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About The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current | View Entire Issue (May 17, 1908)
v Ji - if - -
BY FRANK G. CARPENTER.
t'KOBA, German East Africa. I
have just made a big bargain
In clothes. I purchased the ward
robe of a girl of 18, and have it packed
away in my trunk. The sale was made in
the midst of a crowd, and the price for
the whole was equal to just 16 cents of
our money. The coinage was in cowry
shells, about as bis as my thumb nail,
and I had to pay BOO of these for the cos
tume. The dress had all the swish of a
silk petticoat; and it rustled, as the young
lady walked along with me to the town
of Bukoba, where my silver money was
changed Into shells.
Among the Bazibas.
This in a i don was a Baziba, and a very
good-looking type of the people who in
habit this part of German East Africa. I
took her out of the crowd in which she
stood, and, before she delivered the goods,
had a photograph made. She stood just
about four feet in height, and was as
straight as an arrow. Her dress began
et the waist and reached to her ankles.
Above it she had on only two strings
around her neck. The dress was made of
the long fibers of the raphia palm, and
Jt looked for all the world like so much
timothy hay tied on by a string. There
were so many strands of the fiber that
they hid all of her person below the waist
end they swayed this way and that as i
ehe walked. !
1 was in company with Archdeacon
Walker, the famous Uganda missionary, ,
and it was through him. as an interpreter,
that she made the trade. When I point
ed to her dress and held up the silver
coin her eyes brightened, and when the
archdeacon told her that I was willing
to pay cash she gladly assented. She
borrowed a piece of red calico about the
sise of a dinner napkin, which one of her
sisters was wearing as a shawl, and loos
ing this tiber skirt a little at the waist
she slipped in the napkin and wrapped it
around her person. It was long enough
to fall to the middle of her thighs, and
she fastened it over the left hip with a
thorn. She then took off her skirt of
long fringe and handed It to me; and we
vent on together to the village to change
our money to shells. -On the way there,
the archdeacon talked with the irl. He
told me she was trembling with excite
ment and delight at her bargain, and
ventured sho had never made as much as
4 cents a day in her life, and probably
Hot over 3. Here she was selling her old
rkirt for 500 shells, equal to six or eight
days of hard work. When I gave her
the shells she trotted oft laughing and
then thanked us again and again for my
Rreat generosity. In the whole trans
action she displayed not the slightest
Immodesty, and at the close, although
almost nude, was hot ashamed.
Clothing of Grass.
These Pnzibas are all clad in grass
clothing. The men have grass or fiber
cloaks which they wear around their
shoulders. Some have shirts of grass fas
tened to a ring at the top through which
tho neck goes, and the unmarried girls
have little fringes of grass or ra.pphia
liber, not over eight inches long, which
they wear around their waists. Outside
this the girl may have a bracelet or two
and some anklets of wire, but otherwise
she is bare.
This matter of nudity, however, is en
tirely governed by custom. On the other
side of Lake Victoria, among the Kavl
xondo, 1 saw thousands who go naked
from one year's end to the other and
who in their manners are Jut as decent
and quite as modest as our people at
liome. In t'ganda, whence I came here,
the women are clad from their chests to
their feet In robes of black cloth; and it
Is inrpolite for a ma.n to lift up his gown
above the middle of the calf. Neverthe
less, the Baanda are said to be much
less virtuous than the naked Kavirondo,
and I venture they will not rank higher in
that respect than these grass-clad Bazi
bas. Icnth for Infidelity.
Indeed, of all the Inhabitants around
Lake Victoria these people axe about the
most ricid in renrd to unrh matters.
