Mungo Park.

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

. (page 17 of 21)
Online LibraryMungo ParkThe Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805 → online text (page 17 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

evidently depends on the sun approaching the zenith of the place; the
sun by this day's observation being only seventy-one miles North of us:
and it is a wonderful institution of providence, that at this time the
maize here is all in full blossom; and on passing through the fields,
one is like to be blinded with the pollen of the male flowers.

August 15th. - Having slung a cloak like a hammock under a straight
stick, had Mr. Anderson put into it, and carried on two men's heads: two
more following to relieve them. Mr. Scott complained this morning of
sickness and head ach. Made one of the soldiers saddle Mr. Anderson's
horse for him; and having seen him mount, and given him his canteen with
water, I rode forwards to look after four Negroes whom I had hired to
carry loads on their heads; but being strangers, I was apprehensive they
might run away with them. Found every thing going on well; and we
travelled with such expedition, that we reached Doombila in four hours
and a half, though the distance cannot be less than sixteen or eighteen
miles, nearly South. It rained hard all the afternoon, and it was not
till dark that all the sick soldiers came up. Only three of the soldiers
were able to drive their asses to day.

When I entered the town I was happy to meet _Karfa Taura_, [Footnote:
Park's Travels, p. 253.] the worthy Negro mentioned in my former
travels; he heard a report at _Boori_ (where he now resides) that a
coffle of white people were passing through Fooladoo for Bambarra; and
that they were conducted by a person of the name of Park, who spoke
Mandingo. He heard this report in the evening; and in the morning he
left his house, determined if possible to meet me at Bambakoo, a
distance of six days travel. He came to Bambakoo with three of his
slaves to assist me in going forward to Sego, but when he found I had
not come up, he came forwards to meet me. He instantly recognised me,
and you may judge of the pleasure I felt on seeing my old benefactor.

At four o'clock, as Mr. Scott had not come up, and the people in the
rear had not seen him lately, I sent one of Isaaco's people back on my
horse as far as the next village, suspecting that he might have halted
there when the rain came on. The man returned after dark, having been
nearly at Koomikoomi without seeing or hearing any thing of Mr. Scott.
We all concluded that he had returned to Koomikoomi.

August 17th - Halted at Doombila in order to dry the baggage, and in
hopes of Mr. Scott coming up. Told the four Negroes, who carried Mr.
Anderson, and who returned to Koomikoomi this morning, to make every
possible enquiry concerning Mr. Scott; and if he was able to ride, I
would pay them handsomely for coming with him. If he had returned to
Koomikoomi, I desired them to assure the Dooty that I would pay for
every expence he might incur, and pay for a guide to conduct him to
Marraboo. Received from the Dooty of Doombila a small bullock and a
sheep. Paid him a barraloolo, five bars of amber, and fifty gun flints.

August 18th. - Hearing no account of Mr. Scott, concluded he was still at
Koomikoomi, but unable to travel. At seven o'clock left Doombila, and as
the asses were now very weak, it was not long before I had to dismount
and put a load on my horse. Only one of the soldiers able to drive an
ass. Road very bad; did not reach _Toniba_ till sun set, being a
distance of eighteen or twenty miles S.E. by S. Mr. Anderson's bearers
halted with him at a village on the road, where there was some good
beer. As soon as we had pitched the tent, it began to rain, and rained
all night; the soldiers run all into the village. I passed a very
disagreeable night, having to keep our asses from eating the people's
corn, which caused me to keep walking about almost the whole night.

In case it should escape my memory, I take this opportunity of
observing, that the standard law of Africa runs thus: If an ass should
break a single stem of corn, the proprietor of the corn has a right to
seize the ass; and if the owner of the ass will not satisfy him for the
damage he thinks he has sustained, he can _retain_ the ass. He cannot
_sell_ or _work_ him, but he can _kill_ him; and as the Bambarrans
esteem ass-flesh as a great luxury, this part of the law is often put in

August 19th. - Mr. Anderson's bearers having brought him forward early in
the morning, we immediately loaded the asses, and departed from Toniba
(Sergeant McKeal appears to be slightly delirious). We kept ascending
the mountains to the South of Toniba till three o'clock, at which time
having gained the summit of the ridge which separates the Niger from the
remote branches of the Senegal, I went on a little before; and coming to
the brow of the hill, I _once more saw the Niger_ rolling its immense
stream along the plain!

