Flora Louise Shaw Lugard.

A tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria online

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John Gutenberg was no less absorbed in the work
of perfecting at Mentz an invention of cut metal types
from which he printed, in the years between 1450 and
1455, the first typed copy of the Latin Bible. If the
work of Mohammed tended to consolidate Christendom


by the blows which were struck against its distracted
kingdoms from outside, the work of Gutenburg was
perhaps even more effectual in rendering the angular
forces malleable by mutual comprehension from within.
It took more than a hundred years for the use of
printing to spread to some of the remoter parts of
Europe. There need be no surprise that it took more
than a hundred years for Europe to emerge sufficiently
from the disunited state described by ^neas Silvius,
to present a united front to the Turk, and it is a
curious but not inappropriate coincidence that we find
the use of printing extended to the farthest western
shore of Europe by its first adaptation to Irish characters
in 1 57 1, the very year of the battle of Lepanto. There
is no need to dwell on the part that must have been
played by the discovery of this art alone in the move-
ment which drew the warring nations of Christendom
together. Similarity of thought is the great unifier of
peoples, and from the middle of the fifteenth century
the learned in all the nations of Europe had the means
of communicating their thoughts not only to each other,
but to the body of their respective nations.

But if in 1453 Europe was unfit, as a whole, to
oppose the progress of the Turk, there were individuals
who burned with a holy zeal. The sack of Otranto,
which, in 1481, had almost driven the Pope to abandon
Italy, found Isabella and Ferdinand on the throne of
Spain, and it is hardly to be wondered at that these
Catholic sovereigns, sharing to the full in the grief and
terror which Turkish triumphs were spreading through
Christendom, were inclined to act with something of the
harshness of panic towards the Mohammedan peoples
who filled the southern towns of Spain, and still held
within the precincts of Granada an independent kingdom
upon Spanish soil. The policy pursued against the
Moors, the ruin of the industries of Spain by the ex-
pulsion, under circumstances of the utmost rigour, of
immense multitudes of its most skilful artisans and most


valuable citizens, stands out in such striking contrast to
the general wisdom and benevolence of Isabella's mild
and enlightened reign, that it can only be understood
by reference to a state of feeling which was stirring the
orthodox Catholics of every court of Europe to preach
the duty of a new crusade against the infidel. The
natural sagacity of Isabella would lead her to deal
directly with the infidel upon her own borders, rather
than to waste her energy and resources in the endeavour
to unite Europe in a common movement. The Spanish
sovereigns were besieging Granada when Columbus ob-
tained from them, in camp, in April of 1492, the long-
desired permission to start on his voyage of discovery
to the West, and it is indicative of the general tone of
feeling in Europe, that he vowed to provide out of the
proceeds of his enterprise, if it should prove as success-
ful as he hoped, funds for the prosecution of a crusade
to deliver Palestine from the Turks. From Gibraltar to
Constantinople a dread of victorious Islam inspired the
policy of every court.

The result was the expulsion of Mohammedanism
from Western Europe. When Granada submitted to
Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, the Moors were not at
first driven out of Spain. They remained as subjects
of the Catholic kings. But Cardinal Ximenes, Isabella's
great adviser, did not long remain content with this mea-
sure of moderation. In 1502 they were expelled. The
contents of their famous libraries were collected and de-
stroyed, with the exception, as has been already men-
tioned, of some 300 books of medical science. Their
property, offered in nominal sales, for which gold and
silver were not allowed to be used in payment, was, in
fact, subjected to wholesale pillage. All that they took
with them to enrich the cities of Africa to which they
went, was the skill, the taste, the learning, the industry,
the habits of good citizenship, which each man carried
in his breast, and by the loss of which Spain was for


ever impoverished. Spain has never recovered from
the blow dealt against its public life by the wisest of
its sovereigns.

