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

Chapter V.

Departure from Koolihori — Ganifarra — Scarcity of provisions — Distressing situation of the Author from deaths and sickness of the party — Escapes from three lions — Intricate route to Koomikoomi — Dombila — Visit from Karfa Taura — View of the Niger — Reduced state of the party — Bambakoo — Losses from wolves — Bosradoo; embark on the Niger; incidents in the voyage to Marraboo — Isaaco sent to Sego with presents for Mansong — Message from Mansong — Course to Koolikorro — Deena — Yamina — Samee — Return of Isaaco; account of his interview with Mansong — Messengers sent by Mansong, and enquiries respecting the Author’s journey — Quit Samee — Excessive heat — Reach Sansanding — Account of that city and its trade — Death of Mr. Anderson — Preparations for continuing the voyage eastward — Information collected respecting various districts.

August 6th. — Having hired two more ass drivers at one bar and their victuals per day, we left Koolihori early in the morning, and travelled with considerable dispatch till three o’clock; at which time we reached Ganifarra, a small beggarly village. In the course of this march L. Cakill and J. Bird, two of the soldiers, and William Cox, one of the seamen, fell behind, and laid down. As soon as the front of the coffle had reached Ganifarra, it came on a very heavy rain. Being in the rear I was completely drenched; and two of the asses carrying four trunks, in which were the gun stocks, pistols, looking glasses, &c. fell down in a stream of water near the town, and all the contents were completely wet. I could purchase nothing here, not so much as a fowl. Served out a short allowance of rice, being very short of that article.

August 7th. — During the night, some person had stolen one of our best asses; and as the load must be left if we could not recover it, Isaaco’s people having traced the foot marks to a considerable distance, agreed to go in search of it. Isaaco gave them the strictest orders, if they came up to the thief in the woods to shoot him; and, if not, to follow him to a town and demand the ass from the Dooty; if he refused to give it up, to return as soon as possible.

Spent the day in drying such things as were wet; cleaned and greased with Shea butter all the ornamented pistols, ten pair. Dried the looking glasses, which were quite spoiled. In the afternoon sent two of the natives away with goods to a neighbouring town to purchase rice and corn. At sun-set Bird came up, but had seen nothing of Cox nor Cahill.

August 8th. — People not yet returned. Opened the trunk which contained the double barrelled gun stocks; cleaned and greased them. About noon people returned with the rice and corn, but not quite sufficient for one day. Nearly at the same time Isaaco’s people came up with the ass; they had traced his foot-marks past Koolihori, and found him at Balandoo. Did not see the thief, but learned his name; which Isaaco promised to write to his friend at Bangassi, to inform Serinummo of him. In the afternoon agreed with the Dooty for thirty five bars to carry every thing over. Rained heavily all the evening.

August 9th. — Michael May, a soldier, having died during the night, buried him at day break. Had all the loads taken to the crossing place by eight o’clock. The Ba Woolli is nearly of the same size as the one we formerly crossed of that name; it appeared to be exceedingly deep, and flowed at the rate of four or five miles per hour. There is a very good canoe here, which can carry over four ass loads at once. As it threatened rain, sent over three men with one of the tents, and pitched it on the East side about half a mile from the river; the ground near the bank being marshy. Hired people to carry down the bundles, and put them into the canoe; and others to receive them on the other side, and carry them up the bank; so that the soldiers had nothing to move, being all weak and sickly.

By one o’clock all the baggage was over; but we found some difficulty in transporting the asses; the rapidity of the stream swept the canoe and the first six past the landing place; and they went so far down the river, that I really thought the asses must be drowned; which would have been an irreparable loss in our situation. However, by the exertions of the Negroes, who swam in with ropes to the canoe, the asses were landed on the other side; where they stood by the water’s edge until the Negroes with their corn hoes made a path for them up the steep bank. To prevent such an accident, we took the ropes from several of our loads, and fastened them together, so as to reach across the river; with this we hauled over the loaded canoe, and the Negroes paddled it back when empty. In this manner all the asses and horses were swam over without any loss.

