Kenya and Uganda
(Tout est bien sortant des mains de fAuteur des chases Rousseau.)
When I visited the Wembley Exhibition in London (1925), I was deeply impressed by the excellent survey of the tribes under British rule, and resolved to take a trip to tropical Africa in the near future.
In the autumn of that year I set out with two friends, an Englishman and an American, for Mombassa.
We traveled on a Woerman steamer, together with many young Englishmen going out to posts in various African colonies.
It was evident from the atmosphere aboard ship that these passengers were not traveling for pleasure, but were entering upon their destiny.
To be sure, there was a good deal of gay exuberance, but the serious undertone was also evident.
As a matter of fact, I heard of the fate of several of my fellow voyagers even before my own return trip.
Several met death in the tropics in the course of the next two months.
They died of tropical malaria, amoebic dysentery, and pneumonia.
Among those who died was the young man who sat opposite me at table.
Another was Dr. Akley, who had made a name for himself as the founder of the Gorilla Reservation in Central Africa and whom I had met in New York shortly before this voyage.
Mombassa remains in my memory as a humidly hot, European, Indian, and Negro settlement hidden in a forest of palms and mango trees.
It has an extremely picturesque setting, on a natural harbor, with an old Portuguese fort towering over it.
We stayed there two days, and left toward evening on a narrow-gauge railroad for Nairobi in the interior, plunging almost immediately into the tropical night.
Along the coastal strip we passed by numerous Negro villages where the people sat talking around tiny fires.
Soon the train began to climb.
The settlements ceased, and the night became inky black. Gradually it turned cooler, and I fell asleep.
When the first ray of sunlight announced the onset of day, I awoke.
The train, swathed in a red cloud of dust, was just making a turn around a steep red cliff.
On a jagged rock above us a slim, brownish-black figure stood motionless, leaning on a long spear, looking down at the train.
Beside him towered a gigantic candelabrum cactus.
I was enchanted by this sight it was a picture of something utterly alien and outside my experience, but on the other hand a most intense sentiment du deja vu.
I had the feeling that I had already experienced this moment and had always known this world which was separated from me only by distance in time.
It was as if I were this moment returning to the land of my youth, and as if I knew that dark-skinned man who had been waiting for me for five thousand years.
The feeling-tone of this curious experience accompanied me throughout my whole journey through savage Africa.
I can recall only one other such recognition of the immemorially known.
That was when I first observed a parapsychological phenomenon, together with my former chief, Professor Eugen Bleuler.
Beforehand I had imagined that I would be dumfounded if I were to see so fantastic a thing.
But when it happened, I was not surprised at all; I felt it was perfectly natural, something I could take for granted because I had long since been acquainted with it.
I could not guess ‘what string within myself was plucked at the sight of that solitary dark hunter.
I knew only that his world had been mine for countless millennia.
Somewhat bemused, I arrived around noon in Nairobi, situated at an altitude of six thousand feet.
There was a dazzling plethora of light that reminded me of the glare of sunlight in the Engadine as oiie comes up out of the winter fogs of the
To my astonishment die swarm of “boys” assembled at the railroad station wore the old-fashioned gray and white woolen ski caps which I had seen worn or worn myself in the Engadine.
They are highly esteemed because the upturned rim can be let down like a visor in the Alps, good protection against the icy wind; here, against the blazing heat.
From Nairobi we used a small Ford to visit the Athi Plains, a great game preserve. From a low hill in this broad savanna a magnificent prospect opened out to us.
To the very brink of the horizon we saw gigantic herds of animals: gazelle, antelope, gnu, zebra, warthog, and so on.
Grazing, heads nodding, the herds moved forward like slow rivers.
There was scarcely any sound save the melancholy cry of a bird of prey.
This was the stillness of the eternal beginning, the world as it had always been, in the state of non-being; for until then no one had been present to know that it was this world.
I walked away from my companions until I had put them out of sight, and savored the feeling of being entirely alone.
There I was now, the first human being to recognize that this was the world, but who did not know that in this moment he had first really created it.
There the cosmic meaning of consciousness became overwhelmingly clear to me.
“What nature leaves imperfect, the art perfects,” say the alchemists.
Man, I, in an invisible act of creation put the stamp of perfection on the world by giving it objective existence.
This act we usually ascribe to the Creator alone, without considering that in so doing we view life as a machine calculated down to the last detail, which, along with the human psyche, runs on senselessly, obeying foreknown and predetermined rules.
In such a cheerless clockwork fantasy there is no drama of man, world, and God; there is no “new day” leading to “new shores/* but only the dreariness of calculated processes.
My old Pueblo friend came to my mind.
He thought that the raison Detre of his pueblo had been to help their father, the sun, to cross the sky each day.
I had envied him for the fullness of meaning in that belief, and had been looking about without hope for a myth of our own.
