William Allen's Narrative of the 1841 Niger expedition
William Allen's Narrative of the 1841 Niger expedition

Royal Navy1841 Niger expeditionBookChapter XIV ◄► Appendix



Recapitulatory remarks - The entrance to the River Nun - The extent of the Delta - The Nun the principal outlet - Dense forests - Increasing population as we ascend - Various nations - Conquests of the Filatahs - Lobo, the chief Judge of Iddah - Schools - Religion Advance of Mahomedanism - Simple architecture - Description of a native dwelling - Cooking - Native beer of the Pagans - Politeness of the natives in the interior - Treatment of the women - Languages very numerous - Interpreters speak many very fluently - Haussa the language of commerce - Dress and ornaments - Growth of cotton, indigo, &c. - The love of traffic, the ruling passion - Markets - Dilatory traders - Lander's promissory notes - The principal articles of trade enumerated - The average profit on European goods stated - Erroneous estimate of the quantity and price of ivory by Lander.

Before we take leave of the River Niger, we think that a short resumé of our observations upon it, and upon the manners and customs of the nations inhabiting its banks, may be acceptable to our readers. {The greater part of this Chapter is abstracted from Captain W. Allen's MS. Narrative of the Expedition of 1832.} Though we must premise, that various circumstances, which can hardly be appreciated by the voyageur autour de sa chambre; such as sickness, want of opportunity in the midst of apparent opportunities, difficulty of communication by interpreters, and, above all, lassitude - or, if he over his wine and walnuts, will have it - idleness - the inevitable consequence of the enervating effect of the climate; - these various circumstances combine to render such resumé very meagre, and particularly unsatisfactory to the aforesaid genus of voyageurs, who are both numerous and exigeans.

In the very outset, we must confess that our knowledge of the channels of the river is at present too imperfect to enable us to give anything like details in "sailing directions." In general terms, we may say that the ingress and egress of the Niger are extremely difficult for sailing vessels. Except at high water, there is always a heavy surf on the bar; but at that time, in moderately fine weather, there is scarcely a ripple, so that a sailing vessel, with a good leading wind from the south-west, which generally blows in the day-time, can easily get in; but she would be in great danger should it fall calm before reaching the anchorage, as the ebb-tide would rapidly sweep her back among the rollers, which then break furiously. The greatest difficulty, however, for a sailing vessel is in leaving the river. She can only attempt it at nearly high water, in order to have it quite smooth; and in the morning, as the land-wind then blows, but generally fails before the bar can be crossed, and when the ebb-tide has commenced, its vicinity is extremely dangerous.

There is no difficulty for steamers, provided high-water is exactly taken. If the voyageur should be tempted by the facility with which we shall whisk him up and down the Niger in the course of these remarks, to abandon his peculiar mode of travelling in his easy-chair, to make the absolute voyage, we can only tell him that he must carefully feel his way with the lead as we did. Short cuts are to be avoided - that is, going from one salient point to another - as shoals are always found below these, in addition to the banks in the middle of the river. The best rule is to steer round all the curvatures, for there the "big water" is sure to be found, scooping out the bank.

The Delta, formed by the deposit of the river, covering an extent of perhaps seven thousand square miles, commences above Abòh, at a distance of about ninety miles from the sea in a direct line. The first divergents that we can speak positively to, are the Bonny and Benìn branches, so called; the Nun, which we navigated, lying between them. These send off innumerable ramifications, right and left, which diminish in breadth and volume, in their downward course, till they inundate the whole surface; or, more correctly speaking, the banks disappearing, the river is diffused in one swamp, unbroken except by the mangrove trees, (Rhysophora), which have their roots in the water. The outer margin of this has a barrier of somewhat firm land, bearing forest trees, which is thrown up by the opposing force of the sea. In this barrier are about twenty large and deep reservoirs, or estuaries, where the water is collected previously to its final discharge into the sea; the small rise and fall of which - about six feet only - requiring such an arrangement to enable it to receive the immense volume of water brought down during the rainy season.

It has been a subject of discussion, which is the principal outlet of the Niger. We can only reason upon our few facts; but it may be presumed that the greater the angle at which a divergent leaves the parent stream, the less likely is it to be the principal branch; as the current being necessarily more sluggish, obstructs its own passage by a greater deposit of alluvium. We found, in fact, such to be the case with the extreme divergents right and left; whereas the central, or Nun branch, preserves the main direction of the river, bisecting the Delta, and carrying the alluvial deposit farthest out into the sea, forming the salient point called Cape Formoso. These important attributes, we contend, are sufficient to entitle the Nun branch to be considered as the principal outlet of the mighty Niger; although the only access to it from the estuary is by a shallow channel, not more than fifty yards wide.

The current increased in strength as we ascended the river, being about two miles per hour at the lower part of the Delta, and three miles and a half at the confluence, while in a narrow part, abreast of Bàrraga, it ran four miles. These averages were, however, taken during an interval of twenty days, while the river was rising and increasing in volume. In the dry season, the current is very much less; in some places, where the stream is broad, it was not more than half a knot. The difference between marks made at Iddah in the beginning of September, 1841, and in the following July, shewed a fall of the river of thirty feet. But these cannot be taken as the highest and the lowest periods. The wind generally blows up the river, or from the south-west, especially during the Spring months. The weather is then delightfully cool.

Above the mangrove swamps, the land gradually emerges, with vegetation increasing in richness, to the vertex of the Delta, where diluvial formation is first seen in gentle hills, backed at Iddah - two hundred and twenty miles - by greater elevations; these terminate in abrupt cliffs of sandstone, one hundred and fifty feet high, on the left bank of the river. Above this are many isolated mountains, of irregular forms, until we reach the confluence of the Chadda with the Niger, about two hundred and seventy miles from the sea, where there is greater continuity and height in the range, which, under the vague name of Kong Mountains, were formerly supposed to be the barrier which opposed the course of the Niger to the Atlantic.

