Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 eBook

James Richardson (explorer of the Sahara)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1.

Fezzan is divided into ten districts, of which the principal is El-Hofrah, containing the capital, Mourzuk, and several smaller towns.  It is here and there besprinkled with beautiful gardens, in which are cultivated, besides the date-palm, several of the choicest fruits that grow on the coast—­as figs, grapes, peaches, pomegranates, and melons.  In these gardens, as in most of the oases of the desert, the fruit trees that require most protection from the sun are planted between the palms, which make a kind of roof with their long leaves.  Abd-el-Galeel destroyed many of these groves to punish their owners, refractory to his authority.

Two crops are obtained in the year:  in the spring, barley and wheat are reaped; and in the summer and autumn, Indian corn, ghaseb, and other kinds of grain.  All the culture is carried on by means of irrigation, the water being thrown over the fields by means of runnels of various dimensions twice in the day; that is, once early in the morning, and once late in the afternoon until dark.

Wady Ghudwah is a single town with gardens, and the other features common to all the Fezzan oases.

Sebha includes two towns, having a considerable population, with gardens and date-palms.

Bouanees includes three towns, well peopled, and has immense numbers of date-palms.

El-Jofrah contains the second capital or large town of the pashalic, Sockna, built of stones and mud, with nine or ten smaller towns, all tolerably populous.

Sockna is situated midway between Mourzuk and Tripoli, and is about fourteen days from the former.  The inhabitants are Moors, and, besides Arabic, speak a Berber dialect.  Sockna is celebrated for its fine sweet dates, called kothraee; and there is abundance of every kind of this fruit.  A considerable quantity of grain is sown—­wheat and barley—­and the gardens abound with peaches.  The town of Honn, distant about two hours from this place, is nearly as large, and also surrounded with gardens.

Wady Gharby, and Es-Shaty, have already been described.  In the sands between these two places are situated the celebrated natron lakes, in which that miraculous dud ("worm”) spontaneously appears at certain seasons of the year, and is eaten as people in Europe eat sardines—­to sharpen the appetite.  The natron is also a source of profitable exportation.  Wady Sharky almost exactly resembles Wady Gharby, in population and natural features.

Sharkeeah, besides some insignificant places, includes the interesting ancient capital called Zoueelah, whence the name of Zoilah is given by the Tibboos to all Fezzan.  Half the population of this place consists of Shereefs, and there are indeed great and increasing numbers of this class of persons throughout the whole country.

Ghatroun includes, with Tajerby the most southern place of Fezzan, three small towns.  The inhabitants are all black, speaking the Tibbooese and Bornouese languages, and very little Arabic.  The other nine districts above enumerated contain a mixed race, like the population of Mourzuk; but some of the northern towns are inhabited by people of purer blood, with comparatively fair complexions.

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Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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