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1 



A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 



A RESIDENT'S WIFE 
IN NIGERIA 



By 



■]fy 



CONSTANCE LARYMORE 

< 1 » ' » > > ■> ,' '. ' . 



» , > . 



' , »■". ' 






WITH FORTY-ONF ILLUSTRATIONS AND A PORTRAIT OF 

THE AUTHOR 




LONDON 

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS, LIA4ITED 

New York : E. P. BUTTON S- CO 

1908 



\ 



C' 






<'> 



DeMcation 



TO THE VERY BEST OF COMRADES 

AND FELLOW-TRAVELLERS 

' THE SAHIB ' 



5168S6 



Preface 

In offering this little book to the public, I want to 
admit at once that it is in no sense intended as a 
literary effort, but is merely a record, gathered up 
from journals and notes of our everyday life and 
journeys which have occupied the last five years. 

My excuse for offering it is that I have been specially 
fortunate in having opportunities and privileges 
of travelling about a little bit of the world where few 
Englishmen have been ; and though sorely handi- 
capped by very limited scientific knowledge, I have 
tried always to keep eyes and ears open. 

Only a short time ago, I read these words, written 
by a wise man, on this very subject — 

' But the best way of travelling is to ride on a 
horse through country where there are no railways, 
and no roads, and where, accordingly, the people 
are rooted and untroubled in mind, and do as little 
woik as they can. Such travelling, it is not to be 
questioned, makes the best books.' 

In the hope that he is right — for, as I have said, he 
is a wise man — I send my little book forth, to take its 
chance. The last few chapters, I am aware, should 



Vll 



viii PREFACE 

belong to a separate volume, and they were never 
intended for publication in this form. But they are 
the outcome of actual experience, and not generaliz- 
ing from hearsay. Most of them, indeed, were 
written originally in 1902, but they have been revised, 
corrected, and corrected again, as time showed me 
my mistakes and failures. In manuscript form 
they had been read by many of my friends who 
pronounced them * good,' and it is by their request 
that these chapters are included here. It is to 
these friends that I offer my grateful thanks for the 
majority and the best of my illustrations. I also 
have to acknowledge the kindness of the Editors of 
Chambers Journal and the Pall Mall Gazette in per- 
mitting the reproduction of articles published by 
them at different times. 

CONSTANCE LARYMORE. 



Contents 



PART I 

CHAP. 

I. Sierra Leone to Lokoja 
11. On Tour 



III. BiDA AND EgGA 



IV. Keffi 



V. Trekking North 



VI. Kano 



VII. Katagum and Hadeija, and back 
VIII. Kabba, Semolika and Patti Abaja 



IX. BORGU 



X. Bida 



PAGE 

I 
II 

25 

47 

61 

73 

85 

III 

147 

IS5 



FART II 



I. The Home 



II. The Household 



195 
205 



IX 



X CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

III. Dogs, Poultry and Cows . . . .221 

IV. The Garden 239 

V. The Stable 257 

VI. Camp Life 271 

VII. What to Wear 291 



List of Illustrations 



Portrait of the Author 



The Preperanda . 
Polo at Lokoja . 
Kuka (Baobab) Trees 
A Hausa Beauty 



The Emir escorting us into Bida 
Details of Gown Embroidery 
A Typical Hausa Gown 
Trouser Embroidery 
A Camp on the River Bank 
Roofing at Keffi . 



Native Drummers at Kefh 



A Detachment of the N. N. Regt. 



A Kano Street Scene . 





FACING 




PAGE 


Frontispiece 




8 




8 




14 




• 14 




. 28 




. 28 




. 32 




. 32 




. 40 




. 40 




• 54 




. 54 




. 76 



XI 



Xll 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



A Kano Mounted Messenger 

A Kano Caravan Donkey Driver . 

Bringing in Firewood . . . . . 

A Kano Doorway . . . . . 

Mureji — A Caravan about to cross the Niger 



A Steam Canoe on the Niger 

The Emir's Band, Bida 

My ' Palm ' Cat {Nandinia hinotata) 



' Fritz ' 



Our Start from Bussa for lilo 



Repairing the Bussa Residency 
Balu (Serval cat) 



The Steel Canoe in which we descended the Bussa rapids 
The Tennis Court, Bida 



The Great Salla 



The Prostration . 