From this part commences the series of table elevations, isolated in some parts, stretching up both sides of the Niger as far as Rabbah, about four hundred and thirty-three miles from the sea, on the left bank; on the right they are not seen so far. At this city some undulating hills terminate in cliffs, similar to those at Iddah.

[illustration: Confluence of the Rivers Niger and Chaddah]

All the lower parts of the river are covered with dense forests, except where partially cleared by the hand of man; but above the confluence, there is a great deal, of land naturally free from wood, much cultivated, and looking like magnificent park scenery.

The following is the substance of what was obtained from the Malam Sabah, and from other natives, respecting the Chadda, who were frequently questioned; but the difficulty of getting anything like a clear account from them is beyond belief. It is necessary to cross-question in every possible way; and when, after much trouble, there appears a dawning of a clear and connected account, some contradictory statement from another, or even the same party, will throw the whole into confusion.

The chief next in power to the Attàh of Eggarah is the King of Fandah, {This city was visited by Mr. Laird and by. Captain W. Allen on the former Expedition.} who is Jìmmejeh, or Governor of the Chadda; and the King of Koto'n Kàrafi has the same power over the Niger. Both are said to be subject to the Saliki Babàn, or great King, the Attàh of Iddah.

The river Niger is called in the Eggarah language Ujìmmini Fù-fu, the 'white water,' the Chadda, Ujìmmini Dù-du, the 'dark water.' These characteristics are applicable to the turbid state of the one, and the clearness of the other. In the Nufi language, they are called respectively Fùrodo and Fùroji. In the Haussa, the former is known as the Guli-ba'n Kowara; and at Sego, in the Bambarra country, where Mungo Park first saw it, the natives named it Joliba. All these are probably generic terms; it has, therefore, been thought best to retain the generally received appellation Niger.

Mà'Sabah gave the following distances of the places on the Chadda, which he had visited: -

From the point of confluence,
to Immoshah,two days,on the right bank (Bofo, or Assasin, is opposite.)
thence to Aketoone day,right bank
Bagàna "left bank
Amegedì"ditto ditto
Chèruku or Kàaruko" right. This is near the principal town, Oruko, of which it is the port.
Akpekoone dayright bank
Ambèddo"left bank.

The Malam gave us the following distances of places, from hearsay, not having visited them himself: -

From Ambèddo        
to Abushi,one day
thence to Akbah " a large town, right bank
Afòketeh" a large branch joins here from the south-eastward. It is broad, but not deep; twelve days up this branch, is a town, Kàchina Ara.

The north-eastern branch, the dark, or clear water, is deep, without rocks. Two days up this, is Akwara, the port of the large market-town, Okari, which the Malam informed us is the capital of the Kororòfa nation of which the King's name is Anjùh: he is independent.

By another account, it is four days, in a canoe, from Fandah to Akpeko, the port or wharf of Doma, from which it is distant ten hours. By land, from Fandah to Doma, it is six days. From Akpeko to Bishi, in the Apàh country, three days. This, from the somewhat agreement of the distance, must be the Abushi of the Malam Sabah, though one gives two, and the other three days.

Salt is found and gathered near Bishi, at a salt lake, or pool, two or three hours'ride in circumference. Its depth is to the arm-pits. It hurts the skin: it has no canoes. There are no hills in the neighbourhood, but some in the distant Awèh country. The Malam also said, that two days from Amagèdi, towards Awèh, which, however, does not agree in the distance, there is a salt lake, which in the dry season is only midleg deep. The Fandah people trade up the 'dark water.' They are of the Birrah nation, as well as the natives of Koto'n Kàrafi; the inhabitants of Toto and of Abajeh, are Nufawa, or of the Nufi nation.

We believe there is a very large slave market at Bishi, or at Okari, from which they used to be sent overland, and not down the Chadda, to Bonny or old Calebar. They are now conveyed overland to the markets on the Niger, belonging to Iddah, thence by the river and connecting creeks, to Lagos, &c.

At Fernando Po, a native of the Apàh country, in which Bishi is situated, though he did remember the name of that town, told us that he came with a Kàfilah, of about three thousand persons, across the country to Iddah; and thence he was sent, again overland, through the eastern Ibu country to Bonny, where he was sold to the Spaniards. He said his native country had a broad, deep and very rapid river running through it -"No canoes could stand on it:" - they traverse it on a bridge made of bush-rope; four "bars" are charged for the passage of seven slaves; the ropes are renewed every month, and a man has charge of it, appointed by the King: - The river is called Emmeleh, it is very rocky - joins the Niger; - the country has mountains higher than those of Fernando Po; there is a large rock with caverns and water "decked over," where the natives, who cannot make resistance, conceal themselves from the Filatahs, and in other inaccessible fastnesses in the rocks, which they ascend by ladders, and draw them up after them. He called them forts. He said the principal town in the Appàh country is Palòh; is walled and staked; the houses similar to those of Iddah, but larger; - cotton and indigo are cultivated in abundance; - they make cloth; - they are pagans, and sacrifice goats when people are sick. In Attàm, the country next to the westward of Appàh, the same language nearly as that of Iddah is spoken; they come to the Appàh market at Palòh; he crossed the river, and then came all the way on foot to Iddah, then by land to Bonny; there were three thousand slaves; they passed by many towns, as Manni, Bahàl, Bitàrrh, Venièn, Poa, Ikundu, Ikundu-manni; he had forgotten the rest, as he was a very young boy when captured, and the account was somewhat vague, though he spoke very good English.