When the bundles were all carried up to the tent, we found that we had not more rice than was barely sufficient for the present day; and as no more could be purchased, we had no alternative, but to march early in the morning for Bambarra; the distance by all accounts would not exceed fourteen or fifteen miles.

August 10th. — William Ashton declared that he was unable to travel; but as there was no place to leave him at, I advised him to make an exertion and come on, though slowly, till he should reach a place where he could have food. At eight o’clock set forwards; and travelled very expeditiously without halting till four in the afternoon, at which time the front of the coffle reached Dababoo, a village of Bambarra. Being in the rear, I found many of the men very much fatigued with the length of the journey and the heat of the day. At half past four I arrived with the ass I drove at a stream flowing to the Westwards.

Here I found many of the soldiers sitting, and Mr. Anderson lying under a bush, apparently dying. Took him on my back, and carried him across the stream, which came up to my middle. Carried over the load of the ass which I drove, got over the ass, Mr. Anderson’s horse, &c. Found myself much fatigued, having crossed the stream sixteen times. Left here four soldiers with their asses, being unable to carry over their loads. Having loaded my ass and put Mr. Anderson on his horse, we went on to the village; but was sorry to find that no rice could be had, and I was only able to buy one solitary fowl.

August 11th. — Bought a small bullock of the Moorish breed for one barraloolo; and having purchased some corn, had it cleaned and dressed for the people instead of rice. This morning hired Isaaco’s people to go back, and bring up the loads of the soldiers who had halted by the side of the stream. In the course of the day all the loads arrived; but was sorry to find that in the course of the last two marches we had lost four men, viz. Cox, Cahill, Bird, and Ashton. Mr. Anderson still in a very dangerous way, being unable to walk or sit upright. Mr. Scott much recovered. I found that I must here leave one load, one of the horses being quite finished. Left the seine nets in charge of the Dooty, till I should send for them.

August 12th. — Rained all the morning. About eleven o’clock, the sky being clear, loaded the asses. None of the Europeans being able to lift a load, Isaaco made the Negroes load the whole. Saddled Mr. Anderson’s horse; and having put a sick soldier on mine, took Mr. Anderson’s horse by the bridle, that he might have no trouble but sitting upright on the saddle. We had not gone far before I found one of the asses with a load of gunpowder, the driver (Dickinson) being unable to proceed (I never heard of him afterwards); and shortly after the sick man dismounted from my horse, and laid down by a small pool of water, refusing to rise. Drove the ass and horse on before me. Passed a number of sick. At half past twelve o’clock Mr. Anderson declared he could ride no farther. Took him down and laid him in the shade of a bush, and sat down beside him. At half past two o’clock he made another attempt to proceed; but had not rode above an hundred yards before I had to take him down from the saddle, and lay him again in the shade. I now gave up all thoughts of being able to carry him forwards till the cool of the evening; and having turned the horses and ass to feed, I sat down to watch the pulsations of my dying friend. At four o’clock four of the sick came up; three of them agreed to take charge of the ass with the gunpowder; and I put a fourth, who had a sore leg, on my horse, telling him if he saw Mr. Scott on the road to give him the horse.

