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RUINS.—THE KOMA DUGU. serves, moreover, clearly to establish the fact that even in former times, when the empire was most flourishing, there was no such thing as a médresé, or college, attached to the mosque. The fact is, that although Bórnu at all times has had some learned men, study has always been a private affair among a few individuals, encouraged by some distinguished men who had visited Egypt and Arabia. Taking into consideration the great extent of the empire during the period of its grandeur, and the fertility and wealth of some of its provinces, which caused gold dust at that time to be brought to market here in considerable quantity, it can not be doubted that this capital contained a great deal of barbaric magnificence, and even a certain degree of civilization, much more so than is at present found in this country; and it is certainly a speculation not devoid of interest to imagine, in this town of Negroland, a splendid court, with a considerable number of learned and intelligent men gathering round their sovereign, and a priest writing down the glorious achievements of his master, and thus securing them from oblivion. Pity that he was not aware that his work might fall into the hands of people from quite another part of the world, and of so different a stage of civilization, language, and learning! else he would certainly not have failed to have given to posterity a more distinct clew to the chronology of the history of his native country.
It is remarkable that the area of the town, although thickly overgrown with rank grass, is quite bare of trees, while the wall is closely hemmed in by a dense forest; and when I entered the ruins, I found them to be the haunt of a couple of tall ostriches, the only present possessors of this once animated ground; but on the southwest corner, at some distance from the wall, there was a small hamlet.
The way in which the komádugu, assisted probably by artifi. cial means, spreads over this whole region, is very remarkable. The passage of the country at the present season of the year, covered as it is with the thickest forest, was extremely difficult, and we had to make a very large circuit in order to reach the village of Zéngirí, where the river could be most easily crossed. I myself went, on this occasion, as far southwest as Zaraima, a village lying on a steep bank near a very strong bend or elbow of the river, which, a little above, seems to be formed by the two principal branches, the one coming from the country of Bedde, and the other more from the south; but, notwithstanding the great circuit we made, we had to ford several very extensive backwaters, stretching out in the deeper parts of the valley, amid a thick belt of the rankest vegetation, before we reached the real channel, which wound along in a meandering course inclosed between sandy banks of about twenty-five feet in elevation, and, with its rich vegetation, presenting a very interesting spectacle. The for. est in this part is full of tétel, or Antelope oryx, and of the large antelope called “kargum.” The few inhabitants of the district, although they do not cultivate a great deal of corn, can not suffer much from famine, so rich is the supply of the forest as well as of the water. Our evening's repast, after we had encamped near Zéngirí, was seasoned by some excellent fish from the river. However, I must observe here that the Kanúri in general are not such good hunters as the Hausa people, of whom a considerable proportion live by hunting, forming numerous parties or hunting clubs, who on certain days go out into the forest. CROSSING A RIVER.—MANGA.
Friday, December 3d. Having made a good march the previous day, we were obliged, before attempting the passage of the river with our numerous beasts and heavy luggage, to allow them a day's repose; and I spent it most agreeably on the banks of the river, which was only a few yards from our encampment. Having seen this valley in the dry season, and read so many theories with regard to its connection with the Niger on one side and the Tsád on the other, it was of the highest interest to me to see it at the present time of the year, when it was full of water, and at its very highest point; and I could only.wish that Captain William Allen had been able to survey this noble stream in its present state, in order to convince himself of the erroneous nature of his theory of this river running from the Tsád into the so-called Chadda, or rather Bénuwé. Though the current was not very strong, and probably did not exceed three miles an hour, it swept along as a considerable river of about one hundred and twenty yards breadth toward the Tsád, changing its course from a direction E. 12° S. to N. 35o E. While the bank on this side formed a steep sandy slope, the opposite one was flat, and richly adorned with reeds of different species, and luxuriant trees. All was quiet and repose, there being no traffic whatever on the river, with the exception of a couple of homely travelers, a man and woman, who in the simple native style were crossing the river, riding on a pair of yoked calabashes, and immerged in the water up to their middle, while they had stowed away their little clothing inside
those very vessels which supported them above the water; but, notwithstanding their energetic labor, they were carried down by the force of the current to a considerable distance. Besides these two human beings, the river at present was only enlivened by one solitary spoonbill (or, as it is here called, béja or kedébbu-búnibe), who, like a king of the water, was proudly swimming up and down, looking around for prey.
The following day we crossed the river ourselves. I had some difficulty in concluding the bargain, the inhabitants, who belong to the Tebú-Zénghi,* making at first rather exorbitant demands, t till I satisfied them with a dollar; and we ourselves, camels, horses, and luggage, crossed without an accident, each camel being drawn by a man mounted on a pair of calabashes, while another man mounted the animal close to its tail. The scenery, although destitute of grand features, was highly interesting, and has been represented as correctly as possible in the plate opposite. The river proved to be fifteen feet deep in the channel, and about 120 yards broad; but there was a still smaller creek behind, about five feet deep.
At length we were again in motion; but our difficulties now commenced, the path being extremely winding, deeply hollowed out, and full of water, and leading through the thickest part of the forest; and I had to lament the loss of several bottles of the most valuable medicine, a couple of boxes being thrown from the back of the camel. The forest extended only to the border which is reached by the highest state of the inundation, when we emerged upon open country, and, leaving the town of Nghurútuwa (where Mr. Richardson died) at a short distance on our right, we encamped a few hundred yards to the south of the town of Alaúne, which I had also passed on my former journey.
Here we entered that part of the province of Manga which is governed by Kashélla Belál; and the difference in the character of this tract from the province of Koyám, which we had just left behind, was remarkable, the country being undulated in downs of red sand, famous for the cultivation of ground-nuts and beans, both of which constitute a large proportion of the food of the inhabitants, so that millet and beans are generally sown on the same
* I do not know exactly whether the ford has been called after this tribe; but the name Zénghiri also occurs in other localities.
† These people wanted in general nothing but cloves. I, however, succeeded in buying a sheep from them for eight gábagá, at the rate of eight dr'a each.