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FROM JINJA TO REJAF.
BY ANDREW BALFOUR, C. B., C M.G.
SOMEHOW Jinja suggests a joke. At least when you speak to any one unfamiliar with the place, he or she usually laughs and says "Jinja-how do you spell it?" Yet Jinja is far from being a joke on a still hot night when there is a steep hill to climb and the mosquitoes are busy. Then, indeed, one is apt to wish that the bungalows were not so far above the little pier which thrusts out into the still waters of the great Viotoria Nyanza.
Very different, however, is the feeling when you step forth from the door of one of these same bungalows into the fresh morning air and gaze abroad and around you. The lower part of the hill trends so steeply to the lake that the landingplace is tucked away beneath it and so invisible, but in any case the stranger has no eye for such a prosaio sight as a wooden wharf and a trim sorew steamer. Nay, rather the eye seeks the glittering waters of Napoleon Gulf with the high forest-clad island in the foreground and roams along the varied coast-line from east to west, the while the mind is busy with vistas of the past.
Yonder is Uganda, from which the murdering hordes of the savage Mtesa were wont to swoop upon Usoga. Jinja has witnessed many battles and much cruelty and bloodshed in
the past. One of its sights is the ancient tree sheltering the stones where on the victims of the oruel despot of Uganda yielded up their lives to the knife or spear. Now, white children play around it and doves harbour in its branches. Indeed, the whole of the residential part of Jinja is very peaceful. It is a garden town. Each bungalow has its compound, hedge-surrounded, full of flowers and shrubs. The roads are wide and in parts lined by a very beautiful solanaceous tree, with white and purple blossoms like those of the potato, but infinitely more magnificent. The open ground is oarpeted by coarse grass, for the whole brae-face has been cleared and is now a verdant slope, steep but pleasant to the eye. The place is peaceful, lulled as it were to sleep by a distant lullaby of rushing waters; for even by day the ear catches a faint murmuring from the west, while at night, to the houses on the verge of the links, there rises on the air a continuous swishing sound, the song of the Ripon Falls, softened by distance but attractive to the ear as the first noise of rain in a dry and thirsty land.
Let us step forth upon these links, links where golf is played industriously upon a short grass; open downs studded here and there by single trees,
with all necessary hazards, though it is the opposite bank which rejoices in a name that somehow seems designed to suit a place where the golf ball bounces-the name Bugungu. The sward slopes gently to the west, to the gorge where the Nile has its birth, where it leaps into being amongst black rocks and spray and oormorants and countless fish; where, gliding from the mighty lake, it gathers force and impetus; where, penned between high banks, it takes a river's form, and encountering the first of its many barricades plunges over and across it; and, 300 yards in width, sweeps and swirls and gargles to the north, a mighty mass of foam-fleoked
a fine free stretch provided which the river pours; the intervening islets green and feathered with vegetation, dark in contrast to the snowy patches of broken water, of bubblesprinkled foam. South of the Falls the stream is placid, fringed here and there with reeds, a broad expanse dotted at times by the heads of hippos, stretching away till it merges with the lake and reaches the spot where the ferry plies from shore to shore. North of the Falls the prospect is superb as viewed from the hill slope. The eye follows the valley down which the huge river hurries, bordered by great forest trees, seamed here and there by rocky fangs and ledges, streaked with white, widening into bays and backwaters and huge dark pools which out into the banks, and over which hang trees where monkeys sport and fisheagles sit motionless as statues.