The banks of the Niger are populous, with the exception of the neighbourhood of the mangrove swamps; but wherever man has been able to get a firm footing, he has cleared away a patch for cultivation, and built his hut. This is found to increase rapidly as we ascend. Large villages, towns, and even populous cities, are met with. On the banks of the Chadda, on the contrary, the population is very thin, and in a low state, with the exception of the kingdom of Fandah. A very small portion of its course, only is known, and that has been almost depopulated by the frequent slave-catching expeditions. The poor natives were in the greatest alarm at Lander's visit, especially when the name of our friend Abokko, the chief of Adda Mugu was mentioned, as he had frequently attacked their villages. The country on both sides, nevertheless, is capable of supporting prodigious numbers; the luxuriance of the vegetation is beyond belief, and the palm-tree, which would form a ground-work for national wealth and prosperity, grows in the greatest abundance.

In the short distance from the sea to Rabbah, about four hundred and thirty-three miles, there are many distinct nations inhabiting the banks of the Niger. The only name we learned of those in the Delta, was the Orù, which is probably much subdivided. Above this is the widely-spread Ibu race, of which our friend Obi rules only the small part dwelling on the banks. The Shabbi, or Eggarah succeeds, and extends to the confluence, the capital of which is Iddah, and on the opposite bank is the Benìn nation. Above this, on the right bank of the Niger, is the Kakanda, an abject race, the constant prey of the slave-catcher. Their chief town, Buddu, has frequently been burned by the Filatahs in their predatory excursions. Higher up, is the flourishing town of Egga, the highest point to which the last Expedition ascended, about three hundred and thirty miles from the sea. It has but a small territory. The large country of Yarriba is above and behind it.

On the left bank, above the confluence, is the small territory of Kattam-Karràfi. To the eastward of it, the large city of Toto, and the kingdom and populous city of Fandah. To the north-west, is the large and once flourishing kingdom of Nufi; inhabited by the most enterprising race of the interior. They are frank, good-humoured, and very faithful. The long-continuance of civil wars which have distracted their country, and the frequent invasions of the Filatahs, have scattered them among all the surrounding nations, where they are the most active manufacturers and merchants. They are said never to be cast down by reverses of fortune, but to retain their industrious habits and cheerfulness of disposition under all circumstances. The women are chiefly employed in the petty retail trade about the country. If a Kàfilah, to which a Nufi woman is attached, be pursued, she will rather be captured with the goods entrusted to her, than throw them away to aid her escape.

Feuds in the royal family of Nufi have enabled the Filatahs, or as they are differently called, Filani, Fellahs, or Fulahs, to seize on a large portion of this kingdom; and they have settled at Rabbah, after having driven out the inhabitants, and burned the former town of the same name. From being the oppressed, the Filani have become the oppressors of all the surrounding nations, having carried their depredations as far as the confluence, and threatened the Great King himself - the Sàliki-babàn, or Attàh of Iddah - to whom the chiefs of Fandah, Kattam-Kàrafi and Buddu acknowledge allegiance, by paying him a small tribute.

We are not sufficiently acquainted with the institutions, to be able to say positively what is the degree of power possessed by the chiefs. They all declared it to be despotic; but we had some reason to believe that it is held in very wholesome check by councils of the elders, and the government seems to be mild. The Mahomedans take, of course, the Koran for their guide. Among the Pagans, we may surmise that established usages have the place of written laws. We saw on a former occasion justice administered by the King at the gate of his palace, in open court at Fendah; and all belonging to the late Expedition will remember the dignified deportment of Lobo, the chief judge of Iddah. There are some observances relative to prerogative, which are strictly enforced; such as the privilege claimed by the great chiefs of preemption in trade, the exclusive use of certain articles - as dresses of a particular colour, umbrellas, &c. If any inferior chief, or private person, should presume to make use of these appurtenances to royalty, he would be severely fined, and in default of payment, sold as a slave. The late Attàh of Iddah appeared to have been the most sanguinary of the sovereign chiefs. Decapitation, poison, and mutilation, were said to be frequent punishments inflicted by him; sometimes wantonly on his slaves {He is stated to have cut off the eyelids of those who guarded his treasure, in order to make them more watchful}, and frequently from superstitious motives, as he believed the spirit of the river to be propitiated by human sacrifices. Lander succeeded in making him promise to relinquish this horrible practice, but we fear, only for a time, as Oldfield mentions his having returned to it. However, deprivation of liberty is the most prevalent in judicial cases; and whatever may be the amount of guilt, the judge, being the gainer, may be tempted to rejoice in the increase of crime, since to him it is a source of revenue.

In many towns, and especially at Rabbah, are schools pretty well attended, but as none of the languages of these countries are written, the children are taught to read the Koran, to write it on sand, and to repeat a few Arabic prayers, which is the total amount of their learning, and he who can recite the most and the loudest in a breath, is the aptest scholar.

To say precisely what are the ideas of religion entertained by those natives who are without the pale of Mahomedanism, would be impossible. The pagans have very ill-defined ideas on the subject, but believe in a Supreme Being. Fetichism universally prevails, and they think that "stocks and stones" are deputed to care for, or mar the welfare of man. They have unbounded faith in charms - Màgoni - which they believe can "call up spirits from the vasty deep;" and some persons pretend to have the power of transforming themselves to any shape they choose. In fact, there is nothing too extravagant to find credence among the poor untutored natives.

