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THROUGH

MASAI LAND

A JOURNEY OF EXPLORATION
AMONG THE SNOWCLAD VOLCANIC MOUNTAINS
AND STRANGE TRIBES
OF
EASTERN EQUATORIAL AFRICA

Being the Narrative of the
Royal Geographical Society’s Expedition to Mount Kenia.
and Lake Victoria Nyanza, 1883–1884




BY

JOSEPH THOMSON, F.R.G.S.

GOLD MEDALLIST OF ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY;
ON. MEM. SCOTTISH AND ITALIAN GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETIES;
LEADER OF THE EXPEDITION;
AUTHOR OF "TO THE CENTRAL AFRICAN LAKES AND BACK."

Chi va piano va sano;
chi va sano va lontano.

NEW AND REVISED EDITION.
London
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE,; RIVINGTON,
CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.
1887.
[All rights reserved.]

 

 

TO
MY FATHER AND MOTHER

This Book is Dedicated

IN THE HOPE THAT ITS PERUSAL

MAY COMPENSATE TO SOME EXTENT FOR THE

ANXIETIES IT HAS BEEN MY LOT TO MAKE THEM SUFFER

WHILE I WANDERED IN

MASAI LAND.

PREFACE.

My reason for the publication of the following narrative may be briefly stated. The Expedition which I commanded was of a public character, and it was imperative that some account of its doings should be produced. That ‘being the case, I resolved to clothe the dry bones of a mere report in the flesh and blood of a narrative. I call honestly say that the prospect of writing it was one which had very little attractiveness for me, and that, if I am delighted to hand it over to the reader, it is more because my task is finished than from any expectations of a favourable reception.

I suppose I need hardly attempt to deprecate criticism.. Still I may be allowed to remind the reader and reviewer that one who at the age, of twenty–six has undertaken three separate expeditions to the interior of Africa cannot be expected to have had much opportunity to acquire the graces of literature, or an elegant style. I have poured this narrative forth red–hot, without any delicate weighing of words, or conning over of sentences, content that my meaning be expressed, whatever might be its guise.

I should have liked to be able to say that "Through Land" has been written under palm–trees, or amid other romantic surroundings. A regard for truth, however, compels me to make the confession that it has been entirely composed under the customary prosaic surroundings of the "easy–chair geographer."[X] As in the case of my former book, "To the Central African Lakes and Back, "I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to my brother, the Rev. J. B. Thomson, of Greenock, who has relieved me of the irksome work of literary revision, seen the book through the press, and otherwise saved me a world of trouble.

I need but add that with one or two exceptions the illustrations are from photographs taken by myself in the course of the Expedition. For several of the Wa–nyika and Wa–teita illustrations I have to thank my friend the Rev. A. D. Shaw, of Rabai, Mombasa, who kindly placed his collection of photographs at my command, and thus added another to the numerous obligations under which he has placed me.

NOTE TO NEW EDITION.

In introducing a new and cheaper edition of this narrative to the public, little requires to be said. Some additions, a few corrections, and, it is hoped, a number of literary improvements have been made, tending to render the book more useful and more readable.

The chief fact to be noted is that, since the appearance of the earliest edition, great political changes have occurred in East Central Africa.

Then (1885) Masai Land was for the first time made known to the world; now it has come within the "sphere of British influence,"– a delicate way, I suppose, of saying that it now practically forms a part of our Imperial possessions.

Reasons of State, obscure to ordinary morals have made it necessary to sacrifice Seyyid Barghash, Sultan of Zanzibar. We have, under these circumstances, but to congratulate ourselves that we have had an Argus–eyed and far–seeing diplomatist to look after our interests. In possession of the beautiful plateau–lands of Masai Land, and healthy, easy route to the interior, we may look with equanimity on our German neighbours further south, sweating in the malarious marshes, or attempting to exploit the inhospitable regions inland.

I am singularly happy in being able to incorporate a note on the recent development of events in East Africa, by Sir John Kirk, G.C.M.G., whose unwearied care and watchfulness and far–seeing policy have not always received the recognition they deserve. His influence in the cause of African Exploration has been great, and lie might well be called the Friend of Travellers.

Others besides diplomatists have not been slow to see the value of Masai Land. At this moment numerous sportsmen [XII] are seeking adventures around Kilimanjaro; while, on the other hand, the extraordinary caves, the wonderful volcanic mountains, and other physical* features described in these pages, have supplied material sufficiently romantic to stimulate the imaginative efforts of a recent novelist.

The advantage of the newly–revealed route to Victoria Nyanza was promptly recognized by the Church Missionary Society; but unfortunately a rashly–managed and somewhat ill–timed attempt to utilize it, ending in a calamitous massacre, has postponed the possibility of fully profiting by it.

It only remains for the commercial world, seeking new fields and new outlets for its trade, to open its eyes to the extreme fertility of the soil and–for Africa –salubrity of the climate, in order to make British influence in that region something more than a political fiction.

As the relief of Emin Pasha is at present a subject of absorbing interest, I may be permitted, in conclusion, to refer to the expedition for that purpose. I cannot but express my surprise that a route which no authority can deny to be at once the shortest, the healthiest, and the least obstructed by physical difficulties, should, notwithstanding the urgency of the crisis, have been discarded in favour of a route not only incomparably more tedious, but obviously much more trying in its character. An expedition of manageable proportions might easily have pushed with rapidity, and with perfect security as to supplies, through Masai Land and put Emin Pasha in possession of the ammunition, &c., he so pressingly needs to save himself and his brave party from annihilation; while a supplementary expedition might have co–operated to secure the leisurely retreat of the beleaguered garrison.

