« PreviousContinue »
LETTER OF FRANCHISE.
ture, yet I received visits from several people, and amongst others, that of a Weled Ráshid of the name of Mohammed, who, on my return from Timbúktu followed me to Kúkawa in the company of his countryman the learned A’hmed Wadáwi. This man having left his tribe on the south-eastern borders of Bagirmi, had settled in this place many years before; and having accompanied several expeditions or forays, he gave me an entertaining description of the courage of the Féllani-n-Sókoto, although he had some little disposition to slander, and even related to me stories about the frailties of the female portion of the inhabitants of the capital, which I shall not repeat.
Being anxious that the letter of franchise si should be written before the sultan set out, April 3rd. I sent in the morning my broker 'Alí el A'geren, with a pound of Tower-proof gunpowder, to the prince, in order to remind him of his promise; and he returned after a while, bringing me a letter signed with the sultan's seal, which on the whole was composed in very handsome terms, stating that the prince had granted the request of commercial security for English merchants and travellers, which I as a messenger of the Queen of England had made to him. But the letter not specifying any conditions, I was obliged to ask for another paper, written in more distinct terms; and although ‘Aliyu's time was of course very limited, as he was just about to set out with his army, even my last request was complied
with, and I declared myself satisfied. I was well aware how extremely difficult it is to make these people understand the forms of the articles in which European governments are wont to conclude commercial treaties. In regions like this, however, it seems almost as if too much time ought not to be lost on account of such a matter of form before it is wellestablished whether merchants will really open a traffic with these quarters; for as soon as, upon the general condition of security, an intercourse is really established, the rulers of those countries themselves become aware that some more definite arrangement is necessary, while, before they have any experience of intercourse with Europeans, the form of the articles in which treaties are generally conceived fills them with the utmost suspicion and fear, and may be productive of the worst consequences to any one who may have to conclude such a treaty.
The sultan was kind enough, before he left in the afternoon, to send me word that I might come and take leave of him; and I wished him with all my heart success in his expedition, as the success of my own undertaking, namely, my journey towards the west, partly depended upon his vanquishing his enemies. Giving vent to his approval of my wishes by repeating that important and highly significant word not more peculiar to the Christian than to the Mohammedan creed, “ Amin, amin,” he took leave of me, in order to start on his expedition, accompanied only by a small detachment of cavalry, most of the
ARRIVAL AT WURNO.
troops having already gone on in advance. I had also forwarded a present to Hámmedu, the son of ‘Atiku an elder brother and predecessor of Bello; but he sent it back to me, begging me to keep it until after his return from the expedition. The ghaladíma also, who was to accompany the sultan, called, before his departure, in order that I might wind round his head a turban of gaudy colours, such as I then possessed, as an omen of success.
After all the people were gone, I myself could not think of passing another night in this desolate place, which is not only exposed to the attacks of men, but even to those of wild beasts. Even the preceding night the hyenas had attacked several people, and had almost succeeded in carrying off a boy, besides severely lacerating one man, who was obliged to return home without being able to accompany the army. An hour, therefore, after the sultan had left his encampment, we ourselves were on our road to Wurno, the common residence of ‘Aliyu, where I had been desired to take up my quarters in the house of the ghaladíma; but I never made a more disagreeable journey, short as it was, the provisions which the sultan had given me encumbering us greatly, so that at length we were obliged to give away the heifer as a present to the inhabitants of the village of Gáwasú. It thus happened that we did not reach our quarters till late in the evening; and we had a great deal of trouble in taking possession of them in the dark, having been
detained a long time at the gateway, which itself was wide and spacious, but which was obstructed by a wooden door, while there was no open square at all inside the gate, nor even a straight road leading up from thence into the town, the road immediately dividing and winding close along the wall.
RESIDENCE IN WURNO.
I SHALL preface the particulars of my residence in Wurno with a short account of the growth of the power of the Fúlbe or Féllani in this quarter, and of the present condition of the empire of Sókoto.
There is no doubt that, if any African tribe deserves the full attention of the learned European, it is that of the Fúlbe (sing. Púllo), or Fúla, as they are called by the Mandingoes; Féllari (sing. Baféllanchi), by the Hausa people ; Felláta, by the Kanúri; and Fullán, by the Arabs. In their appearance, their history, and the peculiar character of their language, they present numerous anomalies to the inhabitants of the adjacent countries. No doubt they are the most intelligent of all the African tribes, although in bodily development they cannot be said to exhibit the most perfect specimens, and probably are surpassed in this respect by the Jolof. But it is their superior intelligence which gives their chief expression to the Fúlbe, and prevents their features from presenting that regularity which we find in other tribes, while the spare diet of a large portion of that tribe does not impart to their limbs all the development of which they