanza is level and well covered with grass, and the natives appeared inoffensive and quiet. They have a considerable quantity of fine cattle, and what is rare amongst the natives of Angola, they milk the cows regularly twice a day, the milk being a principal article of food with them. The few days that I was there in 1863, I enjoyed the abundance of beautiful milk immensely.

The Portuguese with whom I was staying was then engaged in cotton planting, but the ground did not appear very suitable for its cultivation. He also had a beautiful cotton and sugar-cane plantation at Benguella Velha, and at a pretty[Pg 154] place called Cuvo, where there is a small river and good ground near its mouth.

On that occasion I had come up in a sailing barge from Benguella to Novo Redondo, to explore that district for copper, specimens of the ore having been found in several places. The river at Novo Redondo had overflowed its banks, and the road we had to follow was under water for some miles, and whilst waiting for the river to subside, I started to Cuvo and Cassanza to see the country and my friend. On returning to Novo Redondo I obtained for guide the services of a jovial and useful black named David, who had been educated at Benguella. He could read and write Portuguese, which language he spoke perfectly, and was a man of great importance in the Novo Redondo country, as he was the hereditary king of the place, and was to be proclaimed as such as soon as he could make up his mind to eat a man’s head and heart, roasted or stewed, as he should fancy. David was not at all inclined either to forego his kingship, or to eat any part of one of his fellow-creatures, which by the custom of his country it was imperative he should do to be proclaimed king.

[Pg 155]

He had been putting off the disagreeable ceremony for some two years, if I remember right, but his people were getting impatient at not having a king, and were threatening to elect another. How he got over the difficulty, or if he at last submitted to overcome his repugnance to roast or stewed negro, I never heard.

The “Mucelis,” or natives of Novo Redondo and of the country inland called “Celis,” are cannibals, and, as far as I could ascertain, there are no others in Angola.

The Portuguese have no stations inland on that part of the coast, that of Caconda, to the interior and south of Benguella, being the first; and they do not allow the practice of cannibalism at the town of Novo Redondo itself, as they strictly prohibit and punish there, as in the rest of Angola, any fetish rite or custom, but I found that at Cuacra, the second large town I passed on my way inland, human flesh was eaten, and in several other towns I passed I saw evidences of this custom in a heap of skulls of the blacks that had been eaten in the centre of the towns, and on the trees were also the clay pots in which the flesh was cooked,[Pg 156] and which, according to their laws, can only be used for that purpose.

One night I walked out of my hut at a town where I was sleeping, and seeing that no one was about, I chose a nice skull from the heap, and brought it home and presented it to my friend Professor Huxley, who exhibited it at a meeting of the Anthropological Society. I had previously asked whether I might take one of these skulls, but had been told that it would be considered a great “fetish” if I did, and David begged me not to do so, as there would be a great disturbance, so I was obliged to steal one in the way I have described, and hide it carefully in my portmanteau.

It is only natives who are killed for “fetish” or witchcraft that are eaten, and the “soba” or king of the town where they are executed has the head and heart as his share.

I was informed that at these feasts every particle of the body was eaten, even to the entrails. At the principal towns of Ambuin and Sanga (said to be the capital) I was told that as many as six and seven blacks were eaten every month, and that the “sobas” of those two towns, and their[Pg 157] wives, only used human fat to anoint their bodies with.

I was shown at one of the towns the little axe with which the poor wretches were decapitated, and which was distinguished from others used by the natives by having a lozenge-shaped hole in the blade.

I was very much surprised to find that, notwithstanding their cannibal propensities, the natives of Novo Redondo were such an extremely fine race; in fact, they are the finest race of blacks, in every way, that I have met with in Africa.

Cannibalism may possibly be one reason of their superiority, from this custom supplying them with a certain amount of animal food more than other tribes make use of, or it may be due to their usual food, which is principally a mixture in equal parts of haricot beans and indian-corn, being very much more nutritious than the diet of mandioca meal, of almost pure starch, that supplies the staple food of other tribes. Whatever the reason may be, there can be no question of the superior physique and qualities of this cannibal tribe.

[Pg 158]

When about to start on my journey, I saw that only four carriers had been provided for my hammock, and I refused to start with less than six or eight, as I made sure, judging from every other place in Africa I had travelled in, that I should have to walk a great deal, as four men, even in Ambriz, where I had found the best carriers, would not be able to carry me, day after day, on a long journey. I was assured that it was never customary to have more than four, that two would carry me from daybreak till noon, and the other two from noon till sunset, and that I might have six or more, but that four alone would carry me every day. This I found was the case, not only in that journey, but also when returning overland from Novo Redondo to Benguella, a distance of about ninety miles.

Another extremely curious feature, distinguishing them favourably from all other negro races, is their degree of honesty and honour.

Any white or other trader going into the interior agrees to pay the “soba” of a town the customary dues, and he provides the trader with a clean hut, and is responsible for the goods in it. The trader[Pg 159] may go away farther inland, and he is perfectly certain that on coming back he will find his property untouched, exactly as he left it. Whilst I was at Novo Redondo, an embassy arrived from a town in the interior, where a Portuguese had established himself to trade in palm-oil and beeswax, and where he had died, bringing every scrap of produce and goods belonging to him to deliver the same to the “chefe.”

They were paid and rewarded for their honesty, and I was told that it was the usual thing for these natives to do, on the death of a trader in their country. I do not know of any other part of Africa where such an example would be imitated, certainly not by the Christian negroes at Sierra Leone.

There is a magnificent palm forest on the banks of the river at Novo Redondo. This river is small, but brings down a considerable body of water in the rainy season.

I crossed it on the second day of my journey inland by means of a curiously constructed suspension-bridge attached to the high trees on either side. This bridge was made entirely of the stems[Pg 160] of a very tough tree-creeper, growing in great lengths, and about the thickness of an ordinary walking-stick. From two parallel ropes made of this creeper, right across the stream and about two feet apart, hung a frame of open, large-meshed basket-work about three feet deep, forming a kind of flexible net or trough open at the top. The bottom or floor of this trough was made of the same creeper, woven roughly and openly in the same manner as the sides, and when walking in it, I found it necessary to be careful to tread on the network, or my feet would have slipped through, and to help myself along by holding on to the guys or ropes at the top, which reached up to about my waist.

The length of the bridge must have been some thirty paces. Near it I noticed, on a flat-topped tree of no great height, a large bird of the eagle species sitting on its eggs in an open nest, and the male bird on a branch near his mate; this tree was quite close to the road or path, and though numerous natives passed under it to and fro, neither they nor the birds seemed to heed one another in the least.

[Pg 161]

The Celis country is infested with lions, but I was not so fortunate as to see one, though one morning we came upon the fresh footprints of what the natives affirmed to be a family consisting of a full-grown male and female and three half-grown young ones. To my inexperienced eyes there appeared to have been more, so numerous seemed the plainly-marked footprints in the moist sand of the bottom of a small ravine.

We escaped an encounter with one the day we started on our trip. About half-past four in the afternoon we arrived at a pretty clump of trees round a pool of deliciously cool water, and near a low line of rather bare-looking hills. David would not allow our carriers to tarry at this pool, as he knew it to be the evening drinking-place for the lions living in the low hills near. We went on, and shortly after we met an old Cabinda man on his way to Novo Redondo, carrying a letter tied in a cleftstick (the usual way to send a native with a letter in Angola). He was an acquaintance of David’s, who had a talk with him, and we went on our several ways. Next morning we heard that the poor fellow had been caught by[Pg 162] a lion not more than an hour after, and at the very pool of water where David had warned us not to stop long. The lion had evidently eaten part of the body at the pool itself, and had carried off the rest to its lair in the hills.

I went to several places where indications of copper had been found, but was disappointed in finding any worth exploring. They were all in the recent beds at the junction or near the primary rock of the country, and consisted of indications of blue and green carbonate of copper in the fine sedimentary mud and sandstone beds. These indications are most abundant everywhere in that district, and curiously enough the plantain-eaters are also most abundant, more so than in any other part of Angola I have been in. I went as far as a range of very quartzose schist rock or gneiss mountains, called Ngello, which I suppose to be between forty and fifty miles from the sea; and at a pass called Tocota on the road to some important town in the interior, named Dongo, I visited a hot-water spring about half way up the mountain side. I had no thermometer with me, but the water, as it issued from a crevice in the[Pg 163] rock, was so hot that I could only keep my hand in it for a few seconds.

The direction of the mountain range was about N.N.E by S.S.W.; the rock composing it was nearly vertical, inclining slightly to the west, and with a strike about north and south. There is a most picturesque little town of huts stuck on a rocky ledge, and the natives use the water from the hot springs to drink, but first allow it to stand a day to cool. It has a very pleasant taste when cold, with just the slightest ferruginous flavour. From this range of mountains magnificent views are obtained, the scenery and vegetation reminding me strongly of Cazengo; and there can be no question that it is likewise capable of growing the coffee-plant to perfection. Some sugar-cane I saw growing there was as fine as I have ever seen it, and the native plantations were most luxuriant. I do not know whether trade at Novo Redondo has increased in the same ratio as on the Quanza and Ambriz, but that it is destined to be a very rich country I have no doubt. There is a great deal of white gum in the country, collected from a tree of which whole forests are said to be found.

[Pg 164]

The principal article of trade at Novo Redondo when I was there was palm-oil, which was mostly bought in exchange for rum, measure for measure, and I often saw the very gourds and pots in which the natives brought the palm-oil filled up with the rum in exchange without any more cleansing than allowing the vessels to well drain off the oil.

I noticed a great variety of birds, and I am sure the country would well repay a collector’s trouble. In the middle of a small cultivated valley I saw a low, flat-topped baobab, which had been taken possession of by a flock of eight or ten birds about the size of a thrush, of a black colour, with smoky-white feathers on the wings. They had built a common nest on the flat top of the tree, and were all sitting hatching their eggs together, quite unprotected from the sun. This bird is the Amydrus fulvipennis, Sw., of ornithologists.

I also saw numbers of a beautiful green pigeon (Treron calva), which is very fat and good to eat. The food of this bird is principally fruit and berries, especially the small figs of the “Mucozo,” a large-leaved, handsome tree. They are generally seen in small flocks, and they sit very close on the[Pg 165] trees whilst feeding, during which operation they utter a curious low noise, as of people talking at a distance. If alarmed, they suddenly hush and stop eating until the alarm has passed away, when they re-commence feeding. The natives state that if a man is completely concealed, he can shoot a number, one after the other, off the same tree where a flock may be feeding, as the discharge of the gun is not sufficient to frighten them away if they do not see the sportsman.

The natives here are great bee-keepers, as are also the natives on both banks of the Quanza. The hives are to be seen on almost every baobab, this being the tree chosen in preference to any other, and as many as four or five hives may be seen on one tree. They are made by splitting a piece of wood, generally a branch of a tree with the bark on, about five feet long and ten or twelve inches in diameter; the centre is scooped out, leaving the ends entire; the two halves are securely tied together, and three holes large enough to admit the little finger are bored at each end. An aperture is cut in the middle of the hollow cylinder, where the two halves are joined together, large[Pg 166] enough to admit the hand. This aperture is closed with a piece of wood, and clayed over to thoroughly prevent any rain from getting in. The hive is securely placed in the branches of the tree, and a quantity of dry grass put over it as a roof or thatch.

Once a year the owner climbs the tree and draws up a basket for the wax and honey with a cord, and also some dry grass and fire. He opens the aperture, and, lighting wisps of grass, smokes the bees as they issue out. Most of them drop half suffocated to the ground, and the comb is extracted, a small quantity being left behind to induce the bees to work again in the same hive. If no comb be left, the natives affirm that they will not return to the hive. In some places the natives are careful not to kill any of the bees, and are said to extract the comb as often as three times a year. Bee-hives are the principal wealth of these blacks, and some families possess as many as three and four hundred.

I was told that very little wild honey or wax was found, and that a bird was known to the natives that showed them where the wild bees’ nests were. They called it “solé,” and described it as having a[Pg 167] white bar across its tail, and making its nest of the hair of different animals which it collected for the purpose.

The Mucelis have a curious custom which I have not heard of as existing in any other tribe, namely, that on the death of the great “sobas” of Ambuin and Sanga, all fires in the kingdom must be put out, and relighted by the succeeding “soba” from fire struck by rubbing two sticks together.

Their laws, principally those relating to the protection of property, are very strict, slavery being the punishment for even trifling robberies, such as a cob of growing indian-corn, or an egg. Oddly enough, they have the same custom of the “lent rat” as in Cambambe, and the punishment if it is not returned entire is a heavy fine, or in default slavery.

To show the extent of some beliefs in Angola amongst tribes far apart, speaking different languages, and having not the slightest communication with each other, I may mention that amongst the Mushicongos a certain field-mouse is believed to drop down dead if it crosses at the point where one path is intersected by another, and I found[Pg 168] this absurd idea entertained exactly in the same manner in the Celis country. I presented a skin of this mouse to the British Museum. It is nearest to the Mus Gambianus in the same collection.

Some of the natives from the interior of Novo Redondo had the most extraordinary way of wearing their hair of any I have seen in Africa; amongst other curious fancies the most usual and striking was that of fashioning it into the exact resemblance of a large Roman helmet with a projecting round horn in front. The custom of wearing a great thickness of strings of flat beads made of shell, and called “dongos,” is universal. They are also worn by the Mundombes, or natives of Benguella, and are mostly made in the Celis country. They are made from the shell of the Achatina monetaria, Morelet, which is broken and chipped into little round pieces about the size of a fourpenny bit, and these are strung on a string. The labour and time taken in their manufacture may be imagined, as it takes several yards of these flat beads coiled round the neck to make a proper necklace, about the thickness of a man’s arm. This once put on is never taken off again during life,[Pg 169] and becomes a filthy mass of dirt, grease, and perspiration. The women also wear these strings or “Quirandas” (weighing sometimes as much as 20 to 30 lbs.) round the waist, and they pass as money in the country.

From Novo Redondo I returned overland to Benguella, fording the River Quicombo, at the mouth of which the Portuguese have a small detachment, and where a few traders are established. This river is broad, but shallow where I crossed it, about six miles from the sea.

The road was generally good and not far from the sea. It passed along and across several ravines, in which I noticed a great quantity of the castor-oil plant growing most luxuriantly.

Late in the evening I arrived at the edge of the valley of the River Egito, at the mouth of which is situated the Portuguese station of Egito. It was getting dark, and there was a steep and long hillside to descend, and some distance to go afterwards before reaching the house of the “chefe,” whose guest I was to be. I therefore determined to make snug for the night under a great baobab growing close to a wall of rock, and my carriers were[Pg 170] clearing a space from leaves and branches for my bed and mosquito curtain, when one of them was stung in the foot by a scorpion.

These poisonous creatures are extremely abundant in the whole of the district of Benguella, and cases are constantly occurring of persons being stung by them. In some places hardly a stone or piece of wood can be lifted from the ground without finding one or more scorpions under it. They are of all sizes, up to six and seven inches long. Their sting is rarely fatal, except to old people or persons in a bad state of health. The effects of the sting are, however, very extraordinary; in severe cases it appears to paralyse all the muscles of the body, sometimes with much pain, in others with little or none.

The black stung on the occasion I am describing complained of a good deal of pain during the night, but only after some hours, or I might have thought of burning the part with a hot iron at first; his comrades applied hot oil to his foot, but in the morning he had lost the use of his legs completely. I had to put him into my hammock and have him carried to Egito. Here I remained with my friend[Pg 171] the “chefe” for four days, and the wounded black was laid in the sun every day to keep him warm, the usual custom in such cases, a sensation of cold always accompanying the subsequent stages of a scorpion bite. On the fourth day he had acquired so much use of his limbs that he could drag himself in a sitting position on the ground to a sunny corner, still complaining of cold, but his appetite seemed good.

I left him to the care of the “chefe,” asking him to send him on to me at Benguella as soon as he should be able to walk. A week after he came to me there quite recovered. Another case of scorpion-bite was described to me by a Portuguese officer (a mulatto) who was “chefe” of the district of Dombe Grande, to the south of Benguella. The man, a tall, stout, powerful and healthy fellow, whilst sitting one evening outside his house, smoking and talking with his family, chanced to drop one of his slippers while crossing one leg over the other; on rising after some time and putting his foot into the slipper, a scorpion that had taken refuge in it stung him in the big toe. He did not think much of the occurrence, but he gradually[Pg 172] became worse, and next day could not rise from his bed; his legs and arms were completely paralysed, but without any pain, and his tongue being but little affected he could speak and swallow without difficulty. His mind was perfectly clear, and he only felt a certain degree of numbness and cold. Not expecting to survive he dictated his will, and remained thus paralysed for five or six days, when he gradually recovered, and was well in about a fortnight’s time and without the least inconvenient after-effect.

The view from the top of the valley of Egito was one of the grandest sights I have ever seen. The river was visible for a considerable distance inland, fringed by a dark band of palm forest. The level spaces between it and the high rocky sides of the valley in which it ran were filled with luxuriant cultivated fields, and as the vast rolling mists were dissipated by the morning rays of the sun, presented a panorama of peaceful pastoral beauty that I have never seen surpassed.

The Portuguese have here a pretty little fort on an eminence, a small garrison being necessary as the natives from the interior sometimes give considerable[Pg 173] trouble, by coming down and attacking the plantations farthest removed from the town, but without doing any great damage beyond keeping the inhabitants in a state of alarm.

From Egito I continued my journey, sleeping the next night at the valley of the River Anha, where I had been warned against an attack of the natives, several Portuguese traders having been robbed there. I did not take any goods with me, and provided myself with a few bottles of rum as a present for the “soba,” feeling convinced that no harm would be done me by them.

On arriving at the river, a small stream flowing through a valley of lovely forest scenery, I crossed and encamped under a tree on the southern bank. I then sent one of my blacks, who knew the “soba,” with a bottle of rum and a request that he would come and have a drink with me. When he arrived, with about a dozen of the old men of the town, I was just sitting down to my dinner. Being well up in the customs of the blacks of Angola, I made him sit down on my portmanteau, and asked him through one of my men who acted as interpreter, how he and his wives and sons were, and if[Pg 174] his country “was well,” to which he duly answered, and asked me in my turn where I had come from, and where I was going? Proper answers being given, I filled a tumbler with wine, and after drinking a portion (to show that there was no “fetish” in it) I handed the rest to him, and a couple of bottles of rum for his old men. I then gave him some of my dinner, which happened to be boiled fowl, rice, and sweet potatoes, a portion of all which, with biscuit or bread, must be given, put on the plate, and a spoon to eat it with. There is a significance in all these minutiæ to which great importance is attached by the blacks, and by which they know if the white man is a gentleman or a common man. My seating him on my portmanteau was considered equivalent to a chair, because it was part of my furniture, and a “soba” must not sit on the ground if there is a chair or stool to be had.

If I had nothing else then I should have had to provide a mat for him to squat upon. Giving him my own wine to drink, and rum to the rest, was equal to showing him a special regard as distinguished from that shown to them; the plateful of every part of my dinner, that I considered[Pg 175] him as an equal; and the spoon, that I also believed him to be a big chief who did not eat his food with his fingers.

After finishing his plateful he retired with his old men, and shortly after sent me a couple of fowls and a basket with fresh mandioca-roots for my blacks; I returned the compliment with a few yards of cotton cloth, and went to sleep knowing that I should not be disturbed in any way. He could not attack or rob me after drinking my wine and eating my dinner, as it would have been great “fetish,” according to the customs of the blacks in Angola.

They would, besides, have been afraid of the consequences, not only of having committed “fetish,” but also of the heavy fine that I could have made the “soba” and his people pay, through any other neighbouring tribe to whom I might have complained of such a crime having been perpetrated in their country. Had I been molested, any accident or ill luck, want of rains, sickness or death that might have happened to his tribe, would be at once attributed to the “fetish” committed by the “soba” and his council of old men.

[Pg 176]

I started again early next morning, and at noon arrived at the bay of Lobito, a beautiful and singular natural dock with a narrow deep mouth, and large enough to hold a great fleet. This would be an invaluable site for a city, the only disadvantage being the absence of a stream of fresh water in the immediate vicinity. In the evening I arrived at Catumbella, after passing through a thick jungle of a shrub (Sesbania punctata, Pers.) bearing bright yellow pea-like flowers thickly spotted with purple, and always found growing in swamps and marshy places in Angola, both near the sea and inland.

Catumbella is an important place, and is about nine miles to the north of the town of Benguella. The Portuguese have there a fine little fort on a hill, a commodious “residencia” of the “chefe,” and a small detachment of soldiers from Benguella.

There is here a pretty little river, very broad and shallow, so that it can always be forded except during the heavy rains. It is very full of alligators, which are constantly carrying off blacks whilst crossing.

The scenery at Catumbella, about three or four[Pg 177] miles from the sea, and for some little distance inland, is exquisite, from the hilly and rocky character of the country and the luxuriance of the vegetation, both wild and cultivated.

From the top of a mountain near Catumbella which, with one opposite, forms the deep gorge or valley through which the river, dotted with green islands, passes, the view is one of the greatest loveliness.

There are many traders established here, and a large trade is done with the natives of the interior in wax, ivory, gum-copal, white gum, &c.

It is on the high road to those very important and extensive countries of the interior, Bailundo, Bihé, and others, reputed to enjoy excellent climate and most fertile soil, and never yet visited except by a very few Portuguese traders, who have gone very far beyond, even nearly reaching the east coast, after ivory.

I had a very unpleasant experience once, at Catumbella, of the sufferings of hunger and thirst. I went with an old Portuguese to visit the place inland where a very fine sample of copper ore had been found by the natives. We started at daybreak,[Pg 178] and our pretended guide told us that we could reach the place and be back at noon for breakfast. Relying on his statement, we only took half a dozen biscuits and a tin of jam with us.

It was noon when we left the River Catumbella, after travelling over several miles of very rocky ground, and struck due south. Shortly after, we luckily met with an intelligent young Mundombe, who told us we were going quite wrong and volunteered to show us the place, as it was some considerable distance off in quite another direction. To cut a long story short, we only got to a spring of beautiful water in the evening, where we finished our three biscuits each and tin of sweets.

