Thomas Baines journey to present-day Mashonaland in 1869/70: His first journey described from Tati until the 15 February 1870

Introduction
J.P.R. Wallis in his introduction to Volume 1 of the Northern Goldfield Diaries of Thomas Baines writes that they show Baines as: “one of those sober Englishmen that East Anglia breeds, quiet, competent, self-reliant and friendly, who enjoy doing things for the doing’s sake and are content to let the rest go by.”

 
Sketch map of Baines travels in Southern Africa from Thomas Baines of King’s Lynn

The lectures in England by Professor Tennant on the recent diamond discoveries in the Orange river gravels and R.J. Mann on Karl Mauch’s gold discoveries at Tati and in Mashonaland aroused great interest in England, Australia and America and caused some adventurous spirits to sail for the Cape and Durban. A number of companies were formed to finance exploration expeditions, one of them being the South African Gold Fields Exploration Company, a subsidiary of the Natal Land and Colonization Company with whom they shared London offices, company secretary and many directors.   

In 1868 Baines was offered the leadership of the company’s exploration expedition. First though he had to win the approval of his mother, a capable and sensible woman, who had to be persuaded that this was not just another quixotic scheme where he would sacrifice himself and his prospects in yet another wild-goose chase!

Initially the plan was for Baines, once he reached Africa, to give command of the party to Sir John Swinburne, the current chairman of the London and Limpopo Company, who was already in Africa and had won a concession from Mzilikazi the amaNdebele king to work the Tati goldfields, an area also claimed by Matjen, the current Bamangwato chief. Swinburne however lost credibility with the amaNdebele when he repeatedly lied to them and tried to organise a mining monopoly for himself with the aid of the Rev Thomas Morgan Thomas at Inyati. 

The South African Gold Fields Exploration Company prospecting expedition 
Baines companions were C.J. Nelson, Swedish mineralogist and mining engineer, with good practical experience who in time understood the company were committed to making the greatest gain for the least expense and left its employ. Baines met him later working on the Tati claims.

Robert Jewell was appointed as secretary and photographer. William Watson, Baines’ cousin was recruited in Natal and spoke Zulu and was a blacksmith by trade. Both were somewhat immature and criticised his efforts to map their travels and his interest in natural history, but Baines bore their criticism with good humour and their relationships were relaxed. 

Baines’ diaries
Baines was conscientious in keeping up his diaries. He made three or four carbon copies of his entries and sometimes one or more of the copies becomes blurred or missing where the carbon has slipped. Wallis states that that no existing collection of his diaries is complete and their ultimate destinations is not known. Probably the South African Gold Fields Exploration Company received a set; another was sent to his mother through the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) He may have sent a further set to the RGS, but Wallis states the RGS set is incomplete and the diary text used here was compiled by Wallis from several sources.      

Scan of Baines diary from the Brenthurst Library sent by Ian H. Mackay

Baines may have thought that at some time his diaries might serve as a source for a book because they are far more than just company reports and Oliver, the London company secretary, did have to make extracts from all the information Baines sent.

His diary recording took place at night after busy days and when the camp was asleep by candle or fire light and clearly he took a quiet pleasure in setting down the day’s events on paper. During the day he carried around a cheap notebook and jotted down events as they happened in pencil. The words are always written in an easy and attractive style sometimes accompanied by little sketches of an insect or plant.  


 
Scan of Baines diary from the Brenthurst Library sent by Ian H. Mackay – this entry written at Hartley Hill
 
His sketches and paintings are built up from subjects that interested him as they trekked with an initial quick rough and ready thumb-nail sketch. Although self-taught, Wallis writes: “yet he had that zest for and delight in art that knew nothing of refinements and sophistries. He had an instinct for composition and an honest delight in the beauties of colour, form and motion… A traveller, following ways at best imperfectly charted, when charted at all, he had to cultivate the swift retentive vision and memory that took in unconsciously and recorded infallibly the landmarks, the nature and lie of the country, with the position of the sun and stars. And, dependent upon his gun for most of his own and his followers sustenance, he had to know the ways of the wild game, their likely lairs, their physical characteristics and their habits. Nature, and not studio models and lay figures were what he copied.” Wallis concludes: “If in the kingdom of art there be not a place for Baines at his not infrequent best then so much the worse for the kingdom of art.”

Wallis concludes his writing has “the same masculine honesty, sincerity and enjoyment. Alec, in his interests, shrewd and with a quick sense of humour., and he kept an open mind. As he confessed. I never like either to contradict or disbelieve any tale, however marvellous or incredible it may sound at first, but simply withhold my belief till I hear more.  

He describes Baines as a sunny optimist who delighted in hard work whether it was fixing the wagon wheel spokes, to making copper tacks for his canvas frames to building a timber house at Hartley Hills and his cheery spirit found genuine satisfaction in meeting the challenge to invent, adapt or improvise. He was always ready to amuse from a Christmas puppet show at Tati, singing rollicking rhymes or playing the accordion.  

The summarised diary below picks up as the wagons trek towards the Tati goldfields.    

June 1869

04-Jun  At noon they crossed the Seruli river and outspanned and meet some of the Glasgow and Limpopo Company employees coming from Tati, going back for supplies. They had four deaths from fever, others hope to recover

5-June  Cross the Gokwe river. Native hunters brought some quagga meat.[i]  Henry Hartley and his son-in-law Moloney went out hunting, but saw just a giraffe, wildebeest and small antelope, the game has been driven away

07-Jun  Reached Macloutsie river and crossed the bed of dry sand, 100 yards wide, water by digging. Hartley shot a Pallah.[ii]

08-Jun  Saw quagga and two black rhinoceros, but the ground was stony and difficult for the horses. Crossed the Shashe river, a broad sand bed. About 20 lions make music at a distance all night.

Sketch from Rothschild bequest: Thomas Baines - Full striped Quagga mare, presumably an undescribed variety, shot 20 or so miles south of the Zambesi

09-Jun  Hartley shows Nelson, the South African Goldfields Exploration Company’s geologist, a large white quartz reef from which he took samples. Cross the Tati river, outspan on eastern bank, saw mining camps of the Pretoria, Glasgow and others. Gave out letters, dined with the Limpopo Company’s storekeeper Daniel Kisch, Sir John Swinburne being in Matabeleland. Talked about old friends in Damaraland and slept over.

10-Jun  Inspected the steam engine and quartz crushing machine of the London and Limpopo Company just outside their camp. It was not working and needed repairing. Arranged with Captain Echalez and Kisch to swap drivers as ours, John Mackenzie, is Zulu and the amaNdebele won’t allow him in. Engaged John Fontein at £2 10s a month.

Latitude 21°26´26" South.

11-June    Yoked the oxen at 4am and left Sir John Swinburne’s camp. Very tired from writing late, slept in Hartley’s bed until woken by the wagon jolting. Hartley suggests the terms we should offer to Mzilikazi[iii] for working the goldfields. A tribute to be paid in cattle, the European acting as agent should be recognised as the Company’s agent, Europeans guilty of offences should be tried by Europeans in the presence of a chief, native offenders should be tried by a chief in the presence of a European.

After breakfast they go hunting to the north-east and Hartley points out several quartz reefs to Nelson who takes more samples. Followed the spoor of giraffe and then a black rhinoceros, but only spotted warthog, one of which Watson hit.

Reach the Ramakoban (present-day Ramokgwebana) river and dig for water for the horses in the broad sandy bed. Riding on they come across the biggest quartz reef seen so far and the others ride on whilst Nelson and Baines examine it. Kameela, Baines’ gun bearer, rides on with his rifle so when a herd of tsessebe come within 100 yards he has no gun; Nelson shoots a bull. After cutting it up, Baines, Nelson and Watson divide the meat and ride to houses belonging to John Lee[iv]  but occupied temporarily by Thomas McMaster and George Wood. Their wagons are not far off, so they stay for dinner.

12-Jun  Nelson and Watson, remain with the wagons, Baines and Robert Jewell, the South African Goldfields Exploration Company’s secretary and photographer ride with Hartley and Moloney across the Ramakoban, 80 to 100 yards wide and then to the east across the Impakwe (present day Umpakwe) a tributary running below Lee’s house and follow fresh rhino spoor but give up when they see two giraffe. Baines in the rear follows the sound of shots and suddenly sights a giraffe in front of him and fires, but the cap snapped. He reloads and fires into its broad shoulder and stops to reload when Jewell dismounts near him and fires. The giraffe falls and rolls heavily onto its side and lies badly for measurement. The hide is cut for shoe soles and whip thongs, the natives servants cut up the carcass, to eat what they could and bring the rest to the wagons that were outspanned just north of the Impakwe drift. Jan Leeuw, driver, was busy under Nelson’s direction, making a new screw-brake[v]  for the wagon, having lost his own at the drift.

13-Jun  A cold night, pillows and bedding covered in white frost, the horses were kept under a tent between the wagons, their warmth helping to keep up the temperature.

For breakfast giraffe tongue and broiled marrow bones – both voted delicious and for dinner haunch of tsessebe, also excellent. In the evening Jewell had a lesson in star observation.

14-Jun  Spanned at daylight and found holes dug in the Impakwe by elephant and rhino. After hours of spooring came within 60 yards of two rhino, Hartley, Moloney and Baines all fired at and wounded a cow, but she got away. After climbing a hill and sighting an eland they gave chase, but they lost sight of it and Moloney and Wood then killed a roan antelope.

Thomas Baines: the black rhinoceros or hook-lipped rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) (1871)

16-Jun  They ride north-east to John Lee’s house, the amaNdebele agent, whose help they need to gain access to Matabeleland. Lee shows them a letter written by the Rev Thomas[vi]  on behalf of the amaNdebele forbidding any Boers to hunt in their territory under penalty of confiscation of their property.

Baines told Lee the South African Goldfields Exploration Company wanted to explore for gold and if they found gold would pay the new amaNdebele chief 1,000 head of cattle or any payment agreed upon for the privilege of mining. The company did not want to own land, merely to carry out mining and would pay for any native labour. Baines shows Lee the letter from R.W. Keate, the Lieutenant-Governor of Natal (1867 – 1872) that he has been given and read as follows:

                                                 ON HER MAJESTY’S SERVICE

To all the native chiefs whom it may concern from the Secretary of Native Affairs, Natal.

The Lieutenant Governor of Natal to all Chiefs of native tribes and their people residing northward and eastward of the Colony of Natal.

Greetings.

It has been noised abroad, that gold, the metal of which the highest money is made, exists in territories northward and eastward of this Colony, which are inhabited by native chiefs and tribes and the consequence of this report is that many people from over the great waters have arrived in Natal on their way to those territories to search for gold and from them we learn that many more are coming.

If gold exists, where it is said to exist, no power can stop the stream of those who seek for it, however much it may be wished to do so and it is the way of a wise men to guide what he cannot prevent.

Knowledge is the first step towards the application of every effective remedy and before any action can be taken either to regulate the conduct of the seekers for gold or to protect the interests of those in whose territories it is said to be, positive information of its existence and locality must be forthcoming.

Mr Baines, the bearer of this letter, is on his way with two companions to seek for this information. He is an old traveller in this country and knows many of its chiefs and people and the Lieutenant Governor of Natal hopes to be assisted by the information Mr Baines may collect and send him, to form a correct opinion of the truth or falsehood of the rumours which are now disturbing the minds of so many people in so many countries.

The Lieutenant Governor commends Mr Baines and his party to the friendly protection and care of all native chiefs and people with whom they may come in contact and trusts that the knowledge they will be able to acquire will hereafter prove to be of great benefit not only to the white people but to the natives themselves and to all concerned.

By command.

Signed. Theophilus Shepstone

Secretary for Native Affairs, Natal

Given under my hand and the seal of my office, 12th day of March 1869

******************************************************************************************************

16-June Baines asked Lee if he should make a translation of the letter, but Lee said he would interpret it verbally as it was read by Baines. Lee did not have a horse fit enough for the journey, but Baines said he could lend him one and offer hospitality.

They crossed the spruit near Lee’s house that seemed to have more water than the Mangwe river and overtook the wagons in the pass winding through the granite hills and covered with thorn and woods with bright red aloes and chandelier-like euphorbias. Baines would have liked to have sketched but there was no time.

They crossed another spruit at a drift and rode towards Manyame’s kraal,[vii] an amaNdebele outpost with signs of cultivation becoming more frequent. In places maize fields stretched from the road to the base of nearby kopjes. Lee said the lower levels were too wet for maize; crops were planted on the higher ground so that excess water would run off.

They found the wagons of McMaster and Wood outspanned in a picturesque valley with several camp fires already burning. Soon Manyame, the chief of the outpost appeared, a little old man in a great brown coat and nightcap. He knew Hartley and the hunters but said to Baines he should have stopped at a distance and asked permission to come on. Manyame asked what Baines’ business was and was told he was on a friendly visit from his own country and had a message from his chief to Manyame’s chief that he was in a hurry to pass on. Wood translated, telling Baines that a message from one chief to another chief would not be told to Manyame.

Latitude 20°37´10" South.

17-Jun  About 9am John Lee arrived and told Manyame how important Baines business was until the old man stared at him with wide open eyes and his right-hand man held his hands over his mouth in shock. Runners were called and told ‘Indaba Inkulu’ the news is great. All the izinduna must assemble to hear the message so that none can say: “when this message was delivered I was not there to hear it.” Lee who speaks the language perfectly urged the messengers to start at once.

Whilst Jewell unloaded the wagon and stored items in their tent, Nelson repaired the wagon’s disselboom and then the tent-frame of his wagon.

Hartley is used to starting immediately after the messengers have left, but Lee says it is Baines’ first visit and he should await the answer. Baines himself enjoys the chatter and laughter of the women and girls bartering maize meal for beads, the men begged for tobacco and discussed the qualities of an ox or horse.

Lee returned to his home at Mangwe asking Manyame to call him when the messengers returned.

18-Jun  Baines starts an oil painting of the chase of the ‘camelopards’ or giraffes describing their hunt of 12 June with Hartley sitting beside him watching the progress of the painting and advising corrections of the shape, colour and actions.

In the evening McMaster played his concertina and Baines rigged up his puppet theatre and gave a performance.

19-Jun  On this Sunday his hunter friends left for Inyati and Baines stayed behind with his fellow travellers at Manyame’s kraal. He began a new painting on the rhino hunt that Manyame and his councillors admired and wondered at the pictures calling them ‘tootla’ and ‘chicora’ (giraffe and rhino) The old fellow stays in Baines tent begging tobacco or a glass of grog. Jewell and Watson carried out tasks around the camp.

20-Jun  In the morning Baines mended clothes, the rest of the day worked on his map with a service in the evening.

21-Jun  Took off the wheels of the wagon to paint them and in-between continued the rhino canvas.

22-Jun  John Fontein returned from an unsuccessful hunt and was given the task of painting his wagon wheels which he did well. Baines did a repair on the wheel spokes on Nelson’s wagon.

23-Jun  Jewell and Watson shot five guinea fowl that they curried for dinner. Baines instructed Fontein in skinning a rock rabbit. The men were promised one-third of the value of any ostrich feathers or ivory, the company to keep the balance. The muskets supplied by the company are poor-quality without steel pan-covers. Baines finished the spokes and made a trough for the grind-stone. Jewell took photos of the wagons and scenery.

24-Jun  Baines worked on the grind-stone trough and then painted a picture in oils of hill scenery. Nelson cut poles and tried to lift a sick ox that they coaxed to join the herd.

25-Jun  Usual camp routine amongst the wagons. Baines writes to John Lee but anticipates his reply that having sent messengers they should wait for the messengers to return. Jewell and Baines sleep by the fire with ‘little Jack’ and ‘Madam Pickle’ as watchdogs, the drivers sleep under the wagons or in a scherm on the other side, the natives Kameela and Palhallah (Giraffe and Roodebok) sleep near the oxen

26-Jun  Jewell rode with the letter to Lee’s who told him the amaNdebele are expecting the return of Kuruman, a son of Mzilikazi,  who has been living in Natal under Theophilus Shepstone’s care. Lee has been summoned to a meeting and hopes to return in 10 days with permission for the expedition to continue. He says if they go on they will be plagued by visitors and thieves. At the present spot there are few visitors and the grass for cattle is good  

27-Jun  Lee spends the day with the expedition. Nelson would like to go on but Lee states nothing of importance will be discussed by the regent Ncumbata[viii] (or Umnombata) and his councillors until the young chief has been installed. Lee states the succession is as well-regulated among the amaNdebele as in European nations. The wife who is mother of the future chief is usually of noble birth. The young child and his mother are usually sent away, partly to prevent his half-brothers from murdering him, but also to prevent friendships or quarrels in growing up that cause him to show partiality when he becomes ruler. In this instance, young Kuruman was sent to Natal and will return with the Queen Mother. Baines thinks Lee shows clear judgement and determination and decides to paint a picture of him as a daring elephant-hunter.

28-Jun  Watson and Jewell generally hunt for guinea-fowl. Nelson took Jan Leeuw out hunting, they wounded two kudu, but they got away. Their two goats strayed away and dinner had to be a single rock rabbit. (rock hyrax or dassie) Native hunters came and offered rhino horn.

