« PreviousContinue »
banks of the Gambia are divided. At Fatteconda, the capital of Bondou, where Mr. P. arrived on the 21st of December, he was introduced to the King Almami, who had behaved in. kindly to Major Houghton. The ignorance and cunning of this Prince are thus related :
.: We found the monarch sitting upon a mai, and two attendants with him. I repeated what I had before told him concerning the object of my journey, and my reasons for passing through his country. He seemed, however, but half satisfied." The notion of travelling for curiosity, was quite new to him. He thought it impossible, he said, that any man in his senses would undertake so dangerous a journey, merely to look at the country, and its inhabitants : how. ever, when I offered to shew him the contents of my portmanteau, and every thing belonging to me, he was convinced ; and it was evident that his suspicion had arisen from a belief, that
white man must of necessity be a trader. When I had delivered my presents, he seemed well pleased, and was particularly delighted with the umbrella, which he repeatedly furied and unfurled, to the great admiration of himself and his two attendants; who could not for some time comprehend the use of this wonderful machine. After this I was about to take my leave, when the king, desiring me to stop a while, began a long preamble in favour of the whites; extolling their immense wealth, and good dispositions. He next proceeded to an eulogium on my blue coat, of which the yellow buttons seemed particularly to catch his fancy , and he concluded by entreating me to present him with it; assuring me, for my consolation under the loss of it, that he would wear it on all public occasions, and inform every one who saw it, of my great liberality towards him. The request of an African prioce, in his own dominions, particularly when made to a stranger, come little short of a command. It is only a way of obtaining by gentle means, what he can, if he pleases, take by force; and as it was against my interest to ofiend him hy a refusal,' I very quietly took off my coat, the only good one in my possession, and laid it at his fect,' The following is the author's description of Bondou :
Bondou is bounded on the east by Bambouk; on the south-cast, and south, by Tenda, and the Simbani Wilderness ; on the south. west by Woolli ; on the west, by Foota Torra; and on the north, by Kajaaga.
• The country, like that of Woolli, is very generally covered with woods, but the land is more elevated, and towards the Falemé river, rises into considerable hills. In native fertility the soil is not surpassed, I believe, by any part of Africa.
• From the ceatral situation of Bondou, between the Gambia and Senegal rivers, it is become a place of great resort, both for the Slatees, who generally pass through it, in going from the coast to the interior countries ;, and for occasional traders, who frequently come hither from the inland countries, to purchase salt.
• These different branches of commerce are conducted principally by Mandingoes and Serawoollies, who have settled in the country. These merchants likewise carry on a considerable trade with Gedumah, and other Moorish countries, bartering corn and blue cotton cloths for salt ; which they again barter in Dentila and other districts for iron, shea butter, and small quantities of gold-dust. They likewise sell a variety of sweet smelling gums packed up in small bags, containing each about a pound. These gums, being thrown on hot embers, produce a very pleasant odour, and are used by the Man. dingoes for perfuming their huts and clothes.
• The customs, or duties on travellers, are very heavy ; in almost every town, an ass-load pays a bar of European merchandize, and at Fatteconda, the residence of the king, one Indian baft, or a musket, and six bottles of gunpowder, are exacted as the common tribute. By means of these duties, the King of Bondou is well supplied with arms and ammunition ; a circumstance which makes him formidable to the neighbouring states.
• The inhabitants differ in their complexions and national manners from the Mandingoes and Serawoollies, with whom they are frequently at war. Some years ago the King of Bondou crossed the Falemé river with a numerous army, and after a short and bloody campaign totally defeated the forces of Samboo King of Bambouk, who was obliged to sile for peace, and surrender to him all the towns along the eastern bank of the Falemé.
• The Foulahs in general (as has been observed in a former Chapter) are of a tawny complexion, with small features, and soft silky hair; next to the Mandingoes they are undoubtedly the most considerable of all the nations in this part of Africa. Their original country is said to be Fooladoo (which signifies the country of the Foulahs); but they possess at present many other kingdoms at a great distance from each other : their complexion, however, is not exactly the same in the different districts ; in Bondou, and the other kingdoms which are situated in the vicinity of the Moorish territories, they are of a more yellow complexion than in the southern states.