My Writing Table 
The Residency, Bida 



FACING 
PAGE 

76 
80 
104 
104 
112 
112 
124 
124 

170 
170 
184 
184 
190 
. 190 
. 198 
. 198 



* Amelia,' a young Giraffe brought home by the late Captain 

Phillips, D.S.O. ....... 210 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xiii 

FACING 
PAGE 

* Chuku,' a Native dog, rescued during the Aro-Chuku 

Expedition ........ 210 

Our energetic D.S.C. training bullocks (Captain Burnside) . 236 

Giant Sunflowers at Bussa ...... 236 

Our Gardener at Play . . . . , .250 

' Jewel * and ' Brown Mouse '..... 250 

Mr. Lafone's ' White Mouse '..... 262 

Riding Astride — a locally made Skirt ! . . . . 262 

One of our Camps ....... 274 

The Mail-Cart, Bida ....... 274 



\ 



1 < • > 






CHAPTER I 

Sierra Leone to Lokoja 

On the loth of April, 1902, we left Sierra Leone, 
embarking on the Sekondi for Forcados, en route to 
Northern Nigeria. We had spent seven months 
in Sierra Leone, my husband doing duty with a 
company of native gunners, and had grown to heartily 
dislike the place. In spite of its undeniable beauty, 
it is the possessor of a most unpleasant climate, 
and the impossibility of getting horse exercise, 
and the necessity of continually ascending or de- 
scending steep hills, either on foot, or, worse still, in 
a hammock, was most distasteful to us both after 
four years of the free and active life of Indian military 
stations. So we could not help looking upon our 
departure somewhat as a release, and even bidding 
good-bye to our many kind friends did not entirely 
damp our joy as we steamed out of the harbour and 
passed the lighthouse, gleaming white amidst 
the luxuriant greenery and bright blue water, and 
set our faces and thoughts towards Nigeria, and 
the life of a Resident there. 

It certainly was a step in the darkest dark ; no 



2 •'••A 'RESlBtEN^'S. • WIFE- IN NIGERIA 

Englishwoman yet had gone where I meant to go, 
or done what I hoped to do : we knew httle or 
nothing of the conditions of hfe before us except 
that it was ' ro^ugh, very rough ! ' I had met only 
one official from Nigeria, and he looked at me 
doubtfully and in silence when I announced my 
intention of accompanying my husband, much 
as one regards a wretched scraggy-looking screw, 
sometimes produced by an Irish horse-dealer, with 
confident asseverations as to his qualities as a hunter 
— and yet, the ' screw ' scrambles along fairly all 
right sometimes ! One of my friends in Sierra 
Leone — having visited Accra — felt qualified to speak, 
and, in endeavouring to dissuade us from this rash 
venture, assured me that ' Nigeria was just like 
Accra — not a tree, not a blade of grass anywhere ! ! ' 
(This is quoted with apologies to Accra !) I have 
often smiled to myself over that pithy saying, while 
marching through magnificent forests, and miles 
of open, grassy, park-like country ! Luckily, I still 
permitted myself to hope for trees and grass, and 
felt that my four years in India, and some experience 
of camping in Kashmir, would, at all events, prove 
to have been a useful education, and seven months 
in Sierra Leone could leave one few surprises in the 
shape of an unpleasant climate. 

On'' the Sckondi we were fortunate to find an old 
friend of Indian days, Captain Ashburnham of the 
6oth Rifles, also faring forth to Nigeria for the first 



SIERRA LEONE TO LOKOJA 3 

time, to serve with the W.A.F.F. or, as it is called 
there, the Northern Nigeria Regiment. He was 
armed with valuable experience, learnt from the 
South African War and life in Uganda, and many 
were the talks we had, and the plans we made, 
sitting under the awning, on the deck, while the 
Sekondi rolled her way south. . 

