3 – Stanley Almost Killed

A Village Named Reheuneko  –  Entering Ugogo

Encountering the Natives

On May 4th, Stanley and his men ascended a gentle slope to a village named Reheuneko.  There they stayed for 4 days so that they could rest and recover from the effects of the fever of which they were suffering from having to wade in the swamp for so long.  In fact, another day in the swamp would have probably destroyed the whole expedition. 

Farquhar had charge of the fourth expedition and he had gone on before Stanley about two days.  He sent word back that all but one of his donkeys had died and all his provisions were almost exhausted.  Thus, before he would have liked, Stanley had to make himself go on to Lake Ugombo to take supplies to Farquhar.  There he found the man in a terrible condition.  He was barely able to stagger out of his tent because his legs and feet were swollen so badly from Elephantiasis.  The biggest part of his problems, though, had been brought on by his own self.  He had gone through the biggest majority of his provisions, which should have lasted the whole way, in just over a third of the distance. 

Shaw had also been remiss in all his duties, and had really drug down the expedition.  These were the two Englishmen that Stanley had paid the most money, because they had the most expertise.  Instead they were more lazy than the native carriers and they grew worse as the expedition went along. 

While they were camped on the lake, Shaw did something to Stanley that he took as inexcusable and the last straw, and he struck him making him fall to the ground.  After that Shaw demanded his discharge papers, which Stanley gave him with much pleasure.  Shaw left and said that he would return to Zanzibar with the next Arab caravan.  He soon changed his mind, though, and came back and apologized for his conduct and begged to be taken again into service.  Stanley reinstated him back in charge of the third caravan.

That night while everyone was sleeping, Shaw took a loaded gun and tried to assassinate Stanley while he was asleep in his tent.  The bullet passed through the pillow on which Stanley’s head was resting.  This aroused the whole camp and someone told Stanley who had fired the shot.  Shaw pretended to be sound asleep, but a check of his gun proved that he had fired the shot.  When confronted with the evidence, he said that he had been dreaming that he had shot at a thief.  Stanley sternly warned him that he had better not do anything like that again. 

Farquhar was in no condition to travel, so they left him at a small village in the Ugogo country.  He was left with 6 months’ provisions, a rifle, 300 cartridges, and an interpreter.  He was one person that Stanley was proud to be rid of that was dragging down the expedition.

They now marched to Chungo, where they joined a trading party of Arabs going west, and twelve new carriers were engaged.  This brought the entire party to 400 people, with flags, horns, drums, and guns.  It made up a huge caravan for being in Central Africa.  They were now only 30 miles from Ugogo.

Entering Ugogo

Their entrance into the village was almost like a circus parade with all the people in the party.  Stanley rode at the head, and as he came into sight all the villagers rushed out to meet him, shouting with all the strength in their lungs.  The whole village was soon shouting excitedly because Stanley was the first white man they had ever seen.  There were several villages that were in immediate succession that were all called Ugogo.  They kept gathering until there was a huge crowd of them that pressed in to see him.  Their naked bodies were allornately tattooed.  The following is what he wrote in his diary:

“Hitherto, I had compared myself to a merchant of Baghdad, traveling among the Kurds of Kurdistan, selling his wares of Damascus silk, kefiyehs, etc., but now I was compelled to lower my standard, and thought myself not much better than the monkey in the zoological collection at Central Park, whose funny antics elicit such bursts of laughter from young New Yorkers.  One of my soldiers requested them to lessen their vociferous noise; but the evil-minded race ordered him to shut up, as a thing unworthy to speak to the Wagogo!  When I imploringly turned to the Arabs for counsel in this strait, old Sheikh Thani, always worldly-wise, said ‘Heed them not;  they are dogs who bite besides barking.'”

A camp was made, and negotiations with the natives soon began.  This very area was one of the richest districts in all of Africa.  The quantity and variety of provisions that they produced absolutely astonished Stanley.  The natives bought and sold milk, honey, beans, Indian corn, a variety of peas, peanuts, bean nuts, pumpkins, watermelons, musk melons, cucumbers, and many other kinds of vegetables. 

The Sultan there, though, believed in the old ways and compelled them to pay a large tribute of cloth and beads for the privilege of crossing his country.

