The chief who had the command of this fort was our old acquaintance Kiney Kiney, a younger brother of King George’s, who seemed proud of this honour, and appeared highly delighted in showing us round, and explaining everything to us; even condescending to ask our advice as to any means of adding strength and security to the works. He listened attentively to all our observations; and if he approved any alteration we suggested he ordered it instantly to be carried into effect. I noticed a thicket too near the fort, and told him I thought it might shelter a body of men, and before I left the pa it was reduced to a heap of ashes. Sentinels were posted in every direction to give notice of the approach of an enemy. Mr. Kiney Kiney (as he was sometimes called) was splendidly apparelled on this occasion: he had, by some means or other, become possessed of a light infantry sabre, with all its paraphernalia of belts and buckles; this was girded round his naked body, which gave him a very gallant air, and, I have no doubt, was the envy and admiration of all his followers.
A SHAM FIGHT.
After we had seen and approved all their preparations, we were treated with a grand review and sham fight: they divided themselves into two parties; one half the number took their station on a hill, and lay concealed; the other party crouched on the plains to receive the attack, all kneeling on one knee, with their eyes fixed on the spot whence they expected the rush of their pretended enemies. In a moment, the concealed party burst forth from their ambush, with a tremendous and simultaneous shout, and the mock battle began with great fury.
Nothing in nature can be imagined more horrible than the noise they make on these occasions. I have heard, under circumstances of some peril, the North American Indian war-whoop; but that is trifling compared with it and their countenances are hideous beyond description. My principal astonishment on these occasions was, that they did not actually kill each other, or, at least, break each other’s bones; for they seemed to strike with all the fury and vigour of a real engagement; but they kept such exact time, that at a moment’s notice they all left off, and began joking and laughing, except a very few, whom I observed to sneak away to wash off some bloody witness, or to put a plaster on their broken skin.
After these military and gymnastic exhibitions, they formed a grand assembly, and the chiefs, as usual, made long speeches in rotation. This rude parliament is one of the most beautiful features in savage government: all public matters are discussed openly, grievances are complained of, and justice is summarily administered.
Thus, after spending a pleasant day, we rose to depart, and took an affectionate leave of our entertainers, who were most anxious that we should remain longer; but we thought we had better return to Kororarika, where our property had been left. Most of the chiefs accompanied us to our boats, and, after exhibiting various testimonies of their friendly feeling towards us, they suffered us to depart.