At half past five o’clock, there being a fine breeze from the South West; Mr. Anderson agreed to make another attempt, and having again placed him on the saddle, I led the horse on pretty smartly in hopes of reaching Koomikoomi before dark. We had not proceeded above a mile, before we heard on our left a noise very much like the barking of a large mastiff, but ending in a hiss like the fuf [Footnote: Thus is Mr. Park’s MS] of a cat. I thought it must be some large monkey; and was observing to Mr. Anderson “what a bouncing fellow that must be,” when we heard another bark nearer to us, and presently a third still nearer, accompanied with a growl. I now suspected that some wild animal meant to attack us, but could not conjecture of what species it was likely to be. We had not proceeded an hundred yards farther, when coming to an opening in the bushes, I was not a little surprised to see three lions coming towards us. They were not so red as the lion I formerly saw in Barnbarra, [Footnote: Park’s Travels, p. 208] but of a dusky colour, like the colour of an ass. They were very large, and came bounding over the long grass, not one after another, but all abreast of each other. I was afraid, if I allowed them to come too near us, and my piece should miss fire, that we should be all devoured by them. I therefore let go the bridle, and walked forwards to meet them. As soon as they were within a long shot of me, I fired at the centre one. I do not think I hit him; but they all stopt, looked at each other, and then bounded away a few paces, when one of them stopt, and looked back at me. I was too busy in loading my piece to observe their motions as they went away, and was very happy to see the last of them march slowly off amongst the bushes. We had not proceeded above half a mile farther, when we heard another bark and growl close to us amongst the bushes. This was doubtless one of the lions before seen, and I was afraid they would follow us till dark, when they would have too many opportunities of springing on us unawares. I therefore got Mr. Anderson’s call, and made as loud a whistling and noise as possible. We heard no more of them.

Just at dark we descended into a valley where was a small stream of water; but the ascent on the opposite side was through a species of broken ground, which I have never seen any where but in Africa. It is of the following nature. A stratum of stiff yellow clay fourteen or twenty feet thick, (which, unless when it rains, is as hard as rock) is washed by the annual rains into fissures of a depth equal to the thickness of the stratum. There is no vegetation on these places, except on the summit or original level. Amongst these horrid gullies I unfortunately lost sight of the footmarks of the asses which had gone before; and finding no way to get out, led the horse up a very steep place in order to gain the original level, hoping there to find the foot path. But unluckily the ground was all broken as far as I could see; and after travelling some little way, we came to a gulley which we could not cross; and finding no possibility of moving without the danger of being killed by falling into some of these ravines, or over some precipice, I thought it advisable to halt till the morning. On this rugged summit we fell in with Jonas Watkins, one of the sick; and with his assistance I lighted a fire. Wrapped Mr. Anderson in his cloak, and laid him down beside it. Watched all night to keep the fire burning, and prevent our being surprised by the lions, which we knew were at no great distance. About two o’clock in the morning two more of the sick joined us. Mr. Anderson slept well during the night, and as soon as day dawned,

August 13th, — having found the footmarks of the asses, and having with difficulty even in day light traced our way through this labyrinth, we found Mr. Scott and three more of the sick. They too had lost their way, and had slept about half a mile to the East of us. We reached Koomikoomi at ten o’clock. This is an unwalled village, but surrounded with extensive corn fields.

August 13th. — Halted; rested at Koomikoomi

August 14th. — Jonas Watkins died this morning; buried him. Halted here to day to see which way Mr. Anderson’s fever was likely to terminate; and in the mean time sent two loaded asses forward to Doombila, the asses to return in the evening and carry loads tomorrow morning.

° ' "
Obser. Mer. Alt. 177 7 0
0 32 0
-- -- --
177 39 0
-- -- --
88 49 0-1/2
-- -- --
Z D. 1 11 0
D. 14 8 0
-- -- --
Latitude 12 57 0 [*]
-- -- --

[Footnote *: Mr. Park took a wrong day’s declination, i.e. the 15th instead of the 14th. It should be,

° ' "
ZD. 1 11 0
Dec. 14 27 29
-- -- --
Latitude 13 16 29
-- -- --


It is a common observation of the Negroes, that when the Indian corn is in blossom the rain stops for eleven days. The stopping of the rain 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 force.

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 seen.

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 mahogany.

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 o’clock.

Time. Course. Objects. Bearing. Distance.
3.10 E. 1/2 N. The North extreme of the South hills. E.
Little hump on South hills. E.S.E.
Cubic hill on North side. E. by N. Distant 12 or 14 miles.
0 25 E. by N.
0 30 E. N. E.
0 45 E. 1/2 S.
4 00 E.
0 45 E. by N. 1/2 W.
5 00 N. E. Cubic hill. N. Distant 1/4 of a mile.
0 10 Halted for the 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
-- -- --
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 water.