Africa, which for a time seemed to receive all that
Spain had lost, suffered on her part by the severance
which took place between her own life and the pro-
gressive life just then opening upon new possibilities of
the West. Isabella died in 1504. She was succeeded by
her daughter, Joanna, the mad queen, and after her by
Charles V., who ascended the throne in 15 16, just one
year before the Turks took Egypt from the Mamelukes.
Charles V., Emperor of Germany as well as King of
Spain, and champion of Catholicism against the tendencies
of the Reformation in Europe, reigned for forty years,
and during the whole of that time showed himself the
determined enemy of Islam. He pursued the Moors to
the shores of Africa. He took their coast towns. He
engaged the European Powers to help him in closing the
ports of the Mediterranean to their ships. He fought
indiscriminately against Moors and Turks, and in beating
the Moors, prepared the way for the triumph of the
Turks, who proved themselves a harder enemy for him
to overthrow. Tripoli had been already taken by Spain
in 1 5 10. When the Turks took the island of Rhodes
in 1522, Charles V. gave Malta to the Knights Templars,
and five years later established them in the very camp
of Islam by giving them Tripoli, which they held till the
Turks took it again in 1551.

Oran, which had also become Spanish in the early
part of the century, was gallantly defended against suc-
cessive attempts, alike on the part of Moors and Turks,
to repossess themselves of it. In the siege of 1563, in
the succeeding reign, the Turks used muskets, heavy
artillery, and mines, but without avail, for the place, on
the eve of surrender, was relieved by the fleet of Andrea
Doria. In 1535 Charles led in person the attack on
Tunis, which the Turks had taken in 1534, and he sue-


ceeded in capturing the town, which was held by a
Spanish garrison till the Turks, under Barbarossa, re-
took it in 1550. But though the Christians were able to
take certain seaports, and eventually, after the battle of
Lepanto, to hold the sea, the Turks gradually possessed
themselves of the coast of Northern Africa. The pro-
vinces which surrounded the seaports were in their hands.
"Where the Turks have once taken foot," says Marmol,
who wrote about the year 1573, "they can never again
be dislodged."

Charles V. abdicated in 1556. His son Philip abated
nothing of his policy, and while he persecuted Protestants
in Flanders, he found time to pursue with equal zeal
Turks, Jews, and heretics in the Mediterranean. This
reign saw the battle of Lepanto. The fleets of Spain
and Italy could close the Mediterranean to the Turks,
but the Italians and Spaniards could never penetrate
into Africa. All that happened was that the Turks —
banned as militant infidels by the nations of Europe —
possessed themselves of the fruitful provinces stretching
from Egypt to Morocco, that harbours once crowded
with the merchant shipping of the world became mere
nests of corsairs, sallying out to prey upon a trade that
passed them by, and that between the interior of Africa
and the civilised world a barrier was erected which, as
years went by, became impassable — Africa was cut off
from Europe.

The Moors, suffering equally beneath the blows of
Turks and Christians, withdrew into the north-western
corner of the continent. Unable to maintain external
relations with any equal power, they lost the finer elements
of national life, and rapidly became a decadent people.
During the long struggle of the sixteenth century we
hear of them as taking part, under their chiefs, from time
to time in the sieges and battles of the coast. At the
end of that century they made one effort, which was as
the last flicker of their expiring glory, to obtain for
themselves in some other direction the outlet which had


been closed upon the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts.
The North was held against them by superior force.
Before they submitted to the living death which isolation
marked for them in the heart of Africa, they endeavoured
to break through to the South. The outcome of their
endeavour was the Moorish conquest of the Soudan.


*' DjouDER Pasha was a little man with blue eyes." Thus
begins the chapter in the Tarikh which recounts the
coming of the Moors. Another account says that he
had a light complexion of the colour of steel. Djouder
Pasha was the commander - in - chief of the Moorish
army. He had at his disposal for the purposes of
an expedition to the Soudan only a small force of
something under 4000 men, but they were well armed
with muskets — which were apparently unknown to the
western armies of the Soudan — they were well mounted,
well disciplined, well equipped with tents and medical
stores, and, for the purposes of an army which meant to
live upon the country through which they passed, they
were sufficiently well provisioned. Their organisation
had been reformed on the model of the Turks, with
whom the armies of Morocco had had more than one
occasion to measure their strength.

