The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa, in the Year 1805, by Mungo Park

Chapter II.

Arrival at Jallacotta — Maheena — Tambico — Bady; hostile conduct of the Faranba, or Chief, and its consequences — Reach Jeningalla — Iron-furnaces. — Mansafara — Attacked by wolves — Enter the Tenda Wilderness — Ruins and Plain of Doofroo — Attacked by a swarm of bees — Astronomical Observations — Arrival at Sibikillin — Shea trees — Badoo; presents made to the King — Tambacunda — Ba Deema River — Tabba Gee — Mambari — Julifunda; unfriendly conduct of its Chief; and presents sent to him and the King — Visit from the latter — Reach Eercella — Baniserile — Celebrate His Majesty’s birthday — Mode of fluxing iron — Madina — Falema river — Satadoo — Sickness and death of the Carpenter — Arrival at Shrondo; commencement of the rainy season; and alarming sickness amongst the soldiers — Gold mines; process for procuring the gold — Dindikoo; gold pits — Cultivation — Arrival at Fankia.

May 18th. — We left the Nerico about half past three o’clock, and arrived at Jallacotta, the first town of Tenda, at sun-set. From this place to Simbuni in Bondou, is two days travel.

May 19th. — Halted at Jallacotta in order to purchase corn and recruit the asses. Bought plenty of onions, which made our rice eat much better. Town’s people fishing in the woods, where the pools being nearly dry, the fish are easily taken.

May 20. — Left Jallacotta, and about two miles to the east, passed the village of Maheena, close to which are the ruins of another village of the same name. It would appear from the number of ruins, that the population of Tenda is much diminished. We reached Tendico or Tambico, about eight o’clock: we could not procure a bullock, the inhabitants having very few cattle. This village belongs to Jallacotta; and the Farbana of Jallacotta is subject to the King of Woolli. About half a mile from Tambico is a pretty large town called Bady, the chief of which takes the title of Faranba, and is in a manner independent. He exacts very high duties from the coffles, to the extent of ten bars of gunpowder for each ass-load.

We sent a messenger from Tambico to inform the Faranba of our arrival, and he sent his son in the evening with twenty-six men armed with musquets, and a great crowd of people, to receive what we had to give him. Sent him ten bars of amber by our guide; but as he refused to take it, went myself with five bars of coral, which he likewise refused. Indeed I could easily perceive from the number of armed men, and the haughty manner in which they conducted themselves, that there was little prospect of settling matters in an amicable manner. I therefore tore a leaf from my pocket-book, and had written a note to Lieutenant Martyn to have the soldiers in readiness; when Mr. Anderson, hearing such a hubbub in the village, came to see what was the matter. I explained my doubts to him, and desired that the soldiers might have on their pouches and bayonets, and be ready for action at a moment’s notice. I desired Isaaco to inform him that we had as yet found no difficulty in our journey; we had readily obtained the permission of the kings of Kataba and Woolli to pass through their kingdoms, and that if he would not allow us to pass, we had then only to return to Jallacotta, and endeavour to find another road; and with this (after a good many angry words had passed between the Faranba’s people and our guide) the palaver ended.

Matters were in this state, Faranba’s son had gone over to Bady with the amber and coral, and we were preparing to return to Jallacotta early next morning, when about half past six o’clock some of Faranba’s people seized our guide’s horse, as the boy was watering it at the well, and carried it away. Isaaco went over to Bady to enquire the reason of this conduct; but instead of satisfying him on this point, they seized him, took his double barrelled gun and sword from him, tied him to a tree and flogged him; and having put his boy in irons, sent some people back to Tambico for another horse belonging to an old man that was travelling with us to Dentila. I now told two of Isaaco’s Negroes, that if they would go with me into the village, and point out the Faranba’s people (it being quite dark) who had come to take the old man’s horse, I would make the soldiers seize them, and retain them as hostages for Isaaco. They went and told this to the two chief men in the village, but they would not permit it. They were able, they said, to defend their own rights, and would not allow the horse to be taken: so after an immense hubbub and wrangling, the business at last came to blows, and the Faranba’s people were fairly kicked out of the village.

