Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

teeth, and one in his bow, waved to us with his hand to keep at a distance; upon which one of the king's people called out to the strangers to give some account of themselves. They said that “ they were natives of Toorda, a neighbouring village, and had come to that place to gather tomberongs.” These are small farinaceous berries, of a yellow colour and delicious taste, which I knew to be the fruit of the rhamnus lotus of Linnæus. The Negroes shewed us two large baskets full, which they had collected in the course of the day. These berries are much esteemed by the natives, who convert them into a sort of bread, by exposing them for some days to the sun, and afterwards pounding them gently in a wooden mortar, until the farinaceous part of the berry is separated from the stone. This meal is then mixed with a little water, and formed into cakes; which, when dried in the sun, resemble in colour and flavour the sweetest gingerbread. . The stones are afterwards put into a vessel of water, and shaken about so as to separate the meal which may still' adhere to them : this communicates a sweet and agreeable taste to the water, and with the addition of a little pounded millet, forms a pleasant gruel called fondi, which is the common breakfast in many pasts of Ludamar, during the months of February and March. The fruit is collected by spreading a cloth upon the ground, and beating the branches with a stick.

The lotus is very common in all the kingdoms which I visited; but is found in the greatest plenty on the sandy soil of Kaarta, Ludamar, and the northern parts of Bambarra, where it is one of the most common shrubs of the country. I had observed the same species at Gambia. The leaves of the desert shrub are, however, much smaller ; and more resembling, in



that particular, those represented in the engraving given by Desfontaines, in the Mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences, 1788, p. 443.

As this shrub is found in Tunis, and also in the Negro kingdoms, and as it furnishes the natives of the latter with a food resembling bread, and also with a sweet liquor, which is much relished by them, there can be little doubt of its being the lotus mentioned by Pliny, as the food of the Lybian Lotophagi. An army may very well have been fed with the bread I have tasted, made of the meal of the fruit, as is said by Pliny to have been done in Lybia ; and as the taste of the bread is sweet and agreeable, it is not likely that the soldiers would complain of it.

We arrived in the evening at the village of Toorda ; when all the rest of the king's people turned back except two, who remained with me as guides to Jarra.

Feb. 15th. I departed from Toorda, and about two o'clock came to a considerable town called Funinkedy. As we approached the town the inhabitants were much alarmed; for, as one of my guides wore a turban, they mistook us for some Moorish banditti. This misapprehension was soon cleared up, and we were well received by a Gambia Slatee, who resides at this town, and at whose house we lodged.

Feb. 16th. We were informed, that a number of people would


from this town to Jarra on the day following; and as the road was much infested by the Moors, we resolved to stay and accompany the travellers. In the meantime, we were told, that a few days before our arrival, most of the Bushreens and people of property in Funingkedy had gone to Jarra, to consult about removing their families and effects to that

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

town, for fear of the approaching war: and that the Moors, in their absence, had stolen some of their cattle.

About two o'clock, as I was lying asleep upon a bullock's hide behind the door of the hut, I was awakened by the screams of women, and a general clamour and confusion among the inhabitants. At first I suspected that the Bambarrans had actually entered the town ; but observing my boy upon the top of one of the huts, I called to him to know what was the matter. He informed me that the Moors were come a second time to steal the cattle, and that they were now close to the town. I mounted the roof of the hut, and observed a large herd of bullocks coming towards the town, followed by five Moors on horseback, who drove the cattle forward with their musquets.

When they had reached the wells, which are close to the town, the Moors selected from the herd sixteen of the finest beasts, and drove them off at full gallop.

During this transaction, the towns-people, to the number of five hundred, stood collected close to the walls of the town; and when the Moors drove the cattle away, though they passed within pistol shot of them, the inhabitants scarcely made a shew of resistance. I only saw four musquets fired, which being loaded with gunpowder of the Negroes' own manufacture, did no execution. Shortly after this I observed a number of people supporting a young man upon horseback, and conducting him slowly towards the town. This was one of the herdsmen, who, attempting to throw his spear, had been woun- . ded by a shot from one of the Moors. His mother walked on before, quite frantic with grief, clapping her hands, and. enumerating the good qualities of her son. Ee maffo fonio, (he never told a lie) said the disconsolate mother, as her wounded

« ZurückWeiter »