« PreviousContinue »
fresh succulent herbage, while it was skirted on both sides by a dense border of exuberant vegetation, which altogether is much richer in this place than either in S6koto or Wurno, being surpassed only by the fine vegetable ornament of Kan6. The rains are extremely plentiful in Gando, causing here quite an exceptional state in the productive power of the soil; and to this circumstance we have partly to ascribe the fact that very fine bananas are grown here in considerable quantity: and the fruit being just ripe at the time, formed a very pleasant variation to my usual food. The onion of Gando is remarkable for its size and quality, compared with that of all the neighbouring districts; and it is well for the traveller, in whatever direction he may intend to go, to lay in a supply of this wholesome article. But the place is extremely dull, and the market very insignificant—a fact easily to be explained by the desperate state of the provinces around, although the situation of the capital, as a central place for commerce, is rather favourable. But the town of Jega has not yet lost, in this respect, the whole of its former importance, and is still the great entrepot for that coarse kind of coloured silk which is imported from the north, and which, notwithstanding its very inferior character, is nevertheless so greatly sought after by the natives for adorning their leatherwork. It is, perhaps, in consequence of the little trade which is carried on, that the people of Gando have applied themselves with more industry Chap. LVIII. CLIMATE. — EXTENT OF EMPIRE. 203
to supplying their own want of cotton cloth—and no one can deny that their cotton strips are of firstrate quality: their dyeing, on the contrary, is very coarse, and they seem quite unable to give to the dyed cloth that lustre which so eminently distinguishes the manufactures of Nupe and Kan6; but nevertheless this cloth of Gando is in great demand as far as Libtako.
The kingdom or empire of Gando, according to its titles, comprises a number of wealthy provinces, all lying along that great West-African river which opens such an easy access into this continent, or on its branches; although nobody who stays in the capital for any length of time would suppose that it holds such a preeminent rank. I shall give some further details respecting these provinces in the Appendix*; here I will only enumerate them by name. They are, the western half of Kebbi, Mauri or A'rewa, Zab^rma, D^ndina (comprising K^nga-koy and Zagha), a great part of Gurma (comprising the provinces of Galaijo, Tor6de, Yagha, and Libtako), with a small portion of Borgu or Barba, a large portion of Y6ruba with the capital A16ri or I16rin, and, on the east side of the river, the provinces of Yaiiri and Niipe or Nyffi. But at that time most of these provinces were plunged ,into an abyss of anarchy, which could not fail to impart to the capital a more sombre aspect than it may possess in general.
* See Appendix VI.
TIIE PROVINCE OF KEBBI AND ITS RIVER. — THE SALT VALLEY OF F&3HA.— REACH THE NIGER.
Saturday, length I was allowed to proceed on my June 4th. journey, which now soon promised to become of overwhelming interest, as I was approaching that great African river which has been the object of so much discussion and individual ambition for so long a period. There had been a very heavy thunderstorm during the night, accompanied by a great abundance of rain, which lasted till late in the morning, and delayed my setting out for a considerable time. It was almost eleven o'clock when we at length left the western gate of the town, or the k6fan-Jega, and entered the open fields, where the crop was already shooting forth. Keeping along the rocky ground bordering the valley on the north side, we soon had a specimen of the swamps which during the rainy season are formed in these deep valleys of Kebbi, while we beheld here also extensive ricegrounds, the first which I saw under actual cultivation. But the guide, who was to accompany me to the very western extremity of the territory of Khalilu, having not yet arrived, we made only a short march of about six miles, and took up our quarters in a
Chap. LIX. LEAVING GANDO.-KA'MBASA.
comfortable hut lying outside the walls of Kainbasa, which, by a separate wall, is divided into two distinct quarters.
This town lies on the north side of a large swamp, which fills the bottom of the faddama, and affords excellent grounds for the cultivation of rice. The governor treated me hospitably, sending me everything that was wanted for a good African dinner, from a sheep down to a bit of salt and a few cakes of dod6wa; and I made him a suitable present in return. During the night we suffered greatly from mosquitoes, giving us a fair idea of what we were to expect on our journey through these swampy valleys.
Another storm again delayed our depar- Snn(lay ture this morning; and being now in the June5tii. middle of the rainy season, I had a fair sample of what I should have to endure on my long journey to Timbuktu. In consequence of the rain, it was again eleven o'clock before we could start. The principal road leads along the northern bank of the faddama, by Avay of Z6ro, the residence of Chafo a son of Khalilu; but it was deemed too unsafe in the present unsettled state of the country,—that very town of Z6ro, although situated on the north side of the faddama, at present being only accessible from the south; and it was decided, therefore, to cross the swamp close to Kambasa, in order that it might afford us protection, in our further progress through this unsafe region, against any sudden attack from the rebels in the northern part of the province. Thus proceeding along the south side of the sheet of water, here about 200 yards broad and thickly overgrown with tall reeds of different species, including a large proportion of papyrus, we reached, after a little less than two miles, another walled town, likewise called Kambasa,—a civil war having broken out among the inhabitants of the former town, and a portion of them having separated from the original tribe, and settled in this place. We then continued along the southern side of the valley, till, after a march of about four miles, we had to cross a small branch which joins the chief trunk of the valley from the south, and opened a view of Mount B6bye, over the saddle of which the road leads from Tambawel to J£ga, the great marketplace of this quarter of the country, while the faddama, here spreading out in a large sheet of water, receded behind a walled town called Badda-badda. A track frequented by the elephant, of which for a long time I had seen no traces, led through the rich pasture-ground, to the edge of the water. Almost the whole cultivation along this fertile but swampy valley consisted of rice. It was about 1200 yards broad, and even at the present season, before the rains had set in, was full of water. A couple of months later it inundates its low borders, and almost precludes any passage, so that, on my home journey from the west, I was obliged to pursue another path. The crops of Negro corn were here already three inches high, numbers of people being busily em