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We encamped after a march of about thirteen miles, having by mistake exchanged our westerly direction for a southwesterly one, near the well called Kagza,* and were very hospitably and kindly treated by a patriotic old man, a citizen of the old capital or birni of Ghasr-éggomo, who, when that splendid town was taken by the Fúlbe or Felláta in the year 1809, had fled to Wádáy, and had lived there several years among the Welád Rashid, waiting for better times. This good man described to me, with a deep feeling of sorrow, the taking of that large and wealthy town, under the command of the Fúlbe chiefs Malá-Rída, Mukhtár, and Hanníma, when the king, with his whole host of courtiers and his numerous army, fled through the eastern gate while the enemy was entering the western one, and the populous place was delivered up to all the hor. rors accompanying the sacking of a town. What with the pleasant character of the country and the friendly disposition of our host, I should have enjoyed my open encampment extremely if I had not been suffering all this time very severely from sore legs, ever since my return from Bagírmi, when I had to cross so many rivers, and was so frequently wet through.t
Monday, November 29th. Pursuing still a southwesterly direction, our march led us through a district called Rédaní, in regard to which the state of the cultivation of the ground (the géro, the wealth of this country, lying in large heaps or “bagga" on the fields) and the uninterrupted succession of straggling hamlets left the impression of ease and comfort. But we had great difficulty in finding the right track among the number of small footpaths diverging in every direction; and in avoiding the northern route, which we knew would lead us to a part of the river where we should not be able to cross it, we had, by mistake, chosen a too southerly path, which, if pursued, would have led us to Gújeba. While traversing this fertile district, we were astonished at the repeated descents which we had to make, and which convinced us that these sandy swells constitute a perfect separation between the komádugu and the Tsád on this side. The district of Rédaní was followed by another called Kangálla, and, after a short tract of forest, a third one, of the name of Meggi, consisting mostly of argil. laceous soil, and not nearly so interesting as Rédaní. We en
* The depth of the well measured twenty-two fathoms.
+ This is a complaint to which almost every European in these climes is exposed, and from which Clapperton suffered very severely. I found the best remedy to be mai-kadeña butter, which is very cooling; but in the eastern part of Bórnu it is rarely to be met with.
camped at length near a group of three wells, where, once a week, a small market is held. In the adjacent hollow a pond is formed in the rainy season. The wells were twenty fathoms in depth.
Tuesday, November 30th. The district through which we passed to-day, in a northwesterly direction, seemed to be rich in pasturegrounds and cattle. It was at the time inhabited by a number of Tebú of the tribe of the Dáza, or rather Búlgudá, who in former times, having been driven from A'gadem, Bélkashí Farri, and Saw by the Tawárek, had found refuge in this district, where they preserve their nomadic habits to some extent, and by no means côntribute to the security of the country. Having been warned that along the road no water was to be had, we encamped a little outside the track, near the farming village of Gógoro, where the women were busy threshing or pounding their corn, which was lying in large heaps, while the men were idling about. They were cheerful Kanúri people, who reside here only during the time of the harvest, and when that is over return to their village, Dimmarruwá. The ground hereabout was full of ants, and we had to take all possible care in order to protect our luggage against the attacks of this voracious insect.
Wednesday, December 1st. We now approached the komádugu of Bómu, presenting, with its network of channels and thick forests, a difficult passage after the rainy season. Fine groups of trees began to appear, and droves of Guinea-fowl enlivened the landscape. In order to give the camels a good feed on the rich vegetation produced in this favorable locality, we made even a shorter march than usual, encamping near a dead branch of the river, which is called Kulúgu Gússum, S.E. from the celebrated lake of Múggobí, which in former times, during the glorious period of the Bórnu empire, constituted one of the chief celebrities and attractions of the country, but which at present, being overwhelmed by the surrounding swamps, serves only to interrupt the communication between the western and eastern provinces. Allured by the pleasing character of the place, I stretched myself out in the shade of a group of majestic tamarind-trees, while the man whom I had taken with me as a guide from the village where we had passed the night, gave me some valuable information with regard to the divisions of the Koyám, the present inhabitants of this region east of the komádugu, which had been conquered from the native tribe of the Só. He told me that the Kiye, or, as the name is generally pronounced in Bórnu, the Kay (the tribe which
I have mentioned in my historical account of Bórnu),* originally formed the principal stock of the Koyám, together with whom the Máguni and the Fárferé constitute the principal divisions, the chief of the latter clan bearing the title of Fúgo. The Temágheri, of whom I have also had occasion to speak, and the Ngalága, fractions of both of whom are settled here, he described as Kánembú. But, besides these tribes, a great proportion of Tebú have mixed with the ancient inhabitants of this district, probably since the time of the king Edrís Alawóma, who forced the Tebú settled in the northern districts of Kánem to emigrate into Bórnu. In connection with the latter wide-spread nation, my informant described the Túra (whose chief is called Dírkemá, being a native of Dírki), the Débiri or Díbbíri (also spoken of by me on a former occasion), the U'ngumá, and the Káguwá. The Jetko or Jotko, who live along the komádugu, west from the town of Y6, he described to me as identical with the Keléti, the very tribe which is repeatedly mentioned by the historian of Edrís Alawóma. Thus we find in this district a very interesting group of fractions of former tribes who have here taken refuge from the destructive power of a larger empire.