A little steel-coloured man with blue eyes, at the
head of such a force, was in a position to play, if he chose,
amid the rich and supine populations of the Soudan, a
part not unlike that of the leader of a pack of wolves
among flocks of sheep. The disproportionate numbers
of the sheep were only so much the more to the advan-
tage of the wolves. Djouder Pasha was an accomplished
soldier. He had gained experience in the wars of the
coast with Turks and Spaniards. The results to be
obtained with modern weapons were well known to him,
and it is probable that he fully appreciated the importance

of moving with a small, rather than with a large unwieldy



force, across the difficult and waterless deserts which had
hitherto served as the best military defence of the Soudan.
When a military nation wishes to fight with one
which it has reason to believe to be unprepared, a cause
of quarrel is never far to seek. Morocco found its cause
of quarrel with Songhay in the possession of the salt
mines of Tegazza. It will be remembered that these
mines lay upon the western road leading from Tafilet,
or Sidjilmessa, to Ghana and Timbuctoo. Their posi-
tion upon modern maps is about 8° W. by 26° N. They
were within the limits of the Mellestine, and when the
power of Songhay had succeeded to that of Melle, they
were included in the territories of the Songhay Empire.
They furnished the principal salt supply of the Soudan,
and their possession was therefore a matter of supreme
importance to Songhay. We have seen that during the
sixteenth century the Sultans of Morocco had from time
to time made efforts to dispute the supremacy of Songhay
over this valuable border district, and that their claims
had been vigorously rejected by the earlier Askias. It
happened, in the year 1590, when the second Askia Ishak
was on the throne of Songhay, and that of Morocco was
occupied by Muley Hamed, that a certain Songhay official,
who had been interned at Tegazza as a punishment for
malpractices by a previous Askia, succeeded in effecting
his escape, and fied across the northern border to the court
of Morocco. He there represented to Muley Hamed the
ease with which the conquest of Songhay, in the present
condition of the country, could be effected, and he treach-
erously placed all his knowledge at the disposal of the
enemy. As a consequence of these representations, Muley
Hamed wrote to Askia Ishak, and announced that he
proposed to invade his country, unless he were willing
to transfer to Morocco the salt mines of Tegazza. The
sovereign of Morocco urged that he had a right to
possess the mines, since it was only thanks to his exer-
tions that the country was defended and protected against
the incursions of the Christians. Askia Ishak rejected


the claim as indignantly as the Ishak of a previous gene-
ration had rejected a similar proposition, and, by way of
defiance, accompanied his answer with the significant
present of spears and iron shackles.

Muley Hamed accepted the defiance, and in November
of 1590 Djouder Pasha, with a staff of ten picked generals
and a very carefully selected body of officers, crossed the
border at the head of his already well-prepared little force.
Military expeditions had been attempted before against
Songhay by Morocco. They had always failed in con-
sequence of the difficulty of moving large bodies of men
through the desert, and their record had been records of
disaster. Djouder Pasha knew his business better. The
march, which is supposed to be one of from fifty to sixty
days for an ordinary caravan, seems to have doubled itself
for his army, which, with carriers, hospital corps, &c.,
amounted to about 10,000 men; but on March 30, 1591,
he encamped safely on the Niger. It was a river which
had never before been seen by Moorish troops, and the
general celebrated the event by a great banquet. The
force appears from the account to have passed in the
desert to the east of Timbuctoo, and to have then de-
scended upon the river at a point still east of Timbuctoo,
leaving the town entirely untouched.

After recruiting his forces with food and drink in the
fertile country which they had entered, Djouder marched
without delay towards Kagho.

In the meantime Askia Ishak, having information of
the approach of the Moors, called his generals and the
principal personages of the kingdom together, in order,
it is said, to ask for their opinion, and to consult them
on the measures to be taken. But nothing can more
graphically represent the fallen condition of the country
than the description which is given in two lines of the
debates of this council: "Whenever judicious advice was
given it was hastily rejected." To the last moment the
officials of Songhay refused to believe that the Moorish
army would succeed in reaching the river. Finally, how-


ever, an army of 12,000 horse and 30,000 foot was put
in motion.