It is a wonderful sight, this birthplace of the Nile, wonderful as viewed from the heights of Busoga, now free of forest, but once the haunt of the dreaded tsetse fly-perhaps more wonderful close at hand. From above one gazes across the air space to the Kingdom of Uganda, to a lofty bank, in part cleared, in part shaggy with virgin forest. Here of an evening the lordly water-buck with his harem may be seen stealing to the river's edge, where the crocodile lies in wait. Here also at times the western sky is full of the most wondrous hues, from burnished gold and salmon pink to a blood red which might have warmed the hearts of Mtesa and his accurséd
Below, in the rook barricade, one marks the clefts through
Descend the steeps and sally forth upon a rocky ridge which leads to the nearest of the cataracts. I doubt if there is a more attractive spot in Afries. It is not the magnificence of the soene, for that is surpassed by a thousand places in the Dark Continent, it is not even the thought that here the Father of Waters is in process of birth, that this is the very river which, after winding through Uganda, losing itself in the reeds and marshes of Lake Choga, thundering down the chasm at the Falls of Murobison, sweeping through a lonely land to the northern siltings of Lake Albert, anon gliding thence past Wadelai and Nimule, will bring wealth and
life to the Sudan and nourish The broken water below is the fellaheen of Egypt. No, literally studded with their it is rather that there is some- fins and broad black backs. thing homelike in the place. The place is a seething mass There is & breeze blowing of fish, big and little, bobbing down the gorge, there is spray on the surface, leaping up the upon the face, there is the water - slide, drifting drifting down sound of running waters in stream, dashing athwart the the ears. The drought of current-a truly marvellous Africa is gone, although the sight. And, as if this was not hot sun still shines. There is enough, the little rook-ridges a kindly look about it, and and pinnacles give foothold to moreover it is full of life. sooty, greedy cormorants and The very water seems alive. long-necked darters, which The nearest of the Falls, ay, take toll of the smaller leapers, and the middle one, and that and must surely never know farthest away, are no great what it is to suffer want. height, perhaps 30 feet, but Get hold of a rod and a spoonthe rush of the stream is bait, and if only the sun is on grand. One gets quite close the water you are likely soon to the thick gliding arch of to be fast in a big barbelnever-ending water. water-water anything up to 20 lb. -a green as a beryl in its depths, stout fighter if not a very white as snow where the foam sporting fish, As you stand flecks it, resistless water, pour- upon a rook laved by the Nile, ing, ever pouring, into the which at times will surge up pool below. It has a fascinat- to your boot soles, you will ing curve this liquid, hurrying see the clear but agitated mass. For how many thou- water of the pool chock-a-block sand years did it thus leap with big brown shadows as the ledge before ever a white the fish dart and drift hither man's eye beheld it, for how and thither. It would seem many thousand years will it impossible not to hook one by continue so to do ere the hard accident, and yet the perverrook is worn away? It is sity of the gentle art too often eating into it all the time, it sends the inexperienced angler is ever speeding onwards, it home empty-handed. Now tarries not nor rests, the song and again he may land of its labour fills the air. siluroid, one of the ugly catYes, verily the water lives. fish of the Nile, which, however, despite its looks, is more succulent than the insipid barbel. Stages have been built to aid disciples of Izaak in their quest, but these get washed away or submerged when the Nile is high. Even so, one can do very well in the pool just at the base of the
And so does the large fish, which suddenly leaps into sight, shrouded in the cascade like a fly in amber and is hurled backwards whence it sprang. Talk of salmon-leaps! The Ripon Falls are alive with big fat barbel, all striving desperately to gain the lake.
Fall or frem a ledge hard by, past which the current swirls with a power and velocity that make one marvel at the strength and agility of the fish which can face it. There is an angling club at Jinja, and interesting records have been compiled, not only as to the weight of oatohes but as to the habits of the fish. Some day there will be a big hotel at Jinja, and the picnicker will defile the place, and power will be taken from the Falls to light Jinja and Kampala and even Entebbe. The little railway to Namasagali will be electrified, there will be waterworks, and perhaps cottonginning factories-in short, the place may alter as greatly as it has altered since the days when Speke and Grant, first of all Europeans, clapped eyes upon its beauty.