• The Foulahs of Bondou are naturally of a mild and gentle disposition, but the uncharitable maxims of the Koran have nade them less hospitable to strangers, and more reserved in their behaviour, than the Mandingoes. They evidently consider all the Negro native's as their inferiors; and when talking of different nations, always rank themselves among the white people.
• Their government differs from that of the Mandingoes chiefly in this, that they are more immediately under the influence of the Mahomedan laws ; for all the chief men (the king excepted) and a large majority of the inhabitants of Bondou, are Mussulmen, and the authority and laws of the Prophet, are every where looked upon as sacred and decisive. In the exercise of their faith, however, they are not very intolerant towards such of their countrymen as stül retain their ancient superstitions. Religious persecution is no known among them, nor is it nccessary; for the system of Mahomet is made
to extend itself by means abundantly more efficacious :--by establishing small schools in the different towns, where many of the Pagan as well as Mahomedan children are taught to read the Koran, and instructed in the tenets of the Prophet. The Mahomedan priests fix a bias on the minds, and form the character of their young dis. ciples, which no accidents of life can ever afterwards remove or alter. Many of these little schools I visited in my progress through the country, and observed with pleasure the great docility and submissive deportment of the children, and heartily wished they had had better instructors, and a purer religion.
With the Mahomedan faith is also introduced the Arabic lan. guage, with which most of the Foulahs have a slight acquaintance. Their native tongue abounds very much in liquids, but there is something unpleasant in the manner of pronouncing it. A stranger, on hearing the common conversation of two Foulahs, would imagine that they were scolding cach other.
• The industry of the Foulahs, in the occupations of pasturage and agriculture, is every where remarkable. Even on the banks of the Gambia, the greater part of the corn is raised by them; and their herds and Alocks are more numerous and in better condition than those of the Mandingoes; but in Bondou they are opulent in a high degree, and enjoy all the necessaries of life in the greatest profusion. They display great skill in the management of their cattle, making thein extremely gentle by kindness and familiarity. On the approach of night, they are collected from the woods, and secured in folds, called korrees, which are constructed in the neighbourhood of the different villages. In the middle of each korree is erected a small hut, wherein one or two of the herdsmen keep watch during the night, to prevent the cattle from being stolen, and to keep up the fires which are kindled round the korree to frighten away the wild beasts.
• The cattle are milked in the mornings and evenings: the milk is excellent ; but the quantity obtained from any one cow is by no means so great as in Europe. The Foulahs use the milk chiefly as an article of diet, and that, not until it is quite sour. The cream which it afford; is very thick, and is converted into butter by stirring it violently in a large calabash. This butter, when melted over å gentle fire, and freed from impurities, is preserved in small earthen pots, and forms a part in most of their dishes; it serves likewise to anoint their heads, and is bestowed very liberally on their faces and arms.
• But although milk is plentiful, it is somewhat remarkable that the Foulahs, and indeed all the inhabitants of this part of Africa, are totally unacquainted with the art of making cheese. A firm attachment to the customs of their ancestors, makes them view with an eye of prejudice every thing that looks like innovation. The heat of the climate, and the great scarcity of salt, are held forth as unanswerable objections; and the whole process appears to them too long and troublesome, to be attended with any solid advantage,
• Besides the cattle, which constitute the chief wealth of the Foulahs, they possess some excellent horses, the breed of which seems to be a mixture of the Arabian with the original African.'
Leaving Bondou, Mr. Park proceeded to the kingdom of Kajaaga; the inhabitants of which are called Serawoollies ; a trading people, and deriving considerable profit from the sale of salt and cotton cloths. At Joag, the frontier town, he was ill-treated, and robbed of half his effects by order of Batcheri, King of Kajaaga. Here he embraced a favourable opportunity of prosecuting his journey to the kingdom of Kasson, under the guidance of Demba Sego, the King's nephew : to pay for whose protection, he was plundered of half of his remaining effects by Demba and his father. Lager to quit people who sold their kindness at so dear a rate, Mr. P. on the roth of January 1796, left Tessee, the frontier town of Kasson, on his way to Kooniakary, the capital. Between Tessee and Kooniakary lay the town of Jumbo, the native place of a blacksmich, one of Mr. P.'s companions. We shall extract the simple and affecting account of the interview between the African artist and his friends.
