Fort Portal, Toro.
Thursday, May 26th, 1926
Apart from the hectic hours of Whit-Monday-cum-Empire Day, there is not
much to record this week. The Ruwenzori mountains have been giving some very fine
displays, and I get a very good view of them from the end of my verandah, where just
the right part is framed between the eucalyptus trees. Fort Portal is planted quite
thick with eucalyptuses - and there are several avenues of them, like Lombardy
poplars, radiating down the hill from the Fort. Some people think them a nuisance
and want to cut them down, which would be a pity. They are a great temptation,
because the nearest forest is 6 miles away and wood is scarce.
The rainy season shows signs of coming to a close; when it does. I'm told, the
heat-haze will be so great that you would never know there were any mountains
within a thousand miles. I don't know when I am likely to get out on safari: at present
there is as much work in the office as both of us can manage, working overtime. The
only way to circumvent it, I think, is to run right out of the station and let it look after
Maitland Warne, the District Commissioner, has been suffering a good deal
from his dysentery, and has to have daily injections of Emetine. It is the Amoebic
dysentery, which is supposed to be incurable, I believe.
Friday and Saturday and Monday mornings were spent in a crescendo of feverish
preparations for the Police Sports, which I had to organise myself - arranging for
officials to be appointed, for the mission school-boys to take part, marking out the
field, getting goal-posts for the football, and a lot of other details that sound very
small and insignificant but take a lot of time. I'm afraid I trod rather on the toes of
both Missions, but one always expects to do that, and it would be a superhuman who
For instance I had asked Commander Caldwell, who runs the Church Missionary
Society boys' schools, to help me as Starter: on Monday morning he cried-off on some
flimsy excuse, having heard, I suppose, that Pere Bazin, who runs the boys' school at
Virika, the R.C. Mission, was going to be one of the judges. And Bazin himself made
a fuss about the appointment of a native football referee because he came from the
C.M.S. school at Budo originally. I'd have done it myself, if I'd known enough about
the rules. However, I had the sterling assistance of the native sergeant-major of
Police (a Muslim) and I don't know what I would have done without him.
The first event was a 2-mile race along the road from Kabarole (the Mukama's
hill) to Fort Portal, for the schoolboys. I went out on my motor-bike to start it with a
service rifle and a blank cartridge. I told the runners that I would say "One, two,
three" and then bang. However, after three attempts, in which they all started
directly I said "One" , I gave it up and let fire without any warning. I continued to do
so for the other events, and it worked very well.
Unfortunately, none of the proper judges were at the finish in time to see them
come in (that was not my fault), but luckily there was someone to take the names.
After that, everything went well to time, which is unusual with sports: but there was
so much disorganisation of the crowd at some moments that I thought the whole affair
might be a fiasco.
We had a wheelbarrow race, an egg-and-spoon race (real eggs at two cents of a
shilling each), a tug of war, a beauty competition and two football matches (15
minutes each way). In the tug of war, between two hefty Police teams, of course the
rope broke and they all sat down very hard and caused the mob much amusement. I
knew that was likely to happen, beforehand, because it was the rope with which I had
towed in Wickham's car and it had got pretty-well frayed in the process. But I didn't
Two photographs, taken by the Police clerk, will show you the Beauty
Competition. It was in two sections, one for the Batoro and one for the Nubis. The
Nubi type of beauty is in a class by itself, as you may see from the picture. And many
of the other competitors must be ignorant of the use of mirrors or they would never (I
hope) have competed. I made Mrs. Garnett (the D.M.O's wife), Mr. Sullivan (the
Provincial Commissioner) and Mr. Maitland Warne the judges.
Mrs. Sullivan gave away the prizes at the end and was presented with a bouquet
of flowers (this was Mrs. Garnett's romantic idea) by the sergeant-major's youngest, a
little sweep called Marianna.
I was very glad when it was all over. But it wasn't really all over because Mrs.
Garnett had all the people in the station to dinner afterwards and insisted on dancing
till 2 a.m. At that hour everybody was expected to take a car and proceed to the Forest
by moonlight. Actually, only she and Dr. Garnett and Hugh Armitage and 'Uncle
Robert' Milne (the large Aberdonian foreman building the new bridge) went. The
latter sat in the back and gave the car a list to starboard of fifteen degrees. They saw an
enormous hippo, a leopard and an ant-eater, and returned home at 3-45. I was
already on safari in dreamland by that time - when it would have been unpleasantly
I called on the Schofields one day last week (he and his wife are the doctors who
run the C.M.S. Mission at Kabarole). It is a curious house they live in, which looks as
if it had started to tumble down before ever they had finished building it. This is the
result of earth tremors. One room is very well furnished, chiefly with the work of a
native cabinet-maker of the Virika R.C. Mission. Which shows that, although the
C.M.S. may talk about Papists and Fuzzy-Wuzzies, and speak of the R.Cs as one
would ordinarily talk about earwigs or cockroaches, they don't mind making use of
them when opportunity offers.
(Fort Portal was the administrative headquarters of the Western Province and
the Toro District of the Uganda Protectorate)