Next day we journeyed on, and only reached the locality we sought at noon. Having had nothing to eat or drink, we started back as fast as we could to Catumbella, only reaching the river at sunset, and the way we rushed to the water’s edge to drink was amusing. We had then a long high hill to ascend, and at midnight arrived at a black trader’s hut, who most fortunately had prepared a good dinner for us, as he had expected us the evening before.

[Pg 179]

My companion was more dead than alive. However, some wine our black friend had had the forethought to send to Catumbella for, and the excellent fowl-soup he had prepared, soon set him to rights, and we left again to reach Catumbella at daybreak, completely worn out with fatigue and want of sleep.

Our friends had prepared an expedition to seek for us, almost giving us up for lost, as they knew we had taken no provisions with us. The country was very arid and stony, and the vegetation mostly prickly trees and bushes. I subsequently sent a miner with a party of blacks from Benguella to bring away the little copper ore at the place I visited. The total weight raised was about half a ton of very good quality, but no more was to be seen. The manner in which small quantities of copper ore are thus found in many places in Benguella is most extraordinary.

[Pg 180]


The town of Benguella is situated on a level plain near the sea, and backed, at a distance of about six miles, by a line of hills. The appearance of the town from the sea is rather picturesque; to the north, at a distance of little more than a mile, is seen the green belt of forest marking the course of the River Cavaco, a white sandy bed in the dry, and a broad, shallow, running stream in the rainy season.

The town is large, consisting of good houses and stores, irregularly distributed over several fine squares and roads; the custom of the houses having large walled gardens and enclosures for[Pg 181] slaves, in former times, stamping it with a wide straggling character.

In the wet season the squares and roads are all covered with a luxuriant growth of grass and weeds in flower, giving the town the appearance of a wild garden.

The soil of Benguella is very fertile, and all kinds of fruit and vegetables grow splendidly. The trade is large and increasing yearly, particularly in beeswax, of which a great quantity is exported. There is, of course, the usual incubus of the custom-house, with its high duties and vexations weighing heavily on all enterprise and commerce. Not far from the beach is a large fort, garrisoned with a force of soldiers that supplies detachments to the districts of Dombe Grande, Egito, Novo Redondo, Catumbella, Caconda, and Quillengues.

During the time of the slave-trade Benguella was one of the principal shipping ports of Angola, many thousands of slaves being sent off from it to the Brazils and Cuba. The last two or three shipments took place whilst I was working the copper deposits near Cuio Bay and at Quileba, near Benguella.[Pg 182] They were principally brought for sale by the natives of Bihé; and I once saw a caravan of nearly 3000 blacks arrive, of whom 1000 were slaves for sale. The whole caravan was loaded with beeswax and other produce for barter.

Of these and other slaves that constantly arrived only a few were shipped; the rest were then in great demand for extensive cotton-plantations from Benguella to Mossamedes. The average price of a full-grown, healthy man or woman was about three pounds in cloth or other goods, and as low as five shillings for a little nigger. I must do the traders at Benguella the justice to say that they never separated mother and child; as for other ties of relationship, they did not seem to exist amongst the slaves brought down for sale, and I never heard of any being claimed by them. There was no cruelty whatever in the manner the slaves were brought in the caravans from the interior, and they were never bound or coerced in any way.

The last shipments of slaves took place from “Bahia Farta,” a few miles south of Benguella. Every one in Benguella, from the governor of the district to the lowest employé, knew of the transaction,[Pg 183] and received the regular scale of fees for shutting their eyes to it.

I am happy to say, however, that every one of the shipments turned out a total loss to the shippers, though they stood to gain enormous profits, the price of the raw article being, say three pounds, and worth some thirty pounds each on arrival at Cuba. The slave-trade in the district of Benguella died out entirely from the activity of the cruisers off the coast of Cuba, and from the Spanish authorities capturing the slaves after they were landed on the island. The Spanish slave-dealers also no longer sent cash and vessels to Angola for the purchase and shipment of slaves, and the consequence was that the proceeds of several cargoes shipped at the expense of the Portuguese traders on the coast were entirely appropriated by the Spaniards, who did not even vouchsafe an acknowledgment of the cargoes, but left the captains and supercargoes to think themselves lucky that they escaped with their lives.

Only a very large number of cruisers on the Angolan coast could have prevented the shipment of slaves, as every man and woman, white or black,[Pg 184] was interested in the trade, and a perfect system of communication existed from all points, overland and by sea. The few foreigners who, like myself, were not interested in the slave-trade, knew better than to risk their lives by meddling with what it was absolutely impossible they could prevent. Other foreigners and Englishmen were indirectly interested in the trade, such as the traders at Ambriz and farther north, who, as already mentioned, received hard cash in Spanish gold, at a profit of two to three hundred per cent. for the goods of pious Manchester and Liverpool, with which almost every one of the thousands of slaves shipped were bought.

Before the war in America raised the price of cotton so high as to induce the Portuguese at Benguella and Mossamedes to plant cotton on a large scale, a great many slaves were employed in picking orchilla-weed, which grew abundantly on the trees and bushes within the influence of the sea air; and I knew men who had their two or three hundred slaves thus engaged, collecting as much as from two to three tons a day. There is very little collected at present, the country having[Pg 185] been picked nearly bare, and the aniline dyes so reducing the price in Europe that it was no longer worth seeking. These slaves were gradually employed in cotton-planting instead, and fortunes were made by the successful planters.


Plate XIII.
To face page 185.

All these flourishing plantations will be completely destroyed on the coming liberation of the slaves, as nothing will induce the natives of Benguella to work at anything of the kind. They belong to a tribe called the Mundombes, who are of a wild, roving disposition, and very unlike the rest of the tribes inhabiting Angola. Their clothing is principally skins and hides of sheep or wild animals, and they rub their bodies and heads with rancid cow’s butter or oil, with which they are fond of mixing charcoal-dust, and they are the only natives in Angola who wear sandals (made of raw hide) on their feet. They are very dirty, never making use of water for washing; are generally about the middle height, and ugly in face. The women especially are very rarely comely, either in face or figure, and they will not live with or intermarry with blacks of other tribes. Their huts are mostly round-roofed and low (Plate XIII.). They[Pg 186] are very independent, and will not hire themselves to any kind of work.

The women cultivate the ground for the indispensable mandioca and beans; the men hunt, and tend large herds of cattle that thrive remarkably well in the country, and also flocks of sheep, which they rear for food.

Cattle are their principal riches, and are seldom killed for food, except when the owner dies, when, if he be a “soba” or chief, as many as 300 oxen have been known to be killed and eaten at one sitting, lasting for several days. On these occasions the whole tribe and friends are assembled, heaps of firewood collected, fires lit, and oxen killed one after the other till the herd is eaten up, not a native moving away from the feast or gorge till the last scrap is consumed. The flesh is cut into long thin strips and wound round long skewers,—these are stuck upright round the fires, and the meat only allowed to cook slightly. The meat is eaten alone, without any other food whatever and without salt, as that would make them drink, which they do not do, as they affirm it would prevent them from eating much meat; the blood, entrails, and[Pg 187] even the hide, toasted to make it eatable, are consumed, a big feast lasting from ten to fifteen days, or sometimes more.

I have often seen Mundombes rolling on the ground groaning with pain, and on asking what was the matter with them, have been answered with a laugh, “Oh! he has eaten too much meat!!”

They are fond of dividing their cattle into herds of 100 head each, and are wonderfully clever at tracking strayed cattle, and also in recognizing any they may have once seen.

A most singular custom of these natives is that of the women and girls, with their heads covered with green leaves and carrying branches of trees in their hands, and singing in chorus, taking round to all their friends and acquaintances any young woman of their tribe who is about to be married; but the most curious part of the ceremony is the manner in which the interesting young bride is prepared. She is stripped perfectly naked, and whitewashed from head to foot with a thick mixture of a kind of pipe-clay and water, which dries perfectly white, and in this manner she is taken[Pg 188] in procession to visit and receive the congratulations of her friends.

I never could learn what the meaning of this ceremony was; they always confined themselves to telling me “that it was their custom to do so.”

It appears that this extraordinary custom is also common to some hill tribes in India and in the Andes of South America, but I never heard of it anywhere else in Africa.

The richer Mundombes have an odd manner of making their beds. A layer of clay about six or nine inches thick and about two feet wide is made in the huts, and when dry constitutes their sleeping place; this they rub over with rancid butter to make it smooth, and they lie on it without any skin or cloth under them!

The Mundombes generally wear their hair in a large woolly bush, but the young men and women cut it into a variety of strange forms and patterns.

Their arms are knobbed sticks often fancifully carved, small axes (Plate XIV.), bows and arrows, and “assagaias” or spears, generally much ornamented with beads, &c. They are expert hunters, and the abundance of large game supplies them[Pg 189] with more animal food than other tribes of Angola.

They are a hard, wiry race, capable of undergoing great fatigue and hunger, and a very good trait in their character is that they are good-natured and merry. They are not a bad race, but are wild, roving, and intractable to teaching or civilization. Not one of them can be induced to work beyond carrying loads or a hammock, which latter they have also a unique way of doing. Supposing eight to be carrying a white man in a hammock, three will range themselves and run along on each side; at a loud clap of their hands, one Mundombe from the right will shove his shoulder under the pole behind the carrier in front, who passes to the left. Another on the left does the same with the carrier behind, who passes to the right, and so they go changing round and round every few yards, and running along all the time without stopping a moment.

It took me several months before I could induce the Mundombes at Benguella to carry the copper ore from the mine at Quileba to Benguella, and this was more from distrust of not being paid than[Pg 190] anything else. I used to give them a load of ore, and a small ticket which was either paid in copper money or was endorsed by the agent at Benguella, and was then passed by them at any shop in payment of the cloth or rum they might purchase.

Next to the Cabindas I think the Mundombes are more fond of rum or other spirits than any tribe in Angola, and they seem capable of drinking almost any quantity without other effect than making them extremely jolly. They will never stop in Benguella at night, but all clear out before sunset to their towns and villages a little way off.

Pieces of copper are sometimes brought to Benguella by the caravans, which are said to be smelted by the natives of Lunda. They are cast in a very peculiar form, something like that of the letter X. All I have seen have been of this shape, and all have thick inner edges joined by a ridge (Plate XIV.).

I have never been able to ascertain or guess what the mould could possibly be that invariably gives this character to them, for whatever variation there may be in the length of the arms or waist, the[Pg 191] thicker inner edge, connected with a more or less prominent ridge, is always there.

Plate XIV - tools

Plate XIV.
1. Native-smelted Copper.—2. Powder-flask.—3. Mundombe Axe.—4. Manner of securing Fish for drying.—5. Hunters’ Fetish (Benguella).—6. Manner of carrying in the hand (Native Jug).—7. Gourd Pipe for smoking Diamba.—8. Wooden Dish.—9. Double-handled Hoe.
To face page 190.

The first hills seen from the sea behind the town of Benguella are composed of layers of fine sandstone of all thicknesses, from a foot or two to an eighth of an inch, and separated by layers of the finest dust, so that slabs of any desired thickness can be obtained without difficulty; a good deal of massive gypsum or sulphate of lime is also found in these hills. Immediately behind these recent sedimentary deposits (in which I never found the least trace of fossil remains) comes the gneiss rock of the country.

At a place called Quileba, about six miles due inland from Benguella, I explored a deposit of copper ore at the junction of the gneiss with the sedimentary beds. This deposit yielded about 2000 tons of very good ore, mostly earthy green carbonate containing some sulphide, and was found adhering to the gneiss in an irregular-shaped mass, from the surface of the ground to a depth of about three or four fathoms. Not an ounce more could be found either deeper, or in the vicinity, when this mass was exhausted. The whole of the ore[Pg 192] was raised and sent to Benguella for shipment in less than two years, and was all carried by blacks, men and women, who came from Benguella for that purpose. These were partly Mundombes, and partly slaves of the inhabitants of Benguella. I also had about fifty miserably small donkeys from the Cape de Verde Islands, but they were more troublesome than useful.

One of the principal plants around Benguella is the shrubby jasmine, and it grows in such quantities as to present a very pretty appearance when in flower, the clumps in which it grows being covered with white blossoms; and in the still, early mornings the air is so strongly loaded with the scent of these flowers as to give people a headache who pass through the bush for any distance.

Jackals and hyenas are very abundant at Benguella, and were much more so in the slave-trade times, when the blacks who died were simply taken out a little distance and thrown into the bush. Graves have to be dug deep and covered over with a heap of heavy stones to prevent the hyenas from digging out the corpses and crunching them up. A great fat Cabinda in my service at Cuio Bay[Pg 193] fell down dead one afternoon whilst dancing with some others of his countrymen, and I had to defer burying him till notice of his sudden death had been given to the “chefe” at Dombe Grande, that he might send to ascertain that the man had not died from any foul play. This took some days, during which his body smelt anything but nice to us, but was evidently most appetizing to the hyenas, who every night flocked, howled, and laughed round the hut where it lay, watched over by his countrymen. He was at last buried, and covered over with the usual heap of stones, but the ground was dry and soft, and the smell of the body strong, and next morning we found that a number of hyenas must have been at work, and had actually burrowed into the grave from the edge of the heap of stones, had pulled the body out, and eaten it on the spot! Not a particle of bone even could be seen, and besides the scratched and trodden ground, a few shreds and scraps of rags of the cloths the Cabinda had been wrapped in, were all the evidence of the grand supper of negro flesh the hyenas had had.

On dark nights especially the hyenas perambulate[Pg 194] all over the town in search of bones and offal of every description, and I have often heard them fighting and making a terrific noise in the open squares at Benguella.

Zebras are abundant in the rocky country about Benguella and Mossamedes, and their bray is very peculiar, being like that of the donkey without the long drawn notes made during inspiration.

A large dog-faced monkey (Cynocephalus sp.) is very abundant in the rocky and arid littoral zone of Benguella, going about in troops of from twelve to twenty. When feeding, they always have two or more of their number perched on the high rocks as sentinels, and on the least sign of danger they utter a hoarse grunt and all take to flight, the young ones tightly clasping their mothers’ backs. It is said by the natives that if a monkey sentinel does not perform his duty properly, the others set upon him and worry him well as a punishment, and a Portuguese assured me that such was the fact, and that he had witnessed one being punished in this manner.

It seems at first sight almost incredible how these large creatures can find sufficient food on the[Pg 195] desert rocks where they are found, but I ascertained that their principal food is the thick fleshy root and stem of a low bush, and several species of large onion-looking bulbs. There are also a number of trees and bushes that yield them food in the shape of berries and fruits, especially one called “Umpequi” (Ximenia Americana), bearing plentifully an astringent plum-like fruit, from the large kernel of which the natives of Mossamedes manufacture a fine oil.

On this part of the coast the natives use the wood of the “Bimba” tree (Herminiera Elaphroxylon) to construct a kind of boat or raft, which is perfectly unsinkable in the heavy surf at the mouths of the rivers. This tree principally grows in the stagnant water of marshes, and is about twenty feet high; its trunk attains to as much as a foot in diameter. It is covered with spines, and bears very large and beautiful pea-like flowers of a golden orange colour; the wood is soft, and as light as pith. The peeled stems are skewered together in two or three layers, with sides about a foot and a half to two feet high, and the ends finished off in a point, the whole looking like a punt built of thin[Pg 196] logs. The water, of course, is free to rush in and out everywhere, and the “bimba,” as the boat is also called, floats like a dry cork on the sea. People in it may get washed over and wetted through by the surf, but the “bimba” never upsets or sinks.

About twenty or twenty-four miles to the south of Benguella is situated the district of Dombe Grande. There is here a large native population on the southern bank of the River San Francisco or Capororo, governed by a Portuguese “chefe.” The road to it from Benguella passes over slightly undulating ground, but very arid in character, alternately sandy, dusty, and of gypsum rock.

About half way, at a place called Quipupa, there is a small spring of ferruginous water, which is the halting-place of the natives who frequent the road to and from Dombe Grande. It is a wonderful relief from the desert road to arrive at the River San Francisco, and see stretched for miles the beautiful green expanse of Dombe Grande. The river is perfectly dry for one half of the year, and is then a broad band of pure, dazzling, white sand, but the land near it is extremely fertile, and very[Pg 197] large quantities of mandioca and beans are grown. The mandioca is made into “farinha” or meal, and thousands of bushels are sent by road to Benguella, or to Cuio Bay for shipment. The sand of the river will even grow splendid crops of this root as soon as the water dries up.

Towards the sea the valley of this river is very broad; and it is here that the extensive cotton plantations, to which I have already referred, exist. This part of the country is called “Luache,” and in it there are some very curious lagoons and quicksands. One of these lagoons is extremely deep. A Portuguese told me he had tried to sound it, but had failed to touch the bottom.

At another place the road for some considerable distance is over a narrow path composed of the roots of large sedge-like plants interwoven and grown together, and yielding under every step. The Mundombes take their cattle over this path, but should one walk away from it at the side, it sinks immediately in the black mud, and is seen no more.

There is a great deal of pure sulphur in the gypsum hills on the northern bank of the river at[Pg 198] Dombe Grande, and going across them once, I came to a small eminence that seemed to be all sulphur, and with a knife, a stick, and a few wedges that I cut, I managed to detach a solid block of sulphur of about thirty pounds in weight.

At Luache the trees and bushes are covered with a vast quantity of a curious leafless parasite. This is a creeper, which grows luxuriantly in great masses of long, thin, green strings or stems, sometimes completely covering the tree. These are full of tasteless mucilage when fresh, and are employed in decoction as an emulcent in coughs and colds. When dry these wire-like stems become black and hard, and give the trees a very mournful and dismal appearance. This plant is a species of Cassytha (C. Guineensis?) and although excessively abundant in the province of Benguella, becomes scarce to the north.

About nine miles south of Dombe Grande is the little bay of Cuio, in 13° S. lat., to the interior of which I explored a copper deposit in 1861-1863. This deposit was situated four miles from the bay in the bottom of a small circular depression or valley in the gneiss rock of the country. It was[Pg 199] evident that the copper ore had been brought from a distance by the action of water, and precipitated in the bottom of this cup or basin.

The lower part consisted of a bed of the rare indigo-blue sulphide intimately mixed together with quartz gravel or sand, the blue sulphide forming the matrix of this curious conglomerate, in which were also found large, rounded, smooth, water-worn masses of hard compact gneiss. This bed alone yielded nearly 1000 tons. Another 1000 or 1200 tons were obtained from a higher part of the valley, and consisted of a hard amorphous mixture of sulphide and blue and green carbonate, the latter apparently due to the surface decomposition of the former. Some small masses of this copper ore contained silver, from a mere trace to over 100 ounces in the ton. In one place I found a few tons of lead ore, earthy carbonate and sulphate, with only a trace left of the galena that had no doubt supplied the two by its decomposition. Specimens of these ores were exhibited in the London International Exhibition of 1862, and were awarded honourable mention.

I was the first in Africa to make plaster of Paris[Pg 200] from the gypsum rock of the country, and to apply it to cover walls of houses, for flooring, and even for roofing. I had to build stores at Cuio mines, and houses for twenty-two white miners, and as there was no grass or other material fit to roof them with, I put a layer of plaster of Paris, about an inch and a half thick, on a framework of palm-leaf stems, and it withstood the rain admirably. It is magnificent material for flooring in that country, absorbing moisture and preventing the white ant from getting through. The Portuguese soon after made great use of this material, which had existed in inexhaustible quantities unknown to them for so many years.

The road from Dombe Grande to Cuio passes through some deep perpendicular ravines cut in solid gypsum rock by the action of the waters, and in other parts of Benguella it is equally abundant. It requires no kiln for burning: it is sufficient to make a pile of small pieces of the rock with any kind of fuel or brushwood at hand to burn it into proper plaster of Paris; in fact, if burnt in a kiln, or exposed to too great a degree of heat, it will not set afterwards when mixed with water.

[Pg 201]

In the bare, arid country of Benguella there are a number of birds, the colouring of whose plumage so closely accords with that of the ground as to be barely distinguishable at a little distance. Such are the sand-grouse (Pterocles namaquus) and three species of bustards, one of which (Otis picturata, Hartl.) was a new and undescribed species.

These bustards are very abundant, and are found in pairs; they have a curious, loud, hoarse, clucking cry, which can be heard at a considerable distance, and are very shy; they run along the ground with great rapidity, and when alarmed fly off in a straight line, but very little above the ground, and when they alight they always run on for some distance. Their flesh is excellent. Several Portuguese attempted to keep them in their gardens, and rear them, but without success.

In the woods of thorny trees and bushes, and particularly in the sandy ravines, several species of small hornbills are very common. Two were undescribed species (Tockus elegans, and Tockus Monteiri), and are very odd birds in appearance and habits. I found that their food consisted of grubs, grasshoppers, and other insects, hornets’[Pg 202] nests, and hard seeds. They dig in the sand with their long curved bills, when seeking their food, throwing the sand behind them between their legs. They look very comical when sitting on a tree, their soft feathers puffed out like those of an owl, and they raise and depress their crest feathers, uttering loud, long-drawn, unearthly cries, like the squall of a sick baby.

They are considered as “fetish” birds by the natives, who state positively that it is the male bird who sits on the eggs, and that the female shuts him up in the nest so that he cannot get out, and feeds him till he has hatched the eggs, when she tears down the nest and lets him out. The imprisoned bird is then very lean and in ragged plumage, and the natives have several proverbs bearing upon this singular habit. In Benguella, when a man looks very thin and miserable, they always say, “he looks like the hornbill when he has been let out of the nest.”

I offered a large reward to any black who would find me a nest of these birds, as I wanted to verify this extraordinary story, but I never succeeded in seeing one. There is no doubt that the statements[Pg 203] of the natives are correct, as other species of the same bird, in India, &c., have exactly the same habit; the only particular in which I think the natives may be wrong is in the male bird being imprisoned by the female; it is more natural to suppose that the contrary takes place, and that it is the female who is boxed up.

The “Panda,” or wattled crane (Grus carunculata) is common in the country to the interior of Benguella, and is often brought for sale to the coast by the caravans. They get very tame and playful, and it is amusing to see them make rushes in fun at the women and children, with their wings and beaks wide open.

A trader at Egito had one that used to play for hours with a young donkey. The crane would run at and flap his wings in the donkey’s face till it started after him for a race, when he would keep just a little ahead and only take to flight when hard pressed, on seeing which the donkey would generally give a loud bray of disappointment. At other times the crane would chase the donkey, and it was very comical to see the perfect understanding that seemed to exist between[Pg 204] them, and their evident enjoyment of play and fun.

The ox-bird (Buphaga Africana) is very commonly seen on the cattle at Benguella, and the following description of it is from my notes on a collection of birds I made there (‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society’ for 1865):—“Abundant all over Angola, which, generally speaking, abounds in cattle. It appears to feed entirely on ticks: the stomach of this specimen contained no less than twenty-five. Its flesh is very dark-coloured, strong-smelling, and its blood extremely thick and dark. It is curious to watch the manner in which they crawl all over the body of an ox or large animal, under its belly and between its legs, which they are enabled to do by their strong claws tipped with exceedingly sharp, hooked nails.

“The beak is soft, of a bright red at the tip, graduating to bright yellow at the base. I once saw a nest of these birds, which they appeared to be finishing. It was large, loose, of dry grass, and nicely lined with long hair, seemingly taken from the tails of cattle. These birds were constantly[Pg 205] robbing the hair from the tail of an old mule I had at Benguella. They will accompany a herd of cattle only for a certain distance, when they will return to their usual locality, and others immediately make their appearance and appear to take charge of the herd.”

The neighbourhood of Benguella, Catumbella, and Dombe Grande is famous for the variety of its small and beautifully-coloured birds, and the Mundombes capture them in thousands, to sell to the Portuguese at Benguella, who export them to Loanda and Lisbon. These birds are said to be more hardy, and to live better in confinement than those caught at Loanda.

Several of these little birds are greatly esteemed by the Portuguese as cage song-birds; such are the “Maracachão” (Pytelia elegans), noted for its exquisitely sweet song, the “Bigode” (Crithagra ictera) or “moustache bird,” the “Viuva” or long-tailed whydah-finch (Vidua paradisea), and others.

They are captured with birdlime, the very sticky, gummy matter enveloping the seeds of the beautiful parasite—a species of Loranthus—already mentioned as being employed by the natives of[Pg 206] Cambambe as gum for sealing letters. This plant grows very abundantly on trees, but most usually on the thinly-leaved spiny bushes near the coast, and even on herbaceous plants. I have often observed it growing luxuriantly on cotton bushes.

Many kinds of ducks and other beautiful aquatic birds inhabit two lagoons, called the “Bimbas,” about seven or eight miles inland from Benguella. From Benguella to Mossamedes almost all the numerous bays on the coast are inhabited by Portuguese, who employ their slaves either in fishing or in cotton and sugar-cane planting. The principal plantations are at Equimina and Carunjamba. Formerly all were engaged in orchilla-weed picking, as already stated.

There is no trade whatever between Benguella and Mossamedes, the littoral region being very desert in character, and but little populated, and the small quantity of produce from the interior finding its way to either one or the other of those places.

The fishery on that part of the coast is mostly carried on by deep lines, and the fish caught are[Pg 207] opened flat, and salted and dried in the sun. Very large quantities are thus prepared and shipped to Loanda and to the Portuguese islands of St. Thomé and Principe. A great proportion is consumed by the slaves on the plantations.

Great numbers of a dogfish, called “Cassão,” are also caught. The livers of this fish are thrown into large iron pots and melted into a strong-smelling oil, which is shipped to Europe, and employed to adulterate whale and other fish-oils. It takes about 300 livers to make a quarter-cask of oil. In the season (for these fish are not always on the coast) a boat with two or three blacks will take from 60 or 70 to 300 fish each night, the latter being considered a large take.

The lines and nets of the fishermen are prepared or tanned by steeping them in the juice of an exceedingly curious plant growing in the sand. This plant, specimens of which I sent to Dr. Hooker, proved to be a new species of the genus Hydnora, a Rafflesiaceous plant. It is an underground parasite on the roots of the euphorbia trees and bushes, and consists of a square stem from one to two inches thick, soft in texture, and of a beautiful rose-colour.[Pg 208] This stem is covered with a thin dark skin, and is full of tubercles; it has no leaves, and is attached to the roots of the euphorbia, from which it derives its nourishment.

At certain seasons it sends up a thick stalk through the sand, on the end of which it bears a large red flower of a very extraordinary shape, and with an offensive odour of badly decayed meat. There are only three other species known; two in South Africa, and one in Buenos Ayres. Besides its use for tanning lines and nets, it is also employed by the natives as a valuable astringent in cases of diarrhœa.

During the latter years of the slave-trade, these various industries were turned to a double account. When a vessel was on the coast seeking a cargo of slaves, the planters, &c., of course always had a stock ready. At other times any objection or suspicion was met by the fact that the large number of slaves on the coast were employed in the legitimate pursuits above mentioned, so that no slave barracoons existed, and all were as industrious as bees when a cruiser, or some local Portuguese governor or “chefe,” fired by zeal, or by disgust[Pg 209] at the little games carried on, sometimes without his usual fee, appeared on the scene.

Lions are common in the country, more especially to the south of Dombe Grande, about Carunjamba and Lucira. I spent a week once at Carunjamba, arriving there shortly after a number of lions had caused the proprietor of a fine plantation to be in forced confinement for days within the high walls enclosing his house and grounds, and in which his slaves and herds of cattle and sheep were lodged every night to preserve them from the attacks of these animals. I saw the ground all trodden down with their footprints, where they had gone round and round, attracted by the scent of the cattle within.

These incursions of lions are periodical, and happen shortly after the first rains have covered the sterile ground on the coast with a beautiful crop of young grass. The antelopes come from the interior to feed on this sweet grass, and the lions follow their steps to feed on them.

Numbers of slaves used to be eaten by the lions in the orchilla-picking time. I knew one man who lost twelve in a short time at the Bay of Bomfim,[Pg 210] and another seventeen at Lucira, and they had to give up collecting till the lions retired. If a lion once tastes negro flesh, he prefers it to beef, and has been known to kill the black herdsman and not touch a head of his cattle.

The Portuguese in Angola are not valiant at lion-hunting. The proprietor of the large sugar-cane plantation at Equimina used to recount how he went out one night to shoot a lion that had devoured several of his slaves, and used to visit the cattle enclosure nightly. He saw the lion approach him as he knelt on one knee near the high stump of a tree against which he leant his gun to steady his aim, and waited till he thought it was sufficiently near, when he fired both barrels between its eyes. A tremendous roar instantly followed his shot, and he ran for his life and bounded over the high thorny fence forming the enclosure. Nothing more being heard of the lion, he went with his blacks in search with torches, and found it dead, and so firmly clasping the stump of the tree with its paws and claws, that they were with difficulty detached from it.

He used to say that the thought that he might[Pg 211] have been in the lion’s dying embrace instead of the stump, cured him of going out lion-hunting; and he never could make out how he had managed to clear the high fence at one jump, as he did on that night when terror lent wings to his feet.

[Pg 212]


The country between Benguella and Mossamedes abounds with large animals: elands, spring-bok, and other antelopes, zebras, wild buffaloes, &c. The natives affirm positively that the eland and other antelopes in their wild state capture and eat small birds.

It would be curious to ascertain if this strange habit or taste in a herbivorous animal is true, or has been observed in South Africa, where these animals are still more abundant.

I was once fortunate enough to see, from a low rocky ridge, a vast herd of spring-bok running at full speed across a plain near Mossamedes, and it was really a fine sight. This very beautiful animal has a quantity of long, snow-white hair completely[Pg 213] hidden in a fold of the skin along its spine;—when running, its pace seems to be a succession of high leaps, in which this long white hair is alternately exposed and hidden at each jump. The effect of these flashes of pure white in the sun was most striking and beautiful, as the thousands of spring-bok sped rapidly across the plain at our feet, and gradually vanished in the distance. Although I had been prepared to see large herds of antelopes at Mossamedes, from the accounts of the Portuguese there, and from what I had read in books of travel in Southern Africa, I could not help being astonished at the sight, and feeling how impossible it was to realize, except from actual observation, the appearance of thousands of these lovely animals assembled together and scudding like a cloud across the face of the great bare plain.

The large tree euphorbias, so common near the coast at Ambriz and Loanda, become scarcer in the country to the south till we get to the desert hills and cliffs about Elephant Bay, and beyond to Mossamedes, where they completely disappear.

Perfectly flat-topped hills are a striking feature of this part of the coast, and are appropriately[Pg 214] termed “mezas” or “tables” by the Portuguese. The coast, more particularly from the River San Nicolau, is deeply cut by ravines with almost perpendicular sides, and leading no great distance inland, evidently worn by the action of the water through the basalt and other friable rock. It makes travelling on foot hard work, as the usual road is near the sea and some of the walls of cliff are difficult and dangerous to ascend and descend.

In one of my excursions in this part of the coast, I saw the dead body of a black lying at the foot of one of these precipices, seemingly fallen from the top. It was nearly devoured by birds, crabs, and small animals. There is another road, a very good one, a few miles farther inland.

There are no elephants to be met with now on the coast at any part of Angola; the last were said to have been seen about Elephant Bay, from which it may probably have derived its name. They do come down occasionally on the Quissama side of the River Quanza, and one was lately shot at Bruto, most likely having swum the river.

On Cape Santa Maria, the southern point of the “Bahia dos Passaros” (Bay of Birds), there is an[Pg 215] old marble column, placed there by the Portuguese in olden times to commemorate the discovery of this cape, in 1486, by the navigator Diogo Cam. I once went with a Portuguese in a boat from Cuio to Catara, a small bay beyond Cape Santa Maria. Our men had been rowing all the moonlight night long, and at daybreak we landed at the Bahia dos Passaros, and found an empty hut that had been occupied by a curer during the fishing season; this was taken possession of by our blacks, who went fast asleep in it, after hauling up the boat. We had our breakfast under the shade of the boat sail, and then followed their example. We had slept about a couple of hours when I was awakened by the loud cawing of the pretty white-banded crows of the coast (Corvus scapulatus). I threw a stone at the noisy birds, and happening to look in the direction of the sea, noticed that our boat was gone; I looked into the hut thinking our men had gone off with it in search of birds’ eggs, but they lay like logs, still fast asleep. I woke my companion, and we ran to the beach and saw our boat at the northern end of the bay slowly drifting away, the tide having risen and floated it while we[Pg 216] slept. Our men ran along the beach and swam off to the boat, and we thanked the crows with the remains of our breakfast. It is astonishing how soon a number of these birds will appear after any one lands in these desolate bays, to pick up any food that may be left about. This bay derives its name from the number of sea-gulls that inhabit a high-peaked rock rising out of the sea at a short distance from the shore.

The River San Nicolau only runs in the rainy season, which is likewise the case with all the other rivers on this part of the coast, south of the River Quanza, and even this shifts its bar a mile or more to the north in the dry season.

At the little Bay of Baba, I saw a very extraordinary sight, and one that shows the great quantity of fish in the sea of that coast. I had started on foot early in the morning, from the house of a Portuguese who was engaged in the fishing trade, on my way to Mossamedes, and as I walked along the beach for more than a mile, I saw for the whole distance, in the calm water, a small species of fish, about a foot long, in countless numbers, packed side by side so closely as[Pg 217] almost to touch one another, and their snouts touching the sand. Farther south, fish are said to be even more plentiful.

At Port Pinda a three-masted fishing vessel arrived with a crew of fishermen from Algarve, and they caught such quantities that they found the work of curing too hard, and they gradually gave up fishing, and employed their vessel in earning freights up and down the coast.

I was told by the captain of a British man-of-war that at Walwish Bay he had seen eight tons of fish taken at one haul of the seine net.

The town of Mossamedes (or Little Fish Bay of the English charts) is very prettily built on the shore of the little bay from which it derives its name. The houses are of stone, well built and commodious, and the town has quite a clean and imposing appearance as seen from the sea. The bay is very pretty, and protected from the “calema” or surf. A fort commands it, which is built on a low cliff immediately south of the town. At a little distance off a low line of hills hides the further view of the interior, and all around nothing but an arid waste of pure white sand meets the eye with[Pg 218] a very depressing effect. Three miles to the north are the “hortas” or “kitchen gardens” of the Portuguese, where the fertile sandy soil grows every kind of root and vegetable. The common potato grows there in perfection, and was the principal article of cultivation a few years ago, when the American whalers used to call there from the fishery on the coast. The English cruisers also used to touch there for cattle and fresh provisions. Cattle used to be so abundant that the ordinary price of a bullock was from ten shillings to one pound. There is a considerable quantity of sugar-cane grown there and converted into rum, several thousand pipes being the yearly production. The little River Giraul runs through these plantations, and its overflow sometimes causes considerable damage.

I saw excellent gum-arabic at Mossamedes, brought from the Gambos country, and I sent a large tinfull of it to London, where it was reported upon as being equal to the best quality in the market.

At Mossamedes oxen are trained for riding; the cartilage of the nose is perforated, and through the[Pg 219] opening a thin, short piece of round iron is passed, at the ends of which are attached the reins, and the animal is guided by them in the same manner as a horse. A good bullock will trot well, and even gallop for a short distance. They are most useful in that country, and are very comfortable to ride. The saddle is made of leather, and is only a well-padded cushion with stirrups. A riding ox will go faster, if required, than blacks on foot can accompany it, but as in travelling a caravan of blacks with provisions and baggage is always necessary, there is no need of greater speed. They will live on such spare dry grass as can be obtained on the road, and are much safer over the stony and sandy ground than horses, and not so liable to lame or be knocked up;—they will also go a much longer time without water.

On one of my visits to Mossamedes I was away a fortnight in the bush, on an excursion to explore several places where copper ore had been found, and reached about forty miles into the interior, to near the first range of mountains called the “Xellas” (pronounced Sheilas). Our road lay north till we had crossed the dry, sandy bed of the[Pg 220] River Giraul, and then in an easterly direction. The first deposits met with are recent clayey beds, gypsum-dust, and sandstones, and in some places the perpendicular faces of the high masses are covered with an abundant efflorescence of almost pure sulphate of magnesia. This had attracted the attention of some of the Portuguese, who imagined that it might be nitre. One man sent a cask full of it to Lisbon to be reported upon, and the answer he received was, “that it was not nitre as it would not make gunpowder, and that they could not tell what else it was!”

This formation is succeeded by massive basalt, containing in places small quantities of double refracting calcspar and heulandite.

This narrow belt or strip of basalt is followed farther inland by a highly quartzose schistose rock with much iron and hornblende. This insensibly changes to a quartzose granite, then to more schist, and in some places to a fine-grained porphyry. In these are found quartz veins with small strings or lodes of very rich sulphide of copper. These were the only copper lodes in situ that I have been able to find in Angola, but unfortunately, although containing[Pg 221] the very richest copper ore, they are so poor in size, and otherwise under such disadvantages that they would be quite profitless to work or explore.

About twenty or thirty miles from Mossamedes the granite country is very peculiar. In some places huge single rocks rise out of the nearly level plain; in others hills of rocks, in several of which deposits of rain-water are found at the very top. One of these was a natural tank with a narrow entrance, and so dark that we had to light an old newspaper to see it. It contained, I should say, not less than three or four hundred gallons of water, which was exquisitely clear and cool. It was covered by vast slabs of granite, from which the rain drained into it, so that the sun was unable to evaporate it during the hot season, when not a drop of water is to be found for miles anywhere else.

A still more singular phenomenon is that of the “Pedra Grande,” or “big stone,” on the road to the interior at over thirty miles from Mossamedes. This, as its name implies, is a huge rounded mass of granite rising out of the granitic, sandy plain.

[Pg 222]

On the smooth side of this rock, about twenty or thirty feet above the plain, is a circular pit about nine or ten feet deep and five or six wide. The rainfall on that part of the rock that lies above this pit, drains into it, and is said to fill it completely every rainy season. The form of the pit is like that of the inside of a crucible, narrowing gently to the bottom. The walls are perfectly smooth and regular, and it can contain several thousand gallons of water. The mass of granite rock is of the closest and hardest description, and no explanation seems possible of the formation of this pit, except that of a bubble in the rock when primarily formed, or that there was a mass of easily soluble or decomposable mineral contained in it that has since been dissolved out. I must say, however, that there is no evidence anywhere visible to corroborate this latter theory. There are, it is true, one or two other small and similar pits near the great one, but this does not throw any more light upon their probable formation. This grand deposit supplies the Mundombes and travellers with an abundant supply of water during the dry season, and is therefore a principal halting-place.

[Pg 223]

This is a lion country, but on both occasions that I was at Mossamedes it was not the season in which they abounded, so that I saw but little signs of them.

They come regularly to the “hortas” near the town, and several have been shot there by the Portuguese. I was shown the hut of a German emigrant where a lion came through the grass roof on to the table at which he was seated at supper with his wife.

It appeared that the lion had chased a cat on to the roof from an outhouse, and the roof being of a frail nature, had given way under his weight, but luckily the cries of the man and his wife so frightened the astonished beast, that he forced himself through the slender walls of the hut and ran away.

On an excursion to visit a copper locality inland of Baba Bay, where a Portuguese convict alleged he had discovered and extracted a basketful of good specimens of ore, I put up one night at a hut belonging to a Portuguese engaged with a number of slaves in collecting orchilla-weed. At a distance of about two or three hundred yards from[Pg 224] the hut was a pool of brackish water, in a grove of trees at the foot of a rocky hill. During the night, which was pitch dark, the blacks declared that a lion had captured some animal at the pool, and was eating it. At daybreak we turned out and came on about a dozen black and white dog-like animals, about the size of a Newfoundland dog, that ran quickly up the hill on our approach. Close to the pool we found the remains of an eland that had been killed by the lion. The other animals, which are said to follow it, and wait till the royal beast has had its fill of the game it has killed, and devour the remainder, had not had time to finish it, and there was enough left to afford us a good breakfast of venison steak, and our blacks a feast of fresh meat.

Thick eland steak is delicious, both from its juiciness and flavour, and its exquisite tenderness.

My excursion was unsuccessful in discovering the copper-mine, as I found that the rogue of a convict, who had been promised a large sum of money for it by a friend of mine at Mossamedes, Senhor Accacio d’Oliveira, had buried a basketful of copper ore taken from some other locality, in[Pg 225] a hole, where he pretended to find it when my friend sent his own blacks with him to bring away larger samples.

Hyenas are very common; and I saw at Mossamedes a magnificent wolfhound (from the Serra da Estrella, in the north of Portugal) and his dam, who always used to run out together at night and chase away any hyena that came near their master’s house. One night, however, they did not return, so their owner turned out to seek for them as soon as it was daylight, and found them at some little distance lying down bleeding and exhausted, and between them the dead body of a huge hyena which they had fought with and killed. Some idea may be formed of the size of the hyena, and of the ferocious nature of the fight, when I state that the dogs were young, as powerful and as large as any I have ever seen, and that they were protected by thick collars studded with strong iron spikes. These beautiful animals recovered from their wounds, but they never ran out after hyenas again.

The country about Mossamedes is exposed to periodical irruptions of the Monanos, or natives from the Nano country, which is inland, and north[Pg 226] of Mossamedes. They come down in large expeditions, laying waste the country by driving off the cattle and sheep belonging to the Mundombes. One of these marauding columns came down to the very town of Mossamedes, but they agreed to retire on the payment of a certain amount of cloth and other goods by the Portuguese; and amongst other articles that they stipulated for were a number of dogs, which they wanted for food. This condition was easily complied with, as Mossamedes always contains a number of maimed and horribly mangy mongrels, who try to pick up a living from the remains of fish and other offal on the beach.

The few native inhabitants about Mossamedes are Mundombes, like those of Benguella, but between the two places there is a district peopled by a curious tribe called the Mucoandos. This district lies to the interior, and between Point Santa Maria and the River San Nicolau. These Mucoandos are a roving, migratory tribe, rearing flocks of sheep, which are their only wealth; it is said that they hardly ever cultivate the ground, and only build temporary huts or shelters. They go about nearly naked, only wearing a small piece of sheepskin[Pg 227] round their loins, and are a quiet and inoffensive tribe. They are said to be gradually dying out.

A still more curious tribe are the Muquices, of whom only a few now remain. They are found near the sea, between Mossamedes and Carumjamba. They do not keep sheep or cattle, or any live-stock whatever, and never cultivate the ground or build huts to live in. Their food is principally fish, which they catch with hook and line, and shellfish, particularly mussels, which are very abundant and fine on the rocks, and oysters. They cook their food by roasting it at a fire, and at night they each make a small half circle of stones about a foot high, against which they curl up like dogs as a shelter from the wind, very often on the bare tops of the cliffs overhanging the sea. They also take advantage of the ledges of rock and open caves or holes to sleep in, but they are always on the move, never remaining more than a few days at each place. I often saw these encampments, with the usual accompaniments of heaps of mussel-shells and ashes, the remains of their food and fires on the cliffs.

I once saw a party of eight of these Muquices at Point Giraul, the northern end of Mossamedes Bay,[Pg 228] where I had gone with some friends for a day’s picnic of fish, oysters, and mussels off the rocks. This was the largest number I had seen together. They were living in a large hole in the soft rock, and were very pleased to have a talk, and get a drink and a few small presents.

They are rather light-coloured, with very decided obliquely-set eyes, which gives them a singular Chinese expression of face. They are slow and gentle in their manner, and are said to be what their appearance indicates, very quiet and inoffensive. The Portuguese often employ them as letter-carriers up and down that part of the coast.

Their constantly roving habits do not allow them to have old or infirm people;—when these cannot walk and keep up with the rest, they are killed by being knocked on the head from behind with a stick. The eldest son, or nearest male relative, does the deed, and the victim is not apprised beforehand of his fate.

About Mossamedes that most singular plant the Welwitschia mirabilis is found growing, and the country about the River San Nicolau, or 14° S. lat., seems to be its northern limit. It has been found[Pg 229] south, in Damara Land. I was fortunate enough to be able to collect specimens of the plant, flowers, and cones for Dr. Hooker, which supplied some of the materials for his splendid monograph on this wonderful plant. These specimens are now preserved in the Kew Museum.


