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39 núri, who are living among them, and who cultivate a small quantity of cotton, for which the banks of the swamp are very well suited, and would no doubt be extensively used for this purpose if the country were inhabited by civilized people.
The Bedde, according to their language, are closely related to the Manga, but, as far as I had an opportunity of judging, are much inferior to them in bodily development, being not at all distinguished for their stature; but it is very probable that the inhabitants of these places in the border district, who come into continual contact with their masters, the Bórnu people, are more degenerate than those in the interior, who, protected by the several branches of the komádugu and the swamps and forests connected with them, keep up a spirit of national independence, possessing even a considerable number of a small breed of horses, which they ride without saddle or harness, and in the same barbaric manner as the Músgu.
Wednesday, December 8th. The district which we traversed in the morning was distinguished by a great number of kúka or monkey-bread-trees, the first one we saw being destitute of leaves, though full of fruit; but gradually, as we approached a more considerable sheet of water, they became adorned with a profusion of rich foliage, and we here met several small parties laden with baskets, of an elongated shape, full of the young leaves of this tree, which, as “kálu kúka,” constitute the most common vegetable of the natives. Besides the kúka, large karage and kórna or jujubetrees (Zizyphus), and now and then a fine tamarind-tree, though not of such great size as I was wont to see, adorned the landscape.
We had just crossed a swamp, at present dry, surrounded on one side by fine fig-trees and gerredh of such luxuriant growth that I was scarcely able to recognize the tree, and on the other by talha-trees, when, about noon, we emerged into open cultivated ground, and were here greeted with the sight of a pretty sheet of open water, breaking forth from the forest on our left, and dividing into two branches, which receded in the distance. The Bedde call it Thaba-kenama. The water is full of fish, which is dried by the inhabitants, and, either in its natural form, or pounded and formed into balls, constitutes an important article of export. We met a good many people laden with it.
It was here that, while admiring this river-like sheet of water, “kálgu," besides the funó, of course (as is the case also with the Marghí) can only have reference to those among them who have adopted Islám.
I recognized, among a troop of native travelers, my friend the sherif Mohammed Ben A’hmed, to whom I was indebted for a couple of hours very pleasantly and usefully spent during my stay in Yóla, and for the route from Mozambique to the Lake Nyanja, or, as it is commonly called, Nyassi. I for a moment hoped that it might be my fate, in the company of this man, to penetrate through the large belt of the unknown equatorial region of this continent toward the Indian Ocean. But as he was now on his way from Zínder to Kúkawa, we had only a few moments allowed for conversation and the exchange of compliments, when we separated in opposite directions, never to meet again—my fate carrying me westward, while he was soon to succumb to the effects of the climate of Negroland.
Three miles farther on, turning a little more southward from our westerly direction, we reached the town of Géshiya, once a strong place and surrounded by a clay wall, but at present in a state of great decay, although it is still tolerably peopled, the groups of conical huts being separated by fences of matting into several quarters. Here we encamped on the north side, near a fine tamarind-tree, where millet was grown to a great extent. The south and west sides were surrounded by an extensive swamp or swampy water-course fed by the komádugu, and, with its dense forest, affording to the inhabitants a safe retreat in case of an attack from their enemies. All the towns of the Bedde are situated in similar positions, and hence the precarious allegiance of the people (who indulge in rapacious habits) to the ruler of Bórnu. The inhabitants of Géshiya,* indeed, have very thievish propensities; and as we had neglected to fire a few shots in the evening, a couple of daring men succeeded, during the night, in carrying away the woolen blanket in which my companion the Méjebrí merchant 'Alí el A'geren was sleeping at the side of his horse. Although he was a man of hardihood and experience, he was dragged or carried along to a considerable distance, until he was forced to let go his blanket; and, threatening him with their spear in case he should cry out, they managed this affair so clev. erly and with such dispatch, that they were off in the dark before
* The bíllama, or mayor, of this town, who has subjected himself to the authority of Bórnu, bears the title " Mai 'Omár Béddema.” Fitíti, the residence of the chief Babyshe or Babúdji, and the chief town of Bedde, lies a short day's march from here S.S.W. I have more materials of itineraries traversing this region, but they are too indistinct with regard to direction to be used for a topographical sketch of the country,
we were up to pursue them. It was a pity that these daring rascals escaped with their spoil; but, in order to prevent any farther depredations of this kind, we fired several shots, and with a large accordion, upon which I played the rest of the night, I frightened the people to such a degree that they thought every moment we were about to ransack the town.