Mahomedanism has made rapid strides in Sudan during the present century, and if the Filatahs continue their victorious career, they will easily engraft their religion on the vague creed of the Pagans; but, while readily adopting that of their conquerors, they will still cling to the superstitions of their fathers; which the Filatahs themselves mingle with the imperfectly understood doctrines of the Prophet. The out-posts have made considerable advance in preparing the way for a general conversion since, the Malems, or learned men, who, generally have no other claim to the title than the being able to mumble a prayer or a passage from the Koran, are much venerated everywhere; their advice is taken on all occasions, and they already lead the minds of the people. It might be supposed that this pliability would render the diffusion of Christianity very easy. It may, in some degree, have prepared the way to a better conversion, by presenting a more sublime idea than the Fetichism can afford; but, it is to be feared, that the Mahomedanism which is practised, consisting merely in observances, enacted without any exertion of the mind, will render it more difficult to make them comprehend the beautiful morality and the refined dogmas of our religion. At all places below Rabbah, however, we had every reason to believe that Missionaries would be joyfully received. Idols are to be met with everywhere, but the only places of public worship which we saw in 1833, were the mosques or temples at Fandah and at Rabbah, where the Faithful appeared very assiduous in their devotions. The Malems always carry beads, which they count devoutly, and gain great credit for sanctity among the people. When these reverend doctors salute one another, they do it with a mysterious air, and there seems to be a sort of freemasonry in their manner of shaking hands. They generally gain a good livelihood by writing charms; as a rich man considers his wealth well-employed in procuring abundance of these, although he believes that any one is sufficient for the purpose of shielding him from harm.

It is difficult, with our prejudices in favour of comfort and beauty, to estimate the principles of fitness by which the architects of Africa are governed. From the unvarying style of the buildings, to which the lapse of ages has probably brought no improvement, one might imagine that they have been guided solely by a better kind of animal instinct, and that they have never departed from the lesson first taught them by nature. The houses are totally devoid of everything which we look for in a dwelling, with the exception of shelter from sun and rain, There is a decided difference between those of the inhabitants of the Delta and of the interior. The former are invariably oblong, with gable ends, built of stakes, filled in with mud, and thatched; usually occupying two, and sometimes three sides of a court, the other being closed by a palisade with a gate, and adorned by the shady and graceful banana and cocoa-nut. Some of these are neat, but they are generally small and huddled together, as if ground rent were high.

In the interior, that is to say, above the Delta, and beginning at Adda-Mugu, the huts are all circular, and although small, the occupant does not stint himself in number, as many are comprised in one establishment. The roof is constructed on the ground, of the stout, light and tapering ribs of the palm-branch; the thatch, neatly woven like a fringe with grass, is wound round it, beginning, of course, at the bottom; the whole is then placed and secured on the circular mud wall. There is but little difference in any, whether in a capital city or a village - the residences of great chiefs or of the poorest peasant differ merely in the amount of huts composing the establishment, which always depends on the number of wives possessed by the occupier. They are all so nearly alike, that the description of one with which we were acquainted - that of a Dill or broker - will give a very fair idea of the general domestic economy.

This dwelling was divided into three courts, of irregular form and size; apparently thrown together without any plan, being merely enclosures made by joining with a low wall the circular huts, which seem dropped by accident. Each contains usually but one room - sometimes, however, a small space is partitioned off for a store or lumber closet - they are very rarely of two stories. A few have flat ceilings, of the ribs of palm-branches laid diagonally, but they are mostly open to the apex of the high conical thatched roof. The floor is of mud, sometimes tessellated with broken pieces of earthenware jars, more frequently, however, of the rough uneven ground. The only admission of light and air is by a small doorway, with the upper part so low, and the threshold so high, that a stranger is very likely to pay his respects to the "Penates" by breaking his head and his shins at the same time. Some huts have two of these inconvenient apertures, but when such is the case, it is for the purpose of communication from one court to another. Of this kind is invariably the outer or entrance-hut; in the Haussa language, the "Zauli." An individual hut is called a "Daïki," an assemblage of them, forming one dwelling, "Giddah." They are only used for sleeping and cooking in when the weather is bad, for grinding corn, store-houses of grain, &c. The proprietors always eat in the open air. Some have verandahs - formed by the projecting thatch - under which the master of the house luxuriates with his friends, but while they send forth volumes of smoke, they do not appear to have met for the interchange of ideas.

The huts are built of roundish lumps of sun-dried clay, covered with mud, coloured sometimes with indigo, and ornamented round the entrance with circles and zigzags, stamped in the soft mud. When there is a door, it is carved in the same elaborate manner, sometimes with a sketch of a crocodile; the fastening is a bolt and a rude padlock. These, however, are rarely required. We passed on one occasion through the large and populous city of Rabbah at midnight without meeting a single individual, and every house appeared to be open. There is something like luxury in the cleanswept courts, tessellated with broken pottery: some pieces of a more showy kind adorn the thresholds. This was eminently the case with the 'Giddah,' of Mistress Barijìh; a respectable elderly spinster, with whom we had engaged lodgings at Fandah; but the King commanded her not to receive us, as he claimed the exclusive privilege of making us comfortable or uncomfortable, and unfortunately his tastes had a tendency to the latter. Barijìh's house was a perfect labyrinth of clean shady courts and huts, with jars of deliciously cool water; although there were no other inmates than herself and an old woman, her servant. Around the cookery corner are calabashes and earthen pots of various forms, and machines for pounding the red wood with which they adorn or medicate themselves.

Sheep, goats and fowls enjoy, and seem to claim, the full benefit of the premises. The peculiar domicile of the poultry is under the granary hut, which is always raised considerably from the ground, for the purpose of ventilation, and an aperture left for the brood, as a ready refuge from the numerous hawks which are continually sailing about. Many large Fulvous vultures are commonly seen perched on the apex of the conical roofs, which are terminated by a bundle of sticks, apparently put in the thatch for their accommodation. They remain in patient contemplation of what passes in the court below, and very soon rid it of any offal that may be thrown about.