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
-- -- --
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
-- -- --
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 country.”

(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 had never said he wished to see me, and because I could live quieter and freer from begging than at Sego. I therefore sent down the bullocks by land to Sansanding.

September 26th. We departed from Samee. The canoes were not covered with mats; and there being no wind, the sun became insufferably hot. I felt myself affected with a violent head-ach, which encreased to such a degree as to make me almost delirious. I never felt so hot a day; there was sensible heat sufficient to have roasted a sirloin; but the thermometer was in a bundle in the other canoe, so that I could not ascertain the actual heat. We passed down a small stream to the north of Sego Korro, and halted opposite to Segosee Korro, near the sand hills, where I formerly waited for a passage. We waited here about an hour for Isaaco, who had gone to Segosee Korro to inform Mansong of our passing. When Isaaco returned, he made a sort of shade over our canoe with four sticks and a couple of cloaks; and in the evening I found myself more collected and less feverish. At sun-set we rowed towards the north bank, where there are some flat rocks, on which passengers by water often sleep. We found the place occupied by a number of people. I counted between thirty and forty fires; we therefore passed on a little to the Eastwards, and slept on a sand bank covered with verdure.

September 27th. — At day-break we again proceeded, and in stretching over to gain the middle of the river, we passed a Somoni fishing village on an island; the huts occupied the whole of the dry ground, and it appeared, even when close to it, like a floating village. We reached Sansanding at ten o’clock. Such crowds of people came to the shore to see us, that we could not land our baggage till the people were beaten away with sticks, by Koontie Mamadie’s orders, on whose premises we were accommodated with a large hut for sitting in, having another hut opening into it, in which we deposited our baggage.

October 2d. — Marshall and W. Garland (privates) died; one of the fever, the other of the dysentery. During the night the wolves carried away Garland, the door of the hut where he died being left open. Buried Marshall on the morning following, in a corn field near the church.

October 4th. — Mansong sent down two broken gunlocks, and a large pewter plate with a hole in the bottom of it, for me to repair; and it was with much difficulty that I could persuade the messenger that none of us knew any thing about such occupations.

October 6th. — Da, Mansong’s eldest son, sent one canoe as a present, and requested me to sell him a bunderbuss, and three swords, with some blue and yellow broad cloth. Sent him three swords, and ten spans of yellow cloth; received in return six thousand cowries.

Sansanding contains, according to Koontie Mamadie’s account, eleven thousand inhabitants. It has no public buildings, except the mosques, two of which, though built of mud, are by no means inelegant. The market place is a large square, and the different articles of merchandize are exposed for sale on stalls covered with mats, to shade them from the sun. The market is crowded with people from morning to night: some of the stalls contain nothing but beads; others indigo in balls; others wood-ashes in balls; others Houssa and Jinnie cloth. I observed one stall with nothing but antimony in small bits; another with sulphur, and a third with copper and silver rings and bracelets. In the houses fronting the square is sold, scarlet, amber, silks from Morocco, and tobacco, which looks like Levant tobacco, and comes by way of Tombuctoo. Adjoining this is the salt market, part of which occupies one corner of the square. A slab of salt is sold commonly for eight thousand cowries; a large butcher’s stall, or shade, is in the centre of the square, and as good and fat meat sold every day as any in England. The beer market is at a little distance, under two large trees; and there are often exposed for sale from eighty to one hundred calabashes of beer, each containing about two gallons. Near the beer market is the place where red and yellow leather is sold.

Besides these market-places, there is a very large space, which is appropriated for the great market every Tuesday. On this day astonishing crowds of people come from the country to purchase articles in wholesale, and retail them in the different villages, &c. There are commonly from sixteen to twenty large fat Moorish bullocks killed on the market morning.

