National Geographic : 1937 Jan
UGANDA, "LAND OF SOMETHING NEW" Equatorial African Area Reveals Snow-crowned Peaks, Crater Lakes, Jungle-story Beasts, Human Giants, and Forest Pygmies BY JAY MARSTON T HE huge silver air liner circled above the shore of Lake Victoria, banked for a turn, seemed to glide down an invisible chute to the tufty grass of the En tebbe airdrome, and taxied bumpily to the concrete stand opposite the resthouse. A score or so of passengers-business men bound for the Cape, one or two Gov ernment officials returning from home leave, a coffee planter, an English peer going to his estates in Kenya, some sight seers, a female lepidopterist, and the mem bers of a Commission to inquire into some thing or other-climbed down the ladder, glanced cursorily at the blue lake and the grassy plain about them, and made for luncheon. AIRPLANES SUPPLANT CANOES AND DHOWS So simplified has travel become nowa days that they had no particular sense of wonder at having reached, in five days from London, a country which only a few dec ades ago no European had traversed. Uganda made a tardy appearance on the map of what used to be called the "Dark Continent." Indeed, authentic rec ords of its history began only when J. H. Speke, with his companion, J. A. Grant, reached the court of Mutesa, the Kabaka of Buganda, in 1862. Later in the same year Speke discovered Ripon Falls, source of the River Nile, on Lake Victoria (page 120). Previously, Arab traders and slavers had penetrated as far as Uganda in their raids from the east coast. When the first missionaries, in response to Henry M. Stanley's famous appeal in the Daily Telegraph,* came to the shores of the "Great Lake" some sixty years ago, the journey took all of six months. They walked up from the coast, with their food and kits borne on the woolly heads of Swahili or Wanyamwezi porters, or on the backs of Isabella-colored pack donkeys. *See "Great African Lake (Victoria)," by Sir Henry M. Stanley, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, May, 1902. The crossing of the vast and perilous waters in those days was made in canoes of sewn planks, sketchily equipped with broad-bladed paddles, some gourds for bal ing, and propitiation to the gods in the form of a few fluttering rags or plantain leaves at the prow (page 117). Small dhows of the Arab pattern also were used. These early arrivals in Uganda had faced, in their journey inland, all sorts of perils-drought and torrential rains, fevers, and man-eating lions that prowled by night round their camp, hostile tribes, and lake storms of extraordinary violence. Nowadays, visitors to Uganda descend from the twice-weekly air liner, which has carried them swiftly southward over the spacious desert and swamp and forest of Egypt and the Sudan, just as nonchalantly as they might from the Blue Train on the Riviera. They spend a few weeks, perhaps, in see ing the little Protectorate of some 94,000 square miles that lies southwest of Ethio pia, wedged between the Belgian Congo, the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, Tanganyika, and Kenya. Lake Victoria is to the south, the Nile to the north, and the Ruwenzori with their eternal snows to the west.* They go hither and thither in automo biles, stopping to photograph the beauties of its tropical richness, the wonders of its wild life, its interesting brown peoples, and noticing the marks civilization has made upon it in half a century. HUMAN "HOME PLANTS, BEDDED IN A TROPICAL GARDEN" There are rather fewer than 2,000 European residents-Government officials, planters, professional and commercial men, mining prospectors, and their wives and children-living in Uganda, and most of these look to the time when they will re turn to their own country. * See map, page 113, and Special Map Supple ment of Africa, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, June, 1935.