THE EXPLORATION AND COLONIZATION OF AFRICA, I
The town is very unhealthy, the swamps cutting it in two, and the holes produced by the removal of the earth for building, produce permanent malaria.
It is the fashion at Kano to stain the teeth and limbs with the juice of a plant called gourgi, and with tobacco, which produces a bright red colour. Gouro nuts are chewed, and sometimes even swallowed when mixed with trona, a habit not peculiar to Houssa, for it extends to Bornou, where it is strictly forbidden to women. The people of Houssa smoke a native tobacco.
On the 23rd of February, Clapperton started for Sackatoo. He crossed a picturesque well-cultivated country, whose wooded hills gave it the appearance of an English park. Herds of beautiful white or dun-coloured oxen gave animation to the scenery.
The most important places passed en route by Clapperton were Gadania, a densely populated town, the inhabitants of which had been sold as slaves by the Fellatahs, Doncami, Zirmia, the capital of Gambra, Kagaria, Kouari, and the wells of Kamoun, where he met an escort sent by the sultan.
Sackatoo was the most thickly populated city that the explorer had seen in Africa. Its well-built houses form regular streets, instead of clustering in groups as in the other towns of Houssa. It is surrounded by a wall between twenty and thirty feet high, pierced by twelve gates, which are closed every evening at sunset, and it boasts of two mosques, with a market and a large square opposite to the sultan's residence.
The inhabitants, most of whom are Fellatahs, own many slaves; and the latter, those at least who are not in domestic service, work at some trade for their masters' profit. They are weavers, masons, blacksmiths, shoemakers, or husbandmen.
To do honour to his host, and also to give him an exalted notion of the power and wealth of England, Clapperton assumed a dazzling costume when he paid his first visit to Sultan Bello. He covered his uniform with gold lace, donned white trousers and silk stockings, and completed this holiday attire by a Turkish turban and slippers. Bello received him, seated on a cushion in a thatched hut like an English cottage. The sultan, a handsome man, about forty-five years old, wore a blue cotton tobe and a white cotton turban, one end of which fell over his nose and mouth in Turkish fashion.
Bello accepted the traveller's presents with childish glee. The watch, telescope, and thermometer, which he naively called a "heat watch," especially delighted him; but he wondered more at his visitor than at any of his gifts. He was unwearied in his questions as to the manners, customs, and trade of England; and after receiving several replies, he expressed a wish to open commercial relations with that power. He would like an English consul and a doctor to reside in a port he called Raka, and finally he requested that certain articles of English manufacture should be sent to Funda, a very thriving sea-port of his. After a good many talks on the different religions of Europe, Bello gave back to Clapperton the books, journals, and clothes which had been taken from Denham, at the time of the unfortunate excursion in which Boo-Khaloum lost his life.
On the 3rd May, Clapperton took leave of the sultan. This time there was a good deal of delay before he was admitted to an audience. Bello was alone, and gave the traveller a letter for the King of England, with many expressions of friendship towards the country of his visitor, reiterating his wish to open commercial relations with it and begging him to let him have a letter to say when the English expedition promised by Clapperton would arrive on the coast of Africa.
Clapperton returned by the route by which he had come, arriving on the 8th of July at Kouka, where he rejoined Denham. He had brought with him an Arab manuscript containing a geographical and historical picture of the kingdom of Takrour, governed by Mahommed Bello of Houssa, author of the manuscript. He himself had not only collected much valuable information on the geology and botany of Bornou and Houssa, but also drawn up a vocabulary of the languages of Begharmi, Mandara, Bornou, Houssa, and Timbuctoo.
The results of the expedition were therefore considerable. The Fellatahs had been heard of for the first time, and their identity with the Fans had been ascertained by Clapperton in his second journey. It had been proved that these Fellatahs had created a vast empire in the north and west of Africa, and also that beyond a doubt they did not belong to the negro race. The study of their language, and its resemblance to certain idioms not of African origin, will some day throw a light on the migration of races. Lastly, Lake Tchad had been discovered, and though not entirely examined, the greater part of its shores had been explored. It had been ascertained to have two tributaries: the Yeou, part of whose course had been traced, whilst its source had been pointed out by the natives, and the Shari, the mouth and lower portion of which had been carefully examined by Denham. With regard to the Niger, the information collected by Clapperton from the natives was still very contradictory, but the balance of evidence was in favour of its flowing into the Gulf of Benin. However, Clapperton intended, after a short rest in England, to return to Africa, and landing on the western coast make his way up the Kouara or Djoliba as the natives call the Niger; to set at rest once for all the dispute as to whether that river was or was not identical with the Nile; to connect his new discoveries with those of Denham, and lastly to cross Africa, taking a diagonal course from Tripoli to the Gulf of Benin.