The only wonder is that Jinja is not much more developed, that the great source of energy so close at hand has not been utilised. Had our American cousins owned the cradle of the Nile it would have been rooked to some purpose. Well, the time will come, for if slow-going we are sure, and, after all, there will be much to regret once Science has its way in the wilderness, even if comfort and efficiency are thereby
Let us turn our backs on the river, ascend the slope, and wander past the bungalows and the Banks. We arrive at the Indian bazaar, a dull street, with little of interest in it to any one
familiar with the East, and so eventually reach the very trim and tidy station which is the terminus of an offshoot of the Uganda Railway, and, ouriously enough, the only part of that railway which runs in Uganda.
The train has little to commend it, and fortunately the journey is short-some seventy miles. This little stretch of line, however, taps a cottongrowing country, and is of considerable economic importance, while it has also to be watched-watched carefully for plague. Its station buildings are the best part of it. They are very trim and neat, well-built and carefully kept, rather a pleasing contrast to the tin shanties in British East Africa, though scarcely rivalling the imposing structures which the Boche was pleased to erect in what was once his territory.
The country through which the little train passes is uninteresting, for the line is some distance from the Nile, though roughly parallel to it. Everywhere is low open forest, with a carpeting of long grass. It is hot and rather dusty, so that no one grieves when the journey, which takes a good few hours, is at an end. We tumble out, and there is the Victoria Nile-a Nile which has settled down into placidity, something very unlike the boisterous river we left at Jinja. Broad, deep, and still, with an air of mystery and of impenetrable calm, it slips along through level country, its banks fringed by reeds,
only the swirling surface- waters which, semi-stagnant, eddies telling of its strength. lend themselves to the growth Namasagali-how these Afri- and sustenance of aquatic can names get at one!-is not plants, and more especially of a place wherein to linger, and the swamp-loving papyrus. It once on the little stern-wheeler is curious how closely the tufted we stay there and watch the top of the papyrus resembles barges being fastened in one the plume which decks the head long row to the bow, so that of the Kavirondo orane, that when eventually she pushes off golden-crested bird which so she suggests some kind of de- often wings across vast areas formed narwhal or sword-fish abandoned to this growth. It with a prodigious snout nosing is almost as though the orane in front of her. It is just as had taken a badge from its well, for otherwise there would surroundings, its black velvety be the deuce to pay when the pad being the rich mud where great sudd blocks of Choga the plant sometimes finds holdhove in sight-those drifting ing ground, its shapely tuft masses of papyrus which would the aigrette surmounting the be only too ready to jam them- plant's tall stem. It is a selves between barge and beautiful thing this "mop-head steamer and play the part of of the giant rush," so green its the wait-a-bit thorn of the filaments, so intricate its desouthern veldt. sign of delicate branching threads topped, when in flower, by tiny cones of the palest gold. If the crane sweeps over it, the busy lily trotter, hurrying across the broad flat waterleaves, the snake-necked darter, and the snowy egret harbour amongst it, but one sees few birds from the steamer's deck, few birds and fewer animals. The swamp is desolate.
Meanwhile, however, it is all plain sailing down a clear waterway, with nothing worse upon its bosem than the floating Pistias, which like tiny cabbages drift gently with the stream. A solitary hill upon the eastern bank forms a landmark in the vast plain through which we course, but it is soon left behind, and ere long, as the magical African night casts its mantle on the wilderness and a million stars shine and twinkle overhead, we slip out stealthily and very peacefully, save for the chug, chug of the dripping paddle floats, upon a wide expanse of lonely water, the bosom of Lake Choga.
Choga is soarcely a lake. It is rather a huge mere, a kind of tropical Norfolk broad, a flooding of the Nile over acres of barren land, a ponding of
VOL, CCVII-NO MCCLV.
A voyage upon Lake Choga is as uncertain as life itself. There is no saying when you will reach the desired haven, It all depends on the sudd, and the sudd is the devil. One passage all will be fair sailing, the next the broad water-lane has vanished, and a formidable barrier lies across the steamer's path. The navigation is no easy matter, and the delays are often irksome in the extreme. Still, being sudded is