I took a long walk in the afternoon along the sheet of water, which was indented in the most picturesque manner, and was bordered all around with the richest vegetation, the trees belonging principally to the species called karage and baggarúwa. Farther on dúm palms became numerous; and it was the more interesting to me, as I had visited this district, only a few miles farther north, during the dry season. Guinea-fowl were so numerous that one could hardly move a step without disturbing a group of these lazy birds, which constitute one of the greatest delicacies of the traveler in these regions. A sportsman would find in these swampy forests not less interesting objects for his pursuits than the botanist; for elephants, several species of antelopes, even including the oryx or tétel, nay, as it would seem, even the large addax, the wild hog, besides an unlimited supply of water-fowl, Guinea-fowl, and partridges, would prove worthy of his attention, while occasional encounters with monkeys would cause him some diversion and amusement.
At present the water was decreasing rapidly;t but this part * See rol. ii., p. 29.
+ Compare what I have said with regard to the periods of the rising and decreasing of this river in vol. ii., p. 576.
SITE OF GHASR-EʻGGOMO.
had been entirely dry at the beginning of September, when the late Mr. Overweg had visited it, and the conclusion then drawn by him, that the river inundates its banks in November, was entirely confirmed by my own experience. . There was a great deal of cultivation along this luxuriant border, and even a little cotton was grown; but a very large amount of the latter article might be obtained here with a greater degree of industry. Besides a village at a short distance to the S.E., inhabited by Koyám, and which bears the same name as this branch of the river, there is a hamlet, consisting of about thirty cottages, inhabited by Fúlbe, or Felláta, of the tribe of the Hillega, the same tribe whom we have met in A'damáwa. They seemed to possess a considerable number of cattle, and appeared to lead a contented and retired life in this fertile but at present almost desolate region. But, unfortunately, they have been induced, by their close contact with the Kanúri, to give up the nice manner of preparing their milk, which so distinguishes the Fúlbe in other provinces; and even the cheerful way in which the women offered us their ware could not induce me to purchase of them their unclean species of sour milk, which is prepared by means of the urine of cattle.
Beautiful and rich as was the scenery of this locality, it had the disadvantage of harboring immense swarms of musquitoes, and our night's rest, in consequence, was greatly disturbed.
Thursday, December 2d. Winding round the swamp (for the nature of a swamp or kulúgu was more apparent at present than that of a branch of the river), we reached, after a march of about three miles, the site of the ancient capital of the Bórnu empire, Ghasr-éggomo, which, as I have stated on a former occasion, * was built by the King 'Alí Ghajidéni, toward the end of the fifteenth century, after the dynasty had been driven from its ancient seats in Kánem, and, after a desperate struggle between unsettled elements, began to concentrate itself under the powerful rule of this mighty king. The site was visited by the members of the former expedition, and it has been called by them by the half-Arabic name of Birni-Kadím, the “old capital,” even the Bórnu people in general designating the place only by the name birni or burni. The town had nearly a regular oval shape, but, notwithstanding the great exaggerations of former Arab informants, who have asserted that this town surpassed Cairo (or Masr el Káhira) in size, and was a day's march across, was little more than six English
* Vol. ü., p. 589.
miles in circumference, being encompassed by a strong wall with six or seven* gates, which, in its present dilapidated state, forms a small ridge, and seems clearly to indicate that, when the town was conquered by the Fúlbe or Felláta, the attack was made from two different sides, viz., the southwest and northwest, where the lower
part of the wall had been dug away. The interior of the town exhibits very little that is remarkable. The principal buildings consist of baked bricks; and in the present capital not the small. est approach is made to this more solid mode of architecture.f The dimensions of the palace appear to have been very large, al. though nothing but the ground-plan of large empty areas can be made out at present, while the very small dimensions of the mosque, which had five aisles, seem to afford sufficient proof that none but the people intimately connected with the court used to attend the service, just as is the case at the present time; and it
* The intelligent Arab Ben 'Ali, in the interesting account which he gave to Lucas (Proceedings of the African Association, vol. i., p. 148), distinctly states the number of the gates as seven; but it is remarkable that, in all the accounts of the taking of the place by the Fulbe, mention is only made of two gates, and it is still evident, at the present time, that the western and the eastern gates were the only large ones.
† It must be this circumstance (which to the natives themselves, in the degenerate age of the later kings, appeared as a miracle) which caused the report that in Ghámbarú and Ghasr-eggomo there were buildings of the time of the Christians.