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The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805 online

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following appearance,


Pitched our tents under a tree near the Ba lee, which runs here with
great velocity, and breaks into small cataracts.

July 12th. - Went in the morning with Isaaco and waited on Keminoom, or
Mansa Numma, as he is commonly called. I took with me

Amber, No. 2 25
Ditto, No. 4 15
Barraloolos 20
Beads 33
Scarlet 10
Balls and flints 2
Looking glasses 5

A soldier's musket,
A pair of handsome pistols silver mounted.

He sent them all back, and I was forced to put a silver mounted gun on it
before he would accept of it; and likewise

To Eerujama, the King's brother,
Amber, No. 2 10
Barraloolo 5

To his son,
Amber 10
To the King's people 10
To eight Finnis for singing some nonsense 8

Observed mer. alt. of the sun 163 24'; latitude 14 0'

In the evening had such of the soldiers as were most healthy dressed in
their red coats; and at Numma's request went with them to the town, where
they went through some movements, and fired.

July 13th. - Very desirous to be gone, as we found the people thieves to a
man; in fact we have never yet been at a place where so much theft and
impudence prevails. This can only be accounted for, by considering that
Mansa Numma is the reputed father of more than thirty children; and as
they all consider themselves as far above the common people, they treat
every person with contempt, and even steal in the most open manner. By
the side of the river are a great number of human bones (more than thirty
skulls.) On enquiring the reason, I was informed that Mansa Numma always
inflicted capital punishments himself, and that the bones I saw were
those of criminals. I had reason to regret, that capital punishments
seldom or never extend to the real or reputed descendants of the King.

July 14th. - As soon as day dawned, struck the tents and loaded the asses.
The townspeople gathered round us in crowds. They had stolen during our
stay here four great coats, a large bundle of beads, a musket, a pair of
pistols, and several other things. Before we had advanced a musket shot
from the town (though we had one of the King's sons on horseback as a
protector), one of the townspeople carried away a bag from one of the
asses, containing some things belonging to one of the soldiers. The
King's son, Lieutenant Martyn, and myself rode after him, and were lucky
enough to come up with him, and recover the bag; but before we could
rejoin the coffle, another had run off with a musket that was fastened on
one of the loads.

We proceeded in this manner in a constant state of alarm; and I had great
reason to fear that the impudence of the people would provoke some of the
soldiers to run, them through with their bayonets. About two miles from
Maniakorro, as we were ascending a rocky part of the road, several of the
asses fell with their loads. I rode a little from the path to see if a
more easy ascent could not be found; and as I was holding my musket
carelessly in my hand, and looking round, two of Numma's sons came up to
me; one of them requested me to give him some snuff. Suspecting no ill
treatment from two people, whom I had often seen with the King, and at
our tents, I turned round to assure him that I never took snuff; at this
instant the other (called Woosaba) coming up behind me, snatched the
musket from my hand, and ran off with it. I instantly sprung from the
saddle and followed him with my sword, calling to Mr. Anderson to ride
back, and tell some of the people to look after my horse. Mr. Anderson
got within musket shot of him, but seeing it was Numma's son, had some
doubts about shooting him, and called to me if he should fire. Luckily I
did not hear him, or I might possibly have recovered my musket, at the
risk of a long palaver, and perhaps the loss of half our baggage. The
thief accordingly made his escape amongst the rocks, and when I returned
to my horse, I found the other of the royal descendants had stolen my
great coat.

I went and informed the King's son, whom we had hired as a guide, of what
had happened; and requested to know how I should act if any of the people
should steal from the baggage. He assured me that after what had
happened, I should be justified in shooting the first that attempted to
steal from the loads. Made such of the soldiers as were near me load
their muskets and be ready. The sky became cloudy, and by the time that
we had advanced about five miles from the town, we experienced a very
heavy tornado. During the rain another of Numma's sons snatched up and
run off with one of the soldiers muskets and a pair of pistols, which he
had laid down while he was reloading his ass.

