The Los Angeles Times, September 14, 1924, p.J9:|
With a Prince Among the PygmiesBy PRINCE WILLIAM OF SWEDEN
Strange Human Race in the Heart of Africa,
Mentioned by Homer and Herodotus...
Prince William, second son of King Gustav V. of Sweden, led the recent Swedish Zoological Expedition into Central Africa in search of specimens of rare mountain-gorilla and other important objects. In the course of its advance through Uganda to the Lake Kivu country and the great Birunga volcanoes, then northward to the Nile, the expedition collected nearly 1000 specimens of scientific interest...
The volcanic tract of country north of Lake Kivu, the heart of Africa, has for long been comparatively unknown... The lake itself was only discovered as recently as 1894 by Count von Goetzen, and from that time the mists began to disperse slowly from this mysterious neighborhood. The man who beyond all comparison has done the most valuable work in its exploration is Duke Adolph Freidrich of Mecklenburg.
The first mountain gorilla reached Europe as early as 1903... But thirteen years were to elapse before a specimen reached Sweden... The Belgian State had most kindly accorded us permission to shoot fourteen specimens (two from each volcano,) which number were secured. The animals are otherwise under protection.
There are several ways of reaching the heart of Africa. One may either pass through ex-German East Africa, now Tanganyika territory, by rail via Tabora and reach Lake Tanganyika at Ujiji, and from there Uvira at the northern end of the Lake. Thence one follows the Rusissi Valley to Kivu and continues by canoe to the volcanic district.
Or one may, with the help of the Congo rivers and railways, reach Albertville on the western shore of Tanganyika, unless one prefers, as did Count E. von Rosen, to work up from the south via the South African railway system.
Finally, there is the approach by rail from Mombasa through Kenya Colony to the Victoria Nyanza, across this by boat, and then from one of the harbors on the western shore by caravan through Uganda or Ruanda [Rwanda]. For several reasons we chose the last route.
Thus it happened that the Swedish Expedition to Central Africa assembled in Nairobi, the capital of the Kenya Colony. The nucleus of the expedition consisted--besides the writer--of Count Nils Gyldenstolpe, on whose shoulders were laid, in perfect safety and confidence, the scientific arrangements, aupported by the English taxidermist, Allan Ruddleand [, and] Oskar Olsson, one of Svensk Filmindustri's engineers...
After twenty-four hours journey [by railroad] we arrived at Entebbe, the capital of Uganda.
On January 22 the expedition passed M'barara and just a week later it was assembled in Kabale.
We left the hospitable Kabale on Sunday, January 30, and began the last toilsome walk toward the heart of Africa. Every trace of civilization was left behind us. In front of us there was only barren wilderness.
From the valley below Kabale, whose low middle ridge constitutes the watershed of the rivers of the district, the narrow path winds upward. Green slopes with bushes and high grass rise on either side. Their soft contours give the impression of hills, but in reality they are high mountains.
After a few hours climbing we reached the first ridge and looked, astonished, down the other side. It is a view that remains in the memory. Framed between green slopes the narrow Lake Bunyoni lies deep beneath our feet. Like a silver ornament with encrusted emeralds the surface glistens with its round islands, which are invisible from here in relief against the water.
A few long, dark objects cut narrow lines across the river. They are the canoes that are to bring us across. And on the other side, far away beyond the circumjacent mountains, an impressive misty blue cone grows up towards the clouds: the top of Muhavura. For the first time the goal of our wanderings is in sight...
Now we are descending again and in a while we stand by the shore of the lake, which is sparsely covered with papyrus. Here a great surprise awaits us. A real, live compatriot, Commander Elias Arrhenius, in the service of the Belgian government and for a long time in the Congo army, meets us with a true Swedish handshake...
Behungi lies on the edge of the mountain chain which forms the eastern wall of the great Central African Rift Valley, which embraces, amongst others, Lakes Tanganyika, Edward and Albert, like an enormously broad and deep ditch. The mountains begin in Rhodesia and stretch in an almost unbroken chain all the way to the country around Bahr-el-Jebel. Almost halfway the valley is closed up by the massif of the Birunga volcanoes.