Now I knew what it was, and knew even more: that man is indispensable for the completion of creation; that, in fact, he himself is the second creator of the world, who alone has given to the world its objective existence without which, unheard, unseen, silently eating, giving birth, dying,
heads nodding through hundreds of millions of years, it would have gone on in the profoundest night of non-being down to its unknown end.
Human consciousness created objective existence and meaning, and man found his indispensable place in the great process of being.
By the Uganda railroad, which was then being built, we traveled to its provisional terminus, Station Sigistifour (sixty-four).
The boys unloaded our quantities of equipment.
I sat down on a chop box, a crate containing provisions, each one a man’s headload, and lit a pipe, meditating on the fact that here we had, as it were, reached the edge of the oikumene, the inhabited earth, from which trails stretched endlessly over the continent.
After a while an elderly Englishman, obviously a squatter, joined me, sat down, and likewise took out a pipe.
He asked where we were going.
When I outlined our various destinations, he asked, “Is this the first time you have been in Africa?
I have been here for forty years.”
“Yes,” I told him. “At least in this part of Africa/’
“Then may I give you a piece of advice?
You know, mister, this here country is not man’s country, it’s God’s country. So if anything should happen, just sit down and don’t worry.”
Whereupon he rose and without another word was lost in the horde of Negroes swarming around us.
His words struck me as somehow significant, and I tried to visualize the psychological state from which they had sprung.
Evidently they represented the quintessence of his experience; not man but God was in command here in other words, not will and intention, but inscrutable design.
I had not come to the end of my meditation when our two automobiles were ready to set off.
Our party piled in with the baggage, eight men strong, and we held on as best we could.
The shaking I received for the next several hours left no room for reflection.
It was much farther than I had thought to the next settlement; Kakamegas, seat of a D.C. (District Commissioner), headquarters of a small garrison of the African Rifles, and site of a hospital and fantastically enough a small insane asylum. Evening approached, and suddenly night had fallen.
All at once, a tropical storm came up, with almost incessant flashes of lightning, thunder, and a cloudburst which instantly soaked us from head to foot and made every brook a raging torrent.
It was half an hour after midnight, with the sky beginning to clear, when we reached Kakamegas.
We were exhausted, and the D.C. helpfully received us with whisky in his drawing room.
A jolly and oh-so-welcome fire was burning in the fireplace.
In the center of the handsome room stood a large table with a display of English journals.
The place might easily have been a country house in Sussex.
In my tiredness I no longer knew whether I had been transported from reality into a dream, or from a dream to reality.
Then we had still to pitch our tents for the first time.
Luckily, nothing was missing.
Next morning I awoke with a touch of feverish laryngitis, and had to stay in bed for a day.
To this circumstance I owe my memorable acquaintanceship with the “brain-fever bird,” a creature remarkable for being able to sing a correct scale, but leaving out the last note and starting again from the beginning.
To listen to this when one is down with a fever is to have one’s nerves strained to the breaking point.
Another feathered inhabitant of the banana plantations has a cry which consists of two of the sweetest and most melodious flute tones with a third, frightful sour note for an ending.
“What nature leaves imperfect . . .”
The song of the “bell bird/’ however, was one of unalloyed beauty.
When it sang, it was as though a bell were drifting along the horizon.
Next day, with the aid of the D.C., we rounded up our column of bearers, which was supplemented by a military escort of three Askaris.
And now began the trek to Mt. Elgon, whose fourteen thousand-foot crater when we soon saw on the horizon.
The track led through relatively dry savanna covered with umbrella acacias.
The whole district was densely covered with small, round tumuli between six and ten feet high old termite colonies.
For travelers there were rest houses along the track round, grass-roofed, rammed-earth huts, open and empty.
At night a burning lantern was placed in the entrance as protection against intruders.
Our cook had no lantern; but as a compensation he had a miniature hut all to himself, with which he was highly pleased.
But it nearly proved fatal to him.
The previous day he had slaughtered in front of his hut a sheep that we had bought for five Uganda shillings, and had prepared excellent mutton
chops for our evening meal.
After dinner, while we were sitting around the fire, smoking, we heard strange noises in the distance.
The sounds came closer.
They sounded now like the growling of bears, now like the barking and yapping of dogs; then again the sounds became shrill, like shrieks and hysterical laughter.
My first impression was: This is like a comic turn at Barnum and Bailey’s.
Before long, however, the scene became more menacing: we were surrounded on all sides by a huge pack of hungry hyenas who had obviously smelled the sheep’s blood.
They performed an infernal concert, and in the glow of the fire their eyes could be seen glittering from the tall elephant grass.
In spite of our lofty knowledge of the nature of hyenas, which are alleged not to attack man, we did not feel altogether sure of ourselves and suddenly a frightful human scream came from behind the rest house.
