Page images
[blocks in formation]

hills; at the same time, busy scenes of domestic life attracted our attention. Here the shore formed a bend, and the river glided along in a slow, majestic, and undivided stream, but a little farther on formed two islands, and on the main we observed again that cotton was cultivated. Traversing then a swampy plain, covered with several large farms belonging to people of the Kortére, we reached a small detached chain on our right, called Kirogáji, distinguished by three separate cones. Cultivation here is carried on to a great extent, and the number of horses scattered over the plain afforded a tolerable proof of the wealth of the inhabitants, and we passed the residence of a rich farmer, called U'ro-Módibo, "úro? being the Púllo term for a farm, and “módibo” the title of a learned gentleman. At the village of Sága also, which, a little more than two miles farther on, we left on our right, beyond swampy meadow-grounds, numbers of horses and extensive cotton plantations attracted our attention.

Three miles beyond Sága we encamped near a small rivulet lined with luxuriant trees, of the species called gamji or ganki, at the foot of the hills, the slope of which was covered with the richest crop of millet, and crowned with two villages inhabited by Fúlbe of the tribe of the Bitinkóbe, the river forming a rich and populous island called Bé-gúngu. This place is the residence of a sort of emír of the name of Báte, to whom my companions paid a visit, and obtained from him a supper and a small viaticum.

Saturday, July 29th. We made a very interesting day's march. The hills, which are here crowned with the various hamlets, form a bend closely approaching the river, and the path wound along the slope, which was intersected by several ravines full of rocks and trees, and afforded a beautiful view over the stream. Descending from this slope, we kept along the bank, richly adorned with kenya, or ņelbi-trees, the river spreading out in one unbroken sheet, interrupted only by a few isolated masses of rock. We here crossed a broad channel or dry water-course starting forth from the hilly chain, and called Górul-tilkólil, or Góru-kére. This water-course my guide, probably erroneously, indicated as a branch of the river Sírba. It was succeeded by several others, one of which, distinguished by its breadth, was called Górul-lug.. gul. The bank of the river at this spot was cultivated with great care, and we passed several farming villages, one of which, called Lellóli, was the residence of a young Púllo woman who had at

tached herself to our party the preceding day. She was neatly dressed, and adorned with numerous strings of beads, and mounted on a donkey.

Here cultivation, including a good deal of cotton, was carried on with great care, and all the fields were neatly fenced. But this well-cultivated ground was succeeded by a dense and luxuriant underwood, and in the river an island of the name of 'Oitilli or 'Otílli stretched out to a great length. This probably is the ford originally called Ghútil or Ghúdil. A little beyond, at the distance of about five miles, the soft slope gave way to a small rocky ridge, through which a little rivulet or brook had forced itself a passage, forming a very picturesque kind of rocky gate, which, when the stream is full, must present an interesting spectacle. But the water contained at the time a quantity of ferruginous substances, and after taking a slight draught I remained in a nauseous state all the day long. It affected one of my companions still more unpleasantly. Here the steep rocky cliffs, consisting of gneiss and mica slate, and interwoven with fine green bushes, closely approached the river, which, in a fine open sheet, was gliding gently along at the rate of about three miles an hour, and we kept close to the margin of the stream, which, during the highest state of the inundation, is scarcely broad enough to afford any passage. The cliffs, with their beautifully stratified front, were so close that even at present only a border a few feet in width was left, and this narrow strip was beautifully adorned with dunku. trees, the dark green foliage of which formed a beautiful contrast with the steep white cliffs behind them. The leaves are used by the natives for making a kind of sauce and for seasoning their food, like those of the monkey-bread-tree. Farther on, underwood of arbutus succeeded. The rocky ledge was interrupted, for a short time exhibiting the aspect of a crumbled wall, but farther on again assumed the shape of precipitous cliffs, although less regularly stratified than in its northwesterly part.

This steep range of cliffs is called by the natives “Yuri.” Just where it began to fall off and to become smoother we were obliged to leave the margin of the beautiful stream, which, near the bank, apparently descended to a great depth, in order to ascend the higher ground; for here the land juts out into the river in the form of a broad promontory, the whole slope being covered with fine crops, which were just approaching to ripeness. Thus we reached the farming village, or rúmde, belonging to Fittia Imám, ARRIVAL AT SAY.

533 or, as the name is generally pronounced, Mam Fitti, a wealthy Púllo, who possesses also a farm in the plain at the foot of the promontory close to the river. Here we encamped on the southeast side of the village, where the ground afforded good pasture for the camels.

I had been reposing a while in the shade of a small kórna, when my people informed me that they had discovered on the slope of the hills a spring of living water, and I was easily induced, by the novelty of the phenomenon in this region, to accompany them to the spot.