I was now a little puzzled how to act; Isaaco’s wife and child sat crying with us under the tree, his Negroes were very much dejected, and seemed to consider the matter as quite hopeless. We could have gone in the night and burnt the town. By this we should have killed a great many innocent people, and most probably should not have recovered our guide. I therefore thought it most advisable (having consulted with Mr. Anderson and Lieutenant Martyn) to wait till morning; and then, if they persisted in detaining our guide, to attack them in open day; a measure which would be more decisive, and more likely to be attended with success than any night skirmishes. We accordingly placed double sentries during the night, and made every man sleep with his loaded musquet at hand. We likewise sent two people back to Jallacotta, to inform the Dooty of the treatment we had received from Faranba, though at one of the towns belonging to the King of Woolli.

May 21st. — Early in the morning our guide was liberated, and sent back to us; and about ten o’clock a number of Faranba’s people came and told me that Faranba did not wish to quarrel with me, but could not think of allowing a coffle to pass without paying the customary tribute; but as I had refused to do that the evening before, if I would now carry over to Bady such articles as I meant to give him, every thing would be amicably settled. I told them that, after the treatment my guide had experienced, they could not expect that I would go to Bady alone; that if I went I would take twenty or thirty of my people with me. This seemed not so agreeable; and it was at last determined that the horse, &c. should be brought half way between the two villages, and delivered on receipt of the goods. I accordingly paid at different times goods to the amount of one hundred and six bars, being not quite one-third of what a coffle of Negroes would have paid. Faranba’s people still kept our guide’s gun and sword; alleging, that they were sent away in the night to Bisra, a town in the neighbourhood, but would be sent after us as soon as the person returned who had gone in quest of them. We accordingly departed from Tambico about three o’clock, and halted for the night at Jeningalla near Bufra, or Kabatenda, where I formerly slept; my former landlord brought me a large calabash of milk.

° ' "
Mer. Alt. Tambico 166 56 0
Diam. 0 32 0
-- -- --
1/2 167 28 0
-- -- --
83 44 0
-- -- --
Zenith Distance 6 16 0
Decl. 20 9 0
-- -- --
Latitude 13 53 0

May 22d. — Halted at Jeningalla to purchase corn for our asses. Went and saw some iron-furnaces; they are smaller at the top than those of Manding, thus:


The distance being very great between this place and the next water, we resolved to travel it by moonlight, and accordingly we left Jeningalla.

May 23d, at two o’clock in the morning, and at eight o’clock reached Nealo Koba. At the same place where I formerly crossed, the river is not flowing, but stands in pools, some of which are deep and swarming with fish. Oysters large, but of a greenish colour; did not eat any of them. About two o’clock resumed our journey, and at sun-set reached a small Foula village; all very much fatigued, having travelled twenty-eight miles.

May 24th. — Halted at Mansafara, which is only four miles east of the Foula village. This consists of three towns, quite contiguous to each other; and near them is a large pool of water. From this town to the village of Nittakorra on the north bank of the Gambia is only eight miles due south. Bought corn for the asses in crossing the Samakara woods, and a bullock for the people. Much lightning to the south-east, and thunder. Got all the bundles covered with grass, &c. During the night the wolves killed one of our best asses within twenty yards of the place where Mr. Anderson and I slept.

May 25th. — Left Mansafara, and entered the Tenda or Samakara wilderness. About four miles to the east passed the ruins of Koba, where I formerly slept. The town was destroyed by the Bondou people about two years ago, and the Bentang tree burnt down. At ten passed a stream like the Neaulico, running to the Gambia; and shortly after came in sight of the first range of hills, running from S. S. W. to N. N. E., we came near them; and at half past eleven halted at Sooteetabba, a watering place within a mile of the hills.

[Footnote: Called Koba Tenda in Park’s Travels, p. 353.]

° ' "
Obser. Merid. Alt. 164 45 0
-- -- --
82 22 30
0 16 0
-- -- --
82 38 30
Diff. par. and ref. 0 0 7
-- -- --
82 38 23


° ' "
Zenith Distance 7 21 37
Decl. 20 65 10
Latitude 13 33 33

Departing from Sooteetabba as soon as the heat of the day was over, we crossed the first range of hills. Mr. Anderson and I ascended the top of one of the hills, which from the amazing fine prospect all round, I have named Panorama Hill; it has a sugar-loaf looking top, with a number of wolf-holes in it. The route across the hill, though very difficult for the asses, was extremely beautiful. In the evening we descended into a romantic valley, where we found plenty of water, being one of the remote branches of Nealo Koba. There was plenty of fish in the pools; but they were too deep to catch them with the hands. Close to the stream are the ruins of the village of Doofroo, destroyed by the Dentila people some time ago. This is considered as an excellent place for shooting elephants; we saw the fresh dung and feet marks of many of them near the stream. Watched for an eclipse of Jupiter’s first satellite, but the planet became clouded.

