Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. LVI.

JOURNEY FROM KATSENA TO SOKOTO.

The whole town was in motion when we left; Monday, for the governor himself was to accompany March 2l8tus for some days' journey, as the whole country was exposed to the most imminent danger, and further on he was to send a numerous escort along with us. It was a fine morning, and, though the rainy season had not yet set in in this province, many of the trees were clad already in a new dress, as if in anticipation of the fertilizing power of the more favoured season.

The hajilij had begun, about the commencement of March, to put out new foliage and shoots of young fruit; and the dor6wa or Parkia exhibited its blossoms of the most beautiful purple, hanging down to a great length from the branches. The dor<5wa, which is entirely wanting in the whole of Bornu, constitutes here the chief representative of the vegetable kingdom. It is from the beans of this tree that the natives prepare the vegetable cakes called "dodowa," with which they season their food.* Next to this tree another one, which I had not seen before, called here "riinhu," and at present full of small yellow blossoms, was most common.

* See the description which Clapperton gives of the manner in which these cakes are prepared. (Denham and Clapperton's Travels, ii. p. 125.)

The first day we made only a short march of about three miles, to a village called Kabakawa, where the ghaladima had taken up his quarters. I had scarcely dismounted, under a tree at the side of the village, when my protector called upon me, and in a very friendly manner invited me, urgently, to take up my quarters inside the village, stating that the neighbourhood was not quite safe, as the G6berawa had carried away three women from this very village the preceding day. I, however, preferred my tent and the open air, and felt very little inclination to confide my valuable property, on which depended entirely the success of my enterprise, to the frail huts, which are apt to catch fire at any moment; for while I could not combat against nature, I had confidence enough in my arms, and in my watchfulness, not to be afraid of thieves and robbers.*

In the afternoon the ghaladima came out of the hamlet, and took his seat under a neighbouring tree, when I returned his visit of the morning, and endeavoured to open with him and his companions a free and unrestrained intercourse; for I was only too happy to get out of the hands of the lawless governor of Katsena, who, I felt convinced, would not have been deterred by any scruples from possessing himself of my riches: indeed he had gone so far as to tell me that, if I possessed anything of value, such as pistols handsomely mounted, I should give them to him rather than to the sultan of S6koto, for that

* The wells here were eight fathoms.

Chap. LVI. TOBACCO AND YAMS.

107

he himself was the emir el Miimenm; nay, he even told me that his liege lord was alarmed at the sight of a pistol.

In order to avoid the enemy, we were Tueaday, obliged, instead of following a westerly di- March 22"drection, to keep at first directly southward. The country through which our road lay was very beautiful. The dor6wa, which, the preceding day, had formed the principal ornament of the landscape, in the first part of this day's march gave place entirely to other trees, such as the tall rimi or bentang tree, the kiika or monkey-bread tree, and the deldb palm or gigina (Borassus flabelliformis?)', but beyond the village of D6ka, the dor6wa, which is the principal tree of the provinces of Katsena and Zariya, again came prominently forward, while the kadena also, or butter tree, and the alleluba, afforded a greater variety to the vegetation. The all&uba (which, on my second stay at Kan6, I saw in full blossom) bears a small fruit, which the natives eat, but which I never tried myself. Even the dum palin, with its fan-shaped yellow-coloured foliage, gave occasionally greater relief to the fresher vegetation around. The country was populous and well cultivated; and extensive tobaccogrounds and large fields of yams or gwaza were seen, —both objects being almost a new sight to me; for tobacco, which I had been so much surprised to sec cultivated to such an extent in the country of the pagan Musgu, is scarcely grown at all in B6rnu, with the exception of Ziuder, and 1 had first observed it largely cultivated near the town of Katsena, while yams, as I have already had repeatedly occasion to mention, are not raised at all in Central Negroland. Numerous herds of cattle were seen dotting the landscape, and contributed largely to the interest of the scenery. But the district of Maje especially, which we traversed after a march of about seven miles, impressed me with the highest opinion of the fertility and beauty of this country. Here, also, we met a troop of Itisan with their camels.

Having then proceeded for about two miles through a more open and well-cultivated country with extensive cotton-grounds, large plantations of indigo, and wide fields planted with sweet potatoes, or dankali, we reached the village called Kulkada, where the governor of Katsena had taken up his quarters; but, leaving this outlaw at a respectful distance, we followed in the track of the ghaladima, who had been obliged to seek for quarters in a small Tawarek hamlet at the distance of a mile and a half towards the south-east, — a remarkable resting-place for a party proceeding to the westward. The heat was very great; and the dor6wa trees, with their scanty acacialike foliage, which, besides a few gonda trees (Carica Papaya) and a solitary ngabbore, were the only members of the vegetable kingdom here seen, afforded but insufficient shade, the dryness of the country being the more felt, as the supply of water was rather limited.

I was hospitably treated in the evening, not only

« PreviousContinue »