and offenses against the marriage tie are
punished severely. The .Baxiba man and
woman who attempt to live together
without being married take their lives In
their hand. They are liable to be tied
hand and foot end thrown into the lake;
and if they dwell far off in the country
they are carried to the nearest swamp
and buried alive under the flags. Mar
riages take place on about the same con
ditions as in other parts of Africa, the
girls being sold by their parents. Just
now the usual price for a bride is 10.000
cowry shells, or a little over three dollars
This is for a fat. good-looking maiden of
15 or so. The price from there on falls
according to age, and a full-grown wo
man or widow often brings les than
But before I go farther !ej me tell you
lKut tills land of the Saxibas, where
PEOPLE WHO DKE55 IK
FRANK G. CARPENTER WRITE5 OF THE BAZ1BAS
WHO DWELL ON THE 5H0RE5 OF VICTORIA NYANZA
now am. It lies in German East Africa
Just below Uganda, on the western side
of Lake Victoria. It is bounded on the
east by the lake, and It Includes a part of
the Kagera River, which many believe to
be the source of the Nile. That river rises
in the highlands not far from Lake Tan
ganyika, and flows In a winding way
through German East Africa, emptying
into Lake Victoria almost on the bound
ary between the two countries. Commis
sioner Tompkins of Entebbe tells me that
the river is quite wide at its mouth, and
that it can be navigated for about 70
miles. I passed this river on my way
We left Entebbe, the British capital of
Uganda, at 4 A. M. and were all day long
steaming off the western shores of Lake
Victoria. Our first course was through I
the Sesse Islands, about the largest archi
pelago in the lake They are beautifully
wooded on the shores, with grass lands
higher up. They were formerly well pop
ulated, but they are now almost deserted.
on account of the sleeping sickness,
caused by the bite of the tsetze fly,
which Infests their shores.
After traveling through these Islands I
we went westward along a country which
looks very much like southern Ireland, !
and which would compare with Staten
Island If the latter had no houses upon
it. we passed a little rocky islet, known
as the "Island of the Dead." and then I
came into this beautiful harbor of Bu
koba and anchored well out in the bay.
Bukoba is the northernmost station in
German East Africa. It is beautifully
situated, lying on a moon-shaped bay
backed by low hills. At the south are
grass-grown bluffs ending In palisades
of granite, which rise straight up from
the water to a height of 200 feet. Right
under these bluffs is the landing place,
and it was a little outside them that
the steamship Winnifred came to anchor.
We were carried to shore in native canoes
of wonderful workmanship. Each boat
was about 30 feet long, three feet wide
and two feet deep. It had a keel made
of the trunk of a tree and the sides
were of -hewn boards about a fourth of
an Inch thick and one foot in width, run
ning almost the full length of the boat.
The boards were sewn together and fas
tened to the keel by threads of fiber or
bark and the whole was made watertight.
There are also larger boats, some even
50 feet long, which are used for nav
igating the lake. They are made the
We stepped out on the shore under th
bluffs and walked perhaps three-quarters
or a mue through the banana groves
about the bay to the opposite end of
the harbor. Here is the headquarters of
the German government, consisting of a
fort, a barracks, and the home of the
commander. The fort Is t made of brick,
plastered on the outside, and roofed. Na
tive soldiers guarded the gates, but we
were able to passthrough into the large
inciosure which contains the barracks
and other buildings.
The grounds comprise several acres.
They are covered with green grass and
have also beds of red flowers surrounded
by hedges. As we went In we saw
chain gangs of blacks bringing dirt to
make the flower beds. Each gang con
sisted of about 20 men chained and pad
locked. Every man had a steel collar
about his neck and there was a chain
which ran from man to man by being
attached to these collars, so that the
gang made a great jingling as It walked
along. Each had a sheet of corrugat
ed Iron on his head, and upon this about
a bushel or so of black earth from the
swamps outside the fort. The men
were guarded at the front and rear by
soldiers with guns.
A Call Upon the Commandant.
The soldiers at the gates were not
especially friendly, and it seemed to me
that the officers within did not want
to meet strangers. Archdeacon Walker
was with me, and through his knowl
edge of the native language we were
able to talk with the guards and make'
our way. The first soldiers we met told
us that the commandant was asleep and
that we could not see him until he had
finished his after-dinner nap. We then
started away, but were called back by
another soldier, who told us that his
highness had just awakened and would
probably be out presently. This man did
not ask us into the house, so we stood
there and waited until the Governor
might appear. In the course of 15 min
utes he did so, and after that we were
very well treated. The name of the Gov
ernor Is Baron Captain von Stuman. He
Is a short, fat, little man with blonde
beard. He was dressed in white duck,
but nevertheless looked exceedingly
warm. He took us into the house and
we chatted together for some time about
his country and people. He told me that
the trade about Lake Victoria Is rap
idly growing, and that a large part of
the goatskins and hides, which form
one of the principal exports, goes to the
United States. He says there is an in
creasing demand for American cotton
goods and advises our country to push
them. He also gave the opinion that
German East Africa was beginning to
prosper and that it would eventually be
a well-paying colony,
SborUy alier tbia we left the Governor
THE SUNDAY OREGONIAN, PORTLAND, MAY 17, 1908.