Plate XV.
To face page 229.

The following account of it is an extract from Dr. Hooker’s work:—“The ‘Welwitschia’ is a woody plant, said to attain a century in duration, with an obconic trunk, about two feet long, of which a few inches rise above the soil, presenting the appearance of a flat, two-lobed, depressed mass, sometimes (according to Dr. Welwitsch) attaining fourteen feet in circumference (!), and looking like a round table. When full grown it is dark-brown, hard, and cracked over the whole surface (much like the burnt crust of a loaf of bread); the lower portion forms a stout tap-root, buried in the soil, and branching downwards at the end. From deep grooves in the circumference of the depressed mass two enormous leaves are given off, each six feet long when full grown, one corresponding to each lobe: these are quite flat, linear, very leathery, and split to the base into innumerable thongs that lie[Pg 230] curling upon the surface of the soil. Its discoverer describes these same two leaves as being present from the earliest condition of the plant, and assures me that they are in fact developed from the two cotyledons of the seed, and are persistent, being replaced by no others. From the circumference of the tabular mass, above but close to the insertion of the leaves, spring stout dichotomously branched cymes, nearly a foot high, bearing small, erect scarlet cones, which eventually become oblong and attain the size of those of the common spruce-fir. The scales of the cones are very closely imbricated, and contain, when young and still very small, solitary flowers, which in some cones are hermaphrodite (structurally but not functionally), in others female. The hermaphrodite flower consists of a perianth of four pieces, six monadelphous stamens with globose three-locular anthers, surrounding a central ovule, the integument of which is produced into a styliform sigmoid tube, terminated by a discoid apex. The female flower consists of a solitary erect ovule contained in a compressed utricular perianth. The mature cone is tetragonous, and contains a broadly-winged fruit in each scale.”

[Pg 231]

I first saw the plant in my first journey inland from Mossamedes. On a second visit to Mossamedes I went one day specially to obtain the large specimens now at Kew, which were growing about six miles south of the town on the sandy plain near the sea.

I found a considerable number of the plants growing, and having secured my specimens, placed fresh cones in spirit, and transplanted a couple of the small plants into a box of earth, I prepared to return. I had ridden an old mule, and taken with me a number of blacks with poles to carry the specimens. I tied the mule to a pole and left her to graze about on the scanty tufts of grass whilst I dug out the plants. The little refreshment she had picked up made her quite skittish, and all our efforts to catch her were unavailing. For more than an hour did she manage to elude us over the burning white sand, and I was fairly tired out when she was at last caught.

I several times witnessed the “mirage” at Mossamedes. At a distance of a few hundred yards before me I seemed to see the surface of the ground covered with about two feet of water, and only the[Pg 232] tops of the grass and bushes could be seen out of it. The illusion is absolutely perfect: the little waves and ripples of the water, and the reflection of the sun from the surface, are all there, and only seeing the tops of the grass still further increases the reality of the impression, which continues sometimes for more than a quarter of an hour.

I found most agreeable society at Mossamedes, many of the Portuguese there having their wives and families with them, which was not the case at Benguella or elsewhere in Angola.

The climate at Mossamedes is remarkably healthy, and for many years fevers were quite unknown there. I saw the white children looking as healthy and rosy and strong as in Europe, and the white men working in the plantations as in Portugal. Subsequently fever made its appearance there, and once of a rather severe type, which I cannot help thinking originated from the total want of sanitary arrangements for the greatly increased population.

The Portuguese in Angola are everywhere remarkably neglectful and careless of these matters, so necessary for the preservation of health, especially in a hot climate.

[Pg 233]


The climate of Angola is not so hot as might be expected from its latitude. Near the coast the sea-breeze, which sets in about nine or ten o’clock in the morning, and lasts till sunset or an hour later, always blows strongly, and consequently cools the burning rays of the sun in the hot season: it is very often too strong to be agreeable, blowing everything about in the houses, which always have the doors and windows open. The thermometer in the hot season is seldom more than 80° to 86° Fahrenheit in the shade during the day; 90° and over is not often attained. In the “cacimbo,” or cool season, the usual temperature is 70° to 75° Fahrenheit, and at night as low as 60° to 65°. The[Pg 234] nights are always cool, and for not less than six months in the year a blanket on the bed at night is found comfortable.

Towards the interior, away from the influence of the sea-breeze, the temperature is rather higher, but soon the greater elevation of the country lowers it, so that the thermometer ranges about the same.

Rain only falls in the hot season, or from the end of October to the beginning or middle of May, when violent storms with but little wind deluge the country. There is generally a cessation of the rains during the month of January and part of February; the last rains are the heaviest, and seldom occur after the 12th or 15th of May. During the cool or “cacimbo” season, the sun is often not visible for days together, a thick uniform white sky preventing its position being seen at any time of the day. A thick white mist covers the ground at night, and in the mornings valleys and low places are completely enshrouded in it.

As the wind and sun dissipate these rolling vapours, very beautiful effects are seen, particularly[Pg 235] among the valleys and mountains in the interior. When looking down into a deep valley, the mist is exactly like a cloud of steam from a locomotive. The “cacimbo” is the best season for Europeans newly arrived on the coast, but is always disagreeably felt by those who have lived in the country for some years, the sudden fall of the thermometer checking the action of the skin. It has a very depressing effect on old stagers, who are then more than usually disinclined for any kind of work, bodily or mental. To new comers, apt to be distressed by heat, the cool season is delicious, as it enables them to go about freely, carry a gun, work, &c., without protection from the sun.

The climate of the coast of Africa is everywhere more or less enervating, and it requires the exercise of a strong will and determination to overcome its influence, and resist the natural tendency to produce inactivity of mind and body. This being the case when in perfect health, it can easily be imagined how much more this is required when a touch of fever, however slight, still further enfeebles the system.

I am not competent to speak medically on the[Pg 236] subject of the action of the African climate and fevers on Europeans, which I believe to be very difficult and obscure, but a few detached facts and observations I have noted may be interesting. I fancy there must be something in the action of an atmosphere so completely saturated with moisture, to account for the sensation of exhaustion and prostration that is felt in Africa at any bodily exertion, generally accompanied by a clammy perspiration. I have felt this more especially in the cool or rainless but misty season, when the air is, I believe, even more saturated with moisture than in the rainy season with its almost daily storms, but bright atmosphere, blue sky, and hot sun.

Keys or penknives in use, and kept constantly in the pocket, get rusty to an extraordinary degree, and steel-springs of every kind become brittle and break very readily; I never saw a shot-pouch or powder-flask of which the spring did not very shortly snap in two, sometimes even before it had become rusty, and when only a thin line or streak of rust could be seen on it.

For the first few months after arrival, Europeans have enormous appetites, and all increase in weight;—it[Pg 237] is very rarely that fever attacks those first arriving on the South-West Coast.

Persons of a nervous temperament, of a thin, active, muscular habit of body, and not above medium height, I have found to be the most likely to resist the climate.

Previous good health and sobriety are no guarantees against the probable effects of the climate, and I believe that the best and surest indication is to be obtained not from the physical, but from the mental constitution of the individual. Those of a light-hearted and happy disposition, naturally disposed to make the best of circumstances, and whom no inconveniences or annoyances can rob for long of their good humour, are almost certain to enjoy their health on the South-West Coast, whilst those difficult to please, who worry themselves about every little unpleasantness, and who are irritable and unhappy under difficulties, are soon attacked by fever and ague, although apparently just as strong and healthy as the former.

I have always observed that an educated man has a great advantage over one who is without education, in resisting disease on the coast; this[Pg 238] shows very strongly the preservative action of the healthy and active mind.

Amongst uneducated men, I have found that Portuguese, Spaniards, and Italians enjoy better health than Englishmen or Germans, and have vastly more endurance and pluck in sickness than the latter. A Portuguese working man, soldier, or convict, will roll himself up and shiver and groan under a strong attack of fever or ague, and as soon as it is over will quickly go about his occupation without making any fuss or complaint, whereas the English miners, strong and powerful as navvies when well, were, as I have said before, pitiable sights under even a slight attack.

The reason for the greater immunity enjoyed by the natives of southern over those of northern Europe from attacks of fever and ague, may be due not only to the fact of that race inhabiting a hot climate, but also to their mode of living and greater sobriety.

Their cookery is infinitely better adapted to a climate like that of Africa than ours; their soups, stews, and made dishes more or less highly seasoned, or condimented, give less trouble to the stomach[Pg 239] naturally debilitated by the action of the climate, and present the food in a better condition for easy digestion, than the solid ill-cooked masses of roast or boiled meat preferred by the English—always freshly killed, and rarely of good quality or in proper condition, from the impossibility of hanging it long enough to allow it to get tender without being tainted. The natives of south Europe also make great use of two vegetable products, which I consider to be of great benefit in preserving health—the common tomato and garlic. The former, apart from what I believe to be its valuable medicinal properties, gives a delicious zest to every kind of cooked food from its slightly acid taste, often transforming an uninviting dish of cold meat, fowl, or fish, into a savoury mess, the very smell of which is sufficient to make one’s mouth water, and raise the enfeebled appetite.

A common and very delicious dish on the coast is called “muqueca,” and is thus prepared: the bottom of a frying-pan is covered with sliced tomatoes, on these a layer of small fish is put, or pieces of larger fish, and some salt; a little salad-oil is poured over the whole, and lastly the fish is covered[Pg 240] with thin slices of bread. No water is added, the tomatoes and fish supplying quite enough liquid to cook the whole, which is allowed to stew slowly till done. It should be made hot to taste with green chilies, cut up and added with the salt. Cold fried-fish is equally good for making a “muqueca,” which is always served at table in the frying-pan, or, better still, flat earthen pan in which it has been cooked. A plate or close cover over the pan whilst cooking the “muqueca” is desirable, as it keeps in the moisture better, and the bread becomes nice and soft in the rich gravy. The proportion of tomato to fish is soon ascertained by practice, but it is never a fault to have too much of the former.

Garlic I consider a most valuable article of food in a hot climate, especially eaten raw. I never travelled without a supply of garlic, and I found its beneficial effects on the stomach and system most marked. When very hungry and fatigued I have found nothing to equal a few pieces of raw garlic, eaten with a crust of bread or a biscuit, for producing a few minutes after a delightful sensation of repose, and that feeling of the[Pg 241] stomach being ready to receive food, generally absent when excessive emptiness or exhaustion is the case.

The Portuguese in Angola as a rule rarely drink anything stronger than Lisbon red wine. Many undoubtedly drink a great deal more cold water than is necessary or good for them, as constantly drenching the stomach with water must weaken it greatly.

The English and other foreigners on the coast, on the contrary, make use of too much brandy and spirits, which is a principal cause of the sickness amongst them; but I am happy to say that drunkenness has very greatly decreased of late years. It would not be easy to see now such scenes as I have witnessed at Quissembo and Cabinda only a few years ago.

I was at the former place when an Englishman died from the effects of intemperance a few hours after his arrival from Cabinda, where a three days’ orgie had been held to bid him good-bye previous to his return to England.

His body was laid on a table, candles were lit all round it, and a kind of wake held nearly all night,[Pg 242] during which time two casks of bottled ale and several cases of spirits were consumed amongst not more than a dozen people. In the morning a hole was dug in the sand, and the body, in a wooden coffin, lowered into it, whilst the few English in the place stood around, most of them crying, and held by their black servants to prevent them from falling into the grave, the effects of the wake not allowing them to be sufficiently steady to stand without assistance. An American, since dead, poor fellow! tried to read the burial service, but he was obliged to give up the task, his utterance being most amusingly choked with sobs and hiccups.

I have known an Englishman to invite the rest of his countrymen to dinner on Christmas-day, and only a very small number make their appearance, the rest having been overpowered by drink at breakfast and during the day.

At Cabinda, on one occasion, a poor fellow who was dying was taken out of his bed, seated on a chair at the head of the table, and his head held up to make him drink to his own health, whilst the rest sang, “For he is a jolly good fellow!”[Pg 243] Next morning he was found dead and stiff on his bed.

The reason for this disgraceful state of things must not be laid entirely to the fault of the men or the climate, but greatly to the false economy of the stupid and bad system of inducing a certain class of young men to go out at a nominal salary for several years, under the pretence of learning the African trade.

It is rather too much to expect a young man to devote his entire time and to work hard on the coast of Africa, away from his family and every amusement and relaxation, placed very often in a responsible situation, and knowing that his employers are making large profits, whilst he is earning the munificent sum of 20l., 30l., and 40l., for the first, second, and third year of his engagement, and that also liable to various deductions, and with a very remote chance of ever becoming a head agent.

I am certain that the popular idea against the use of brandy or wine in African travel is erroneous and very mischievous, and may be the cause of the loss of valuable lives in future exploration if not[Pg 244] refuted. To the traveller in perfect health, spirits of any kind are no doubt unnecessary, and should not be made use of at all under ordinary circumstances, but I am decidedly of opinion that wine and water (in equal parts) is almost a necessity, and should be taken at meals as long as it can be procured. Lisbon red wine, which has more body but is not stronger than claret, is unquestionably the best for this purpose.

When chilled with wet, exhausted by fatigue, or when the stomach and bowels are deranged by the heat, or bad food and water, brandy is worth its weight in gold, and is better and more efficacious than any medicine. It is all very well for strong, healthy people in Europe to cry down brandy because its use is abused, and because any fatigue they may undergo, in a comfortable manner, is easily dispelled at a good fire, with a cup of nice tea, buttered toast, and warm slippers; but let them travel in Africa, perhaps drenched by rain, with clothes and food all soaked, or weak with profuse perspiration and bad food, stomach, &c., out of order, and gasping for breath under the hot sun, and they will confess to the wonderfully reviving[Pg 245] effect of a drop of good brandy! It is almost as suicidal to travel in tropical Africa without brandy as without quinine. Both should of course only be used on occasions when necessary. During eight months of the rainy season, when I was exploring the province of Cambambe, I only suffered from one fit of ague, lasting half an hour, and an attack of simple intermittent fever for about four hours, and my consumption of spirits for the whole time was about a litre bottle full of brandy, but I am positive that it saved me from illness on several occasions. The risk from the climate to Europeans in tropical Africa is quite sufficient, without increasing it by withholding such a valuable protection as brandy from our explorers, simply from fear of its abuse, or in deference to popular claptrap.

A very important rule to be observed (and invariably adopted by the Portuguese) is to take a cup of coffee or tea immediately on rising at daybreak. I made my miners at Benguella take a mugful of hot coffee and a biscuit every morning before going to work, with great benefit to them.

My whole experience on the coast has taught me no lesson more strongly than that of immediately[Pg 246] attending to the slightest indication of illness or fever, and I believe that the great secret or means of enjoying health depends almost entirely on this. It is very rarely that a fever or ague comes on without some premonitory indisposition, very often so slight as to be disregarded—a dryness of the mouth, or thirst, or a nervous exhilaration, being often the forerunner of an attack of fever.

If rest be taken (a slight aperient if necessary), and attention paid to not exposing the body to the sun, the attack is generally slight, or does not come on at all. If it does, cooling drinks must be plentifully made use of, and means adopted to cause copious perspiration as it passes off, and care taken to avoid any chill or cold.

A most important measure is to take the sulphate of quinine immediately the pulse is reduced to its natural beat, but not before: three to five grains are to be taken every half hour, until fifteen to twenty-five grains have been swallowed, either in solution or made into pills with a little camphor, and one grain of opium to twenty of sulphate of quinine.

Any kind of cooling drink most palatable to the[Pg 247] patient may be made use of liberally, and only chicken or other broth as food.

This treatment in the majority of cases will suffice to stop the fever or ague. Ten or twelve grains of quinine (in small doses) should be given a few hours before the completion of the twenty-four hours after the commencement of the attack, when its recurrence takes place if the amount of quinine first given has not been sufficient to arrest it. Should the attack come on a second time, the same treatment must be adopted, with an increased amount of quinine. For a couple of days or so nothing but fowl-soup, or other light nutritious food, should be given, increasing it only as the appetite becomes fully developed, and when it is certain that the attack has been successfully combated. A very strong but false appetite is often developed immediately after a fever, which it is necessary to be very careful not to satisfy with strong food, as this would be quite sufficient to cause indigestion, and with certainty produce a worse attack of fever, often complicated with dangerous bilious derangement, vomiting, &c. Bilious fevers of a bad type are comparatively rare in[Pg 248] Angola; and if the foregoing all-important precaution is taken, of attending carefully to a fever at first, there is but little fear of the dangerous type.

A great deal of the sickness on the coast is entirely owing to the want of this precaution. People get into a careless habit of going about with a little fever on them every day, and it is only when they become very reduced in strength, or unwell, that they call the doctor or place themselves under proper treatment or regimen.

It is perfectly impossible to account for the origin of fevers in Africa. They do not always depend upon the proximity of marshes or stagnant water. They were very frequent at Bembe, where I believe the thick forest around had something to do with their occurrence, as it became healthier as these were gradually cleared away. Fever is sometimes common in places near the sea, where there are neither marshes nor forests for considerable distances.

Again, the banks of rivers may be comparatively free from fevers, whilst at the same time places apparently least likely are suffering from them. In any case, even in the dangerous type, there is[Pg 249] never any long convalescence or recovery, as happens with the agues and fevers of the marshy places in Europe. A few days suffice to restore people to health after an attack of African fever and ague, and in a short time flesh and strength are picked up.

There is no effectual substitute for quinine as yet known; its use by subcutaneous injection has not yet been adopted in Angola. Many Portuguese have a prejudice against quinine, and in its stead make use of a common plant called “Fedegozo” (Cassia occidentalis).

The root, which is excessively bitter, is made into decoction. The seeds also are roasted and ground, and their infusion taken either alone, or generally mixed with coffee.

The natives suffer but little from fever and ague, and then it is generally the result of a chill, on the change from the hot to the cold season. Their treatment almost always consists in lying quiet until nature works her own cure, but they also make use of a strong infusion of the leaves of the “Malulo,” an excessively bitter plant (Vernonia (Elephantopus) Senegalensis).

[Pg 250]

This is a handsome, herbaceous shrub, and is curious from its habit of being (like the nettle with us) the first to take possession of and grow luxuriantly on all bare open places where habitations or plantations have existed. The infusion of this plant is also universally employed by the natives in bowel complaints. A common method they have of curing fever is to induce strong perspiration by squatting over an earthen pot (just removed from the fire) sunk in a hole in the ground, in which “Herva Santa Maria” (Chenopodium ambrosioides) and “Sangue-sangue” have been boiled. The patient is well covered over, and the aromatic vapour-bath soon produces its desired effect. I have seen blacks cured of severe attacks of fever with one or two applications of this simple remedy. “Sangue-sangue” is the name given to the large seed-heads of a strong, tall grass (a species of Cymbopogon), which exhales a very powerful aromatic odour when crushed.

The “Herva Santa Maria” grows very abundantly everywhere in Angola, and, as in other warm countries where it is found, its medicinal properties are held in great repute. It is a small[Pg 251] annual plant, generally about a foot and a half high, very green and bushy, and every part of it is hotly and strongly aromatic.

In almost every complaint the natives first apply this plant as a remedy. For internal pains of every kind it is taken as decoction, or the crushed plant rubbed over the seat of the pain; for blows, swellings, and bruises, a poultice of the fresh plant is employed. When the back aches from carrying a heavy load, &c., fresh leaves are rubbed on the spine, and a handful of the crushed plant is placed between the skin and the waistcloth. In cases of headache, the crushed plant is rubbed over the head, and plugs of the leaves inserted in the capacious nostrils; for this pain they also paint the forehead with the milky juice of the mandioca-plant, and place one or more white dots on the temples of “pemba” or white clay. A shrub growing near streams, called “Entuchi” (the botanical name of which I know not), the leaves and young shoots of which, when freshly crushed, exhale a delicious smell of bitter almonds, is also used to plug the nostrils in cases of headache.

There is remarkably little diarrhœa or dysentery[Pg 252] in Angola, either amongst the natives or whites. The treatment for it adopted by the natives consists exclusively in taking decoctions of various astringent and aromatic plants.

The principal are “Empebi,” the aromatic seeds of the Anona muricata; “Mucozo,” the thick, fleshy, rose-coloured bark of a large, handsome fig-tree, and very strongly astringent; the “Jindungo N’Congo” (Congo-pepper), the carpels of the Xylopia æthiopica, with a disagreeable, resinous taste; “Ensacu-sacu,” the small, knobby roots of a plant growing in marshy places, and with a strong smell of turpentine, and the roots and stems of the Hydnora already described.

A singular disease of a dysenteric character, and peculiar to the blacks, is called “maculo,” and is quickly fatal if not attended to promptly, when it is easily cured. It commences with strong diarrhœa, but its chief characteristic is the production in the anal orifice, both internally and externally, of little ulcers containing maggots. The native method of treatment is quickly efficacious, and consists in plugging the orifice with a wad of crushed “Herva Santa Maria” dipped in strong[Pg 253] rum and ground gunpowder, and any kind of astringent medicine is given at the same time. This disease was very prevalent in the slave barracoons; and I was told that at the French depot at Banana, when they shipped some thousands of blacks some years ago under the name of “free emigrants,” the slaves were dying at the rate of fifty and sixty each day from this disease, whilst under the care of the French surgeons; but that when these left from ill health, and the slaves were entrusted to the care of black medicine-men skilled in the treatment of “maculo,” the deaths decreased immediately to a very small number.

This disease is due to overcrowding and improper food; but change of place will also produce it. Slaves from the interior mostly have it on coming into possession of the white man, when it is probably induced by the change from their usual poor food to the very much better sustenance given them by their new masters.

Sores and ulcers on the feet and legs are extremely common, and are troublesome to heal, whether in natives or Europeans. The blacks use a[Pg 254] variety of remedies, and are sometimes very successful in the cure of stubborn cases.