On the 1 2th of April, 1591, the forces met at a
place called Tenkoudibo, which I have not been able
to identify, but which would appear by the context to
be in the valley of the Niger, on the northern side of
the river, perhaps something more than half-way be-
tween Timbuctoo and Kagho. The battle resulted in
the absolute defeat of the Songhay army. The cavalry
was routed, the chivalry of Songhay fled. But among
the rank and file of the foot-soldiers a touching incident
is reported. Seeing that the battle was lost, and being
pledged by their oath as soldiers not to fly in case of
defeat, the infantry, we are told, kept their oath by
throwing their bucklers upon the ground and sitting
upon them to await the onset of Djouder's troops,
and were all massacred in that attitude. Askia Ishak
fled with the rest of the army, sending word to the
populations of Kagho and Timbuctoo to evacuate these
towns, and to join him on the other side of the river
in the province of Gurma. He himself, without passing
through Kagho, fled to Korai Gurma. He camped there
with the remnant of his army, surrounded by lamenta-
tions. Next day, "with cries and vociferations," the
passage of the Niger was commenced in little boats.
The boats appear to have been insufficient. In the
confusion which resulted great numbers perished, and
wealth, "of which God only knows the amount," was lost.
Djouder marched on Kagho, but in that town there
remained no one except a few aged persons, teachers,
students, and merchants, who had not been able to
leave in a hurry with the rest of the population.

A certain Khatib Mahmoud Darami, an old man held
in high esteem amongst the people, received Djouder
Pasha and his staff, and entertained them "with mag-
nificent hospitality." He was treated by them in return
with every consideration. He had long discussions with
Djouder, and became the negotiator of the terms of


peace which were offered by Askia Ishak. The account
which has reached us of these appears to be very in-
complete. All we are told is of one condition — that
Songhay should pay an indemnity of 100,000 pieces of
gold and 1000 slaves, and that the Moorish army should
return to Morocco. To these advances Djouder — who
seems to have been very little impressed with the riches
of Kagho — was content to reply that he was not a prin-
cipal : he was the servant of the Sultan, and could only
refer the question to Morocco.

After consulting with the Arab merchants of the
town, he drew up proposals which he despatched by a
sure messenger to Muley Hamed, and leaving Kagho,
after having been only seventeen days in the town, he
withdrew his troops to Timbuctoo, where he resolved to
await the answer of the Sultan. The people of Tim-
buctoo, in view of the difficulty of transporting them-
selves and their property with safety into the province
of Gurma, had not obeyed the summons of Askia, but
preferred the chances of negotiation with the Moors to
the certainty of destruction among their own countrymen.
They only profited so far by the order to evacuate the
town as to hold themselves dispensed from any duty to
defend it. They received Djouder coldly, but without
opposition, and he, who during the whole of this early
period appears to have kept his troops in admirable
control, selected the quarter of the town which he pre-
ferred, and proceeded to build a fortress in it, while he
kept the greater part of his army encamped outside the
town. Cold civilities were exchanged on both sides be-
tween him and the authorities. People augured, it is
said, nothing good from the position of affairs ; but a
sort of thunderous truce was maintained until the mes-
senger should have time to return from Morocco with
the signification of the Sultan's will. The messenger
left Kagho in April. The Moorish troops entered Tim-
buctoo on the 30th of May. It was not until August
that the answer of the Sultan was received.


In the meantime, though Djouder held his troops
sternly in leash, Askia Ishak remained in the far eastern
provinces, and the Songhay Empire became aware that
one form of central authority had been destroyed, and
that no other had been substituted. Subversive forces
began to work on all its borders. The antagonistic
tribes which had been held in peace by the strength of
supreme authority broke into war. The first to rise
were tribes in the neighbourhood of Timbuctoo itself,
who plundered the rich territory on the banks of the
river which is known as the Ras-el-ma, or Head of the
Waters, and carried off the inhabitants as slaves. Then
the people of Zaghawa, a particularly wealthy district
to the south-west, which was mentioned, it may be
remembered, by Ibn Batuta, did the same thing in
territories lying within the Viceroyalty of Kormina. The
territory of Jenne was ravaged in the most horrible
manner by pagan barbarians from the south who had
long been a terror to its inhabitants. Throughout the
west there was an outbreak of brigandage, and among
the tribes who profited by this period of licence to
enrich themselves at their neighbours' expense are to be
found more than one under the leadership of Fulani
chiefs. In the eastern portion of the empire the dis-
affected populations tended to gather round the defeated
Askia in the territory of Borgu to which he had fled.