May 26th. — At day-break ascended from the plain of Doofroo, and travelled over a rugged country, till ten o’clock, when we met a coffle (at a watering place called Sootinimma) bound for Gambia to redeem a person who had been caught for a debt, and was to be sold for a slave, if not ransomed in a few months. There being no water here, we did not halt; but continued our march, two of the soldiers being unable to keep up. The main body of the coffle still kept going on, and at half past twelve reached Bee Creek; from whence we sent back an ass and two Negroes to bring up the two fatigued soldiers.

We had no sooner unloaded the asses at the Creek, than some of Isaaco’s people, being in search of honey, unfortunately disturbed a large swarm of bees near where the coffle had halted. The bees came out in immense numbers, and attacked men and beasts at the same time. Luckily most of the asses were loose, and gallopped up the valley; but the horses and people were very much stung, and obliged to scamper in all directions. The fire which had been kindled for cooking being deserted, spread, and set fire to the bamboos; and our baggage had like to have been burnt. In fact, for half an hour the bees seemed to have completely put an end to our journey.

In the evening, when the bees became less troublesome, and we could venture to collect our cattle, we found that many of them were very much stung and swelled about the head. Three asses were missing; one died in the evening, and one next morning, and we were forced to leave one at Sibikillin; in all six: besides which, our guide lost his horse, and many of the people were very much stung about the face and hands.

During the night got the telescope ready in order to set the watch to Greenwich time by observing an emersion of the second satellite of Jupiter. Mr. Anderson took the time, and I was seated at the telescope half an hour before it happened, in order to be sure of observing it. The satellite emerged by

° ' "
Watch 11 49 16
Greenwich 11 46 30
-- -- --
Watch too fast 0 2 46
-- -- --
Emersion by Nautical Almanack 11 49 51
Equation 0 3 21
-- -- --
Mean time at Greenwich 11 46 30

Observations of the sun taken with artificial horizon and the watch the same evening, to determine the apparent time.

H. M. S. | ° '
5 57 15 | 30 24
0 58 0 | 30 14
0 58 42 | 29 43


H. M. S. | ° '
6 4 15 | 27 11
0 5 0 | 26 51
0 5 35 | 26 36


H. M. S. | ° '
6 6 54 | 25 56
0 7 34 | 25 38
0 8 13 | 25 20

Observed the meridian altitude of the sun within a mile of Bee Creek the same day;

° ' "
Altitude 164 21 0
-- -- --
82 10 30
0 16 0
-- -- --
82 26 30
-- -- --
Z.D. 7 33 23
D. 21 6 8
-- -- --
Latitude 13 32 45

Longitude 43 min. 56 sec. of time, or 10 59' West.

May 27th. — Early in the morning we set forwards, and after travelling four miles arrived at Sibikillin. Here the water which supplies the town, is collected in a deep rocky hollow. There are plenty of fish in the pool, but the natives will not eat any of them, nor allow them to be taken, imagining that the water would immediately dry up. Cautioned the soldiers against catching any of them. At night one of the town’s-people found our guide’s horse in the woods, and brought it to the town. Gave him fifteen bars of amber, and a Barraloolo, &c.

[Footnote: Shea, or vegetable Butter-tree. See Park’s Travels, p. 203, 352.]

May 28th. — At day-break set forwards, and about three miles east of Sibikillin descended into a valley, where I saw the first Shea trees, some of them loaded with fruit, but not ripe. About eleven o’clock arrived at Badoo, a small town consisting of about three hundred huts. A little north of this is another town, called likewise Badoo; but they distinguish them by the names of Sansanding and Sansanba. The Slatee or governor of each of these towns exacts customs to a great amount from all coffles, and if refused, they join together and plunder them. Judging it best to settle matters amicably, if possible, I gave him during the day the following articles; viz.

