Imatges de pÓgina

furnish to the faithful an inexhaustible supply of slaves. The practice of travelling with a caravan was found very advantageous, from the mutual help afforded, as well as from the good reports spread by the merchants respecting their European companions. In Bornou these last had been viewed with almost unmingled horror; and, for having eaten their bread under the extremest necessity, a man had his testimony rejected in a court of justice. Some young Bornouese ladies, who accosted Major Denham, having ventured to say a word in his favour, an attendant matron exclaimed," Be silent; he is an uncircumcised Caffre,-neither washes nor prays, eats pork, and will go to hell;" upon which the others screamed out and ran off. But in Houssa this horror was not so extreme, and was mingled with the belief that they possessed surprising and supernatural powers. Not only did the sick come in crowds expecting the cure of every disease, but the ladies solicited amulets to restore their beauty, to preserve the affections of their lovers, and even to destroy a hated rival. The son of the governor of Kano having called upon Mr Clapperton, stated it as the conviction of the whole city and his own, that the English had the power of converting men into asses, goats, and monkeys, and likewise that by reading in his book he could at any time commute a handful of earth into gold. The traveller having argued with him upon the difficulty he often found in procuring both asses and gold, induced him, with trembling hands, to taste a cup of tea; when he became more composed, and made a sort of recantation of his errors.

As the caravan proceeded they met many other tra

vellers, and found sitting along the road numerous females, selling potatoes, beans, bits of roasted meat, and water with an infusion of gussub grains; and when they stopped at any place for the night, the people crowded in such numbers as to form a little fair. Mr Clapperton attracted the notice of many of the Fellata ladies, who, after examining him closely, declared, that had he only been less white, his external appearance might have merited approbation.

The travellers passed through Sansan, a great market-place divided into three distinct towns, and Katagum, the strongly-fortified capital of the province, containing about 8000 inhabitants. Thence they proceeded to Murmur, where the severe illness under which Dr Oudney had long laboured came to a crisis. Though now in the last stage of consumption, he insisted on continuing his journey, and with the aid of his servant had been supported to his camel, when Mr Clapperton, seeing the ghastliness of death on his countenance, insisted on replacing him in his tent; where soon after, without a groan, he breathed his last. His companion caused him to be buried with the honours of the country. The body was washed, wrapped in turban-shawls, and a wall of clay built round the grave to protect it from wild beasts; two sheep also were killed and distributed among the poor.

Proceeding onwards, the traveller came to Katungwa, the first town of Houssa Proper, in a country well enclosed and under high cultivation. To the south was an extensive range of rocky hills, amid which was the town of Zangeia, with its buildings picturesquely scattered over masses of rock. He passed also Girkwa, near a river of the

same name, which appears to come from these hills, and to fall into the Yeou.

Two days after, he entered Kano, the Ghana of Edrisi, and which is now, as it was six hundred years ago, the chief commercial city of Houssa and of all Central Africa. Yet it disappointed our traveller on his first entry, and for a quarter of a mile scarcely appeared a city at all. Even in its more crowded quarters the houses rose generally in clusters, orly separated by large stagnant pools. The inhabited part, on the whole, did not appear to comprise more than a fourth of the space enclosed by the walls, while the rest consisted of fields, gardens, and swamps; however, as the whole circuit is fifteen miles, there is space for a population moderately estimated to be between 30,000 and 40,000. Its market, the greatest scene of commercial transactions in Africa, is held on a neck of land between two swamps, by which, during the rains, it is entirely overflowed; but in the dry season it is covered with sheds, or stalls of bamboo, arranged into regular streets. Different quarters are allotted for the several kinds of goods; some for cattle, others for vegetables; while fruits of various descriptions, so much neglected in Bornou, are here displayed in profusion. The fine cotton fabrics of the country are sold either in webs, or in what are called tobes and turkadees, with rich silken stripes or borders ready to be added. Among the favourite articles are goora or kolla nuts, which are called African coffee, being supposed to give a peculiar relish to the water drunk after them; and crude antimony, with whose black tint every eyebrow in Houssa must be dyed. The Arabs also dispose here of sundry commodities that have become

obsolete in the north; the cast-off dresses of the Mamelukes and other great men, and old swordblades from Malta. But the busiest scene is the slave-market, composed of two long ranges of sheds, one for males and another for females. These poor creatures are seated in rows, decked out for exhibition; the buyer scrutinizes them as nicely as a purchaser with us does a horse, inspecting the tongue, teeth, eyes, and limbs, making them cough and perform various movements, to ascertain if there be any thing unsound; and in case of a blemish appearing, or even without assigning a reason, he may return them within three days. As soon as the slaves are sold, the exposer gets back their finery, to be employed in ornamenting others. Most of the captives purchased at Kano are conveyed across the Desert, during which their masters endeavour to keep up their spirits by an assurance that, on passing its boundary, they will be set free and dressed in red, which they account the gayest of colours. Supplies, however, often fail in this dreary journey,-a want felt first by the slaves, many of whom perish with hunger and fatigue. Mr Clapperton heard the doleful tale of a mother who had seen her child dashed to the ground, while she herself was compelled by the lash to drag on an exhausted frame. Yet when at all tolerably treated, they are very gay,—an observation generally made in regard to slaves; but this gaiety, arising only from the absence of thought, probably conceals much secret wretchedness.

The regulations of the market of Kano seem to be good, and strictly observed. There is a sheik who regulates the police, and is said even to fix the prices,— which is going too far. The dylalas, or brokers, are

men of somewhat high character; packages of goods are often sold unopened, and bearing merely their mark. If the purchaser afterwards finds any defect, he returns it to the agent, who must grant compensation. The medium of exchange is not cloth as in Bornou, nor iron as in Loggun, but cowries, or little shells brought from the coast, twenty of which are worth a halfpenny, and 480 make a shilling; so that, in paying a pound sterling, one has to count over 9600 cowries. Our countryman admires this currency, as excluding all attempts at forgery; but really we should think its use very tedious and inconvenient. Amid so many strangers there is ample room for the trade of the restaurateur, which is occupied by a female seated on the ground, with a mat on her knees, on which are spread vegetables, gussubwater, and bits of roasted meat about the size of a penny; these she retails to her customers squatted around her. The killing of a bullock forms a sort of festival at Kano; its horns are dyed red with henna, drums are beat, and a crowd collected, who, if they approve of the appearance and condition of the animal, readily become purchasers.

Boxing in Houssa, like wrestling in Bornou, forms a favourite exercise, and the grand national spectacle. Mr Clapperton, having heard much of the fancy of Kano, intimated his willingness to pay for a performance, which was forthwith arranged. The whole body of butchers attended, and acted as masters of the ceremonies; while, as soon as the tidings spread, girls left their pitchers at the wells, the market people threw down their baskets, and an immense crowd was assembled. The ring being formed, and drums beat, the performers first came forward singly, ply

« AnteriorContinua »