I had a boy at Bembe called “Brilhante” (Brilliant), about fourteen years of age, a fine, sharp little fellow, the son of a “capata” or head-man of a number of carriers from the town of Musserra. A fetid ulcer appeared on his leg, and I put him in the military hospital under the doctor’s care, where he remained for three months without the least improvement, although every care was taken of him, and every remedy employed that could be thought of. At last, his father said he would take him to the coast, and see whether the native treatment could cure him. Two months after, he returned to Bembe, bringing me little Brilhante perfectly cured. Our doctor was astounded, but although I offered the boy’s father a large reward if he would obtain for me the plants, &c., employed by the medicine-man, he never did. Their principal remedy, however, is powdered malachite, with or without lime-juice. Lime-juice is also used by itself, or with powdered “mubafo” or gum elemi, which is very abundant in the Mushicongo country. Poultices and decoctions[Pg 255] made of crushed “Herva Santa Maria,” and of various other plants, are also applied to the sores, which are protected from dust and flies by a piece of rag, or very often by a light shield made from a piece of dry gourd. Ointments are never made use of by the natives in the treatment of ulcers, and they are not much in favour with the Portuguese.

From the sudden fall of the high temperature of the hot season to the “cacimbo” the natives, as might be expected, suffer most from diseases of the respiratory organs. No provision whatever is made by the bulk of the natives against this great change, and the quick transition from the clear warm nights of the hot season to the cold wet ones of the “cacimbo,” when the ground is covered with a heavy mist, tells on their nearly naked and unprotected bodies with terribly fatal effect. In fact, by far the greater part of the blacks die from this cause; and so true is this, that it is rare to see a white-headed native in Angola.

There is no doubt that this is a wise provision of nature for keeping down the otherwise excessive numbers of the human animal in that country, and[Pg 256] it is certainly more natural and merciful than the supplementary measures adopted by themselves, of poisoning by “casca” or otherwise killing one another for “fetish” or witchcraft, or in times of famine. Should the negro race ever be civilized, they must be taught to be more industrious, or else means must be adopted to enable the teeming millions to seek work and food in other countries; subjects, I am afraid but too little regarded by philanthropists in their present anxious solicitude for the welfare of these lazy, happy brutes.

It is a wonderful scene when travelling with a caravan in the “cacimbo” season, to see perhaps two or three hundred blacks wake up in the cold misty mornings, and crouch in circles of ten or a dozen together round a fire, shivering and chattering their teeth. It is then that they enjoy smoking the “diamba” (Cannabis sativa), which is the name they give to the wild-hemp, the flowering tops of which are collected and dried for this purpose. It is burnt in a straight clay-pipe bowl inserted in the closed end of a long gourd, in which is contained a small quantity of water, and through which the smoke is forced and washed when the open end[Pg 257] of the gourd is put to the mouth and suction applied. (Plate XIV.) Four or six long deep inspirations from the gourd are as much as a man can bear of the disagreeable acrid smoke, which makes them cough and expectorate as if their lungs were coming out of their mouths. The gourd is rapidly passed from one to another in each circle, and the mighty chorus of violent coughing and hawking lasts for about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. The effects of the wild hemp (from which the “hasheesh” of other countries is prepared) are curious, and appear to be different from those described as attending its use in other parts of the world. There is no intoxicating effect produced, but, on the contrary, the blacks affirm that it wakes them up and warms their bodies, so that they are ready to start up with alacrity, take up their loads, and trot off quickly.

Natives who smoke “diamba” immoderately, and make themselves slaves to the habit, have their brains affected in time, and become stupid and listless. When they arrive at this stage, they are “fetished” like drunkards. The Portuguese prohibit their slaves from indulging in this habit. The[Pg 258] plant is cultivated round the huts everywhere in Angola, but except in the cold season diamba-smoking is not very general.

The natives have no efficient remedies or treatment for bronchitis, pleurisy, and pneumonia, from which they suffer so much and so fatally in the cold season. They chew the stem of a kind of rush growing in streams and marshy places, the juice of which has an agreeable taste of acetic acid, and make a few emulcent drinks from the leafless parasite Cassytha, a large mallow, and the seed-heads of the sangue-sangue; these, and rubbing the chest with “tacula” mixed with a pulp of the bruised leaves of “Herva Santa Maria,” “Ensuso-ensuso,” “Brucutu,” and other plants, are their only applications. With slaves or other blacks under the care of Europeans, only the most energetic medical treatment will save their lives when attacked by these complaints, so dangerous and rapid is the effect on their constitutions.

Ophthalmia, or any affection of the eyes, is extremely rare in Angola, either amongst natives or Europeans, which is singular, considering that the littoral region is so white and sandy in many places.

[Pg 259]

A kind of itch called “sarna” is very common among the blacks: it appears as little watery pustules on the hands and feet, and, in severe cases, on the elbows and knees, and on the arms and legs. These pustules break into sores, which become covered with matter and scales, and are accompanied by a little swelling and pain, but not much itching. It does not appear to be contagious, and I was unable to find acari in several cases that I examined under the microscope.

I believe it is principally the result of dirt and filth, but is not always so, as the Cabindas and the cleaner tribes have it, although not to such an extent as tribes like the Mushicongos, who are so much dirtier in their habits. Europeans are almost sure to have it after some years’ residence in the country, and I have known this to be the case with some who were scrupulously clean in their persons and habits. It readily gives way to sulphur ointment, and the blacks have no native remedy so efficacious as this, which is therefore often asked for by them.

I remember, on my first arrival in Africa, witnessing a little episode that produced some impression[Pg 260] on my then inexperienced mind. I saw one morning, from my window at Bembe, a black woman and a little girl go out into the enclosure at the back of my neighbour’s house, both carrying kitchen pots and pans, plates, and cups and saucers, which they placed ready for washing up on the usual “tarimba,” a kind of table or framework of sticks on four uprights, to be seen in every yard for this purpose. Before going on with her work, however, the woman stripped the child naked, and proceeded with both hands to rub her little body all over with sulphur ointment, she being covered from head to foot with this “sarna.” When she had thoroughly rubbed in the ointment to her satisfaction, she deliberately, without even so much as wiping her hands on a rag, poured some water into a frying-pan and cleaned it with her hands; she did the same with the rest of the pans and crockery, and left them to drain on the “tarimba” ready for preparing her master’s breakfast!

I afterwards, in the course of time, had any little squeamishness or prejudices that I had brought with me from England rubbed off by other instances of similar insignificant negligences on the part of[Pg 261] the black cooks in Africa. I once found a fine cutting of a big-toe nail on a beefsteak; another time, a round head with a beak and large eyes, and a body of an indistinct and cloudy nature, in a rice-pudding, from a half-hatched egg having been stirred into it in its manufacture; and in a roast fowl I was disappointed in cutting open what I fondly thought was its stuffed breast, to find that it was the poor hen’s crop, full of indian-corn, cockroaches, and a fine centipede. I also, as I have said before, once saw my cook at Ambriz making some forcemeat-balls quite round and smooth by rolling them with the palm of his hand on his naked stomach!

Another skin disease, principally attacking children, and said to be very contagious, appears in the form of little bladders filled with water. The treatment for this disease is to touch the vesicles with caustic, when they soon heal; but the natives adopt a barbarous and painful process, which is to rub them off with a rough indian-corn cob and sand and water, and then cover the raw places with powdered malachite and lime-juice. When at Bembe, my wife was horrified at finding two or three[Pg 262] women busily engaged in the cure of this complaint on a child near a very pretty pool of water, to which we had gone to collect butterflies; but instead of using a corn cob, they were actually scraping the poor, yelling little unfortunate’s sores with a piece of sharp potsherd! It is, however, satisfactory to know that the treatment, although cruel, is efficacious.

The purgatives made use of by the negroes are the castor-oil seeds ground and mixed with a little water, and the juice of the plant bearing the physic-nut (Jatropha curcas). This is collected on a leaf from a cut made in the stem of the plant, and at once swallowed;—from five to ten drops appear to be a dose.

Epsom-salts are a very favourite medicine of the blacks living with the white men near the coast, and I have seen them take a great mugful of a strong solution of this salt without making a wry face. They are also very fond of being cupped for any pain, and it is rare to see a man or woman whose back or shoulders do not bear signs of this operation.

Bleeding seems to suit the negro constitution[Pg 263] admirably, and the Bunda-speaking natives are very skilful in the use of the lancet, often with dreadfully blunt instruments.

One of the natives in my service at Cambambe was a capital hand at bleeding, but his lancet was in such shocking condition, that I took some pains to sharpen it properly on a hone: the first time he used it afterwards, he nearly killed the man he operated upon, for, accustomed to find considerable resistance to its blunt point, he applied the same force to it when sharpened. He told me confidentially that he was much obliged to me for “fetishing” the lancet, as he was sure I had not made it so sharp by merely grinding on a stone, and he also told me that no blood-letter would be able to compete with him.

For swellings in the feet, &c., they are fond of making a number of little incisions in the skin with a razor or common knife, and I have often lent them my sharp penknife for this purpose.

For inflammation of the bowels, colic, or other violent pains, great use is made of the fresh leaves of the tobacco plant, applied as gathered to the abdomen, or better still, after dipping in boiling[Pg 264] water. They are also chopped up and made into a poultice with castor-oil. I have heard such wonderful accounts of the efficacy of this remedy in those cases, both from the natives and Portuguese who have used it, that I hope some of my medical readers may be induced to give it a trial, which could easily be done even here, where tobacco is now so generally grown out of doors as an ornamental plant in our gardens.

The leaves of the castor-oil plant are also employed in the same manner, but are said not to be so efficacious.

A short, broad-leaved grass covered with hairs, exuding a sticky gum, and with a resinous smell, grows in the interior, and when very tired the natives drink an infusion of it, which they say acts with great benefit.

There are a variety of other plants employed by the natives in the cure of various complaints, but of their positive efficacy I can only speak in two cases. One is a shrub with a very peculiar leaf, but which unfortunately I did not observe in flower, and therefore did not collect a specimen, so that I cannot ascertain its botanical name. About[Pg 265] Benguella its name is “Mboi.” The root is sliced, and the decoction employed to rinse the mouth in scurvy.

A Portuguese trader at Novo Redondo first told me of this plant, and that it had quickly cured him of a dreadfully ulcerated mouth from scurvy, after every other remedy he had had from the druggists at Loanda had failed. On arriving at Egito I found my friend the “chefe” there also suffering from a very bad mouth. I went into the bush in search of this plant, and obtained a bundle of the roots for him; a few days after, I had the satisfaction of receiving a letter telling me it had cured him perfectly.

Another remedy for stomach and liver complaints, from which I have seen great benefit derived by the Portuguese who have used it, is the root of a creeper bearing very pretty small white flowers (Boerhaavia sp.), and growing most abundantly everywhere in Angola.

A clerk of mine at Ambriz, who complained of pain in his stomach, and who was in ill health for several months, notwithstanding the doctor’s care, was quite cured in a short time by the use of the[Pg 266] decoction of this root. I gave it to him, having seen its good results in several cases at Benguella.

Singularly enough, there is very little rheumatism amongst the natives of Angola. Europeans also suffer but little from this complaint; but a few years ago an epidemic of a kind of rheumatic fever attacked the natives and nearly every white at Loanda and its neighbourhood. It was like a simple fever, but accompanied with sudden pain in every joint, rendering the slightest movement almost impossible. This lasted only a few days, and the patients gradually got well. If I remember right, there was no fatal termination to any case among the Europeans. This disease is known in Angola by the name of “Católo-tólo,” and nearly forty years had elapsed since its previous appearance at Loanda.

Leeches are extremely abundant in the fresh-water lagoons of Angola, and are much used by the Portuguese.

In former days, when there was more intercourse between Angola and the Brazils, leeches were an important article of export, as they fetched a high price in the latter country. I have often[Pg 267] bought a large clay-pot full of fine leeches for a few fathoms of cotton cloth.

The acrid, milky juice of the euphorbias is very dangerous to the eyes if it should drop into them, no uncommon circumstance in clearing away bush, &c. As a remedy the natives employ the juice of the Sanseviera Angolensis, Welw. I imagine that any good effect of this plant in such cases is more mechanical than otherwise, as it is so full of watery juice that, by simply twisting the rod-like leaves, abundance of it immediately squirts out.

[Pg 268]


There are several peculiar habits and customs, common to the natives of Angola, that I have not mentioned in the preceding chapters. One of the most striking and pleasing is their regard for their parents and old people. These are always consulted before they undertake a journey, or hire themselves as carriers or for other service, and they always bid them good-bye, and leave them some little present of beads or rum. On returning to their towns they immediately see their fathers and mothers and the old people, and squat down and “beat hands” to them, and give an account of their doings. A little food is then eaten together, and they consider that they have done their duty. Neither the men nor women will smoke whilst[Pg 269] speaking to their old people, but always take their pipes out of their mouths, or, if their hands are engaged, hold the pipe-stem across their teeth. Other marks of respect always practised to their old men, to their kings, and to white men, are, when passing between or close to them, to bend their bodies slightly and snap their fingers: if they meet them on the road, they will stand aside without moving, till they have passed, and if carrying a load on the head, always remove it to the shoulder, or lift it above the head on both hands. A gun is never carried on the shoulder in similar cases, but always in the hand, horizontally at the side.

Smoking is universal, but although they are very fond of the habit, and the plant grows luxuriantly and without any trouble, tobacco is comparatively dear in all parts of Angola. It is a very usual thing to see a native put a great piece of lighted charcoal in his empty pipe-bowl, and puff away, as he says, to warm himself. They generally carry the bits of plaited tobacco behind the ear. Tobacco is always smoked pure. Only amongst the Mushicongos have I seen them put small chips of a sweet-smelling[Pg 270] root (probably a species of orris) in their pipes with the tobacco, to give a flavour to the smoke. This root they call “Ncombo” or “goat,” its beautiful scent being compared by the natives to that of a billy-goat!

Snuff-taking is also very general, the Mushicongos and the natives of the Zombo country beyond, who bring down the ivory to the coast, being the tribes most addicted to the habit. The tobacco leaf is well dried over a fire, and ground on a stone, when it is ready for use, but the above-mentioned tribes are not satisfied with it in its pure condition, and, to make it stronger, mix it with a white ash obtained by burning the twigs of a bush which appears to be very alkaline. This even is not sufficiently strong for many of their delicate noses, and dried ground Chili (cayenne) pepper is also added to obtain the degree of strength desired.

Their snuff-box is generally a length of cane between two knots, the open end being closed by a small wooden stopper, secured to the snuff-box by a bit of string passing through a hole in the centre. Snuff-boxes are also carved out of wood,[Pg 271] and variously ornamented. The ordinary way of taking a pinch of snuff, between the forefinger and thumb, is unknown to the blacks, and would be considered a very unsatisfactory method. They pour about a teaspoonful of snuff into the palm of the hand, and burying their wide and capacious nostrils in the peppery mixture, snort it up loudly, aided by a rotary motion of the half closed hand.

Many allow a scrubby, woolly moustache to grow for the sole purpose of plastering it thickly with snuff, so that when on a journey and carrying a load, they can take it by simply curling up the upper lip and sniffing strongly, without stopping or laying down the load to open the box and take it in the ordinary way.

Neither infanticide nor abortion are practised in Angola; on the contrary, it is considered a misfortune not to have children, and their marriages may be dissolved if they prove barren.

The Mundombes have a curious custom in connection with this desire for children. A banana-tree is planted on the day of their marriage, and if on its producing its first bunch of fruit, which is[Pg 272] generally in nine or ten months after, a child should not have been born, the contract is considered void, and they may marry again.

The common way amongst blacks to assert the truth of a statement, is to go on their knees and rub the forefinger of each hand on the ground, and then touch their tongues and forehead with the dusty tips; this is equivalent to an oath. About Loanda they make the sign of the cross on the ground with a finger, for the same purpose, and this is evidently derived from some old custom introduced by the former missionaries.

Some of the actions of the blacks are exactly the same as those performed by monkeys. In using their hands and fingers to clean or polish a piece of brass work, for instance, the feeble and nerveless manner of holding the bit of oiled rag, and the whole action of the hand and arm, is strikingly like that of a monkey when it rubs its hands on the ground when they are sticky or dirty. Their manner of sliding their hands up and down on the edge of a door or on a door-post, or along the edges of a table whilst waiting or speaking, is very monkey-like, and no black—man, woman, or[Pg 273] child—ever goes along a corridor or narrow passage without rubbing both hands on the walls.

Blacks, especially women, have a singular way of carrying any object in the hand, which always appeared to me to be very uncomfortable. A plate or glass, for instance, is invariably carried as in Plate XIV., the hand being thrown back and the object taken on the flat, extended palm. The greater flexibility of the joints in the negro race may have something to do with this, as also with the fact of their squatting on their heels, but with their knees not touching the ground, for a considerable length of time, and then getting up apparently without the slightest stiffness from what would be to most of us a very uncomfortable position.

Blacks have an odd habit, when they feel cold, of placing their hands on their shoulders, not with their arms crossed, as would be most natural for us to do, but each hand on its corresponding shoulder, and if they feel very cold, they bring their elbows together in front and shrink their heads into their shoulders, so that the ears touch the sides of the hands.

[Pg 274]

They are fond of gambling, particularly the inhabitants of Loanda, and also the slaves and servants of the white men on the coast. For this they use playing-cards, and also small round pieces of crockery ground on a stone to the size of a sixpence, and these they shake in the hands and throw up in the same way as a handful of halfpence in our game of “toss,” and according as a greater or lesser number of the plain or coloured sides come down uppermost, so do the players win or lose. I have also seen in several places a board in which were a number of shallow pits, and in these a few seeds or round pebbles, which were rapidly shifted about into the different holes by the two players, but I could never make out the plan of the game. Beyond this, and the “batuco” or dance, and playing the “marimba,” the natives of Angola have absolutely no game or amusement of any kind whatever.

The youngsters have no toys or playthings, and never race or play together as ours do.

None, either young or old, know or practise a single game of skill or strength; there is not an indication anywhere that they ever contended at[Pg 275] ball, stick, wrestling, or any other exercise or feat. This to my mind is striking in the highest degree, and most suggestive of a singularly low type, one in which no sentiment of emulation or rivalry exists, and consequently very difficult to work upon with much chance of success for its advancement.

I have never seen or heard of any monument, or sculptured rocks or stones being found in the country, which might indicate the existence of a previous race; and the most curious thing is that even tradition of any kind is unknown to the blacks of Angola. In no case could they trace events further back than during the reign of five “sobas;” no very great length of time when it is considered that these are generally old men when elected. They do not even know the history of the crucifixes now-existing amongst them as “fetishes” of the “sobas;” and when I have explained to them that they formerly belonged to the missionaries, they were astonished, and gave as a reason for their ignorance and my knowledge, that the white men could write, whereas, when they died, nothing they had seen or known was preserved,[Pg 276] as our writings were, for the information of their children.

This again, I think, is very indicative of their low type; as also is the fact that no animal is tamed or utilized by the negro, or made subservient to his comfort in any way. Even the cows or goats are not milked except by the natives south of the River Quanza. In no part of Angola (and the same holds good, I believe, of the whole negro race) is a single animal employed in agriculture as a beast of burden, or for riding.

The burial places of the blacks of Angola are almost everywhere alike. A square place is raised about a foot from the ground, and the earth enclosed by short stakes or flat pieces of rock, and on this raised space broken bottles and crockery of every description are placed.

The ordinary burial places, like those mentioned about Ambriz, are merely mounds of earth or stones, with a stick to mark the grave of a man, and a basket that of a woman; and sometimes a slab of rock is stuck upright in the ground to indicate the head of the grave. Occasionally, in[Pg 277] the case of a big “soba,” there are several tiers of earth raised one above the other, and ornamented with broken glass and crockery and various figures representing “fetishes,” and I have also seen a shade of sticks and grass erected over the whole, to keep it from the rain.

Plate XVI - insects

Plate XVI.
Pelopœus spirifex and nest.—Devil of the Road.—Dasylus sp.—Caterpillars’ nests.—Mantis and nest.—Manis multiscutatum and Ants’ nests.
To face page 277.

The “Salalé” or “white ant,” as the larva of quite a small black ant is called, is, from its numbers and the ravages it commits, a very important insect, and merits some notice. It is most abundant in the interior, where the soil, from the decomposition of the clay and mica slate, is more earthy or clayey, as it is not fond of rocky, stony, or sandy ground unless it is very ferruginous. Their nests are sometimes large, pointed masses of earth three and four feet high, and as many in diameter at the base, internally tunnelled in every direction, and swarming with ants, eggs, and larvæ; but the usual nests are about a foot or eighteen inches high, like a gigantic mushroom, with from one to six round curved heads placed one on top of the other (Plate XVI.). These nests are very hard, and the exceedingly fine earth or clay of which they are made must be mixed with some[Pg 278] gummy secretion, by means of which it becomes so hard on drying.

My cook at Cambambe was very clever at making small dome-shaped ovens from old ants’ nests, which he ground fine and mixed to a thick paste or mortar. When the oven was dry (nothing else being used in building it but this mortar), he lit a fire in it, and it burnt to almost the hardness of stone, and without a crack or flaw in it; it was then ready for use, and lasted a long time. These ovens were big enough to bake three small loaves of bread at a time.

These nests are sometimes so numerous, particularly in the grassy plains of the interior, as to render walking difficult in many places, and, when the grass has been burnt off, they give a very peculiar appearance to the surface, looking something like a field of brown cauliflowers. They are, like the larger ones, perforated with galleries in every direction, and also full of ants and larvæ. It is curious that considering the existence of the countless millions of these ants over large areas of country, no bird, and with the exception of the rare Manis multiscutata, no animal, should be found[Pg 279] to feed on them. This animal is something like an armadillo, with a long tail, and covered with large, hard, long scales (Plate XVI.). Specimens are sold at Loanda and elsewhere, and used as “fetishes” by the natives. A species of the “ant-bear,” apparently the same as that found at the Cape, is not uncommon in Benguella, but I have seen its burrows in situations near the sea, in salt, dusty plains, &c., where very little or no “Salalé” is found, and from examination of the dung, I found that its food must consist principally of small lizards and larvæ of insects, and beetles, especially the Psammodes oblonga, Dej., so extremely abundant in its haunts.

The natives of Benguella say there are two kinds, one very much larger than the other. I once tasted a roasted leg of the ant-bear, called “Jimbo” by the natives, and its flavour was very much like pork.