We snatched up our arms (a nine-mm. Mannlicher rifle and a shotgun) and fired several rounds in the direction of those glittering lights.
As we did so, our cook came rushing panic-stricken into our midst and babbled that a fizi had come into his hut and almost killed him.
The whole camp was in an uproar.
The excitement, it seemed, so frightened the pack of hyenas that they quit the scene, protesting noisily.
The bearers went on laughing for a long time, after which the rest of the night passed quietly, without further disturbance.
Early next morning the local chief appeared with a gift of two chickens and a basketful of eggs.
He implored us to stay another day to shoot the hyenas.
The day before, he said, they had dragged out an old man asleep in his hut and eaten him.
De Africa nihil certum
At daybreak roars of laughter began again in the boys’ quarters.
It appeared that they were re-enacting the events of the night.
One of them played the sleeping cook, and one of the soldiers played the creeping hyena, approaching the sleeper with murderous intent.
This playlet was repeated I don’t know how many times, to the utter delight of the audience.
From then on the cook bore the nickname “Fizi.”
We three whites already had our “trade-marks.”
My friend, the Englishman, was called “Red Neck” to the native mind, all Englishmen had red necks.
The American, who sported an impressive wardrobe, was known as “bwana maredadi (the dapper gentleman).
Because I already had gray hair at the time (I was then fifty), I was the “mzee” the old man, and was regarded as a hundred years old.
Advanced age was rare in those parts; I saw very few white-haired men.
Mzee is also a title of honor and was accorded to me in my capacity as head of the “Bugishu Psychological Expedition” an appellation imposed by the Foreign Office in London as a lucus a non lucendo.
We did visit the Bugishus, but spent a much longer time with the Elgonyis.
All in all, Negroes proved to be excellent judges of character.
One of their avenues to insight lay in their talent for mimicry.
They could imitate with astounding accuracy the manner of expression, the gestures, the gaits of people, thus, to all intents and purposes, slipping into their skins.
I found their understanding of the emotional nature of others altogether surprising.
I would always take the time to engage in the long palavers for which, they had a pronounced fondness.
In this way I learned a great deal.
Our traveling semi-officially proved advantageous, since in this way we found it easier to recruit bearers, and we were also given a military escort.
The latter was by no means superfluous, since we were going to travel in territories that were not under white control.
A corporal and two privates accompanied our safari to Mt Elgon.
We could not help the chief by hunting the hyenas, and continued on our way after the adventure.
The terrain sloped gently upward. Signs of Tertiary lava beds increased.
We passed through glorious stretches of jungle with huge Nandi flame trees flaunting their red blossoms.
Enormous beetles and even larger brilliantly colored butterflies enlivened the clearings and the edges of the jungle.
Branches were shaken by inquisitive monkeys as we advanced further into the bush.
It was a paradisal world.
Most of the way we still traversed flat savanna with deep red soil.
We tramped mostly along the native trails which meandered in strikingly sharp turns.
Our route led us into the Nandi region, and through the Nandi Forest, a sizable area of jungle.
Without incident we reached a resthouse at the foot of Mt. Elgon, which had been towering higher and higher above our heads for days.
Here the climb began, along a narrow path.
We were greeted by the local chief, who was the son of the laibon, the medicine man.
He rode a pony the only horse we had so far seen.
From him we learned that his tribe belonged to the Masai, but lived in isolation here on the slopes of Mt. Elgon.
There a letter awaited us from the governor of Uganda, requesting us to take under our protection an English lady who was on her way back to Egypt via the Sudan.
The governor was aware that we were following the same itinerary, and since we had already met the lady in Nairobi we knew that she would be a congenial companion.
Moreover, we were under considerable obligation to the governor for his having helped us in all sorts of ways.
I mention this episode to suggest the subtle modes by which an archetype influences our actions.
We were three men; that was a matter of pure chance.
I had asked another friend of mine to join us, which would have made a fourth.
But circumstances had prevented him from accepting.
That sufficed to produce an unconscious or fated constellation: the archetype of the triad, which calls for the fourth to complete it, as we have seen again and again in the history of this archetype.
Since I am inclined to accept chance when it comes my way, I welcomed the lady to our group of three men.
Hardy and intrepid, she proved a useful counterpoise to our one-sided masculinity.
When one of our party came down with a bad case of tropical malaria, we were grateful for the experience she had acquired as a nurse during the First World War.
After a few hours of climbing we reached a lovely large clearing, bisected by a clear, cool brook with a waterfall about ten feet in height.
The pool at the bottom of the waterfall became our bath.
Our campsite was situated about three hundred yards away, on a gentle, dry slope, shadowed by umbrella acacias.
Nearby that is, about fifteen minutes walk away was a native kraal which consisted of a few huts and a boma a yard surrounded by a hedge of wait-a-bit thorn.