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and strolled out into the town of Bukoba
to look at the stores and the market.
These are right near the fort, the village
proper being some distance away. The
chief business street consists of a dozen
or more little booths, each occupied by a
Hindoo merchant, who sits or stands in it.
surrounded by his goods. The black,
grass-clad customers remain outside the
store and make their purchases by means
of cowry shells. The chief things sold
are colored and uncolored cottons, the fa
vorites, as I have said, being American
sheetings. Another popular article of
merchandise is wire, of copper, iron and
brass. This is used by the natives as
Jewelry, and it Is almost as valuable as
gold and silver are in our country. The
wire is brought here in great kegs, and
coils of it are hung up in front of the
stores. It is of all thicknesses, from the
size of a human hair to the diameter of
one's little finger. The thicker wire is
hammered out into armlets, anklets and
collars, and the finer is woven- and plaited
into similar ornaments. Some of the wire
jewelry is heavy, and a very common
anklet worn by the women looks as
though it might have been torn from our
woven wire fences and twisted together.
In the market square, near these stores.
I saw many black peddlers. They
squatted on the ground, with their wares
piled about them. Here a woman sola
sweet potatoes, there one offered little
piles of the entrails of sheep or goats,
and farther over were others selling pea
nuts and white ants. The white ants had
been roasted. They were displayed upon
bits of banana leaves, and were sold at so
many shells per pile.
Shells Used as Money.
The cowry shell is the chief currency of
this part of Africa, and I understand it is
in common throughout the regions about
Lake Tanganyika and the Congo Valley.
The shells are brought here from the
coast of India and are exchanged for
rupees at the rate of 1000 to the rupee. A
rupee is worth about 33 cents, and as the
shells are put up in strings of 100 each, a
string of shells is worth just about 3
cents of our money. Among my recent
purchases are two spears at 1509 shells
each, a carved milk bowl at 2000 shells,
and a native chopping knife which cost
1000 shells. These shells are very small,
but. when used by the thousand they are
clumsy to handle. Indeed, 20,000 of them
weigh 70 pounds, and that is all that one
man can carry. When I go through the
country I shall have to have at least IS
porters to carry every hundred dollars I
take with me. Seven dollars' worth is a
good load for a man, and 10 cents' worth
would weigh about as much as 16 of our
silver dollars. This makes commerce diffi
cult, and the Germans are trying to intro
duce a new coinage based on the Indian
rupee. The chief trouble is to make the
coin small enough. The present issue in
cludes coins known as hellers, of which
100 go to a rupee, so that one heller is
worth one-third of a cent of our money.
In a Baziba Village.
Leaving the market. I visited the vil
lage near the fort and then went across
the country to see other towns in the
interior. The houses are very much like
those of the Baganda. At a distance
they look like haystacks or straw tents.
They are made of poles fastened to
gether, at the top, making a framework.
the shape of a cone. This Is lined with
reeds, which run' from the bottom to the
top and are fastened together by bands
of reeffs", which go round and round in
side the hut from floor to roof. The out
side is thatched, and the thatch comes
clear to the ground. The roof is upheld
by many poles, which are so arranged
that they divide the interior into rooms.
One of the huts which I entered had
two apartments about three feet wide
and six feet long, which were used for
sleeping. In the center of the hut was
fire, upon which, in an earthen pot.
some food was steaming away. There
was neither stove nor chimney . and the
smoke filled the hut. It had already
turned the walls and- roof a deep brown
color, so that the whole .looked gloomy.
I understand that the fire is kept up day
and night, as the weather is often damp.
and also as new fires are hard to kindle.
In many parts of this country matches
are comparatively unknown, and fire is
gotten by twisting one stick in a hole
made in a block of wood until the friction
brings a light.
The floor of this hut was well pounded
down and the wall inside was plastered
with clay to the height of my waist.
