Page images
PDF
EPUB

PECULIAR CHARACTER OF MU’NIYO.'

51 near the second well of Súwa-Kolólluwa, which was two fathoms in depth, and, unlike the first well, contained a good quantity of water.

The scenery had nothing very remarkable about it; but it exhibited a cheerful, homely character, surrounded as it was by hills, and enlivened by herds of camels, horses, and cattle, which toward evening gathered round the well to be watered; and the character of peace and repose which it exhibited induced me to make a sketch of it.

Among the animals there were some excellent she-camels, which, as evening advanced, were crying and eagerly looking out for their young ones, that had been left in the surrounding villages. The inhabitants, who treated us hospitably, seemed to be tolerably well off; and the feasting in my little encampment continued almost the whole night long.

Thursday, December 16th. With the greater eagerness we started early in the morning, in order to reach the capital of this little hilly country, which forms a very sharp wedge or triangle of considerable length, projecting from the heart of Negroland toward the border of the desert, and exhibiting fixed settlements and a tolerably well-arranged government, in contrast to the turbulent districts of nomadic encampments. Our direction meanwhile remained the same as on the preceding day, being mostly a northeasterly one. The situation of this province, as laid down from my route upon the map, seems very remarkable; but we must not forget that in ancient times, during the flourishing period of the empire of Bórnu, the whole country between this advanced spur and Kánem formed populous provinces subjected to the same government, and that it is only since the middle of the last cen. tury that, the Berbers or Tawárek having politically separated entirely from the Kanúri, the whole eastern part of these northern provinces has been laid waste and depopulated, while the energetic rulers of the province of Múniyó have not only succeeded in de fending their little territory, but have even extended it in a cer. tain degree, encroaching little by little upon the neighboring province of Díggera, a tribe of the Tawárek, whom I have mentioned on a former occasion.*

The country in general preserved the same character as on the previous day, the narrow vales and glens inclosed by the granitic eminences being well cultivated, and studded with small hamlets,

* Vol. i., p. 472.

! of wins the Lus approarted the architecture tsua in KilaSeveral truype of a Te IuET DS on the road w packoxx, overlat lacks of with large baskets were throw DT means

A a on sf network, they were returning from the capita batmuy

d u lair quota of we'assúr or " kungona má be." The systein of tax praying in these western provinces is very different from tivat usual in Búruu Proper, as I shall soon have another of jority of relatie,

Alur a march of about six milen, an isolated date palm anwound a different region, and a little farther on we entered ibe valley of Tungurt, running from west to east, and adorned with a Bin plantation of otron, beeides a grove of about two hundred daw palms, llaving travernd this valley where the road leads w Billa M'allem Gárgebe, we entered a thicket of mimosas, while the eminencem assumiu a rounder shape. The country then became gradually more open, scarcely a single tree being met with, and we obtained a distant view of Gúre, situated at the southern foot and on the lower slope of a rocky eminence, when we began o desand considerably along the shelving ground of the expansive plain laid out in stubble-fields, with here and there a few trees, and internected by several large and deep ravines.

Ilmving first inspected the site of the town, I chose my camping wround in a small recess of the sandy downs which border the WEALTH OF MUNIYOʻMA.

[graphic]

53 south side of a concavity or dell surrounding the town on this side, and laid out in small kitchen gardens and cotton plantations, as shown in the accompanying wood-cut; for, notwithstanding the entreaties of the governor, I did not like to take up my quarters inside the place.

In the evening I received a visit from Yusuf Mukní, the late Mr. Richardson's interpreter, who at present had turned merchant, and, having sold several articles to Múniyóma, the governor of the country, had been waiting here three months for payment. He was very amiable on this occasion, and apparently was not indisposed to accompany me to Sókoto, if I had chosen to make him an offer; but I knew his character too well, and feared rather than liked him. He gave me a faithful account of the wealth and power of Múniyóma, who, he said, was able to bring into the field 1500 horsemen, and from 8000 to 10,000 archers, while his revenues amounted to 30,000,000 of shells, equivalent, according to the standard of this place, to 10,000 Spanish dollars, besides a large tribute in corn, equal to the tenth part, or 'ashúr, which, in all the provinces of Bórnu northwest of the komádugu, in consequence of the governors of these territories having preserved their independence against the Fúlbe or Felláta, belongs to them, and not to the sovereign lord, who resides in Kúkawa. Each fullgrown male inhabitant of the province has to pay annually 1000 shells for himself, and, if he possess cattle, for every pack-ox 1000 shells more, and for every slave 2000.