After the fatiguing march which we had experienced, the sight of this
river was no doubt pleasant, as it promised an end to, or to be at least
an alleviation of our toils. But when I reflected that three-fourths of
the soldiers had died on their march, and that in addition to our weakly
state we had no carpenters to build the boats, in which we proposed to
prosecute our discoveries; the prospect appeared somewhat gloomy. It
however afforded me peculiar pleasure, when I reflected that in
conducting a party of _Europeans_, with immense baggage, through an
extent of more than five hundred miles, I had always been able to
preserve the most friendly terms with the natives. In fact, this journey
plainly demonstrates, 1st. that with common prudence any quantity of
merchandize may be transported from the Gambia to the Niger, without
danger of being robbed by the natives: 2dly, that if this journey be
performed in the dry season, one may calculate on losing not more than
three or at most four men out of fifty.

But to return to the Niger. The river was much swelled by the rains, but
did not appear to overflow its banks. It certainly is larger even here
than either the Senegal or the Gambia. We descended with difficulty down
the steep side of the hill towards Bambakoo, which place we reached at
half past six o'clock, and pitched our tents under a tree near the town.
Of thirty-four soldiers and four carpenters, who left the Gambia, only
six soldiers and one carpenter reached the Niger.

During the night the wolves carried away two large cloth bundles from
the tent door to a considerable distance; where they eat off the skins
with which they were covered, and left them.

August 20th - Received a bullock from the Dooty as a present. It was in
the afternoon, and we fastened it to the tree close to the tent, where
all the asses were tied. As soon as it was dark the wolves tore its
bowels out, though within ten yards of the tent door where we were all
sitting. The wolves here are the largest and most ferocious we have yet

August 21st. - Dried a bundle of beads, the strings of which were all
rotten with the rain. Opened a leather bag which contained about thirty
pounds of gunpowder for present use. Found it all wet and damaged.
Spread it out in the sun; resolved to make something of it. Spoke for a
canoe to carry down the baggage to Marraboo, the river being navigable
over the rapids at this season. In the course of our march from Toniba
to Bambakoo, we lost Sergeant _McKeil_, _Purvey_, and _Samuel Hill_.

August 22nd. - Early in the morning had all the bundles put on the asses,
and carried to the place of embarkation, which is a village called
Bossradoo, about a mile and a half East of Bambakoo. It rained hard all
the forenoon. The canoes could not carry any of the soldiers, or any
person except two to look after the goods. I resolved to go down with
Mr. Anderson, leaving Mr. Martyn to come down with the men by land. They
rode on the asses.

We embarked at ten minutes past three o'clock. The current, which is
nearly five knots per hour, set us along without the trouble of rowing
any more than was necessary to keep the canoe in the proper course. The
river is full an English mile over, and at the rapids it is spread out
to nearly twice that breadth. The rapids seem to be formed by the river
passing through a ridge of hills in a South Easterly direction: they are
very numerous, and correspond with the jetting angles of the hills.
There are _three_ principal ones, where the water breaks with
considerable noise in the middle of the river; but the canoe men easily
avoided them by paddling down one of the branches near the shore. Even
in this manner the velocity was such as to make me sigh.

We passed two of the principal rapids, and three smaller ones, in the
course of the afternoon. We saw on one of the islands, in the middle of
the river, a large elephant; it was of a red clay colour with black
legs. I was very unwell of the dysentery; otherwise I would have had a
shot at him, for he was quite near us. We saw three hippopotami close to
another of these islands. The canoe men were afraid they might follow us
and overset the canoes. The report of a musket will in all cases
frighten them away. They blow up the water exactly like a whale. As we
were gliding along shore, one of the canoe men speared a fine turtle, of
the same species as the one I formerly saw, and made a drawing of in
Gambia. At sun set we rowed to the shore, landed on some flat rocks, and
set about cooking the turtle and rice for our supper; but before this
aldermanic repast was half dressed, the rain came on us, and continued
with great violence all night.