October 8th. — As Mansong had delayed much longer in sending the canoes he promised, than I expected, I thought it best to be provided with a sufficient quantity of shells to purchase two; particularly when I reflected that the river would subside in the course of a few days, having sunk this morning about four inches by the shore. I therefore opened shop in great style, and exhibited a choice assortment of European articles to be sold in wholesale or retail. I had of course a great run, which I suppose drew on me the envy of my brother merchants; for the Jinnie people, the Moors, and the merchants here joined with those of the same description at Sego, and (in presence of Modibinne, from whose mouth I had it) offered to give Mansong a quantity of merchandize of greater value than all the presents I had made him, if he would seize our baggage, and either kill us, or send us back again out of Bambarra. They alleged, that my object was to kill Mansong and his sons by means of charms, that the white people might come and seize on the country. Mansong, much to his honour, rejected the proposal, though it was seconded by two-thirds of the people of Sego, and almost all Sansanding.

From the 8th to the 16th nothing of consequence occurred, I found my shop every day more and more crowded with customers; and such was my run of business, that I was sometimes forced to employ three tellers at once to count my cash. I turned one market day twenty-five thousand seven hundred and fifty-six pieces of money (cowries.)

The second day after my arrival at Marraboo, as no accounts whatever had arrived concerning Mr. Scott, I sent a messenger to Koomikoomi, desiring him to bring Mr. Scott, or some account of him. He returned in four days, and told us that Mr. Scott was dead, and that the natives had stolen the pistols out of the holsters; but he had brought the horse to Bambakoo.

When Modibinne enquired of Isaaco what sort of a return of presents would be most agreeable to me, Isaaco (being instructed before) said he believed two large canoes, and Modibinne assured me, that the canoes would be sent down to Sansanding immediately on our arrival there.

In order to give a just idea of the trade and profits on different articles sold at Sansanding, I have annexed a list of European and African articles, with their respective values in cowries, the great medium of exchange and the general currency of Bambarra.

EUROPEAN ARTICLES. Value in Cowries.
A musket 6 to 7000
A cutlass 1500 to 2000
A flint 40
Gunpowder, one bottle 3000
Amber No. 1. 1000
Ditto No. 2. 800
Ditto No. 3. 400
Amber No. 4. 160
Ditto No. 5. 80
Ditto No. 6. 60
Coral No. 4. each stone 60
Black points, per bead 20
Red garnets, per string 40
White ditto, per string 40
Blue agates, per string 100
Round rock coral, per bead 5
Long ditto, per bead 5
Short arrangoes, per bead 40
Gold beads, per bead 10
An Indian baft 20,000
A barraloolo, or five-bar piece 8,000
Scarlet cloth 10 spans 20,000
If sold to the Karankeas in retail 30,000
Light yellow cloth nearly the same as scarlet;
blue not so high
Paper per sheet 40
A dollar from 6 to 12,000
Or from 1£. 5s. to 2£. 10s
A minkalli of gold (12s. 6d. sterling) 3000
Four minkallies are equal to £3. 3s. Value in Cowries.
Ivory, the very largest teeth, each 10,000
The medium size 7,000
The smaller 3 or 4000
Indigo leaves beat and dried in lumps larger than ones fist, each 40
A prime slave, (male) 40,000
A ditto, (female) from 80 to 100,000
A girl 40,000
A horse from two to ten prime male slaves
A cow (fat) 15,000
An ass 17,000
A sheep 3 to 5,000
A fowl 250 to 300
As much excellent fat beef as will be sufficient for seven men one day 620
As much good beer as the same number can drink in one day 300

October 16th. — Modibinne and Jower arrived, and told me that they had brought a canoe from Mansong. I went to see it, and objected to one half of it, which was quite rotten. They sent up to Sego for another half; but when it arrived, it would not fit the one already sent. I was therefore forced to send Isaaco again to Sego; and as Mansong had requested me by Modibinne to sell him any spare arms I might have, I sent two blunderbusses, two fowling pieces, two pair of pistols, and five unserviceable muskets; requesting in return that Mansong would either send a proper canoe, or permit me to purchase one that I might proceed on my journey. Isaaco returned on the 20th with a large canoe; but half of it was very much decayed and patched, I therefore set about joining the best half to the half formerly sent; and with the assistance of Abraham Bolton (private) took out all the rotten pieces; and repaired all the holes, and sewed places; and with eighteen days hard labour, changed the Bambarra canoe into His Majesty’s schooner Joliba; the length forty feet, breadth six feet; being flat bottomed, draws only one foot water when loaded.