We halted amongst the rocks and put off the loads, all very wet. Turned
the asses to feed, and cooked some rice, although it rained very heavily.
One of the negro boys gave the alarm that three people were driving away
our asses. I followed with some of our people: the thieves made their
escape amongst the rocks, but without carrying away any of the asses,
though they had untied the feet of three and fastened a fourth to a bush.
Collected the asses and began to load. Whilst we were loading one of the
asses strayed a little from the rest, about two hundred yards, and to my
astonishment a man came from amongst the rocks, took off the load, and
began to cut it open with his knife. Before any person could come at him,
he left the load and run up the rocks. Mr. Scott and one of the soldiers
fired at him, but did not hit him. Went on. Road very rocky. Told the
soldiers to shoot the first that took any thing from the baggage. Found
some of the asses and loads lying at the difficult places in the road,
and often two loads with only one half-sick soldier to guard them. Kept
in the rear, as I perceived they had a mind to take some of the loads and
asses. I saw the thieves peeping over the rocks, and making signs to
their comrades, who seemed very desirous of assisting us in putting on
our loads. Put one of the loads on my horse, and another on Mr.
Anderson's, and luckily cleared the difficult passes of the rocks by sun
set, without losing any thing, though surrounded by at least a dozen
experienced thieves. When we reached the bottom of the rocky pass, we
went on with more ease, and came up to the rest of the party about eight
o'clock. They had stopped for the night in the woods, and so were all our
clothes; [Footnote: It is thus in Mr. Park's MS. There seems to be some
omission.] and in fact we passed a very uncomfortable night amongst the
wet grass, and exposed to a very heavy dew.

July 15th. - Early in the morning proceeded, and went on very slowly in
the rear, by which means we were separated from the front. Horses loaded
as usual. When we reached the cultivated land, which surrounds the
village of Ganamboo, we came up to one of the soldiers, who informed us,
that a man habited as a slave had come from amongst the bushes, and
instantly seized on his musket and knapsack, which were fastened on the
top of his load. The soldier struggled with him for his musket, and
wrested it from him; on which the thief let go the knapsack, and
attempted to make off; but when he heard the soldier cock his piece,
expecting to be instantly shot, he threw himself down on the road and
roared out in the most pitiable manner. The soldier took a steady aim at
him, but unfortunately his musket flashed in the pan, and the slave
started up and ran in amongst the bushes.

Ganamboo is only a small walled village: it is situated about ten miles
East half North from Maniakorro.

July 10th. - Left Ganamboo, but the soldiers and asses were so much
fatigued, that we were forced to stop at Ballandoo (Dooty Mari Umfa)
during the night. We had the most tremendous storm of thunder and
lightning I ever saw. I was so confident that the tent would be struck
by the lightning, that I went to some distance to avoid the explosion of
our gunpowder.

July 17th. - Left Ballandoo at eight o'clock, and reached _Seransang_
about noon. All horses loaded; mine fell down under his load, and I was
forced to sit by him till an ass was sent from the halting place.
Seransang is a scattered but populous town, and the land is cleared
round it for a great distance. One of our best asses stolen during the

July 18th. - Departed from Seransang, having shifted the loads so as to
have the horses free, in order to prevent theft. We had not travelled
much above a mile, when two suspicious people came up. One of them
walked slowly in the rear; and the other passed on, seemingly in great
haste. I desired Mr. Anderson to watch the one in the rear, whilst I
rode on at such a distance as just to keep sight of the other. The road
making a turn, he was concealed from me by the bushes, and took
advantage of this opportunity to carry away a great coat from a load
which was driven by one of the sick men. I fortunately got a view of him
as he was running off among the bushes, and galloping in a direction so
as to get before him, quickly came so near him that he leaped into some
very thick bushes. When I rode round, he went out at the side opposite
to me; and in this manner I hunted him amongst the bushes for some time,
but never losing sight of him. At last he run past a spreading tree, and
jumping back, stood close to the trunk of it. I thought I should
certainly lose him if I did not avail myself of the present opportunity.
I accordingly fired, and dropping my musket on the pummel of the saddle,
drew out one of the pistols, and told him if he offered to move, I would
instantly shoot him dead. "Do not kill me, white man," he exclaimed, "I
cannot run from you, you have broke my leg." I now observed the blood
streaming down his leg; and when he pulled up his cloth, I saw that the
ball had passed through his leg about two inches below the knee joint.
He climbed a little way up the tree, which was of easy ascent; always
exclaiming in a pitiable tone of voice, "do not kill me." Several of the
people belonging to the coffle, on hearing the shot fired, came running;
and amongst others the guide appointed us by Keminoom, who insisted that
I should instantly shoot the thief dead; otherwise he said I did not
fulfil the orders of his master, who had directed me to shoot every
person that stole from me. I had great difficulty in preventing him from
killing him, and was happy to recover the great coat, and leave the
thief bleeding amongst the branches of the tree.