The whole slope is about 500 feet high, and the view from this point across the river is extensive, but toward the southeast it is obstructed by the hills rising in that direction to a greater elevation. This culminating point of the ridge we ascended the next morning, when we found that the highest level expanded to an open plain, well clad with bush and grass and a rich supply of corn, although the crops did not exhibit here the same luxuriant growth as on the slope of the hills. Proceeding then for a mile along this level, we reached a small village, in the court-yards of which, besides sesamum, a little mekka, as it is here called, or ghafúli-másr, was cultivated. Here I, together with my horsemen, started in advance of my train, in order to prepare our quarters in the town of Say, as we had a good day's march before us. The country here became adorned with gonda bush, of which we had entirely lost sight during our whole journey along the upper course of the Niger. Having passed the larger village Dógo, where with some difficulty we obtained a drop of milk, and having traversed a richly-cultivated district, we descended into the valley of Say, along the rugged cliffs which bounded it on the west. But the greater part of the valley was covered with water to such a degree that we became entangled every moment in a swamp, and therefore preferred again ascending the cliffs and keeping along the higher border. In this northerly part the rocky slope attained in general a height of 150 feet, but gradually began to decrease in elevation. About half an hour before noon we changed our direction, and made across the swampy bottom of the valley, traversing two more considerable sheets of water, the first of three, and the second of two and a half feet in depth.

Thus we approached the town of Say, which was scarcely visible, owing to the exuberant vegetation which surrounded its wall on every side, and which exhibited a most remarkable contrast to

that dryness and monotony which characterized the place on my former visit. The town itself was at present intersected by a broad sheet of water, which seemed almost to separate it into two distinct quarters. I at length reached the house of the governor, where I, as well as my horse, were cheerfully recognized as old acquaintances. I was quartered in the same little hut in which I had resided more than a year previously, but a considerable change had been made in its arrangement. The comfortable little sleeping place of matting had been restored, and was very acceptable in the rainy season, more especially as it did not entirely preclude a current of air, while it enabled me to put away all my small treasures in security.



AND KEBBI. HAVING rested a while in my hut, I, with my companions, obeyed the summons of the governor, and found our poor old friend, A’bú-Bakr, in the very same room where we had left him more than a year previously. He was now quite lame in consequence of his disease of señi, but looked a little better than on the former occasion, and I soon had an opportunity of admiring his accurate knowledge of the country; for when A’hmed el Wádáwi had read to him the kasáid or poems addressed by my friend El Bakáy to the Emír Aʼhmedu, and began to relate some of the more remarkable incidents of our journey, he was corrected every moment in the nomenclature of the places by the governor, who appeared to possess the most accurate philological knowledge of all the spots along the river as far as Tóndibi, where he had been obliged to turn his back on his voyage up the Niger. He apparently took great interest in the endeavor of the sheikh to open a communication with the Fúlbe of Gando and Sókoto, and expressed his deep sorrow that on his former voyage he was prevented by the hostile behavior of the chief El Khadír from reaching Tim. búktu, when my companions assured him that the sheikh, on the first news of his approach, had sent a messenger in order to insure his safety from the Tawárek.

Even if we do not take into account this attempt of his, there


535 is no doubt that the Governor of Say is of the utmost importance in the endeavor to ascend this river, and it is only to be lamented that he has not greater means, pecuniary and military, at his disposal, in order to draw from the favorable position of his province all the results possible. Altogether, his circumstances at this moment, especially in consequence of the rebellion of the Province of Déndina, were rather poor. At the same time, his own debilitated condition prevents him from exerting his power, and can only tend to increase his political weakness. The rather inhospitable treatment which we received may thus be explained. Nev. ertheless, I made him this time a considerable present, including a red bernús of inferior quality, which I had kept back for the occa. sion. However, I was so fortunate, in acknowledgment for some medicines with which I endeavored to alleviate his complaint, as to receive from him a small piece of sugar, which was a great treat to me, as I had long been deprived of this luxury, there being none in the market; and when we left the place, after a stay of three days, he was generous enough to make my companions a present of a camel, of which they stood much in need.

The market was in many respects better provided than on our outward journey, but with this advantage was coupled the great disadvantage to me personally that, a large troop of Hausa traders having recently arrived and richly supplied the market with the manufactures of that region, the prices at present ranged much lower, and for the very best indigo-dyed shirt I obtained only 6000 shells, while two others did not fetch more than 2000 each. Millet was plentiful, although by no means cheap, the third part of a suniye, or twenty-four measures of Timbuktu, being sold for 4000 shells, consequently twice or thrice as dear as in the latter place; but there was hardly any rice. There was not a single sheep in the market, nor any horned cattle, either for slaughtering or for carrying burdens; nor were there any dodówa cakes or tamarinds; nay, even the fruit of the monkey-bread-tree, or kúka, was wanting; the only small luxury which was to be found in the market, besides the fruit of the dúm palm, consisting of fresh onions, certainly a great comfort in these regions.

Such is the miserable character of this market, which, in such a position, situated on the shore of this magnificent river, and on the principal high road between Eastern and Western Negroland, ought to be of primary importance. It was with great delight that the feeble but well-meaning governor listened to my dis

« PreviousContinue »