Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

CHAP. LIV.

THE MOUNTAINOUS TERRITORY OF MUNIY6, AND ITS GOVERNOR.

In Sheche>i I left my former route,

December 12th. , Twj

which would have taken me to Uundi and Mashena, and followed a N.N.W. direction, towards the mountainous province of Muniy6, which before the time of our expedition was entirely unknown. Passing through the district of Chejessemo, to which ShecheYi belongs, we entered a forest where the kiisulu or magaria *, with its small berries, was very common, the ground being covered with tall jungle. We then reached the town of N garni wa, surrounded with a clay wall in decay, and here watered our animals. The wells were ten fathoms deep; and crowds of boys and girls were busy drawing water from two other richer wells situated on the north side of the place. The path was also frequented by numbers of people who were carrying the harvest into the town, in nets made from the leaves of the dum palm, and borne on the backs of oxen. Further on, forest and cultivated ground alternated; and

* See what I have said about this tree in Vol. I. p. 522.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

leaving a rocky mound called Miva, which marks the beginning of the north-western hilly portion of the Manga country on our right, we reached, after a good march of altogether about twenty-two miles, the rich well of Berberuwa, a small miserable hamlet which lies at a short distance to the west.

The well, however, which was scarcely a fathom in depth, was surrounded by six fine wide-spreading tamarind trees at regular distances from each other, and afforded quite a pleasant resting-place. The well is important as a station for travellers, while the hamlet is so poor that it does not possess a single cow or goat. It still belongs to the province of the ghaladima, who about thirty years ago had a caravan of from sixteen to twenty Arabs exterminated in this neighbourhood, when Mukm, the then ruler of Fezzan and one of the greatest slave-hunters of the time, penetrated as far as the Komadugu Waiibe. Sheikh 'Omar also, when on his expedition against Zinder in order to subjugate the rebellious governor of that town (Ibrahim or Ibram), encamped on this spot. The temperature of the water of the well was 66°.

On inquiring to-day for the small territory of Auy6k or Nkizam, the situation as well as the name of which had been erroneously given by former travellers, I learned that it is situated between Khadcja and Gummel, and that it comprises the following places: Tdshina, U'nik, Shagat6, Shfbiyay, Belangu, Badda, Romcri, Songolom, Melebetiye and U'mari.

Monday, A band of, petty native traders or danDecember 13th. garunfU) wft0 carried their merchandise on their heads, here joined our party. Their merchandise consisted of cotton, which they had bought in Diggera, and were carrying to SulkSri, the market of Muniy<5, where cotton is dear. While proceeding onwards, Ave met another party of native traders from Chelugiwa, laden with earthenware. In the forest which we then entered, with undulating ground, the karage was the predominant tree. Further on the road divided; and while I took the western one, which led me to Yamiya, my people, mistaking a sign which some other persons had laid across the path as if made by myself, took the easterly one to Chelugiwa, where M£le, the lord of this little estate, resided, so that it was some time before I was joined by my party.

The well (which, as is generally the case in this district, lies at the foot of a granite mount, where the moisture collects) in the afternoon presented an interesting scene, a herd of about 120 head of fine cattle being watered here; and it was the more interesting, as the herdsmen were Fellata, or Fiilbe, of the tribe of the Hirlege. The well measured two fathoms in depth; and the temperature of the water was 80° at 1.20 P.m., while that of the air was 84°.

Tuesday, After a march of about six miles through December Wth. & gne country5 occasionally diversified by

a rocky eminence and adorned here and there by fine tamarind trees, we reached Sulleri, a considerable place consisting of several detached hamlets, where

[ocr errors]

the most important market in the territory of Muniy6 is held every Friday. The place contains about 5000 inhabitants, and was enlivened at the time by a considerable herd of cattle. Millet is grown to a great extent, although dum bush or ngille, with its obstructing roots, renders a great portion of the soil unfit for cultivation, and scarcely any cotton at all is raised, so that this forms an important article of importation. Towards the south lies another place, called Deggerari, and to the south-west a third one, called Dugura. Granitic eminences dotted the whole country; but the foggy state of the atmosphere did not allow me to distinguish clearly the more distant hills.

Proceeding in a north-westerly direction through this hilly country, and leaving at a short distance on our right a higher eminence, at the western foot of which the village of New Biine is situated, we descended considerably into a hollow of clayey soil of a most peculiar character. For all of a sudden an isolated date palm started up on our right, while on our left the unwonted aspect of a tall slender gonda, or Erica Papaya, attracted our attention, the intermediate ground being occupied by a rich plantation of cotton. Suddenly a large "sirge" or lake of natron of snowy whiteness, extending from the foot of the height which towers over Bune, approached on our right, — the rich vegetation which girded its border, along which the path led, forming a very remarkable contrast to the barrenness of the " sirge"; for the whole surface of the basin, which at present did not contain a drop of water, was formed of natron, while people were busy digging saltpetre, from pits about six feet deep and one foot and a half in diameter, on its very border. A short distance off, fresh water is to be found close under the surface, giving life to the vegetation, which bears a character so entirely new in this district; and I gazed with delight on the rich scenery around, which presented such a remarkable contrast to the monotonous plains of B6rnu. Wide-spreading tamarind trees shaded large tracts of ground, while detached date palms, few and far between, raised their feathery foliage like a fan over the surrounding country. The ground was clothed, besides, with "retem," or broom, and diim bush, with the Tamarix gallica, or "tarfa," which I scarcely remember to have seen in any other spot during the whole of my travels in Negroland.

Ascending from the clayey soil on a sandy bottom, we reached the western foot of the eminence of Old Biine, which is built in a recess of the rocky cliffs on the western slope of the mount. But the village, which has already suffered greatly by the foundation of New Biine at so short a distance, and which is important only as the residence of Yegiiddi, the eldest son of Muniy6ma, had been almost destroyed some time before by a great conflagration, with the exception of the clay dwelling of the governor, situated at the foot of the cliffs. It was just rebuilding,—only

« PreviousContinue »