The Reawakening : Scientific Exploration 233
August 25. "SOUTH AFRICA."
(The lake I had heard about I went to; it proved to be a mere nothing, Omanbonde is the name of it'. I did not try to get to Lake Ngami.)
MY DEAR CAMPBELL. I have just returned to the most advanced missionary stations after my exploring journey, which indeed led me through a country most desolate, thorny and uninteresting. But the end of it quite repaid my trouble, for I came to a peculiarly well civilised (if I may use such a word) nation of blacks where I was received most kindly but beyond whose territory I was not permitted to pass. I had arrived within 4 days of a vast river, the wonder of these parts, and to which the Portuguese traders reach, but it was impossible for me to go on. My waggons were broken and left behind with half my party to guard them amongst a large tribe of savages. My slaughter cattle were almost all consumed, and there was not nearly game enough to support us. I had ridden forward the last 200 miles on oxen, and these were knocked up and quite unable to stand more travel, so that I was in quite an unfit condition to force my way further. It was therefore with no ordinary reluctance that, like so many other African travellers, I was, when at my most interesting point, obliged to turn back. Still I consider that I have completed the road from the Portuguese boundaries to the Cape, for the small intervening tract of land which I have not seen is well inhabited and well watered. My furthest point was Lat. 17° 58', Long. 17° 45'. The nation I reached was the Ovampos, governed by a fat stern king. I crowned him with all solemnity. His country is most fertile, broad plains, half corn, half pasturage. Abundance of palms and other fruit-trees of magnificent size; they have poultry and pigs and live right well. I did not see a single person among them who shewed the least appearance of poverty. They have more than one sort of corn ; that which they prize the most is, I believe, unknown in Europe ; it is certainly unknown in the North and the East of Africa. I have of course brought plenty of it with me. Their fowls too are nice like Bantams, so I put a cock and two hens in a basket and made a man carry it all the way back ; they thrive very well and are always laying eggs, which I am distributing among the missionaries so as to ensure extending the breed. I cannot say that we have had any real hardship, though the annoyances have been very great. We were mistrusted from the first as spies and could get no guides ; the road was horrible for waggons, dense thorns curved like fish hooks cruelly tore our clothes and hands, the oxen dare not face them. However I got them on 300 miles, and then the best waggon broke down. It was mended on my return from Ovampo-land and we got back safely. I have learnt a great deal about the interior of Africa which will much interest those who care about such things. Now I have my bands full of Namaqua Hottentots. I told you how I had been setting the affairs to right in these parts before I left, and all have continued in admirable order up to my return. One tribe had however just broken out, so as soon as I came to the first Namaqua chief and heard all about it I rode straight away 100 miles in a day and a half to the next chief (where I am now) and tomorrow I take him back with me and the two chiefs are to ally together and compel the rebel one to restore all that he has just robbed with much loss of life. The barbarities that occur daily in these parts are most horrible and disgusting. It was quite a relief getting beyond them to the Ovampos. If all turns out well I go in
' See remark, ftn. p. 216.
P. G. 30