There was no grass or hay on the floor.
as is common in Uganda, and the en
trance, which was very low,, was by no
means so beautifully made.
In the Homes of the. Chiefs.
In my trip over the country nearby I
stopped at a large native town made up
of the homes of the chiefs and their re
tainers. These are occupied by native
rulers, who live some distance away, but
who are required by the Germans to
spend a part of each year at Bukoba.
They might be called the court residences
of these men, for they come here to have
conferences with the Germans as to how
to govern their subjects, to pay their
taxes and to see that the right amount
of government work is supplied by their
The town is made uo of inclosures sur
rounded by high fences of upright poles
tightly sewed together by vines. Inside
each fence is the establishment of an Af
rican nabob and his numerous wives. In
going through the village I wound my
way about inciosure after inciosure,
through one walled alley into another
and in and out among buildings of poles
and mud until my sense of direction was
lost, and I seemed to be in a Rosamond's
bower. One of the chiefs was putting up
a new establishment, and I had a chance
to see how the buildings were construct
ed. They are made of poles, mud and
elephant grass, and one man may have a
large number, including separate apart
ments for each of his wives. There were
not many women about, but such as 1
saw were clad in grass strings reaching
from their waists to their feet and a few
had on grass capes of similar strings. The
men were mostly young. They were
straight, well developed and fine looking,
but nearly every one of them was more
or less drunk. A feast was evidently go
ing on. and each man had a long cala
bash filled with banana beer which he
was sucking at through two straws made
for the purpose.
In front of one of the huts a dozen
musicians were dancing to music made
upon, several great drums by men drum
mers. I was anxious to buy one of these
When Matilda Tried to Evade Hiram
San Francisco Argonaut.
.VTILDA," said Elizabeth, glanc
ing over her spectacles from the
Daily Cronicle, "Hiram's come."
Matilda, bending over her hemstitch
ing, turned in her chair to get a better
light. Her hair, plentiful and prema
turely white, hid from her sister the
delicate pink that spread across her
"How do you know?"
"It's In the paper. He arrived yester
day. He's at the Fairmont."
"At the Fairmont," repeated Matilda,
with a slight exclamatory comment in
Of course." replied Elizabeth. "Hi
ram's gone up in the world, just as you
and I ve rone down.
The elder sister turned her paper vig
orously, dismissing the subject with the
sharp rattle of the sheet. The younger
sat quiet, hemstitching at her handker
chief, until the color had retired from
her cheeks. Then she rose, went to the
window by which Elizabeth was sitting,
and opened it. The high fog of morning
still hung in the air. but the sun had
broken through the trailing veil of night,
and shone with a thin warmth on the
window-sill. Outside, it shone into the
garden, where a tangle of old-fashioned
flowers was bordered by narrow paths
and bounded by a hedge of wild mallow.
The warm, moist .air was full of fra
grance, and the smell of lavender came
strongly in the window. - -
Elizabeth," said Matilda, gently, "I
don't think it matters which way we've
come," as long as we've Come here."
The older woman looked up, and the
asperity of her expression softened. She
was about to speak, but was anticipated
by the ringing of the telephone.
"I'll answer," said Matilda.
Elizabeth watched her go.
"Come here!" she muttered to herself.
"She loves that yard as if the things in
It was alive. But it's all the same to
me, up or down, so long as. she's con
She pushed up her spectacles and
drummed on the window-sill with her
kpotted fingers. If the rooms stayed
rented, she reckoned, and all the lodgers
paid. Matilda should have a new jacket
for the Winter.
"Elizabeth!" cried Matilda, standing in
the doorway, her eyes as startled as her
voice- "It was he!"
"Hiram." ' ' .
The sisters stared at one another,
each adjusting herself to her particular
surprise. Elizabeth recovered first.
"What did he say?"
"He wanted1 to know if this was where
the Misses Patten lived."
"I told him no."
' "I said he had the wrong- number and
Elizabeth's tone was that of a last
trumpet, struggling between denuncia
tion and amazement. Matilda advanced
a step courageously into the room.
"You know, Elizabeth, we could ' not
receive" him here."
The elder sister scrutinzed the younger
"I declare," she concluded, "you're
ashamed of our poverty!"
