In illustration of the manner in which the native knowledge of agriculture strikes an honest intelligent observer, it may be mentioned that the first time good Bishop Mackenzie beheld how well the fields of the Manganja were cultivated on the hills, he remarked to Dr. Livingstone, then his fellow-traveller--"When telling the people in England what were my objects in going out to Africa, I stated that, among other things, I meant to teach these people agriculture; but I now see that they know far more about it than I do." This, we take it, was an honest straightforward testimony, and we believe that every unprejudiced witness, who has an opportunity of forming an opinion of Africans who have never been debased by slavery, will rank them very much higher in the scale of intelligence, industry, and manhood, than others who know them only in a state of degradation.
On coming near Chinsamba's two stockades, on the banks of the Lintipe, we were told that the Mazitu had been repulsed there the day before, and we had evidence of the truth of the report of the attack in the sad sight of the bodies of the slain. The Zulus had taken off large numbers of women laden with corn; and, when driven back, had cut off the ears of a male prisoner, as a sort of credential that he had been with the Mazitu, and with grim humour sent him to tell Chinsamba "to take good care of the corn in the stockades, for they meant to return for it in a month or two."
Chinsamba's people were drumming with might and main on our arrival, to express their joy at their deliverance from the Mazitu. The drum is the chief instrument of music among the Manganja, and with it they express both their joy and grief. They excel in beating time. Chinsamba called us into a very large hut, and presented us with a huge basket of beer. The glare of sunlight from which we had come enabled him, in diplomatic fashion, to have a good view of us before our eyes became enough accustomed to the dark inside to see him. He has a Jewish cast of countenance, or rather the ancient Assyrian face, as seen in the monuments brought to the British Museum by Mr. Layard. This form of face is very common in this country, and leads to the belief that the true type of the negro is not that met on the West Coast, from which most people have derived their ideas of the African.
Chinsamba had many Abisa or Babisa in his stockade, and it was chiefly by the help of their muskets that he had repulsed the Mazitu: these Babisa are great travellers and traders.
We liked Chinsamba very well, and found that he was decidedly opposed to our risking our lives by going further to the N.W. The Mazitu were believed to occupy all the hills in that direction, so we spent the 4th of September with him.
It is rather a minute thing to mention, and it will only be understood by those who have children of their own, but the cries of the little ones, in their infant sorrows, are the same in tone, at different ages, here as all over the world. We have been perpetually reminded of home and family by the wailings which were once familiar to parental ears and heart, and felt thankful that to the sorrows of childhood our children would never have superadded the heartrending woes of the slave-trade.
Taking Chinsamba's advice to avoid the Mazitu in their marauding, we started on the 5th September away to the N.E., and passed mile after mile of native cornfields, with an occasional cotton-patch.
After a long march, we passed over a waterless plain about N.N.W. of the hills of Tsenga to a village on the Lake, and thence up its shores to Chitanda. The banks of the Lake were now crowded with fugitives, who had collected there for the poor protection which the reeds afforded. For miles along the water's edge was one continuous village of temporary huts. The people had brought a little corn with them; but they said, "What shall we eat when that is done? When we plant corn, the wild beasts (Zinyama, as they call the Mazitu) come and take it. When we plant cassava, they do the same. How are we to live?" A poor blind woman, thinking we were Mazitu, rushed off in front of us with outspread arms, lifting the feet high, in the manner peculiar to those who have lost their sight, and jumped into the reeds of a stream for safety.