This kraal provided us with our water bearers, a woman and her two half-grown daughters, who were naked except for a belt of cowries.
They were chocolate-brown and strikingly pretty, with fine slim figures and an aristocratic leisureliness about their movements.
It was a pleasure for me each morning to hear the soft ding-clang of their iron ankle rings as they came up from the brook, and soon afterward to see their swaying gait as they emerged from the tall yellow elephant grass, balancing the amphorae of water on their heads.
They were adorned with ankle rings, brass bracelets and necklaces, earrings of copper or wood in the shape of small spools.
Their lower Ups were pierced with either a bone or iron nail.
They had very good manners, and always greeted us with shy, charming smiles.
With a single exception, which I shall mention shortly, I never spoke to a native woman, this being what was expected of me.
As in Southern Europe, men speak to men, women to women.
Anything else signifies love-making.
The white who goes in for this not only forfeits his authority, but runs the serious risk of “going black.”
I observed several highly instructive examples of this.
Quite often I heard the natives pass judgment upon a certain white: “He is a bad man.”
When I asked why, the reply was invariably, “He sleeps with our women.”
Among my Elgonyis, the men busied themselves with the cattle and with hunting; the women were identified with the shaniba, a field of bananas, sweet potatoes, kaffir (grain sorghum), and maize.
They kept children, goats, and chickens in the same round hut in which the family lived.
Their dignity and naturalness flow from their function in the economy; they are intensely active business partners.
The concept of equal rights for women is the product of an age in which such partnership has lost its meaning.
Primitive society is regulated by an unconscious egoism and altruism; both attitudes are wisely given their due.
This unconscious order breaks up at once if any disturbance ensues which has to be remedied by a conscious act.
It gives me pleasure to recall one of my important informants on family relations among the Elgonyi.
He was a strikingly handsome youth by the name of Gibroat the son of a chief, charming and distinguished in manners, whose confidence I had
To be sure, he gladly accepted my cigarettes, but he was not greedy for them, as the others were for all sorts of gifts.
From time to time he would pay me a gentlemanly visit and tell me all sorts of interesting things.
I felt that he had something in mind, some request that he somehow could not voice.
Not until we had known each other for some time did he astonish me by asking me to meet his family, I knew that he himself was still unmarried, and that his parents were dead.
The family in question was that of an elder sister; she was married as a second wife, and had four children. Gibroat very much wanted me to pay her a visit, so that she would have the opportunity to meet me.
Evidently she filled the place of a mother in his life.
I agreed, because I hoped in this social way to obtain some insight into native family life.
“Madame etait chez elle” she came out of the hut when we arrived, and greeted me with utter naturalness.
She was a good-looking woman, middle-aged that is, about thirty.
Aside from the obligatory cowrie belt, she wore arm and ankle rings, some copper ornaments hanging from the greatly extended ear lobe, and the skin of some small game animal over her breast.
She had locked her four little “mtotos” in the hut; they peered out through cracks in the door, giggling excitedly.
At my request she let them out; but it took some time before they dared to emerge.
She had the same excellent manners as her brother, who was beaming joyfully at the success of his coup.
We did not sit down, since there was nowhere to sit except on the dusty ground, which was covered with chicken droppings and goat pellets.
The conversation moved in the conventional framework of semi-familial drawing-room talk, revolving around family, children, house, and garden.
Her elder co-wife, whose property bordered on hers, had six children.
The boma of this “sister’* was some eighty yards away.
Approximately halfway between the two women’s huts, at the apex of a triangle, stood the husband’s hut, and behind that, about fifty yards away, a
small hut occupied by the first wife’s already grown son.
Each of the two women had her own shamba.
My hostess was obviously proud of hers.
I had the feeling that the confidence and self-assurance of her manner were founded to a great extent upon her identity with her own wholeness, her private world made up of children, house, small livestock, shamba and last but not least her not-unattractive physique.
The husband was referred to only in an allusive way.
It seemed that he was sometimes here, sometimes not here.
At the moment he was staying at some unknown place.
My hostess was plainly and unproblematically the embodiment of stability, a veritable pied-a-terre for the husband.
The question did not seem to be whether or not he was there, but rather whether she was present in her wholeness, providing a geomagnetic center for the husband who wandered over the land with his herds.
What goes on in the interior of these “simple” souls is not conscious, is therefore unknown, and we can only deduce it from comparative evidence of “advanced” European differentiation.
I asked myself whether the growing masculinization of the white woman is not connected with the loss of her natural wholeness (shamba, children, livestock, house of her own, hearth fire); whether it is not a compensation for her impoverishment; and whether the feminizing of the white man is not a further consequence.
The more rational the polity, the more blurred is the difference between the sexes.
The role homosexuality plays in modern society is enormous.