To Amar, the king’s younger brother, Bars.
Amber No. 2. 10
Coral 5
To the King of Sansanding,
Amber 10
Coral 5
Scarlet 5
Barraloolo 5
Two mirrors 2
Scarlet 5
Amber 6
To the King of Sansanba,
Amber 10
Coral 5
Scarlet 5
Barraloolo 5
To different people, Grandees 20

[Footnote: Here is a mistake of Mr. Park. The total is really 98.]

Bought a bullock for 12
And a sheep for 5


° ' "
Mer. Alt. 163 17 0
-- -- --
81 38 30
0 16 0
-- -- --
81 54 30
-- -- --
Z.D. 8 5 30
D. 21 37 30
-- -- --
Latitude 13 32 0

May 29th. — In the forenoon had an opportunity of sending two letters home to England, viâ Gambia.

In the evening left Badoo, and went to Tambacunda, about four miles east of Badoo. The river Gambia is only four miles distant, South of Badoo. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Scott went up a hill near the town, and had a fine view of it. The course is from the South–East, till it reaches the hills near Badoo; it then turns towards the South. It is called Ba Deema, or the river which is always a river, i.e. it never dries. The distance between Badoo and Laby in Foota Jalla is five days travel.

Purchased two asses.

May 30th. — Left Tambacunda, and entered the woods. Travelled very expeditiously till eleven o’clock, when we reached a watering place called Fatifing, where we found some green dirty water, so bad that nothing but necessity would have made us drink it. Halted here till half past two o’clock, when we again set forward and reached Tabba Gee just at dark: found no water. During the afternoon the country to the South hilly and beautiful. A little before we reached the halting place some drops of rain fell.

May 31st. — Left Tabba Gee at day break, and a few miles to the east passed a round lump of quartz, called by the natives Ta Kooro, or the traveller’s stone; all travellers lift up this stone and turn it round. The stone is worn quite smooth, and the iron rock on which it rests is worn hollow by this constant motion. Halted during the heat of the day at Mambari, where there is a small village built this season; the former one having been destroyed by war many years ago. Passed in the course of the forenoon two streams running towards Gambia.

° ' "
Obser. Mer. Alt. 162 43 0
1/2 81 21 30
0 16 0
81 37 30
Z.D. 8 23 30
D. 21 46 10
Latitude 13 22 40

Muianta, a hill resembling a castle, bearing by compass S. by E. is distant sixteen miles; Sambankalla bearing S., the hills of Foota Jalla bearing by compass SW. by W. SW. and SW. by S. — The town of Laby is immediately beyond those hills, which are three days travel from this place. The river Gambia comes down the opening SSW. between Muianta and the hills of Foota Jalla. The latter have nearly the appearance of Madeira when seen from the sea, but the hills are not so sharp-pointed as those of Madeira.

In the afternoon again set forwards, and four miles to the East passed the dry bed of a torrent course towards Gambia; road rocky; plenty of white quartz in detached lumps and small pieces. Travelled till quite dark, when we were forced to halt for the night at a place where there was no water; and of course we all slept supperless.

June 1st. — At day break set forwards, and at ten o’clock arrived at Julifunda, a considerable town founded by people who formerly received goods in advance from the European traders on the Gambia, Rio Nunez, and Kajaaga; the road to Bambara from these places frequently leading through this place when the other routes were stopped by war. These people, who trade on credit, are called Juli in distinction from the Slatee who trades with his own capital. Julifunda was formerly inhabited entirely by Soninkees; but the King of Foota Jalla made war on them, and obliged them, as a condition of peace, to embrace the Mahomedan religion. The town contains, I suppose, about two thousand people, including the suburbs.

In the evening sent our guide to the chief man, who is termed Mansa Kussan, and is reckoned one of the most avaricious chiefs in the whole of the road. Sent him some amber and scarlet as a present, and told him that I intended to remain one day at Julifunda in order to purchase rice.

June 2d. — Bought some corn and two ass loads of rice; presented Mansa Kussan with some amber, coral, and scarlet, with which he appeared to be perfectly satisfied, and sent a bullock in return; he even prayed for my safety, and told me that he would do his utmost to get us forwards. Bought an ass for twenty bars of amber. At four o’clock put on the loads and departed for Baniserile.

The whole of the asses were gone, and only Mr. Anderson and myself remained, having sent our guide to inform Mansa Kussan of our departure. Our guide returned, and told us that Mansa Kussan had said that, unless I gave him ten bars of all the different sorts of merchandise, he would not allow us to pass farther up the country; and if we attempted to pass without his consent, he would do his utmost to plunder us in the woods.

