By Samuel Sebbowa Bunnya, Uganda
The journey to Bujagali had taken half the day. Lumbe had insisted on using a full escort of his guards. Some of them rode on the armoured elephants. A few rode on the camels. Others jogged round his ox driven cart. Mbabazi lay on her stomach reading some of the documents that she had received as they were leaving the Capital Plains. She had not said a single word to him since they had crossed through the Mabira.
Lumbe was lost in his own thoughts as he sat in the cart. He played with hi Zaabu bracelet knowing that if the rumours were true, Bunya had developed a way to make the bracelets more than decoration. He was excited what an advancement like that could mean in terms of the glory of Kitara.
We could put weapons in these things, Lumbe thought.
“My lord,” a gruff voice said beside the cart. It was Ekong the chief of his guards. “We are home.”
Lumbe looked up. The great river Nile in all its blue majesty was snaking out of the Nalubaale. The vast green plains that lined the beautiful shores extended for miles. He could see some of the crops the farmers had planted the previous season beginning to bear fruit. He got up and stood on the cart as it moved on towards the river crossing.
Lumbe could see the small village that he had once trained from in the distance. He smiled as a few onlookers on the road recognised their chief. They bowed their heads and touched their hearts with their right hands; a sign of respect among the people of Kitara. He did the same and sat back down in the cart. Mbabazi had put her papers away. She was looking around with a small satisfied smile on her face.
“There is no place like home,” she whispered.
They spent the rest of the day settling into their homestead which was close to the Bujagali. Many of the people had come to pay their respects and offer Lumbe part of their harvest. A few elders from the clan had come and spoken to him about the king’s orders. All their reports were good for Kunda, but not for Lumbe. It seemed the traders from the coastal Masai had run away with their white men after Kunda had strengthened the border controls.
Once the sun had set and the moon had risen in the night, Lumbe together with Mbabazi had decided to go out for a stroll. They had met Tugume and Musinguzi near the river banks. Both men were part of the Infiltration Team of Kitara. They were loyal to the kingdom, but more loyal to their clan and its chief.
They had infiltrated the Masai for over ten years. Their reports had been useful to Kunda and the Council of Kitara. But their reports to Lumbe had been a lot more useful. He had traded small items with the Masai and other eastern people without the knowledge of the Trading Council or king for years. He had built his wealth from that trade. He had built friendships with the eastern traders and he had passed messages to Oul from those traders.
The only thing he knew he would never trade was Zaabu because Bunya had found a way to follow every piece of Zaabu in Kitara. It was the only way for them to keep track of any unscrupulous people who would wish to trade Zaabu for riches. Those that had been caught were executed and their wealth stripped from their families.
Many times the families would swear to redeem the name of their fallen by serving in the Zaabu mines. Lumbe was not stupid enough to risk the ire of the country by trying something like that. He would only do it once trade with the white man was allowed. Then and only then would he risk such a venture.
“We are here,” Tugume said.
They had been walking for the better part of an hour. They had walked round the falls and the thunderous clash of the waves was ringing in Lumbe’s ears. They had taken a small dirt path hidden by thick foliage and followed it upwards towards the place the falls came crashing down the earth. They had climbed through a narrow crevice that came out into an open space. At the other side of the space was a cave opening. Inside was a small fire and Lumbe could tell that there was someone inside.
“He has been waiting since morning,” Tugume said. “He was very eager when we approached him.”
“Did he come alone?” Mbabazi asked.
“I made sure his guards lost our trail,” Musinguzi said proudly.
“Good. Very good.” Mbabazi turned to Lumbe. “Whatever happens happens husband. It is the will of the gods that we do this for the prosperity of Kitara.”
Lumbe looked to his wife for encouragement. Mbabazi nodded her head. Lumbe walked into the cave. Tugume, Musinguzi and Mbabazi remained behind. Lumbe hesitated and looked behind. Mbabazi nodded her head and he knew what she was doing. He understood what she was doing. He knew she was ensuring that they had a contingency plan. He appreciated what she was doing.
He entered the cave was not surprised by what he saw. A white man sat on a small rock very close to the hearth in the middle of the cave. There was another small rock for someone else to sit on next to the man. Lumbe silently walked further into the cave observing his guest.
Henry Morton Stanley was the exact replica of the holograms that the spies had sent. Everything about him was as they had once been shown in the council – right down to how he wore his strange clothes. He had a short crop of dark hair with strands of grey and a thick moustache over his thin pink lips. The way that his moustache and lips were formed made Stanley appear like a grumpy fool. His pale skin was pasted with dirt and dust. The scent that wafted off him betrayed his lack of a shower. Lumbe smiled finding it hard to believe that the reports from their spies abroad had been right.
These superior men do not know how to have a bath.
Lumbe observed his guest. Stanley looked frightened. His breathing was heavy and he seemed to shake every moment he let out a soft mumble. His small brown eyes were trained on the fire in front of him. Stanley had his strange gun at his feet and he held a pipe between his lips.
Lumbe sat down next to him and chuckled as the white man jumped up in surprise. The two men stared at each other. Lumbe stood up and offered Stanley his hand. The white man looked at his hand for a few moments and took it after a few moments. Stanley looked like he wanted to say something. Lumbe decided to put him out of his misery.
“We Kitarans are different from the rest of the continent Mr. Stanley of the Imperial British East African Company or is it Belgium.” Lumbe smiled as he noticed Stanley’s sudden nerves. “I presume it is Belgium now.” Stanley nodded. “Well welcome to the great land of Kitara.”
Stanley was shocked. It was in his eyes as he took Lumbe’s hand. “You know our language.”
“We know many things.” Lumbe could feel the nerves in Stanley.
“That is a relief mister…”
“I am Lumbe, brother to the queen of Kitara and uncle of the future king.” Lumbe let go of Stanley’s hand.
“So I am speaking to the right man.” Stanley’s strange accent did little to hide his excitement and anxiousness. “This will be good news to report back to Her Majesty’s government.”
Lumbe sat down and pointed to the small rock Stanley had been sitting on. “May we get to business then.”
Stanley sat down and the discussion for something that would start a blood feud between two families begun.
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