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 295 pages of information about Narrative of a Mission to Central Africa Performed in the Years 1850-51, Volume 1.

In this part of the country the scenery is far more open than it was before; the mountains are lower, but the wadys are not so wide.  Here and there occurred considerable patches of herbage, called sabot, and many large, fine trees.  Amongst the smaller ones, for the first time, we came upon the senna plant, some of the leaves of which our people plucked.  Higher up, in Aheer, is apparently the native soil of this plant.  We had also again the adwa, several trees, and the kaiou or kremka, the only plant we have yet seen with a truly tropical aspect.

The adwa bears a fruit something like the date, and is eaten by the people in Soudan.  As to the sabot, above mentioned, it is a kind of herbage, which covers the beds of the valleys in this region of primitive rock:  it forms the principal food of our camels.  The bou rekabah, however, the best for them, is in small quantities, but when seen is devoured to the sand.  The people of Aheer eat its seed as ghaseb.

Yesterday, we saw, for the first time, a bird’s nest in the desert, in the side of a rock.  It contained no eggs; our people, on a former occasion, brought in some.  It is astonishing how few birds’ nests are found, though in some places a good number of small flutterers are seen.  About the wells of Tajetterat darted half-a-dozen quails.  We have not yet observed an ostrich, although many traces have been found on the sand.  Around, however, are numbers of the wadan,[8] and our huntsmen are active.  Yesterday some flesh of this animal was brought in.

  [8] Wadan is the Arabic name of the aoudad of the Berbers.  We
      call the animal “mouflon” (Ovis tragelaphus).  It is found
      in considerable numbers throughout the deserts of Northern
      Africa, from the Atlantic to the Red Sea.  I have seen a
      beautiful specimen, nearly all milk-white, in Cairo.—­ED.

In this part of the route we frequently fell in with small heaps of stones; and if we ask what they mean, are invariably told they are the graves of slave-children who have perished by the way, most probably in the arms of their mothers.  What wonderful tales of sorrow and anguish could these rocks give, if they were not compelled to eternal dumbness!  What sighs, what shrieks of grief have echoed here!  How many tears have watered this track!  These thoughts saddened our way; but they seemed at the same time to rouse that enthusiasm which is the only adequate ally to those engaged in such a mission as ours.

The son of Shafou is to leave us at Esalan.  I may as well record here, in form, a list of our grievances against the Tuaricks, for the information and warning of future travellers:—­

1st.  They, the Tuaricks, wished to obtain presents from the Germans, nearly in the same quantity as from myself; or, at least, something considerable.

2d.  They wanted us to remain six weeks in Ghat, to wait for an answer from Sultan En-Noor at Aheer.

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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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