Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Tanganyika

TANGANYIKA, a lake in East Central Africa, called Msaga ("tempestuous") by the Wakawendi and Kimana by the Warungu. The meaning of the name Tanganyika is, according to Cameron, nothing more than "the mixing place." It is the longest freshwater lake in the world, being about 75 miles longer than Lake Michigan. Although the Arabs had long known of the existence of the lake, the first Europeans who discovered it were Speke and Burton in 1858. It has since been visited by Livingstone, Cameron, Stanley, Thomson, and Hore, who have all added to our knowledge of it. Tanganyika, which is situated some 600 miles as the crow flies from the east coast of Africa, extends from 3° 16ʹ S. lat. to 8° 48ʹ S. lat., and lies between 29° 10ʹ E. long, and 32° 30ʹ E. long. Its length is 420 miles, and its breadth varies from 10 to 50 miles. Its area is 12,650 square miles, and its altitude may be taken as 2700 feet above sea-level (Cameron, 2710; Stanley, 2770; Hore, 2750; Popelin, 2665). It has a coast-line of 900 miles in extent. Its greatest depth has not yet been determined, but Hore states that a 168-fathom rope often failed to reach the bottom. Tanganyika may be described as an enormous crevasse. It is bordered on all sides by hills and mountains, some of which rise to from 5000 to 10,000 feet above its waters. The scenery is marked by exceptional grandeur, and is well calculated to impress the traveller. Burton says:—

"It filled us with admiration, with wonder, and delight. Beyond the short foreground of rugged and precipitous hill-fold, down which the footpath painfully zigzags, a narrow plot of emerald green shelves gently towards a ribbon of glistening yellow sand, here bordered by sedgy rushes, there clear and cleanly cut by the breaking wavelets. Farther in front stretches an expanse of the lightest, softest blue, from 30 to 35 miles in breadth, and sprinkled by the east wind with crescents of snowy foam. It is bounded on the other side by tall and broken walls of purple hill, flecked and capped with pearly mist, or standing sharply pencilled against the azure sky. To the south lie high bluff headlands and capes; and as the eye dilates it falls on little outlying islets, speckling a sea horizon. Villages, cultivated lands, the frequent canoes of the fishermen, give a something of life, of variety, of movement to the scenery."

Tanganyika is fed by numerous rivers and streamlets which flow from the surrounding hills, the yearly rainfall being about 27 inches, but the rainy seasons vary extremely in different years, altering the surface area of the lake accordingly. Hore found that between March 1879 and August 1880 the waters had fallen 10 feet 4 1/2 inches, as marked by a water-gauge he had erected at Ujiji, and he also saw evident signs of the receding of the waters all round the shores of the lake—belts of dead timber and bleached rock. Some 120 rivers and streams flow into the lake; the most important river is the Malagarasi, near Ujiji. Just below the rapids its width is 500 feet, and the average depth 5 feet. For many years Tanganyika was a riddle to African explorers,—Livingstone, Baker, and others believing that it belonged to the Nile system, and that it was connected with the Albert Nyanza. That this theory is incorrect was proved when Livingstone and Stanley explored the north end of the lake in November 1871, finding no outlet. It was Cameron, in March 1874, who first solved the riddle, and found that the outlet of Tanganyika was the river Lukuga, at about the centre of the western shore of the lake, 5° 52ʹ 45ʺ S. lat. In 1876 this outlet was visited by Stanley, who found that there was no apparent outflow, and doubt was thrown upon Cameron’s observations, which, however, have been proved to be correct by Hore, who in 1880 found a strong current setting unequivocally out of the lake. Not only so, but he obtained good views of the river, which gradually widens soon after the rapids near the lake are passed. He followed the river to 5° 50′ S. lat., and, from an altitude of 1100 feet above the river, he saw it flowing far away to the westward. The question is therefore settled that Lake Tanganyika belongs to the Congo system, but it is only an occasional tributary to that mighty river, its contribution depending upon the rainfall. The lake is subject to frequent storms, especially from the S.S.E. and S.W., lasting sometimes for two or three days, and leaving a heavy swell, which proves a great hindrance to navigation. Hore says—"I have never witnessed such wondrous cloud-scenery and majestic effects of thunder and lightning as on Tanganyika."

The shores and water of the lake abound in animal life,—crocodiles, the hippopotamus, otters, and many kinds of fish being found in its waters. Flocks of waterfowl abound in the river mouths: gulls, divers, herons, kingfishers, eagles, fish-hawks, and black ibis are very numerous. The shores are very fertile,—rice, manioc, kaffre corn, two kinds of ground nuts, maize, uleysi, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, sugar-cane, caster-oil tree, tamarind, cotton, tomato, and cucumber growing luxuriantly. The oil palm grows at Ujiji, Urundi, and at the south end of the lake, the borassus near the Malagarasi river, the screw palm in Uguha, and the raphra in several localities. The tzetse fly is found on the shores of the lake from Ujiji round the southern end as far as Ubwari on the west coast. Amongst the useful timber trees may be noticed the gigantic mbule, the mininga, lignum vitæ, and ebony. The people in inhabiting the countries on the borders of the lake form ten distinct tribes, with separate national peculiarities and customs. They live in well-organized villages, in which considerable social order is maintained. They have also learnt, to some extent at any rate, to utilize the products of their country: they work their own iron and copper; salt is prepared for barter; palm oil is collected; and in some places there are large pottery works. Their fishing industry is extensive, and dried fish is exported; boatbuilding is carried on to a small extent; cotton cloth is manufactured at several places, and at others the famous grass or palm-fibre cloth; whilst the dairy farms of Uhha export packages of butter. There are several London Missionary Society stations on Lake Tanganyika, also one belonging to the Roman Catholics; and a station of the African International Association is situated at Karema. Ujiji, an Arab town of some importance, stands on the eastern shore of the lake.