We proceeded without further molestation till about three o'clock in the
afternoon, when it came on a tornado. During the rain one of the sick
had fallen a little behind, and four people seizing him, stripped off
his jacket. He followed them at a distance; and when they came up to Mr.
Anderson and myself, he called out to us to shoot one of them, as they
had taken his jacket. I had my pocket handkerchief on the lock of my gun
to keep the priming dry. When they observed me remove it, one of them
pulled out the jacket from under his cloak, and laid it on one of the
asses. Mr. Anderson followed them on horseback, and I kept as near him
as I could on foot, my horse being loaded. After following them about
three miles, they struck into the woods; and suspecting that they had a
mind to return and steal some of the loads from the fatigued asses in
the rear, I returned with Mr. Scott, and found that one of the soldiers
had lost his knapsack, and another his jacket. But from their
description, the robbers were not the same as had formerly passed.

Continued in the rear. When we came within a mile of the town of
Nummaboo, the road passes near some high rocks. The asses being a little
way before us, two of the robbers first seen came from amongst the
rocks, and were going towards the asses; but when they observed us
coming up, they attempted to slide off unobserved among the rocky. When
I called to one of them to stop and tell me what they were looking
after, they came near us; but as they had nothing of ours in their
possession, we could not stop them, and they accordingly passed to the
westward. Mr. Scott and I went and examined that part of the rocks where
we observed them come out, and were lucky enough to find a soldier's
coat, a camp kettle, and a number of other articles, which had probably
been their share of the booty; for I learned on my arrival at the town,
that the ass which carried the muskets belonging to the sick, had been
stopped by four people near these rocks, and six muskets, a pair of
pistols, and a knapsack taken away. To complete the business, J. Bowden,
one of the sick, did not come up; and we had little doubt but that he
had been stripped and murdered by these very people in the woods. We
likewise had a very good ass stolen during the night.

July 19th. - Having purchased an ass in lieu of the one stolen, we left
Nummaboo, which is a walled village, and proceeded onwards. Had two
tornadoes; the last, about eleven o'clock, wetted us much, and made the
road slippery. Two asses unable to go on. Put their loads on the horses,
and left them. Mr. Scott's horse unable to walk: left it to our guide.
At noon came to the ruins of a town. Found two more of the asses unable
to carry their loads. Hired people to carry on the loads, and a boy to
drive the asses. Past the ruins of another town at half past twelve,
where I found two of the sick, who had laid themselves down under a
tree, and refused to rise, (they were afterwards stripped by the
Negroes, and came naked to our tents next morning). Shortly after this,
came to an ass lying on the road unable to proceed with its load. Put
part of the load on my horse, which was already heavily loaded. Took a
knapsack on my back. The soldier carried the remainder and drove the ass
before him.

We arrived on the banks of the Ba Woolima at half past one o'clock. This
river is but narrow, not being more than fifty or sixty feet over; but
was so swelled with the rains as to be twenty feet deep at the place
where we proposed to cross it. Our first attempt was to fell a tree
close to the river, that by its fall would reach across the stream and
form a bridge: but after cutting down four, they all fell in such a
manner as to be of no use; for though the tops of one reached the rocks
on the farther shore when it fell, yet the violence of the current swept
it away. In this manner we fatigued ourselves till sunset, when we gave
up the attempt.

