National Geographic : 1889 Apr
Africa, its Past and Future. 119 at Zanzibar. The ivory and slave-traders have made caravann ing a profession, and every thing the explorer wants is to be found in these bazaars, from a tin of sardines to a repeating-rifle. Here these black villains the porters-the necessity and despair of travelers, the scum of slave-gangs, and the fugitives from justice from every tribe-congregate for hire. And if there is any thing in which African travelers are for once agreed, it is, that for laziness, ugliness, stupidity, and wickedness, these men are not to be matched on any continent in the world." Upon such men as these Stanley was obliged to depend. Though traveling in this way is more rapid than the other, it is very expensive, and has many difficulties not encountered by the solitary traveler. The explorer always goes on foot, following as far as possible the beaten paths. A late traveler says: "The roads over which the land-trade of equatorial Africa now passes from the coast to the interior are mere footpaths, never over a foot in breadth, beaten as hard as adamant, and rutted beneath the level of the forest-bed by centuries of native traffic. As a rule, these foot-paths are marvellously direct. Like the roads of the old Roman, they move straight on through every thing, ridge and mountain and valley,-never shying at obstacles, nor anywhere turning aside to breathe. No country in the world is better supplied with paths. Every village is connected with some other village, every tribe with the next tribe, and it is possible for a traveler to cross Africa without being once out of a beaten track." But if the tribes using these roads are destroyed, the roads are discontinued, and soon become obstructed by the rapid growth of the underbrush; or, if the route lies through unknown regions outside the great caravan-tracks, the paths are very different from those described by Mr. Drummond, for the way often lies through swamps and morass, or thick woods, or over high moun tain-passes, or is lost in a wilderness of waters. The great difficulty in these expeditions is to obtain food. As supplies cannot be carried, they must be procured from the natives. Very few tribes can furnish food for a force of six hundred men (the number with Stanley); and when they have the food, they demand exorbitant prices. Often the natives not only refuse food to the famished travelers, but oppose them with such arms as they have; and then it is necessary, in self-defence, to fire upon them.