One of our fellow-passengers had already been to 
Nigeria, but I think he had outlived his enthusiasms 
a little, and possibly thought me an unlikely speci- 
men to survive among 'the fittest,' for he responded 
but little to my tiresome curiosity, while the ship's 
officers were unanimous in headshaking and mourn- 
ful prophecies, judging Nigeria generally by their 
own cursory stay at Burutu, and cheerfully promising 
to convey me home ' next trip ' — if I should be 
above ground to be conveyed ! At table I sat next 
to a Lagos official, who proved himself a real friend, 
and I have never ceased to be grateful to him for 
his encouragement and cheerful prognostications, 
at a time when I sorely needed them. Mr. Stone's 
work at Lagos — that of road construction — lay 
entirely amongst the up-country natives, and he 
would tell me a thousand anecdotes of their simple 
kindly ways, courteous hospitality, and child-like 
interest in white people — prophesying that I should 
be friends with them at once, and, if anything, get 
rather spoilt amongst them-^a forecast which has 
been amply fulfilled since. 



4 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

The trip was an uneventful one, though not the 
pleasantest I have made down the Coast : the sole 
occurrence of interest that I can recall was that we 
lost one of our boats overboard during the night, 
and the following morning, when the loss was dis- 
covered, we turned back and sought the open seas 
for the derelict — and found it ! A couple of stalwart 
Kru-boys were despatched overboard, and swam 
to the boat, only to find there were neither oars nor 
paddles inside, and they presented a comically help- 
less spectacle, sitting in the boat, and frantically 
endeavouring to paddle with their hands ! They 
had to do another swim, to possess themselves of 
the paddles thrown from the ship before they could 
bring their prize alongside. And so on — by day, 
sunshine, sapphire water, the fringe of low grey 
coast-line, which never loses its fascination for me, by 
night, glorious stars and an infant moon, and — 
night and day alike, the monotonous, infinitely 
soothing roll of the ship, as the huge swell swept 
shorewards, to break itself in thundering surf, 
away by the grey palm-trees and the yellow sand. 

We left the Sekondi outside the bar at Forcados, 
transhipped ourselves and our belongings to the 
' branch boat,' a small steamer of light draft, and 
spent four or five weary hot hours crossing the bar 
and finding our way up to Burutu. Here we were 
most kindly and hospitably received by the Marine 
Superintendent, who gave me a most welcome cup 



SIERRA LEONE TO LOKOJA 5 

of tea, and assisted us to arrange ourselves on the 
Karonga^ one of the Government stern-wheelers, 
which travel up and down the Niger, carrying mails 
and passengers. These little boats consist of an 
upper and lower deck, the latter loaded with cargo, 
fuel and native passengers, the former reserved 
for European travellers, and though, nowadays, 
they boast of regular cabins, when I first made the 
acquaintance of the Karonga the after part of the deck 
was merely divided off into partitions by canvas 
screens, an arrangement which I still prefer to a 
stuffy cabin ! At Burutu we bought stores, etc., 
for the up-river trip, and as we had brought a couple 
of native servants from Sierra Leone, we shook 
down quite comfortably. 

That evening we dined on board the Jehha, which 
was lying at Burutu, and, later, embarked on our 
little stern-wheeler, and set out on our river journey, 
under a full moon, threading our way along one of 
the labyrinths of creeks — a liquid silver path, walled 
on each side with straight lines of mangroves, dense 
black shadows, and weird, bare white roots and stems 
— a scene suggestive of mystery, and full of a strange 
beauty of its own. 

I enjoyed every day of that trip ; we were a 
cheery party, and all prepared to make the best 
of life : as we left the Delta behind, the country 
became more diversified, little villages appeared on 
the banks and we were surrounded by tiny canoes, 



6 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the occupants of which, boys and girls, clamoured 
loudly in greeting, and fierce competition ensued 
over the empty tins and bottles flung to them, 

The second evening we were destined to discover 
the weak points of the Karonga ; the rain came down 
in torrents, poured through the roof of the deck in 
vigorous streams, soaking beds and bedding in five 
minutes. We stripped our beds, and sat patiently, 
watching the water dripping steadily on the bare 
canvas, till, in sheer weariness, we rolled ourselves 
up in mackintoshes, rigged waterproof sheets on 
top of the mosquito nets, and slept soundly in 
spite of wet pillows and the prevailing drippiness ! 

