THE EXPLORATION AND COLONIZATION OF AFRICA, II
Clapperton's second journey—Arrival at Badagry—Yariba and its capital Katunga—Boussa—Attempts to get at the truth about Mungo Park's fate—"Nyffé," Yaourie, and Zegzeg—Arrival at Kano—Disappointments—Death of Clapperton—Return of Lander to the coast—Tuckey on the Congo—Bowditch in Ashantee—Mollien at the sources of the Senegal and Gambia—Major Grey—Caillié at Timbuctoo—Laing at the sources of the Niger—Richard and John Lander at the mouth of the Niger—Cailliaud and Letorzec in Egypt, Nubia, and the oasis of Siwâh.
So soon as Clapperton arrived in England, he submitted to Lord Bathurst his scheme for going to Kouka viâ the Bight of Benin—in other words by the shortest way, a route not attempted by his predecessors—and ascending the Niger from its mouth to Timbuctoo.
In this expedition three others were associated with Clapperton, who took the command. These three were a surgeon named Dickson, Pearce, a ship's captain, and Dr. Morrison, also in the merchant service; the last-named well up in every branch of natural history.
On the 26th November, 1825, the expedition arrived in the Bight of Benin. For some reason unexplained, Dickson had asked permission to make his way to Sockatoo alone and he landed for that purpose at Whydah. A Portuguese named Songa, and Colombus, Denham's servant, accompanied him as far as Dahomey. Seventeen days after he left that town, Dickson reached Char, and a little later Yaourie, beyond which place he was never traced.
The other explorers sailed up the Bight of Benin, and were warned by an English merchant named Houtson, not to attempt the ascent of the Quorra, as the king of the districts watered by it had conceived an intense hatred of the English, on account of their interference with the slave-trade, the most remunerative branch of his commerce.
It would be much better, urged Houtson, to go to Badagry, no great distance from Sackatoo, the chief of which, well-disposed as he was to travellers, would doubtless give them an escort as far as the frontiers of Yariba. Houtson had lived in the country many years, and was well acquainted with the language and habits of its people. Clapperton, therefore, thought it desirable to attach him to the expedition as far as Katunga, the capital of Yariba.
The expedition disembarked at Badagry, on the 29th November, 1825, ascended an arm of the Lagos, and then, for a distance of two miles, the Gazie creek, which traverses part of Dahomey. Descending the left bank, the explorers began their march into the interior of the country, through districts consisting partly of swamps and partly of yam plantations. Everything indicated fertility. The negroes were very averse to work, and it would be impossible to relate the numerous "palavers" and negotiations which had to be gone through, and the exactions which were submitted to, before porters could be obtained.
The explorers succeeded, in spite of these difficulties, in reaching Jenneh, sixty miles from the coast. Here Clapperton tells us he saw several looms at work, as many as eight or nine in one house, a regular manufactory in fact. The people of Jenneh also make earthenware, but they prefer that which they get from Europe, often putting the foreign produce to uses for which it was never intended.
At Jenneh the travellers were all attacked with fever, the result of the great heat and the unhealthiness of the climate. Pearce and Morrison both died on the 27th December, the former soon after he left Jenneh with Clapperton, the latter at that town, to which he had returned to rest.
At Assondo, a town of no less than 10,000 inhabitants; Daffou, containing some 5000, and other places visited by Clapperton on his way through the country, he found that an extraordinary rumour had preceded him, to the effect that he had come to restore peace to the districts distracted by war, and to do good to the lands he explored.
At Tchow the caravan met a messenger with a numerous escort, sent by the King of Yariba to meet the explorers, and shortly afterwards Katunga was entered. This town is built round the base of a rugged granite mountain. It is about three miles in extent, and is both framed in and planted with bushy trees presenting a most picturesque appearance.
|"The caravan met a messenger."|
Clapperton remained at Katunga from the 24th January to the 7th March, 1826. He was entertained there with great hospitality by the sultan, who, however, refused to give him permission to go to Houssa and Bornou by way of Nyffé or Toppa, urging as reasons that Nyffé was distracted by civil war, and one of the pretenders to the throne had called in the aid of the Fellatahs. It would be more prudent to go through Yaourie. Whether these excuses were true or not, Clapperton had to submit.
The explorer availed himself of his detention at Katunga to make several interesting observations. This town contains no less than seven markets, in which are exposed for sale yams, cereals, bananas, figs, the seeds of gourds, hares, poultry, sheep, lambs, linen cloth, and various implements of husbandry.
The houses of the king and those of his wives are situated in two large parks. The doors and the pillars of the verandahs are adorned with fairly well executed carvings, representing such scenes as a boa killing an antelope, or a pig, or a group of warriors and drummers.