July 1869

02-Jul    Early in the morning the amaNdebele messengers arrived having slept at Manyame’s kraal. They were invited to sit between the wagons and then introduced by Manyame. They said they had been sent by Ncumbata the regent to hear the message Baines had brought and his business. Baines questions them saying shouldn’t John Lee be present and Manyame professes ignorance or to have forgotten. The messengers say they do not require Lee and that Watson is a good enough interpreter.

Baines says he bears a message from his chief to their chief that he cannot deliver personally and that it had been arranged this should be done in the presence of John Lee, the authorised amaNdebele agent. However he had no objection to telling them their business was peaceful and friendly, they had been sent by their company in England to visit the amaNdebele to obtain permission from their chief to enter the country to seek gold, they did not want land and would pay fairly for any services or goods supplied.

The messengers said they must return immediately, but Baines asked if Ncumbata had not asked for him, as he was also a messenger and he could not read the letter he had brought except to those to whom it was addressed.

They asked if Baines had seen Matjen[ix]  and paid tribute. He replied he had seen Matjen but paid no tribute as his business was with the amaNdebele and had passed through his territory as a friend. Baines stalled the messengers by showing them his oil paintings as Jewell had gone with a spare horse to fetch John Lee. They recognised ‘Oud Baas’ Henry Hartley but asked why one of the figures in the giraffe hunt was unarmed and Baines explained this was Slinger, Hartley’s after-rider and gun-bearer who had handed the rifle to Hartley.

In the other picture they understood perfectly that the elephant was falling and burying his tusks and crushing a tree as he came down and that Lee, who had shot the elephant, was sitting on his horse and watching.

They did not know David Livingstone, but they knew John Moffat from Kuruman, friend of Mzilikazi, whom they called ‘Moshete or Umshete.’

After a long conversation about the number of cattle in England and the kind of houses in which people lived they left for Manyame’s kraal and sent back some native beer (Tshwala)

In the afternoon Jewell returned with Lee who asked the messengers what their orders were. They said they were told to receive the message and take it to the regent. Lee said this must be a new regulation as in the time of Mzilikazi the visitor was always sent for. A standoff ensued after Watson reminded them they had said in the morning that they did not need Lee at all. But after Lee refused to tell them anything they relented and said they had in fact been sent to take Baines to the regent but thought it no harm to extract the message if they could. Lee reprimanded them and they said they were trying to establish if the message was important enough for their regent.

With their goats missing, dinner that night was oat-cakes dropped in fat and two boxes of sardines.

03-Jul    Fontein shot nine doves which were eaten with the remaining sardines. The messengers joined in, but don’t ever eat fish. After breakfast Lee, Nelson and Baines took the messengers under some trees and explained that they were carrying a letter from the Natal Governor asking for assistance in getting the truth about the reports of gold. They were told many persons were coming to Africa and if gold existed, it would be better for the amaNdebele if the government made laws to regulate their conduct. They were shown the royal arms on the letter and it was pointed out that the arms painted on the wagons were a sign that they were official representatives.

They said the reports of gold had caused the amaNdebele much anxiety and asked who had caused them and were told Karl Mauch. It was agreed a special messenger would be sent to Ncumbata with this information and give him time to call the councillors together. The expedition would leave on 6 July and travel in easy stages with the messengers to spare the oxen. Dinner was rock rabbits, partridge and guinea-fowl that evening.

This day Thomas Baines finished the picture for John Lee seen above taken from a 1912 leaflet raising funds for his retirement and promoting John Lee as “a South African Hero, a Herculean Nimrod and the father of big game hunters.”

04-Jul    John Vrei, one of Lee’s servants, arrived back with the horse they lent him and a goat carcase. They decide to shoot the old ox as he cannot rise and Manyame cannot be relied upon to keep him. Manyame arrived with the messengers and when he asked for coffee, Baines asks him if the milk will come by the time the coffee is ready. He asked where the milk would come from, Baines told him the oxen would not provide, but the old man failed to take the hint!

They watched with great interest the unpacking of Baines clothes, books and paper and examined everything with great interest. The object that most intrigued them were the stereoscopic pictures taken by Chapman in their journey from Walvis Bay to the Victoria Falls.[x] 

05-Jul    Shot the old ox at sunrise, some of the servants skinned and cut him up while the others cleared the camp and loaded the wagons. The messengers came once more and asked what money was. Jewell had a florin and a sixpence and Baines showed them, but the use of coin was obviously completely alien to them. Jewell wanted to photograph Manyame, but Baines thought that the new chief, or Ncumbata first should be photographed first.

Shortly before sunset John Vries reported that Jewell’s horse was sick. They covered it in blankets but it kept lying down and then rising again, the tongue became clenched between the teeth, the jaw and face swelled, its body shivered and in about three hours the horse was dead.

06-Jul    Packing the wagons was finished. Lee arrived and Baines gave him the painting of the elephant hunt. Manyame was given a quarter of old Zeeland, the ox that had been shot. The wagons moved about 7am with spans of just ten oxen each through undulating country and granite kopjes. Sometimes the granite was exposed, bare and grey, at other times covered by tall aloes with spear-like spikes of bright red flowers, or dark candelabrum-like euphorbias tipped with small yellowish blossoms, while the flat areas are covered with proteas or suikerbosch from 10 – 15 feet high with beautiful white blossoms. In the valleys, little gullies, some with streamlets running down, but the majority dry and fringed with various mimosas, haakdoorn, mopane and a tree the hunters called Zambesi coffee (Bauhinia macrantha)

Baines walked ahead with one of the inDuna’s named Umnyakangya (Inyakangya) until they reached the ‘top of the hill’ or Matopola or Naghobe's after the former headman of a kraal, about 11¾ miles (19 km) from Manyame’s. Inyakangya asked if there were locusts in England and when Baines said no, Inyakangya said they were very nice to eat.

Latitude 19°42´49" South.

07-Jul    Moved at sunrise into more open country with protea (Abaghaba) and mopane (Ghualaba) and halted on a hill overlooking country called Umtondzin. Villagers came selling maize and beer and in the afternoon Nelson rode in saying he had killed three wildebeest and Watson had shot another and he left Kameela with them. As it was dark they could not be found.

08-Jul    Kameela came in with as much meat as he could carry having slept in a tree for fear of the lions he could hear around all night that ate the carcases. Travelled about 5 miles (8 km) and halted at Zeelashin Zwenge or Leopard Bush. In the afternoon Baines shot a small oribi and outspanned the wagons near the Kumalo (Royal) river where kraals built by Hartley on previous visits had just been destroyed by a grass fire.

In the afternoon two wagons came from the north with Captain Levert[xi]  of the London and Limpopo Company with letters for Baines from Hartley and Sir John Swinburne. Both letters had been written at Inyati. Hartley urging Baines to come on with all speed, Swinburne’s saying Baines should remain the expedition leader of his wagons. Levert reported that Wood had married a young lady who accompanied him at Inyati and this was the first wedding to have taken place in the country.

9-July    We wrote letters to go down with Captain Levert. Watson shot a wildebeest. Lee had a long conversation with Umkaitcho, the amaNdebele general, who did not have good news of their prospects for prospecting for gold. The reports about Kuruman were false and the amaNdebele were still waiting for him and unable to communicate. It appeared that Swinburne had offered to take Umkaitcho and some councillors down to Natal at the London and Limpopo Company’s expense to bring Kuruman back. However Ncumbata and his councillors would not allow Swinburne to dig for gold.

A meeting was held and it was decided it would be best for Baines, Lee and Nelson to go ahead in a lightly-loaded wagon and meet Ncumbata to request permission to join Hartley and visit Mashonaland to view the reported goldfields. There seemed little chance of getting permission to work as the amaNdebele were reluctant to grant any concessions until their new chief was installed. Jewell and Watson would remain behind.

10-Jul    Captain Levert continued south and promised to pick up Baines’ crate of paintings at Manyame’s. The remainder of the day was spent packing Baines’ wagon with necessities. As it was John Lee’s birthday, the party shared a flask of gin and had plum cake made by Jewell to mark the occasion.

11-Jul    Completed packing the wagon. Jewell and Watson should get on together and keep busy by blacksmithing and shooting. Watson has already done favours for two of Mzilikazi’s sons by fixing a percussion rifle with a broken nipple and fitting a new screw into another.

They have a long discussion about a rain-gauge. Jewell says it is useless. Watson wants to make a coffee-kettle with the bottom and use the funnel as a nozzle for his bellows. Lee thinks it could be converted into a brandy-still!

The wagon left at 11:30am with the colours flying, Baines stayed behind for a last-minute conversation with Jewell and Watson before walking after the wagons with little Jack. Pickle and her pups stayed behind.

That night the oxen were kept tied to their yokes with the wagon’s trek chain tied to a tree and the brake screwed up so if they were frightened by lion they could not run away with the wagon.

12-July Called the servants up at 4am, there was ice in the coffee basins from the cold. After a few hours travel halted at the river called Umzhlambo Boloi, ‘The Bath of the Royalty’ flowing like the Khumalo river to the north east as tributaries of the Gwaai river.

Lee shot half-a-dozen red-necked pheasants, Baines worked on his map. Surrounded by mimosa trees around, although the river was dry at the drift,  there were pools for the oxen to drink. Baines would not buy the native beer (outchualla) or fowls but did barter a sheep for two handfuls of beads. Baines describes the girls costume as “almost too scanty for description” – a leather string around the hips with three inches of fringe in front completing their attire.

Baines woke at midnight, the oxen were uneasy and when he called to the men there was a low growl on the other side of the kraal, so deep there was no mistaking that it was a lion. The amaNdebele tossed up bundles of burning grass and fired a few shots and little Jack and Pointer barked loudly. Finally all was quiet and the camp went back to sleep.

Latitude 19°58´52" South

13-Jul    Lion spoor all around the kraal and the cattle scattered. Nelson went out to round them up and saw the lion “a fine fellow with a full dark-brown mane” but did not have a gun and both he and the lion walked away.

The horses had also scattered and after breakfast a search was made with no result. The wagon moved on to Umgnoma, Olyfhout or wild olive-tree river and they made another search without result. Finally, whilst Baines was filling in map details, some natives drove the three horses into the camp and were rewarded with a waistbelt of large dark blue beads.

That evening they found a stout kraal and extended it with fresh thorns around the back of the wagon with a fire at the entrance to ensure the safety of their oxen and horses.

14-Jul    Baines walked with Bulana, one of the inDuna’s to Umtenjie village whose river flows towards the Bembesi and was introduced to the old chief who was wearing a Boer’s broad-brimmed felt hat and little else and busy softening a goatskin with three young girls. They brought in some native beer, fermented from sorghum, which on a hot day is very tempting and later ate roasted pumpkin.

In the afternoon they travelled 7-8 miles to a small spruit with water for the oxen near the kraal of chief Umbeko, one of Mzilikazi’s old councillors, about 10 miles from Inyati mission.

John Lee with Manyame’s two inDuna’s present told the chief Umbeko our business, the old chief said he liked the straight-forward presentation and saw no reason why Ncumbata should not be able to decide himself if we could explore the country, although no land concession would be granted until the young chief was installed.

Umbeko thought they wanted to travel north east to Inyati, but Lee said the oxen were tired and requested permission for a straighter course east through the veldt that was granted. Umbeko then hinted that as he was about to go, he was ready to receive a present and was given a double blanket of dark grey colour.

Latitude 19°46´45" South

15-Jul    Crossed the Bembesi river, a sandy bed about 30 yards wide, then visited Bulana’s kraal who introduced, with no little pride, his wives and one child, a sharp little fellow of 7-8 years who made himself at home with Baines, examined his watch chain and listened to it ticking and the movement of the seconds hand. Men and women also examined Baines closely. Baines is introduced by Bulana as Missy Bainesi. In Kaffraria he was Baluwena, ‘one who paints,’ in Damaraland Katji Kooramma ‘white man of the thigh’ the natives noticing that one of his thighs had been fractured when run over by a cart in King’s Lynn, to the Boers he was Bok Baard ‘goat beard’ and at Lake Ngami Ra Moguala ‘father of painting.’

Nelson is Injaabie or ‘goatee-beard,’ Jewell is Boontjies or ‘beans,’ John Lee is Xosa or ’Xhosa’ because his language skills are so good.

Baines visited a number of kraals with Bulana and was hard pressed to find presents for all of his hosts.

They outspanned the wagon about 3½ miles from the Bembesi drift, dark clouds were gathering, Lee and Baines slept in the tent, Nelson in the wagon, and he describes it as “a piercing cold night.” 

Thomas Baines: examining a nest of ostrich eggs east of the Bembesi river 

16-Jul    A dram of spirit for everyone first thing and they trek about 3 miles. Lee proposed outspanning as the oxen were cold, but Baines wished to cross the next drift. However they stuck fast trying to climb out the drift. The poor oxen, chilled to the bone, could not pull and the wagon had to be unloaded and after breakfast, taken about midday, they managed to get the wagon up the bank. The oxen were turned loose to graze and the wagon reloaded.

17-Jul    During the night the horses were uneasy and little Jack barked loudly, but Baines heard nothing. In the morning they found the leather neck ropes of the yoke-skeys had been eaten by a hyena. They strike the road from the mission to Manpanjeni and outspan at a dry spruit. This is the river In-Quenquis; the mission station is 5 or 6 miles lower down.

The inDuna’s complained of the cold in the hope they would be given blankets, but Baines wanted to give them as presents at the end of the journey and told them the cool breeze was healthy. Baines intended to work on his map, but because of the lion threat he gave the inDuna’s powder for their muskets.

They went out hunting eland, Baines walking to spare his horse and waited at a small river called the Songo for the wagon. At a nearby kraal he is introduced by their guides to one of the late Mzilikazi’s wives, Lupale and the sister of Umbeko. She seemed pleased when Baines said he was English, not Boer. She was given a handful of the best blue beads and a smaller quantity for her daughter.

18-Jul    Trekked about 9½ miles. Visited the royal doctor's kraal, where the medical attendant to the royal family resides. Goats were brought for barter, but the natives wanted Turkey-red cotton. One man wanted a musket for an ox, but Baines writes that they only have 6 muskets and all their firearms have been stamped in Natal and must be taken back. He remarks that guns can easily be bought outside Natal and used for barter.

19-Jul    About 5½ miles further they cross a small spruit and outspan at Umbangin at a kraal usually used by Rev Thomas, the missionary. Baines hoped to get a good wash, a luxury he had not had in a week, but the inDuna’s said Ncumbata was ready to see them at his village of Manpanjeni or Umbanji.

Ncumbata was a very old man, almost naked and friendly greetings were exchanged. Baines says he recalled the words of Captain William Cornwallis Harris in The Wild Sports of Southern Africa: Being the Narrative of an Expedition from the Cape of Good Hope, Through the Territories of the Chief Moselekatze, to the Tropic of Capricorn when he met Ncumbata in 1836.

Greetings over, Ncumbata called for his hat and supported by an inDuna on his left and a stick on his right led the way to the kotla or meeting place and everyone sat.

John Lee introduced the travellers and said Hartley had suggested he interpret. The chief said speak and Baines gave his introduction saying they wished to find out if the reports of gold were true or not and that the Natal Governor wished to make friendly arrangements with the amaNdebele for the conduct of those seeking gold and if there was none, to warn those about a useless journey.

Baines said they would travel honestly amongst the people, pay for whatever was supplied, hoped Ncumbata would supply guides and if they found gold would make terms with him for the privilege of working it.

Lee translated and then said Ncumbata was pleased with the letter from the Natal Governor; that we had his permission to travel and explore and he would furnish a guide. He wanted the party to return and tell him, truly and fully, what they had found.

Lee took the Governor’s letter and translated it and Ncumbata said he was glad to have the opinion he had formed of the English people confirmed by the message. Lee then said they should present Ncumbata with a gun and Nelson went to fetch one from the wagon.

The musket was examined and tested and a request made for powder and a bullet mould that Baines promised to send and they took their leave.

Back at the wagon they celebrated with a drink, set up the flagstaff with the red Ensign and enjoyed a dinner of goat’s meat, bread and tea.

20-Jul    Lee agrees to sell a span of his oxen for £96 and then went to see Ncumbata. On his return confirmed all that was agreed the previous day and that the expedition could outspan at this place for a few days whilst fresh oxen were fetched with fresh stores from the other wagon at Kumalo. The remainder of the day spent writing letters. Their guides, the inDuna’s, refused the blankets they were offered, saying they had no woolly nap and therefore must be old. After much debate, they accepted a shirt each, but the white blankets they desired were the ones Baines had been sleeping under and were not new. Baines put on his puppet show for their amusement.

21-Jul    The inDuna’s accepted Baines used white blankets rather than new grey ones. They finalise letters, maps and papers as Lee leaves the next morning. Rev Sykes at Inyati sends a message saying he has letters and two trek oxen left by Moloney.

22-Jul    Lee left with two horses after telling the inDuna’s to treat us well. Baines administered some medicines, cleared up papers and stitched the side tents of the wagons. The inDuna’s accept a hat each, needles and thread, their three servants accepted a grey blanket each and are ready to leave next day.

Baines writes that his companions “become jealous of every hour I spend in such apparently useless employments [taking latitudes, map-making] and sometimes think, and at others say or even write, that if I would do less painting I might do more work.”