Deep down beneath my feet lies the fertile Bufumbira plain. It looks as if a gigantic, green, tumultuous, tempest-tossed sea had suddenly become petrified and formed waves and circular crater cones. The people down below look like ants; only with the help of field-glasses can I distinguish them. But then the lava plain lies almost 900 meters below the spot where I stand. Like three gigantic pyramids, Muhavura, Mgahinga and Sabinio all rise up in a row on the other side. The volcanoes assume massive proportions.
Further away one can catch a glimpse of Mikeno and a blue, misty shape in a white skull-cap which is Karissimbi, the highest of the giants. To the right the mirror of Lake Mutanda dazzles the eye and to the left the restless surface of Chahafi and Mulero glistens in the light of the setting sun...
The following day I made my first acquaintance with the pygmies... It was only in 1866 that the pygmies of Herodotus were re-discovered by a missionary, and thanks to the travels of Stanley, Du Chaillu, and others their existence was further confirmed.
Nowadays we know of several different tribes of pygmies. Those that we came into closest contact with are called are called Ba-twa, and they live chiefly in the great forests east of Kivu and the Birunga volcanoes. They are a shy race who live by hunting, or when that fails, by stealing. Formerly it happened regularly that the tribe lay in ambush and shot at all passing safaris [, and] with their poisoned arrows, killed or frightened away the escort and then took what they needed of its goods...
Nowadays they are, however, comparatively respectable, thanks to the personal influence of Capt. Phillips, an English official at Kabale. He has, after patient labor, succeeded in bringing about peaceful intercourse with the tribe... The last time he was there Phillips mentioned our expedition and said that we should like to meet them.
"Perhaps," answered the little man, "if they bring salt, for salt is good. In any case we shall accompany them and be so close to them all the time that we shall be able to reach them with our hands. But they will not see us."
After we had shouted out fine promises of salt the whole day, about twenty Ba-twa at last came out to receive this ardently desired delicacy.
They are not so strikingly small. According to measurements made in the forest of Bugoye during the Duke of Mecklenburg's expedition, the average height would be about four feet eight inches. The color of the skin is very dark, the heads are round, the noses flat. The body in general is harmoniously developed, the shoulders are broad and the chests full. Around the loins they wrap a skin, but otherwise they are naked.
Their worldly good they carry in a small bag on their backs, in which the "fire sticks" are also stuck. There are two of these, cut from the same wood and a little thicker than an ordinary pencil. One, in which a hollow has been carved, is put on the ground and is held there firmly by one foot. The point of the other is then made to rotate in the hole. This is done by rotating the stick with great speed between the two hands, whilst at the same time pressing sufficiently on the stick beneath. Soon the friction has so heated the two pieces of wood that dried grass or tinder which had been put around the hole catches fire.
It is astonishing with what speed and confidence the pygmies handle their fire implements. Withing the space of a few minutes, which to a European seems inexplicably short, the fire flames up. I tried myself to carry out the performance, but am ashamed to say that I did not succeed, and after half an hour's energetic drilling I had to give up the attempt. At that stage the palms of my hands threatened to catch fire, but by no means the grass.
Some members of the dwarf tribes, especially those on the Kwijwij Island in Lake Kivu, make simple and beautiful vessels of clay, showing a developed though unconscious trend toward the artistic; but otherwise they have no handicrafts. They lead a nomadic life in the forests and settle where it suits them for the moment. Their huts are also of the very simplest construction.
Their arms consist of short spears, besides bows and arrows. The necessary hardware they obtain from the Bahutu in exchange for skins and meat. Arrows both with wooden and iron tips are used. The latter are mostly painted with a slowly killing vegetable poison. A knife of crescent shape (a sort of panga) on a handle finally completes the equipment of the well-to-do.
Strictly speaking, one cannot call them a race of pygmies, for the average height is too great. Probably they are descended at one remove from some pure-blooded pygmy tribe, but they have been mixed with some foreign element during the course of time.