In the morning, however, hot sunshine turned our 
sorrow into joy — every available space was employed 
for the drying of wet blankets and clothing, and, with 
all our gloom dispersed. Captain Ashburnham and 
I mixed the dough, and treated ourselves to hot 
scones for breakfast ! 

We arrived at Lokoja rather late one evening, 
and after sleeping that night on the Karonga, the 
next morning we were most kindly taken in charge 
by Mr. GoUan, then Chief Justice, who was temporarily 
filling the place of the last Resident, just invalided 
home. Mr. Gollan escorted us to our quarters, a 
massively built double-storeyed stone house, known 
as the ' Preperanda,' which had previously been 
the Mess-house of the N.N. Regiment, but was now 
in a very bad state of repair. The rooms below 



SIERRA LEONE TO LOKOJA 7 

were used as offices, and those above as a dwelling- 
house. The verandah was in a ruinous condition, 
and most of the glass had vanished from the doors 
and windows ; even the shutters had fallen off, so 
that, when the tornados came, as they did with 
annoying frequency, salvation lay in one direction 
only, to collect all one's belongings in frantic haste 
in a heap in the centre of the floor, cover them with 
waterproof sheets, and sit firmly on them till the 
storm had spent itself, when the floor could be mopped 
up, and books, pictures, etc., returned to their places. 

Still, I have always loved the Preperanda : it was 
almost buried in trees, gorgeous scarlet ' flamboyant ' 
(Puinciana Regia), red and yellow acacias, deliciously 
scented frangipani, both white and pink, huge bushes 
of rosy oleanders, lime-trees, mangoes, orange-trees 
and guavas : leaning over the verandah railing in 
the fragrant soft darkness, I then and there took 
to heart the lesson which I have tried to practise ever 
since — the absolute duty of planting trees every- 
where for the benefit of one's successors. 

At the Preperanda, I began to study the art of 
Nigerian housekeeping, and forthwith engaged a 
cook, a most unprepossessing looking individual, 
a Kru-boy, rejoicing in the name of Jim Dow ; 
he proved an excellent cook, as they go in West 
Africa, but a frail vessel where intoxicants were 
concerned ; nevertheless, he did us good service 
for three years in many places, was untiring on the 



8 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

march, and, in the main, sober. The further know- 
ledge I acquired on this all-important subject I 
have gathered together in a later chapter for the 
sake of convenience. 

Our lirst month in Lokoja was, in many ways, 
a busy one ; my husband had his hands only too full 
of official work, we bought a couple of ponies, 
and I set to work to organize a stable, realizing sadly 
in a day or two that the amenities and conveniences 
of Indian life were not to be found here, any more 
than inside the house. We made friends, too, 
with the small community of white people in the 
station, the nursing sisters, N.N.R. officers and 
civilian officials, and many were the helping hands 
and kindly hints given to us, on all sides, and most 
gratefully received. 

Lokoja is placed most picturesquely on a strip of 
level ground, encircled by hills and the Niger. 
Above the native town towers the Patti Hill, a flat- 
topped mountain some eight hundred feet high, 
on the summit of which, originally, there was a 
town and many acres of cultivation. The town 
has vanished, but traces of old farms can easily 
be seen, and the former occupiers are, even now, 
anxious to return to their perch and build a new 
village. They seem to have a high opinion of the 
soil up there, and we have often wished that the 
English community might be able to form a new 
station on that breezy hill-top instead of grilling 




The PRErERAXDA (p. 7) 




Polo at Lokoia (p. g) 



{/ace p. 8. 



SIERRA LEONE TO LOKOJA 9 

down by the river bank. Perhaps it may come 
to pass some day, for the present Cantonment is, 
most unfortunately, down-stream from the native 
town. 

I often wonder whether any one who had not 
seen the place for ten years or so would be able 
to recognize it to-day ! The change, even since 
I have known it, has been amazing. When we 
landed there, five years ago, the ' Civil Lines ' 
consisted of a straggling row of bungalows, rejoicing 
in the significant appellation of ' Blackwater 
Crescent ' ! In front stretched a waste of swampy 
ground, thickly covered with coarse, rank grass. 