August 23d. - At day break embarked again, very wet and sleepy. Passed
the third rapid, and arrived at Marraboo at nine o'clock. Our guide soon
found a large passage hut in which to deposit our baggage, for one stone
of small amber per load. We carried the whole of it up in a few minutes.
In the evening Mr. Martyn arrived, and all the people, except two, who
came up next day.

August 24th. - Received from the Dooty a small black bullock in a
present, which our guide would not allow us to kill, it being of a jet
black colour. The Dooty's name is Sokee; and so superstitious was he,
that all the time we remained at Marraboo he kept himself in his hut,
conceiving that if he saw a white man, he would never prosper after.

August 25th - Paid Isaaco goods to the full value of two prime slaves,
according to agreement. I likewise gave him several articles; and I told
him, that when the palaver was adjusted at Sego, he should then have all
the asses and horses for his trouble.

August 26th. - Took out such things as I meant to give to Mansong, viz.

A handsome silver plated tureen.
*Two double barrelled guns, silver mounted.
Two pair of pistols mounted in the same manner.
A sabre with Morocco scabbard.
Thirty-two yards scarlet broad cloth.
Twelve ditto blue.
Twelve ditto yellow.
Twelve ditto light green.
*Half a load of gunpowder, or two kegs and a half.

To Mansong's eldest son Da.

*A double barrelled gun, silver mounted.
A pair of pistols, ditto.
A sabre, ditto.

I wished to put a stop to the malicious reports of the Moors and
Mahomedans at Sego as soon as possible. I therefore resolved to send
Isaaco forward to Sego with all the articles beforementioned, except
those marked thus [Symbol: *], which I desired him to say to Modibinne
would be given as soon as I heard accounts that Mansong would befriend
us. This Modibinne is Mansong's prime minister; he is a Mahomedan, but
not intolerant in his principles. Isaaco accordingly departed on the
28th with his wife and all his goods. Ever since my arrival at Marraboo
I had been subject to attacks of the dysentery; and as I found that my
strength was failing very fast, I resolved to charge myself with
mercury. I accordingly took calomel till it affected my mouth to such a
degree, that I could not speak or sleep for six days. The salivation put
an immediate stop to the dysentery, which had proved fatal to so many of
the soldiers. On the 2d of September, I observed the

° ' "
Mer. alt. of the Sun - 169 54 0
- - - - -
84 57 0
0 16 0
- - - - -
85 13 0
- - - - -
4 47 0
8 1 0
- - - - -
Marraboo Latitude - 12 48 0

As soon as I recovered, I set about exchanging some amber and coral for
cowries, which are the current money of Bambarra.

Coral No. 4 each stone 60
Amber No. 5 60
Blue agates per string 100

With these three articles I bought about twenty thousand cowries. It is
curious that in counting the cowries, they call eighty a hundred; whilst
in all other things they calculate by the common hundred. Sixty is
called a Manding hundred.

On the 6th Thomas Dyer (a private) died of the fever. I had to pay one
thousand shells to Dooty Sokee, before he would allow me to bury him;
alleging that if the ground was not bought where he was buried, it would
never grow good corn after.

There is no wood proper for boat building in this neighbourhood; the
best wood is near Kankaree, on a large navigable branch of the Niger;
and almost all the Bambarra canoes come from thence; many of them are

The travellers from Sego brought us every day some unfavourable news or
other. At one time it was reported, and believed all over Marraboo, that
Mansong had killed Isaaco with his own hand, and would do the same with
all the whites who should come into Bambarra. Our fears were at length
dispelled by the arrival of Bookari, Mansong's singing man, on the 8th,
with six canoes. He told us he came by Mansong's orders to convey us and
our baggage to Sego. That Mansong thought highly of the presents which
Isaaco had brought, and wished us to be brought to Sego before he
received them from Isaaco. We accordingly put our baggage in order; but
it was not till the 12th that the singing man and his _Somonies_ (canoe
people) could be prevailed on to leave the Dooty _Sokee's_ good beef,
and beer. We embarked, and left Marraboo at ten minutes past three

Time. Course. Objects. Bearing. Distance.

3.10 E. 1/2 N. The North extreme E.
of the South hills.
Little hump on E.S.E.
South hills.
Cubic hill on North E. by N. Distant 12
side. or 14 miles.