Corn is ground by the women in a hut appropriated solely to this purpose, the apparatus consists merely of two pieces of stone, a "slab and muller:" having undergone the process of trituration by a succession of these stones of different texture, it is converted into fine flour, which, however, retains much of the grit.

The apparatus used for cooking is very simple. Three broken jars are placed upside down, to support the vessel containing the viands, and the fire is made between them. Very little skill, however, is required in the preparation of food, their principal subsistence being on yams, roasted Indian-corn, tuah - which is a sort of pudding, made of the grain, Dauer or Ghiro - and rice; which they boil to perfection. Yams are very fine, and are eaten roasted, or pounded until they become like a stiff dough, this is called "Fofo," and is an excellent way of preparing them; towards the latter end of the dry season this admirable vegetable becomes scarce, and small dried chips of it are sold in the market very dear. Little cakes are carried about by young girls, made of the flour of Dauer, or of Indian-corn, mixed with honey and abundance of pepper, rolled up in balls, or in long pieces, and half-boiled; but they are sometimes fried with palm-oil. Rarely they indulge themselves with a" hot chop" - a stew of meat or fish, with the gravy highly seasoned and enriched by a great quantity of red pepper and palm-oil.

A favourite mess of the Haussa people, who, if Mahomedans, do not drink beer, is made from the flour of Indian corn, into a sort of hasty pudding or "sowens." It is called "Koko," and is both meat and drink to them; a small calabash full, which costs about the twentieth part of a penny, with the addition of a piece of dried yam, will frequently furnish a meal, especially for the women. Men never eat with their wives, and kings cannot be seen at their refections by subjects; being supposed probably to subsist on things less gross than those which will nourish common flesh and blood. The natives are much employed in fishing. Some of their methods of proceeding have been alluded to (page 200), but we can unfortunately add little to this part of Natural History, as we could procure few of the fishes in a raw state.


The accompanying cut is from sketches made by Captain W. Allen on the former Expedition: they were recognised by Professor Agassiz, who pronounced them to be very interesting, never having been before found in the rivers of Western Africa. The largest is of the genus Lates, the specimen had been speared by one of the natives; it weighed seventy pounds; was four feet four inches in length, and seventeen inches in the broadest part. It is very fine and delicate in its flavour. The next is of the genus Sudis, twenty-seven inches in length, called by the natives at the confluence "Kuanta'n Kaswa," "Sleep in the Market," because it keeps longer fresh than any other of the finny tribe: nothing can exceed the flavour of this fish. The third genus, Mormyrus, is twenty-two inches long, and is rather indifferent eating.

The Pagans drink a great deal of palm-wine and beer, and consider that which is made from the corn, Ghiro, (Milium), as the most delicate in its flavour, but we preferred the brown beer made from Dauer (a Sorghum), particularly if drunk on the second day, as they have no substitute for hops. They have also an intoxicating liquor called Bam. The Musselmen profess to follow the injunctions of the prophet, and abstain from beer and bam; they have a great contempt for such as use these beverages, but they cannot be expected to conform to the law in respect of our wines and spirits, since they never had an opportunity of knowing what the Koran means by them, until we opened their understanding, and still they are slow to believe that they transgress in drinking copiously whenever they can get rum. At the sea-side, King Boy and his royal relatives would swallow vast quantities of it undiluted, but as we advanced in the interior, more unsophisticated palates were found, and it would gradually bear more water, until moderately strong grog had a very potent effect. {This was on the First Expedition. In that of 1841, no spirits were given to the natives.}

Nothing can be more unjust than our assumption that the natives of Africa are devoid of civilization. It is true that the inhabitants of many parts of the coast, and principally at the mouths of large rivers, where they have had, proh pudor, most intercourse with the whites, are indeed, deserving the name of savages. With these and the recaptured slaves only of the interior, who are mostly of the lowest classes, or have been enslaved very young, we have been hitherto acquainted. It is, however, very different the farther we go into the interior, where a great degree of politeness is found; all are particularly punctilious in salutations and greetings, which they seem never to be tired of repeating. Near the coast, the common expression used in saluting was "'n-dòh," repeated many times, accompanied by a peculiar snap of the fingers. After leaving the Delta, polite visitors appear to try which can continue the longest saying the Haussa word "Sinùh," "prosperity;" or "Koni lathia," "how is your health?" or, "Barkah," "a blessing," &c. At the same time touching the others' hands, and then placing their own on the head, nose, or heart. As a mark of great respect, men prostrate themselves, strike their heads against the ground, "Bugu di Kaï," and cover them repeatedly with sand; or at all events they go through the motions of doing so. Women, on perceiving their friends, kneel immediately, and pretend to pour sand alternately over each arm. They continue the ceremony for a considerable time before they rise and approach, in order to hold "converse sweet." We have been much amused at seeing two ladies in the market-place saluting at a distance in this manner, during several minutes, looking like two sporting dogs making a point, they did not move their faces, but cast their eyes round now and then to see if the other showed symptoms of rising. Every one bends the knee slightly in passing a superior, and if there be but little room, permission to pass is always asked. On taking leave, they say, " Gaï di Giddah," "peace or welfare to the house." Slaves salute their masters the first thing in the morning prostrate before them, and saying all the complimentary things they can think of. In accosting us, they usually said, "Turawa," or "Baturi," "white man." Sometimes they called us "Baba, master," or "Malam doctor."

In the treatment of their women, notwithstanding this character for urbanity, the Africans approach much nearer to savages, since they reduce them to the condition of slaves. A Filatah would even show more grief for the loss of a favourite slave, or of his horse than of one of his wives, unless she were the favourite for the time being. A beneficial change in this, must be among the first that can he hoped for, in the amelioration of the social system.