To-day, with its numbers of neat bungalows, well- 
tended little gardens, the swamp drained and con- 
verted into a recreation ground, containing tennis- 
courts, cricket-pitch, etc., good roads, and flowering 
trees and hedges, it is as pretty a little cantonment 
as one could wish to see, and the view from the 
hills behind is extremely beautiful — the two rivers, 
Niger and Benue meeting just below the canton- 
ment, winding down to the confluence like two 
silver ribbons, visible for miles up river. 

The 2nd Battalion of the N.N.R. are quartered 
in Lokoja, with a com.pany of native gunners, 
and we still call their lines * the camp * — a survival 
of the days when the soldiers existed in wretched 
discomfort, under canvas. Behind the camp is 
the polo ground, and, on the farthest ridge, the new 



10 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

hospital is prominent, with the Sisters' bungalow, 
and medical officers' quarters. Personally, I have 
always thought Lokoja a far prettier and pleasanter 
place than Zungeru, the new headquarters, but 
comparisons are ever ungracious, and lasting impres- 
sions of places — to me — depend so much on associa- 
tions, that Lokoja has always been more of a 
' home ' than a ' headquarters ' to me. I have 
always been sorry to leave it, and always glad 
and contented to see it again. 



CHAPTER II 
On Tour 

Exactly a month after our arrival, we set forth 
on our first tour in the ' bush.' The object of our 
journey was the dehmitation of the Northern 
Nigeria-Lagos boundary, from Aiede to Owo, and 
at the former place we were to meet the Lagos 
Travelling Commissioner. 

We made our preparations mostly by the light 
of our Kashmir camping experience, for, beyond 
generalities, none of my friends in Lokoja — with 
the best will in the world — could help me very 
much, never yet having had such a problem to 
tackle ! Indeed, I think, had they advised me 
frankly, they would have said, * Don't go ! ' and 
they were quite wise and kind enough to refrain 
from saying that ! 

So, on the 28th of May, we rode leisurely out of 
Lokoja, about four o'clock, having decided on a 
short march for the first day — a very sound pre- 
caution, on which we have acted ever since. We 
jogged down to the Mimi River, on the far side of 
which our camp was arranged, the carriers and 



11 



12 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

servants having been sent on ahead, so that every- 
thing was ready for us in the little ' rest-house ' 
(a thatched shelter, innocent of walls), hot baths 
announced, and dinner preparing. 

Things were not exactly ship-shape that night — 
they never are at a first halt — and the sandflies and 
mosquitos gave us a bad time ; but, all the same, we 
were very happy at being out in camp, with a good 
six weeks before us, to be crammed with novel 
experiences, new flowers, new birds, new butter- 
flies to discover, heaps to learn about everything, 
and no drawbacks, saving a little physical discom- 
fort, a comparatively trifling matter to energetic 
inquisitive folks like ourselves. 

' A rare holiday ' we said, and so it proved itself, 
amply ! 

The next morning we were off early, and rode 
along through lovely park-like country, wide 
stretches of grass, picturesquely dotted with clumps 
of palms and light bushes, crossed by streams the 
courses of which are marked by a broad band of 
thick luxuriant foliage — like a dark green ribbon 
lying across the sunny plain of grass. I made 
delighted acquaintance with the Gloriosa Superba 
lily, not the magnificent apricot yellow climbing 
variety, but a more delicately regal one, with 
glowing crimson petals edged with gold, standing 
up among the grass, slender, tall and graceful. 
That night we had heavy rain, but our rest-house, 



ON TOUR 13 

mercifully, was water-tight and very cosy, and we 
smiled contentedly, and promised ourselves a cool 
march for the morrow. And so we had : — it was 
a perfect day full of joyful discoveries, climbing 
beside the narrow path, like a sheet of flame, was 
Mussaenda Elegans in full bloom, two furry grey 
monkeys sitting solemnly on a rock, birds of wonder- 
ful blue, crimson and yellow, some scarcely larger 
than beetles, a tiny village tucked away at the 
foot of a little round hill, and, later, when we climbed 
the Shokko-Shokko hill, great clumps of pure white 
lilies, the bulbs of which were the size of a man's 
head, as I discovered, when, afterwards, I bore 
one back in triumph to Lokoja. At Shokko- 
Shokko we celebrated my birthday with a dinner- 
party of two, and I cannot recall a cheerier or more 
light-hearted birthday in my life ! 