It is partly the consequence of the mother-complex, partly a purposive phenomenon (prevention of reproduction).
My companions and I had the good fortune to taste the world of Africa, with its incredible beauty and its equally incredible suffering, before the end came.
Our camp life proved to be one of the loveliest interludes in my life.
I enjoyed the “divine peace” of a still primeval country.
Never had I seen so clearly “man and the other animals’* (Herodotus).
Thousands of miles lay between me and Europe, mother of all demons.
The demons could not reach me here there were no telegrams, no telephone calls, no letters, no visitors.
My liberated psychic forces poured blissfully back to the primeval expanses.
It was easy for us to arrange a palaver each morning with the natives who squatted all day long around our camp and watched our doings with never-fading interest.
My headman, Ibrahim, had initiated me into the etiquette of the palaver.
All the men (the women never came near) had to sit on the ground. Ibrahim had obtained for me a small four-legged chiefs stool of mahogany
on which I had to sit.
Then I began with an address and set forth the shauri, that is, the agenda of the palaver.
Most of the natives spoke a tolerable pidgin Swahili; and I for my part would manage to speak to them by making ample use of a small dictionary.
This little book was the object of unwearying admiration.
My limited vocabulary imposed upon me a needful simplicity.
Often the conversation resembled an amusing game of guessing riddles, for which reason the palavers enjoyed great popularity.
The sessions seldom lasted longer than an hour or an hour and a half, because the men grew visibly tired, and would complain, with dramatic gestures, “Alas, we are so tired.”
I was naturally much interested in the natives dreams, but at first could not get them to tell me any.
I offered small rewards, cigarettes, matches, safety pins, and such things, which they were eager to have.
But nothing helped.
I could never completely explain their shyness about telling dreams.
I suspect the reason was fear and distrust.
It is well known that Negroes are afraid of being photographed; they fear that anyone who takes a picture of them is robbing them of their soul, and perhaps they likewise fear that harm may come to them from anyone’ who has knowledge of their dreams.
This, incidentally, did not apply to our boys, who were coastal Somalis and Swahilis.
They had an Arab dream book which they daily consulted during the trek.
If they were in doubt about an interpretation, they would actually come to me for advice.
They termed me a “man of the Book” because of my knowledge of the Koran.
To their minds, I was a disguised Mohammedan.
One time we had a palaver with the laibon, the old medicine man.
He appeared in a splendid cloak made of the skins of blue monkeys a valuable article of display.
When I asked him about his dreams, he answered with tears in his eyes, “In old days the laibons had dreams, and knew whether there is war or sickness or whether rain comes and where the herds should be driven.”
His grandfather, too, had still dreamed.
But since the whites were in Africa, he said, no one had dreams any more.
Dreams were no longer needed because now the English knew everything!
His reply showed me that the medicine man had lost his raison detre.
The divine voice which counseled the tribe was no longer needed because “the English know better.”
Formerly the medicine man had negotiated with the gods or the power of destiny, and had advised his people.
He exerted great influence, just as in ancient Greece the word of the Pythia possessed the highest authority.
Now the medicine man’s authority was replaced by that of the D.C.
The value of life now lay wholly in this world, and it seemed to me only a question of time and of the vitality of the black race before the Negroes would become conscious of the importance of physical power.
Far from being an imposing personality, our laibon was only a somewhat tearful old gentleman.
He was the living embodiment of the spreading disintegration of an undermined, outmoded, unrestorable world.
On numerous occasions I brought the conversation around to the numina, especially to rites and ceremonies.
Concerning these, I had only a single piece of evidence.
In front of an empty hut, in the middle of a busy village street, I had seen a carefully swept spot several yards in diameter.
In the center lay a cowrie belt, arm and ankle rings, earrings, the shards of all sorts of pots, and a digging stick.
All that we were able to learn about this was the fact that a woman had died in this hut.
Nothing whatsoever was said about a funeral.
In the palaver the people assured me with considerable emphasis that their neighbors to the west were “bad” people.
If someone died there, the next village was informed, and in the evening the body was brought to the midpoint between the two villages.
From the other side, presents of various sorts were brought to the same spot, and in the morning the corpse was no longer there.
It was plainly insinuated that the other village devoured the dead.
Such things never happened among the Elgonyi, they said.
To be sure, their dead were laid out in the bush, where the hyenas took care of them in the course of the night.
In point of fact we never found any signs of burial of the dead.
I was informed, however, that when a man dies, his body is placed on the floor in the middle of the hut.
The laibon walks around the body, sprinkling milk from a bowl on to the floor, murmuring, “Ayik adhista, adhista ayikr
I knew the meaning of these words from a memorable palaver that had taken place earlier.
At the end of that palaver an old man had suddenly exclaimed, “In the morning, when the sun comes, we go out of the huts, spit into our hands, and hold them up to the sun.’*
I had him show me the ceremony and describe it exactly.