"I am not."
"What then? You think it indelicate
at our age without a chaperone "
Matilda felt the blood prick in her fore
head. "Well, why then?"
"Our age, for one thing, if you must
discuss the matter."
"I haven't seen Hiram Bingham since
I was a girl. I've no intention of seeing
him now that I am old."
"Shucks, Matilda, how you talk!"
"What's that amount to? You go
around dressed in black and gray, and
persist In wearing bonnets. You wouldn't
look half so old if you'd wear the hat
I got for you for Easter.
"What, now? An Easter hat in Septem
"You never have worn it."
"Of course not. At my time of life,
wearing it at all would be like trying to
have an Easter in the Autumn.
Elizabeth gazed at her sister as if she
could find no words to express her dis
approbation. And she was saved the
need. The telephone rang again.
The two stared at one another.
"You go." said Matilda.
"Indeed I won't. You baked this pie,
and you' can eat it."
f X V C
reached above my waist as it stood upon
the ground. It was as big around at the
"Do you suppose it's Hiram?"
Of course it's Hiram. Did you ever
know him to give up anything he
wanted? He'll keep at you till he finds
you, now that he's set out to do it."
"I do know of his giving up some
thing he wanted," Matilda retorted, "and
I guess he'll have to give up finding me,
if I set out he shall."
She flirted out of the room. Elizabeth
sat quiet, gazing at nothing. Then she
drew a long breath.
"I wonder which of them two was the
stubborner," she murmured.
When Matilda came back, she askedf
'Is he coming to see us?"
"Didn't he ask to?"
"He wanted to."
"Didn't you invite him?"
"I told him the Misses Patten were
from home. I said they had gone to
Coronado for a month. That's as good
as the Fairmont, I guess. And he can't
go to Coronado, because he's billed for
"Matilda Patten! If you don't beat
the Dutch! But who did he suppose
you was. a-telling him all this?"
"I said I was the housemaid."
"Ours, of course."
."But we ain't got a housemaid!"
"That's Just why I-can be the house
maid, isn't it?"
Elizabeth shook her head, pulled
down her spectacles, and rose. There
were times when she could make noth-
ing of Matilda. This was one of those
times. She laid aside the Chronicle and
went out without a word. Matilda
knew she had gone to the kitchen to
calm her feelings by getting lunch.
At table, Elizabeth announced that
She was going to wash the Angora.
Matilda knew from this that her sis
ter's feelings were still in need of
calming. She- replied that she herself
was going out.
W hen her part of the noontime ritual
which came as a consequence of the
meal was over, she changed her dress
and put on her bonnet. (The black
strings contrasted with her white hair
and gave an effect of restraint which
she noted approvingly in the glass.
As she went out tthe' door and
through the garden, her heart was
beating high, and she rejoiced that
Elizabeth was too busy with the reluc
tant Angora to ask where she was go
ing. At the theater she found that she
would have to sit either in the very
front or very rear. She chose the
front. For she knew she was changed
beyond recognition, and she wanted to
see him well.
When he came on she gave such a
Btart, letting her programme rattle to
the floor, that her neghbors glanced
at her concernedly. He was not the
black-haired, red-cheeked youth she
had known, the youth she had remem
bered. His cheeks were 'colorless, his
hair was gray. .ie had grown old. ,
He, too, had grown old.
She picked up her programme and
brought herself under control as he
began to sing. The first note pierced
into her soul. The others followed
fleetly in. tilling her with such a rap
ture of delight and woe as bore her
quite outside herself.
The round of clapping testified the
audience's perception of the baritone's
rotundity of tone. But It was not that
that gripped her. It was the identity of
quality with that she used to hear years
ago, in New Hampshire, when he took
her to prayer-meeting and sang off the
same hymnbook by her side. She was
thankful that the enthusiasm of her
neighbors permitted her to wipe unseen
the moisture from beneath her eyes.
As song succeeded song, one emotion
succeeded another in her breast. But at
the end. as she came away through the
storm of applause, her feeling was one
of yearning pity. For he was old. Yes,
he. too. was in September.