Latitude 19°42´22" South

23-Jul    Nelson organised a scherm around the wagon, Baines stitched the other side tent, so that it now resembles a three-roomed marquee. Their inDuna guides and servants left, “tolerably well satisfied.” Baines is pleased to see them off as Nelson caught one near their bags and an argument might have ensued.

Nelson, better at bargaining than Baines, has bartered calico cloth for four sheep and fowls and maize-meal; enough to keep them in food.

24-Jul    A cold day with messengers from Inyati (Hartley and Lee call it Inyateen = Buffalo) ostrich feathers, rhino horns and an elephant tusk were brought for barter, but Baines said he might buy when he came back.

It took him all day to bore out a bullet mould for rifle cartridges, those brought from London were a size too large. That night Baines moved his table into the tent on the east out of the cold wind. The hyenas were troublesome, but little Jack and Pointer kept them at bay.

25-Jul    A native brought his mother afflicted with ophthalmia and Baines applied zinc sulphate as an eye-wash and told her to keep the flies away. Then a bathe and wash in the river. Returned and read the Sunday service. Prayers in English, the first lesson in Dutch and the second lesson in Sechuana. More eye washes in the afternoon.

26-Jul    Nelson went out prospecting and Baines traded strips of calico for some maize meal. More patients treated with eye wash. Old men who complained of chest pains were given cayenne pepper as Baines says he has insufficient medicine for everyone.

27-Jul    Piet, a newly hired Makalaka was sent to Inyati, 50 miles away for the two oxen. The letter in a cleft stick will ensure safe conduct for him on the road.

Letters from Rev Sykes and Rev Thomas arrived, both saying they were sorry Baines had not visited, but Rev Thomas’ letter implied he ought to have visited as a matter of duty. Baines wrote saying Hartley had introduced Lee as the recognised agent of the amaNdebele and he had reported to Manyame and that he had received permission from Ncumbata to explore for gold.

28-Jul    The men who brought the two oxen returned to Inyati with a present of yellow beads. More patients turn up and John Fontein said they ought to bring a present, but they always plead poverty.

In the afternoon a wagon arrived from Inyati with Lawson  and Grey Palmer[xii] saying the men sent to fetch Kuruman had arrived and they would here to take Ncumbata to Mhlahlandhlela, the chief amaNdebele town, for a meeting with all the inDuna’s. They said also that Lee should have taken Baines to Inyati and that he would never get permission to proceed. When Baines told them he already had permission to travel and explore, they were astonished. Many patients now flocked to the wagon for treatment from Baines.

29-Jul    Palmer and Lawson brought their wagon back saying Ncumbata refused to go and wanted all the inDuna’s to come to him. Then letters arrived from Rev Thomas[xiii] and Sykes, that from Rev Thomas saying Ncumbata was too old to give permission to travel east and if Baines went he was likely to be stopped and turned back. It went on that Sir John Swinburne had been granted permission, but no other gold-seekers would be allowed to proceed.[xiv]  Baines clearly did not accept this situation.

30-Jul    Baines took Nelson’s horse and rode towards Inyati mission following native footpaths. However he was still not there by 9pm so he tied the horse to a tree and lay down beside. However the horse broke loose during the night and Baines sought shelter in a nearby kraal and was given a kaross to sleep under. It was agreed the young boys would look for the horse in the morning and Baines would walk onto Inyati.

31-Jul    Next morning at sunrise the little door of the hut was opened and he moved north east and within a mile reached the camp of Edward Coward and Stone.[xv]  They were equipped to repair wagons or muskets and carry out landscape and portrait photography. Baines joined them for breakfast and then as Sykes came in, they walked together to the Inyati mission. Rev Thomas was laying out bricks with native labourers to be dried in the sun.

Rev Thomas’ wife and son were sick with fever, he had himself just recovered…Baines is clearly sympathetic to the hardships endured by these missionaries. They were called ‘the servants of the king’ and not allowed to shoot game, fish in rivers, buy maize from the people and there was no privacy for them. Chief Umbeko had told Rev Thomas that John Lee had threatened him with violence, something Baines knew was untrue. Fortunately Umbeko was at Inyati and retracted his story.

The truth was that Swinburne in return for sending down wagons and servants to fetch Kuruman had extracted a promise that no other explorer or gold-seeker would be allowed into the country and Rev Thomas believed the amaNdebele would uphold their side of the bargain.

Baines did not recognise that Swinburne had the right to close ‘the king’s highway’ against him. He told Rev Thomas that he had received permission from Ncumbata and it was valid until the old chief recalled it. That he had a letter from the Natal Governor…any chief who wanted to see it could come to his wagon.

August 1869

1-Aug    Rev Sykes preached on the Sunday to a very small, but mixed congregation. The missionary families, their servant girls who formed the choir, native wagon-drivers, amaNdebele warriors and their near-naked families.

2-Aug    The kraal headman brought Baines horse and saddle although the blankets had been stolen, but all involved were rewarded with beads.

Baines explained to Rev Thomas that the Natal Governor’s letter was, in fact, a commission to explore and give him feedback regarding the amaNdebele country to guide him in future negotiations with the chiefs. Rev Thomas showed Baines Swinburne’s letter which was merely an introduction from the Governor in his private, but not official capacity.

3-Aug    Baines returned by native footpaths and stopped at a native kraal where he met Jan Leeuw, their wagon driver and Jewell who were bringing up the trek oxen sold by Lee.

4-Aug    Rode back to the wagon on his old horse, Dutchman, and visited Ncumbata at Manpanjeni and told him of his visit to Inyati where he had settled matters, the new oxen had arrived and asked after his guide. A young warrior, Inyassi, was introduced. Baines said they would leave in two days and he would call to say farewell.

5-Aug    Cleared up gear, mending and grinding tools, medicine to those with ailments, cayenne pepper to those with diseases of the imagination. Ncumbata sent a message he would go tomorrow in Palmer’s wagon to Mhlahlandhlela.

Latitude 19°42´10" South

06-Aug  Nelson, Jewell and Baines visit Ncumbata at Manpanjeni to say farewell. They told the old chief not to come out into the cold and gave him a warm overcoat for his journey to Mhlahlandhlela. Nelson and Baines with guide Inyassi and native recruits Jobie and Piet said farewell to Jewell, Palmer and Lawson and with the red ensign flying trekked north-east crossing the Inyami spruit and Shangani rivers and outspanned in a thorn-grove.

Baines gave a careful description of a tick-bird at work on the oxen in the morning.

07-Aug  Inyassi, the guide, brought a man who said he could take them directly to Hartley’s road. They crossed a small spruit called the Tyabensi that flows into the Shangani and having travelled 7 miles cross another spruit with a little water.

On the afternoon trek they travelled 2 miles and crossed another rivulet with water standing in long and narrow pools and after crossing it at the drift camped for the night building a scherm to keep out any lions. In the night the oxen were alarmed by hyena and broke out of the scherm and had to be rounded up in the dark and the scherm thickened.

08-Aug  John Fontein shot a quagga, the meat was slightly strong. Jan Vrei had worn the same trousers from Maritzburg, but there were no spare, so Baines cut out a piece of duck and by evening they were completed.

9 Aug    About 8am they crossed the western slopes of Thaba Madwaala, the countryside well wooded with Mopane, Marula and Bauhinia, larger trees being Mobola plum. After trekking 8¾ miles over several spruits their guide seemed unsure of his path and so Baines stopped the wagon under a spreading tree as the tyre on a front wheel was working loose. Nelson wedged the tyre and they soon struck Hartley’s road from Inyati stretching to the north-east. Ten minutes later they saw a two-wheeled cart heading for Inyati with Sam Edwards, an old friend. He was going to Inyati for supplies having left Swinburne at the Umfuli (present-day Mupfure) river seven days before. Edwards gave Baines the distances in hours travel between streams before they parted.

Baines overtook the wagon at Thaba Baanga Hills, a series of granite kopjes so picturesque he would have liked to sketch them. After crossing a river he used the time before the wagon arrived in cutting a good scherm.

 Latitude 19°20´25" South

 

Baines sketch in his journal of the rivers to be crossed into Mashonaland

10 Aug  They reached the Umvungu  river, about 75 yards wide, with water near the drift.[xvi] Shot and wounded a quagga whilst waiting for the wagon, but it got away. Then after several miles of ‘park-like country’ they cross the Gwailo  (present-day Gweru) river, 120 yards wide with steep banks and Baines here stripped for a bathe in a pool. By the time the wagon has arrived he has strengthened the scherm left by earlier travellers.

Inyassi, the guide, tells Baines that Ncumbata is displeased with Swinburne for not stopping to introduce himself. The hyenas are particularly noisy that night, disturbing the oxen and Baines’ sleep.

Latitude 19°11´15" South

NHM: Thomas Baines sketch of black-footed hyena (probably either spotted or brown hyena) 

11 Aug ½ mile from their overnight camp they come across a deserted kraal, formerly called Notjeen, whose huts are ½ mile in diameter and afterwards reached the Inquainy (present-day Ingwenya - Crocodile) a small river. Here they found a wagon sent by Coward for meat and several wagons belonging to Han Haai, a Griqua hunter.[xvii]  They had been to the Sebakwe river and shot six rhinoceros and traded for additional horns. Haai advised Baines to outspan here and let the oxen drink for the following trek and asked after Robert Moffat and David Livingstone.

Baines bartered with Haai and his companion Gert; trading salt and sugar and a striped cotton shirt for hippo and rhino fat and a strip of skin to make whips.

Left about 1:30pm for the afternoon trek walking through mopane and kondjie trees looking for a place with a circle of trees that could be cut breast-high and felled against each other.

The wagons travelled 7 miles to the night’s outspan.

12-Aug  After 3½ miles they reached the Inkokwaasi rivulet and halted long enough to let the oxen drink. They trekked out of a valley and Inyassi pointed out the Quaequae (present-day Kwekwe) hills to the east although the road kept to the south-east. Sam Edwards told Baines it was 22 miles from the Gweru river to the Quaequae, but Baines believed it must be more as they had already done 14½ miles. However he knew they were on Swinburne’s route as he found a ‘Chocolat Menier’ label on the track!

Eventually they turned the southern edge of the hills traveling up the eastern side of the range through a wooded pass and reached the Inchamba rivulet and outspanned at an old kraal. Nelson and the drivers had seen four lions, so large they initially thought they were rhinos!

Latitude 19°06´31" South

13-Aug  The oxen were rested in the morning and once started reached the Quaequae [Kwekwe] river, a fine broad running stream in 3½ miles. The bank was so steep though it took all afternoon for Nelson and the driver to get the wagon up it. Baines made a scherm under an overcast sky and they have been gradually ascending in altitude.

The vegetation is changing, the air more humid with less of a breeze and the streams are larger. Distance from Gweru river is 33 miles, further than Edwards’ estimate of 22 miles.

14-Aug  Trekked at 6:30am travelling through a grassy valley with kondjie and Matabeela trees. Baines assisted the wagon through some small gullies and then walked to the ridge of a nearby hill, part of a range of granite kopjes stretching north-south covered with flowering scarlet aloes and euphorbias, a sure sign that the altitude is higher. The mopane, mimosa and graceful Matabeela trees warrant a sketch, but there is no time and always a risk of the pictures being damaged with everything packed tight in one wagon.

After a long and hot chase Baines managed to wound and then kill a wildebeest that he and Inyassi cut up together. A full description and size of the wildebeest are given in his journal, showing his excellent eye for detail. Jan Vrei brought two horses that were loaded up with the meat.

In the afternoon the wagon travelled almost north over country with a park-like appearance. Baines saw for the first time, six magnificent sable antelope. He writes that at 300 yards they appeared so large and massive that the poor little specimen in the Zoological Gardens would be quite dwarfed.

Wellcome Collection: Male sable antelope (Hippotragus niger) coloured lithograph by Major Sir William Cornwallis Harris

They descended into a long wide valley in which flowed the Impembesi or little Bembesi, about 30 yards wide with three feet of water flowing over the drift. Baines took a bath. Whilst Nelson and the driver worked the wagon up the bank, Baines prepared a scherm in a nearby clump of mopane.

Latitude 18°58´23" South

15 Aug  Heavy clouds at midday and rain at night.

16-Aug  Trekked at 7:30am and after two hours spotted a small herd of buffalo. At Baines first shot the cap snapped, a second shot at 180 yards wounded one. He then ran across the Sebaque river out of their sight and fired at 50 or 60 yards and saw a buffalo stagger. His shots disturbed a herd of about two hundred buffalo that ran off chased by the dogs. One remained and Baines could see the dark body in a mopane thicket. He fired at its shoulder whereupon it charged directly at him and when he swerved into a clump of mopanes carried on and was not spotted again. Returning for fresh cartridges, John Fontein told him there was a buffalo lying dead in the river. Again his journal contains a very detailed description.

Baines was just about to sketch the dead animal when Nelson came up and asked if he wanted to sketch a sleeping lion on the sands of the river. Taking his rifle they reached a clump of trees overlooking the Sebaque river and saw the lioness stretched out on the sand. Nelson and Baines fired together, the lioness bounded towards them looking upwards before turning into some reed cover. They now had to frighten the lion out of its cover. Jan Vrei fired his musket and Nelson fired some revolver shots without any result. The little dog Jack approached the lioness within 15 yards, but no closer. Baines climbed a tree but saw nothing. Nelson crossed the river lower down and approached from the opposite bank. Baines took off his shoes and waded into the river with little Jack but the lioness could still not be seen.

They went back to the wagon before returning and trying to spot the lioness and firing bullets into the reeds. They decided the lioness must be dead and Baines and Matchean crept through the narrow passages of the reeds until they heard an ominous growl and the dogs ran out. On the riverbank they urged the dogs back into the reeds, but once more they backed out. Nelson saw the lioness retreat from the reedbeds and run up the bank, but the hunt was abandoned after a search during the course of which they startled a rhino.

That night Baines made some sketches of the day’s events; Inyassi was very amused by one of the buffalo charging with himself running in one direction and Baines in another!

Latitude 18°54´11" South

Thomas Baines: Dead Buffalo, King Vulture and Common Vultures

18-Aug  After passing through a succession of grassy valleys they reached a group of granite hills and climbed to the summit of one from which they see the Umnyati (present-day Munyati) river. Here Baines notes how the fig trees grow into the fissures of the granite rocks. The wagons moved south, then west and finally north-west, although the general direction of the road is east. About midday he spots a Baobab (Adansonia digitata) with its fruit having a pleasant, but acid pulp, when dry, white and powdery, tasting of cream of tartar. Their servant Siloquaine found a bee’s nest and lit a fire for the smoke to drive the bees away and broke open the hive with the chisel-end of his assegai. The comb was new though and there was very little honey.

The Umnyati had water flowing in the middle of a broad stream bed between steep banks and they had to unload the wagon to get it up the far bank. After breakfast Baines repaired the fore-yoke that had split.

19-Aug  About 7½ miles brought them to the Umgesi (present-day Ngezi) river flowing over rocks and pebbles. Nelson says the gold prospects of the country are improving and he has found quartz, agate and jasper. Baines writes: “…I feel certain that if a profitable goldfield exists in this country he will not fail to find it.”

After travelling 1½ miles they meet the wagons of James Jennings and his brothers Jeremiah and George with Henry McGillivray (Tabler – McGillewie) who were leaving Mashonaland. The parties outspanned together so Baines could get some information and fill in spaces on his map, particularly down to their south east and the tributaries of the Sabi river. James Jennings was also very knowledgeable on areas of tsetse-fly.

Lee’s span of oxen are working very well with the original, older span.

20-Aug  Nelson goes ahead with the wagon, whilst Baines writes up his journal which he asks James Jennings to take with him before wishing his party a speedy return. He then walks about 12½ miles a little east of north to the drift across the Umgesana or little Umgesi and two small rivulets.

21-Aug  In 2½ miles they reach the prettiest stream since entering Matabeleland. Pure mountain water overhung with trees, some bare and others with full foliage. This is the Umsweswe river and it has steep banks at the drift. Nelson tries washing for gold here, but without any result.

Inyassi took Baines on a deviation from the track to the south-east and they soon heard an elephant tearing down branches. But it heard the wagon approaching and took off, Inyassi saying the tusks were large. The track then doubled back to the north east and reached the main track where they inspanned in a grove of matabeela trees.

22-Aug  Young Matchean has been cleaning Baines rifle very carefully. This morning he was telling it to bring: “plenty flesh, plenty flesh.”

In the afternoon Kameela the herdsman asked for a spade as one of the oxen was stuck in the mud at the stream. Two men went down to help followed by Baines himself, the ox being one of the old span named Thaba Bosega or ‘mountain of darkness.’ He was out of the mud, but unable to rise and John Fontein and Jan Vrei volunteered to sleep at the place, about a mile from the wagon.

23-Aug  Baines drove the other cattle down to the ox to encourage it to rise, but it could not. No bones were broken, but after the long journey the ox was probably exhausted. In the afternoon they tried to lift the ox with sheers, but to no avail.

24-Aug  The ox could still not rise and was shot by Nelson. The skin, legs and shoulders were brought to the wagon, the rest left for the jackals and hyenas. Baines went ahead of the wagon with Siloquaine riding north and then east with Thaba Enzimbe (Insimbe – Iron Mine Hill) on his right.