If you ask such a little gentleman what he himself knows of his descent, he will answer that the tribe comes from a very remote place far away in the south. But nobody knows anything more exactly. There seem to be no traditions left in their case.
The pygmies had promised to help us to drive the mountain elephants out into the little open spaces at Chuya. But the animals were too cunning and preferred, for very natural reasons, to keep to the protecting forest fringe.
The people of the region, called by the common name Banya Ruanda, include three distinct races with much the same religion and from the beginning united under the same scepter: Batusi, Ba-hutu and Ba-twa.
The first mentioned constitute the ruling class, are of the same semi-hamitic origin and are unusually tall and well-grown. Their features are finely cut, with straight nose and high forehead. Their color is a light copper yellow. They drape themselves often in wide multicolored mantles quite like togas and give their noble features and long spears almost an impression of olden Greeks. A band around the forehead heightens the resemblance.
The Ba-hutu are of the Bantu race; that is, pure-blooded negroes. They constitute the working part of the population and in number exceed the other two tribes added together.
Finally, the Ba-twa are the pseudo-pygmies. They do no work but the others are afraid of them and their arrows, and therefore treat the little men with a certain respectful condescension.
The King of Ruanda is called Mwami. With the exception of Negus Negasih in Abyssinia, he is probably the most powerful of all the native African rulers. Ever since the end of the eighteenth century the Abega Batusi of the Baniginya family have been hereditary kings.
see also: Congo News - Uganda News - Tanzania News|
All of Rwanda is
one time zone at GMT+2,
with no Daylight Savings time.
The Republic of Rwanda (formerly called Ruanda) is a landlocked country in east-central Africa, south of the Equator. It is bounded on the west by Congo (Kinshasa) and Lake Kivu, on the north by Uganda, on the east by Tanzania, and on the south by Burundi. The capital is Kigali. The area of Rwanda is 10,169 square miles (26,338 square km). The estimated population of Rwanda for July, 2007 is 9,907,509. The official languages are Kinyarwanda (a Bantu language), French, and English.
The population is comprised of three ethnic groups: almost 86% are Hutu, almost 14% are Tutsi (noted cattle raisers), and about 1% are Twa, a pygmoid people who were apparently the original inhabitants of the region.
The Hutu probably originated in the Congo Basin. They were well established in Rwanda by the 15th century, when the Tutsi, from the north, invaded the area. The Tutsi kings, or mwamis, became the absolute monarchs of Rwanda and neighboring Burundi (formerly called Urundi). Under the mwamis were chiefs and subchiefs who each ruled an umusozi, a territory of a single hill. The social structure in both Rwanda and Burundi was a rigid caste system called ubuhake, in which the Hutu became serfs under the Tutsi.
In the 1880s Rwanda and Burundi became the colony of German East Africa. The Germans, and later, the Belgians, who occupied the country during World War I, ruled the people through the Tutsi chiefs. Following WWI the League of Nations mandated the area to Belgium as the Territory of Ruanda-Urundi. The Belgians finally forced the Tutsi to phase out the ubuhake system by 1958.
In 1959, three years before independence from Belgium, the majority ethnic group, the Hutus, overthrew the ruling Tutsi king. Over the next several years, thousands of Tutsis were killed, and some 150,000 driven into exile in neighboring countries.
The children of these exiles later formed a rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and began a civil war in 1990. The war, along with several political and economic upheavals, exacerbated ethnic tensions, culminating in April 1994 in the genocide of roughly 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Tutsi rebels defeated the Hutu regime and ended the killing in July 1994, but approximately 2 million Hutu refugees - many fearing Tutsi retribution - fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire. Since then, most of the refugees have returned to Rwanda.
Despite substantial international assistance and political reforms - including Rwanda's first local elections in March 1999 and its first post-genocide presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003, respectively - the country continues to struggle to boost investment and agricultural output, and ethnic reconciliation is complicated by the real and perceived Tutsi political dominance.
Kigali's increasing centralization and intolerance of dissent, the nagging Hutu extremist insurgency across the border, and Rwandan involvement in two wars in recent years in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to hinder Rwanda's efforts to escape its bloody legacy.
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