Although the hills confine the Zambesi within a narrow channel for a number of miles, there are no rapids beyond those near the entrance. The river is smooth and apparently very deep. Only one single human being was seen in the gorge, the country being too rough for culture. Some rocks in the water, near the outlet of Kariba, at a distance look like a fort; and such large masses dislocated, bent, and even twisted to a remarkable degree, at once attest some tremendous upheaving and convulsive action of nature, which probably caused Kebrabasa, Kariba, and the Victoria Falls to assume their present forms; it took place after the formation of the coal, that mineral having then been tilted up. We have probably nothing equal to it in the present quiet operations of nature.
On emerging we pitched our camp by a small stream, the Pendele, a few miles below the gorge. The Palabi mountain stands on the western side of the lower end of the Kariba strait; the range to which it belongs crosses the river, and runs to the south-east. Chikumbula, a hospitable old headman, under Nchomokela, the paramount chief of a large district, whom we did not see, brought us next morning a great basket of meal, and four fowls, with some beer, and a cake of salt, "to make it taste good." Chikumbula said that the elephants plagued them, by eating up the cotton-plants; but his people seem to be well off.
A few days before we came, they caught three buffaloes in pitfalls in one night, and, unable to eat them all, left one to rot. During the night the wind changed and blew from the dead buffalo to our sleeping-place; and a hungry lion, not at all dainty in his food, stirred up the putrid mass, and growled and gloated over his feast, to the disturbance of our slumbers. Game of all kinds is in most extraordinary abundance, especially from this point to below the Kafue, and so it is on Moselekatso's side, where there are no inhabitants. The drought drives all the game to the river to drink. An hour's walk on the right bank, morning or evening, reveals a country swarming with wild animals: vast herds of pallahs, many waterbucks, koodoos, buffaloes, wild pigs, elands, zebras, and monkeys appear; francolins, guinea-fowls, and myriads of turtledoves attract the eye in the covers, with the fresh spoor of elephants and rhinoceroses, which had been at the river during the night. Every few miles we came upon a school of hippopotami, asleep on some shallow sandbank; their bodies, nearly all out of the water, appeared like masses of black rock in the river. When these animals are hunted much, they become proportionably wary, but here no hunter ever troubles them, and they repose in security, always however taking the precaution of sleeping just above the deep channel, into which they can plunge when alarmed. When a shot is fired into a sleeping herd, all start up on their feet, and stare with peculiar stolid looks of hippopotamic surprise, and wait for another shot before dashing into deep water. A few miles below Chikumbula's we saw a white hippopotamus in a herd. Our men had never seen one like it before. It was of a pinkish white, exactly like the colour of the Albino. It seemed to be the father of a number of others, for there were many marked with large light patches. The so-called WHITE elephant is just such a pinkish Albino as this hippopotamus. A few miles above Kariba we observed that, in two small hamlets, many of the inhabitants had a similar affection of the skin. The same influence appeared to have affected man and beast. A dark coloured hippopotamus stood alone, as if expelled from the herd, and bit the water, shaking his head from side to side in a most frantic manner. When the female has twins, she is said to kill one of them.
We touched at the beautiful tree-covered island of Kalabi, opposite where Tuba-mokoro lectured the lion in our way up. The ancestors of the people who now inhabit this island possessed cattle. The tsetse has taken possession of the country since "the beeves were lifted." No one knows where these insects breed; at a certain season all disappear, and as suddenly come back, no one knows whence. The natives are such close observers of nature, that their ignorance in this case surprised us. A solitary hippopotamus had selected the little bay in which we landed, and where the women drew water, for his dwelling-place. Pretty little lizards, with light blue and red tails, run among the rocks, catching flies and other insects. These harmless--though to new-comers repulsive--creatures sometimes perform good service to man, by eating great numbers of the destructive white ants.
At noon on the 24th October, we found Sequasha in a village below the Kafue, with the main body of his people. He said that 210 elephants had been killed during his trip; many of his men being excellent hunters. The numbers of animals we saw renders this possible. He reported that, after reaching the Kafue, he went northwards into the country of the Zulus, whose ancestors formerly migrated from the south and set up a sort of Republican form of government. Sequasha is the greatest Portuguese traveller we ever became acquainted with, and he boasts that he is able to speak a dozen different dialects; yet, unfortunately, he can give but a very meagre account of the countries and people he has seen, and his statements are not very much to be relied on. But considering the influence among which he has been reared, and the want of the means of education at Tette, it is a wonder that he possesses the good traits that he sometimes exhibits. Among his wares were several cheap American clocks; a useless investment rather, for a part of Africa where no one cares for the artificial measurement of time. These clocks got him into trouble among the Banyai: he set them all agoing in the presence of a chief, who became frightened at the strange sounds they made, and looked upon them as so many witchcraft agencies at work to bring all manner of evils upon himself and his people. Sequasha, it was decided, had been guilty of a milando, or crime, and he had to pay a heavy fine of cloth and beads for his exhibition. He alluded to our having heard that he had killed Mpangwe, and he denied having actually done so; but in his absence his name had got mixed up in the affair, in consequence of his slaves, while drinking beer one night with Namakusuru, the man who succeeded Mpangwe, saying that they would kill the chief for him. His partner had not thought of this when we saw him on the way up, for he tried to excuse the murder, by saying that now they had put the right man into the chieftainship.
After three hours' sail, on the morning of the 29th, the river was narrowed again by the mountains of Mburuma, called Karivua, into one channel, and another rapid dimly appeared. It was formed by two currents guided by rocks to the centre. In going down it, the men sent by Sekeletu behaved very nobly. The canoes entered without previous survey, and the huge jobbling waves of mid-current began at once to fill them. With great presence of mind, and without a moment's hesitation, two men lightened each by jumping overboard; they then ordered a Botoka man to do the same, as "the white men must be saved." "I cannot swim," said the Batoka. "Jump out, then, and hold on to the canoe;" which he instantly did. Swimming alongside, they guided the swamping canoes down the swift current to the foot of the rapid, and then ran them ashore to bale them out. A boat could have passed down safely, but our canoes were not a foot above the water at the gunwales.
Thanks to the bravery of these poor fellows, nothing was lost, although everything was well soaked. This rapid is nearly opposite the west end of the Mburuma mountains or Karivua. Another soon begins below it. They are said to be all smoothed over when the river rises. The canoes had to be unloaded at this the worst rapid, and the goods carried about a hundred yards. By taking the time in which a piece of stick floated past 100 feet, we found the current to be running six knots, by far the greatest velocity noted in the river. As the men were bringing the last canoe down close to the shore, the stern swung round into the current, and all except one man let go, rather than be dragged off. He clung to the bow, and was swept out into the middle of the stream. Having held on when he ought to have let go, he next put his life in jeopardy by letting go when he ought to have held on; and was in a few seconds swallowed up by a fearful whirlpool. His comrades launched out a canoe below, and caught him as he rose the third time to the surface, and saved him, though much exhausted and very cold.
The scenery of this pass reminded us of Kebrabasa, although it is much inferior. A band of the same black shining glaze runs along the rocks about two feet from the water's edge. There was not a blade of grass on some of the hills, it being the end of the usual dry season succeeding a previous severe drought; yet the hill-sides were dotted over with beautiful green trees. A few antelopes were seen on the rugged slopes, where some people too appeared lying down, taking a cup of beer. The Karivua narrows are about thirty miles in length. They end at the mountain Roganora. Two rocks, twelve or fifteen feet above the water at the time we were there, may in flood be covered and dangerous. Our chief danger was the wind, a very slight ripple being sufficient to swamp canoes.