A valley was before him and a beautiful stream which his servants said was nameless. They rode north along the right bank until at 3:30pm they came to the scherms of a much used camping ground.

A few miles to the north a herd of tsessebe crossed ahead in single file, but although Baines fired a shot, they moved on. For dinner they ate a cormorant Baines had shot earlier.

25-Aug  At sunrise they followed the wagon tracks on a northern course, passing an old kraal at 9am and coming across the body of a recently slain rhinoceros at 10am being eaten by vultures and then at 11am Siloquaine gestured ahead and said “inyola” to indicate a group of wagons belonging to Henry Hartley, Thomas McMaster and George Wood. The men were out hunting, but Baines was welcomed by the ladies and he says he had the pleasure of wishing the joy to the new bride, the first white lady to be married in Matabeleland. “Water, soap and a clean towel were brought to me and in due time a breakfast of coffee, sardines and rhinoceros steaks was prepared and placed before the waggon box  which, moved into a small tent, did duty for a table.”

Six or seven elephants had been shot, the hunters were expected on Saturday in three days’ time and Hartley intended going on the following Monday. Baines went off for a bathe in the pot-holes of the stream. Then eight to ten men and boys arrived carrying the tusks from 40 – 90 lbs and as much elephant meat as they could carry, the ‘Oude Baas’ having apparently recovered from his accident and many of the elephants had fallen to his gun.

NHM: Hartley’s Matabele bring tusks to camp August 1869

26-Aug  That evening Baines slept in the luxury of a comfortable bed in a waggon Siloquaine was sent back with a letter to Nelson and in the afternoon Baines drew a sketch of the camp and made a copy for the ladies.

27-Aug  Baines saddles up after breakfast with the intention of visiting Sir John Swinburne and on the way encounters a fine herd of sable antelope at 400 yards and although he thought his two shots missed, found on investigation, a dead calf that he skinned. Later, as he rode north, another buck was wounded and then a klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) a small species of antelope was shot. Baines climbed a small kopje but could see no sign of Swinburne and as his load was getting heavy decided to go back to the wagons where he saw Nelson and the wagon had arrived and the oxen were feeding. His men are set to skinning the antelope and dinner was venison cutlets and boiled Mashona rice.

28-Aug  Nelson goes down to the Zintundusi (present-day Chirundazi) stream to ‘geologise.’ The Hartley hunters returned with fair success, Hartley had broken the tumbler of his gun-lock, but Baines, ever practical, managed to get it repaired.

He is introduced to Inyoka (snake) the amaNdebele guide who accompanies Hartley and explains, with George Wood interpreting, the permission he has been given by Ncumbata. Hartley is astonished at Baines’ news as Swinburne had boasted he had complete authority over Baines and his party and a monopoly on exploring the country.

29-Aug  Nelson returned to the camp with our guide Inyassi, who told Inyoka exactly what Ncumbata had agreed. i.e. that Baines had permission to go and explore and then to report back to Ncumbata. Furthermore that Baines was the only one given permission to explore and that Swinburne did not have permission to explore and did not have an amaNdebele guide. It appears that Swinburne had asked for permission to explore for gold, but Ncumbata had refused to give it before the new amaNdebele chief was installed.

Hartley said Karl Mauch had never been further than the Imbeela (rock rabbit) river.

Latitude 17°58´11" South

30-Aug  The wagons trek north another 7½ miles in what Baines calls ‘wilderness untrodden’ except by the native and elephant hunter. Baines sat with Hartley on the fore-chest so Hartley could point out the hills as they passed. Hartley reports he has seen an old Portuguese house made of bricks and mortar and this can be seen on Hartley’s map. In the afternoon one of Hartley’s dogs is killed, another two wounded in bringing to bay and killing a sable antelope. This antelope and the gemsbok are formidable foes and will kill lion.

In the afternoon the wagons reached the Inzinghazi river that joins the Ganyana below the drift. The drift had steep banks but the hunters and servants pushed each wagon up the bank in turn to assist the oxen.

Baines planned to get his map up to date, but the only remaining big axe was broken and fixing it took precedence.

31-Aug  Baines rode with Hartley and the hunters north-east and looked down onto the valley of the Ganyana river, the Panjamey of Livingstone where it joins the Zambesi. The Ganyana, a sizeable river, flows north-west, sometimes broad and placid, others constrained by granite kopjes.[xviii]  

They looked for hippopotamus, but without result. A couple of waterbuck were chased, but a dog spoiled the shot of young Willie Hartley who was the first up and it escaped, soon after the wagons were reached.

Latitude 17°44´41" South

September 1869

1-Sep    Nelson obtained the approximate distance and direction of the various quartz reefs on the Umfuli (present-day Mupfure that Baines calls the Umvuli) river two days to our rear and set off. Baines prepared to accompany Amakoonda, a Mashona chief to buy maize at his village, 1½ days journey to the north west.

An important discussion took place. The Mashona claimed the half of any dead animal on the ground belonged to the chief and said even the Portuguese agree to this. But the amaNdebele denied this saying English hunters did not even give Mzilikazi half their ivory and the Mashona agreed to this saying “the matter is settled.”

Willie Hartley fished in the Ganyana, but without success.

In the afternoon Baines saddled up with Inyassi and Siloquaine and accompanied Amakoonda and 10 – 15 Mashona towards the north west, one or two playing their mbiras (African piano) He says they have a recognised scale and regular tunes. Dinner was buffalo beef, boiled maize and sadza.

2-Sep    Still travelling to the north west, Baines misses eating the mobola plum (makoona) a long journey in which he notes the sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata) the Mashona imbaye. The streams they pass flow south west to the Umfuli. At last they reach a Mashona village, almost invisible in the hills, although the shrill chorus of women revealed its existence. Here he describes the interior of a Mashona hut, apparently resembling those of the Bechuanas. Dinner was sadza accompanied by a little meat and gravy in a small earthen pot.

NHM: Kraal of Tabooka, a petty Mashona chief

3-Sep    The country ahead has tsetse-fly and therefore sets the limit for travel by horse. Over native beer the chief tells Baines that old gold workings are to the east and they are reached after 15 minutes’ walk. There are a number of holes from 8-10 feet deep; Inyassi lowers himself into one and picks out quartz specimens with the air of a man who understands his business and Baines keeps them for Nelson.

All around is evidence of land being cleared and maize being planted. Some headmen sitting under a tree offered dry locusts, but Baines found them dry, husky and tasteless, although he says he enjoys a dish of nice fat white ants. His guides tell the local people to bring maize, rice or ground nuts to the wagons for sale.

Travelling back to the south east they climb a rugged path and enter the village of chief Kanyama timba. Elders are quietly playing a board game with rows of holes and bits of coloured and white quartz (Tsoro Yematatu) The chief has clearly never before seen a horse. Baines walks around the village during which he notices a primitive loom at which cotton is being woven and several young maidens pounding corn in mortars. His horse, Dutchman, is led into the enclosure.

4-Sep    They leave at sunrise and are joined by Mashona with ivory for sale and pass more extensive, though shallower old quartz diggings. Inyassi spotted meat or nyama, in the form of six Sable antelope and from his horse Baines wounded one and gave chase before it tired and was killed with assegai’s. For a moment Baines considered a sketch, but “the buck was dismembered almost as quickly as a man could carve a goose.”

5-Sep    Next day another Sable antelope is despatched. The granite kopjes on the way back to the wagons were being passed when a rhino and calf were spotted. The cow was badly wounded with the first shot, which was followed by two more shots. The calf, though chased, escaped.

He rode on to the camp which was reached in 45 minutes to find Moloney had shot a hippo a mile or two below camp.

6-Sep    The natives came in with little meat as it had all been eaten the night before.

7-Sep    Began the oil painting of the giraffe hunt, which Mr Hartley wants “at any price” i.e. sufficient meat for Nelson whilst Baines fetches additional stores from Inyati.

8-Sep    Continued working on Hartley’s painting, the amaNdebele recognising the animals and persons and especially ‘Oude Baas’ Hartley in the ‘kameel’ hunt

9-Sep    Baines, George and Swithin  Wood and John Fontein set out with attendants for some hunting. Long descriptions of the picturesque granite kopjes and deep pools of the river bordered on the other bank by dazzling sand – I think this must be the Umfuli (present-day Mupfure) rather than the Zinlundusi (present-day Chirundazi) stream with the description of kopjes and westward flow of the river; the Chirundazi flows south to north.

George Wood fired his six-bore first, the bullet striking behind the shoulder of the largest hippo. The herd of eight animals rushed into the water, the hunters in extended line firing when the opportunity arose. The hippo were shot as they surfaced for air, Baines graphic descriptions of jets of blood being thrown up as they circled in a death-flurry. On many occasions two or more hunters fired at the same head at the same time. All eight hippo were shot, the hunters waiting about two hours before the expansion of gases brought the bodies slowly to the surface.

A crocodile had been seem so none of the amaNdebele would enter the water to retrieve the carcass. Finally Fontein entered the water and pushed it towards the shore. Six more bodies floated to the surface and the amaNdebele and servants were left to begin cutting it up.

10-Sep  Next day George Wood emptied one of the wagons and with as many knives and axes as could be mustered all went down to the hippo pool (Zeekoegat) where Fontein had secured a rope around the first carcass and pulled it in to knee depth. Baines managed to get some brief sketches of their bodies. Baines himself secured the old bull with a rope to the empty water cask. Having paddled ashore with it, he secured another young bull by the same means, none of the others being keen to swim in the river.

11-Sep  The wagon arrived with the hippo meat which was hung up in broad thin flakes on a pole frame to dry in the sun. George Wood gave Baines and Nelson a pair of tusks each as mementos.

Hartley arrived after a tolerably successful hunt with the amaNdebele carrying their tusks, the smaller tusks killed by Moloney and William Hartley were given to Baines, again as mementos.

12-Sep  Remained in camp

13-Sep  Nelson has gone back to the Inzinghazi and Imbeela (possibly the present-day Suri Suri) rivers in the vicinity of the old Portuguese houses[xix] referred to by Hartley on 30 August. George Wood explained the rivers ran into the Gwaai and Zambesi.

Baines finished his ‘kameel’ hunt painting and gave it to Hartley in recognition of his kindness. Hartley invited Baines along for his last hunt and was pressed to join by Moloney and Willie Hartley, but reluctantly refused on account of the expedition work still to be done.

14-Sep  Hartley and party leave after sunrise and Baines begins a painting of the dead hippopotamus. A party of Mashona arrive from Amakoonda’s village with maize that Baines barters for brass wire and beads

15-Sep  Continued work on the hippo painting

16-Sep  Progressed well with the painting and Inyoka, the amaNdebele guide, called his friends to admire the scene. Hartley arrived back having only seen the spoor of a herd of 140-150 elephants. He had been near the village of a chief named Watah (Hwata) in the present-day Mazowe district and the presence of a thickly populated territory kept the elephant away.

17-Sep  Today Baines struck his tent and gave orders for the oxen to be collected. Baines writes that the source of the Luenya river from which the Portuguese wash for gold is within 50 miles of us [he is correct as the Mazowe river rises approximately 75 kms to the north-west] He is tempted to trek northwards, but says Hartley was set the Ganyana (Manyame) river as the furthest limit for hunting by Mzilikazi.

18-Sep  Left the wagon crossing the Inzinghazi drift and near the Imbeela saw a small herd of quagga and sable antelope. Fired, but without a gun-bearer had nobody to hold the horse, Dutchman.

At the Imbeela drift found Nelson and Swinburne on foot. Hartley lent Baines his horse and went back to meet the wagons where Mrs McMaster gave them a breakfast of coffee and dry biscuits. During the day Hartley and the hunters arrived back.

British Museum: Baines sketch of Hartley and Baines examining the quartz reefs between the Umfuli (present-day Mupfure)

and its tributary the Imbeela (probably the Suri-Suri) north of Chegutu. 

19-Sep  Hartley gave Baines directions to the north-east across the Ganyana (Manyame) river. Swinburne was having trouble with his amaNdebele saying “your people come when they are called!” Nelson had seen much quartz as well as four lions. Moloney and Willie Hartley shot an eland.

20-Sep  Nelson went south-east taking Hartley’s horse Dutchman as his horse was not well. Baines would have liked to go and see the Portuguese ruined house but the distance was too great. Baines walks with his and Hartley’s wagons to a kraal under Salagozaan or Sarua river. Here he found George Wood and Swinburne in conversation with a large party of amaNdebele who had come from Ncumbata, the regent. Their message, confusing at times, was that Wood needed to return to Inyati with all speed. Apparently he had some information he was supposed to be able to give on the finding of Kuruman. The gold-seeking expeditions were not affected.

21-Sep  Two or three amaNdebele are to escort Wood back to Inyati, the remainder will be raiding the Mashona. The Sarua drift is not difficult, but the oxen are tired and so all the wagons go at once with the spans being doubled to 22 oxen and with servants pushing the wagons they are dragged across.

Baines made a rough sketch of “the five wagons with their weather-worn tents and sides and fittings sufficiently chafed and worn to take all newness off them, the long spans of oxen and the crowd of naked Matabele…We halted on the dry bank to refit and Moloney emerged from the dry forest, driving before him an eland, which he shot down little more than 100 yards from the waggons.” 

In the afternoon they crossed a ridge in which several reefs of quartz appeared, mostly white and with no visible gold.

There was some difficulty in crossing the Simbo (Chimbo) rivulet and broke the disselboom or pole of the wagon in the drift. With the help of Moloney and Willie Hartley, Baines found a wild-olive tree from which they made a new disselboom and fitted before dark.

McMaster’s wagon came down a complete wreck, the front and back wheels coming apart and the body settling down between them. Baines says that wood and willing hands were plentiful and the wagon was not only repaired but loaded up before nightfall.

We encamped beside a granite ridge, among the kopjes of which were old Mashona workings, while only a few 100 yards to the east was the spot where the piece of auriferous quartz which had so excited the hopes of the gold-seeking world was found. Mr Hartley and Inyoka went to one of the mines while I was working at the disselboom and returned with a piece of quartz which I put aside for Mr Nelson's examination.” 

Thomas Baines: McMasters wagon being repaired at the Simbo (Chimbo) stream, Hartley Hills

22-Sep  I persuaded Inyoka to go with me and show me the old workings which proved to be right on the track of the wagons and of which I had heard Hartley speak. It was of serpentine form, nearly filled up and a young tree of considerable size growing from it showing many years must have passed since it was disturbed, but not, apparently proving for it a very high antiquity. The quartz was partly white, while some of it was marked with red, indicating the presence of iron, which I believe is not a bad sign.

None of the pits – I can hardly call them by the title of mines – appear to have been recently worked, but several of the old Mashona remember these workings and one of them, seeing Mr Hartley during the journey in which Mauch was with him examining a stone, said to him. “I know what you are looking for: It is metal of this colour - pointing to the brass ring on his arm and not like this indicating a copper one.” He forthwith left the waggon and coming to a hole not far from our last night's outspan, found and brought back a piece of quartz in which several specks of gold were visible.

About ½ mile south we came to the encampment of Sir John Swinburne on the top of a small hill covered with trees, at present bare and almost leafless, and found that his people were panic stricken with the news they had heard and almost on the point of deserting him, their idea being that the amaNdebele intended to kill all the native servants and thus force the white men out of the country without actually doing personal violence to them. The shaft which Mr Griet [August Griete[xx]] had sunk was about 150 yards or a little more westward. It was about 25 feet deep and yielded quartz of a reddish colour in which several specks of gold were plainly discernible by the naked eye. Our wagons outspanned 100 yards more westward and I made a sketch of the scene.

100 yards more west on the bank of the broad Umfuli grew a fine specimen of the Sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata) The oxen strayed.

23-Sep  The men found the oxen at daybreak, one having died. Baines follows Hartley in his wagon south-east along the Umfuli river and outspans for breakfast under a fine grove of sausage trees and using double spans of oxen crossed to the southern bank of the Umfuli which has better grass for the oxen.

In the afternoon Moloney brought Baines a snake, black and white getting fainter to the tail so as to produce the effect of irregular grey transverse lines.[xxi] The head was broad and flat and the people said it was venomous, but Hartley thought not. Inyoka said when fully grown the snake would be as thick as a man’s arm.

24-Sep  Baines says Jeppe [Paul Jebe[xxii]] returned today from the Ganyana (Hunyani, present day Manyame)  A large fire on the north bank of the Umfuli sweeps down to the river

25-Sep  Baines works on his map taking information from Paul Jebe’s recent explorations. Swinburne arrives on his way to Inyati saying the bushfire yesterday was deliberately started by his men to make it impossible for him to stay. Griete will stay on.

26-Sep  Hard at work completing mail to go with Swinburne. Discussion with Hartley about the qualities that make a good hunter.

Hire three natives to carry Nelson’s bedding and equipment on his prospecting trips to be paid in beads at Inyati. Baines must stay for the time being to prevent the problems Swinburne is currently experiencing.

27-Sep  Hartley packs up camp and Baines rides some way with him and Moloney and Willie Hartley. They ride south and in 2½ hours reach the Hunter’s Road and thus avoiding the very bad drift of the Zinlundusi (present-day Chirundazi) stream. Baines says this stream runs into the Mupfure just above their camp.