It is a well-known fact that the white ant is most destructive to timber and woodwork of every description, as well as to all clothes and fabrics. Nothing comes amiss to its insatiable jaws, with the exception of metal and some very few woods.[Pg 280] Goods, provisions, &c., must be kept on tables or frames built on wooden legs, as if placed on the ground they would quickly be destroyed; but even then care must be taken to examine the legs or supports of the frames every day, as they will run up these in search of the good things on the top. The white ant is about a quarter of an inch long, and its body is very soft and white, but with a black head provided with most powerful jaws for so small a creature.

It never ventures into the light, and when it leaves the shelter of the ground always protects itself by building a flattened tube of earth or sand as it goes along; it will carry this tube up a wall to reach a window-sill or other woodwork, or right up to the roof timbers. Any object left for a little time on the ground, particularly in a closed or dark store, is quickly covered over with earth, and then completely eaten away. I have known a pair of shoes thus covered in one night, and the thread, being the softest part, devoured, so that the leathers came apart at the seams when they were lifted.

I once left a trunk full of clothes at Loanda whilst I was away for about a month on an excursion[Pg 281] inland. When I returned the trunk seemed all right, but on opening it I found that a black cloth coat I had laid at the top was at the bottom, and under it about a couple of handfuls of dust was all that remained of my boxfull of clothes.

Window or door frames I have seen completely eaten away from the walls, leaving only a thin covering, often not thicker than a sheet of brown paper, or little more than the thickness of the paint.

Whilst lying awake one night, I noticed a peculiar thrumming noise made by the white ant when manufacturing a tube up the wall near my bedside. In the morning I carefully peeled off the top of the tube with a penknife, just sufficiently to observe the motions of the little masons within, and I saw a string of larvæ coming up loaded with little pellets of clay, which they delivered to others at the top, who simultaneously, and at intervals of four or five seconds, patted them down, thus producing the noise I had heard. This noise can be very plainly heard if the larvæ are working on the “loandos” or mats with which the huts or stick-houses are covered.

[Pg 282]

Towards the end of the rainy season the white ant attains its perfect form, and on a still, warm evening, generally after a shower of rain, a wonderful sight presents itself when the perfect winged insects issue forth in countless myriads from the ground. This is everywhere full of little holes, about the size of a goose-quill, from which the ants are forcing their way out, not singly, but in a solid compact body or stream. They instantly take wing and rise upwards for about six to twelve feet, when the breeze wafts them about in every direction. The air becomes so full of these ants, that a mist seems to hang over the ground, and I have seen the whole of the bottom of the valley at Bembe completely enshrouded by them. Great is the feast of birds and animals at this time. Birds of all kinds are attracted by the sight and collect in numbers, flying low, and gorging themselves with them. I have shot hawks and eagles with their crops full to their beaks. Poultry eat them till they go about with their beaks open, unable to find room for any more. Several tame monkeys I had at Bembe used to sit on the ground, and, taking pinches of the ants as they issued from their[Pg 283] holes, bite off the succulent bodies and throw away the wings.

On our last journey to Bembe my wife was very much amused to see two little children come out of a hut, each with a slice of “quiquanga,” and, sitting down on the ground close by an ant-hole, proceed to take pinches of the ants (exactly as I have described the monkeys as doing), and eat them as a relish to their “quiquanga.”

After rising in the air for a very little while, the ants quickly fall, lose their wings, and disappear in the ground, leaving it covered with the pretty, delicate, transparent wings. These lie so thickly that a handful can easily be collected together. This will give some idea of the number of these destructive pests, which Nature seems to provide with wings simply to enable them to spread about and form new colonies. It is very fortunate that they do not attack live plants or roots. These soft, delicate little mites doubtless play an important part in Nature’s most wonderful plan for the balance of life by quickly destroying all dead timber and other vegetable matter that the quick growing and ever luxuriant vegetation would otherwise[Pg 284] soon completely cover, thereby choking up the surface of the country. These ants do not wait for the fall of a dead tree, or even a branch, for they will find the latter out, and carrying their earthen tube up the tree quickly consume the rotten limb. I do not know how intelligence of a likely morsel is conveyed to the larvæ underground, but it is most likely carried by the ants. They will construct four or five feet of tube up a wall in one night, straight to a coat or any other object that may be hanging up; they will also come through a wall, in which they have bored, exactly behind anything placed against it that may be likely food for their jaws.

There are many other species of ants in Angola; one very large black kind migrates in columns of perhaps eight to ten abreast, and as much as ten or twelve yards in length; they walk very fast, and do not deviate from their intended path unless compelled to do so by an impassable obstacle.

On touching one of these columns with a stick, a curious fizzing noise is produced, which is communicated to the whole body, and they instantly open out in all directions in search of the supposed[Pg 285] enemy; after a great deal of running backwards and forwards with their powerful hooked mandibles open and upraised, they again collect and fall into a column and proceed on their way.

I remember a laughable incident that happened at a small town on the road to Bembe, where I once put up for the night. Some of my carriers had gone to sleep in a hut, and towards morning I was awakened by screams and shouts, and saw a number of these blacks coming pell-mell out of it, dancing, jumping, and running about like mad. All the town was alarmed, and the natives came running out of their huts to ascertain what was the matter. I had hardly got on my feet when the cries were mixed with peals of laughter, they having quickly found out the cause of the terrific uproar.

It was nothing else than a column of these ants that had passed through the hut and had instantly fastened on the bodies of the sleeping blacks with which it was filled. They fasten their great jaws into the skin so tightly, that their bodies can be pulled off their heads without relaxing their hold. The mandibles must discharge a poisonous fluid into[Pg 286] the wound, as their bite feels exactly like a sharp puncture from a red-hot needle, and they always draw blood.

I once unconsciously put my foot upon a column, but luckily only three or four fastened on my ankle and leg, and I shall never forget the sudden and sharp hot bite of the wretches.

There is another kind very abundant on bushes and trees, of a semi-transparent watery-red colour, with long legs; their bite is also very sharp. They build nests by attaching the leaves together with fine white web; these nests are from the size of an apple to that of a hat.

Their food must be principally the fruit and seeds of the plants they are usually found on. Some seeds, particularly those of the india-rubber creeper, I had the greatest difficulty in obtaining ripe, from these ants eating them up whilst green.

A minute red ant, like that which infests our kitchens and houses, is extremely abundant, and is very difficult to keep out of sugar and other provisions; the best way is to place the legs of the table in saucers of vinegar and water, or have safes suspended by a rope, which must be tarred, or they[Pg 287] will find their way down. If anything on which they are swarming is placed in the sun, they immediately vanish. A small piece of camphor, tied up in a bit of rag and placed in a sugar-basin or safe, will effectually keep them out, without flavouring the sugar, &c., in the least.

The best and cheapest preventive against the white ant is ordinary petroleum; they will not come near a place where the least trace of its smell exists.

Of other insects the most abundant and worthy of note, besides the mosquitoes already described, are the many species of wasps. One of these, brightly barred with yellow and having a comical habit of dropping down its long legs in a bunch straight under its body as it flies, is the Pelopœus spirifex (Plate XVI.)—(called “marimbondo” by the natives)—and is one of the large family found in the tropics and called “mud-daubers” from their habit of making clay or mud nests in which they store up spiders and caterpillars as provision for the grubs or larvæ. It is a very singular fact that of the fifty or sixty species known to entomologists, all are males, the females not having yet been[Pg 288] discovered. It is supposed that the latter are parasites on other insects, or perhaps in ants’ nests, &c. I have opened many hundreds of the clay cells and invariably found a grub or perfect male insect, or the empty chrysalis of one; and I further ascertained that the male insect does not bring the female in its legs or mouth to lay the egg in the cell, nor does he bring the egg, but the young, hatched grub. I watched one nest being built, and when it was ready, I saw the insect fly away and return and go into it, and on examination I found that it had deposited the small grub at the bottom. In its next journeys it brought spiders till the cell was full of them, when it procured some clay and quickly plastered over the aperture. To procure the spiders it first stabs them with its dreadful sting, and then picks them up and flies away with them to its nest.

Whilst at Bembe, I fortunately witnessed a fight between a large specimen of these wasps and a powerful spider which had built its fine web on my office wall. The spider nearly had the wasp enveloped in its web several times, and by means of its long legs prevented the wasp from reaching its[Pg 289] body with its sting, but at last, after a few minutes hard fighting, the wasp managed to stab the spider right in the abdomen, when it instantly curled up its legs and dropped like dead to the ground. The wasp pounced down on it, but I interfered, and picking up the spider placed it under a tumbler to ascertain how long it would live, as I had noticed that the spiders stored in the nests were always alive, although unable to crawl away when taken out. It lived for a week, and, although moving its legs when touched, had no power of locomotion, showing that the poison of the wasp has a strong paralysing effect. I have counted as many as twenty spiders in a single cell, and there are seldom less than three cells together, and sometimes as many as eight or ten.

These wasps are fond of building their nests in the houses, on curtains, behind picture-frames, books, or furniture, and I once found the inside of a harmonium full of them. Each cell is about the size of a thimble; they are very smoothly and prettily made, and a wasp will build one in a day easily. I never found anything else in these cells but spiders and caterpillars.

[Pg 290]

It is satisfactory to know that these savage destroyers of spiders have in their turn enemies from which they have no escape. These are large, long-bodied, brown flies (Dasylus sp. and Dasypogon sp.) (Plate XVI.), with long legs and a very quiet inoffensive look and manner of flying. They settle on the backs of the different species of wasps, their long legs enabling them to keep at such a distance that the wasp cannot reach them with its sting, then insert a long sharp proboscis into the wasp’s back and suck its body dry, when they fly off in search of another. Other beautiful flies of splendent metallic colouring (Stilbum sp.) also prey on the wasps and mud-daubers. These flies again are an easy prey to the numerous insectivorous birds, and thus we get a series of links of the complicated chain of the apparently somewhat cruel law of Nature, by means of which the due proportion of animal life would appear to be principally adjusted, and an undue preponderance of one kind over another prevented.

On the stems of the high grass may very often be seen little round nests about the size of a hen’s egg, having the appearance of rough glazed paper, and[Pg 291] made by the different species of Mantis (Plate XVI.). These nests are applied by the black women to an odd use; they rub the soles of their children’s feet with them in the belief that it will make them good walkers when they grow up, and I have often seen the little brats struggling and yelling in their mothers’ laps whilst being thus tickled.

A large species of wasp (Synagris cornuta) is called the “devil of the road” by the natives, from the alleged poisonous character of its bite and sting. It is a ferocious-looking creature with very large and powerful mandibles (Plate XVI.). It is an inch and a half long, and is said to have a habit of settling on the paths: hence its name, and the natives then always give it a wide berth.

The sting of this class of insect is poisonous. One very small species once stung me in the back of the neck, and it was greatly swollen, for several hours; and I have seen a black who had been stung in the ear by a moderate sized one, with not only his ear but the side of his face very much swollen for a couple of days.

Centipedes are very abundant, but their bite is[Pg 292] not dangerous. I was bitten by one in the shoulder whilst asleep, and on awaking, and putting my hand instinctively to the place, I was bitten a second time in the wrist, and, although it was a large specimen, beyond the sharp puncture and considerable irritation near the spots, no other ill effect was produced. Whilst I was at Bembe a Portuguese officer was bitten between the fingers, and his hand and arm as far as the shoulder were swollen slightly for two or three days, but without much pain.

Many of the caterpillars are very gorgeously coloured and fancifully ornamented with tufts of hair, but generally the moths and butterflies are of a more dull and sombre colouring than might be expected from the tropical latitude of Angola. Insect life as a rule is scarce, with the exception of ants and mosquitoes, and not only very local in its occurrence but also confined to a short space of time. Hardly an insect of any kind is to be seen in the “cacimbo,” and in the hot season the different species of butterflies only appear for a very few weeks, and sometimes only days. Beetles are remarkably scarce at any time. The finest butterflies are, of course,[Pg 293] found in the forest region of the first and second elevation, and almost exclusively in the places most deeply shaded, where they flit about near the ground between the trees. The sunny open places full of flowering plants are not so much frequented by butterflies as might be expected, but the great abundance of insectivorous birds may possibly supply an explanation of this circumstance.

The following interesting note on the butterflies of Angola has been kindly written by my friend, Mr. W. C. Hewitson, so well known from his magnificent collection, and his beautiful work on ‘Exotic Butterflies’:—

“Until very recently we knew nothing of the butterflies of Angola, and very little of those of Africa north of the Cape of Good Hope, except what we could learn from the plates of Drury. The great genus Romaleosoma, so peculiar to that country, and remarkable for its rich colour, rivalling even Agrias of America, was only represented in the British Museum. Now we have them in abundance, and several species are plentiful in Angola.

“We have had large collections from that country[Pg 294] during the last two years from Mr. Rogers, a collector sent out by me, and from Mr. Monteiro, who, with the assistance of his wife, caught and brought home a fine collection of Lepidoptera.

“With the first collections of Mr. Rogers, made on the banks of the River Quanza, I was greatly disappointed. With a very few exceptions they contained those butterflies only which we had previously received in abundance from the Cape and from Natal. A collection from the mountainous district of Casengo was much more promising, and supplied us, together with some new species, with several varieties little known before, amongst them Charaxes Anticlea and Harma Westermanni.

Mr. Monteiro’s collection, though also deficient in new species, contained several of great value, and only recently discovered—Godartia Trajanus, so remarkable for its nearly circular wings, which had been previously taken by Mr. Crossley on the Cameroons; the rare Charaxes Lysianassa, figured by Professor Westwood in his ‘Thesaurus;’ Charaxes Bohemani, which we had previously received from the Zambesi; the very beautiful Crenis Benguella, described by Mr. Chapman; and a number[Pg 295] of varieties of Acræa Euryta, and the Diademas, which so closely resemble them.

“The most remarkable new species in the collection was the large Euryphene Plistonax, since figured in the ‘Exotic Butterflies.’

“It is interesting to learn that the same species of butterflies are in Africa spread over a very large extent of country. The distance from the Cape of Good Hope to Angola is 1400 miles. Several new species which I have had from the West Coast have been received by Mr. Ward from Zanzibar, a distance of 36 degrees. Two new species of Papilio, remarkable because unlike anything previously seen from Africa, which I had received from Bonny, were very soon afterwards sent to Mr. Ward from Zanzibar.”

Mr. H. Druce has published a list of the butterflies we collected in the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society’ for 1875.

Several caterpillars form very curious nests or houses to protect their bodies. One is made of bits of twig about an inch and a half long, attached round a strong cocoon or web (Plate XVI.); the head and front legs alone are protruded at will,[Pg 296] which enables the insect to walk about on the under side of the leaves on which it feeds. Another is built up on the same plan, but the bits of twig are short and laid across the length of the cocoon, and the whole enveloped in a strong white web (Plate XVI.).

The coast of Angola has never to my knowledge been dredged for shells. The surf grinds and destroys any that may be thrown up on the beach, but as this is almost everywhere sandy and very slightly shelving from the land, dredging would probably prove its fauna to be rich. Land and fresh-water shells are rare.

I have seen land tortoises at Benguella and Musserra only, and they appear to be confined to the gneiss and granite rocks of those two places. They are only found in the hot season, and according to the natives they hybernate in holes in the rock during the “cacimbo.” The natives eat them, so that it is not easy to obtain live specimens. Two that I brought home from Musserra lived for some time at the gardens of the Zoological Society, and were described by Dr. Selater as the Cinixys erosa and the Cinixys belliana (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1871).

[Pg 297]

Porcupines are not uncommon, and I often found their quills lying on the ground. The natives are fond of the flesh of this pretty animal; they are also fond of sticking the quills in the wool of their heads as an ornament, but they have no acquaintance with the story of their being able to project their quills when angry, or as a means of defence.

Fruits are by no means so abundant in Angola as they might be. It is only within the last few years that the Portuguese have followed the good example of the old missionaries in planting fruit-trees. Most of the European fruit-trees grow remarkably well. Oranges are of delicious quality. Mulberries bear most abundantly, but only a very few trees are to be seen. Limes grow wild in many places. Mangoes (Mangifera Indica) grow splendidly, but are scarce everywhere except about the Bengo country; there are none on the Quanza, the natives having a prejudice against planting the tree, as they believe it would be unlucky. Sweet and sour Sop (Anona sp.) and Papaw (Carica Papaya) are very common. The Guava (Psidium Guaiava) grows wild in abundance in many places, and the Araçá, another species (P. Araçá) is also cultivated.[Pg 298] The Jambo (Jambosa vulgaris) is found growing wild, and, although rather insipid, it has a delicious scent of attar of roses. The “Munguengue” is the name of a tree (a species of Spondiaceæ) bearing bunches of yellow, plum-like fruit of a very delicious flavour and scent, and its pulp mixed with water and sugar makes one of the nicest drinks I have tasted. It is a very handsome tree with leaves of a bright, spring green, of which goats, sheep, and other animals are exceedingly fond. The wood is soft and useless for carpentry, but the branches are much used for fences round huts and enclosures, as any piece stuck in the ground quickly takes root, and soon grows into a fine shady tree. The natives on the coast eat the fruit of the Chrysobolamus Icaca, var., which they call “Jingimo”; it is like a round, black-purple plum, tasteless and astringent. It is a common sea-side plant, covering large stretches of coast, and growing from large trailing masses a few inches high, to small bushy trees. It has a round, bright, shiny, green leaf. Pineapples are generally very fine, and might be grown to any extent. Grapes and figs are sparingly grown, but bear well.

[Pg 299]

The only plants employed by the natives as scents are the seeds of the Hibiscus Abelmoschus, smelling strongly of musk, and a very sweet-smelling wood. These they keep in their boxes with their cloths, &c., and also rub them over the head and body. The natives from the interior also rub themselves over with a stinking nut something like an acorn, with a powerful smell like rotten onions. These are brought to the coast for sale to the natives of Ambriz. On my asking one of them how he could bear to rub his body with such a bad-smelling substance, he answered by another question, “Do not you whites use Eau-de-Cologne?”

The blacks also use the skin of the musk or civet-cat, which is very common in the interior, to scent their cloths and bodies. The smell of this animal is so powerful that the clothes of a person passing through grass where one has previously been, acquire such a strong smell of musk as to retain it perceptibly for days.

Angola is poor in dyes, and only a few are employed by the blacks. For red they use the fresh pulp enveloping the seeds of the “annatto” (Bixa Orellana); for yellow they employ yellow ginger.[Pg 300] The Quissamas and some of the natives on the River Quanza dye their cloths of a bluish-black with the black mud of the river, mixed with the infusion of a plant that I believe to be a species of indigo. Cloths are also made black by rubbing them with charred ground-nuts reduced to a fine paste, and, as already mentioned, a fine red for painting their faces, bodies, and houses, is obtained by rubbing tacula-wood to a pulp with water on a rough stone, and drying the resulting paste.

Large land-lizards are rare except at Benguella, where they abound. They are brown, and from two to three feet long. I tried very often to preserve them alive, but without success, although I gave them every kind of food I could think of. A very long yellow-spotted water-lizard (Monitor Niloticus), with a handsome bead-like pattern on its back and legs, and as much as six or eight feet long, is common in the rivers, and is said to be very destructive to poultry. The natives state that this lizard feeds upon the eggs and young of the alligator.

Snakes are nowhere very abundant—I may say singularly scarce; and in the years that I have[Pg 301] travelled in Angola I have not only never trodden on or been attacked by one, but have only seen them a very few times. The most common is the boa-constrictor, but only in the marshy places near rivers. In these the River Jack (Clotho nasicornis) is also found; one of these which had been caught in a fish-basket set to catch “Bagre” in the River Luqueia, was brought alive to me at Bembe. It was a very fine one and very brilliantly marked. I kept it in a large box covered with wire-gauze. It lived for several months, and died a natural death shortly after shedding its skin. It is called “Uta-maza” (water-snake) by the natives, and is held in the greatest fear by them, its bite being said to be deadly, and no antidote or cure for it known. I can well believe this from witnessing the effect of its bite on the live rats with which I fed it.

I was obliged to feed it on live rats, as it refused to eat any kind of animal or bird that it had not itself killed. If I placed a dead rat in its cage with the live one, I would find in the morning it had swallowed the one it had killed, but had left the dead one. On placing a rat in the cage, the[Pg 302] snake, which was generally coiled up in a corner, would lift up its head and hiss slightly at the rat, which seemed conscious of its danger, and would run about seeking for some means of escape. The snake would continue to watch it with uplifted head till it passed close enough, when it would suddenly strike it a blow with incredible rapidity, the action being so instantaneous that I could never see how the fangs were projected forwards, or, in fact, how the blow was delivered. The poor rat would only give a small squeak on receiving the blow, run a few paces, then stagger, fall on its side, stretch itself out, and die after a few feeble convulsions.

This snake would never make more than one dart at its prey, and would only swallow it at night; and although I watched it for hours in perfect quiet, and with a shaded light, I never succeeded in seeing it eat.

There is a dangerous snake (Naja heje) not uncommon about Benguella. It is small in size, but remarkable from its habit of spitting to a considerable distance, and its saliva is said to blind a person if it touches the eyes. It is called “Cuspideira”[Pg 303] by the Portuguese. One of these snakes was captured by the natives and brought to the mine at Cuio, where it was placed in a cage. An English miner was standing over the cage, which was on the ground, teasing the snake with a stick; when it spat up in his face, and he felt some of the liquid enter one of his eyes. He immediately had it washed out with water, but the eye was very much irritated for several days after. I was absent at the time, and the snake was unfortunately destroyed, but I have no reason for doubting the miner’s statement or that of his companions, corroborated as it is by that of the natives and Portuguese. A harmless snake is found under floorings of houses and stores, and is very useful in ridding them of rats and mice.