Recalled the people and asses, and endeavoured to settle matters in a friendly manner. Suspecting that he would not have used such language unless he had received assurances from some other towns that they would join him in attacking us, sent him some more scarlet and amber by our guide; being unwilling to go singly into the town, having received information that it was the intention of the king to detain me, with a view to make me pay handsomely for my release.

Mansa Kussan seized the money which I paid for the ass in the seller’s hands, and what evinced his hostile intentions still more, he seized the ass till such time as the palaver should be settled. I shall here give a list of the different articles of trade paid by me at different times, to Mansa Kussan at Julifunda.

Sent at first, Bars.
Amber 16
Scarlet 10
Barraloolo 10
Sent afterwards,
Amber 4
Barraloolo 5
Amber No. 1. 10
To Kussan’s brothers
Amber 2
Scarlet 2
Took with me when I went to pay my respects to him,
Amber 23
Beads 5
Looking-glass 1
Sent after the asses turned back,
Amber 23
Coral 10
Beads 10
Swords 15
Sent on the morning of the 3d of June,
A pair of pistols 20
Scarlet 10
Barraloolo 15
Bars 200

[Footnote 1: Here too there is some mistake in Park’s MS. the true total being 191.]

° ' "
Observed Mer. Alt. 162 11 0
81 5 30
0 16 0
81 21 30
Z.D. 8 38 30
D. 22 11 29
Latitude 13 33 0

June 3d — Having sent him the last present mentioned in the above list, I concluded, and was assured by the king’s brothers, that no further demands would be made; but was much surprised when our guide and the king’s brothers told me on their return that I must send ten bars of gunpowder and ten of flints. Here I determined to put an end to the business; and told the king’s brothers that I considered myself as having paid the king very well for passing through his territory; that I would neither give him a single charge of gunpowder nor a flint; and if he refused to allow me to pass, I would go without his permission; and if his people attempted to obstruct us we would do our utmost to defend ourselves. The king’s brothers and some of the old Bushreens insisted on my sending the gunpowder or some other goods of equal value; but I assured them that Europeans would much rather run the risque of being plundered in a hostile manner than have their goods (which were brought to purchase provisions) extorted from them by such exorbitant demands. After going backwards and forwards to the king, his Majesty was pleased to say he was satisfied; and what surprised me, said that he was coming to pay us a friendly visit in the afternoon. He accordingly paid us a visit, attended by a parcel of parasites and singing women. Offered me a few Cola nuts, which I desired our guide to take and eat; he likewise told me that I should have a guide to Baniserile.

June 4th. — Early in the morning departed, and having passed the village Eercella, remarkable for a grove of large Sitta trees, about one o’clock arrived at Baniserile, and halted under a tree near the wells. This being His Majesty’s birth day, pitched one of the tents, purchased a bullock and a calf for the soldiers: in the afternoon had them drawn up, and fired; and made it as much a day of festivity as our circumstances would permit; and though we were under the necessity of drinking His Majesty’s health in water from our canteens, yet few of his subjects wished more earnestly for the continuance of his life and the prosperity of his reign.

Baniserile is a Mahometan town; the chief man, Fodi Braheima, is one of the most friendly men I have met with. I gave him a copy of the New Testament in Arabic, with which he seemed very much pleased.

June 5th. — Employed in purchasing rice, having received information that there was a great scarcity of that article to the eastwards. Bought the rice both here and at Julifunda with small amber No. 5; and I found that though a scarcity existed almost to famine, I could purchase a pound of clean rice for one bead of amber, value 2d. sterling.

Purchased three ass loads, and on the 6th purchased two ass loads more, making in all 750lb. of rice. This day one of our guide’s people went away to purchase slaves at Laby in Foota Jalla, distant three long days travel. The people here assured me it was only three days travel from Badoo to Laby. Had a squall with thunder and rain during the night. As the loads were put into the tent, they were not wetted, but one of our carpenters, (old James,) who had been sick of the dysentery ever since we crossed the Nerico, and was recovering, became greatly worse. Observed mer. alt. of 0 161 8’ latitude 13 35’.

Dentila is famous for its iron; the flux used for smelting the iron is the ashes of the bark of the Kino tree. These ashes are as white as flour: they are not used in dying blue, and must therefore have something peculiar in them. I tasted them: they did not appear to me to have so much alkali as the mimosa ashes, but had an austere taste. The people told me, if I eat them, I would certainly die.