Swinburne, George Wood and McMaster arrive soon after. Baines buys six blankets and 24 shirts for 12 guineas to be collected at the London and Limpopo Company’s diggings, says farewell and returns to camp with Inyassi, Siloquaine and Mowela.

The servants want to leave before the rainy season to help with the maize planting. In the evening, Inyassi said “the Matabele army had been sent to fetch out the white men and we must not go or that our people would be killed. I told him we were not sent for and only George Wood was named in the letter, that Oude Baas [Hartley] and the other hunters were not named and that it was especially said that gold seekers were not to be disturbed.”

I told him that the inDuna’s Inyoka and Seboni had no objection to my coming on slowly and I had received no message from Ncumbata to request me to come out. We said Ncumbata had not requested that we come out and that we wanted to stay and select the piece of ground for which we intended to ask the king. This reassured him.

28-Sep  After breakfast rode north-west down the Umfuli with Swinburne’s camp on our right and the river just out of sight upon our left until we reached the old workings to the south of the Chimbo and to the westward of the drift we used to cross it. Leaving Kameel with the horses, we took Inyassi and Mowela as witnesses and proceeded to walk the boundary. The granite formed the eastern boundary, the Chimbo stream the western boundary. Many of the boundary markers were trees, obviously now long gone. Baines writes that tiny gold specks were visible in the quartz but seems to think the claim area is rather small.

Google Earth: red outline is the first claim area, purple outlines mark the old Mashona gold workings

The first claim of the South African Gold Fields Exploration Company at Hartley Hills, 28 Sept 1869

29-Sep  Nelson and Baines rode over the claim area and Baines examined the old workings that consisted of groups of small pits covering areas of 40 x 60-70 yards, in other places each pit covered 20-30 yards and were 6-8 feet deep. The more northerly extent of pits[xxiii]  (see diagram) runs in a south-south-west direction curving nearly south in for 600 yards and then a second area of old workings – entirely south of the present road – sweeps for another 600 yards in a more south-east direction. Baines used a fishing-line previously measured and compass to establish the distances.

These were the old workings pointed out by Hartley – his own servants and Mauch collected their specimens from the more northerly of the indicated areas of old workings – presumably this is where the famous scene of Hartley’s elephant hunt is alleged to have taken place.

Baines’ true nature is revealed in this sentence: “on one of our south western boundary trees, I found the most beautiful golden-coloured orchid and carefully leaving the plant uninjured, I plucked the flower and brought it away, thinking almost as much of my floral gold as Nelson did of his metallic.” 

They visit Griete at Swinburne’s camp, 1.5 furlongs (300 metres) west-south-west from the Hartley Hills outspan, Nelson had some questions and Baines wanted the shirts and blankets he had bought for 12 guineas from Swinburne. Griete showed them samples with visible gold.

The servants are still keen to leave, but Nelson wanted a few more days to search in tsetse-fly area. Baines told them he would repair the disselboom whilst Nelson searched downstream so they could tell Ncumbata what they had seen.

Latitude 18°12´46" South is their camp. Swinburne’s camp is 3¾ miles (6 kms) to the south-east across the Umfuli river

30-Sep  Whilst Baines was still drinking his morning coffee, Inyassi had the disselboom plates in the fire, the slipper-brake (reim-schoen) at the bedside for an anvil and the hammer and cold chisel ready to cut the old bolts out. Inyassi worked all day with great energy and would make a tolerable waggon-wright. Of course, he wants to be going home!

Nelson rode over to Griete with a flask of gin with quinine dissolved in it.

October 1869

01-Oct  Sam Edwards arrived early and outspanned near us. He has brought Swinburne’s supplies and a letter from Rev Thomas for Baines requesting his return to Inyati.

A letter from Jewell explained. As Kuruman cannot be found, the amaNdebele are inclined to elect one of the royal family named Nobengulu (Lobengula) and he, knowing he would be put to death if Kuruman appeared later, had asked Jewell to give him provisions and a guide to the Cape Colony. Jewell wanted a decision from Baines, their expedition leader.

The amaNdebele are uneasy at having remained for so long with no king, they do not want the new king to be fettered by promises made by Ncumbata in his absence, so they want all Europeans gathered at Inyati to witness the coronation and to receive fresh permission to explore from him.

Hartley believed they should come out as soon as possible or they will lose the privilege of returning next year. Nelson would like to stay and explore further, but Baines is almost certain that their amaNdebele servants are afraid and would desert them.

The Matabele are alarmed at the number of Europeans in the country. Mohr and Hübner were refused permission to visit the Victoria Falls. There are about thirty New Zealand and Australian miners at the Tati goldfields. The Portuguese (Bazungo) or perhaps mixed-race descendants (Mambari) attempted to come into the country from the south-east and a local chief drove them out and confiscated their sheep and goats.

Edwards is also to bring Griete out after giving him a few days to pack his kit.

02-Oct  The party started south at 6:30am. Baines spotted a rhino and her calf but his horse ‘Dutchman’ was frightened and Baines had to make a long shot.

In the afternoon John Fontein shot an eland.

03-Oct The head and horns of the eland were sketched while it was being cut up. An amaNdebele army, returning from plundering the Mashona, overtakes the wagon driving many stolen cattle with them. The inDuna was anxious to know when they would be at Inyati and promised to take a letter to Rev Thomas in return for a present. The amaNdebele were given half the eland.

Nelson at last agreed with Baines it was impossible to explore between the Chimbo and Umfuli as the amaNdebele servants were sure to desert from him.

04-Oct  One ox died here coming in and Baines faithful horse 'Dutchman' died 1¼ miles south on the return journey. The headman, Setoas, promised to report the oxen casualties as the reason they trekked so slowly. The amaNdebele  moved on and Baines walked ahead to the Umsweswe river.

The wagon had to be lightened to aid the oxen pull it up the opposite bank and they trekked on two miles to a nameless rivulet beyond the Umsweswe. That night the sky was lit up by grass fires that his servants said the amaNdebele raiders had started.

05-Oct  Baines walked ahead of the wagon and soon noticed the previous night’s scherm was on fire from either an accident or to prevent any enemy using items to bewitch the amaNdebele. After walking 12¼ miles he reached the Umgesana or little Umgesi and rested until the wagon came up. In the afternoon he came across a large white rhino carcass and sketched it. Walking on he came to the beautiful Umgesi (Ngezi) stream and sketched here.

 

Thomas Baines: sketch of the Umgesi (Ngezi) river with the ox-wagon and span crossing in the background

06-Oct  Nelson went out gold prospecting and Baines walked ahead of the wagon. He was soon overtaken by Setlaas, one of the amaNdebele who was returning from raiding in Mashonaland. They talked in simple sentences that Baines could understand and he says: “Setting aside the fact that within the last few days he had murdered I do not like to ask how many unfortunate Mashona men, women and children, he is not a very bad sort of fellow.”

They reached the Umnyati (Buffalo, present-day Munyati) river and sat down to rest and talk. He wanted me to enlarge the notch in the rear sight of his musket, but I told him it was wide enough. The mechanism of my Wilson breech-loader was always the subject of conversation and soon half-a-dozen of his followers examined it with great interest.

Rifle, Wilson's patent breech-loader percussion, .577, metal / wood, c. 1860

Soon larger bands of amaNdebele arrived with their shields and spears in their hands or on their heads and driving the goats, cattle and pack-oxen plundered from the poor Mashona across the broad bed of sand.

This section quoted in full

Presently, our white tented waggon appeared upon the brink, the long dark span of oxen stretching down the steep descent and halting for a moment while the wheels were chained, preparatory to launching forward. Then came the real hard work. The wheels sank in the yielding sand so that the labouring oxen could drag it but a few yards at a time and I asked Setlaas to let his people ‘man the wheels.’ To this they readily agreed on condition of toosah (i.e. present) and, requesting me to look after their shields and spears, they gathered round the wagon, pushing and hauling by every part that afforded handhold. I had commenced a little sketch of the scene, but the wagon had passed out of the pictorial range of vision and the cries and shouts of the Matabele had settled into a full and measured cadence that rose and fell upon my ear like some grand cathedral chant, almost drowning the cries of the driver and the slashing of the long wagon whip. I rose and went to the spot and it was evident that the oxen could not pull the wagon out and John unyoked them. But scarcely had he done so when 150 lithe and active Matabele clustered round, evidently bent on manhandling the task in which the cattle had failed. Six or eight manned each of the half-dozen yokes, the rest grasped the heavy trek chain or the wheels and the various projections of the wagon and, as the long irregular crowd of naked men strained their athletic limbs to the work, I could not but think of the fine picture of ‘Israel in Egypt’ here acted before my eyes with a reality Poynter never dreamed of. In fact, there was just this difference; his ideal Israelites were slaves driven on by taskmasters, my Matabele, brigands and bandits though they were, were free men and volunteers and though their captaincy Setlaas seized the agter zamboc (whip) and flourish it, it was merely to carry out the joke of calling  them oxen raised by the men themselves, and I do not believe he touched one with it. I watched a little while, but the wheels remained immovable and  calling them to stop, I told them to cast loose the spade and clear the ground a little. But still the task was too great and though the wheels just moved, they fell back again as soon as the strain relaxed. And again I called a halt and set them to unload about half the cargo, so as to leave no weight but that of the vehicle itself on the fore-wheels, while all that remained rested on the larger hind ones.

Again, the low melody commenced as the men gathered to their stations and again as the grand chorus swelled the naked, glistening limbs bent and strained - in vain. But not a man flinched from the work. I told Setlaas to call a dozen of them to the after-wheels and showed them how to use the spokes as levers. Another strong pull and they yielded. They sank not back again, but inch by inch and at every inch with less resistance, they rose above the sandy hillock. There was another to pass, but the vis inertia of the wagon had been overcome, they had ‘got way on her’ and with their chorus now swelling into a loud song of triumph, they rushed her up the next and gathering speed as they went, rushed past the intended stopping place, absolutely overrunning the sacks of meal or flour that had been carried up and they were only checked at last by John running after the waggon and screwing up the brake. The cargo was brought up and reloaded and finding a bag of preserved, or rather dried fruit, I gave Setlaas and the people a few handfuls and learned that at that moment the most ardent desire of their hearts was to be allowed to taste sugar. I told them if they would put on a pot of water I would make tea and put sugar in it for them and then they could pass it round. My own tea I shared with Setlaas and some of his chief men and as we sat under the wagon with the army in a semi-circle around us, I sweetened the great pot for them.”

NHM: amaNdebele raiding party under inDuna Setlaas returning from a Mashona raid pull Baines wagon across the sandy Umnyati (present-day Munyati) river 

08-Oct  From the Umnyati river they halted at a nameless rivulet for breakfast and another for  the night, but the countryside was now mile after mile of sooty ashes, the game scarce, although Baines tried some long-range shots at warthog and a herd of sable antelopes, the bullet kicking up dust at their feet.

09-Oct  Shortly after starting Inyassi made the short whistle denoting game and whispered ‘Chukooroo’ for rhinoceros, but a grey rock had deceived him!

Nelson caught up with the wagon; Kameela broke the water-vessel, very likely on purpose to force Nelson to give up prospecting. Baines persuades Nelson not to go back and they discuss prospects for the following year.

All afternoon fires were burning to their east and dazzling lightning lighting up the dark thunder clouds.

10-Oct  The oxen are exhausted: Old Zwartland is down and it took the three amaNdebele servants to get him back on his feet.

11-Oct  Inyassi was keen to start on the journey and Baines is nervous the servants will desert. He takes out some brayed skin and sinews for thread to make veldschoens and says he will walk with Inyassi to Inyati leaving Nelson to come on with the others. Inyassi says Baines is not telling him where they plan to stop and for how long. Baines says they cannot report what they have seen to Ncumbata until Nelson has examined the country and Baines never knows when Nelson wants to investigate. Even when Nelson sees gold with the microscope, he still needs to establish if it is payable.

12-Oct  At the Sebaque river the amaNdebele gather leaves and tie them into bundles. They are um’nwato, or penis gourds, the only article absolutely necessary to wear.

Mowela arrived at camp saying John Fontein had wounded a rhinoceros but needed more gunpowder. Baines takes young Matchean and little Jack and they find Fontein about 5 miles north west keeping watch over the wounded beast. Many shots later it is dead and Baines managed to keep his excited followers away for 10 minutes whilst he made a sketch. Then they carried as much meat as they could back to the wagon, much meat being left behind, but with no other choice.

NHM: Crossing the Sebakwe river

13-Oct  At sunrise Baines sent John Vrei with Nelson’s horse to collect him at the Quaequae (present-day Kwekwe) when they heard a gunshot and presently Swinburne’s European servant appeared, then August Griete and Sam Edwards with the wagon. They planned to stay about a week to rest the ox team and allow Griete to explore the Impembesi country.

They discuss the Mashona slaves (Maholi) whose main ambition is to be allowed to wear the Issigoko or head ring of the warrior and be relieved from cutting wood and drawing water and permitted to join the amaNdebele on their raids on their unfortunate Mashona people.

Edwards said the amaNdebele force under Setlaas who had pushed Baines’ wagon out of the sandy bed of the Umnyati had killed 70 Mashona and taken many cattle. He asked if Ncumbata had sent them and Baines told him ‘no’ they had brought a message to George Wood that all the Europeans were to quit the country and had decided to do a little raiding.

After 15 miles they reached the Quaequae (Kwekwe) river. Nelson wanted to go back and explore in the vicinity of the Impembesi (little Bembesi) and examine the area declared by Karl Mauch to be gold-bearing. Baines agreed, the wagon could go with him which would allow the oxen to rest and he would walk the remaining 100 miles to Inyati mission.

But Inyassi and Mowela said if the wagon stopped, they would be blamed and probably killed for the delay and the wagon itself would be seized and confiscated. Further they said we should not get to Inyati with the London and Limpopo Company’s wagon as Swinburne had exceeded his authority by digging a shaft and building a house. Baines felt it useless to argue and said he would speak to Nelson who was told when he came back in the afternoon.

15-Oct  Jan Vrei agreed to take a letter back to Edwards; it will be a long tramp as they travelled 10 miles in the morning and 12 miles in the afternoon and presently they are camped at the Inquainyo river.

16-Oct  Chobo went out to look for the goats and sheep that had strayed. Baines walked ahead to the Gwailo (Gweru) river with the wagon arriving later. It stuck in the pull-out so they breakfasted to give the oxen a rest. Half-a-dozen Mashona arrived and they carried the fore-load of the wagon up the bank to ease the oxen’s load and were rewarded with strings of white beads.

Nelson returned in the afternoon, John Vrei came in as well with a note from Edwards saying he was following and Chobo brought in six sheep and goats, a lion having killed one and two being lost.

17-Oct  The day very hot with a long waterless trek over 14 miles. Old Zwartland could go no further.

18-Oct  One of the servants is sent back to Old Zwartland to put him out of his misery but he was already dead and hyenas had feasted on him. In the bed of the Umvungu river was a letter from Nelson saying that he was exploring and would meet us at the Changani river.

We passed Thaba Baanga with its grey granite boulders and two or three small rivulets, the heavy sands of which tired the oxen and halted on the south-west side of the Umvaanga river.

19-Oct  Edwards and Griete arrived as Baines had coffee and they travel together. They pass the track where they came onto the Hunters Road from Ncumbata’s village at Manpanjeni or Umbanji during the morning and cross the Changani river at midday. Both spans had to be used to pull each wagon across its heavy sand bed.

The Shongo (present-day Nsangu) river gave the oxen an even harder pull than the Changani, but by digging they found water.

20-Oct  This day’s trek started at 4am and they had walked about ½ mile when Inyassi gave Baines his gun warning him of game ahead, but Baines recognised the outline of a horse and they reached the campsite of Jan Leeuw and Watson. They had brought 8 oxen to assist, but they were not in great condition.

Jewell was anxious for them to meet at Inyati. It seems all Europeans were meant to be out of the country, except Swinburne who seems to have obtained temporary leave to remain. Hartley opposed Rev Thomas in this aspect and told him it would lead to strife and bloodshed.

The few Mashona that passed were rude, Mowela telling them they were too thin for his spear and he would wait until they were fat enough to kill.

The wagon wheels had shrunk in the dry weather and Baines was forced to make some repairs to the near fore-wheel.

They reached the Izolungo (Longwe river) the last place the oxen could drink before Inyati and outspanned 2¾ miles beyond. Some nearby amaNdebele stole items from the wagons and even a sheep, but this was recovered.

21-Oct  Baines walked ahead to Inyati mission station and chose a spot for an outspan. Jewell and Watson were messing with Stone and Lawson, they providing the meat and Jewell the groceries. The Australians from Tati were camped to the south of the mission. Mohr and Hübner were refused permission to visit the Victoria Falls, Mohr had left the country leaving Hübner with one wagon at Inyati. Some others had their wagons further south and Swinburne had chosen the only clump of trees to the north.

Baines visited Rev Sykes who thought the order for Europeans to quit the country would only be temporary. Sykes believed Baines should speak to Ncumbata, who although elderly, was not in his dotage and his word was still law.