One of these snakes once gave me considerable trouble at Loanda. My bedroom was on the ground-floor under an office, and outside my door was the staircase leading to it. Every morning, just a little before daybreak, I used to be awakened by hearing a loud crack on the table as if made by a blow from a thick whip. This excited my curiosity greatly, as I could find no possible explanation[Pg 304] for the noise. At last I determined to be on the watch. I had lucifers and a candle ready, and was luckily awake when I heard the noise repeated on my table. I instantly struck a light, and saw a snake about six feet long glide off the table on to the ground and quickly disappear in a hole in a corner of the room. I then ascertained that Mr. Snake went up the staircase every night to the office above, where he hunted about for rats, and towards morning returned through a hole in the flooring immediately above my table, dropping a height of about ten feet, and producing the whip-like sound that had so perplexed me for many nights. A bung in the hole in the floor above stopped his return that way for the future, but I could not help being thankful that my bed had not been placed where the table stood, for, notwithstanding that I believed it was simply a harmless and inoffensive ratcatcher, still six feet of cold snake wriggling over my face and body might not have been quite pleasant in the dark.

We collected a number of sphynx-moths, both at Ambriz and on the road to Bembe. At Ambriz[Pg 305] they always came to the flowers of the shrubby jasmine I have described as being so abundant near the coast (Corrissa sp.) Farther inland we saw them flitting about only on the white flowers of a herbaceous plant (Gynandropsis pentaphylla, D.C.), a very common weed, particularly around the towns and in open, cleared spaces.

A large scarabæus beetle (which my friend, Mr. H. W. Bates, finds to be a new species, and has named Ateuchus Angolensis) is very abundant wherever cow-dung is found; and it is amusing to see them at work, making it up into balls nearly the size of a billiard-ball, an egg having been deposited in each. Two or three may often be seen pushing the ball along backwards—the custom of these beetles everywhere. I once saw a curious episode at Ambriz:—one beetle was on the top of a ball fussing about as if directing two others that were pushing it along with all their might; suddenly he came down and commenced fighting with one of them, and after a hard tussle (during which they made quite a perceptible hissing noise), beat him off and took his place.

I discovered at Benguella a very beautiful lemur,[Pg 306] named by Mr. A. D. Bartlett the Galago Monteiri, and described and figured in the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society’ (June 1863). It is of a light, chinchilla-grey colour, with black nose and ears, and dark brown feet and toes. This animal can turn back and crumple up its rather large and long ears at will. Its tail is long, and, like the rest of the body, very furry. It is very quiet and gentle, nocturnal in its habits, and sleeps much during the day. The natives use its long, fine fur to stanch bleeding from cuts or wounds.

[Pg 307]


I have now brought to a close my description of a small portion of the terra incognita, comparatively speaking, of Africa, and it may not be out of place, in conclusion, to note those results of my long experience in Angola that bear on the important questions of the civilization and mental advancement of the negro race, and the material development of tropical Africa.

I have given the reasons that have convinced me of the rudimentary quality of the negro intellect, naturally corresponding to the peculiar insensibility of his organization, the result of the “natural selection” that, through perhaps thousands of years of struggling against malaria, has at last resulted in his adaptability to inhabit with perfect impunity what to the white race is the deadly, unhealthy climate of a great part of tropical Africa.[Pg 308] I have also attempted to show that the malignity of the climate of the West Coast is, as I believe, principally due to its low level, and that this unhealthy character or influence is continued in many places far inland, although perhaps resulting from other causes.

From the mental constitution of the race, and the impossibility of ameliorating the climate, I can see no hope of the negro ever attaining to any considerable degree of civilization, owing to his incapacity for spontaneously developing to a higher or more perfect condition, and the impossibility of the white race peopling his country in sufficient numbers to enforce his civilization; consequently, should science not discover a means for the successful combating of the African climate, the negro must ever remain as he has always been, and as he is at the present day.

The greatest good or improvement we can hope for is, that in the comparatively healthy parts, as Angola for instance, the more barbarous customs or habits may be abolished by the more intimate contact with Europeans; but even this gain or advantage will not be an unmixed good, as it will[Pg 309] be counterbalanced by the creation of an amount of vice and immorality unknown to the negro in his native or unsophisticated state.

That this is not an imaginary result, but one inevitably following the contact of the white race with one of so inferior a type as the negro, is, for example, notably evidenced at Sierra Leone. The contact of the Portuguese with the natives of Angola, however, does not appear to have acted so prejudicially as ours in Sierra Leone, for although there is not much difference for the better in the morals of the whites or of the civilized natives, the latter certainly have not the astounding impudence and cant of the Sierra Leone blacks. It is true that in Angola the natives have not been muddled by the present style of missionary work, which I am sorry to say is not only nearly useless, but must be blamed as the cause of the above very objectionable characteristics. It does seem a pity that so much money and well-intentioned zeal should for so many years have been expended on the negro of British West Africa with an almost negative result.

There is more hope for the development of the[Pg 310] material resources of tropical Africa. The negro is capable of being acted upon to a certain extent by the desire for something more than the absolute necessaries of life, to satisfy which he is willing to work a little. The country is so extensive, and the soil and natural productions so rich, that a very little exertion on the part of the population suffices to bring forth a considerable amount of produce; but another and more industrious race will have to take the place of the negro in Africa if its riches and capabilities are to be fully developed.

The introduction of Coolies and Chinese into tropical Africa would, in my opinion, be the most important and valuable step that could be devised. The starving millions of China and other parts of the East would find in Africa a congenial climate, and a bountiful reward for their industry, with the greatest benefit to themselves and the rest of mankind. The useless negroes would then sooner follow their apparent fate of future extinction, or become merged into a more highly organized and industrious race.

The indefensible injustice and cruelty of the[Pg 311] former slave-trade has created a wrong impression in our minds of the actual condition of the negro in Africa, and, based upon this false idea, our sympathies are unduly excited for a state of misery and wretchedness that in reality has no existence. Our blind philanthropists crowd to hear the stereotyped tale of the missionary in Africa, and the greatest interest is taken in the efforts to ameliorate the assumed unhappy state of the much-pitied negro—who is lying in perfect enjoyment and nakedness under a magnificent sky, surrounded by exquisite scenery, supplied by nature with food without any work or trouble, and insensible alike to physical suffering and hardship, or mental worry and vexation. Meantime thousands of our race are plunged into hopeless misery and suffering, unpitied and often unrelieved by those who are so anxious to minister to the imaginary wants of the poor heathen!

It is impossible for any one who has lived much amongst natives of tropical climates not to contrast the life led by them with that endured by a great portion of our own so highly civilized race—to compare their, as a rule, harmless, peaceful, healthy, and I may say sinless existence, with the grinding,[Pg 312] despairing poverty of our cities; with the awful misery that hides in noisome dens under a cruel, rigorous climate, without warmth, air, water, or food; with the constant hopeless toil of thousands in our manufacturing districts, and the frightful barbarity, ignorance, and vice underlying our civilization, with all its religions, wealth, and luxury. We spend large sums in the fruitless attempt to reclaim and convert the negro from his so-called dark state, and we allow thousands of our innocent children at home to grow up as thieves and worse than savages.

It is lucky that the negro is unaware that those who are so anxious for his welfare and conversion from a comparatively innocent condition, come from a country where a state of ferocity, poverty, and vice exists of which he has happily no conception, or it would make him look upon us with horror and surprise.

Amongst the pleasant remembrances of the years I have spent in Angola, the hospitality of the Portuguese often recurs. Many a time in travelling I have had my hammock hidden, and have been obliged to stay for two or three days with[Pg 313] strangers, in all but name, or friends perhaps of persons I knew at other places. At any time of the night that a traveller may arrive, he is made welcome, and the cook is instantly told to prepare coffee or kill a fowl and make a “canga,” as fowl-soup thick with rice, and flavoured with ham, &c., is called.

I have been especially grateful to the officers commanding the districts in the interior, and to all, without exception, whether civilians or military, that I have met with in my long travels, I have to offer my thanks for their great kindness and hospitality—doubly pleasing from its disinterestedness and spontaneity.

I have hardly alluded to the wonderful safety and absence of all risk or danger in travelling over almost any part of Angola, especially in those parts in the occupation of the Portuguese. The natives are everywhere civil if well treated; and if only good humour exists on the part of the traveller, and due allowance be made for the laziness and procrastination of the negro, no great inconvenience need ever be felt in going anywhere through the country. A knowledge of Portuguese[Pg 314] is of course almost essential, as, with the exception of some places on the River Congo, and as far south of it as Ambriz, where some of the natives speak English, a great number speak only Portuguese besides their own language.

Money of most nations passes in Angola, the English sovereign being perhaps the most useful of any, and at those places where goods of various kinds are principally required for payments of carriers, provisions, &c., they can be readily obtained at moderate rates from the traders.

I have now, to the best of my ability, described the customs and productions of this wonderful and beautiful country, and I shall be glad if the perusal of these pages should induce others to explore more fully the rich field it presents to the naturalist and geographer.

[Pg 315]


The habit of the negro, when employing European languages, of using an absurd and inflated style is well known, and I cannot help attributing this peculiarity to the effect of the specifically constituted mind of the race. The natives of Angola are no exception to this rule, and I have often been amused at their writings in Portuguese.

I cannot better illustrate this very curious characteristic than by transcribing the following pamphlet, written by a highly educated native of Sierra Leone:

The Athletic Sports at Falcon Bridge Battery, Freetown, Sierra Leone, June 4, 1869, graphically sketched.

“The dull monotony of the city was revived and the hearts of the denizens exhilarated by the celebration—under the auspices of those holding the reins[Pg 316] of government in this settlement—of athletic games at the above period.

“A grand spectacle indeed it was! Countless numbers of persons came to witness this magnificent sight. The arena of athletic contention—limited by boards geometrically constructed, guarded by an efficient constabulary corps, not less rotund in their size than prodigious in their height—was crowded almost to suffocation by those who were voluntary to signalize themselves by their feats. The mountain was really in labour and brought forth no ridiculous mouse.

“The time for the commencement of the games was fixed for 2 P.M. If recollection fails not, so it was. The hilarity evinced by the spectators reminded one of ancient Greece and Rome; when, in the leaps, wrestles, quoits, &c., of the former, and the gladiatorial combats, &c., of the latter, combatants vied with each other, and the victors were amply remunerated; when emulation was cultivated; when, as expressed by Thomson in his ‘Castle of Indolence’—

‘It was not by vile loitering at ease,
That Greece obtain’d the brighter palm of art,
That soft yet ardent Athens learnt to please,
To keen the wit and to sublime the heart;
In all supreme—complete in ev’ry part—
It was not thence majestic Rome arose,
And o’er the nations shook her conq’ring dart.’

Ancient Olympia, with her inhabitants, would have rejoiced to behold such a pleasing scene.

“At the appointed time the programme was followed,[Pg 317] despite the absence of His Excellency; because ‘procrastination is the thief of time.’ The ringing of a bell announced the beginning of every race. The adroitness of the athletes, combined with the thought of there being some who equalled in all points almost the notorious Gogmagog in English history, were things akin to the incredible. The scene had commenced, but two sine qua nons were wanting. A few moments after, one appeared—viz., the band of the 1st West Indian Zouaves, whose services will ever be remembered whilst music reverberates its harmonious peals throughout the four corners of this stupendous cosmos, headed by one through whom music wakes. But there was a pause. The play stood in need of a coup de grâce. The sports were a little after full going, when, lo! His Excellency was kenned. His arrival to the spot was not one of inactivity. Seated gallantly on a restive horse, ‘round-hoofed, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, broad breast, full eye, small head, high crest, short ears, straight legs, thin mane, thick tail, tender hide, nostrils drinking the air,’ whose foams and yells made part of the spectators stand aghast—he, with excellent dexterity, skilfully contrived to be a match for him, and made his way to the spot at a graceful pace. And ere he reached the spot for rest, ‘God save the Queen’ was heard, the splendid band playing that which

‘Language fades before its spell.’

“Far a little from the scene of action—untrodden by[Pg 318] insignificant individuals—supplied with all kinds of food for refreshment—decorated with such things as beautify nature—amidst the pathless intricacies of countless multitudes—was erected a Grand Stand. On the arrival of the Governor at the stand, he was most cordially greeted and received by ladies of rank and wit and gentlemen of respectability and erudition who were the tenants of that locality. The games became more lively. Clergymen, editors of the different local papers, and great many of the well-to-do, with their consorts, &c., entered into conversation, and were viewing the sight. A very gratifying circumstance it was that all who were there present were superbly clad in the latest Parisian styles. Ladies with their bonnets and other dresses almost indescribable, and gentlemen attired in costly vestments, observed the most faultless etiquette. Some of the gentlemen must have, no doubt, interested the little band, either with the light bantering of Addison or the ponderous verbiage of Johnson. Added to this, the place was like a perfumer’s, where odoriferous unguents delight the smell of the visitants. Needless it is to speak of the natural accomplishments of these personages, as they soar beyond the pen of description. Suffice it to say, that the gentlemen, breathing ambrosial scents around their heads, were taciturn, loquacious, sedate, and grave; and the ladies, as

‘Coy as Thetis, fair as Flora,
Beautiful as young Aurora.’

[Pg 319]

“They spoke: and, during the time the games were being directed by a very able-bodied European, whose reward was a sprained foot after the celebration of the sports, were very jolly, and remained in that position until the sports were over, without a violation of any trifling minutiæ of civility.

“Not to speak of the High Jumps, Flat Races, &c., it was no ordinary treat to see lasses running with all their might to have some pieces of cloths for their prizes. An event like this induced the ladies and gentlemen in the Grand Stand to rise from their seats and take a clearer view of the scene. Many were (I think) halting between two opinions—either to look at the sports or listen to the charming music. Would that there were ten eyes and ears to each! But impossibility is impossibility.

“One of the actors, well-nigh approaching to a British Grenadier, tumbled during the High Jumps on the ground, and was a victor of not even a ridiculous prize.

“The scene went on amidst the hurrahs and applauses of the spectators: among them the always-the-same Allangbas,[1] and the never-to-be-polished vulgar. But afterwards nature—either disgusted at, or fatigued by, the event—for a while interrupted the scene by her somewhat violent inundations: but subsequently being appeased she again charmed us with her usual smiles. With her well-prepared instruments she was[Pg 320] ready to depict in the most masterly language the proceedings of the day.

[1] The Timnehs are here meant.

‘Who can paint
Like nature? Can imagination boast,
Amid its gay creation, hues like hers?’

“All those successes of the actors were the results of the like energy which ‘built,’ observes Harris, ‘the mountain pyramids of Egypt—which reared the Chinese wall—by which Alexander conquered the old world—Columbus discovered the new—and Newton elaborated the system of the universe.’

“The scene of action commanded, like the Acropolis of Athens, a most picturesque sight opposite the sea. The fairy landscape, viewed in conjunction with the stately and commodious houses by which it was adorned, and the trees already in full bloom which cast their shades on the undulating and glittering waves of the sluggish and ceaseless sea during ebb tide, formed an unrivalled spot for the pencil of the artist. How delightful would it have been to see a Boswell ready to describe in the most sparkling language the proceedings of this auspicious day. The effusions of a poet would have been excessive and Byronian delineations tremendous—for the sight was delightful; the gentlemen were masterpieces of nature; and the ladies each a belle ideal of symmetrical beauty. What topics were touched upon by the grandees on this occasion were so momentous that, like Elsie,

‘Their words fell from their lips
Like roses from the lips of Angelo: and Angels
Might stoop to pick them up!’

[Pg 321]

“Donkeys were not a whit behind the spectators and contenders; they created their own excitement. On the backs of these heady brutes were to be seen two lads who endeavoured with all their wits to ride them, but all in vain! Although guided by some gentlemen who willingly lent them a helping hand, they were tumbled on the ground as many times as they attempted to ride. The consequence was that a universal roar of laughter ran through the whole spot.

“Besides this there was another interesting sight. A greasy pole, having at the end a leg of mutton, was offered to him who would scale it to its top. The attempts were fruitless. The pole, finding no Alexander, stood like the Gordian knot, and set at the utmost defiance men of magnanimity, those possessing massive bodies and Herculean prowess. Thus the scene proceeded; and, in reality, the Rubicon remained uncrossed.

“Whilst on the one hand you would see the refined natives leaping and exercising within the circus with inimitable grace, you would, on the other, without the pale of the circus, see Timnehs in their usual garb performing feats,—by whirling themselves as a well-constructed steamer in Scylla or Charybdis,—without any taste or attraction.

“Not to speak of the other exercises, the victors, with the prizes awarded them, claim the most paramount importance.

“Without chaplets of flowers, without laurel wreaths,[Pg 322] without ovations or triumphs, without the prizes in brief anciently awarded to gladiators, warriors, comedians, lyric, tragic, and epic poets, and other innumerable worthies, humble as the premiums were, this is certain—that prizes, acting as an incentive and a stimulus to be up and doing, were awarded to the victors. And so it was, if the news is to be credited, and the veracity of the inaugurators of the games is unimpeached.

“Among all who merited rewards, two were more especially noticed. At every race almost, they went winning and to win. The prodigious feats performed by these two, coupled with those of the others, are sufficient to entitle each being honoured with the sobriquet of ‘Valentinian.’

“During the whole of the procedure the spectators were not a little cheered up by the matchless music of the band, whose stirring strains silently spoke of the perfect order of the regiment, the worth of the bandmaster, the avidity of the men to master such an excellent science, by its being performed sostenuto. Not descanting on the selections, overtures, &c., performed on piccolos, flutes, cornets, and clarionets, on the whole it was ‘ear’s deep sweet music.’ The Sicilian Muses, if present, would have stood astounded, doubting whether such was excellently managed by mortals or celestials.

“One great desideratum wanting on that occasion to grace it to perfection was that, while the men were employed in doing such athletics, the ladies in[Pg 323] the Grand Stand were not engaged in performing Terpsichorean gymnastics. The why and wherefore veiled in a mystery was unravelled.

“The popular excitement was unbounded. The enthusiasm marked by the plaudits of the spectators; enthusiasm evinced by the actors; enthusiasm, the great propeller to immortal acts—seen not only in the horizon, but even on the spot where the games were celebrated—was equal to, in every way (if it surpassed not), that of the subtle and sophistical Athenians, when the ridiculer[2] of the Eleusinian mysteries, noted for his ‘versatile genius and natural foibles,’ returned home from his expedition against the Lacedemonians.

[2] Alcibiades.

“It is gratifying to know that, despite the countless multitudes that thickened the paths on the occasion, there was no émeute, as might have been expected; all things went on in perfect harmony. Everyone was active, each had his post, all acted heart and hand, and put forth an undivided attention to render all things energetic and attractive.

“The proceedings of the day went on as at the commencement, till about half-past 6 P.M. with quickened step brown night appeared, and terminated the affair never to be forgotten in the archives of Western Africa.

“If the city and the rural districts should, at all times, be exhibiting shows, and be ready and willing[Pg 324] to excite public admiration by horse-races, regattas, &c., and by grand concerts, where comic and such like songs delight the ears of the audience: then by such emulations and amusements, not only will we find that in process of time the Colony shall be, under an All-wise Providence, one of physical improvement, but by vieing with each other in the pure sciences, the intelligence of the inhabitants shall arrive at its climax, and it shall equal the admirable Crichton’s, who ‘acted the divine, the lawyer, the mathematician, the soldier, and the physician, with such inimitable grace, that every time he appeared upon the theatre he seemed to be a different person.’

“Thus this event, like all other things human, had its end; and, amidst the unbounded praises and acclamations of the spectators, combined with the heart-stirring strains of the band which cast weariness on this occasion to absolute nothingness, and which was eminently calculated to magnify the sight, every one, with much éclat, went to his domicile prepared to relate to his absent friend or friends the dexterity and vigour evinced at the athletic arena, and all bade the scene of action their tender farewells!

“Sierra Leone, Jan. 1870.”

[Pg 325]



  • Abuses by authorities of Angola, i. 54.
  • Adansonias, abundance of, from River Congo to Mossamedes, i. 27.
  • African fevers, facts and observations about, ii. 236.
  • Agave, i. 29.
  • Alligators, i. 65, ii. 123.
  • Ambaca, natives of, ii. 103.
  • Ambaquistas, natives of Ambaca, ii. 103.
  • Ambriz, description of town, i. 153;
  • trade of, ib.;
  • iron pier at, 157;
  • author’s return to, 233;
  • negroes, customs of the, 281.
  • ——, vegetation of, i. 30;
  • exports from in 1874, 111.
  • —— to Mossamedes, i. 23.
  • —— to Loanda country, ii. 1.
  • Ambrizzette, witchcraft at, i. 65;
  • treatment of a black for forgery, 115.
  • Amydrus fulvipennis, ii. 164.
  • Andrade, on board the, to Quanza, ii. 113.
  • Angola, discovery and early history, i. 1;
  • Portuguese possessions of, 23;
  • physical geography of, ib.;
  • description of coast-line, ib.;
  • character of landscape, 25;
  • change of landscape at 13° S. lat., 26;
  • vegetation of from Ambriz to Bembe, 29;
  • slave trade in, 59;
  • statistics of slaves shipped in, 67;
  • division of, ii. 51;
  • pay of governor and army officers, 52;
  • abuses by authorities of, 54;
  • climate of, 223;[Pg 326]
  • effect of climate on Europeans, ii. 237;
  • customs of the natives, ii. 268.
  • Angolœa fluitans, ii. 133.
  • Anha River, ii. 173.
  • Animal food of the natives, i. 297.
  • Arachis hypogœa, native name of, “mpinda,” or “ginguba,” i. 129;
  • description of, 130;
  • its cultivation, ib.;
  • preparation of the nut and Chili pepper, 132.
  • Arms and war, i. 261.
  • Atacamite, where found, i. 192.
  • Athletic sports at Sierra Leone, account of, ii. 315.
  • Author buys a slave, i. 77;
  • the slave’s ingratitude to, ib.;
  • reception of by Senhor Chaves at Boma, i. 83;
  • at a picnic organized by Senhor Chaves, 87;
  • catches four new species of fish at Boma, 95;
  • discoverer of the baobab fibre as a substance for paper-making, 118;
  • manages a malachite mine, 161;
  • accompanies Mr. Augustus Archer Silva to Quanza, ii. 112.
  • ——, mining explorations of, at Benguella, i. 43, ii. 191, 199.