0 25 E. by N.
0 30 E. N. E.
0 45 E. 1/2 S.
4 0 E.
0 45 E. by N. 1/2 W.
5 0 N. E. Cubic hill. N. Distant 1/4 of
0 10 Halted for the a mile.
night at Koolikorro

September 13th. - Bookari sent four of the Somonies over to a town on the
opposite side of the river, to put in requisition a canoe for carrying
part of our baggage. The people refused to give the canoe, and sent the
Somonies back without it. Bookari immediately went with all the Somonies
(38); and having cut the owner of the canoe across the forehead with his
sword, and broke his brother's head with a canoe paddle, he seized one
of his sons, and brought him away as a slave along with the canoe. He
however set the boy at liberty, his father paying two thousand shells
for his release.

We left Koolikorro at thirty-five minutes past eleven. I will not
trouble your Lordship with transcribing the courses and compass bearings
from this to Sansanding. The latitude of the places will give a
sufficient idea of the course of the river; and I hope to give a
tolerable correct chart of all its turnings and widings, when I return
to Great Britain.

° ' "
Observed mer. alt. Sun. - 80 45 0
0 16 0
- - - -
81 1 0
- - - -
ZD. - 8 59 0 N
D. - 3 53 0
- - - -
Koolikorro Latitude - 12 52 0 N
- - - -

_The horizon_ was an oblique view across the river. Distance of the land
seven miles; height of the eye sixteen inches above the surface of the

We travelled very pleasantly all day; in fact nothing can be more
beautiful than the views of this immense river; sometimes as smooth as a
mirror, at other times ruffled with a gentle breeze, but at all times
sweeping us along at the rate of six or seven miles per hour. We halted
for the night at Deena, a Somoni village on the south side. Had a
tornado in the night, which wetted our baggage much. Most of us slept in
the canoes to prevent theft.

September 14th. - Departed from Deena early in the morning, and arrived
at Yamina at forty-five minutes past four o'clock. Halted here the 15th,
in order to purchase cowries.

° ' "
Observ. alt. Sun - 79 63 0
0 16 0
- - - -
79 52 0
- - - -
10 8 0
3 7 0
- - - -
Yamina Latitude - 13 15 0

On the 16th left Yamina, and in the evening reached Samee, where we
landed our baggage; and Bookari went forward to Sego to inform Mansong
of our arrival.

September 17th. -
° ' "
Obser. mer. alt. Sun - 78 47 0
0 16 0
- - - -
79 3 0
- - - -
10 57 0
2 20 0
- - - -
Samee Latitude - 13 17 0
- - - -

September 18th. - No accounts from Sego.

September 19th. - About two o'clock in the morning, Isaaco arrived in a
canoe from Sego, with all the articles I had sent to Mansong. Mansong
had never yet seen any of them; and when he heard that I was arrived at
Samee, he desired Modibinne to inform Isaaco that he had best take the
articles up to Samee; and he would send a person to receive them from my
own hand. Isaaco informed me that Mansong, at all the interviews he had
with him, uniformly declared that he would allow us to pass; but
whenever Isaaco mentioned us particularly, or related any incident that
had happened on the journey, Mansong immediately began to make squares
and triangles in the sand before him with his finger, and continued to
do so, so long as Isaaco spoke about us. Isaaco said, that he thought
Mansong was rather afraid of us; particularly as he never once expressed
a wish to see us, but rather the contrary.

September 22d. - In the evening, Modibinne and four more of Mansong's
friends arrived in a canoe. They sent for me, and Modibinne told me,
that they were come by Mansong's orders to hear, from my own mouth, what
had brought me into Bambarra. He said I might think on it during the
night, and they would visit me in the morning; he said Mansong had sent
me a bullock, which he shewed me: it was very fat, and _milk white_.