Observed the following emersion of Jupiter's satellites.

H. M. S.
Third satellite emerged by Watch M. S. 9 25 18
Watch too slow 1 55

First satellite emerged by Watch 9 36 10
Watch too slow 2 34

July 20th. - Altitudes taken for the time.

H. M. S. ° ' H. M. S. ° '
7 6 45 21 21 7 9 42 22 42
0 7 25 21 40 0 10 26 23 2
0 8 8 21 55 0 11 3 23 18

7 13 10 24 18 7 16 27 25 49
0 13 44 24 33 0 17 0 26 3
0 14 14 24 46 0 17 30 26 16

° ' "
Obser. Mer. Alt. 166 4 0
1/2 83 2 0
0 16 0
83 18 0
6 42 0
20 43 0

Longitude 5 0 13 W.
Latitude 14 1 0 N.

The passage of the river being the great desideratum, I proposed a raft
to be hauled from side to side with ropes; whilst the Mandingoes were
decidedly of opinion that nothing would answer our purpose but a bridge,
which they said they would complete by two o'clock. I set to work with
the carpenters to make a raft; but when the logs were cut into lengths,
we could not muster healthy people enough to carry them to the water
side. We were forced to give up the attempt and trust entirely to the
Negro bridge, which was constructed in the following manner. A straight
pole was cut to sound the depth of the river, and notches made on it to
shew the depth at different distances from the shore. Two straight trees
were now cut, and their tops fastened strongly together with slips of
bark. These were launched across the stream with the assistance of two
people, and a rope on the further side; the roots of the trees were
firmly fastened with ropes to the roots of the trees on each side of the
river. Along the upper side of these trees they planted a range of
upright forked sticks, cut correctly to the lengths on the sounding
pole. These upright forks supported two other trees tied as the first,
but which were not, like the first, permitted to sink into the water,
but were kept about a foot above the surface by means of the forks.
Another range of forks was placed a little farther up the stream, which
likewise supported two trees fastened as the above; the whole was
completed with cross sticks. The two trees first laid over, which were
permitted to sink in the water, served to prevent the stream from
running away with the forks whose roots sloped down the stream; whilst
the weight of the current pressed on and kept firm the roots of such as
were placed up the stream. A section of the bridge would have the
following appearance.

A. Trees first laid across.
B. First range of forks.
C. Trees supported by first range.
D. Second range of forks.
E. Trees supported by ditto.
F. Cross sticks for walking on.

If the river was dried up, the structure would have somewhat of this

Our people being all so sickly, I hired the Negroes to carry over all
the baggage, and swim over the asses. Our baggage was laid on the rocks
on the East side of the river; but such was our sickly state that we
were unable to carry it up the bank. Francis Beedle, one of the
soldiers, was evidently dying of the fever; and having in vain
attempted, with the assistance of one of his messmates, to carry him
over, I was forced to leave him on the West bank; thinking it very
probable that he would die in the course of the night.

July 21st. - Hired Isaaco's people to carry the bundles up the bank, and
assist in loading all the asses. One of the soldiers crossed the bridge,
and found Beedle expiring. Did not stop to bury him, the sun being high;
but set out immediately. Country woody, but level. About half past ten
o'clock came to Mr. Scott lying by the side of the path, so very sick
that he could not walk. Shortly after Mr. Martyn laid down in the same
state. My horse being loaded, and myself, as usual, walking on foot and
driving an ass, I could give them no assistance. I came in sight of the
town of Mareena a little before twelve; and at the same time was happy
to see two of Isaaco's people coming back with two asses to take the
loads off the horses in the rear. Sent them back for Mr. Scott and Mr.
Martyn, and proceeded to the town. Some of the people, who had crossed
the river with us, had informed the people of Mareena of the treatment
we had experienced in passing from Maniakorro to the Ba Woolima, which
district is called Kissi; and withal had told the people that our coffle
was a Dummulafong, a thing sent to be eaten, or in English _fair game_
for every body. The inhabitants of Mareena were resolved to come in for
their share; they accordingly stole five of our asses during the night;
but felt themselves much disappointed next morning,

