Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

appointments out of which he saved about £80; when, stimulated by the prize of 1000 francs offered by the French Society of Geography to any individual who should succeed in reaching Timbuctoo, he formed the spirited resolution to undertake this arduous journey with only the resources which the above slender sum could command.

On the 19th April, 1827, M. Caillié set out from Kakundy with a small caravan of Mandingoes. His route lay through the centre of the kingdom of Foota Jallo, in a line intermediate between its two capitals of Teemboo and Laby. This was a very elevated district, watered by the infant streams of the Senegal and Niger, which descend from a still higher region towards the south. It was a laborious route to travel, being steep, rocky, traversed by numerous ravines and torrents, and often obstructed by dense forests. It presented, however, many highly-picturesque views; while the copious rivulets diffused a rich verdure over extensive tracts, on which the Foulahs fed numerous flocks, which, with a little rice they contrived to raise, sufficed for their subsistence. Fruits of various kinds, yams, and other vegetables, are also cultivated with success. Their rude agriculture, however, is conducted chiefly by slaves, who are in general well treated, living in villages by themselves, and having two days in the week allowed to provide for their own subsistence. Caillié, like other writers, describes the Foulahs as a fine and handsome people, attached to a pastoral life, but at the same time very warlike, and excessively bigoted in religion.

In his route through Foota Jallo, the traveller crossed the Bafing, not far from its source, where it

was still fordable, though it rolled a rapid and foaming stream about 100 paces broad. It is said, at a little distance above, to form a very striking cataract. About 100 miles farther on, in the territory of Kankan, near the village of Couroussa, he came to the Joliba or Niger, already a very considerable river, eight or ten feet deep, and running at the rate of two miles and a half an hour.

Kankan, where the traveller spent some time, is described as an interesting place, with about 6000 inhabitants, surrounded by a beautiful quicksethedge, answering the purpose of a wall for defence. The market, held thrice a-week, is extremely well supplied, not only with the native commodities of cloth, honey, wax, cotton, provisions, cattle, and gold from the neighbouring district of Bouré, but also with European articles brought up from the coast, among which the chief are fire-arms, powder, India calicoes, amber, beads, and coral. The adjoining country is fertile and highly cultivated. The Milo, a tributary to the Niger, runs close by the town. To the north is the province of Bouré, which our author represents as more abundant in gold than any other in this part of Africa. The metallic produce here, as well as in the districts visited by Park, is entirely alluvial, embedded in a species of earth, from which it is separated by agitation in water.

M. Caillié remained more than a month at Kankan before he could find a caravan to guide him through Ouassoulo, a fine country diversified by numerous little villages surrounded by fields neatly laid out and highly cultivated. The people are industrious, mild, humane, hospitable, and, though pagans, feel no enmity towards their Mohammedan

neighbours. The women weave a fine cotton cloth, which is exported to all the surrounding districts; yet there was a want of that cleanliness which, in Kankan, had formed a pleasant feature. Beyond Ouassoulo is the town of Sambatikila, the inhabitants of which live in voluntary poverty, bestowing little trouble on the cultivation of the ground, which they allege distracts them from the study of the koran, ―a statement justly derided as only a specious cloak for their indolence. The traveller came next to Timé, situated in a favourable territory, fertile, and profusely irrigated, yielding abundantly various fruits and vegetables, which are scarce or unknown on the coast. Among these were the shea or butter-tree, and the kolla or goora nuts, which are esteemed a great luxury, and conveyed in large quantities into the interior. The victuals, however, were found insipid, owing to the almost total absence of salt, which can only be procured by the wealthy; nor could our traveller at all relish the plan of seasoning food by a sauce extracted from the flesh of mice.

He was detained at Timé upwards of five months by a severe illness. On the 9th January, 1828, he joined a caravan for Jenne, and proceeded through a district generally well cultivated, and containing a number of considerable villages, till, on the 10th March, he came in view, near the village of Cougalia, of the Niger, which appeared to him only about 500 feet broad, but very deep, flowing gently through a flat and open country. The caravan sailed across it, and, after travelling six miles, and passing, by rather deep fords, two smaller branches, they entered the city of Jenne, one of the most celebrated and important in Central Africa, and which had

never before been visited by a European traveller.

Jenne is described by Caillié as situated at the eastern extremity of a branch of the Niger separating below Sego from the main current, with which, after passing the former city, it again unites. This delineation seems doubtful. Such a branch, had it existed, would probably have been observed by Park, who, on the contrary, describes the river which passes by Jenne as a separate stream, tributary to the Niger. The Arabic term, translated by us island, is of very vague import, being familiarly applied to a peninsula, and even to a space wholly or partially enclosed by river-branches. The country around, as far as the eye could reach, formed only a naked marshy plain, interspersed with a few clumps of trees and bushes. The city was two miles and a half in circuit, surrounded by a wall of earth; the houses rather well built, composed of sun-dried bricks, two stories high, without windows in front, but lighted from interior courts. The streets are too narrow for carriages, but of such breadth that seven or eight persons may walk abreast. The population is reckoned by M. Caillié at 8000 or 10,000; but upon this subject we suspect he is apt to form his estimates somewhat too low. The inhabitants consist of various African tribes, attracted by the extensive commerce of which Jenne is the centre. The four principal are the Foulahs, Mandingoes, Bambarras, and Moors, of whom the first are the most numerous, and are bigoted adherents to the Mohammedan faith, compelling the pagan Bambarras who resort to Jenne to conform to the rules of the koran during their temporary residence. The trade is

chiefly in the hands of thirty or forty Moorish merchants, who often unite in partnership, and maintain a communication with Timbuctoo, in barks of considerable size ranged along the river. The negro merchants also carry on business, but on a smaller scale, and chiefly in native articles. The markets are filled with the productions of the surrounding country, either for consumption or exportation,-cloth, grain, fruits, kolla-nuts, meat, fish,-gold from Bouré, and unhappily with numerous slaves, who are paraded through the streets, and offered at the rate of from 35,000 to 40,000 cowries each. These commodities draw in return from Timbuctoo, salt, Indian cloths, fire-arms, beads, toys, and all the variety of European articles. The merchants of Jenne were found more polished in their manners than any native Africans with whom Caillié had yet held intercourse: they were extremely hospitable, entertaining him at free quarters during his whole stay; but he considers them as having driven an exceedingly hard bargain for his goods. The mode of living, even of the most wealthy, was extremely simple. Their houses contained scarcely any furniture; and their clothes were deposited in a large leathern bag, generally suspended from the roof. The chief entertainment to which our traveller was invited, consisted merely of a huge fragment of a sheep stewed in onions, and, as usual, eaten with the fingers,-four cups of tea concluding the repast.

[ocr errors]

On the 23d March, M. Caillié left Jenne, near which he embarked on the Joliba, which was there half a mile broad, in a vessel of sixty tons burden, but of very slight construction, and bound together with cords. Such barks, impelled without sails, and

R

« AnteriorContinua »