When she reached home. Elizabeth was
In the sitting-room, guarding the un
happy hut very white Angora. She. was
glad of the respite, for she realized, all
at once, how hard it would be to make
Klizabeth understand. She prolonged the
changes in her toilet, and hastened to the
front door, on the ring or its Den, tnann-
ful also for this postponement.
She opened the door for Hiram Bing
After a minute, during which he stood
holding his hat, he asked: "Matilda,
aren't you going to ask me in?
"Of course. Hiram. Come right in
Elizabeth is in the sitting-room."
As he sat on the small chair, talking
with her sister, Matilda observed how
top as a flour barrel, narrowing to the
size of a nail keg at the bottom. It had
been hollowed out of a log. and the top
and bottom were covered with goat skin,
which was laced on with cords of gut. .
It had evidently been used many years,
and its sound was most resonant. I of
fered the chief 10,000 shells for it, but he
politely refused, saying that himself and
his ancestors had had that drum a long
time, and that he did not know, whether
ho could get another as good. He told
me that if he owned another he would
give me this! But that, alas, he had only
Bucoba, German East Africa.
large," almost burly, he appeared. He
was older, yes, but there was something
about him indubitably boyish. Perhaps
it was the same old, finely-shaped head
with its firm lift from the shoulders.
Suddenly he turned to her.
"Do you know, I came very near not
finding you? I telephoned twice this
Matilda said nothing, feeling Eliza
"The first time didn't' matter, because,
the party told me I had the wrong num
ber. But the second time "
In the pause, eloquent with exclama .
tton. Matilda managed to emit a faint in
I got a housemaid who said the
Misses Patten were at Coronado!".
'Yes, wasn't it? I must have got an
other wrong number and the housemaid
misunderstood the name. Of course, I
supposed you had, and gave you up."
"Then how" interrupted Elizabeth.
But Matilda cut her short.
"I'm so glad you found out you had the
wrong number. How have you really
been all these years?"
"Well. And you?"
"And neither of you has married."
"You haven't either, have you?"
In the- pause that followed. Elizabeth
looked from one to the other through
her spectacles. Then she spoke, firm and
'Hiram, I want to know how you
found out we were here."
'I saw your address in the telephone
'No: I mean how you found out we
were not at Coronado."
"I saw Matilda at the theater."
"Matilda!" she trumpeted, "at the
"Oh." snored Elizabeth, "that's noth
ing uncommon." '
Matilda rose and put up the shades.
"It's getting dark." she said. "Hiram,,
you will stay to dinner?"
"I shall be very happy."
His answer was mechanical. He was
looking at Elizabeth.
"Miss Patten, may I ask what you
meant by its not being uncommon for
Matilda to be at the theater?"
"She goes there regular. Leastwise to
the opera. She goes to every operatic
Hiram Bingham turned and looked at
"Matilda." he said at last, "get your
things, and we'll take a little walk."
"Yes," encouraged Elizabeth, "while I
set out the dinner."
Matilda hesitated, standing and look
ing from one to the other.
"Hiram." she said, "how did you know
I was at the theater?"
"I saw you."
"And you knew me!"
"Don't it look like it? Did you suppose
I've ever forgot how you used to look
when you came to school across the
meadow in your bonnet?"
Matilda flushed and glanced at her sis
ter. "That," she said, going from the room,
"was a sunbonnet."
Hiram gazed after her intd the dark
ness of the hall. Then he turned ab
ruptly. "Miss Patten, do you go with Matilda
"Me! Land no!"
"Why does she go?" -
"I don't know as she's ever give a rea
sonable excuse. It's a terrible extrava
gance." "How long has she been doing it?"
"Ever since we came to California, 15
years or more."
"And to think she wouldn't marry me,
20 years ago, because I was set on going
on the stage!"
"Do you think it was just California?"
"I don't know; California ain't changed,
"And to think." he went on. "that I
wouldn't give up the stage to marry her!
Age changes folks some, too, I guess."
.'Age! Now, Hiram, don't you pretend,
as Matilda does, to being old. You
"Hiram," said Matilda in the hall, "I'm
When ho had Joined her and the front
door had closed behind them. Elizabeth
adjusted her spectacles and looked out
into the garden.
"Land of Goshen!" she exclaimed.'
"Spite of its being September, and the
fog a-rolling in. if Matilda ain't gone and
put on her Easter hat!"