Every one who has visited Africa, must have been astonished at the number of languages to be met with. We at first thought, from the facility with which the pilots understood the natives everywhere, that there was not much difference from the mouth of the river to the confluence, but that possibly every town might have its dialect, differing slightly from the parent tongue. This, however, was found not to be the case, as great readiness of communication is acquired in constant attendance at the markets, where the confusion of tongues might vie with Babel itself. Africans have a great talent for learning languages, at least those of their neighbours. Al Hadgi, our pilot, could speak fluently nine or ten; and we had a little boy, not more than fourteen years of age, who could interpret from four or five. Although they may be very different as to words, the acquirement of several of them by the natives is rendered easy by the circumstance of the great similarity of idiom; and they are all, perhaps, equally poor, which presents a great obstacle to their learning our languages, as well as to our proficiency, or rather, we should say, to our first advances in theirs.

The Haussa language, which is the general means of intercourse, is sweet and flowing, abounding in vowels, and has few or no harsh sounds or gutturals; like all the others, however, of this part of Africa, it is very poor. For instance, the word "dushi" signifies mountain, a rock, stone, gun-flint, bead, &c. On the other hand, we may say that there is no want of volubility, and, on some occasions, there appeared to be great powers of oratory displayed. Our acquaintance with this language was too limited to enable us to detect infiexions, cases, genders, &c., and the only instance of grammatical construction that we can speak positively to, is the use of the particle 'n to show the possessive case, or the relation of one thing to another, as " Saliki-'n bekki-'n ruah." The king of the dark water.

The original dress on the coast was simply a "grass cloth," worn like a kilt. This has given place to cotton or silk pocket handkerchiefs, for the same purpose; while those who can afford it, indulge in the splendour of a striped cotton shirt and worsted cap.

Beyond the Delta, the people are better clothed in the native costume; European articles of dress being rare. Though the very poor have merely a small piece of cotton cloth round the waist, or even skins, especially on the borders of the Chadda, those in better circumstances, add a piece of cotton, called in Haussa "Zani," nearly three yards long and a yard and a half wide, of native manufacture, either blue, white, or striped, with sometimes a little red, or chequered. It is worn in a great variety of ways, but is always graceful. We saw many men who had draped themselves like the finest statues of antiquity. The rich wear a very full dress, called in the Haussa language, " Rigah," or shirt; also "Tobo, Toba, Toga or Itoga." It is made like a surplice, with very large open sleeves, the arm-hole, in fact, reaches from the shoulder to within two inches of the bottom of the dress. The common tobes are white, blue, or chequered; the latter is called "Rigah'n Zabbo," from its being speckled like a guinea-fowl. The best kind have sometimes a green or red silk stripe. On particular occasions, the richest people and kings wear silk tobes, which are brought by the Arabs across the Desert. Cotton tobes vary in price from ten to sixty, and even a hundred thousand cowries, those with a red silk stripe are the dearest. All are worked or embroidered in front with silk or cotton. When a blue tobe is worn, a white one is generally put on beneath it, as the indigo, not being well fixed, comes off and soils the skin. They are never washed, but are worn until they become both of a colour, and drop off in rags. Turkish trowsers, a scarlet cap, and sandals, complete the dress of a gentleman of the first rank and fashion. The Filatahs, when riding, wear boots. Women of all classes dress nearly alike, that is with a country cloth or zani round the waist, and another over or under the shoulders, according to the state of the weather or the lady's taste. A piece of cotton is also neatly folded round the head. They plait their woolly hair in a variety of curious forms, close to the head, and plaster it thickly with indigo. Those ladies, who from their rank in the domestic circle, are exempt from hard work, dye their hands and feet with henna, and tinge their eyelids with antimony. The men either shave the head entirely, and expose their shining scalps to the sun, or they cut and carve it in a curious fashion. Youth of both sexes, with the exception of Filatah children, are entirely without clothing till the age of puberty. Young girls wear a string of beads or cowries round their loins, but their innate modesty is as manifest as their persons.

Above Ibu, the anklets of ivory are not in fashion, but of copper, ornamented with brass, and bracelets of the same are much in vogue. Pieces of coral are frequently stuck in the ears, and the great men wear thin circular pieces of ivory, about the size of a dollar, in each ear. Amulets, "magoni," are in great request, and worn in profusion by those who can afford to pay the priest for writing them. They are supposed to be verses of the Koran, sewn up in leather, variously ornamented, and are not only believed to be preservatives against all kinds of danger, but to be the means of procuring every gratification that the wearer can desire. Although they must be continually disappointed, it is surprising they are not tired of waiting for the proofs of their virtues. The fruition is always in expectancy.

Women are commonly employed in the petty retail trade about the country; they also do a great deal of hard work, especially in the cultivation of the land. Agriculture is almost wholly neglected at the sea-coast, for which, indeed, the swampy nature of the land is a sufficient excuse. The Brass people consequently depend on the trade with Ibu for a supply of yams. In ascending from the mouth of the river, small patches of cleared bank appear near the villages for the growth of plantain; they are surrounded by an impenetrable forest where the palm-trees grow in amazing numbers. The cocoa-nut tree is found only near villages, which proves them not to be indigenous, according to Dr. Vogel. At Egabòh and Ibu, yams are raised in great quantities; the former is called, par excellence, the yam country. No corn is produced in these parts, indeed, there is no room for it. From Iddah towards the interior, agriculture is much more actively carried on. Cotton, of short staple, is grown in limited quantity, for their own consumption; also tobacco of very mild quality, and indigo of a superior kind. In articles for food, excellent yams, in great abundance, maize, rice, and several other kinds of corn called Dauer, (Sorghum), Ghiro, (Milium), and Atchàh, the latter, called Teff in Abyssinia, is a small grain, and makes delicious puddings. There are two qualities of rice, one coarse and red, the other very small and white. The only implements of husbandry were a hoe and a sort of pick-axe. In the beginning of the wet season, the hills echo to the cheerful song and laugh of the cultivators of the soil. The song, indeed, occupies much more time than work, as they leave off after two or three strokes to continue it. No people seem happier, yet they are nearly all slaves. Domestic slavery, however, is as different as possible from our horrible ideas of that state, or rather from the state to which the wants of civilization have brought it. In their native land it is not more irksome than servitude in ours.

