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.

Bornou sends to the coast by way of Fezzan, I am sorry to say, chiefly slaves; but a quantity of ivory is now likewise forwarded by this route.

Soudan exports slaves, senna, ivory, wax, indigo, skins, &c. &c.  Nearly half of the commerce with this important country consists of legitimate articles of trade and barter.  This is very encouraging, and the brief history of some of these objects of legal commerce is exceedingly interesting.  Wax, for example, began to be sent seventeen years ago; elephants’ teeth, fifteen; and indigo, only four years ago.

Timbuctoo now scarcely forwards anything but gold to the coast of Tripoli, together with wax and ivory, but no slaves.  The gold is brought by the merchants in diminutive roughly-made rings, which they often carry in dirty little bags, concealed in the breasts of their gowns.

I am exceedingly glad to learn that the Ghadamsee merchants, who formerly embarked two-thirds of their capital in the slave-trade, have now only one-fourth engaged in that manner.  This is progress.  It has been partly brought about by the closing of the Tunisian slave-mart, partly by the increase of objects of legitimate commerce in the markets of Soudan.  The merchants of Fezzan have still to learn that money may be invested to more advantage in things than in persons; but their education has been undertaken, and however slow the light may be in forcing its way to their eyes, it will reach them at last, there can be no doubt.

The trade in senna is always considerable.  Last year a thousand cantars were brought, from the country of the Tibboos and from Aheer.  The latter place supplies the best.  New objects of exportation may no doubt be discovered.  Already gum-dragon and cassia have been added to the list of articles brought from Soudan; and when once treaties of commerce have been entered into, and merchants begin to find security in the desert and protection from the native princes, there is no doubt that a very large intercourse may be established with the interior countries of Africa—­an intercourse that will at once prove of immense benefit to us as a manufacturing nation, and advance materially that great object of all honest men, the abolition of the accursed traffic in human beings.  It is the latter object that chiefly occupies my mind, but I shall not attempt to bring it before the native princes in too abrupt a manner.  In some cases, indeed, to allude to it at all would be disastrous.  The promotion of legitimate traffic must, after all, be our great lever.

I do not profess in this place to do more than give a few hints on the present state of trade in Tripoli, and the vast tract of half-desert country on which it leans.  What I have said is perhaps sufficient to impart some idea of the nature of the relations between the Barbary coast and the interior, and to suggest the importance of the enterprise on which I am engaged.  Briefly, the exportation of slaves

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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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