September 23d. - As soon as we had breakfasted, Modibinne and the four
grandees came to visit us. When they had seated themselves, and the
usual compliments passed, Modibinne desired me to acquaint them with the
motives which had induced me to come into their country. I spoke to them
in the Bambarra language as follows. "I am the white man who nine years
ago came into Bambarra. I then came to Sego, and requested Mansong's
permission to pass to the Eastwards; he not only permitted me to pass,
but presented me with five thousand cowries to purchase provisions on
the road; [Footnote: Park's Travels, p. 199.] for you all know that the
Moors had robbed me of my goods. This generous conduct of Mansong
towards me, has made his name much respected in the land of the white
people. The King of that country has sent me again into Bambarra; and if
Mansong is inclined to protect me, and you who are here sitting, wish to
befriend me, I will inform you of the real object of my coming into your

(Here Modibinne desired me to speak on, as they were all my friends),
"You all know that the white people are a trading people; and that all
the articles of value, which the Moors and the people of Jinnie bring to
Sego, are made by us. If you speak of a _good gun_, who made it? the
_white people_. If you speak of a good pistol or sword, or piece of
scarlet or baft, or beads or gunpowder, who made them? the _white
people_. We sell them to the Moors; the Moors bring them to Tombuctoo,
where they sell them at a _higher rate_. The people of Tombuctoo sell
them to the people of Jinnie at a still higher price; and the people of
Jinnie sell them to you. Now the King of the white people wishes to find
out a way by which we may bring our own merchandize to you, and sell
every thing at a much cheaper rate than you now have them. For this
purpose, if Mansong will permit me to pass, I propose sailing down the
Joliba to the place where it mixes with the salt water; and if I find no
rocks or danger in the way, the white men's small vessels will come up
and trade at Sego, if Mansong wishes it. What I have now spoken, I hope
and trust you will not mention to any person, except Mansong and his
son; for if the Moors should hear of it, I shall certainly be murdered
before I reach the salt water."

Modibinne answered, "We have heard what you have spoken. Your journey is
a good one, and may God prosper you in it; Mansong will protect you. We
will carry your words to Mansong this afternoon; and tomorrow we will
bring you his answer." I made Isaaco shew them the different things,
which I had allotted for Mansong and his son. They were delighted with
the tureen, the double-barrelled guns, and in fact every thing was far
superior to any thing of the kind they had ever before seen.

When I had laid out every thing for Mansong and his son, I then made
each of the grandees, and Modibinne, a present of scarlet cloth.
Modibinne now said that they had seen what I laid out for Mansong and
his son, and that the present was great, and worthy of Mansong; but,
added he, Mansong has heard so many reports concerning your baggage,
that he wishes us to examine it. "Such of the bundles as are covered
with skin, we will not open; you will tell us what is in them, and that
will be sufficient." I told them that I had nothing but what was
necessary for purchasing provisions; and that it would please me much if
they could dispense with opening the bundles. They however persisted;
and I ordered the bundles to be brought out, taking care, with the
assistance of the soldiers, to secrete all the good amber and coral.

When all the loads were inspected, I asked Modibinne what he thought of
my baggage? If he had seen any more silver tureens, or double barrelled
guns? He said he had seen nothing that was _bad_, and nothing but what
was necessary for purchasing provisions; that he would report the same
to Mansong. They accordingly went away to Sego; but without taking
Mansong's present, till they had heard his answer.

September 24th. - _Seed_ and _Barber_ (soldiers) died during the night;
one of the fever, the other of the dysentery. Paid the Somonies twenty
stones of amber for burying them.

September 25th. - Modibinne and the same people returned with Mansong's
answer, a literal translation of which I give as follows. "Mansong says
he will protect you; that a road is open for you every where, as far as
his hand (power) extends. If you wish to go to the East, no man shall
harm you from Sego till you pass Tombuctoo. If you wish to go to the
West, you may travel through Fooladoo and Manding, through Kasson and
Bondou; the name of Mansong's stranger will be a sufficient protection
for you. If you wish to build your boats at Samee or Sego, at Sansanding
or Jinnie, name the town, and Mansong will convey you thither." He
concluded by observing, that Mansong wished me to sell him four of the
_blunderbusses_, _three swords_, _a fiddle_ (violin) which belonged to
Mr. Scott, and some _Birmingham bead necklaces_, which pleased above
every thing; that he had sent us a bullock, and his son another, with a
fine sheep. I told Modibinne that Mansong's friendship was of more value
to me than the articles he had mentioned, and that I would be happy if
Mansong would accept them from me as a farther proof of my esteem.

I made choice of Sansanding for fitting out our canoe, because Mansong

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 19 20 21

Online LibraryMungo ParkThe Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805 → online text (page 17 of 21)