Then he visited Rev Thomas who was regretful that all Europeans would have to leave. Baines said he must rest his oxen and visit Ncumbata. Baines thought the Rev Thomas is dazzled by his own importance and the promises of Swinburne and has agreed to lobby on Swinburne’s behalf and to obtain a gold monopoly to the exclusion of all others in return for Swinburne sending a wagon to Natal to seek out and bring back Kuruman.

22-Oct  Jewell and Lawson have been working on the tire of one of the wheels of the second wagon.

Baines asked Jewell, the secretary of the South African Goldfields Exploration Company, to draw up a document assigning all of his interest in the company and all of his pay, except the £60 given annually to his mother, to Carl Behrens, the Durban agent of the company so that he can draw on behalf of the company supplies and tools for another journey in 1870. Jewell offered to do the same for another wagon and although initially reluctant, Baines consented as a third wagon would be of great use. He writes, more in hope than belief: “and the company, of course, will not let him suffer for coming forward to render it so essential a service.”

This piece of vital importance is mixed with a discussion of the raining tree,

Lonchocarpus capassa Rolfe which flowers with clusters of purple blooms in October and he speculates that the ‘rain’ is the result of infestation by masses of plant bug – and this is correct! IsiNdebele: Ichithamuzi, Idungamuzi, Iphanda 

Lonchocarpus capassa Rolfe

24-Oct  A stiff breeze is blowing out the red Ensign from Baines’ wagon and that of the Australians, the North German flag from Hübner’s wagon. Rev Thomas held a service at which nearly 20 persons were present and Baines spends the evening with Rev Thomas and family.

25-Oct  George Wood arrived at Inyati and reported the Europeans were not to be ordered out the country. He said everyone was offended at Swinburne’s attempts to obtain a gold monopoly and Wood had advised the amaNdebele not to grant it. When Swinburne was asked if he had exceeded his authority by digging a shaft, he had laid the blame on Thomas Baines.

But the amaNdebele guides had confirmed that Baines had not dug the shaft but kept near the wagons and made paintings of the animals and had not even shot the king’s elephants because he had only received authority to look at the country to see if it contained gold. When questioned by the Europeans Swinburne had acknowledged sinking two shafts. The amaNdebele guides stated positively that Swinburne had said that Baines had sunk the shafts.

In order to clear the air, Baines thought he must go with Watson and see Ncumbata.

26-Oct  Rev Thomas and Swinburne requested a meeting with all the Europeans. But before the meeting Inyoka brought a letter to Baines from Hartley saying that Swinburne had laid the blame on Baines and that Rev Thomas had no authority to order the Europeans out of the country. Inyoka had told Ncumbata that Swinburne’s statement was a lie.

Baines displays his naivety once again writing: “…for I cannot believe that an English gentleman and an English missionary would unite in a wilful lie.” 

Back and forth went the arguments, Rev Thomas supporting Swinburne and attempting to portray Ncumbata as old and feeble. At the end Baines thought they may need to withdraw for a while, but that authority to explore the country would be granted in 1870 and that Ncumbata is recognised as being in charge until a new king is appointed.

An arrangement has been made to take over Coward’s tools and supplies to be paid for out of Baines’ pay, Jewell having purchased the wagon from his own pay.

27-Oct  Jewell goes down to Tati with Coward and will bring back the wagon from there. Baines still cannot believe that Swinburne and Rev Thomas would state that Baines had sunk the shafts and not Swinburne. He visits Rev Thomas at the mission station who states that the amaNdebele told lies and then states that Baines had no authority to explore in Mashonaland as the authority was given by Ncumbata, who is old and weak and not by him [Thomas] Baines states he never heard at any time that it was necessary to receive authority from Rev Thomas and this would be confirmed by Hartley and Lee.

Baines told Rev Thomas that when Ncumbata was told Baines had gone into the country without permission, he said: “Mr Baines has the best of all – he has mine.” Rev Thomas said that persons were saying that Baines bribed Ncumbata, Baines replied saying he gave the normal tribute to Ncumbata of a gun and railway rug and when he left, a warm coat.

Rev Thomas said he would be sorry if he was suspected of partiality to Swinburne and Baines replied that public opinion attributed  to him very great partiality for Swinburne. It would be a bad thing for the amaNdebele if Swinburne was given a monopoly over gold-mining.

Later that day Watson as translator, Baines, Inyassi, Kameela and Jan Vrei left to see Ncumbata visiting on the way the kraal of their former inDuna guide Umnyakangya (Inyakangya)

28-Oct  Next morning they meet Sam Edwards returning from a meeting with Lobengula (Baines writes Nobengulu) and they in turn meet with Lobengula: “During the morning we called on Nobengulu and found he was the same I had seen at Kumalo, a moderately tall, thickset man with receding forehead, overhanging eyebrows and heavy jaw, somewhat protruding. Yet his face is not Negro-like for the nose is somewhat aquiline. He wore a sailor's striped shirt and cord peg-top trousers without braces. Of course he knew Watson well, having frequently seen him at Kumalo and also had a recollection of me. He had recently killed a wildebeest and ordered a substantial chunk of flesh to be cut up and roasted for us, in the meantime, inviting me to eat with him a small mess of pumpkin porridge, giving me for the purpose an iron spoon.

He asked whether I dug gold and I told him no, I had looked about on the surface and seen a little but had not dug any. We made a little tea in our kettle and went into his hut, which is by no means as clean as Umnyakangya to drink it and as we had no pannikins he lent us a couple and we shared the ‘English beverage’ with him and his wives and sister. Most of these ladies were of goodly proportions and, to say the least, exceedingly well rounded. They were dressed in kilts of leather slashed like trunk hose and so worked that a long soft nap was raised on it like cloth, for the Matabele tolerably well understand that as age increases complete (female) nudity begins to be offensive. Nobengulu served us with the dish of venison, half stewed, half roasted, already mentioned, mustering for the purpose one tin plate, one iron fork of the commonest halfpenny kind and one a little superior, and one table knife. After this came a plentiful mess of meal paste and a pannikin of outchualla (beer) finished the repast.”

 Thomas Baines painting: Lobengula with his family, the gun rack behind

The rear of the hut was occupied by a rack supporting several guns, mostly good stout double-barrels and a saddle and bridle. But there was one oak case which he brought forward and opened containing one of those highly finished German double rifles with smooth barrels for the same stock, with all those exquisite little pieces of mechanism which render the weapon useless when they once go out of order. Nobengulu proposed that we should try a shot and after several failures of the hair trigger, it went off and at 100 yards he knocked off a piece of paper 3 inches by 4. I was loth to let Watson do anything with the locks as he had not been accustomed to such guns and with insufficient tools, the work might have delayed us. But there was no excuse. “What great supper is Umnombata [Ncumbata] cooking that you are in such a hurry to leave me?” was unanswerable. So we dissected the delicate mechanism, found the point of the sere broken and the detent bruised up. We burnished it down as well as we could and set the adjusting screws and put the locks at least in temporary order.

The meeting with Ncumbata and the Council of Chiefs

In the afternoon they halted outside Inthlathlangela and the first person they meet was Sir John Swinburne. They entered the outer fence and Inyassi went forward to announce us. Shortly after we were summoned into an open space where chiefs and warriors were already assembled in a semi-circle. Inyassi and Watson said: “Who charges us and who heard the charge?” They answered: “We all heard it. Sir John sat there and Mr Thomas sat there and said it.” At length there was a general hush and a respectful silence and the aged chief Umnombata [Ncumbata] crawled from a hut and said: “Where is Mr Baines?” and I was pointed out to him. “Give me a pinch of snuff” and Baines took some from Watson and gave it to the old chief, taking this as a sign he was not very seriously offended with him.

The council meeting went on for some time, with pointed questions as to whether Baines had ever dug for gold to which he answered “no.” Even Inyassi was closely questioned to find out if Baines had asked to hunt elephants or dug for gold to which he also replied “no.” Baines says the old chief Ncumbata showed no signs of being feeble-minded and the chiefs showed him great respect.

The party stayed that night nearby and Ncumbata paid them a visit for a little private conversation. Both Umthlaba, Ncumbata’s son and Ncumbata said their hearts were sore when they heard of the transgressions, but they had become sweet since they heard the accusations were false. They said Rev Thomas was offended because John Lee had interpreted for Baines. Baines answered that he was neither Lee nor Rev Thomas’s man and that the Natal Governor was greater than both.

30-Oct  Ncumbata’s son visited and asked for a blanket, but Baines would only give it after the Council was over in case somebody said he was bribed. He was told the report he had promised Ncumbata on his return could be made to his son. Baines said there were barren and gold-bearing rocks in the country, but it was uncertain if they were payable. He used the analogy of a bud on a tree, it might indicate future fruit, but there was no guarantee.

Umthlaba replied that no authority to dig would be given until the succession was settled, even searching would not be permitted and all Europeans would have to leave the country.

Baines replied that if this was the Council’s wish, he would leave although he hoped he might be allowed to stay in his wagon near Ncumbata’s kraal. Umthlaba replied that he believed the chiefs would insist all Europeans left for a time and as soon as the succession was settled he could come back.

Then the inDuna’s came to Baines saying they wished the Europeans to leave so they could decide on the succession. They would not refuse grass and water as long as the oxen were moving, however slowly. For now the accusations made against Baines had been accepted as lies.

Umthlaba was shown the plan of the first claim and a piece of quartz with visible gold and was surprised at its smallness.

31-Oct  They are visited by one of the inDuna’s and asked when they plan to leave. He said a message would be sent to Nobengulu and from this and other mentions of Nobengulu’s name, Baines suspected he was the prime candidate for the succession.               

Thomas Baines: sketch of amaNdebele

For the last two or three days Baines has been doing some sketching to fill in the pauses between conversation of a young boy and then a warrior. He says he would like to sketch Ncumbata, but patience is nowhere more essential than in Africa. He believed the enclosure next to them may have held Mzilikazi before his burial at Entumbane[xxiv]  but dared not ask as he says throughout Africa there is a strong feeling against allowing the death of a chief to be the subject of a conversation. He writes though that he believes every article personally used by Mzilikazi, including his wagon, was buried with him.

Their business with the Council now over, they prepared to leave. Jewell and Coward came over to hear the news to send to the directors of the South African Goldfields Exploration Company. Before they left they said farewell to Ncumbata, the old chief expressing the wish that their path might be white for them.

Lobengula was also visited and welcomed them, ordering his men to bring a goat as a present. He asked to see the sketch of Ncumbata, but Baines said he had already sent it home so that his directors could see that the old chief was friendly to them.

November 1869

01-Nov Lobengula would not consent to Baines drawing his likeness so he drew one of the women and then three or four of the children clustered around. Lobengula seemed unable to comprehend the possibility that Baines could draw from memory so he was asked to name an animal. He drew an elephant and next a giraffe and added at Lobengula’s request men and horses engaged in hunting and then presented it to him. Watson told Lobengula that making a portrait of them was a mark of friendship as Baines had painted Rev Sykes and Rev Thomas and their families.

They then talked about gold and Watson showed him specks of gold in the quartz and Lobengula asked if he could send men to collect it as one would collect ivory. They told him it would be possible in the future but they would have to learn first by working with Europeans.

Thomas Baines: sketch of Lobengula’s family

02-Nov During the night Watson shot a hyena less than 10 yards from us. Baines left Watson to come along with the drivers and at the Impembesi river met Swinburne and Griete in a light cart travelling south and had pannikin of tea with them. Then he saw the inDuna Bulana, their former guide, and about 4 miles from Inyati mission station met Hübner whose oxen were barely able to pull the wagon.

03-Nov Rev Sykes kindly allowed Baines to store heavy goods in a spare building and Rev Thomas took some of the smaller boxes. The next few days were occupied in unloading wagons, repacking and Sykes lent his wagon to carry the spare stores to his house.

06-Nov At 2pm they left Inyati mission crossing the flowing Inkokwesi river with difficulty. One of the weaker oxen had already fallen, the amaNdebele were sitting around for its death, like vultures. The ox was raised and the helpers rewarded with beads rather than the beef they had expected!

07-Nov Two oxen had to be helped to their feet. Our guide Inyassi arrived. I had toosahed him at Inyati with a musket, a flask of powder, a bar of lead and flints, but he had objected to a flintlock so Baines promised to convert it to percussion cap next season which pleased him.

08-Nov Four oxen unable to rise and needed help. Constant rain throughout the day. When they left Inyati the ox Wittevoet was unable to rise. Sixteen men tried to raise him, but without luck. They came across the wagons outspanned at the Imbusana (little goat) rivulet with plentiful grass for the oxen at last. Baines filled in some of the gaps on his map.

09-Nov Two oxen were unable to rise, so they stayed all day to give them a rest. Hübner and Edwards are just 10 miles ahead as their oxen are similarly exhausted. Exceedingly bothered by amaNdebele demanding toosah.

10-Nov A late start to give the oxen time to feed. The wagons were sent on and at Zwong Endaba (Zwangendaba) the entire village turned out to greet us including IzinDuna Bulana and Umbeko. The wagons were double-spanned to cross the Impembesi. Umbeko received a toosah of a pound of sugar from Baines’ remaining stock. Bulana was more demanding requesting salt and the skin of an ox that was not yet dead!

Within an hour the worn-out servant had been despatched with an assegai and Old Bushman, a favourite, dropped next. Jewell wrote a letter saying he was getting a tyre shortened at John Lee’s place.

11-Nov Outspanned at Umgoba (crooked) rivulet and waited for the goats Umbeko promised to send as our last sheep has strayed.

12-Nov One of the oxen had strayed, but this had lately been bought by Jewell and had a wild temper. The little water here compels long treks and with one halt they crossed the Umguoma river.

13-Nov The stillness of the night broken when the trap-gun went off, in the morning a ‘wolf’ (i.e. hyena) was found dead after it tried to take the bait.

Thomas Baines: sketch of a trap-gun

Baines writes that “a couple of merry maidens, with little bashfulness and less crinoline” begged for ‘toosah.’ Another ox, ‘Old Scotland’ was down and couldn’t be raised by Watson and hired natives…by next day he had been eaten by hyenas.

15-Nov Trekked 11½ miles and crossed the Umslambo Boloi river, that John Lee translated as ‘the swim of the Royalty.’ Salt was brought by natives for sale that Baines believed was probably from the Ntwetwe salt pan.[xxv]  Supplies are now short…they hope Lee will bring fresh supplies, heavy rain today.

16-Nov Watson shot a korhaan bird, which Baines sketched.

17-Nov They walked ahead of the wagons for about 6 miles in search of game but saw nothing. Pallalah and Matchean were in a fierce quarrel. Matchean was given the choice of forfeiting a week’s pay or half a dozen cuts with a sjambok for using his knobkerrie on Pallalah.

18-Nov One of the oxen fell into a pool of rain-water and needed hauling out. Cloudy, but no rain.

19-Nov Watson and Baines ride 7 miles to Inthlathlangela. The country is looking fresh with new grass, but water is scarce. Ncumbata receives them kindly and gives them food. Baines explains many oxen have been lost, but Ncumbata’s  councillors do not want the wagon left in the country.

They leave for Lobengula’s kraal (Baines writes Nobengulu) who he believes will be crowned king about the middle of January. Lobengula does not wish to hurry them out the country but knows the councillors must be obeyed. They set a trap-gun using Lobengula’s Snider rifle and return for a good supper of meat and beer.

20-Nov No hyenas come to the trap-gun. Baines does a sketch of a girl and woman for Lobengula, they have meat, bread and coffee for breakfast. A railway rug is given to Lobengula as an early coronation gift with a small grey blanket to his sister. Two sheep and a goat are bought for calico. On their return they find John Fontein has shot a tsessebe and one of the dogs, Pointer, was caught by a crocodile, but managed to escape with lacerations.

21-Nov Inyassi begs for trousers, but as there are none, Baines cuts out a piece of duck for him and by the afternoon he has the trousers.

Umslanga arrives from Ncumbata’s with greetings and is given blankets for himself, Umthlabba and Ncumbata and salt as a medicine “as the chief disease of our friend was plenty to eat and not much to do.” 

22-Nov Inyassi leaves them, very pleased with his gifts. Some trading with natives is done. During the afternoon trek another ox fell and could not be lifted. They are now 27 miles from Mangwe Pass.

23-Nov A nearby headman is given quinine for an imaginary ailment “that speedily removed his original ailment.”

24-Nov A great swarm of locust (voetgangers) in the wingless stage at least a mile wide. Trekked over 11 miles and reached the rocky outspan at ‘the top of the hill’ by sunset. As they descend they met a mail runner carrying letters for the Revds. Thomas and Sykes. The small streams now flow south to the Limpopo river. They stop to camp about ½ a mile beyond Manyame’s kraal.

25-Nov Natives from Manyame’s offer a cow for a musket, but the offer is declined. Baines says the Portuguese will soon be providing muskets with fake Tower stamps forged on them.

26-Nov After trekking from Manyame’s they reach a stream where Harry Grant[xxvi] is waiting for permission to enter the country. On hearing the news he gave up trying to enter Matabeleland and returned with Baines’ wagon to John Lee’s where they heard that Swinburne was being made to return to Inyati. Lee was not yet back from Potchefstroom, but Baines was able to obtain some flour, sugar and tea from Sam Edwards.