An Encounter With The Natives

As the expedition continued its march, each of the villages ran out to meet them.  As they went on, though, the villagers did more and more outlandish things to get his attention.  They were truly amazed at this first white man that they had ever seen.  Finally Stanley’s patience with them became exhausted.  He wrote in his diary the following:

“Hitherto those we had met had contented themselves with staring and shouting; but these outstepped all bounds, and my growing anger at their excessive insolence vented itself in gripping the rowdiest of them by the neck, and before he could recover from his astonishment administering a sound thrashing with my dog-whip, which he little relished.  This proceeding educed from the tribe of starers all their native power of abuse.  Approaching in manner to angry tom-cats, they jerked their words with something of a splitting hiss and a half bark.  The ejaculation, as near as I can spell it phonetically, was ‘hahcht,’ uttered in a shrill crescendo tone.  They paced backward and forward, asking themselves, ‘Are the Wagogo to be beaten like slaves by this Musungu (white man)!  A mgogo is a Mgwana (a free man);  he is not used to be beaten.  But whenever I made a motion, flourishing my whip toward them, these mighty braggarts found it convenient to move to respectful distances from the irritated Musungu (white man).” 

A Handsome People

A march of 3 more days brought the expedition to the Wahumba district.  It was small and comprised of only a few villages.  They were not greatly inhabited, but the people there were remarkable.  They lived in cone huts plastered with cow-dung, and shaped like the Tartar tents of Turkestan.  The men were remarkably well formed and handsome, having clean limbs and exquisite features.  They were athletes from their youth, and intermarried to keep the race pure.  The women were just as handsome as the men, having clear ebon skin of an inky hue. 

Their ornaments consisted of spiral rings of brass, pendants from the ears, brass ring collars about their necks, and a spiral cincture of brass around the loins which was used as an ornament to keep keep their clothing in place.  Clothing was made of goat-skins and hung from the shoulder over one side of their person.

A Curious Incident

The village of Mukondoku bordered Ugogo, and was a large place that contained perhaps 3,000 people.  Here they flocked to see the wonderful man whose face was white, who wore wonderful things on his person, and possessed wonderful weapons.  They said that his guns “bum-bummed” as fast as you could count on your fingers. 

They again formed a mob of howling savages and he wasn’t sure what their intentions were.  When he asked what their intentions were, they took his words for a declaration of hostilities.  One big guy promptly drew his bow, but in an instant Stanley had his Winchester pointed at him.  He had 13 shots in the magazine, but waited to fire until the man let go of his arrow.  Deciding, that they didn’t want to mess with the rifle, they dispersed quickly.  The mob dispersed so quickly that Stanley had to lower his rifle and have a hearty laugh at their disgraceful flight. 

The Arabs then came up to him and made a truce that was satisfactory to all the parties.  After a few words explaining what had happened, the crowd came back in greater numbers than ever before.  The savage who had started the disturbance was greatly embarrassed by the people and had to leave.

A Chief now came up and lectured the people of their treatment of the White Stranger.  Stanley later learned that he was the second man to Swaruru, the Sultan.  The man told them that Stanley had not come to trade in ivory like the Arabs, but just to see them and give them presents.  He told them not to do any harm to Stanley and his people, and to let them pass in peace.  He told them that the first to create a disturbance for them had better beware.  Then he seized a long stick and drove the crowd back into their huts and they did not further annoy them.

Arrival at Unyanyembe

After the preceding incident, the caravan was not interrupted any more until they reached Unyanyembe.  It was situated in a plain about 500 miles by route from Zanzibar.  This was a most beautiful place and it had taken them 3 months to arrive here, with many trials along the way.  Considering the character of the country they had come across, and the obstacles they had met with, their average of 5 miles per day was an uncommonly good time to cross the route. 

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About Cathy Deaton


My name is Cathy Deaton, Owner of Fan the Flame Ministries. God has radically changed my life, and He has shown me that I am to share the awesome things I am learning especially with the Millennial Generation (1981 – 1996), but I love connecting with Christians of all ages. I have found that the Holy Spirit is an awesome teacher when I listen to, obey, and apply what He teaches to my life. You truly can make a difference for God in an uncertain world.