The strongest characteristic of the inhabitants of the interior of Africa is the love of traffic; it is indeed the ruling passion, which, if rightly developed, may become the instrument for raising them in the scale of nations.

Every town has a market, generally once in four days; but the principal feature is in the large fairs held at different points on the river, about once a fortnight, for what may be called their foreign trade, or intercourse with neighbouring nations. They are professedly held sacred, whatever wars may be in the land; and cheering, indeed, to humanity would it be - in this hot-bed of violence and rapine, where every man's hand is raised against his fellow, and where every one tries to enslave his neighbour - to know the existence of such a trêve-dieu, devoted to the exercise of peaceful commercial intercourse. But they have had their neutrality frequently invaded by the avarice and tyranny of neighbouring princes, against whose cupidity or caprice there is no guarantee. The pertinacity with which, notwithstanding these violations, the traders return, is a striking proof of the deeply-rooted propensity. With this we might work wonders; but the habits and practices of the natives are so different to our method of dealing, that it is useless to expect rapid results and advantages. The principal difference between the European and the African merchant would be, not so much in the value of their commodities, for that would find its level, but in the estimate of time, of which the Negro has no conception; The disposal of a small cargo of merchandise from England, for which the speculator would expect immediate return, would, according to the present tardy method of the country, occupy the brokers for years. As much time is consumed, and as many words are wasted, in the purchase of a few yams or a fowl, as in that of a large elephant's tooth. Frequently when the bargain appears to be concluded, the "dilàls" will change their minds, both as to the price, and the nature of the goods they wish to take in exchange: never appearing to have determined the amount of profit with which they will be satisfied. As, however, the goods offered were totally new, they could not form a just estimate of their value. The "dilàl," or broker, always asked, in the first instance, more than treble the value of his commodities, and expected our traders would do the same. It was, perhaps, owing to the repugnance which Lander had to demanding more than he intended to take, that many of the goods became deteriorated in the estimation of the native merchants. They think it presumption of the seller if he expect to get the price put on his goods, however fair and reasonable it may be. This makes it very difficult for an Englishman to trade with the native broker. For instance, one thousand cowries were asked for some beautiful coronation medals, and they were readily bought up at Rabbah, on the supposition that they were silver; but, when on inquiring from Mr. Lander, they found they were not, they brought them, requesting him to take them back, which he, being desirous to establish a credit for honourable dealing, consented to do; and it is a curious fact, that, not being able to repay them at the time in cowries, he gave promissory notes, merely I.O.U., with his signature, which were redeemed when Lander had obtained cowries by the sale of other goods. If three or four thousand had been demanded for these medals, in the first instance; they would have been more sought after; as it was, nobody would have them at any price, and they expected to get silver dollars for about a shilling.

As the object of our last visit to Africa was not commercial, we may be excused if we do not give a very business-like account of the resources of the country, though it will perhaps be expected, while treating of the trading propensities of the natives, that some mention should be made of the principal articles which were brought for sale, with the prices usually paid for them, in cowries.

First in the estimation of the native trader - paying tribute in inverse ratio to the dignity of their fellow-creatures - are the unfortunates doomed to perpetual slavery; and although, happily, with us man is not now recognised as a legitimate object for barter, it will perhaps be interesting to know what value is set upon him in the land of his fathers, where he has ceased, as it were, to be a rational being, and has become a thing to be bought.

A young female slave would fetch from sixty to one hundred and twenty thousand cowries. She must, however, to command the highest price, be beautiful; in which respect, however, European and African taste is somewhat different. A fine charger may command about the same price. {These articles, if prime, are generally disposed of by private contract at the houses of the merchants, and are not exposed to the indignity of the market.} A strong well-grown young man is worth from thirty to fifty thousand cowries. A boy, pony, ox for burthen, a donkey, or common working slave from ten to thirty thousand.

Although no gold was brought to us for sale, it is perhaps in abundance in the interior, and within the regions rendered accessible by the Rivers Kwares and Tchadda. According to Idrisi, Wangara was one of the most celebrated countries for this metal.

The most valuable article now for legitimate trade is ivory. This was bought at the Confluence, one thousand to one thousand five hundred cowries per pound. A higher price was put upon it at Iddah, being nearer to the sea-coast, where the palm-oil captains usually gave treble that sum. At Rabbah it could be bought at five hundred cowries; but there was little to be had, and the King did not appear much disposed to trade, unless he had it all in his own hands. These prices were, of course, for large and good teeth; scrivelloes could be had for about half.

Indigo of a very superior quality, but in a very dirty state, was brought in abundance at Egga, made up in balls a little larger than one's fist, at the rate of about five cowries each, or about one hundred and eighty for a shilling. The dye obtained from it is of a very rich coppery hue, but the natives do not know how to fix it. Although in its present state, it is hardly worth the carriage, yet by proper care it might become a valuable article of commerce.

Tobacco, of a very mild and agreeable flavour, is sold at about a halfpenny per pound. The leaves when dried are plaited, and made up in coils, weighing from six to ten pounds. It is grown in very great quantities.

Provisions were cheap enough when we could get them. A small piece of scarlet cloth, which cost, invoice price, eighteen pence, would furnish more than enough for one day's consumption for ten men.