The following day, I had my first view of forest 
country : I had listened so often to my husband's 
descriptions of the Ashanti forests and their dreary 
monotony, and I was ready to cry out to him that 
it was, after all, the loveliest thing in the world — 
though, later on, I quite came round to his opinion ! 

It is a rather specially beautiful piece of forest 
round Oduapi ; the sunshine filters down pleasantly 
through the branches of huge trees and swinging 
creepers, on the thick undergrowth of bushes and 
ferns ; there are acres and acres of pineapples, the 
smell of them rather overpowering, for they are 



14 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

such prickly souls that the natives gather only 
those which grow close to the path, while the rest 
rot in their hundreds ; but the sickening scent 
attracts perfectly splendid butterflies — positive coveys 
of them, of all shapes, sizes and colours. 

We passed a tiny farm, belonging to an ex- 
soldier, a Hausa ; he and his family work the little 
homestead, and the acres increase year by year, I 
am glad to say ! On this first visit he and his wife 
came out to greet us, and, with the simplest kindly 
hospitality, offered us of their best — kola-nuts and 
wild honey, both of which I ate on the spot, to their 
great delight. The honey was rather a problem, on a 
fidgety pony, with a twig for a fork ! 

The Chief of Oduapi, a most cheery old gentleman, 
with a loud and jovial laugh, came out to meet us, 
accompanied by his ' suite,' and I tried hard not to 
laugh — the caparisoned steeds were so quaint, and 
still more so their riders, picturesque in flowing 
gowns, made of velvet, originally of loud gaudy 
colours, but softened by time and exposure to 
perfectly artistic tones. Oduapi's gown is always 
a delight to me, the blue has become the blue of 
Gobelin, and the green the softest of sage tints. 
Their dignity was sadly impaired by the head- 
dress of huge flapping straw Hausa hats, with leather 
strings — now perching rakishly, now pressed down, 
granny-wise, now flapping wildly half-way down the 
rider's back, as his pony plunged and reared. 




Kcka' (Baobab) Trees, (p. 14) 




A Hausa Beauiv. (p. 19) 



{/,ice />. 14. 



ON TOUR 15 

The rest-house at Oduapi is placed in a clearing 
in the forest — a lovely spot, with troops of little 
grey monkeys chattering and swinging in the trees, 
the undergrowth alive with birds and butterflies, and 
an occasional ' ough, ough/ betraying the where- 
abouts of the larger dog-faced monkeys, who, how- 
ever, did not show themselves, though they seemed 
to resent our intrusion. 

That night, I woke suddenly, listening intently, 
to hear, for the first time, the roar of a lion. It 
was a very awe-inspiring sound, echoing again and 
again in the depths of the silent forest, followed by 
a deep hoarse cough, and made one, for the moment, 
consider our thatched shelter somewhat inadequate ! 
However, we had a fire burning outside, and, remem- 
bering the saying that no lion will tackle a mosquito 
curtain (and, further, being very sleepy ! ), I merely 
took the precaution of lifting Timmie, our Irish 
terrier, on to my bed, and slept placidly till dawn. 

After a hot march, we reached Kabba, and though 
we were most kindly received by the officer com- 
manding the detachment there we found the ruinous 
tumble-down ' fort ' so uncomfortable that we 
were glad to leave again. Afterwards, I saw a good 
deal more of Kabba, and learnt to love it, and think 
it far the most beautiful spot I have seen in Northern 
Nigeria. At Lukpa, where the village nestles away 
among the trees, and the rest-house is set on a hill 
with magnificent views all round, an incident occurred 



i6 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

which is worth describing in detail, for it ' gives 
one furiously to think ' ! 

