THE EXPLORATION AND COLONIZATION OF AFRICA, I

The eighty miles between Mora and Kouka were traversed in six days. Denham was kindly received in the latter town by the sultan, who sent him a native garment to replace his lost wardrobe. The major had hardly recovered from his wounds and fatigue, before he took part in a new expedition, sent to Munga, a province on the west of Bornou, by the sheikh, whose authority had never been fully recognized there, and whose claim for tribute had been refused by the inhabitants.

Map of Denham and Clapperton's Journey
Gravé par E. Morieu.

Denham and Oudney left Kouka on the 22nd May, and crossed the Yeou, then nearly dried up, but an important stream in the rainy season, and visited Birnie, with the ruins of the capital of the same name, which was capable of containing two hundred thousand inhabitants. The travellers also passed through the ruins of Gambarou with its magnificent buildings, the favourite residence of the former sultan, destroyed by the Fellatahs, Kabshary, Bassecour, Bately, and many other towns or villages, whose numerous populations submitted without a struggle to the Sultan of Bornou.

The rainy season was disastrous to the members of the expedition, Clapperton fell dangerously ill of fever, and Oudney, whose chest was delicate even before he left England, grew weaker every day. Denham alone kept up. On the 14th of December, when the rainy season was drawing to a close, Clapperton and Oudney started for Kano. We shall presently relate the particulars of this interesting part of their expedition.

Seven days later, an ensign, named Toole, arrived at Kouka, after a journey from Tripoli, which had occupied only three months and fourteen days.

In February, 1824, Denham and Toole made a trip into Luggun, on the south of Lake Tchad. All the districts near the lake and its tributary, the Shari, are marshy, and flooded during the rainy season. The unhealthiness of the climate was fatal to young Toole, who died at Angala, on the 26th of February, at the early age of twenty-two. Persevering, enterprising, bright and obliging, with plenty of pluck and prudence, Toole was a model explorer.

Luggun was then very little known, its capital Kernok, contained no less than 15,000 inhabitants. The people of Luggun, especially the women—who are very industrious, and manufacture the finest linens, and fabrics of the closest texture—are handsomer and more intelligent than those of Bornou.

The necessary interview with the sultan ended, after an exchange of complimentary speeches and handsome presents, in this strange proposal from his majesty to the travellers: "If you have come to buy female slaves, you need not be at the trouble to go further, as I will sell them to you as cheap as possible." Denham had great trouble in convincing the merchant prince that such traffic was not the aim of his journey, but that the love of science alone had brought him to Luggun.

On the 2nd of March, Denham returned to Kouka, and on the 20th of May, he was witness to the arrival of Lieutenant Tyrwhitt, who had come to take up his residence as consul at the court of Bornou, bearing costly presents for the sultan.

Portrait of Clapperton
Portrait of Clapperton.
(Fac-simile of early engraving.)

After a final excursion in the direction of Manou, the capital of Kanem, and a visit to the Dogganah, who formerly occupied all the districts about Lake Fitri, the major joined Clapperton in his return journey to Tripoli, starting on the 16th of April, and arriving there in safety at the close of a long and arduous journey, whose geographical results, important in any case, had been greatly enhanced by the labours of Clapperton. To the adventures and discoveries of the latter we must now turn. Clapperton and Oudney started for Kano, a large Fellatah town on the west of Lake Tchad, on the 14th of December, 1823, followed the Yeou as far as Damasak, and visited the ruins of Birnie, and those of Bera, on the shores of a lake formed by the overflowing of the Yeou, Dogamou and Bekidarfi, all towns of Houssa. The people of this province, who were very numerous before the invasion of the Fellatahs, are armed with bows and arrows, and trade in tobacco, nuts, gouro, antimony, tanned hares' skins, and cotton stuffs in the piece and made into clothes.

The caravan soon left the banks of the Yeou or Gambarou, and entered a wooded country, which was evidently under water in the rainy season.

The travellers then entered the province of Katagoum, where the governor received them with great cordiality, assuring them that their arrival was quite an event to him, as it would be to the Sultan of the Fellatahs, who, like himself, had never before seen an Englishman. He also assured them that they would find all they required in his district, just as at Kouka.

The only thing which seemed to surprise him much, was the fact that his visitors wanted neither slaves, horses, nor silver, and that the sole proof of his friendship they required was permission to collect flowers and plants, and to travel in his country.