Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

the site itself the moisture percolates in several small dells and hollows; and thus, besides a good crop of wheat, several small groves of date trees are produced. The largest of these groves, skirting the east side of the town, contains about 800 trees, while a little further east another dell winds along, containing about 200 palms, and, joining the former, to the north of the village, widens to a more open ground richly overgrown with tamarind trees, which are entwined with creepers and clad with herbage. This grove, which encompasses the whole of the north side of the place, exhibits a very pleasant aspect. Several ponds are formed here; and abundance of water is found in holes from a foot to two feet in depth.

Going round this depression, I entered the town from the north-east quarter, and here found a large open space laid out in fields of wheat, kitchen-gardens, with onions, and cotton-grounds, all in different stages of cultivation : most of the beds where wheat was grown were just being laid out, the clods of dry earth being broken and the ground irrigated, while in other places the green stalks of the crop were already shooting forth. The onions were very closely packed together. Everywhere the fertilizing element was close at hand, and palm trees were shooting up in several detached clusters; but large mounds of rubbish prevented my taking a comprehensive view over the whole, and the more so as the village is separated into four detached portions lying at a considerable distance from each other, and forming

altogether a circumference of about three miles, with a population of from 8000 to 9000 inhabitants. But the whole is merely surrounded by a light fence. The principal cluster, or hamlet, surrounds a small eininence, on the top of which stands the house of the head man or mayor, built of clay, and having quite a commanding position, while at the northeastern foot of the hill a very picturesque date grove spreads out in a hollow. The ground being uneven,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

wÚSHEK. 1. Principal hamlet surrounding the dwelling of the bíllama, which is situated

on an eminence. 2. Several smaller clusters of huts. 3, 4. Shallow vales with palm trees. 5. Small depressions or cavities in the sandy soil, also with palm-trees. 6. Another group of palm trees on the border of a small brook formed by a source

of living water.

the dwellings, like those in Gúre, are mostly situated in hollows; and the courtyards present a new and

[merged small][ocr errors]

characteristic feature—for although the cottages them. selves are built of reed and stalks of Negro corn, the corn-stacks, far from presenting that light and perishable appearance which they exhibit all over Háusa, approach closely that solid style of building which we have observed in the Músgu country, being built of clay, and rising to the height of ten feet.

Wúshek is the principal place for the cultivation of wheat in the whole western part of Bórnu; and if there had been a market that day, it would have been most profitable for me to have provided myself here with this article, wheat being very essential for me, as I had only free servants at my disposal, who would by no means undertake the pounding and preparing of the native corn, while a preparation of wheat, such as mohamsa, can be always kept ready; but the market of Wúshek is only held every Wednesday. In the whole of this country, one hundred shells, or kúngona, which are estimated equal to one gábaga, form the standard currency in the market; and it is remarkable that this sum is not designated by the Kanúri word “miye ” or “yéro,”* nor with the common Háusa word “darí," but by the name "zango,” which is used only in the western parts of Háusa and in Sókoto.

I had pitched my tent near the south-eastern

* The Kanúri, in order to express "one hundred,” have relinquished the expression of their native idiom, and generally make use of the Arab term “ míye.”

Se

hamlet, which is the smallest of the four, close to the spot where I had entered the place, not being aware of its extent; and from here I made, in the afternoon, a sketch of the mountain-range towards the south, and the dry shelving level bordered by the strip of green verdure with the palm trees in the foreground, which is represented in the plate opposite. In the evening I was hospitably regaled by each of the two bíllama who govern the town, and I had the satisfaction of making a “tailor to His Majesty Múniyóma," who was residing here, very happy by the present of a few large darning-needles for sewing the líbbedi or wadded dress for the soldiers. Monday,

On leaving Wúshek, we directed our December 20th. course by the spur of the mountain-chain to the south south-west, crossing several hollows, one of which presented a very luxuriant cotton-ground carefully fenced in by the euphorbiacea here called mágara, which I have described on a former occasion. The country in general consisted of a broken sandy level clothed with tall reeds. Leaving then a small village of the name of Gédiyó in a recess of the mountains, we entered an undulating plain, the prairie of Nógo, open towards the west, but bounded on the east by an amphitheatre of low hills, and densely clothed with herbage and broom, to which succeeded underwood of small mimosas, and further on, when we approached the hills on the other side of the plain, large clusters of “abísga,” or Capparis sodata. Only here and there traces of cultiva

[graphic][graphic]
« PreviousContinue »