Here they learned of Henry Hartley’s accident. He had dismounted to shoot a rhinoceros and seen it run 100 yards before it fell. Believing it was dead, he rode up and dismounted at 50 yards. Slinger, his Khoi servant saw the ears move and shouted a warning. Too late, the rhino rose and charged. Hartley fired again which brought the rhino to its knees, but it rose again and Hartley was tossed by the animal, thrown on its back and trampled, before it fell down dead. Slinger took him back to the wagon at the Ramaqueban river. Others in the party assisted him whilst others rode for Dr Coverley who fortunately was at Tati. Hartley suffered two broken ribs and other minor injuries and recovered at Tati.

All the gold-seekers at Tati held a meeting against the conduct of Swinburne towards his employees and his attempt to close off the country against all other explorers. Swinburne denied this was the case, but Baines said if so Rev Thomas had completely misunderstood him as he had confirmed Swinburne was seeking a monopoly.

Mohr and Hübner had taken a wagon to the Victoria Falls.

27-Nov They lift Nelson’s wagon on supports, haul the under-stell or carriage out and take it to the blacksmith  for repairs. Heavy rains in the afternoon.

28-Nov Paul Zietsman[xxvii] arrives from Tati at Lee’s with his family and move into a pole and dhaka house. Heavy rain.

29-Nov Baines begins a painting of the Victoria Falls for Mohr.

30-Nov The heavy rain has swollen the wagon wheels and makes it harder to shorten the iron tyre. Baines takes the wheels off his wagon for Meyer to work on it when he is ready.

Meyers[xxviii] begins work on Nelson’s wagon with the help of Zietsman and Jennings[xxix] and seems to be making a good job of it.

December 1869

04-Dec  Two wagons were seen coming towards Mangwe from Tati and Baines saw through his binoculars they were flying a white bordered Union Jack flag. Baines hoisted their own ensign and was soon greeting Robert Jewell and Sam Edwards. Jewell had brought up the wagon purchased from Coward and had used his own money in buying supplies.

Hartley is still recovering at Tati 

05-Dec  No work done, but much talk amongst friends.

06-Dec  Baines and Jewell repaint Nelson’s wagon. Jan Leeuw the driver shot a roan antelope cow.

11-Dec  The past week too busy for writing up the journal. Jewell and Baines busy with correspondence on behalf of the South African Goldfields Exploration Company.

Watson away buying corn and goats but was not allowed past Manyame’s kraal as the country was still shut to foreigners.

Baines has added canvas to the wagon’s side-tents to make them completely waterproof.

Jewell’s horse died within 24 hours from horse sickness.

At Tati Swinburne annoyed Daniel Kisch the storekeeper and manager who struck Sir John on the nose and knocked him down. Two other persons are now in charge of stores for the London and Limpopo Company.

12-Dec  Willie Hartley and Murphy arrived at Mangwe, their wagon’s progress has been slowed by the heavy rains. They say Henry Hartley is recovering.

Baines visits Lee’s farmhouse and finds Mohr has arrived on foot, his wagon is 20 miles behind. The heavy rains prevented Mohr and Hübner from reaching the Victoria Falls, the Gwaai river becoming impassable.

The Tati river is also in flood: “The broad sandy bed lying bare and dry, perhaps for miles, when a head of water, two or three feet deep or more, is seen rolling and tumbling forward, very slowly compared with the preconceived notions of such a flood, but nevertheless quite rapidly enough to endanger anyone who might unfortunately be in its way.

13-Dec  A number of wagons arrive at Mangwe including those of Willie Hartley, W.B. ‘Zambeze’ Browne, James Gifford, George ‘Elephant’ Phillips and others. Baines says Sir John Swinburne came in the evening in his two-wheeled cart “and some of our friends dined with him and gave him rather a rough taste of colonial freedom.”  

14-Dec  Mohr offered Baines painting commissions for £100, all of which he used for the purchase of supplies and services for the South African Goldfields Exploration Company.

15-Dec  Baines paints a first sketch for Mohr’s commission of the encampment with its five wagons with their flags flying, the tents, cattle kraal, fires and people busy at various activities. In the centre a group firing shots at a hat thrown up by a servant and in the foreground Mohr’s young ostriches.

16-Dec  Mohr gives Baines his first bill for £35, dated Lee’s farm, Lat 20°44´ South, Long. 28°14´ East and decides to give it to Behrens. He buys a goat and sheep from Mrs Zietsman. The rocky kopje of Lee’s Castle stands out white in the sunlight against the heavy dark clouds. Heavy rain followed, nearly an inch. Carl Lee brings a pair of beautiful white egrets about which Baines eulogises.

17-Dec  The drivers need to be allotted to wagons. Jan Leeuw and Matchean to Nelson, John Mackenzie and Jan Loantly with Watson at Baines’ wagon, John Fontein and Jan Vrei to go to Tati with Jewell. They left the outspan at John Lee’s about midday, Mohr hoisting his colours as they left. There is a long description here of a chameleon which most persons are scared of.

18-Dec  Cross the Kwesi river which is flowing and covers the axles of the wagons.

19-Dec  Near the Impakwe drift Baines notices dry-stone walling: “…from its position it looks like breastwork commanding the drift. The mount within is formed of calcined clay, as if a wattle-and-daub house had been burnt down and a few fragments of Mashona pots remain.”

20-Dec  They leave the Impakwe river about 6am and reached the Ramaqueban river three hours later, the water flowing in the middle of the broad stream bed and outspanned on the western bank in a grove of old Kameeldoorn.[xxx] The appearance of a large lizard with a red head and tail leads to a long passage on animal camouflage and how they blend into their natural surroundings.

21-Dec  Whilst Baines painted sketches for Mohr, Nelson explored the country. John Fontein walked to Tati, a distance of 8½ miles “and returned in a not much worse condition than might have been expected, seeing that a gin shop is one of the institutions established by Sir John.”

22-Dec  They reach Tati hoisting their colours as they drove in and then crossing the Tati river that, like the Ramaqueban, is a small stream in the middle of a wide sandy bed. After outspanning on the western bank under some thorn trees they walked back to Tati where their friend Daniel Kisch (Baines calls him Kirsch) invited them for breakfast. Baines still had a balance on the bill that he had given Swinburne and hoped to use it at the Tati store of the London and Limpopo Company.

Carl Behrens, the Durban agent of the South African Goldfields Exploration Company had written to say he had no more funds on which Baines could draw credit and so Daniel Kisch agreed to present the bill on the company at London.

The Tati community asked Baines to support their Christmas festivities and he agreed to play his burlesque puppet performances of Hamlet and Othello on two successive nights.

Thirty persons, the entire community at Tati, were present at a meeting in drawing up civil and criminal codes including the make-up of a potential firing squad for dealing with murderers!

Heavy rain.

23-Dec  Visited the London and Limpopo Company storehouse to make up a list of supplies. Sent sugar, two flasks of gin and salted pork for the wagon drivers across the river.

24-Dec  Selected about £150 worth of stores, including calico, canvas for side-tents, 100lbs of beads, calico shirts and clothing for barter, cocoa and sugar, a case of gin, gunpowder and lead. All useful articles for bartering for oxen or slaughter cattle. The drivers were allowed to select articles up to the amount of their wages.

In the afternoon John Lee appeared at Kisch’s door. He was well but had been delayed by business and the road. The wagons were following with Mrs Lee and supplies from Reid for Baines’ party.

Large sheets of foolscap paper advertised the puppet performances and 6-8 natives carried them, sandwich fashion, with John Vrei marching ahead with a tin case and yokeskei for a drumstick!

Dr Coverley, manager of the Glasgow and Limpopo Company, lent his house as the theatre and that evening the puppets performed Hamlet in a style never before attempted at the Tati diggings…a very well managed flute formed the orchestra! Many of the characters were omitted, but Baines’ account is very amusing. He says the announcement of Othello for Monday night was well received!

25-Dec  A volley of gunshots sounded at midnight. In the afternoon a series of shooting matches took place with Baines taking a prize for shooting least badly. A party was arranged at the mess-room of the London and Limpopo Company with singing of God Save the Queen at midnight.

Thomas Baines: The Tati shooting match on Christmas Day 1869

26-Dec  A quiet day, hymns sung at Dr Coverley’s.

27-Dec  Catching up with correspondence with a vocal and instrumental procession in the village during the evening.

28-Dec  Arthur Levert, assistant manager of the London and Limpopo Company arrived, his horse dying of horse-sickness a few hours after his arrival. A letter from Major David Erskine stated that Kuruman was in Natal but had lost an eye in an accident.

Played a puppet performance of Othello

29-Dec  Correspondence all day

30-Dec  Resting at Kisch’s when Kisch and Jewell entered talking about lions and fetched their guns. Baines followed them out and 100 yards below the store heard a fierce growl and the dogs barking. A carcass of an ox lay a few yards away and as Kisch and Jewell fired, a large tawny animal disappeared in the darkness and the remaining oxen fled towards the river. Others with lanterns and firebrands soon arrived but the lion stayed in the dark. The ox was butchered and the meat distributed.

31-Dec  A lion hunt was proposed, Mohr offered an ox. Baines advised that the lion should be allowed to take the ox and drag it away and they should follow the spoor whilst the lion was resting after eating. But the Khoi servants wanted to follow the lion up at once and their habit of firing off loose shots frightened the lion away.

Some people want to accompany Nelson down to the Natal Colony. They will walk but ask to put their bedding in the wagon.

Kameela and Palhallah refuse payment in goats, despite this being the initial agreement. They want a gun each.

January 1870

01-Jan   New Year’s Day. Jewell painted Nelson’s wagon royal blue. Correspondence all day. Kameela and Palhallah have left.

04-Jan   John Fontein leaves at his own request. Baines says he was a good driver, but not willing to do the work required. A letter from Rev Thomas arrives to say the amaNdebele are coming down to show the Europeans this is their land. Baines advises everyone to stay quiet.

05-Jan   Employed Charlie at £2-10s per month. Nelson preparing for his journey. Letters have been written, maps, sketches and specimens packed and about 10am Nelson crosses the Tati river, which is knee-deep, preceded by Hübner’s wagon and accompanied by four men. Baines spent the evening at Dr Coverley’s writing letters.

06-Jan   Baines taken by Valentine to the various mines in the neighbourhood:

Burrill’s claim is usually identified by a white awning that had been torn away in recent storms. Not much to see, a heap of quartz 10 feet square and 30 inches high, a shaft perhaps 40 feet deep. The site was originally worked by Captain Black, there are old workings covered in grass and a primitive windlass or mine hoist such as are seen in Zimbabwe’s artisanal gold mines today.

At the time they visited a gun-powder charge was fired, once the smoke cleared the visitors went down the shaft lowered by rope. The shaft had been sunk through hard rock with jumpers and sledge-hammers before being blasted apart by gun-powder. The miners expected to reach the gold reef in the next few feet.

At the Glasgow and Limpopo Company gold working efforts were suspended while the picks and jumpers were being repointed at the forge. The shaft was nearly 50 feet deep and they descended by putting the right foot in a stirrup and standing upright. A cross-drive at the bottom reached a small but rich quartz vein and a sample Baines took showed visible gold.

Other workings they visited had shafts of 40 – 50 feet, although one was nearly 90 feet. One of the dangers to the miners was dropped buckets.

07-Jan   A lion was heard about a mile away. The oxen they have are poor and ill-sorted being unequal in size and strength, the best having been taken by Nelson. The oxen were unable to pull the wagon over the Ramaqueban river so the wagon had to be unloaded before being dragged across the sandy bed.

08-Jan   Oxen left to graze before trekking to the Impakwe river, which was not crossed. Baines walked on with Jonas and two of Coward’s men promising to send oxen from Lee’s place. Built a scherm for the night.

09-Jan   Lion heard not far off . The rains had enlarged the wheel ruts into gully’s in places. Baines shot a duiker. Some of the trees and bushes were laden with fruit, the beautiful crimson Morootlie and another similar to one called Matondo on the Zambesi.

Mangwe reached in the afternoon with Baines footsore from new veldschoens. William Watson, Baines’ cousin was there and Sam Edwards. Saw John Lee who had not seen the letter from Baines sent earlier with John Cooksley, a transport rider.

Baines showed Lee the letter from Major Erskine saying Kuruman was in Natal. Volunteered a wagon to collect Kuruman. Lee put off his hunting trip and agreed to go to Inthlathlangela with Baines if Manyame lets them pass.

10-Jan   Henry Byles lent a wagon, King said he would drive it. Baines has an amusing chapter when he threatens those who stole a bottle of cognac with the ‘punishment’ of drinking another. When one of them hints that John Lee was the main offender, he threatens to ‘punish’ Lee alone, but the others declare they are ‘prepared to meet their doom.’

Mrs Lee provides provisions and they set off in heavy rain reaching Manyame’s kraal about 11 miles away. They meet with Manyame who offers no objections to their travel because Lee is with them.

11-Jan   They inspan early and halt for breakfast at the Shashani river before crossing the Moegwie river and reaching the ‘top of the hill’ and the watershed of the Zambesi / Limpopo rivers.

At midday they meet George Phillips who says the amaNdebele do not believe Kuruman is in Natal. They are collecting cattle for the coronation feast and preparing for the dances. At present they seem determined to install Lobengula as king. Baines says they must proceed carefully for, if Lobengula becomes king, he is their friend already and if the amaNdebele do not want Kuruman, it is neither their duty nor interest to force him on them.

They reach Umvolulu’s (Umvonulu) kraal where Baines left his exhausted oxen and Umvolulu tells him the oxen are now fat, except the one that could not rise which is dead. He recommends they hide nothing about Kuruman as he has a better right to be king than Lobengula.

12-Jan   Trekked at sunrise. Byles went to shot quaggas but came across lions that killed one dog and another is missing.

After crossing the Kumalo river they go east and reach Inthlathlangela and met some of the izinDuna’s, none of whom question Lee’s right to enter the country. While they wait at Lotje’s hut a party of warriors arrive with their black and white ox hide war-shields and large ostrich feather capes. Around the upper arms are bound tufts of hair from white ox-tails and legs are similarly gartered.

They spoke to several izinduna; Umlomo, Umgoba, Umtigan and Umkaitcho. John Lee cautiously asked them about Kuruman and the answer was: “You had better not say anything upon the subject.” So Lee said nothing more about fetching Kuruman as they do not wish to be the cause of a civil war.

Some of the izinDuna’s refuse to come and still hold out for Kuruman. Umbeko of the Zwangendaba regiment is one and Baines thinks there are others including Unyochin, Umnyamanddlo and Nyameni.

Thomas Baines: amaNdebele warrior in finery with his young helper – 1870

13-Jan   An early start to reach Lobengula’s kraal who comes out to greet them. He seemed pleased to see us and talks freely with Lee and sits on the same ox-skin as us under the shadow of our wagon and has breakfast with us. Baines believed their visit will be seen as the first complimentary visit to the king.

The actual details of Lobengula’s coronation are still being speculated about. Baines leaves Lee with Lobengula and visits Willie Hartley, R. Hudson, Harry Grant and William Thomas,[xxxi]  all traders and hunters who have been permitted to enter the country. Willie had collected more than forty butterflies and beetles for Baines.

Baines then visits the camp of Rev Thomas and family who are enjoying the change from Inyati Mission. Nothing of a political nature is discussed.

Willie Hartley and Baines visit Lobengula and drink beer and discuss the difference between amaNdebele and English towns. Lobengula visits them at the wagon in the evening and talks with Lee late into the night saying Sir John Swinburne and Rev Thomas accused Baines of having dug holes for gold.

14-Jan   Lobengula visits again and rides on the wagon to open a new road to his kraal. Baines gives him a shirt and calico pieces for each of the women. Lee has told Lobengula that if he wishes to search for Kuruman that Baines would give him a wagon “but he is now, as they say, on the very edge of the milk-jar and would rather jump in and drink for himself, then go away and call another.”

During the journey back Baines discusses with Lee the best way of acquiring land for the South African Goldfields Exploration Company. Lee’s opinion was that it was better to buy than hire and to pay in cattle and guns (perhaps 100 muskets) Lobengula should be invited to see in person the land being sold and natural boundaries should be used such as hills and rivers that could be pointed out to the king. The actual size of the land grant can be measured out once the sale is agreed.

15-Jan   About midday they reach Manyame’s kraal where John Cooksley is waiting for permission to enter the country. George Phillips and George Westbeech have been granted permission; their guides greeting Baines as Umsibenzi which Phillips interpreted as ‘workman.’

16-Jan   Visit friends, Sunday service at the wagon, correspondence later

17-Jan   Cut out the canvas for a tent to be attached to the wagon or as a stand-alone. Jewell’s wagon being repaired and painted. Still heavy rains. Baines does not expect visitors as he told them they were drinking the last gin-bottle!

Lee is prepared to sell a ‘salted horse’ for 3 cwt[xxxii] of beads worth £61-10s. It is valued, he says, at £75 and guarantees it from horse-sickness until May 1870. Baines says traders and hunters need large profits to cover their losses to horses and oxen.

Mohr’s ostriches are growing into fine birds. One snatched half their breakfast this morning and they could see the bone as a large lump in its gullet for a long time.