June 7th. — Departed early in the morning, and as the carpenter before mentioned was very weak, appointed two soldiers to stay by him, and assist him in mounting, and to drive his ass. Four miles east of Baniserile came to the brow of a hill, from which we had an extensive prospect eastwards. A square looking hill, supposed to be the hill near Dindikoo, in Konkodoo, bore by compass due East.

[Illustration: Untitled cut]

Shortly after crossed the bed of a stream running towards the Faleme river, called Samakoo on account of the vast herds of elephants which wash themselves in it during the rains.

[Illustration: Map]

Saw their foot marks very frequently, and fresh dung. Heard a lion roar not far from us. This day the asses travelled very ill on account of their having eaten fresh grass, as we supposed.

Obliged to load the horses, and at noon halted at a large pool of water in the bed of the Samakoo, called Jananga.

From the time of our crossing the Samakoo to our halting place, we travelled without any road; our guide being apprehensive that as there existed a war a little to the south, and the people were in arms; they might attempt to cut off some of the fatigued asses in our rear.

In the afternoon resumed our march, and travelled without any road over a wild and rocky country. Obliged to leave two of the asses on the road, and load all the horses. We did not reach the watering place till quite dark, and were obliged to fire muskets frequently to prevent us from straying from each other.

June 8th. — Early in the morning resumed our march, and about two miles to the east came to the brow of a hill, from whence we could distinguish the course of the Faleme river by the range of dark green trees which grew on its borders. The carpenter unable to sit upright, and frequently threw himself from the ass, wishing to be left to die. Made two of the soldiers carry him by force and hold him on the ass. At noon reached Madina, and halted by the side of the Faleme river; which at this season is a little discoloured by the rain, but not sensibly swelled. The general course of this river as pointed out by the natives is from the south-east quarter; the distance to its source is six ordinary days travel. The bed of the river here is rocky, except at the crossing place, where it is a mixture of sand and gravel. The river abounds in fish, some of them very large: we saw several plunge and leap that appeared to be so large as to weigh 60 or 70 lb. The velocity of the stream is about four knots per hour.

In the afternoon got all the bundles carried over, and up the opposite bank, which very much fatigued the soldiers. When every thing was carried over, I found the carpenter still more weakly and apparently dying. I therefore thought it best to leave him at Madina till the morning following. Went to the village, and hired a hut for him for six bars of amber, and gave the Dooty four bars, desiring him to make some of his people assist the soldier (whom I left to take care of the sick person) in burying him, if he died during the night. In the evening went to Satadoo, which is only one mile east of the river. As there was great appearance of rain, put all the baggage into one, and slept on the top of the bundles, leaving the other tent for the soldiers. We had a heavy tornado with much thunder and lightning.

June 9th. — In the morning the soldier, who had been left to take care of the sick man, returned; and informed us that he died at eight o’clock the preceding evening; and that with the assistance of the Negroes he had buried him in the place where the people of the village bury their dead. Purchased corn for the asses, and a large bullock for the people; likewise one ass.

Went into the town in the evening, and presented the Dooty with six bars, requesting a guide to Shrondo, which he readily granted. Satadoo is walled round, and contains about three hundred huts: it was formerly much larger. Observed mer. alt. sun 160° 6’; observed mer. alt. Jupiter 116 36’.

Five of the soldiers, who did not go into the tent, but staid under the tree during the rain, complained much of headache and uneasiness at stomach.

June 10th. The soldiers still sickly. Left Satadoo at sun-rise: several of our canteens stolen during the night. This forenoon we travelled for more than two miles over white quartz, large lumps of which were lying all round; no other stone to be seen. Carried forwards a large skinful of water, being uncertain whether we should find any on the road. At eleven o’clock reached the bed of a stream flowing to the left, called Billalla, where we found some muddy water.