July 22d, - when they understood, that instead of proceeding to Bangassi,
we proposed to send forward a messenger to inform the king of the bad
treatment we had experienced. Three of them returned the asses they had
stolen, but the other two would not. About noon we loaded all the horses
and asses; and I hired two young men to carry forwards two trunks, the
load of one of the asses which was stolen. Bangassi is only six miles
distant from Mareena. It is a large town, fortified in the same manner
as Maniakorro; but is four or five times as large. Pitched our tents
under a tree to the East of the town.

July 23d. - Received a present from Serenummo, the King, of a fine
bullock and two very large calabashes of sweet milk; he likewise sent
the two asses which the people of Mareena had stolen. Took from our
baggage the following articles, and went with Isaaco to the King.


To the King, amber No. 2 30
Ditto. No. 4 20
Barraloolos 30
Beads 30
Looking glasses 5
Balls and flints 2
- - -
Bars 117

Mr. Anderson's musket.
Ditto sword.
Ditto pistols.

To the King's son, amber No. 4 5
Barraloolo 5
- - -
Bars 10

To the person who assisted in settling the palaver,
amber 10
To the good people in the town 10
To Isaaco's landlord for a goat 10
- - -
Bars 30

The town is large and populous, and is better fortified than even
Maniakorro. We found Serenummo seated in a sort of shade, surrounded by
only a few friends; orders having been given not to allow any person to
enter it. He enquired if I was the white man who had formerly passed
through the country, and what could induce me to come back again; with a
number of such questions. To all which I gave the best answers I could;
and then told him that I did not come to purchase slaves or gold; I did
not come to take any man's trade from him or any man's money; I did not
come to make money, but to spend it; and for the truth of these
assertions I could appeal to every person who knew me or had travelled
with me. I farther added, it was my intention at present to travel
peaceably through his kingdom into Bambarra; and that as a mark of my
regard for his name and character, I had brought a few articles which my
guide would present to him. Here Isaaco spread out on the floor the
articles before mentioned. The King looked at them with that sort of
indifference which an African always affects towards things he has not
before seen. However much he may admire them, he must never appear in
the least surprised. He told me I should have permission to pass; and he
would make his son take care of us till we arrived at Sego; but it would
be some days before he was ready. I told him I was anxious to be in
Bambarra, as I found my people very sickly; and if he would appoint me a
guide, I would esteem it a favour. In fact I knew before, that this son
proposed going to Sego with the annual tribute, which amounts to three
hundred minkallis of gold or thereabouts; but I knew that the gold was
not yet all collected, and that part of it would probably be bought with
the merchandize I had given him.

July 25th. - Bought two asses for fifty-six bars of amber. During our
stay at this town we were plentifully supplied with milk on moderate
terms. I always purchased two camp kettles full every morning for the
men, in hopes of recruiting them before we set forwards for the Niger;
but they still continue sick and spiritless. Corporal _Powal_ is
dangerously ill of the fever, and _M'Inelli_ is affected with the
dysentery to such a degree, that I have no hopes of his recovery. He was
removed yesterday to the shade of a tree at a small distance from the
tents; and not being brought near in the evening, he was very near being
torn to pieces by the wolves. They were smelling at his feet when he
awakened, and then set up such a horrid howl, that poor M'Inelli, sick
as he was, started up and came to the tents before the sentry could
reach the place where he had slept.

July 26th. - Corporal Powal died during the night. Buried him this
morning; two dollars and a half in his pocket, for which I am
accountable. Overhauled the ass-saddles, and adjusted the loads,
proposing to leave this to-morrow morning early.

° ' "
Observed mer. alt. Sun 168 26 0
- - - - - -
1/2 84 13 0
0 16 0
- - - - - -
84 29 0
- - - - - -
ZD. 5 31 0
D. 19 31 0
- - - - - -

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Online LibraryMungo ParkThe Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805 → online text (page 15 of 21)