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sight of this tree was the view of a large sheet of water, which appeared on our right about three miles
·on, and which excited in me the first idea of the size and richness of the upper course of the Niger; it is here called Dó; but in its further course northwards, where the eye could not reach the border, it bears the particular name of Siléddu, and at least at certain seasons of the year is in direct connection with the river.
Having then passed a small tract of cultivated ground and emerged from the undulating country, we obtained a sight of the town of Bambara, situated a little in front of a chain of hills, as represented in the accompanying woodcut. In an hour more we
reached the place, and at the instigation of our Arab companion fired a salute with our pistols, whereupon the principal individuals made their appearance, and we obtained quarters without further delay. The town or village consists partly of low clay buildings, partly of huts, but the inhabitants appear to dwell almost exclusively in the latter, using the clay dwellings, which generally consist of low, oblong, and flat-roofed buildings, as store-rooms or magazines for depositing
their treasures; that is to say, their long rolls of cotton-strips, “leppi,” or “tári.” The dwelling also which was assigned to me consisted of a rather low dirty hut, which was anything but well ventilated, and proved almost insupportable during the hot hours of the day. But the clay soil in the courtyard was too hard for pitching my tent, and besides, it was not advisable to expose myself in this manner to the gaze of inquisitive and curious observers. The inhabitants of this place, almost all of whom are Fúlbe, and on account of their large features evidently belong to the section of the Toróde or Tórobe, are ill-famed as “ dhálemín,” or evil-doers. However, they are a warlike set, and had succeeded a few months before in driving back the Awelímmiden, who had made a foray on a large scale against the place. But Bámbara is important in an economical respect, for the inhabitants, besides possessing numerous cattle, cultiyate a large extent of ground; even many of the people of Timbúktu have fields here, the transport of the grain being easy and cheap by means of the immense inland navigation which is formed by the many back-waters and branches of the Niger. But the neighbourhood of the place is very barren, and at that time especially, when no rain had fallen for some time, looked extremely dry, so that the camels had to be driven to a great distance to find pasturage. Some Tawárek half-castes are also settled in the place, and they kept up dancing every evening till a very late hour.
Bambara is called Hudári by the Tawárek or Imóshagh, and Sukurára by the people of the kingdom of Bámbara, the Báinanón, or as they are called by the inhabitants of Timbúktu, Benáber. Why the name Bambara has attached to this place in particular I cannot say, but probably the reason was, that the people of Bambara, who some seventy years ago conquered all this country to the south of the river, retained dominion of this town for a longer time than of any other place in the neighbourhood. There is no doubt that the Fúlbe, or Fullán, as well as the Songhay and Arabs, call the place only by the latter name.
I had to stay in Bambara several days, not at all for my own comfort, as I continually ran the risk of being recognised and identified, having been known as a Christian at the short distance of a few days' journey from here. Nothing but the scanty intercourse which is kept up in this region made such a sudden change of character possible, for as yet I had nobody to protect me. But my friend El Waláti, whose relation with the inhabitants of this place was of a peculiar character, derived the sole benefit from our stay. He had married here, four years previously, a rich wife, and had absconded with all her property: besides having seriously offended the powerful Tárki chief Somki. Having thus made himself so obnoxious to them, he would not have been able to enter the place again, if he had not found an opportunity of enriching himself at my expense and enjoying the protection of my
company. However, it was only by degrees that I became acquainted with all these circumstances, while I had to bear silently all the intrigues of this man, my only object being to reach safely in his company the town of Timbúktu; but it was evident enough that he was continually wavering, whether it was not more profitable for him to deliver me into the hands of the Fúlbe, as he knew well that in the town of Dár-e'Salám, which was only thirty miles distant, there was a powerful governor, under the ruler of Másina, and himself a son of Mohammed Lebbo, who, at the first intelligence of my real character, would have cut short all my proceedings, and, in the most favourable case, would have sent me direct to his liege lord and nephew in Hamda-Alláhi.
I had to make here some considerable presents to a number of people. There was first our host Jóbbo, who had given us quarters, and who treated us very hospitably; then, the son of the chief or emir, who was absent in Hamda-Alláhi ; next, three kinsmen of the latter, who were represented to me as dhálemín; and lastly, three Arabs from Timbuktu, who were staying here at the time, and whose friendly disposition I had to secure for some reason or other. One of the latter was a very amiable young man, of the name of Mohammed el Amin, son of the learned kádbi Mústapha, and it was he, in particular, who gave me some information with regard to my friend El Waláti, who, on his part, endeavoured to obtain the favour of this young man, by persuading me to make him a
good present, and to commission him to take charge of my horse through the dangerous and watery tract of country from Sarayámo to Kábara. As for the second of these Arabs, he belonged to the small tribe of the Ansár, or, as they are generally called Lansár, — that most respected Arab tribe which, on account of its intimate connection with Mohammed, enjoyed everywhere and at all times great influence, but which is at present reduced to a very small fraction. He was a follower of Hammádi, the rival of the sheikh El Bakáy in Timbuktu, and seemed to be of such a hostile disposition towards my friend that the latter represented him to me as shamefully exiled from that town, and as totally disgraced. Besides these presents to the inhabitants of the place, I had also to reward the various people who had accompanied us from the Tawárek encampments in order to show us the road, or rather to drive the sheep and cattle belonging to El Waláti. But in return for all these presents I was at least treated hospitably and, for these countries, even sumptuously; and I was glad to find that the rice here, which constituted the chief article of food, was of excellent quality.
While we were staying in this place I received a visit from two Tawárek chiefs, who, owing to our slow progress, had heard of me, and came in order to obtain from me my blessing, but more particularly some presents. The chief of them was a very respectablelooking man, of the name of Mohammed, or Hemáheme, with large open features, such as are never seen