Page images
PDF
EPUB

Chap. LXIV.

SANYA'RE.—THE NIGER.

389

on the right, beyond a swampy low ground. This is probably the same town so repeatedly mentioned in the interesting records of Bábá A'hmed, especially as the residence of the Púllo chief, Sambo Lámido, who at the period of the ruin of the Songhay empire was the chief instrument in achieving that destruction. We then crossed from here to the other side, and passed the town of Sanyáre on a projecting headland, which at times appears to be changed into an island, and containing, besides a good number of reed huts, even a few clay dwellings. Here our people indulged in the hope of procuring some tobacco, but were sadly disappointed, the natives being too much afraid of their fanatical master, the Shékho A’hmedu ben A’hmedu.

Having left this village behind us, we entered a fine northerly reach belonging to the branch which was finally to carry us into the great river itself, and left the town of Sanyare beyond the shallow sandbank, conspicuous on account of a group jestic taınarind trees. Here the inhabitants wanted to barter some sour milk for negro corn, which to them, with their ordinary diet of rice, seemed to be a luxury. Having lost some time, we at length had the broad sheet of the Niger before us; and here, at the point of junction, there started forth from the easterly shore a group of solitary trees, which appeared to form the usual nocturnal place of resort for all the water-fowl in the neighbourhood, the trunk as well as the branches of the trecs being

an

overlaid with a white crust formed by the droppings of these visitors, which with animated cries were collecting together towards the close of the evening. Having here left the shore, which at present formed a low and bare headland, but which in the course of a month would be entirely under water, we at once entered the middle of that magnificent river the I'sa, or Máyo Balléo, running here from W. 35o S. to E. 35° N., which has excited the lively curiosity of Europeans for so many years. It was at this spot about a mile across, and by its magnitude and solemn magnificence in the new moon which was rising in front of us, and with the summer lightning at times breaking through the evening sky, inspired my servants with real awe and almost fright; while we were squatting on the shelving roof of our frail boat, and looked with searching eyes along the immense expanse of the river in a north-easterly direction, where the object of our journey was said to lie.

Whether from the excitement of the day, or from the previous night's wetting, when at length we lay to at the ancient Songhay town of Koiretágo, which had once been a place of importance, but had been almost destroyed by the Fúlbe in conjunction with the Tárki chief Somki, I was seized with a severe attack of fever, but in order to take care of my luggage I was unwilling to go on shore, where I might have lain down on a fine sandy beach, choosing rather to remain on board our frail boat.

CHAP. LXV.

ARRIVAL AT KÁBARA, — ENTRANCE INTO TIMBÚKTU.

[ocr errors]

Thus the day broke which, after so many September 7th, months' exertion, was to carry me to 1853. the harbour of Timbúktu. We started at a tolerably early hour, crossing the broad sheet of the river, first in a north-easterly, then in an almost northerly direction, till finding ourselves opposite the small hainlet Tásakal, mentioned by Caillié *, we began to keep along the windings of the northern bank which, from its low character, presented a very varying appearance, while a creek, separating from the trunk, entered the low ground. The river a month or two later in the season inundates the whole country to a great distance, but the magnificent stream, with the exception of a few fishingboats, now seemed almost tenantless, the only objects which in the present reduced state of the country animated the scenery being a number of large boats lying at anchor in front of us near the shore of the village Korome. But the whole character of the river was of the highest interest to me, as it dis* Caillie's Journey to Timbúktu, vol. ii. p. 30.

closed some new features for which I had not been prepared; for, while the water on which Korome was situated formed only by far the smaller branch, the chief river, about three quarters of a mile in breadth, took its direction to the south-east, separated from the former by a group of islands called Day, at the headland of which lies the islet of Tárashám.*

It was with an anxious feeling that I bade farewell to that noble river as it turned away from us, pot being sure whether it would fall to my lot to explore its further course, although it was my firm intention at the tiine to accomplish this task if possible. Thus we entered the branch of Korome, keeping along the grass which here grows in the river to a great extent, till we reached the village, consisting of nothing but temporary huts of reed, which, in the course of a few weeks, with the rising of the waters, were to be removed further inland. Notwithstanding its frail character, this poor little village was interesting on account of its wharfs, where a number of boats were repairing. The master of our own craft residing here (for all the boatmen on this river are serfs, or nearly in that condition), we were obliged to halt almost an hour and a half; but in order not to excite the curiosity of the people, I thought it prudent to remain in my boat. But even there I was incommoded with a great number of visitors, who were very anxious to know exactly

* “ Tárashám” means a house or dwelling.

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »