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William Loney RN - Background

Home-Loney-Background-Niger expedition-Book Chapter IX * Chapter XI

A NARRATIVE
OF THE
EXPEDITION TO THE RIVER NIGER
.

VOLUME I, CHAPTER X.


Obi Osaï's numerous sons - Visit to the 'Albert' - Large canoes - Officers of state - Conference with the Commissioners - Object of the Expedition explained to Obi Osaï - Questions relative to the slave-trade - Duty or per centage to be allowed the King - Obi Osaï promises to enter into a treaty for abolishing the slave-trade - Obi, on his return to shore, makes "Fetiche" - Rejoicings in the town of Abòh - Obi's wives - His "arrìsi," or idols - The war-god - Religious ritual - Title and right of succession to the sovereignty of Abòh - Royal prerogatives - Headmen, or elders, of the several towns and villages - Adultery, its punishment - Murder - The priests or Ju-ju men - Their cunning - Large war-canoes - Mode of levying people in time of war - King Boy's faithless wife, a daughter of Obi - Ibu women celebrated for their personal charms - Mode of fattening wives - Demoralising effects of the slave-trade - Abòh slaves often sent by Benìn branch to sea-coast - Number of inhabitants - Obi's powers.


Friday, August 27.- Early in the morning, Ali Here, who, when a boy, had served Mr. Lander as a pilot, came on board with about a dozen young sons of King Obi. They seemed to be all very nearly of the same age, in a perfect state of nudity, and bore unequivocal proofs of having undergone a certain operation of Jewish origin.

Some of the officers landed on the island of Afgab, abreast of the anchorage, in order to ascertain by observations its astronomical position. It was found to be covered with long grass, and reeds twenty feet high, but so flooded, that it was difficult to clear a space for setting up the instruments. The soil is sandy, and produces great quantities of yams, which are chiefly carried away by the Brass and Bonny traders. The Benìn people cannot come to Ibu, as there is perpetual war between them and the tribes at Ejòh, which the traders must pass to reach Ibu. Some beautiful Epiphytes were seen, and several shells, Achatina, Bulimus, Helix, were collected. Some yellow weaver-birds, with black heads, were shot; also a guana of considerable size; but the flooded state of the island prevented any particular investigation of its natural history.

[illustration: Musical instruments, etc.]

Obi Osaï having sent a message to acquaint Captain Trotter, Senior Officer and Commissioner, that he would come off to the 'Albert' to have an interview with him relative to the subjects which Obi was told constituted the object of the Expedition, there were early and noisy indications of the approach of our royal visitor - opés, eriki-rikis, and a chorus of voices - and very soon the state-canoe appeared, urged at a rapid rate down the creek, by forty "pullaboys," of various sizes, nearly all naked, excepting a few, who had a piece of cloth of the smallest possible dimensions, round their loins. This apology for clothing, was nevertheless quite enough for the nature of the climate, as was evident on their polished-looking skins, from which the perspiration exuded abundantly. They all appeared to be in good humour, each perhaps anticipating a "dash," or at any rate an opportunity of indulging that curiosity so inherent in human nature. Occasionally, their loud chattering was rather too much for the royal ear, and of this they were reminded by the steersman, who did not hesitate to bestow thumps which would have been dangerous to less obdurate skulls. After paddling round the 'Albert' with great ceremony - the "pullaboys," lifting their paddles high at every long and measured stroke - he came on board, and was received on the quarter-deck by the Commissioners.

Obi Osaï was attended by his judge, or "King's-mouth," Amorama, and several of the magnates of the land, together with some of his brothers and children. He was dressed in a serjeant-major's coat, given him by Lander, and a loose pair of scarlet trowsers presented to him on the same occasion. A conical black velvet cap was stuck on his head in a slanting manner. He brought a present of two small buffaloes and two hundred and fifty yam; a very acceptable accompaniment.

On being shown to the after-part of the quarter-deck, where seats were provided for himself and the Commissioners, he sat down to collect his scattered ideas, which appeared to be somewhat bewildered; and after a few complimentary remarks from Captain Trotter and the other Commissioners, the conference was opened.

Captain Trotter, Senior Commissioner, explained to Obi Osaï, that Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain had sent him and the three other gentlemen composing the Commission, to endeavour to enter into treaties with African Chiefs for the abolition of the trade in human beings, which Her Majesty and all the British nation held to be an injustice to their fellow-creatures, and repugnant to the laws of God; that the vessels which he saw were not trading ships, but belonging to our Queen, and were sent, at great expense, expressly to convey the Commissioners appointed by Her Majesty, for the purpose of carrying out Her benevolent intentions, for the benefit of Africa. Captain Trotter therefore requested the King to give a patient hearing to what the Commissioners had to say to him on the subject.

Obi expressed himself through his interpreter, or "mouth," much gratified at our visit; that he understood what was said, and would pay attention.

The Commissioners then explained that the principal object in inviting him to a conference was, to point out the injurious effects to himself and to his people of the practice of selling their slaves, thus depriving themselves of their services for ever, for a trifling sum; whereas, if these slaves were kept at home, and employed in the cultivation of the land, in collecting palm-oil, or other productions of the country for commerce, they would prove a permanent source of revenue. Obi replied, that he was very willing to do away with the slave-trade, if a better traffic could be substituted. With a view to elicit information, as well as more fully to explain our object, a number of queries were put to the King, some of which are given below, in order to illustrate the nature of our conference. It will easily be imagined that there was great difficulty in shaping the questions, every one of which had to be put in a variety of forms to suit his capacity, on a subject which we were introducing in such a new phase to him and to his subjects, who may be supposed to have been at least as ignorant of the cruelty of the practice as were our own more enlightened countrymen within a century from the time of our propounding to him this new doctrine, which had dawned so recently, and with so much difficulty among us.

The pertinent remarks of this untutored native Chief will thus also shew the reader more clearly, how fully he understood the nature of the treaties we were proposing for his acceptance.

Commissioners.- Does Obi sell slaves for his own dominions?

Obi.- No; they come from countries far away.

Commissioners.- Does Obi make war to procure slaves?

Obi.- When other chiefs quarrel with me and make war, I take all I can as slaves.

Commissioners.- What articles of trade are best suited to your people, or what would you like to be brought to your country?

Obi.- Cowries, cloth, muskets, powder, handkerchiefs, coral beads, hats - anything from the white man's country will please.

Commissioners.- You are the King of this country, as our Queen is the sovereign of Great Britain; but she does not wish to trade with you; she only desires that her subjects may trade fairly with yours. Would they buy salt?

Obi.- Yes.

Commissioners.- The Queen of England's subjects would be glad to trade for raw cotton, indigo, ivory, gums, camwood. Now have your people these things to offer in return for English trade-goods?

Obi.- Yes.

Commisssioners.- Englishmen will bring everything to trade but rum or spirits, which are injurious. If you induce your subjects to cultivate the ground, you will all become rich; but if you sell slaves, the land will not be cultivated, and you will become poorer by the traffic. If you do all these things which we advise you for your own benefit, our Queen will grant you, for your own profit and revenue, one out of every twenty articles sold by British subjects in the Abòh territory; so that the more you persuade your people to exchange native produce for British goods, the richer you will become. You will then have a regular profit, enforced by treaty, instead of trusting to a "dash" or present, which depends on the willingness of the traders.

Obi.- I will agree to discontinue the slave-trade, but I expect the English to bring goods for traffic.

Commissioners.- The Queen's subjects cannot come here to trade, unless they are certain of a proper supply of your produce.

Obi.- I have plenty of palm-oil.

Commissioners.- Mr. Schön, a missionary, will explain to you in the Ibu language what the Queen wishes; and if you do not understand, it shall be repeated.

Mr. Schön began to read the address drawn up for the purpose of shewing the different tribes what the views of the Expedition were; but Obi soon appeared to be tired of a palaver which lasted so much longer than those to which he was accustomed. He manifested some impatience, and at last said: - "I have made you a promise to drop this slave-trade, and do not wish to hear anything more about it."

Commissioners.- Our Queen will be much pleased if you do, and you will receive the presents which she sent for you. When people in the white man's country sign a treaty or agreement, they always abide by it. The Queen cannot come to speak to you, Obi Osaï, but she sends us to make the treaty for her.

Obi.- I can only engage my word for my own country.

Commissioners.- You cannot sell your slaves if you wish, for our Queen has many war-ships at the mouth of the river, and Spaniards are afraid to come and buy there.

Obi.- I understand.

He seemed to be highly amused on our describing the difficulties the slave-dealers have to encounter in the prosecution of the trade; and on one occasion, he laughed immoderately when told that our cruizers often captured slave-ships, with the cargo on board. We suspected, however, that much of his amusement arose from his knowing that slaves were shipped off at parts of the coast little thought of by us. The abundance of Brazilian rum in Abòh, shewed that they often traded with nations who have avowedly no other object.

The interpreter, Simon Jonas, was a practical illustration of the advantages which the Commissioners wished the King to assist in procuring for his country, He was, therefore, told to state how he came to be with us; he said: - "I was once taken from my country and parents, and sold as a slave; but an English man-of-war captured the ship I was sent in, and, after having been well treated, and taught how to write and read at Sierra Leone, I am as free as a white man."

Commissioners.- Wicked white men come and buy slaves; not to eat them as your people believe, but to make them work harder than they can bear, by flogging and ill-using them. The English Queen wishes to prevent such cruelty.

Obi.- I believe everything you have said, and I once more consent to give up the slave-trade.

Some of the presents were now brought in, which Obi looked at with evident pleasure. His anxiety to examine them completed his inattention to the remainder of the palaver.

Commissioners.- These are not all the presents that will be given to you. We wish to know if you are willing to stop boats carrying slaves through the waters of your dominions?

Obi.- Yes, very willing; except those I do not see.

Commissioners.- Also to prevent slaves being carried over your land?

Obi.- Certainly; but the English must furnish me and my people with arms, as my doing so will involve me in war with my neighbours.

Obi then retired for a short time to consult with his headmen.

Commissioners - (on his return).- Have you power to make an agreement with the Commissioners in the name of all your subjects?

Obi.- I am the King. What I say is law. Are there two Kings in England? There is only one here.

Commissioners.- Understanding you have sovereign power, can you seize slaves on the river?

Obi.- Yes.

Commissioners.- You must set them free.

Obi.- Yes, (snapping his fingers several times).

Commissioners.- The boats must be destroyed.

Obi.- I will break the canoe, but kill no one.

Commissioners.- Suppose a man-of-war takes a canoe, and it is proved to be a slaver, the officer's word must be taken by the King. You, Obi, or some one for you, can be present to see justice done,

Obi.- I understand.

Commissioners.- Any new men coming henceforth to Abòh are not to be made slaves.

Obi.- Very good.

Commissioners.- If any King, or other person, sends down slaves, Obi must not buy them.

Obi.- I will not go to market to sell slaves.

Commissioners.- Any white men that are enslaved are to be made free.

The Commissioners here alluded to the case of the Landers; and asked Obi if he did not remember the circumstance of their being detained some time as slaves. Obi, turning round to his sons and headmen, appealed to them, and then denied all knowledge of Lander's detention.

Commissioners.- British people who settle in Abòh must be treated as friends, in the same way as Obi's subjects would be if they were in England.

Obi.- What you say to me I will hold fast, and perform.

Commissioners.- People may come here, and follow their own religion without annoyance? Our countrymen will be happy to teach our religion, without which blessing we should not be so prosperous, as a nation, as we now are.

Obi.- Yes, let them come; we shall be glad to hear them.

Commissioners.- British people may trade with your people; but whenever it may be in Abòh, one twentieth part of the goods sold is to be given to the King. Are you pleased with this?

Obi.- Yes -" makka." - It is good, (snapping his fingers).

Commissioners.- Is there any road from Abash to Benìn?

Obi.- Yes.

Commissioners.- They must all be open to the English.

Obi.- Yes.

Commissioners.- All the roads in England are open alike to all foreigners.

Obi.- In this way of trade I am agreeable.

Commissioners.- Will Obi let the English build, cultivate, buy and sell, without annoyance?

Obi.- Certainly.

Commissioners.- If your people do wrong to them, will you punish them?

Obi.- They shall be judged, and if guilty, punished.

Commissioners.- When the English do wrong, Obi must send word to an English officer, who will come and hold a palaver. You must not punish white people.

Obi.- I assent to this. (He now became restless and impatient.)

Commissioners.- If your people contract debts with the English, they must be made to pay them.

Obi.- They shall be punished if they do not.

Commissioners.- The Queen may send an agent?

Obi.- If any Englishman comes to reside, I will shew him the best place to build a house, and render him every assistance.

Commissioners.- Would you like to send one of your sons to England?

Obi.- I sent two persons in the 'Quorra,' but never saw them afterwards. How can I let my son go, if those already sent have never been heard of?

{Mr. M'Gregor Laird, December 18th, 1841, in reply to an official communication from the Foreign Office on this subject, states, "that on the 10th of July, 1833, being then at anchor in the River Niger, about sixty miles above the town of Eboe, I received on board four native boys from the late Mr. Richard Lander, (who had borrowed them from King Obi to assist the crew of the row-boat in which he was ascending the river), for a passage to Eboe. On my arrival at Eboe on the 10th of August, two of the boys expressed a great desire to remain on board; and on my visiting King Obi, I asked for them. They were readily given, and accompanied me to Fernando Po; one of them I left there, the other I brought to this country, taught him to read, and kept him for two years or more as my servant. His health not agreeing with the climate, I paid his passage to Fernando Po in the 'Golden Spring,' Captain Irving. As he proved useful on board that vessel, he was kept, and made one or two voyages as steward; he then entered the service of Mr. Oldfield, and I believe is now with that gentleman at Sierra Leone, and is known by the name of 'Snowball.' Mr. Oldfield, who resided some years at Fernando Po, informed me that the other lad was comfortably settled, I forget under what name." He, however, sent a fine lad with Captain Trotter to learn English. He was a native of Bornu, and had been sold when a boy by the Nufi traders to the King of Iddah, and by him to Obi, who again sold him to the Nufi people. He was then taken by the Filatahs in one of their predatory excursions, and, by the chances of war, came once more into the hands of Obi. This little history of the life of one so young serves to shew the extraordinary vicissitudes and uncertainty to which the Africans are liable; the prospect of which being constantly before their eyes, must tend very much to loosen all ties of honour or kindred.}

Commissioners.- That shall be inquired into. Obi must also give every facility for forwarding letters, &c., down the river, so that the English officer who receives them may give a receipt, and also a reward for sending them.

Obi.- Very good, (snapping his fingers).

Commissioners.- Have you any opportunity of sending to Bonny?

Obi.- I have some misunderstanding with the people intermediate between Abòh and Bonny; but I can do it through the Brass people.

Commissioners.- Will you agree to supply men-of-war with firewood, provisions, &c. &c., at a fair and reasonable price.

Obi.- Yes, certainly.

The Commissioners requested Mr. Schön, the respected missionary, to state to King Obi, in a concise manner, the difference between the Christian religion and heathenism, together with some description of the settlement at Sierra Leone.

Mr. Schön.- There is but one God.

Obi.- I always understood there were two.

Mr. Schön recapitulated the Decalogue and the leading truths of the Christian faith, and then asked Obi if this was not a good religion, to which he replied, with a snap of the fingers, "Yes, very good," (makka.)

Commissioners.- Do they sacrifice human beings in the Ibu country?

Obi (rather embarrassed).- They do not sacrifice human beings; only animals - sheep, goats, fowls, &c.

Commissioners.- When a woman has twins, does she kill them?

Obi.- I never heard of it, (hesitatingly).

Commissioners.- Would Obi like to have a Christian to teach him?

Obi.- Yes, certainly.

Commissioners.- Will the King make a law that no human sacrifices shall be made, no murders committed, and that the treaty be properly observed?

Obi.- Where I have power, the law shall be put into execution.

Commissioners.- If the Queen makes a treaty with Obi, will his successors, on his death, abide by the same?

Obi.- They will do as I command. I want this palaver to be settled. I am tired of so much talking, and wish to go on shore.

Thus the greatest care was taken to make Obi, his elder sons, and his headmen, clearly comprehend the nature of the Treaty, and of the obligations we wished him to enter into. Every article was explained and repeated, usque ad nauseam, as he appeared to say by the frequent declarations, "that he understood, and did not like so much talking." He agreed so readily to everything, that various suspicions were entertained; - first, that he did not understand our propositions; next, his eager compliance was accounted for by his impatience to receive the presents which had been promised; lastly, we thought it not improbable that the slave-dealers on the coast had advised him to accede to all our wishes, and afterwards to evade them. However, he made many pertinent remarks, and there were some circumstances attending the conference which bore strong presumption of his sincerity - at least for the time. He acknowledged that he had carried on the slave-trade hitherto to a great extent, but that he did not know it to be wrong; now, however, having heard the truth from us, he would no longer continue a practice which he saw was unjust. At the same time, he said, it had already ceased in a great measure, from the difficulty he found in selling the slaves, which we explained by telling him that the Queen's ships kept up a strict blockade all along the coast, in order to prevent the approach of slave-vessels. He seemed very much pleased at this, but said repeatedly, if we wished him to substitute lawful trade in the produce of the country, we must send ships to take it away. We, however, told him that ships could not undertake so long and so difficult a voyage, unless with the certainty of receiving articles in exchange for the goods they would bring, and that the increase of trade would depend upon the exertions of himself and of his people.

In agreeing to put an immediate stop to the slave-trade, and to make a law to that effect, he said that some of his people were at that time absent, and therefore could not know the Treaty. That his son, in fact, was then engaged in purchasing slaves at a town up the river. He asked if, in such a case, he was to seize their boats and punish them for carrying on the Slave Trade, without knowing it was wrong?

The Commissioners allowed him till the end of the present moon to make all his subjects acquainted with the law. This Obi said was sufficient time. He could not then be prevailed on to give any information as to the price of the slaves, or the manner in which the traffic was carried on; saying impatiently, "The Slave Palaver is all over now, and I do not wish to hear anything more of it."

As Obi laid so much stress on the necessity of our sending plenty of ships to enable him to substitute legitimate trade for that which we had explained to be unjust; it is probable and reasonable he should consider his adherence to the Treaty as contingent on our fulfilment of its stipulations. He will, doubtless, look on our inability, to be an infraction and a sufficient release from the performance of his part, and may, therefore, long ere this, have returned, with renewed energy, to his former practices, calculating on the deadly nature of the climate, to prevent our returning to call him to an account.

Some proof of his sincerity, however, may be argued from his desire to keep the interpreter, who, of course, residing at Abòh, would have been cognizant of any breach of the Treaty. He and his almost naked retinue, remained on board some little time longer, looking at everything in the vessel with astonishment. They were with difficulty made to understand that the pictures in the cabins were not Ju-jus, or idols for worship, which they at first believed them to be. None of his suite went away much poorer for this visit.

Soon after Obi's return to shore, he caused the headmen to make a public declaration of the Treaty into which he was about to enter; no doubt it was a very important occasion. Fires were lighted in several parts of the town, and sacrifices of sheep and goats offered up to the Fetiches. The tom-toms and other musical instruments were in play all night. Captain Trotter, the senior officer, had very judiciously allowed the interpreter, Simon Jonas, who was a liberated slave from the Ibu country, to spend the night on shore, and from him we learned that the proclamation was attended with much apparent rejoicing. Probably the inhabitants generally felt greater joy at this than the headmen, to whom a larger portion of wealth is derived from the slave warfares and subsequent traffic. It was also rumoured, but without any good foundation, that Obi publicly forbade the continuance of human sacrifices, and the other cruel superstitions to which the Commissioners had drawn his serious attention. This, if true, negatived all his assertions that such practices did not exist.

Some of the officers accompanied Obi to his palace after the conference. They went up the creek - till it had so contracted in width, that there was hardly passage for the canoes, on account of the overhanging trees - and then paddled to the extremity of a smaller creek, where the canoe grounded. The King was carefully mounted on the shoulders of one of his slaves, and carried to his house. The same method was proposed to our officers; who, however, finding from the difficulty the men had to get through the mud with their burden, that there was some chance of being pitched head-foremost into it, preferred the minor inconvenience of getting up to their knees by using their own locomotives.

On arriving at the palace, the King invited them to sit on his throne; a mud couch, covered with matting. Obi gave them palm-wine, and began to relate the result of his visit to the white man's ship; of all the wonderful things he had seen, and the still stranger things they had told him; of its being wrong to buy and sell slaves, &c. He had a numerous and willing audience in his wives, who crowded round the door of their chamber, expressing their astonishment at all they heard by loud exclamations and various gestures. They were of different ages, some being young and good-looking, but all fat enough. At another door were about twenty of a more mature age, which the interpreter said were superannuated. Their simple dress was a piece of cotton cloth round their waists; but they were abundantly adorned with anklets of ivory, weighing several pounds; armlets of the same, or of brass, and some of leather, with cowries affixed to them. Others had amulets round their necks - small calabashes fastened to a leather cord, ornamented with cowries and pieces of brass. Our officers were, of course, objects of curious scrutiny, and every remark was accompanied by a loud laugh; whether complimentary or otherwise, was left to the imagination of the subjects of it.

In the verandah opposite the throne, were two idols, which the interpreter called "Ju-ju for war palaver." One was a rude representation of a human being, carved in wood, with a conical cap, huge eyes, beads round the neck, and several other articles, as a small ivory tusk, the handle of a knife, &c. Prior to going to war, every person touches this Ju-ju. Those apparently sacred objects were allowed to be handled and examined without opposition.

Obi retired, after having done the honours of hospitality to his visitors, who also went out to look at the town. Guided by the occasional sound of a tom-tom and an opé, they looked into a house, where they found Obi "making Ju-ju," and calling upon his deity for succour and advice, previously to proclaiming to his people the Treaty he was making with the white men. He had in his hand a naked sword, with which he touched the end of a large baton, surrounded with iron rings, which he reversed after every touch - something like the operation of magnetizing. At the same time, two of his attendants performed certain mystical motions in the air with large fans, made of palm-leaves, in order probably to keep away the Evil One. The intrusion of our officers, however, having the effect of suspending the incantation, they withdrew.

We ascertained that the name Ibu belongs to a large tract of country lying on both sides of the Niger, but is more extensive to the eastward of it, and containing possibly many independent tribes, of which Obi rules over the villages in the immediate neighbourhood of the river, arid it appears that his power does not extend much beyond the reach of his canoes. The real name of his chief town, we find, is Abòh, and not Ibu or Eboe, as Lander called it.

Obi is called the Ezzeh Obi Osaï. The first being his title, answering to king or chief; the second his patronymic, and the last his cognomen. His sovereignty is acknowledged for about fifty-five miles along both sides of the river; Oniàh being his lowest village on the right bank, near the Benìn branch; Owiah Okbe, the highest. On the left bank, from Ipàtanih upwards to Akra-atàn, near the Onechà River, and all the villages included between these. Notwithstanding all his proud declaration of absolute power, it is doubtful whether it can be considered as really more than a preponderating influence, of variable nature.

He had asserted his authority to be despotic and hereditary; but we were informed by our friend, Ukasa, that the sovereign is elected by a council of sixty elders, or chiefs of large villages. Preference is indeed generally given to the King's son, but an adult is chosen, and great attention is paid to the qualifications of the candidate. The King has the power of life and death only by consent of the Council. When the Ezzeh makes himself obnoxious to the elders, he is not deposed, but secretly poisoned by them; and in the choice of a successor, in such a case, the humility of the candidate towards them is of great weight. "If the King is humble towards the elders, they take great care of him." Although much of this is at total variance with what Obi affirmed respecting his prerogative, the information given by Ukasa agreed with that obtained from Simon Jonas.

It is probable, that in the case of the present monarch, Obi's force of character, his superior judgment, as well as his mild and equitable administration of justice, may invest him with the additional influence of public opinion. All appear to look on him with, great reverence, and it is expected that his eldest son will probably succeed him.

His Majesty frequently declared this to be the case, and that his word would be law even after his death. He said emphatically, "Are there two Kings to give law in your country? here there is but one." He certainly was corroborated in all this by his headmen, to whom he appealed, but, in his presence they could not do otherwise, even if they were disposed to let foreigners into the true state of the constitution of the country, which would have been very much at variance with the practice of negroes, who are not generally very communicative on such matters.

At Abòh there are ten headmen, or elders, of various grades, at the other towns and principal villages there is but one, who is responsible to the Ezzeh and the Council for the proper regulation of his district. Each town has also a judge, who decides all matters of dispute, pronounces on the nature and amount of punishment for crimes and misdemeanours, subject, however, to the confirmation of the chief. In extreme cases the affair is referred to the Council at Abòh.

Among the greatest crimes is adultery with the King's wives, which is punished with death to both parties. In one case that was mentioned, the unfortunate witnesses were included in the sentence. Among the headmen and other influential people, a fine of one or more slaves is exacted for this offence. When murder is committed, the lex talionis is put in force with the same means that were used by the murderer. Stealing an ox or a goat is punished with death by hanging Minor thefts, by flogging or incarceration.

Some of the most important personages are the priests, or Ju-ju men. We could not ascertain how they are elected, or what are the qualifications for the priesthood. But where the whole religion is but a tissue of palpable imposture, the principal requisites must be great cunning and boldness. In fact, the Ju-ju men are easily distinguished, by their keen insiduous look and overbearing manner, too plainly indicative of the influence they exert over the blindly superstitious votaries of Fetichism.

Although the Ezzeh has only two large canoes "in commission," he is said to possess, in all, fifteen of different "rates," having from twenty to fifty paddlers, with a small cannon in the bow of each. The first-rate war-canoes can carry twenty warriors. In the event of hostilities with any other tribe, or when the King proposes to make a "great war," he sends to all the chiefs who are tributary to him, and they furnish armed canoes according to their means or the size of the villages under their authority - some four, some only one canoe each. The ten elders at Abòh have each from two to six war-canoes. On an extraordinary occasion, it is said the King can muster about three hundred, many of them armed with muskets and cannon in the bows, these last especially, are not however very formidable, as they are lashed to the bow, rendering the aim uncertain. A chief is sent from Abòh to command the expedition. Thus the villages appear to be held as military fiefs; but we had no opportunity of noting further the resemblance to the feudal system.

In times of peace, these canoes are employed in the less exciting, and at present, less profitable occupation of trading between the markets on the upper and lower confines of his kingdom.

{It is probable that the names of the towns where these are held, signify in their respective languages "market-place." As in Ibu the upper and lower market-town is named Oniàh, and in the Eggarah dominions they are called Kiri, or I'Kiri, which Oldfield spells Iccory. Thus there appears to be a confusion of names, which this supposition would clear up and account for Lander calling the place where he was captured, which is common to both the nations, the Kiree market.}

They go to the Eggarah market directly after the new moon; the journey there and back takes about five days; after resting a day, they go to the station below. At the upper one, they receive the produce of the interior, brought there by the Eggarah people, the chief town of which was formerly erroneously called Attàh; this produce they exchange at the lower market with the traders from Brass and Bonny.

This is the general method of intercourse with the merchants, who never traverse a foreign state to visit a distant market. The practice, we believe, obtains in most parts of Central Africa, which may account for the difficulty and, apparently, unjust detention European travellers have met with in endeavouring to cross many kingdoms; they were in fact transgressing the laws of nations. A regular exception appears to be in the Kàfilahs, or troops of merchants with slaves, who are said to make very long journeys. Another apparent exemption came under our notice, for we saw many canoes from Brass lying in the Abòh Creek. But we understood that King Boy, of Brass Town, whose real name is Ammaï-kunno, pays something like tribute for this privilege. In order also to secure still further the Favour of the Ibu sovereign, he some years ago married one of his daughters, Adzeh, whose name, Lander - in celebrating her beauty - altered to the more euphonious name Adizetta. She has proved faithless to the "sea-king" Amaï-kunno, and has recently married her uncle, a brother of Obi, by whom she has had two children.

The Ibu women are famed for their charms, and in order to heighten them, when a man takes a wife, his first care is to immure her in a hut, without suffering her to take exercise {this practice obtained also among the ancient Guanches}, until she attains the acmé of beauty, according to the Ibu taste, namely, such an amount of obesity as very materially to interfere with the faculty of locomotion.

Whether from ignorance or unwillingness we know not, but certainly the natives were much averse to affording any information relating to the countries adjacent to Abòh, nor could they say anything of the towns or villages which one may suppose to be situate a little distance from the banks. They admitted that they often went into the bush to fight, a sufficient proof that there must be other towns than those immediately on the river. There is too much reason to believe that Abòh, -like every other part of Western Africa, where the trade in human flesh is one of importance, is often in a state of predatory warfare with its neighbours. How sad is the picture which may be drawn from the wretched state of insecurity in which a large portion of our fellow-creatures are thus placed! Taught from their earliest years to live on in uncertainty, and knowing not the moment when their ruthless adversaries may destroy them or bear them away into captivity, they become indifferent to improvement, the natural ties of affection are weakened, and we find each living for the day and for self. Can we wonder that the benighted and degraded negro turns so often his thoughts and prayers to his favourite Fetiche or idol, and in the contemplation of forthcoming good or averted evil offers the idolatrous worship of his heart?

From what we learned, it seems probable that since the Slave Trade has declined in the Brass and Bonny Rivers, the greater portion of the slaves, collected by the Ibu people, are sent down in canoes by the Benin branch to the sea-coast, thence they are forwarded through the Lagos creek to Lagos and Whydah, two of the most notorious haunts of the Brazilian slave-ships, and whence more unfortunate beings are shipped off than from any other place on the west coast, as the more recent enquiries into the odious traffic too surely prove.

Abòh is much the largest town in the Delta of the Niger, though we consider seven or eight thousand to be the extreme number of its inhabitants. Obi Osaï, the King of Ibu, is therefore one of the most powerful and influential rulers on the banks of the river, which is aided much by the position of his town, Abòh, at the upper part of the Delta, enabling him to control very much the trade towards the sea; even King Boy, of Brass, is in some degree tributary to him. The amount of Obi's harem adds also to his power; for by obtaining the daughters of the principal men in the different villages, he secures an interest there, and thus his influence may be said to be in proportion to the number of his wives, of which he has at present about one hundred, one of whom is a daughter of the royal house of Ashanti. Of course, also, his numerous slaves constitute a great portion of his wealth.


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