Resumed our journey at half past three o’clock, and travelled over a hard rocky soil towards the mountains; many of the asses very much fatigued. The front of the coffle reached Shrondo at sunset; but being in the rear I had to mount one of the sick men on my horse, and assist in driving the fatigued asses: so that I did not reach the halting place till eight o’clock, and was forced to leave four asses in the woods. Shrondo is but a small town. We halted as usual under a tree at a little distance; and before we could pitch one of the tents, we were overtaken by a very heavy tornado, which wet us all completely. In attempting to fasten up one of the tents to a branch of the tree, had my hat blown away, and lost. The ground all round was covered with water about three inches deep. We had another tornado about two o’clock in the morning. The tornado which took place on our arrival, had an instant effect on the health of the soldiers, and proved to us, to be the beginning of sorrow. I had proudly flattered myself that we should reach the Niger with a very moderate loss; we had had two men sick of the dysentery; one of them recovered completely on the march, and the other would doubtless have recovered, had he not been wet by the rain at Baniserile. But now the rain had set in, and I trembled to think that we were only halfway through our journey. The rain had not commenced three minutes before many of the soldiers were affected with vomiting; others fell asleep, and seemed as if half intoxicated. I felt a strong inclination to sleep during the storm; and as soon as it was over I fell asleep on the wet ground, although I used every exertion to keep myself awake. The soldiers likewise fell asleep on the wet bundles.

June 11th. — Twelve of the soldiers sick. Went and waited on the Dooty, and presented him with five bars of amber, and two of beads, requesting his permission to go and look at the gold mines, which I understood were in the vicinity. Having obtained his permission, I hired a woman to go with me, and agreed to pay her a bar of amber if she would shew me a grain of gold. We travelled about half a mile west of the town, when we came to a small meadow spot of about four or five acres extent, in which were several holes dug resembling wells. They were in general about ten or twelve feet deep; towards the middle of the meadow spot the holes were deepest, and shallower towards the sides. Their number was about thirty, besides many old ones which had sunk down. Near the mouths of these pits were several other shallow pits, lined with clay, and full of rain water: between the mine pits and these wash pits laid several heaps of sandy gravel. On the top of each was a stone; some of the stones white, others red, others black, &c. These serve to distinguish each person’s property. I could see nothing peculiar in this gravel; some silicious pebbles as large as a pigeon’s egg, pieces of white and reddish quartz, iron stone, and killow, and a soft friable yellow stone, which crumbled to pieces by the fingers, were the chief minerals that I could distinguish. Besides the above there was a great portion of sand, and a yellow earth resembling till.

The woman took about half a pound of gravel with one hand from the heap, which I suppose belonged to her; and having put it into a large calabash, threw a little water on it with a small calabash; which two calabashes are all that are necessary for washing gold. The quantity of water was only sufficient to cover the sand about one inch. She then crumbled the sand to pieces, and mixt it with the water; this she did not in a rotatory manner, but by pulling her hands towards herself, as shewn in the following sketch.


She then threw out all the large pebbles, looking on the ground where she threw them, for fear of throwing out a piece of gold. Having done this, she gave the sand and water a rotatory motion, so as to make a part of the sand and water fly over the brim of the calabash. While she did this with her right hand, with her left she threw out of the centre of the vortex a portion of sand and water at every revolution. She then put in a little fresh water, and as the quantity of sand was now much diminished, she held the calabash in an oblique direction, and made the sand move slowly round on the line AB, while she constantly agitated it with a quick motion in the direction CD.


I now observed a quantity of black matter, resembling gunpowder, which she told me was gold rust; and before she had moved the sand one quarter round the calabash, she pointed to a yellow speck, and said, sanoo affilli, see the gold. On looking attentively I saw a portion of pure gold, and took it out. It would have weighed about one grain. The whole of the washing, from the first putting in of the sand till she shewed me the gold, did not exceed the space of two minutes. I now desired her to take a larger portion. She put in, as nearly as I could guess, about two pounds; and having washed it in the same manner, and nearly in the same time, found no fewer than twenty-three particles; some of them were very small. In both cases I observed that the quantity of sanoo mira, or gold rust, was at least forty times greater than the quantity of gold. She assured me that they sometimes found pieces of gold as large as her fist. I could not ascertain the quantity of gold washed here in one year; but I believe it must be considerable, though they wash only during the beginning and end of the rains. Gold is sold here, and all along our route, by the minkalli: six teelee kissi (a sort of bean, the fruit of a large tree) make one minkalli: the weight of six teelee kissi is exactly [dram] & [scruple]. In Kaarta they use a small bean called jabee kissi, twenty-four of which make one minkalli; a jabee kissi weighs exactly four grains. In Kasson, twelve small tamarind stones make one minkalli, which I believe is the heaviest minkalli in this part of Africa. If gold is purchased with amber, one bead of No. 4 will, in almost all cases, purchase one teelee kissi: but it can be purchased with more advantage with beads or scarlet, and still more so with gunpowder. I did not purchase any; but our guide bought a considerable quantity, and I was present at all his bargain-making.

