« ZurückWeiter »
At Sibidooloo I was presented to the chief man, who is here called Mansa. Every town in Manding has its particular officer, bearing this title, and the power of the state, collectively, is vested in the assembly of the whole body.
I related to the Mansa of Sibidooloo the circumstances of the robbery, and my story was confirmed by the testimony of the two shepherds. He continued smoking his pipe while I was speaking; and, when I had ended, taking it from his mouth, and tossing up the sleeve of his cloak with an indignant air, he said, “ Sit down. You shall have every thing restored to you; I have sworn it.” Then, turning to an attendant, he said, “ Give the white man a draught of water ; and, with the first light of the morning, go over the hills, and tell the Dooty of Bammakoo that a poor white man, the King of Bambarra's stranger, has been robbed by the King of Fooladoo's people.”
I thanked the Mansa for this unexpected favour, and after two days stay at his house, I proceeded to a small town called Wonda, where he desired me to wait till I heard from him. At the end of nine days, two people arrived from Sibidooloo with my clothes and my horse. Had a black man been robbed on one of the highways of Britain, I fear the restoration of his property would not have been so prompt.
The scarcity of provisions in this part of the country was so great, that the Mansa of Wonda shewed me a fine boy of five years old, whom he had purchased of his mother, for forty days provisions for herself and the rest of her family. I afterwards saw the mother, who was much emaci. ated, talking with the boy.
My horse being reduced to a skeleton, and the roads being either of rock, or filled with mud and water, it was not possible for him to proceed any further ; I therefore presented him to the Mansa of Wonda, in whom I hope he found a good master. My bridle and saddle I sent to the Mansa of Sibidooloo.
I left Wonda on the 8th of September, and after undergoing various hardships, I arrived at Kamalia, a small town, situated at the foot of rocky hills, on the 16th. Here I was conducted to the house of Karfa Taura, a Muhamedan negro, who was collecting a kafilah of slaves to send to the Gambia. This man informed me that it was impracticable at present to cross the Jallonka wilderness in the road to the Gambia, as no fewer than eight rapid rivers lay in the way. He added that he should set out as soon as these were fordable, and the grass was burnt; and he observed that when a party of natives was not able to travel through a country, it would be fruitless for a single stranger to attempt it.
I told the slave merchant that I had no means of subsistence but the hospitality of those I might meet with by the way. He looked at me with great earnestness, and said that, if I could eat the common victuals of the country, he would provide for me till the rains were over, when he would conduct me to the Gambia, and there I might make him what recompence I pleased; I assured him it should be such as should satisfy him; and he immediately ordered a hut to be swept for my habitation, and had placed in it a mat to sleep on, an earthen jar to hold water, and a small calabash from which to drink it.
MANNERS OF THE MANDINGOES.
RETURN TO THE MOUTH OF THE GAMBIA.
THE hospitable slave merchant sent me two meals a day from his own dwelling, and ordered his slaves to supply me with water and fire-wood; but from the commencement of the rainy season, I had been affected with paroxysms of fever ; and neither the accommodations afforded me by Karfa, nor his soothing kindness, could put a stop to these, till the rains were over, and the harmattan began to blow, when I recovered my strength.
The colour of the Mandings is black, with a tinge of yellow; their features, as well as those of the Foolahs, have more affinity with those of the black people of India than the negroes of Africa. They are generous and hospitable men, and well informed and indefatigable merchants. The greatest affront that can be offered to a native of Manding is to reflect upon his mother; and one of the first lessons a mother teaches her child is to adhere to truth. Both sexes, whether Pagans or Muhamedans, are circumcised; but the former do not consider it as a religious ceremony. The operation is performed at the same time upon a number of young people, who are exempt from labour for two months afterwards. They form themselves into a society, and visit the neighbouring villages and towns, where they dance and
sing, and are hospitably entertained by the inhabitants. When a young man wishes to marry,
marry, he agrees with the parents of the young woman for her price, which is commonly that of two slaves; but if the girl be very handsome, she is valued higher. The lover presents a few kola nuts, as an earnest of his part of the bargain, and the parents eat them, in ratification of theirs. The lady must accede to it, or remain unmarried, for she cannot afterwards be given to another. If her parents refused to fulfil the contract, the purchaser would seize upon the girl as his property, and she would become his slave. On the day of marriage, an ox, or a goat is killed, and the bridegroom feasts with his companions. In the evening, the bride is conducted into a hut where she is clad in a white cotton dress, so arranged as to conceal her person from head to foot, and seated on a mat. A number of matrons place themselves in a circle round her, and give her instructions respecting her future conduct; while her young companions enter the hut at intervals, and interrupt the admonitions with singing and dancing. At
At midnight, the bride is conducted to the hut which is to be her future residence, whither she is followed by her husband.
Husbands allow their wives to partake of all public diversions, and this indulgence is seldom abused. If a man's wives quarrel with each other, it is his to decide upon the merits of the case, and even to administer a little corporeal punishment if he think the case require it. If the wife think herself aggrieved, she lodges her complaint before the chief of the town, and a palaver is held
to inquire into the affair. It is said, however, that the judges, having most of them wives of their own, frequently adjudge the complainant to be guilty of strife and contention ; and if she murmur at the decision of the court, the magic rod of Mumbo Jumbo reduces her to order.
A child is named at seven or eight days old. At Kamalia this ceremony was performed by the Muhamedan schoolmaster, who, after the infant's head had been shaved, took it in his arms, implored the blessing of God upon it and all the company, whispered a few sentences in its ear, spit three times in its face; then pronounced its name, and returned it to its mother.
The Mandingoes become grey at forty, and few survive the age of fifty-five or sixty. When a person of consequence dies, an ox or a goat is killed to feast those who assist at the funeral. The body is dressed in white cotton, wrapped in a mat, and carried to the grave in the dusk of the evening by the relations. There are no appropriate buryingplaces; but the grave is frequently dug in the hut of the deceased, or in the shade of a favourite tree.
People of condition breakfast about the dawn of day, on meal and water, boiled with a little of the fruit of the tamarind. At two o'clock, they eat a sort of hasty pudding, with a little vegetable butter. Their principal repast, which they seldom take before midnight, is kouskous. The beverage of the Pagans is beer and mead, of which they frequently drink to excess; the Muhamedan converts drink only water.
only water. Natives, of all descriptions, take snuff and smoke tobacco; but the