18-Jan   Jewell painting the wagon, Watson putting raw-hide on the after-chest, Baines writing letters to Oliver, Behrens, Nelson and Major Erskine and preparing for their hunting trip. Heavy rain had washed much of the paint off the newly-painted wagon.

Three amaNdebele came from Umbeko to hear what news there was about Kuruman in Natal. They say Kuruman came up through Marico driving cattle aged 7 years old to the north-west of Tati. This would make him 42 years of age in 1870 and he therefore cannot be the same as the alleged Kuruman in Natal.

Nothing was said to them about Baines’ offer to Lobengula of sending a wagon down to Natal…Baines and Lee do not want to cause a civil war.

19-Jan   A dry day after the rain and a chance to dry the tents and wagon gear. Umbeko’s messengers have gone on to Tati. The young oxen are being taken on the hunting trip to train them for the next journey.

The wagons leave in the morning, Baines and Lee follow on horseback travelling about 12 miles east. The wagons are sinking into the wet soil and conditions are not good for horses so they propose postponing the hunting.

20-Jan   Lee gets his drivers and servants to sweep the east and south in the hope of finding game. Buffalo hides will be cut into 5 inch strips for veldschoen soles, giraffe hides into wagon whips or reims, other skins kept for voorslags, reimpjies or over-leather according to their thickness. Baines would have liked to join the hunt for an opportunity to do more sketching.

The ride back to the camp took 2½ hours. Baines worked on the tent, Jewell, Watson and John Mackenzie are painting the wagon wheels and the under carriage (lower stell) in blue, the remainder in red.

21-Jan   Baines and Watson working on the tent.

Lee comes over to say Ncumbata (Baines writes Umnombata) wants him at Inthlathlangela. They decide it best if Baines does not accompany him.

22-Jan   Jewell takes his wagon to Lee’s house and loads up. Baines wants to shift his camp as it is becoming infested with flies and complains that his companions lack order and carry out little maintenance of tools and instruments.

24-Jan   Some Mashona bring salt and sell them hoes which are made of better iron and cheaper than those from the London and Limpopo Company.

Mohr arrives in the afternoon with his wagon tent-frame smashed accompanied by Dr Coverley, Willie Hartley and Sam Edwards. Swinburne has left for Natal taking Baines’ letters.

25-Jan   Baines eats with Mohr and enjoys French beans and cucumber grown in his own garden.

Baines, Watson and Mackenzie set up the new tent that is 12 feet long, 9 feet high and 16 feet wide at the base.

26-Jan   Works on a painting for Mohr. Lee returns from Inthlathlangela but the rain is too heavy to visit. Mohr’s tent is flattened and everyone takes refuge in Baines’ new tent. A bottle of cognac is shared as further work is out of the question.

27-Jan   Lee says that the destiny of Matabeleland was decided on Monday 24 January. Lobengula was declared king and successor to Mzilikazi (Baines writes Moselekatze) 9,000 or more warriors wearing their towering headdresses of ostrich plumes and cape and bearing the ox-hide shields of their regiments danced to honour Lobengula. Lee says he is sorry that Baines missed the spectacle. The massed ranks chanted in deep chorus while at intervals single warriors sprang forward and rattling their spears against their shields shouted their willingness to die for Lobengula.

Cattle were brought up by each regiment and from each a number were selected for slaughter with the black ones killed first, then the speckled and lastly those of various colours. The royal kraal was heaped with dead cattle carcasses that during the night were skinned and cut up and the flesh cooked to be distributed amongst Lobengula’s subjects.

Lee was told that all the privileges granted to him by Mzilikazi would be confirmed and guaranteed by Lobengula.

Lobengula tried to get Lee’s horse in exchange for ivory but was told it had been offered to Baines and was waiting his answer. Lobengula said he was satisfied with Lee’s answer, as he said that even if Baines purchased the horse, he was likely to get it when next Baines visited him!

Baines complains that Jewell and Watson work well enough when with him but are easily distracted by the endless stream of visitors to their camp.

NHM: amaNdebele warriors dancing in their finery

29-Jan   A fine morning after heavy rain and all the wagon gear out to dry. Arthur Levert, manager of the London and Limpopo Company in Swinburne’s absence, arrived from Tati having been summoned by Lobengula. He tells Baines he can have the beads to purchase the salted horse from Lee, but at present cannot supply the whole quantity.

Lee has told Jewell and Watson that he will do his best to secure land for the South African Goldfields Exploration Company but would like an agreement. Baines has already written to London proposing that Lee be paid £200 per annum as the company’s agent in Matabeleland.

Baines writes that Nelson is confident that the country has gold. Baines himself has seen gold and Lee feels he will be able to get a land grant.

30-Jan   Sunday morning service. Heavy rains.

31-Jan   Baines works on his map marking the rivers and to indicate the land they might purchase from the amaNdebele.

February

01-Feb  As there is no chance of quiet at his tent, Baines takes his map to Lee’s and shows him all the places known to Nelson and himself for having gold, but especially between the Impembesi, Sebaque and Umnyati rivers, the Simbo rivulet north of the Umvuli river, the quartz hill’s seen by Henry Hartley near the old Portuguese house on the Imbeela river and the Inzinghazi river as well as old Shona workings Baines saw north-west of their camp at Ganyana.

Lee suggests asking for the land between the Impembesi and Umvuli, but Baines suggests rather the Impembesi to Umnyati and then from the Umvuli to Inzinghazi.

Rivers referred to as containing gold

Lee thinks the amaNdebele would ask for as much for land the size of a wagon as they would for a large district and it would be better to buy as big as they can, no purchase is as cheap as the first.

Baines decides to take Lee’s horse in case of any emergencies. Henry Hartley has promised to bring four salted horses next season at not more than £50 each.

Jewell and Baines draw up an agreement for John Lee to act as agent for the South African Goldfields Exploration Company for £200 per annum beginning 16 June 1869.

02-Feb  Baines works on his map.

03-Feb  Writes to the London directors about the agreement with Lee.

04-Feb  Sam Edwards says he will cut a log into planks so they fell a Moroola (Marula tree Sclerocarya birrea) with fine soft even-grained wood that the natives use to make bowls. A log 12 feet long is cut and hauled back to camp by the oxen. A saw-pit 3 feet deep is dug and lined with logs.

05-Feb  Finished laying logs around the saw-pit and started cutting the outside of the log. Heavy rains.

06-Feb  Visited Lee and walked around his land learning the family history of all his cattle.

07-Feb  Edwards and Watson start sawing the log. Baines writes: “Jewell and I should have been writing, but, as the sawing went like the course of true love, anything but smooth, we took spell and spell with them and by noon had begun to get a little accustomed to each other’s stroke… Watson had set the saw very well but Edwards, wanting to work more up to perfection than could soon be expected with an unpractised mate, got him to try again and the usual consequences of not letting well enough alone followed.”

Thomas Baines; The saw-pit

12-Feb  During the week, through Edwards perseverance, the log was sawed up into 10 planks about 12 feet long, a foot wide and an inch thick. Baines own work was interrupted to give Edwards a break, the work was too hard for Jewell and Watson did not get the hang of it until the log was nearly finished.

On Friday 11-Feb Baines made four copies of his map from Zwangendaba and Inyati to the Ganyana and Mashona mountains and mounted one copy of four sheets on calico forming a map 4 x 3 feet.

Watson made rollers for the map and Edwards spent all Saturday reading out the details of all rivers, mountains and native tribes bordering their wagon route that Baines copied. He writes that the watershed is very narrow, running nearly east at first, then sweeps around to the north and north-east, forming a mighty amphitheatre.

Baines speculates that if they can get 200 miles of boat navigation on the Sabi (present-day Save) river then there would be just 200 miles of land travel to the Simbo (Chimbo) rivulet claims and a coaster from Natal would bring up the heavy goods from Natal much more cheaply than ox-wagons.

Both Henry Hartley and George Phillips had been near the village of a chief named Watah (Hwata) in the present-day Mazowe district, 40 miles east of their furthest point at Ganyana (Hunyani, present day Manyame) river. Phillips reported orange trees growing besides the river.[xxxiii]

Baines states that these are tributaries[xxxiv] of the Luenya which runs into the Zambesi near Bonga’s piratical stockade.[xxxv]

The expedition lost their dog little Jack this week. He had begun to look unwell, was given medicine, and failed to return and they fear a hyena may have caught him.

13-Feb  Lee tells Baines that the Mashona chief Umtigan has invited him to shoot sea-cows (hippopotamus)

Thomas Baines: Chief Umtigan at the head of his regiment

14-Feb  Lee came over with Du Plessis who wanted to send a 40lb elephant tusk down to Tati to exchange for goods. His roer gun had burst and he was unable to shoot more elephant but promised to help Baines with the names of rivers running into the Limpopo.

15-Feb  Jewell is going to Tati and puts his stores into Baines’ tent and will take 9 finished sketches down with him. Watson has made rhino-horn pipes for all the party.

Mohr and Edwards have been to Manyame’s kraal as Mohr intends going to the Victoria Falls and has been persuaded the Deka road (spelt Daka by early travellers) is the best.[xxxvi]  

William Saunders and Henry McGillewie (Baines writes MacGilloway) arrive from hunting elephants on the Ramaqueban river.

A lioness has walked into August Griete’s[xxxvii]  kitchen and devoured some puppies, a lot of biltong and an impala carcass.

Baines finishes this journal. “It is now past midnight. Jewell is making veldschoens for himself and I am just about to close up the journal with kind wishes to all our friends and every hope of success in the coming season.” T. Baines

 

References

J.P.R. Wallis (Editor) The Northern Goldfields Diaries of Thomas Baines. First Journey 1869-70. Vol I. Oppenheimer Series. Chatto and Windus, London 1946

J.P.R. Wallis. Thomas Baines of King’s Lynn. Explorer and Artist 1820-1875. Books of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, 1972

E.C. Tabler. Pioneers of Rhodesia. C. Struik (Pty) Ltd Cape Town, 1966

www.alanbrough.com John L. Lee “Herculean Nimrod and Father of the Big Game Hunters”

Notes


[i] The Quagga, (Equus quagga quagga) is a sub-species of the Zebra that is believed to have been hunted to extinction in the wild by 1878

Full striped Quagga supposed new variety (Equus Chapmanni) intermediate between E. Burchelli & E.Montanus female/shot by myself a few miles from Logier Hill, Zambesi River Sunday 7 Dec 1862/ T. Baines/Cape Town/21 Jan 1865

On the left of the painting is a Kigelia Pinnata, or African Sausage Tree, with its strange hanging fruit and red flowers which Baines describes it as follows: “On the banks of the rivulets grew the picturesque mosaawe – the pao-pisa of the Portuguese (Kigelia pinnata) – a large, soft-wooded tree, nearly impossible to work when cut with the sap in it. It is remarkable chiefly of the dark crimson flowers pendent on stems four feet or more long from its spreading branches. It has a fruit, hard, inedible, and fibrous as a great wooden cucumber.”

[ii] Pallah, from the Tswana 'red antelope'; from 1875 until present-day called the impala

[iii] Baines spells Mzilikazi as Umselegas or Moselekatze

[iv] John Lee, hunter and trader first hunted elephant in Matabeleland in 1862 and in 1866 settled at Mangwe on land granted to him by Mzilikazi. In the early days of the gold rush at Tati he marked off claims and interviewed diggers. He became trusted by Mzilikazi who appointed him as agent and adviser in his dealings with Europeans. 

[v] A wooden brake-shoe (reim-schoen) that eventually were superseded by iron shoes made of sections of discarded wheel rims. During normal trekking, the reim-schoen would be hooked up and out of the way, under the carriage. 

[vi] Rev Thomas Morgan Thomas (1828-1884) was a London Missionary Society (LMS) missionary at Inyati from 1859-1870. He meddled in amaNdebele politics and was accused by the LMS of trading on his own account. He cut his connections with the LMS and established himself at Shiloh on land given him by Lobengula

[vii] Manyame's kraal was on a small spruit of the Shashani River, surrounded by granite hills. It was an outpost of the amaNdebele where travellers would request permission to enter the country

[viii] Harris describes Ncumbata in Wild Sports P99: “a peer of the realm. An elderly man of slight figure, benevolent aspect and mild but dignified demeanour. He wore the usual tails, consisting of a few strips of wild cat and monkey skin dangling in front and some larger and more widely apart behind. The elliptical ring or Issigoko was surmounted by the inflated bladder of a sheep.”

[ix] Both Khama III’s father, Chief Sekgoma I and his brother Macheng (Baines calls Matjen) who succeeded him as chief of the Bamangwato, the largest tribe in Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana) tried and failed to assassinate Khama III. Macheng was installed as chief in 1869.

[x] Explorations in South-West Africa : being an account of a journey in the years 1861 and 1862 from Walvisch Bay, on the Western Coast to Lake Ngami and the Victoria Falls / by Thomas Baines, published in 1864

[xi] Tabler states he was commissioned a lieutenant

[xii] Lawson and Grey Palmer were traders. Palmer’s wife, Agnes Palmer is buried at Hope Fountain Mission with a photo of her grave in the article with the same name under Matabeleland South province on this website

[xiii] Rev Thomas had busied himself in the matter of amaNdebele succession and imagined that he had more authority with Lobengula and the chief councillors than he actually had. This led to the dismissal of Thomas by the LMS and his move to Shiloh

[xiv] Here Thomas reveals the extent of his meddling. He had supported Swinburne’s London and Limpopo Company but did not support Baines and the South African Goldfields Exploration Company. However Ncumbata’s authority would always be considered greater by the amaNdebele than that of Rev Thomas

[xv] Edward Coward and Stone opened a trading store at Tati called ‘The Flagstaff’ or ‘Bunting Lodge’ in April 1869 and were trading at Inyati in July 1869. Coward’s house at Tati was deserted and burnt down in December 1870

[xvi] Baines Goldfield Diaries Volume I has the Umvungu river crossed twice, at P114 and P115. Baines map at https://exhibits.stanford.edu/maps-of-africa/catalog/pn565rk5366 has the Umboongo river reached before the Umvungu river and I have substituted this. The Umboongo may be the Ziponto stream, a tributary of the present-day Vungu river

[xvii] Hans Hai has long hunted in Matabeleland and is mentioned by Robert Moffat. He came from Waterboer’s country, a 100 miles west of Bloemfontein

[xviii] Huge granite kopjes at Mokoromukwa and Excelsior Farm on the east bank of the Manyame river

[xix]The Portuguese house must refer to the trading station at Maramuca. See the article Maramuca, a Portuguese Feira dating from 1660 – 1680 in Mashonaland West province on this website

[xx] August Griete, head miner and mineralogist of the London and Limpopo Company. On 1 October 1869 Edwards brought a message stating Ncumbata had ordered them to leave for Inyati. Griete was at the Bluejacket Mine near Tati in Jan 1870-1

[xxi] Probably a puff adder (Bitis arietans) which can be white and black or brown and is very poisonous

[xxii] Actually it is Paul Jebe, traveller and explorer, who accompanied Karl Mauch but then stayed on at Inyati after Mauch left in March / April 1869. See the article Karl Mauch, explorer and geologist and the man who claimed to be the first European to visit Great Zimbabwe under Masvingo province on this website. Jebe stayed on at Inyati End, accompanied the Hartley party to Mashonaland. He left his companions at the Umfuli (Mupfure) on the 25 August and walked alone to the Hunyani (Manyame)  and down that river for 70 miles in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the Zambezi. He returned to the hunters waggons at the Umfuli on the 23rd of September 1869]

[xxiii] These cross the road – the original old workings have been entirely destroyed in modern times

[xxiv] See the article Mzilikazi's Grave under Matabeleland South on this website

[xxv] The Ntwetwe pan is a large salt pan within the Makgadikgadi region of present-day Botswana.

[xxvi] Harry Grant, hunter, trader and builder. Present at Lobengula’s coronation in January 1870.

[xxvii] Paul Zietsman, hunter, trader, farmer, tanner. An experienced and skilful hunter, visited the Victoria Falls in 1865, hunted with Mohr and Lee in 1869. Started a tannery near his house at Tati.

[xxviii] Karl Meyer, hunted elephant with Paul Zietsman, worked as a blacksmith near Lee’s place at Mangwe in the rainy season

[xxix] There were three Jennings brothers: George, James I and James III, all hunters and traders, but I am not sure which brother was at Mangwe at this time

[xxx] a tall tree (Acacia giraffa) one of several types of acacia on which giraffe are known to often browse

[xxxi] No relation to Revd Thomas

[xxxii] Cwt is a hundredweight or 112lbs in imperial measure 

[xxxiii] Lemon trees left by the Portuguese are reported to have grown wild on the Mazowe river

[xxxiv] Correct, the Mazowe river 

[xxxv] Baines is referring to Bonga’s aringa (fortified stockade) at Massangano that was occupied continuously until the late 1880’s when the last of the prazo-holders at this place, Bonga was defeated and finally destroyed by the Portuguese. See the article The Portuguese Feiras and trading settlements of the 16th – 17th century on the Northern Mashonaland Plateau and Manicaland under Mashonaland Central on this website

[xxxvi] The only other route north would be the road along the present Botswana / Zimbabwe border by George Westbeech

[xxxvii] the London and Limpopo Company’s miner

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