They held their hands in front of their mouths, spat or blew vigorously, then turned the palms upward toward the sun.
I asked what this meant, why they blew or spat into their hands.
My questioning was in vain. “We’ve always done it,” they said.
It was impossible to obtain any explanation, and I realized that they actually knew only that they did it, not what they were doing.
They themselves saw no meaning in this action.
But we, too, perform ceremonies without realizing what we are doing such as lighting Christmas tree candles, hiding Easter eggs, etc.
The old man said that this was the true religion of all peoples, that all Kevirondos, all Buganda, all tribes for as far as the eye could see from the mountain and endlessly farther, worshiped adhista that is, the sun at the moment of rising.
Only then was the sun mungu, God.
The first delicate golden crescent of the new moon in the purple of the western sky was also God.
But only at that time; otherwise not.
Evidently, the meaning of the Elgonyi ceremony was that an offering was being made to the sun divinity at the moment of its rising.
If the gift was spittle, it was the substance which in the view of primitives contains the personal mana, the power of healing, magic, and life.
If it was breath, then it was roho Arabic, ruch, Hebrew, ruach, Greek, pneuma wind and spirit.
The act was therefore saying: I offer to God my living soul.
It was a wordless, acted-out prayer which might equally well be rendered: “Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
Besides adhista the Elgonyi we were further informed also venerate ayik, the spirit who dwells in the earth and is a sheitan (devil).
He is the creator of fear, a cold wind who lies in wait for the nocturnal traveler.
The old man whistled a kind of Loki motif to convey vividly how the ayik creeps through the tall, mysterious grass of the bush.
In general the people asseverated that the Creator had made everything good and beautiful.
He was beyond good and evil.
He was rnzuri, that is, beautiful, and everything he did was rrizuri.
When I asked: “But what about the wicked animals who kill your cattle?” they said, “The lion is good and beautiful.’* “And your horrible diseases?’*
They said, “You lie in the sun and it is good.”
I was impressed by this optimism.
But at six o’clock in the evening this optimism was suddenly over, as I soon discovered.
From sunset on, it was a different world the dark world of ayik, of evil, danger, fear.
The optimistic philosophy gave way to fear of ghosts and magical practices intended to secure protection from evil.
Without any inner contradiction the optimism returned at dawn.
It was a profoundly stirring experience for me to find, at the sources of the Nile, this reminder of the ancient Egyptian conception of the two acolytes of Osiris, Horus and Set.
Here, evidently, was a primordial African experience that had flowed down to the coasts of the Mediterranean along with the sacred waters of the Nile: adhista, the rising sun, the principle of light like Horus; ayik, the principle of darkness, the breeder of fear.
In the simple rites performed for the dead, the laibons words and his sprinkling of milk unite the opposites; he simultaneously sacrifices to these two principles, which are of equal power and significance since the time of their dominance, the rule of day and of night, each visibly lasts for twelve hours.
The important thing, however, is the moment when, with the typical suddenness of the tropics, the first ray of light shoots forth like an arrow and night passes into life-filled light.
The sunrise in these latitudes was a phenomenon that overwhelmed me anew every day.
The drama of it lay less in the splendor of the sun’s shooting up over the horizon than in what happened afterward.
I formed the habit of taking my camp stool and sitting under an umbrella acacia just before dawn.
Before me, at the bottom of the little valley, lay a dark, almost black-green strip of jungle, with the rim of the plateau on the opposite side of the valley towering above it.
At first, the contrasts between light and darkness would be extremely sharp.
Then objects would assume contour and emerge into the light which seemed to fill the valley with a compact brightness.
The horizon above became radiantly white.
Gradually the swelling light seemed to penetrate into the very structure of objects, which became illuminated from within until at last they shone
translucently, like bits of colored glass.
Everything turned to flaming crystal.
The cry of the bell bird rang around the horizon.
At such moments I felt as if I were inside a temple.
It was the most sacred hour of the day.
I drank in this glory with insatiable delight, or rather, in a timeless ecstasy.
Near my observation point was a high cliff inhabited by big baboons.
Every morning they sat quietly, almost motionless, on the ridge of the cliff facing the sun, whereas throughout the rest of the day they ranged noisily through the forest, screeching and chattering.
Like me, they seemed to be waiting for the sunrise.
They reminded me of the great baboons of the temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt, which perform the gesture of adoration.
They tell the same story: for untold ages men have worshiped the great god who redeems the world by rising out of the darkness as a radiant light in the heavens.
At that time I understood that within the soul from its primordial beginnings there has been a desire for light and an irrepressible urge to rise out of the primal darkness.
When the great night comes, everything takes on a note of deep dejection, and every soul is seized by an inexpressible longing for light.
