Chinsamba gave us a great deal of his company during our visits. As we have often remarked in other cases, a chief has a great deal to attend to in guiding the affairs of his people. He is consulted on all occasions, and gives his advice in a stream of words, which show a very intimate acquaintance with the topography of his district; he knows every rood cultivated, every weir put in the river, every hunting-net, loom, gorge, and every child of his tribe. Any addition made to the number of these latter is notified to him; and he sends thanks and compliments to the parents.
The presents which, following the custom of the country, we gave to every headman, where we either spent a night or a longer period, varied from four to eight yards of calico. We had some Manchester cloths made in imitation of the native manufactured robes of the West Coast, each worth five or six shillings. To the more important of the chiefs, for calico we substituted one of these strong gaudy dresses, iron spoons, a knife, needles, a tin dish, or pannikin, and found these presents to be valued more than three times their value in cloth would have been. Eight or ten shillings' worth gave abundant satisfaction to the greediest; but this is to be understood as the prime cost of the articles, and a trader would sometimes have estimated similar generosity as equal to from 30 to 50 pounds. In some cases the presents we gave exceeded the value of what was received in return; in others the excess of generosity was on the native side.
We never asked for leave to pass through the country; we simply told where we were going, and asked for guides; if they were refused, or if they demanded payment beforehand, we requested to be put into the beginning of the path, and said that we were sorry we could not agree about the guides, and usually they and we started together. Greater care would be required on entering the Mazitu or Zulu country, for there the Government extends over very large districts, while among the Manganja each little district is independent of every other. The people here have not adopted the exacting system of the Banyai, or of the people whose country was traversed by Speke and Grant.
In our way back from Chinsamba's to Chembi's and from his village to Nkwinda's, and thence to Katosa's, we only saw the people working in their gardens, near to the stockades. These strongholds were strengthened with branches of acacias, covered with strong hooked thorns; and were all crowded with people. The air was now clearer than when we went north, and we could see the hills of Kirk's Range five or six miles to the west of our path. The sun struck very hot, and the men felt it most in their feet. Every one who could get a bit of goatskin made it into a pair of sandals.
While sitting at Nkwinda's, a man behind the court hedge-wall said, with great apparent glee, that an Arab slaving party on the other side of the confluence of the Shire and Lake were "giving readily two fathoms of calico for a boy, and two and a half for a girl; never saw trade so brisk, no haggling at all." This party was purchasing for the supply of the ocean slave-trade. One of the evils of this traffic is that it profits by every calamity that happens in a country. The slave-trader naturally reaps advantage from every disorder, and though in the present case some lives may have been saved that otherwise would have perished, as a rule he intensifies hatreds, and aggravates wars between the tribes, because the more they fight and vanquish each other the richer his harvest becomes. Where slaving and cattle are unknown the people live in peace. As we sat leaning against that hedge, and listened to the harangue of the slave-trader's agent, it glanced across our mind that this was a terrible world; the best in it unable, from conscious imperfections, to say to the worst "Stand by! for I am holier than thou." The slave-trader, imbued no doubt with certain kindly feelings, yet pursuing a calling which makes him a fair specimen of a human fiend, stands grouped with those by whom the slave-traders are employed, and with all the workers of sin and misery in more highly-favoured lands, an awful picture to the All-seing Eye.
We arrived at Katosa's village on the 15th October, and found about thirty young men and boys in slave-sticks. They had been bought by other agents of the Arab slavers, still on the east side of the Shire. They were resting in the village, and their owners soon removed them. The weight of the goree seemed very annoying when they tried to sleep. This taming instrument is kept on, until the party has crossed several rivers and all hope of escape has vanished from the captive's mind.
On explaining to Katosa the injury he was doing in selling his people as slaves, he assured us that those whom we had seen belonged to the Arabs, and added that he had far too few people already. He said he had been living in peace at the lakelet Pamalombe; that the Ajawa, or Machinga, under Kainka and Karamba, and a body of Babisa, under Maonga, had induced him to ferry them over the Shire; that they had lived for a considerable time at his expense, and at last stole his sheep, which induced him to make his escape to the place where he now dwelt, and in this flight he had lost many of his people. His account of the usual conduct of the Ajawa quite agrees with what these people have narrated themselves, and gives but a low idea of their moral tone. They have repeatedly broken all the laws of hospitality by living for months on the bounty of the Manganja, and then, by a sudden uprising, overcoming their hosts, and killing or chasing them out of their inheritances. The secret of their success is the possession of firearms. There were several of these Ajawa here again, and on our arrival they proposed to Katosa that they should leave; but he replied that they need not be afraid of us. They had red beads strung so thickly on their hair that at a little distance they appeared to have on red caps. It is curious that the taste for red hair should be so general among the Africans here and further north; in the south black mica, called Sebilo, and even soot are used to deepen the colour of the hair; here many smear the head with red-ochre, others plait the inner bark of a tree stained red into it; and a red powder called Mukuru is employed, which some say is obtained from the ground, and others from the roots of a tree.
It having been doubted whether sugar-cane is indigenous to this country or not, we employed Katosa to procure the two varieties commonly cultivated, with the intention of conveying them to Johanna. One is yellow, and the other, like what we observed in the Barotse Valley, is variegated with dark red and yellow patches, or all red. We have seen it "arrow," or blossom. Bamboos also run to seed, and the people are said to use the seed as food. The sugar-cane has native names, which would lead us to believe it to be indigenous. Here it is called Zimbi, further south Mesari, and in the centre of the country Meshuati. Anything introduced in recent times, as maize, superior cotton, or cassava, has a name implying its foreign origin.