Went in the afternoon to see a brother of Karfa Taura’s; he had a very large collection of Arabic books, and I made him quite happy by adding an Arabic New Testament to the number.

June 12th. — Left Shrondo early in the morning; the sick being unable to walk, I gave them all the horses and spare asses. Travelled slowly along the bottom of the Konkodoo mountains, which are very steep precipices of rock, from eighty to two or three hundred feet high. We reached Dindikoo at noon; at which time it came on a tornado so rapidly, that we were forced to carry our bundles into the huts of the natives; this being the first time the coffle had entered a town since leaving Gambia. As soon as the rain was over, went with Mr. Anderson to see the gold pits which are near this town. The pits are dug exactly in the same manner as at Shrondo; a section of the pit would have this appearance.


The notches in the side of the pit serve as a ladder to descend by. The gravel here is very coarse; some round stones larger than a man’s head, and a vast number larger than one’s fist were lying round the mouths of the pits, which were near twenty in number. Near the pits is a stream of water, and as the banks had been scraped away to wash for gold, I could distinguish a stratum of earth and large stones about ten feet thick, and under this a stratum of two feet of ferruginous pebbles about the size of a pigeon’s egg, and a yellow and rusty-coloured sand and earth; under this a stratum of tough white clay. The rusty-coloured sand is that in which the gold is found. Saw plenty of the gold rust.

When I returned from the gold pits, I went with Mr. Scott to go to the top of the hill, which is close to the town. The hill was very steep and rocky. The rocks (like all the hills in Konkodoo) are a coarse reddish granite, composed of red feldspar, white quartz, and black shorl; but it differs from any granite I have seen, in having round smooth pebbles, many of them as large as a cannon shot. These pebbles, when broken, are granite, but of a paler colour and closer texture. The day was cool; but after fatiguing ourselves and resting six times, we found that we were only about half way to the top. We were surprised to find the hill cultivated to the very summits; and though the people of Dindikoo were but preparing their fields, the corn on the hill was six inches high. The villages on these mountains are romantic beyond anything I ever saw. They are built in the most delightful glens of the mountains; they have plenty of water and grass at all seasons; they have cattle enough for their own use, and their superfluous grain purchases all their luxuries; and while the thunder rolls in awful grandeur over their heads, they can look from their tremendous precipices over all that wild and woody plain which extends from the Faleme to the Black River. This plain is in extent, from North to South, about forty miles: the range of hills to the South seem to run in the same direction as those of Konkodoo, viz. from East to West. There are no lions on the hills, though they are very numerous in the plain. In the evening Lieutenant Martyn fell sick of the fever.

June 13th. — Early in the morning departed from Dindikoo. The sick occupied all the horses and spare asses; and as the number of drivers was thus diminished, we had very hard work to get on. Ten of the loaded asses and drivers went a different road. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Scott being with them, fired their muskets as soon as they observed that the guide was leading them in a road where were no asses’ foot marks. Answered them; and sent the serjeant to their assistance. In half an hour they came up, having gone about three miles too much to the right. Reached a village almost deserted about one o’clock, and found the coffle halted by a stream to the east of it. Very uneasy about our situation: half of the people being either sick of the fever or unable to use great exertion, and fatigued in driving the asses. Found, to my great mortification, that the ass which carried the telescope and several other things, was not come up. Mr. Anderson, the serjeant, and our guide rode back about five miles in search of it; but returned at half past three o’clock, without being able to find it. Presented the Dooty of the village with five bars of amber; requesting him, if he heard of it, to send it forward, and I would reward him for it. Put on the loads; and part of the coffle had departed, when one of the Dooty’s sons came and told us that he had seen the ass, and brought it to the village. Went to the village, and paid the person who found it twenty bars, and the Dooty ten bars. Mounted the load on my horse, and drove it before me. I did not reach Fankia till seven o’clock; having to walk slow, in order to coax on three sick soldiers who had fallen behind, and were for lying down under every tree they passed. Fankia is a small village, four miles North West from Binlingalla. Here we departed from my former route, and did not touch on it again till we reached the Niger.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59