That is the pent-up feeling that can be detected in the eyes of primitives, and also in the eyes of animals.
There is a sadness in animals’ eyes, and we never know whether that sadness is bound up with the soul of the animal or is a poignant message which speaks to us out of that still unconscious existence.
That sadness also reflects the mood of Africa, the experience of its solitudes.
It is a maternal mystery, this primordial darkness.
That is why the sun’s birth in the morning strikes the natives as so overwhelmingly meaningful.
The moment in which light comes is God.
That moment brings redemption, release.
To say that the sun is God is to blur and forget the archetypal experience of that moment. “We are glad that the night when the spirits are abroad is over now,” the natives will say but that is already a rationalization.
In reality a darkness altogether different from natural night broods over the land.
It is the psychic primal night which is the same today as it has been for countless millions of years.
The longing for light is the longing for consciousness.
Our blissful stay on Mt. Elgon neared its end.
With heavy hearts we struck our tents, promising ourselves that we would return.
I could not have brought myself to think that this would be the first and the last time I would experience this unlooked-for glory.
Since then, gold has been discovered near Kakamegas, mining has begun, the Mau-Mau movement has arisen among
those innocent and friendly natives, and we too have known a rude awakening from the dream of civilization.
We trekked along the southern slope of Mt. Elgon.
Gradually the character of the landscape changed.
Higher mountains, covered with dense jungle, verged on the plain.
The color of the inhabitants grew blacker; their bodies became clumsier and more massive, lacking the grace of the Masai.
We were entering the territory of the Bugishu, where we stayed sometime in the resthouse of Bunambale.
It is situated at a high altitude, and we had a splendid view of the broad Nile valley.
From there we went on to Mbala, where we were met by two Ford trucks that took us to Jinja, on Lake Victoria.
We loaded our baggage onto a train of the narrow-gauge railroad; once every two weeks it went to Lake Kioga.
A paddle-wheel steamer whose boiler was fired by wood picked us up and after a number of incidents brought us to Masindi Port.
There we transferred to a truck and so reached Masindi Town, which is situated on the plateau that separates Lake Kioga from Albert Nyanza.
In a village on the way from Lake Albert to Rejdf in the Sudan we had a very exciting experience.
The local chief, a tall, still quite young man,’ appeared with his retinue.
These were the blackest Negroes I had ever seen.
There was something about the group which was not exactly reassuring.
The mamur of Nimule had given us three askaris as an escort, but I saw that they as well as our own boys did not feel at all easy.
After all, they had only three cartridges each for their rifles.
Their presence, consequently, was a merely symbolic gesture on the part of the government.
When the chief proposed that he give a rigoma (dance) in the evening, I assented gladly.
I hoped that the frolic would bring their better nature to the fore.
Night had fallen and we were all longing for sleep when we heard drums and horn blasts. Soon some sixty men appeared, martially equipped with
flashing lances, clubs, and swords.
They were followed at some distance by the women and children; even the infants were present, carried on their mothers’ backs.
This was obviously to be a El mamur, literally, prefect or governor grand social occasion.
In spite of the heat, which still hovered around ninety-three degrees, a big fire was kindled, and women and children formed a circle around it.
The men formed an outer ring around them, as I had once observed a nervous herd of elephants do.
I did not know whether I ought to feel pleased or anxious about this mass display.
I looked around for our boys and the government soldiers they had vanished completely from the camp!
As a gesture of good will, I distributed cigarettes, matches, and safety pins.
The men’s chorus began to sing, vigorous, bellicose melodies, not unharmonious, and at the same time began to swing their legs.
The women and children tripped around the fire; the men danced toward it, waving their weapons, then drew back again, and then advanced anew, amid savage singing, drumming, and trumpeting.
It was a wild and stirring scene, bathed in the glow of the fire and magical moonlight.
My English friend and I sprang to our feet and mingled with the dancers.
I swung my rhinoceros whip, the only weapon I had, and danced with them.
By their beaming faces I could see that they approved of our taking part.
Their zeal redoubled; the whole company stamped, sang, shouted, sweating profusely.
Gradually the rhythm of the dance and the drumming accelerated.
In dances such as these, accompanied by such music, the natives easily fall into a virtual state of possession.
That was the case now.
As eleven o’clock approached, their excitement began to get out of bounds, and suddenly the whole affair took on a highly curious aspect.
The dancers were being transformed into a wild horde, and I became worried about how it would end.
I signed to the chief that it was time to stop, and that he and his people ought to go to sleep.
But he kept wanting “just another one.”
I remembered that a countryman of mine, one of the Sarasin cousins, on an exploratory expedition in Celebes had been struck by a stray spear in the course of such a rigoma.
And so, disregarding the chiefs pleas, I called the people together, distributed cigarettes, and then made the gesture of sleeping.
