« PreviousContinue »
TRAVELS AND DISCOVERIES
DEPARTURE FOR TIMBÚKTU. -THE HILLY NORTH-WESTERN PRO
VINCES OF BÓRNU.
The death of Mr. Overweg, happening at a period , when the prospects of the mission just began to
brighten, induced me to relinquish my original plan of once more trying my fortune in Kánem and on the N.E. shores of the Tsád, as an undertaking too dangerous for me in my isolated position, and the results of which could not reasonably be expected to be great, even with the protection of a small force, in a disturbed country, in comparison with the dangers that accompanied it. Besides, such was the character of the horde of the Welád Slimán and their mode of warfare, that after having received the sanction of the British Government for my proceedings, and being authorised by them to carry out the objects of the mission as at first projected, I could scarcely
venture to associate myself again with such a law. less set of people. I therefore determined to direct my whole attention towards the west, in order to explore the countries situated on the middle course of the great western river the I'sa, or the so-called Niger, and at the same time to establish friendly relations with the powerful ruler of the empire of Sókotó, and to obtain full permission for myself or other Europeans to visit the south-eastern provinces of his empire, especially A'damáwa, which I had been prevented from fully exploring by the real or pretended fear of the governor of that province, to grant such a permission without the sanction of his liege lord.
The treaty which I had at length succeeded in getting signed by the sheikh of Bórnu and his vizier on the last of August, together with a map of all the parts of Central Africa which I had as yet visited, and containing at the same time all the information which I had been able to collect concerning the neighbouring provinces *, I had forwarded home in the middle of October, addressing at the same time the request to H. M.'s consul at Tripoli, to send me, by a special courier to Zínder, a certain sum of money. The road which I had before me was long, leading through the territories of a great many dif
* This is the map which was published by Mr. Petermann, in the account of the progress of the Expedition to Central Africa, adding from Mr. Richardson's and Mr. Overweg's journals, which I had sent home, an outline of those districts visited by themselves alone.
ferent chiefs, and partly even of powerful princes; and as soon as I should have left Zínder behind me, I could not expect to find fresh supplies, the sum of money which I had received on my return from Bagirmi being almost all spent in paying the debts which we had incurred when left without means. A sum of 400 dollars, besides a box containing choice English ironware, had been some time before consigned to a Tebú of the name of A’hmed Háj 'Ali Bíllama: but instead of proceeding at once with the caravan with which he had left Fezzán, as he ought to have done, he staid behind in his native town Bilma to celebrate a marriage. The caravan, with about twenty horses and a hundred camels, arrived, on the 10th of November, without bringing me anything, except the proof of such reckless conduct; and as I could not afford to lose any more time in waiting for this parcel, I left orders that it should be forwarded to Zínder as soon as it should arrive. But never received it.
Nearly three fourths of the money in cash which we had received being required to pay off our debts, we had been obliged to give away a great portion even of the articles of merchandise, or presents, in order to reward friends who for so long a period had displayed their hospitality towards us, and rendered us services almost without the slightest recompense; so that, on the whole, it was only under the most pressing circumstances I could think of undertaking a journey to the west with the means then
at my disposal. But, very luckily, a handsome sum of money was on the road to Zínder; I also expected to receive at that place a few new instruments, as the greater part of my thermometers were broken, and I had no instrument left for making hypsometrical observations.
An inroad on a large scale, of a tribe of the Tawárek, or Kindín, as they are called in Bórnu, under their chief, Músa, into the province of Múniyó, through which lay my road to Zinder, delayed my departure for a considerable time. This inroad of the hordes of the desert claimed a greater interest than usual, especially when considered in connection with the facts which I have set forth on a former occasion*, the Tawárek or Berbers having originally formed an integral part of the settled population of Bórnu. These Díggera of Músa, who appear to have occupied these tracts at a former period, had evidently formed the firm intention of settling again in the fine valleys of the province of Múniyo, which are so favourable to the breeding of camels, that even when the country was in the hands of the Bórnu people they used to send their herds there.
At length, after a long series of delays, the road to the west became open, and I took leave of the sheikh on the 19th of November, in a private audience, none but the vizier being present. I then found reason to flatter myself that, from the manner in
TAKE LEAVE OF THE SHEIKH.
which I had explained to them the motives which had induced me to undertake a journey to the chiefs of the Fúlbe or Felláta, there were no grounds of suspicion remaining between us, although they made it a point that I should avoid going by Kanó; and even when I rejected their entreaty to remain with them after my successful return from Timbúktu, they found nothing to object, as I assured them that I might be more useful to them as a faithful friend in my own country, than by remaining with them in Bórnu. At that time I thought that Her Majesty's Government would be induced to send a consul to Bórnu, and, in consequence, I raised their expectations on that point. But matters in Bórnu greatly changed during my absence in the west, and, in consequence of the temporary interregnum of the usurper ‘Abd e' Rahmán and the overthrow and murder of the vizier, the state of affairs there assumed a less settled aspect. I concluded my leave-taking by requesting my kind hosts, once more, to send a copy of the history of Edris Alawoma, the most celebrated Bórnu king, to the British Government, as I was sure that, in their desire to elucidate the history and geography of these regions, this would be an acceptable present.
The vizier, in particular, took great interest in my enterprise, admiring the confidence which I expressed, that the sheikh el Bakáy, in Timbúktu, of whom I had formed an opinion merely from hearsay, would receive me kindly and give me his full