• About two miles farther to the eastward, we passed a large town called Madina ; and at two o'clock came in sight of Jumbo, the blacksmith's native town, from whence he had been absent more than four years. Soon after this, his brother, who had by some means been apprized of his coming, came out to meet him, accompanied by a singing man: he biought a horse for the blacksmith, that he might enter his native town in a dignified manner; and he desired cach of us to put a good charge of powder into our guns. The singing man now led the way, followed by the two brothers; and we were presențly joined by a number of people from the town, all of whom demonstrated great joy at seeing their old acquaintance the blacksmith, by the most extravagant jumping and singing. Om entering the town, the singing man began an extempore song in praise of the blacksmith, extolling his courage in having overcome so many difficulties; and concluding with a strict injunction to his friends to dress him plenty of victuals,
• When we arrived at the blacksmith's place of residence, we dismounted, and fired our muskets. The meeting between him and his relations was very tender ; for these rude children of nature, free from restraint, display their emotions in the strongest and most expressive manner. "Amidst these transports, the blacksmith's aged mother was led forth, leaning upon a staff
. Every one made way for her; and she stretched out her hand to bid her son welcome. Being totally blind, she stroked his hands, arms, and face, with great care, and seemed highly delighted that her latter days were blessed by his return, and that her ears once more heard the music of his voice. From this interview I was fully convinced, that whatever difference there is between the Negro and European in the conformation of the nose and the colour of the skin, there is none in the genuine sympathics and characteristic feelings of our common nature.
• During the tumult of these congratulations, I had seated my. self apart, by the side of one of the huts, being unwilling to interrupt the flow of filial and parental tenderness; and the attention of the company was so entirely taken up with the blacksmith, that I believe none of his friends had observed me. When all the people present had seated themselves, the blacksmith was desired by his father to give them some account of his adventures; and silence being commanded, he began; and after repeatedly thanking God for the success that had attended him, related every material occurrence that had happened to him from his leaving Kasson to his arrival at the Gambia ; his employment and success in those parts ; and the dangers he had escaped in returning to his native country. In the latter part of his narration, he had frequently occasion to mention me; and after many strong expressions concerning my kindness to him, he pointed to the place where I sat, and exclaimed, affille ibi siring, see hiin sitting there." In a moment all eyes were turned upon me; I appeared like a being dropped from the clouds; every one was surprised that they had not observed me before ; and a few women and children expressed great uneasiness at being so neár a man of such an uncommon appearance. By degrees, however, their apprehensions subsided ; and when the blacksmith assured them that I was perfectly inoffensive, and would hurt nobody, some of them ventured so far as to examine the texture of my clothes ; but many of them were still very suspicious; and when by accident I happened to move myself, or look at the young children, their mothers would scamper off with them with the greatest precipitation. In a few hours, however, they all became reconciled to me."
At Kooniakary, the author was treated kindly by the King, who had seen Major Houghton and had presented him with a horse. On account of an impending war, which was likely to involve the kingdoms of Kasson, Kajaaga, Kaarta, and Bam. barra, the traveller remained in Kasson till the 3d of February, when he resumed his journey, and arrived on the 12th at Kemmoo, the capital of Kaarta. Here he was introduced to the King, Daisy; who advised him to return to Kasson, or, if he was determined to proceed, to take a circuitous route through the Moorish kingdom of Ludamar, into Bambarra.
From Kaarta to Bambarra he could not immediately proceed, without the danger of being apprehended as a spy. As Mr. Park was unwilling to spend the rainy season in the interior, he resolved to follow the route through Ludamar, which Daisy prescribed ; and accordingly, on 13th February, he left Kemmoo, and arrived on the 14th at Marina , near to which place he saw two Negroes gathering what they called tomberongs. As the account of these tomberongs is important, we shall extract it :
• These are small farinaceous berries, of a yellow colour and delicious taste, which I knew to be the fruit of the rhamnus lotus of