  • Baba Bay, abundance of fish at, ii. 216.
  • Babies, treatment of, i. 71.
  • Bagre fish, i. 50.
  • Bagrus, “Bagre” fish, ii. 134.
  • Baobab-tree—Adansonia digitata, i. 24, 29.
  • —— bark, its application to paper-making (discovered by author in 1858), i. 75;
  • baobabs at Boma, 84.
  • —— or Adansonia digitata, as a substance for paper-making, i. 118;
  • description of the tree, and use of the trunk, 120;
  • mode of taking off the bark, 122;
  • its fruit, and mode of climbing it, 128.
  • Banana, trading factories at, i. 81.
  • Bananas, or plantains, i. 294;
  • as food, 295.
  • Barra da Corimba, ii. 21.[Pg 327]
  • Basalt, ii. 220.
  • Bats, abundance of in churches, ii. 129.
  • Bed-clothing of the natives, i. 266.
  • Beer, native, manufacture of, i. 301.
  • Bees—mode of getting honey, ii. 165.
  • Bellows, native, ii. 93.
  • Bembe, vegetation of, i. 31;
  • description of, 109.
  • —— Fort, i. 190; soil about, 225.
  • Bengo river, ii. 16.
  • Bengo to Loanda, vegetation, ii. 18.
  • Benguella, i. 28;
  • mining operations at, 43;
  • country south of, 45;
  • fertility of its soil, trade, &c., ii. 181;
  • slave-trade at, 184.
  • —— and Mossamedes, country between, ii. 212.
  • Berenjela, egg plant, i. 296.
  • Bigode, or moustache-bird (Crithagra ictera), ii. 205.
  • Bimba tree (Herminiera Elaphroxylon), ii. 195.
  • Bimbas, birds at, ii. 206.
  • Birds of Boma, i. 86;
  • habits of various kinds, ib.
  • Bitumen, ii. 11.
  • Bleeding, fondness of the natives for, ii. 262.
  • Boma, as centre for slave-trade, i. 56;
  • cultivation of, 85;
  • birds of, 86;
  • distrust of natives at, 90.
  • Bombó, preparation, i. 287.
  • Bonny, landing at, i. 114.
  • Brachytrypes achatinus (king cricket), i. 299.
  • Brandy, use of in Africa, ii. 245.
  • Bronchitis, &c., native treatment of, ii. 258.
  • Bruto, plantation at, ii. 119.
  • Bucorax Abyssinicus (hornbill), ii. 71.
  • Bunda-speaking natives, indolence of, ii. 100.
  • Burial among the natives, i. 276.
  • —— and burial-places, ii. 275.
  • Bustards, ii. 5.
  • Bustards at Benguella, ii. 201.
  • Butterflies, species of, ii. 295.[Pg 328]


  • Cabeça da Cobra to Ambriz—description of coast-line, i. 102;
  • vegetation, 103.
  • Cajanus indicus, shrub, i. 296.
  • Calumbo, scenery, vegetation, &c., ii. 116.
  • Cambambe, high grass at, i. 38;
  • water at, 47;
  • cataracts at, ii. 133.
  • Camoensia maxima, plant, i. 177.
  • Cannibalism, ii. 157.
  • Capatas, or captains of the carriers, i. 196, 203.
  • Cardozo, Feo, on the “History of the Governors of Angola,” i. 1.
  • Casca, preparation of, i. 63;
  • effect by poisoning from, 127.
  • Cashew-tree, i. 44.
  • Cassão, dogfish, ii. 207.
  • Cassanza, country about, ii. 153.
  • Cassytha—(C. Guineensis?), i. 45;
  • at Luache, ii. 198.
  • Castor-oil plant in Novo Redondo and Benguella, i. 51.
  • Catinga, or odour of the natives, i. 30.
  • Cattle, cause for absence of, i. 46.
  • —— and other animals, mortality of, i. 207.
  • Catumbella, scenery and vegetation, ii. 178.
  • Cazengo, abundance of food at, ii. 84-88.
  • Celis country, ii. 105.
  • Chameleons, ii. 109.
  • Circumcision among the natives, i. 278.
  • Civilization of the negro, i. 113.
  • Climate of Angola, effect on Europeans, ii. 237.
  • Coffee-trade, i. 134.
  • Coffee plantations, ii. 87;
  • wild, about Golungo Alto and the Dembos, ii. 92.
  • Cola fruit, ii. 37.
  • Commerce, i. 117.
  • Congo River, i. 26;
  • a boundary, i. 53;
  • mouth of, i. 81.
  • ——, probable sources of, i. 54, ii. 69.
  • —— to Ambriz, the country from, i. 100.
  • —— River and Ambriz, system of trading, i. 105.[Pg 329]
  • Congo, king of, i. 213;
  • customs of, 221.
  • Cookery of Angola natives, ii. 239.
  • Copper at Benguella, ii. 179;
  • at Quileba, 191.
  • Copper ore at Cuio Bay, ii. 198.
  • Coracias caudata, manner of flying, &c., i. 172, ii. 19.
  • Corythaix Paulina, plantain-eaters, superstitious dread of by the natives, ii. 74.
  • Corythornis cyanostigma, kingfisher, ii. 121.
  • Cotton growth at Cazengo, ii. 105.
  • Creepers, description of, i. 31, 45.
  • Crime, punishment for in Angola, ii. 46.
  • Crows (Corvus scapulatus), ii. 215.
  • Cuacra, cannibalism at, ii. 155.
  • Cuio Bay, ii. 198.
  • Cursorius Senegalensis, ii. 19.
  • Customs of natives of the interior, ii. 99.
  • Cynocephalus sp. of dog-faced monkey, ii. 194.


  • Dances of the natives, ii. 137.
  • Dande River, ii. 15.
  • Dead, “drying” of the, i. 275.
  • Decamera Jovis-tonantis, hard-wood shrub, preservative against lightning, ii. 99.
  • Diamba, hemp for smoking, ii. 26, 257.
  • Dias, Captain, governor of Barra do Bengo, i. 80.
  • Dirty habits of the natives, ii. 259.
  • Dish, Angola native, i. 305.
  • Dog’s sense of smell when nearing a negro, i. 36.
  • Dombe Grande, rush of water down the Luache, i. 49.
  • ——, district of, ii. 196.
  • Dondo town, ii. 130.
  • Dress of the kings, i. 260.
  • —— natives, i. 263.
  • Drunkenness of Englishmen, ii. 243.[Pg 330]
  • Dyes and paints, ii. 299.
  • Dysentery, native treatment of, ii. 252.


  • Egg-trade, i. 209.
  • Egito river, ii. 169.
  • Eland steak, a breakfast of, ii. 224.
  • Engongui signal-bells, i. 203.
  • Entuchi, shrub, used for curing headache, ii. 251.
  • Epsom-salts, ii. 262.
  • Eriodendron anfractuosum, cottonwood tree, ii. 86.
  • Erythrophlœum Guineense, action of poison extracted from, i. 61.
  • Euphorbia tree, i. 24;
  • abundance of, from River Congo to Mossamedes, 27;
  • in Ambriz, 29.
  • Eusemia ochracea, moth, i. 158.


  • Fairs, i. 209.
  • Falls of Cambambe, ii. 133.
  • Farofa, preparation, i. 291.
  • Farinha de pao, preparation, i. 290.
  • Fedegozo (Cassia occidentalis) as a substitute for quinine, ii. 249.
  • Fetish, as a punishment to drunkards, i. 117.
  • “Fetishes” of the negro, fetish men, &c., i. 243-253.
  • Fetish-house, ii. 7.
  • Fever, its prevention and cure, ii. 246;
  • native treatment of, 249.
  • Fevers at Bembe, i. 227.
  • Fish, mode of cooking at Loanda, ii. 30.
  • —— caught at Loanda, ii. 31.
  • —— and fisheries between Benguella and Mossamedes, ii. 206.
  • Food, abundant growth at Cazengo, ii. 105.
  • Frogs as food, i. 298.
  • Fruits, ii. 297.
  • Furniture of the natives, i. 282.[Pg 331]


  • Gamboa, General, ii. 3.
  • Garapa, drink, i. 300.
  • Garlic as a food for hot climate, ii. 240.
  • Gigantic grasses, i. 33.
  • Giraul river, ii. 218.
  • Gold at Lombige, ii. 90.
  • Golungo Alto, ii. 85.
  • Gorilla and Chimpanzee, where found, i. 53.
  • Gourds of Cazengo and Pungo Andongo, ii. 104.
  • Grandy, Lieut., i. 162.
  • Grass, “Capim de faca” or knife-grass, i. 33;
  • description of burning, 39.
  • Ground-nut, analysis, ii. 110.
  • Gum-arabic at Mossamedes, ii. 218.
  • Gum Elemi, called “mubafo,” i. 206.
  • Gun-loading by the natives, i. 141.
  • Gypsum, ii. 16.


  • Habits and customs of natives in Angola, ii. 268.
  • Hammock, description of, i. 163.
  • Haricot-bean, i. 97.
  • Head, mode of shaving the, i. 269.
  • ——, “inhabitants” of the, trap for catching, and professional catchers, i. 269.
  • Herva Santa Maria (Chenopodium ambrosioides), ii. 250.
  • Hippopotami in the River Quanza, ii. 124.
  • Hornbill, the, ii. 73.
  • —— (Toccus elegans and Toccus Monteiri), at Benguella, ii. 201.
  • Hot-spring at Dongo, ii. 162.
  • Hydnora, a Rafflesiaceous plant, ii. 207.
  • Hydraulic-press for baleing the baobab fibre, i. 125.
  • Hyenas steal the author’s sheep, ii. 81;
  • attacked by wolf-hounds, 225.[Pg 332]


  • Import-duties, ii. 61.
  • India-rubber creeper, description of, i. 31, 137.
  • Indian-corn, i. 296.
  • Indolence of the Bunda-speaking natives, ii. 100.
  • Infundi, preparation, i. 288.
  • Ink, ingredients of native, ii. 98.
  • Insanity among the natives, i. 279.
  • Iron-smelting at Cazengo, ii. 95.
  • Ivory, i. 139.


  • Jasmine at Benguella, ii. 192.
  • Jasminum auriculatum, ii. 5.
  • —— multipartitum, ii. 5.


  • Kew Gardens, author’s collection of plants in the herbarium at, i. 178.
  • Kimpoaca, aversion of natives to the landing of hydraulic press, i. 126.
  • King Parrot, where found, i. 53.
  • Kingfishers, ii. 121.
  • Kinsao, mineral pitch at, i. 150.


  • Landolphia, florida? the tree-creeper that produces indiarubber, i. 31, 137.
  • Language of the different races, ii. 96.
  • Lead ore, ii. 199.
  • Leeches, abundance of, ii. 266.
  • Lemur, Galago Monteiri, ii. 306.
  • Libollo country, ii. 145.[Pg 333]
  • Libongo, ii. 9.
  • Lions at Carunjamba, ii. 209.
  • Lissochilus giganteus, found at Porto da Lenha, i. 82.
  • Little Fish Bay, i. 23.
  • Lizards, ii. 109.
  • Loanda, cause for change of vegetation, i. 28;
  • baptizing slaves at, 68.
  • ——, death of a boy in market-place at, i. 72.
  • ——, vegetation, ii. 18.
  • ——, city of St. Paul de, ii. 20;
  • population, 22;
  • style of building, ib.;
  • market of, 25;
  • custom of the ladies of, 33;
  • dress of the people, 35;
  • slavery in, 39;
  • vegetation, 44;
  • police of, 48;
  • lighting of the city, ib.;
  • theatre at, ib.;
  • morals, ib.
  • Loangos or Loandos’ mats, i. 302.
  • Lobato, Senhor, ii. 63.
  • Lobito Bay, ii. 176.
  • Loranthus, seed of, used as bird-lime, ii. 205.
  • Luache river at Dombe Grande, i. 49.
  • ——, quicksands at, ii. 197.


  • “Macotas,” or the council, i. 255.
  • Maculo, a disease peculiar to blacks, its treatment, ii. 252.
  • Malachite, ii. 161, 191.
  • ——, how and where found, i. 191-195.
  • Malagueta pepper, i. 294.
  • Manatee, or woman-fish, ii. 17, 125.
  • Mandioca plant, cultivation of, i. 287;
  • preparation, 291, ii. 197.
  • Mangrove tree, ii. 117.
  • Manis multiscutata, ant-eating animal, ii. 278.
  • Manoel Vacca, notorious pirate, i. 92.
  • Maquata, the red gum-copal, i. 134.[Pg 334]
  • Maracachão bird (Pytelia elegans), ii. 205.
  • Marble column at Santa Maria Cape, commemorating its discovery, ii. 216.
  • Marriage law of the natives, i. 264.
  • Massangano town, ii. 128.
  • Mateba palm, abundance of, from River Congo to Ambrizzette, i. 44.
  • Matuta, change of scenery and vegetation, i. 29.
  • ——, visit to, i. 199.
  • Mineral pitch, i. 150.
  • Mirage at Mossamedes, ii. 231.
  • Mossamedes, i. 23, 27, 28.
  • —— (Little Fish Bay), ii. 217.
  • ——, climate, society, &c., ii. 232.
  • Mosquitoes, i. 167.
  • Mourning of the natives, i. 277.
  • Mucelis, i. 28.
  • Mucoandos tribe, ii. 226.
  • Mucozo river, i. 47, ii. 66.
  • Mundombes, the inhabitants of Benguella, their clothing, vegetation, mode of eating meat, &c., ii. 186;
  • their arms, 188.
  • Muinzus or pestles, i. 304.
  • Mule, dislike to being harnessed by a negro, i. 37.
  • Muqueca, its ingredients, ii. 239.
  • Muquices tribe, ii. 227.
  • Mus Gambianus, ii. 168.
  • Mushicongo negroes, customs of, i. 280;
  • mode of building their huts, 284;
  • furniture of the, ib.
  • Musical instruments of the natives, ii. 139.
  • Mussera, town, i. 143.
  • Mussurougo tribe, pirates, i. 92;
  • ankle-rings worn by, 93;
  • customs of, 280.
  • Muxima town, ii. 122.
  • Muxixe tree, i. 29.[Pg 335]


  • Native remedies for diseases, ii. 263.
  • Natives, custom of, in case of death, after the administration of medicine, or after the performance of an operation, i. 73;
  • objection of to work for wages, 75;
  • fear of at sight of a steamer, 125;
  • customs of the, 257;
  • bed-clothing, 266.
  • Navigation of Rivers Dande, Bengo, &c., i. 47.
  • Nborotuto shrub, ii. 70.
  • Ncombo, or goat-root, used to flavour tobacco, ii. 270.
  • Nectariniæ, i. 99.
  • Negro cook making forcemeat balls, i. 36.
  • Negro, insensibility of the, i. 69-75;
  • ingratitude of the, 77;
  • character of the, 238;
  • absence of affection in the, 242;
  • social laws of the, 242;
  • absence of sympathy in the, 243;
  • absence of cruelty in the, 245;
  • “fetishes” of the, 246, 247;
  • toilet of, 263;
  • mode of shaving the head, 269.
  • Negroes, odour of, i. 36;
  • ankle-rings worn by, 94;
  • customs of, 181.
  • Ngilló, vegetable, i. 296.
  • Novo Redondo, i. 28.
  • —— natives of, ii. 155-159.
  • Nymphœa dentata and stellata, water-lily, ii. 121.


  • Oil, dog-fish, ii. 207.
  • Oil-palm at Bembe, i. 32.
  • Ophthalmia, its rarity, ii. 258.
  • Orange River, i. 27.
  • Orchilla-weed, ii. 184.
  • Ordeal by poison, i. 61.
  • Ornaments of kings’ and macotas’ wives, i. 268.
  • Ox-bird (Buphaga Africana), ii. 204.
  • Oxen trained for riding, ii. 218.[Pg 336]


  • Palm-chop, i. 97.
  • —— tree, mode of climbing, i. 97.
  • —— wine, i. 97.
  • Panda or wattled crane (Grus carunculata), ii. 203.
  • Paper-making, baobab-tree in its application to, i. 118.
  • Papyrus, growth of, i. 302.
  • Pedra grande, or “big stone,” ii. 221.
  • Pentalobus barbatus, beetle, i. 146.
  • Pepper, Chili, &c., i. 293.
  • Picnic at Boma, visit of the nine kings, i. 87.
  • Pirão, preparation, i. 291.
  • Pitch, mineral, ii. 9.
  • Plants used by natives for cure of dysentery or diarrhœa, ii. 252.
  • Plaster-of-paris, manufactured by author from gypsum-rock, ii. 200.
  • Polygamy among the natives, i. 263.
  • Porcupines, ii. 297.
  • Porto da Lenha, description of, i. 83.
  • —— Domingos, ii. 66.
  • Potato, sweet, i. 296.
  • Productions of Cazengo, ii. 105.
  • Products from River Congo to Ambriz, i. 119-141.
  • Ptyelus olivaceus, or spit-frog, ii. 108.
  • Pungo Andongo range, description of scenery, i. 31.
  • ——, natives of, ii. 102.
  • Pungo fish, i. 142.
  • Purgatives used by the natives, ii. 262.


  • Quanza River, i. 47, ii. 113.
  • “Queimada,” burning grass, description of, i. 39.
  • Quiavo, or Quingombó, i. 297.
  • Quiballa, i. 30;
  • description of country, 171.
  • —— to Bembe, i. 181-187.[Pg 337]
  • Quifandongo, ii. 19.
  • Quileba, copper at, ii. 191.
  • Quilumbo, i. 185.
  • Quinbundo natives, ii. 146.
  • Quincollo, i. 236.
  • Quindas or baskets, i. 301.
  • Quingombe, i. 235.
  • Quinine—fedegozo used as a substitute by Portuguese, ii. 249.
  • Quioco bird, ii. 79.
  • Quipupa, spring of ferruginous water at, ii. 196.
  • Quiquanga, preparation, i. 289.
  • Quirandas, shell-bead ornaments, ii. 169.
  • Quissama country, ii. 144.
  • —— ladies, fashions of the, ii. 147.


  • Rain, fall of, i. 42.
  • Rat-catching, i. 298.
  • Rats, as food, i. 298;
  • at Libongo, ii. 8.
  • Root parasite, i. 198, ii. 207.


  • Salalé, or white ant, i. 299, ii. 277.
  • Salt, i. 147.
  • San Francisco River, ii. 196.
  • San Salvador, i. 225.
  • Sand-grouse—Pterocles namaquus, ii. 201.
  • Sangue-sangue, tall grass, ii. 250.
  • Sanseviera plant, i. 29, 45.
  • Santa Maria Cape, ii. 214.
  • Sarna, a kind of itch common among blacks, ii. 259.
  • Scents, ii. 299.
  • Scorpions, effects of their sting, ii. 170, 171.[Pg 338]
  • Scopus umbretta, heron-like bird, ii. 73.
  • Senhor Chaves, i. 83;
  • organizes a picnic, 87.
  • Sesamum indicum seed, i. 134.
  • Sesbania punctata, Pers., shrub common in marshes, ii. 176.
  • Sharks, absence of south of River Congo, i. 51.
  • Silva, Mr. Augustus Archer, accompanies author to Quanza, ii. 112.
  • Silver in Cambambe, ii. 62.
  • Skin-disease, treatment of, ii. 261.
  • Slave, author buys a, i. 77.
  • Slaves shipped in Angola, statistics of, i. 67;
  • treatment of in case of famine, 69;
  • native laws regarding, 76;
  • cost of, 205.
  • Slave-trade, i. 56;
  • explanation of in Angola, 58.
  • —— at Benguella, ii. 185.
  • Slavery, i. 56;
  • observance of laws, 59;
  • witchcraft in, 61;
  • ordeal by poison, ib.;
  • in Loanda, ii. 39;
  • author’s views on abolition of, 41.
  • Sleep-disease, i. 143;
  • description of, 144.
  • Snakes, ii. 300.
  • Soba, a, visits the author, ii. 173.
  • —— Dumbo, formerly a powerful king, ii. 67.
  • Solanum saponaceum, fruit of the, used as soap, ii. 111.
  • Solé, bird, ii. 166.
  • Sounds of birds, &c., i. 304.
  • Sphynx moths, ii. 304.
  • Spit-frog, the, ii. 108.
  • Spring-bok, near Mossamedes, ii. 213.
  • Sterculia tomentosa, i. 29.
  • Sulphate of magnesia, ii. 220.
  • Sulphur at Dombe Grande, ii. 197.
  • Suspension-bridge at Novo Redondo, ii. 159.


  • “Tangandando,” india-rubber, i. 137.
  • Tobacco, its efficacy for inflammation of bowels, ii. 263;
  • its use by natives, 269.[Pg 339]
  • Toilet of the negro, i. 263.
  • Trading between River Congo and Ambriz, i. 105.
  • Traps to catch “inhabitants” of the head, i. 269.
  • Travelling, mode of, i. 165.
  • Treron calva, pigeon, ii. 164.
  • Trial of a man for bewitching the spirit of his dead wife, i. 66.
  • Trionyx nilotica, tortoise, ii. 125.
  • Turacus cristatus, plantain-eater, ii. 86.


  • Uallua, drink, i. 300.
  • Ulcers, native remedies for, ii. 253.
  • Uzanzos, baskets or sieves, i. 304.
  • Uzus, or mortars, i. 304.


  • Vegetables, growth of, at Bembe, i. 225.
  • Vegetation of Angola, from Ambriz to Bembe, i. 29;
  • from River Congo to Mossamedes, 43.
  • Viuva, or long-tailed whydah-finch (Vidua paradisea), ii. 205.
  • Voandzeia subterranea, ii. 111.
  • Volcanic rocks, ii. 69, 220.


  • Wages of Englishmen in Africa, ii. 243.
  • Water, mode of getting, in dry season, i. 43;
  • finding of at Cambambe, 47;
  • curious deposits of ii. 221.
  • Watercress, ii. 93.
  • Wasps, ii. 287, 291.
  • Welwitschia, mirabilis, plant, ii. 229.
  • White men, reception of, by king, i. 257.
  • Wild-hemp smoking, ii. 257.[Pg 340]
  • Witchcraft at Ambrizzette, i. 65.
  • Women’s work, i. 285.
  • Writing, style of employed by natives, ii. 315.


  • Zebras at Benguella, ii. 194.
  • Zombo tribe, mode of dressing the hair, &c., i. 271.








Hellenica World - Scientific Library