Cutting the Covenant

by | May 27, 2002 | Authority

When Sir Henry Morton Stanley conducted his famed search for Dr. David Livingston in Africa, he was confronted by a particularly powerful tribe that tried to hinder him from proceeding. The guide who was with him explained that if he wanted to continue his search, he would have to cut covenant with the chief of that tribe. He wasn’t sure what that implied, so he asked. The guide explained that there would be an exchange of gifts, and that blood – Dr. Stanley’s as well as the chief’s – would have to be shed. Dr. Stanley agreed and they began the process.

Before the blood was shed, they had to exchange gifts. Dr. Stanley was not in good health and took a goat with him everywhere he went for its milk. When the chief said that he wanted that goat, therefore, it was a difficult decision for Stanley to make. If he failed to please the chief and did not successfully cut the covenant, he would not be allowed to continue his search.

In the end, he yielded and gave the goat and, in exchange, he received a tall spear wrapped wit copper. To Dr. Stanley, this did not seem like a very impressive gift. After all, what practical good would it be to him? Nevertheless, the covenant was completed, and he departed on his journey.

The very next time his party met someone along the way, a very unusual thing happened. The person they met bowed before Dr. Stanley. He didn’t understand this at first, until he was told that the chief had given him the symbol of his own authority. Stanley had been worried about losing a goat, but now he could request a whole herd of goats if he wanted to.

Bagwell, Tim. When I See the Blood. Hagerstown: McDougal Publishing, 1998, p. 73-74.


Cutting the Covenant