Upon all this Djouder's blue eyes appear to have
looked with steely indifference while he waited for the
orders of the Sultan. They came in a form which was
not expected. The receipt of the proposal for peace
aroused nothing but fury in Muley Hamed's mind.
That such a victory as had been achieved should lead
to so small a result appeared to him to be the evidence
only of treachery. Advisers were not wanting who
whispered that the general had been bribed, and in a
transport of rage the Sultan deposed Djouder Pasha from
his command. A personal enemy, Mohammed ben Zer-
goun, was made commander-in-chief in his place.


Djouder's first intimation of the storm was the
arrival of Mohammed ben Zergoun at Timbuctoo, accom-
panied by a new staff and invested with full powers
by the Sultan.

Mohammed immediately deposed Djouder and assumed
the supreme command, at the same time indulging his
personal enmity by the bitterness of a military cross-
examination, in which he taunted Djouder with his
inactivity, and asked what had prevented him from
pursuing the Askia across the river. Djouder answered
that it was the lack of boats, which had all been
removed by the enemy. Mohammed ordered boats
to be constructed, for which purpose the plantations of
trees which had been made within the walls to beautify
the town of Timbuctoo were cut down, and the panels
of the doors were torn from the houses. It was the
beginning of the destruction which was soon to fall upon
the country. From this time Songhay was allowed no
pause upon the downward path.

The orders of Muley Hamed to his new commander-
in-chief were that Askia Ishak was to be driven from
the Soudan, and Mohammed lost no time in proceeding
to carry his instructions into effect. Djouder Pasha
had reached the country in April, at the beginning of
the rains, and his period of inactivity corresponded to
the season of highest flood, when in many districts the
Niger, overflowing its shores, spreads like a lake over
wide tracts of country. Mohammed arrived at Tim-
buctoo on the 17th of August. In the last week of
September, when the rains are drawing towards their
close, the army, having with it Djouder Pasha and all
the revoked generals who had composed Djouder Pasha's
staff, marched south-eastward towards Kuka in Borgu,
where Askia Ishak was established. In a battle which
was fought on October 14th Ishak was completely
defeated, and fled within the confines of the Viceroyalty
of Dandi to the same spot, Korai Gurma, at which the
remains of his army had crossed the river when fleeing


southwards from Djouder Pasha. They now recrossed
in the opposite sense, and from this time the river in its
eastern course formed the defensible frontier which was
maintained between the Hngering remains of Songhay
authority and the country which was soon to be known
as the Moorish Soudan. Mohammed occupied the
position evacuated by Ishak in Borgu, and we are able
to form an estimate of the fighting strength of his
columns by the fact that the camp included 174 tents,
each tent containing, in accordance with the Turkish
model followed by the Moors, twenty fusiliers. He had,
therefore, at his command a force of 3480 men armed
with muskets in a country in which the native army had
fallen into a disorganised rabble, badly led, and armed
only with bows and arrows. There was no unreasonable
arrogance in the supposition that he would be able to do
what he pleased.

I will not attempt to follow this or succeeding
campaigns in detail. I will only indicate the essential

Askia Ishak, intending to fly for safety into the
territory of Kebbi, was murdered by pagans in Gurma,
and was succeeded in April of 1592 by a supine brother,
Mohammed Kagho, who, shortly after his succession,
offered to take the oath of fidelity to the Sultan of
Morocco. The famine, which has already been men-
tioned in connection with the history of Kano, was
making itself felt, and the Moorish army was reduced
during its campaign in the eastern provinces to eat its
pack animals. Mahmoud therefore called upon Moham-
med Kagho to prove the sincerity of his proposals by
coming to the assistance of the troops and providing
them with food. Mohammed Kagho ordered all the
crops which were ripe in Haussaland to be reaped for
the benefit of the enemy, and this was appropriately
enough the last exercise ever made of Songhay authority
in Haussaland. Mohammed Kagho was required to
come in person to the camp of the Moors to make his


submission to the Sultan. He did so, and by order of

Online LibraryFlora Louise Shaw LugardA tropical dependency : an outline of the ancient history of the western Sudan with an account of the modern settlement of northern Nigeria → online text (page 24 of 41)