About the middle of July, Stanley and company reached the district of Ngoyo, where they were pleased to find a friendly people. They did not like to wear clothes either, and their main decorations consisted of boring their ears and noses.
The people supplied the grateful travelers with bananas, pineapples, guavas, limes, onions, fish, cassava bread, ground nuts, and palm butter in much abundance.
Stanley found them to be extremely well-behaved and he thought many of them to be handsome in appearance. All of the work was done by the women of the tribe. They even fished with nets that were constructed of palm-fibers and bark. These were cone-shaped and open at the bottom, as shown in the picture below. When the women fished, they waded in the shallow water near the shore, and entrapped the fish by dropping the open mouth of the net down over them.
Stanley found out that there were some dangerous falls near the village. 400 of the natives graciously volunteered to carry Stanley’s boats to below the point of danger. He lost one small canoe in the process, of which the natives told him how sorry they were. He told them that it was OK and paid them liberally for their services. He declared them to be the most polite people that he had encountered in all his travels in Africa.
Stanley explored the river to Isangila Falls, and proved that it was part of the Congo. On July 31, 1877, he decided to leave the water and proceed over land to Embomma, which was a Portuguese settlement on the coast. It was only a few days’ march.
Stanley’s crew was delighted at this announcement because they were all almost to the point of exhaustion. They were a bunch of way worn, feeble, and suffering men that filed across the rocky terrace of Isangila on the following day. Nearly 40 of the men were sick with dysentery, ulcers, and scurvy, with the victims of scurvy increasing everyday.
When they did get to the coast, the natives were very unfriendly and would not exchange food for anything except rum. Not having any rum to bargain with, starvation soon stared the party in the face.
On the evening of the third day they reached the village of Nsanda. They marched through the street silently and made their way down a deep gully and crawled up again to the level of the village site. Then they camped about 200 yards away from the village.
They were soon visited by the chief, who was a young man with a slender build. He loved to sing because most of the time he was drunk with an excess of palm-wine. He was kind and sociable, but would not give them any food unless they would furnish him rum. They didn’t have any, so they had to continue in their hunger.
At this point, Stanley sent a letter written in English, French, and Spanish to Embomma and asked for relief for his starving people. Three of his best men set out about noon one day and reached the settlement the next day after sundown.
That very same night an abundance of provisions were prepared and packed, and hurried to the starving men. The men hurried through the night, and the next morning Stanley and his men awoke to an abundance of provisions which nourished their bodies and gave them the strength they needed.
Stanley Returns to Civilization
August 9, 1877, marked the 999th day from the date of his departure from Zanzibar that started his second expedition. Now he was about to go back into civilization and leave Africa for good. As he came into town, they insisted upon carrying him through the town in a swinging hammock, as a mark of special honor. Afterwards, then, a grand banquet was provided for him.
Stanley enjoyed their generous hospitality for two days while he got rested and refreshed, and then he was ready to depart for the last time. Before he left, though, he strolled back down to the river to take a farewell look. He wrote the following in his diary:
“Glancing at the mighty river on whose brown bosom we had endured much, I saw it approach, awed and humbled, the threshold of the watery immensity, to whose immeasurable volume and illimitable expanse, awful as had been its power, and terrible as had been its fury, its flood was but a drop. And I felt my heart suffused with purest gratitude to Him whose hand had protected us, and who had enabled us to pierce the Dark Continent from east to west, and to trace its mightiest river to its Ocean bourne.”
Then Stanley proceeded with his company on a steamer to Kabinda, then to Loanda, where his sick and suffering people were received into the Portuguese hospital, and remained until September 27. Five of the men died during this time because their illnesses had progressed too far.
From Loanda, the expedition sailed to Cape Town, and then back to Zanzibar, where the people were paid off and discharged.
Stanley sailed for England on December 13, 1877. Upon his arrival in London, he was received with distinguished honors, which he well deserved. He had fairly won the English heart as well as the heartiest praise of his own country.
Next to Livingstone, he had proven himself to be the greatest explorer that ever penetrated Africa.