If Emin Pasha is in the desperate plight represented by his friends, it is manifest that haste in getting into touch with him is of paramount importance–a fact apparently lost sight of in the elaborate preparations for the bringing away of a party which meanwhile may be massacred.

CONTENTS.

INTRODUCTION to the THIRD EDITION

PREFACE.

NOTE TO NEW EDITION.

CONTENTS.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

THROUGH MASAI LAND.

INTRODUCTORY.

CHAPTER I.

RECONNAISSANCE.

CHAPTER II.

TO TAVETA.

CHAPTER III.

A FORTNIGHT IN A FOREST FASTNESS.

CHAPTER IV.

THROUGH THE DOOR OF THE MASAI.

CHAPTER V.

PREPARATION FOR A NEW ATTEMPT.

CHAPTER VI.

ONWARD ONCE MORE!

CHAPTER VII.

TO KIKUYU

CHAPTER VIII.

TO LAKE NAIVASHA.

CHAPTER IX.

TO LAKE BARINGO Via MOUNT KENIA.

CHAPTER X.

MASAI LAND AND THE MASAI.

CHAPTER XI.

THROUGH KAVIRONDO TO VICTORIA NYANZA.

CHAPTER XII.

BACK TO BARINGO viâ ELGON.

CHAPTER XIII.

SPORT AT BARINGO AND JOURNEY COASTWARD.

BRITAIN AND GERMANY IN EAST AFRICA.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Illust. 1 On the War path in Masai Land.
Illust. 2 Native Christian’s House.
Illust. 3 James martin
Illust. 4 Wa–Nykia Village
Illust. 5 Rabai Mission House
Illust. 6 Wa–Nyika Women Pounding Grain.
Illust. 7 Reviewing the Expedition.
Illust. 8: Teita Hut.
Illust. 9: M–Teita of Ndara.
Illust. 10 Wa-Teita Women.
Illust. 11 Men’s Quarters, Taveta.
Illust. 12 Wa–Teita Village, Ndara.
Illust. 13:Camp Scene Near Mandara’s.
Illust. 14 Mandara’s Warriors.
Illust. 15: Borassus Palm.
Illust. 16: New Quarters at Taveta.
Illust. 17: View of Kilimanjaro Across Lake Chala.
Illust. 18 Alcelaphus Cokii.
Illust. 19 Lake Chala.
Illust. 20 Andorobbo Men and a Woman.
Illust. 21 "Just in the nick of time I made a dash sideways."
Illust. 22 The Buffalo’s Horns, Kimangelia.
Illust. 23The Buffalo’s Horns, Kimangelia.
Illust. 24 Kilimanjaro and the Njiri Plain.
Illust. 25 Masai Women of Njiri. (Faces painted.)
Illust. 26 Gorge of the Ngare Surè.
Illust. 27 Masai Warriors of Kaptè.
Illust. 28 Glimpse of Camp Life.
Illust. 29 Masai Women of Kaptè.
Illust. 30 Camp at Ngongo.
Illust. 31 Donyo Longonot from G. Kedong.
Illust. 32 Firewood Plain (Angata Elgek) from Kekupè
Illust. 33 Warriors of Lykipia.

Illust. 34 The Thomson Falls, River Ururu.
Illust. 35 Mount Kenia from the West.
Illust. 36 Distant View of Lykipia Escarpment.
Illust. 37 Camp at Njemps.
Illust. 38 Natives of Njemps.
Illust. 39 Masai Married Woman, Njiri.
Illust. 40 Masai Kraal, Donyo Longonot in Distance.
Illust. 41 Ear Stretcher and Ear Ornaments.
Illust. 42 Masai Weapons and Ornaments. 1. Shield. 2. Arm ornament of horn. 3,5. Spears of Northern Masai Clans. 4. Spear of Southern                Masai. 6. Simè or Sword. 7. Skin Sheath. 8. Chain Neck ornamnet. 9. Andorobbo Elephent Spear. 10. Ostrich Feather War   Head-dress. 11. Ivory Snuff-box. 12. Horn Tobacco-box. 13. Bead Necklet. 14. Club.
Illust. 43 Ear Ornaments, Married Woman.
Illust. 44 Masai Married Women. Njiri.
Illust. 45 D. Lobikwe, Kamasia, from near Njemps.
Illust. 46 Wa–Kwafi Girls of Njemps.
Illust. 47 Glen of the Guaso Kamnyè.
Illust. 48 Lava Cap, Elgeyo Escarpment.
Illust. 49 Village of Kabaras, Kavirondo.
Illust. 50 Married Women, Kavirondo.
Illust. 51 Mud Walls and Gateway, Massala, Kavirondo.
Illust. 52 R. Nzoia Near Seremba, with School of Hippos.
Illust. 53 Victoria Nyanza from Massala.
Illust. 54 Daughters of the Chief of Massala.
Illust. 55 "I Was Promptly Propelled Skyward."
Illust. 56 Horns of the Buffalo.
Illust. 57 Natives of Suk on a Visit to Njemps.
Illust. 58 Gazella Thomsoni.
Illust. 59 "Here I Was On My Knee, Behind A Small Skeleton Bush, Positively Looking Up At An Enormous Wild Elephant."
Illust. 60 Mianzi–ni From The South. Masai Kraal In The Foreground.
Map. Route Map of the Masai Country

 

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