October 28th. — At a quarter past five o’clock in the morning my dear friend Mr. Alexander Anderson died after a sickness of four months. I feel much inclined to speak of his merits; but as his worth was known only to a few friends, I will rather cherish his memory in silence, and imitate his cool and steady conduct, than weary my friends with a panegyric in which they cannot be supposed to join. I shall only observe that no event which took place during the journey, ever threw the smallest gloom over my mind, till I laid Mr. Anderson in the grave. I then felt myself, as if left a second time lonely and friendless amidst the wilds of Africa.

November 14th. — The schooner is now nearly ready for our departure; I only wait for Isaaco’s return from Sego, that I may give him this paper in charge.

November 15th. — Isaaco returned; and told us that Mansong was anxious that I should depart as soon as possible, before the Moors to the East had intimation of my coming. Bought bullock hides to form an awning to secure us from the spears and arrows of the Surka or Soorka and Mahinga who inhabit the North bank of the river betwixt Jinnie and Tombuctoo.

November 16. — All ready and we sail tomorrow morning, or evening. I will therefore conclude this long epistle with some miscellaneous information.

Variation of the compass.
West of the Faleme river 14 11 West.
At Badoo, near Sibikillin 14 56
Near the Bafing 16 30
At Marraboo on the Niger 16 36
At Yamina 17 11
At Sansanding 17 40

In case any one should be inclined to doubt the accuracy of the latitudes taken by the back observation with Troughton’s pocket sextant; I think it proper to mention that I have observed at Sansanding alternately with the horizon of the river, and the back observation in water and the artificial horizon; and never found them to vary more than four minutes, but generally much nearer.

A fac-simile sketch of the course of the Niger, made by an old Somonie, who had been seven times at Tombuctoo, and is now going the eighth.

Ba Nimma rises in the Kong mountains South of Marraboo; it passes one day’s journey South of Sego; and having received a branch from Miniana, empties itself into the lake Dibbie. It is not quite half so large as the Niger. I have not the least doubt of the truth of this, having heard it from so many people. We shall not see Jinnie in going to Tombuctoo.

Route from Sego to Miniana.

From Sego in one day,

Deena, across the Ba Nimma in canoes, and halt on the south side; thence in one day,
Mullo Soo,
Billi Soo;
In all seven days.

The inhabitants of Miniana eat their enemies, and strangers, if they die in the country. They eat the flesh of horses; but such is their veneration for the cow that she is never killed; when she dies, they eat the flesh. Miniana is hilly; all the grains are cultivated the same as in Bambarra.

Route from Sego to Badoo.
From Sego in one day.
N. goi, [Footnote: Thus written in Park’s MS.]
Guandoo on the banks of the Badingfing, a small river from Miniana.
N. jeera,
Teng: gera, a great Juli town; a Juli is called in Baedoo, Kirko Bimba;
Jondoo; Juli town,
N. Kannoo, Juli town.

The whole of the foregoing places are in Bambarra.

Totti, a town in Baedoo.
Baedoo, the capital.

The Julis are people who understand the language of Baedoo and Miniana, and are employed as interpreters and brokers by the salt merchants. One month’s travel South of Baedoo through the kingdom of Gotto, will bring the traveller to the country of the Christians, who have their houses on the banks of the Ba Sea feena; this water they represent as being imcomparably larger than the lake Dibbie, and that the water sometimes flows one way, sometimes another. There are no Shea trees in Kong or Gotto, and very few in Baedoo.

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