Then I swung my rhinoceros whip threateningly, but at the same time laughing, and for lack of any better language I swore at them loudly in Swiss German that tikis was enough and they must go home to bed and sleep now.
It was apparent to the people that I was to some extent pretending my anger, but that seems to have struck just the right note.
General laughter arose; capering, they scattered in all directions and vanished into the night.
For a long time we heard their jovial howls and drumming in the distance.
At last silence fell, and we dropped into the sleep of exhaustion.
Our trek came to an end in Rejf on the Nile.
There we stowed our gear onto a paddle-wheel steamer which just succeeded in docking at RejM; the water level was almost too low for it.
By this time I was feeling burdened by all that I had experienced.
A thousand thoughts were whirling around me, and it became painfully clear to me that my capacity to digest new impressions was quickly approaching its limits.
The thing to do was to go over all my observations and experiences and discover their inner connections.
I had written down everything worth noting.
During the entire trip my dreams stubbornly followed the tactic of ignoring Africa.
They drew exclusively upon scenes from home, and thus seemed to say that they considered if it is permissible to personify the unconscious processes to this extent the African journey not as something real, but rather as a symptomatic or symbolic act.
Even the most impressive events of the trip were rigorously excluded from my dreams.
Only once during the entire expedition did I dream of a Negro.
His face appeared curiously familiar to me, but I had to reflect a long time before I could determine where I had met him before.
Finally it came to me: he had been my barber in Chattanooga, Tennessee!
An American Negro.
In the dream he was holding a tremendous, red-hot curling iron to my head, intending to make my hair kinky that is, to give me Negro hair.
I could already feel the painful heat, and awoke with a sense of terror.
I took this dream as a warning from the unconscious; it was saying that the primitive was a danger to me.
At that time I was obviously all too close to “going black/’ I was suffering an attack of sand-fly fever which probably reduced my psychic resistance.
In order to represent a Negro threatening me, my unconscious had invoked a twelve-year-old memory of my Negro barber in America, just in order to avoid any reminder of the present.
This curious behavior of my dreams corresponds, incidentally, to a phenomenon which was noted during the First World War.
Soldiers in the field dreamt far less of the war than of their homes.
Military psychiatrists considered it a basic principle that a man should be pulled out of the front lines when he started dreaming too much of war scenes, for that meant he no longer possessed any psychic defenses against the impressions from outside.
Parallel to my involvement with this demanding African environment, an interior line was being successfully secured within my dreams.
The dreams dealt with my personal problems.
The only thing I could conclude from this was that my European personality must under all circumstances be preserved intact.
To my astonishment, the suspicion dawned on me that I had undertaken my African adventure with the secret purpose of escaping from Europe and its complex of problems, even at the risk of remaining in Africa, as so many before me had done, and as so many were doing at this very time.
The trip revealed itself as less an investigation of primitive psychology (“Bugishu Psychological Expedition,” B.P.E., black letters on the chop boxes!) than a probing into the rather embarrassing question: What is going to happen to Jung the psychologist in the wilds of Africa?
This was a question I had constantly sought to evade, in spite of my intellectual intention to study the European’s reaction to primitive conditions.
It became clear to me that this study had been not so much an objective scientific project as an intensely personal one, and that any attempt to go deeper into it touched every possible sore spot in my own psychology.
I had to admit to myself that it was scarcely the Wembley Exhibition which had begotten my decision to travel, but rather the fact that the
atmosphere had become too highly charged for me in Europe.
Amid such thoughts I glided on the peaceful waters of the Nile toward the north toward Europe, toward the future.
The voyage ended at Khartoum.
There Egypt began.
And thus I fulfilled filled my desire and my plan to approach this cultural realm not from the west, from the direction of Europe and Greece, but from the south, from the sources of the Nile.
I was less interested in the complex Asiatic elements in Egyptian culture than in the Hamitic contribution.
By following the geographical course of the Nile, and hence the stream of time, I could find out something about that for myself.
My greatest illumination in this respect had been my discovery of the Horus principle among the Elgonyi.
That whole episode, and all that it meant, was dramatically called to mind again when I saw the sculptured cynocephali (dog-faced baboons) of Abu Simbel, the southern gate of Egypt.
The myth of Horus is the age-old story of the newly risen divine light.
It is a myth which must have been told after human culture that is, consciousness had for the first time released men from the darkness of prehistoric times.
Thus the journey from the heart of Africa to Egypt became, for me, a kind of drama of the birth of light.
That drama was intimately connected with me, with my psychology.
I realized this, but felt incapable of formulating it in words.
I had not known in advance what Africa would give me; but here lay the satisfying answer, the fulfilling experience.
It was worth more to me than any ethnological yield would have been, any collection of weapons, ornaments, pottery, or hunting trophies.
I had wanted to know how Africa would affect me, and I had found out. ~Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Pages 253-274