Thursday, December 9th. Keeping along the northeastern border of the swamp, through a fine country where the tamarind and monkey-bread-tree were often interlaced, as I have repeatedly observed to be the case with these species of trees, we reached, after a march of about three miles, the town of Gesma, which is girt and defended by the swamp on the south and east sides, the wall being distinguished by the irregularity of its pinnacles, if pin. nacles they may be called, as represented in the accompanying wood-cut. The inhabitants, clad in nothing but a leather apron,
were busy carrying clay from the adjacent swamp, in order to repair the wall, which, however, on the west side, was in excellent condition.
Close to this town I observed the first rími, or silk-cotton-tree, which in Bómnu Proper is entirely wanting; and as we proceeded through the fine open country, numerous species of trees which are peculiar to Háusa became visible, and seemed to greet me as old acquaintances. I was heartily glad that I had left the monotonous plains of Bórnu once more behind me, and had reached the more favored and diversified districts of this fine country. Small channels intersected the country in every direction; and immense fishing-baskets were lying in some of them, apparently in order to catch the fish which, during the period of the inundation, are carried down by the river. But the great humidity of this district made it swarm with ants, whose immense and thickly-scattered hills, together with the dúm bush, filled out the intermediate spaces between the larger specimens of the vegetable kingdom.
Having then crossed a tract of denser forest, we entered upon deep sandy soil, where the kúka became the sole tree, excluding almost every other kind, with the exception of a few tamarinds, for whose company, as I have observed, the monkey-bread-tree seems to have a decided predilection.
Thus we reached Donári, formerly a considerable place of the Manga, and surrounded with a low rampart of earth, but at present greatly reduced, the inhabited quarter occupying only a very small proportion of the area thus inclosed. But a good many cattle were to be seen, and, lying just in the shade of the majestic monkey-bread-trees which mark the place, afforded a cheerful sight. This was the residence of the Bórnu officer A'dama, who had accompanied me from Borzári, and who the previous day had gone on in advance to pass the night here. But having once made it a rule to encamp in the open country, I preferred the large though leafless trunk of a kúka at a short distance from the eastern gate to a cool shed inside the town; and the heat was by no means oppressive, a cool wind blowing the whole day.
December 10th. We exchanged the domain of the monkey-breadtree for that of the dúm palm, by giving to our course a northwesterly direction toward Zurríkulo, the queen of the region of dúm palms and the residence of the hospitable Kashélla Saíd, * passing at some distance on our way a comfortable and populous little place, surrounded with a stockade, and bearing the attractive name of Kechidúniya, “the sweetness of the world," where a little market was held, to which people were flocking from all sides, male and female, with sour milk, ground-nuts, grain, earthen pots, young cattle, and sheep.
In Zurríkulo I fell into my former route, which I had followed * His province comprises the following villages : Chando, Gíro, Ghasrmari, Kellerí, Gabchári, Bilaljawa, Nkibúda, Lawandi, Dalari, Kerí-zemán, Kábi, Gréma Dalari.
THE WELL OF BERBEʻRUWA'.
in the opposite direction in March, 1851, and, crossing the northern branch of the komádugu, which at present was two feet and a half deep, and following almost the same road, encamped the next day in Shechéri, the first village of the district of Búndi.
CHAPTER LIV. THE MOUNTAINOUS TERRITORY OF MU'NIYO', AND ITS GOVERNOR.
December 12th. In Shechéri I left my former route, which would have taken me to Búndi and Máshena, and followed a N.N.W. direction, toward the mountainous province of Múniyó, which before the time of our expedition was entirely unknown. Passing through the district of Chejéssemo, to which Shechéri belongs, we entered a forest where the kúsulu or magária,* with its small berries, was very common, the ground being covered with tall jungle. We then reached the town of Ngárruwá, surrounded with a clay wall in decay, and here watered our animals. The wells were ten fathoms deep; and crowds of boys and girls were busy drawing water from two other richer wells situated on the north side of the place. The path was also frequented by numbers of people who were carrying the harvest into the town, in nets made from the leaves of the dúm palm, and borne on the backs of oxen. Farther on, forest and cultivated ground alternated; and leaving a rocky mound called Míva, which marks the beginning of the northwestern hilly portion of the Manga country on our right, we reached, after a good march of altogether about twenty-two miles, the rich well of Berbéruwá, a small miserable hamlet which lies at a short distance to the west.
The well, however, which was scarcely a fathom in depth, was surrounded by six fine widespreading tamarind-trees at regular distances from each other, and afforded quite a pleasant restingplace. The well is important as a station for travelers, while the hamlet is so poor that it does not possess a single cow or goat. It still belongs to the province of the ghaladíma, who about thirty years ago had a caravan of from sixteen to twenty Arabs exterminated in this neighborhood, when Mukní, the then ruler of Fezzan and one of the greatest slave-hunters of the time, penetrated as far as the Komádugu Wáúbe. Sheikh 'Omar also, when on his
* See what I have said about this tree in vol. i., p. 404.