A small bullock cost from seven to fifteen thousand cowries. A milch goat could seldom be had for less than two thousand. A sheep or goat from one to two thousand; the latter are more abundant and cheaper than sheep, although not remarkable for fatness. The

Haussa sheep are immense animals, with very long legs. They, of course, are clothed with hair instead of wool; the rams have long shaggy manes, and are sometimes very large; they cost from six thousand to ten thousand cowries each. Fowls, one hundred or one hundred and fifty each. Ducks are very fine, like the muscovy breed, three or four hundred each; they come from Yarriba, as do also the geese and turkies, and are called Kasa-n-Yarriba, or Yarriba fowls; they are scarce.

Eggs cost about five cowries each; but this is a nominal price, as they are rarely to be had good.

Yams vary in price, according to the time of year; in the season, however, they are from eight to ten pounds for one hundred cowries. Rice, one pound for fifty cowries. Beer, a jar containing two or three gallons, one hundred cowries. {These are the prices paid in 1833, when we were under the displeasure of the Attàh. The favour of his successor enabled Mr. Carr to establish a much lower tariff, See page 130.}

Fruit was not brought to us frequently. We saw, indeed, only bananas, plantains, a few oranges, limes, and pine-apples. Bananas were in the greatest abundance; pine-apples were only brought during a fortnight in May, and we could never afterwards procure any: they were extremely fine.

These, with earthenware jars, calabashes, cotton cloths, and grass mats of native manufacture, were the principal things brought to the markets.

The mountains about the Confluence are highly ferruginous. At Sterling Hill, the peroxide of iron occurs in great abundance, in the form of pea-iron ore, of a very beautiful character. The natives, however, do not know how to profit by it.

Copper is found in Haussa, but where, we could not learn. At Fandah there were coppersmiths, who smelt it. We saw a great deal of dross lying about, but we sought in vain the apparatus or the mineral in its original state. Whether the manufacturer suspected us of some sinister intention of depriving him of it by the magical power they all believed us to possess, or that he did not understand our imperfectly interpreted wishes, we cannot say; but after leading us to different huts, we only saw a quantity of dross, and the sheet copper of which he was making bowls of pipes.

Trona, which is a kind of alkali, is brought from Haussa. Salt, very bad and dirty, is said to come from Bishi.

The above catalogue is not very tempting to the European merchant; but it must be remembered that it comprises merely the articles in demand among themselves, with the exception of slaves and ivory, which are for the foreign market. It is, however, sufficient to know, that it is a fertile country, situate in a tropical climate, to be certain that it has immense natural productions, which are essential to our manufactures and commerce.

The immense primeval forests furnish inexhaustible treasures. In addition to the palm-tree, magnificent timber for ship-building, and other purposes, in great variety; gums, shea butter, many kinds of wood for dying, peppers, nuts of different kinds, &c.; besides the animated tenants of the woods, which would furnish ivory, skins, feathers, bees' wax, &c. These are a few of the spontaneous productions; besides which, a vast quantity of cleared land would be available for increased cultivation of coffee, sugar-cane, indigo, tobacco, cotton, &c.

We will enumerate some of the principal goods offered by Lander for sale, in the commercial expedition of 1832-3.

Arms and ammunition of every kind were eagerly sought after; but, as our object is to encourage their peaceable habits, these should not be presented to them. They would also freely take in barter, woollen cloths, scarlet, green, and yellow; Manchester printed cottons, beads of various kinds, looking-glasses, cutlery, paper, salt, &c.

Of these the following would generally bear a good per centage, but others would hardly realize the cost price: -
Scarlet cloth could be sold at from three to four hundred per cent, invoice price.
Green cloth one or two hundred per cent.
Yellow cloth, rather more.
Cotton velvets, good profif but varying.
Looking-glasses, small, one hundred and fifty per cent.
Large ones were not so profitable.
Red beads varied in price.
Blue ditto, sold badly.

The most uncertain were the Manchester goods; sometimes they were bought very freely, while at others they were little disposed to have them. However, as soon as they found there were but few left, they rose rapidly in estimation. As they manufacture good cottons themselves, page 322, of simple blue and white, the principal attraction in ours was the gay colours.

The greatest profit was on salt; we cannot say at what per centage, but it was very great. It is, indeed, the article which must bring the most sure return, as it is for immediate consumption, and the natives have no other means of supply than that from Bishi, which is dear and bad; so that they ate our beautiful white salt like sugar.

In general it may be said, that the most inferior goods were sold at the greatest profit, which diminished in proportion to the increase of the cost price; so that good and expensive articles found no sale whatever, although they admired them excessively when offered as presents. Very erroneous expectations had been formed of the quantity and price of ivory; but there is no doubt more than treble the quantity could have been had if, instead of limiting the price, all had been bought at the market-price, which, perhaps, would not have much exceeded for the finest teeth eighteen pence per pound. As it was, these were almost invariably taken away when the dilàls found that they could not get their price. Although they were very much disposed to barter, cowries were almost preferred as a medium; that is, the goods on either side were first turned into cowries.

Here, then, we have an immense and highly productive country, at no great distance from our shores, and which even may be said to diminish daily by the improvements in steam navigation. The nations inhabiting this valuable region are already desirous of being supplied with our manufactures, a great assortment of which they became acquainted with by the commercial expedition of 1832. Experience indeed shewed that a large portion was not suited to the market; since the Negroes, having naturally but very few wants, are slow to believe that they require articles of which as yet they cannot comprehend the utility; but these would increase with improved intercourse.

If the only interchangeable commodities were salt and palm-oil, a profitable trade might be extended to the interior; and yet with such vast resources and capabilities on both sides, the exports from the greatest commercial country in the world, which is seeking an outlet on all sides for its manufactures is less than half a million sterling!

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