I had heard a great deal about the debts of this governor; but I learned, on farther inquiry, that they only pressed heavily upon him this year, when the revenues of his province were greatly reduced by the inroad of the Tawárek, of which I have spoken before. As a specimen of his style of life, I may mention that he had recently bought a horse of Tarkíye breed for 700,000 shells, a very high price in this country, equal to about £50 sterling.

Friday, December 17th. Having got ready my presents for the governor, I went to pay him a visit; and, while waiting in the inner court-yard, I had sufficient leisure to admire the solid and well-ornamented style of building which his palace exhibited, and which almost cast into the shade the frail architectural monuments of the capital. I was then conducted into a stately but rather sombre audience-hall, where the governor was sitting on a diyan of clay, clad in a blue bernús, and surrounded by a great number of people whom curiosity had brought thither. Having exchanged

with him the usual compliments, I told him that, as Mr. Richardson had paid him a visit on his first arrival in the country, and on his way from the north to Kúkawa, it had also been my desire, before leaving Bórnu for the western tribes, to pay my respects to him as the most noble, powerful, and intelligent governor of the country, it being our earnest wish to be on friendly terms with all the princes of the earth, more especially with those so remarkably distinguished as was his family. He received my address with great kindness, and appeared much flattered by it.

The number of people present on this occasion was so great that I did not enter into closer conversation with the governor, the darkness of the place not allowing me to distinguish his features. I had, however, a better opportunity of observing his almost European cast of countenance when I paid him another visit in order to satisfy his curiosity by firing my six-barreled revolver before his eyes. On this occasion he did me the honor of putting on the white heláli bernús which had constituted the chief attraction of my present, and which he esteemed very highly, as most noble people do in this country, while the common chief values more highly a dress of showy colors. The white half-silk bernús looked very well, especially as he wore underneath it a red cloth kaftan. - The real name of the governor is Kóso, Múniyóma being, as I have stated on a former occasion,* nothing but a general title, meaning the governor of Múniyó, which, in the old division of the vast empire of Bórnu, formed part of the Yerí. In the present reduced state of the kingdom of Bórnu, he was the most powerful and respectable of the governors, and by his personal dignity had more the appearance of a prince than almost any other chief whom I saw in Negroland. Besides making himself respected by his intelligence and just conduct, he has succeeded in spreading a sort of mystery round his daily life, which enhanced his authority. The people assured me that nobody ever saw him eating; but, as far as I had an opportunity of observing, even his family harbored that jealousy and want of confidence which undermines the well-being of so many princely households based on polygamy.

Kóso at that time was a man of about sixty years of age, and, unfortunately, died shortly afterward, in the year 1854. He had displayed a great deal of energy on several occasions. It was he

* See vol. i., p. 555, note.

[blocks in formation]

who had transferred the seat of government of this province from Búne to Gúre, having conquered (or probably only reconquered) this territory from the Díggera, the Tawárek tribe formerly scattered over a great part of Háusa. But, notwithstanding his own energetic character, he had manifested his faithfulness to his sovereign lord in Kúkawa at the time of the inroad of the Wádáy, when Serki Ibrám, the governor of Zínder, not only declared himself independent, but even demanded homage from the neighboring vassals of the Bórnu empire, and, when such was denied him, marched against Múniyóma, but was beaten near the town of Wúshek. Such faithful adherence to the new dynasty of the Kánemiyín in Kúkawa is the more remarkable in this man, as the ruling family of Múniyóma seems to have been of ancient standing, and it was an ancestor of Kóso, of the name of Sérriyó, who once conquered the strong town of Daura, the most ancient of the Hausa states.

But, notwithstanding the more noble disposition which certainly distinguished this man from most of his colleagues, here also the misery connected with the horrors of slave-hunting and the slavetrade was very palpable; for, in order to be enabled to pay his debts, he was just then about to undertake a foray against one of the towns of the Díggera, the inhabitants of which had behaved in a friendly manner toward the Tawárek during their recent inroad, and he begged me very urgently to stay until his return from the foray. But as I did not want any thing from him, and as the road before me was a long one, I preferred pursuing my journey, taking care, however, to obtain information from him, and from the principal men in his company, respecting those localities of the province which most deserved my attention.

Kóso departed, with his troop in several small detachments, about noon on the 18th, the signal for starting not being made with a drum, as is usual in Bórnu, but with an iron instrument which dates from the old pagan times, and not unlike that of the Músgu. It was also very characteristic that during his absence the lieutenant governorship was exercised by the mágirá, or the mother of the governor, who was said to have ruled on former occasions in a very energetic manner, punishing all the inhabi. tants capable of bearing arms who had remained behind. Before setting out, however, on his foray, the governor sent me a camel as a present, which, although it was not a first-rate one, and was knocked up before I reached Kátsena, nevertheless proved of

« PreviousContinue »