* The Sahib ' — as, from ineradicable Indian habit 
I still commonly call my husband — had gone out 
at sunset, after deer, and, during his absence, the 
entire population of the village came streaming 
up the hill to the rest-house, all talking loudly and 
at once, and evidently under the influence of strong 
excitement. I was, by that time, well accustomed 
to creating a sensation wherever I appeared, no 
white woman having been seen previously ; but 
these people struck me as having more than saluta- 
tions in their minds and on their clamouring tongues. 
I had been six weeks in the country, my knowledge 
of Hausa was confined to salutations and a few 
simple words, so I summoned our interpreter to 
help me to entertain my visitors. They chattered, 
shouted and gesticulated at ' Paul,' who eventually 
explained to me, smilingly, that they had never 
seen a white woman before, and were anxious 
to offer me a personal welcome. I nodded and 
smiled in high gratification, thanked them cordially, 
and, when I had exhausted my small stock of 
polite salutations, told the interpreter to give 
them leave to go home. This they did, somewhat 
reluctantly, I thought ; but after describing the 
interview with some amusement to the Sahib, 
I dismissed the matter from my mind. Six weeks 
later we passed through Lukpa again, on our way 



ON TOUR 17 

back to Lokoja, and found it deserted — not a man, 
woman or child, not a goat, not a fowl — all gone, 
obviously fled into the bush ! I felt distinctly 
hurt at this churlish behaviour on the part of my 
late admirers, and learnt, long afterwards, that, 
on our first visit, our precious interpreter and others 
of our party had seized and killed every goat and fowl 
in the village ! The wretched owners had rushed 
up to the rest-house to complain and implore pro- 
tection, and all they got was : ' Thank you ! Thank 
you ! Yes, that's all right ! You can go home 
now ! ' I am not ashamed to confess that I cried 
when I made that discovery ! The lesson, however, 
went home to us both, and drove us to work cease- 
lessly at the Hausa language, knowing there could 
be no security for ourselves, or justice for the people, 
until we could be independent of dishonest inter- 
pretation. 

At Ekiurin, we pitched our tent under a great 
shady tree in the centre of the village, and strolled 
about in the cool of the evening, finding large 
plantations of scarlet and yellow Cannas, the seeds 
of which are pierced and threaded into Mahomedan 
rosaries. As a great mark of confidence, I was shown 
the interior of the ' Ju-ju house,' and was as dis- 
appointed as one usually is at the unravelling of a 
mystery ! The shrine consisted of a dark, empty 
room, swept very clean, the walls were roughly 

coloured red, and on one was drawn an unshapely, 

c 



i8 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

meaningless figure, executed, apparently, in white 
chalk. In the verandah, another reddened wall 
was decorated with similar designs, and in a 
prominent place was the sacrificial stone, black 
and roughly carved. In a niche in the wall stood 
a carved wooden figure, some eighteen inches high, 
hideous and much blackened with exposure and 
nasty gory smears, caused, however, by nothing less 
innocent than the blood of an occasional fowl. 

And so on to Aiede — the country alternating 
between grass-land and forest. I found precious 
trophies in the shape of terrestrial orchids, varying 
in hue from palest mauve to deepest purple, with 
delicate reddish-brown stems, and growing about 
three feet high. There were yellow ones and some 
were green, all most wonderfully striped, spotted 
and splashed with contrasting colours. 

Very prominent features of the Nigerian landscape 
are the red ant hills, sometimes attaining a great 
height, and most fantastic in shape and appearance 
They remind me of a story told of a gallant of^cer, 
more zealous than comprehending, who was engaged 
in quelhng a petty disturbance in West Africa. 
This hero, spying one of these queer-looking clay 
erections, took it to be a ' heathen fetish,' and, 
plunging his sword through and through the 
imaginary idol, exclaimed to the astonished villagers 
and liis troops : ' Thus does the Great White 
Queen destroy the Black Man's Ju-ju ! ' The 



ON TOUR 19 

villagers, of course, thought him mad, but were too 
polite to say so, and the native soldiers must have 
smiled ! 

At one small village I created a painful impression, 
apparently ; the headmen, who came to the usual 
interview, lay on the ground, their heads wrapped 
tightly in their gowns, and groaned aloud, in 
abject fear, and no persuasion could induce them 
to speak or look up till I retired from the scene ! 
The scare subsided happily, before we left, and they 
recorded their opinion that I had come straight 
from Heaven, and besought me not to permit it to 
rain for a day or two. I could but hope for the 
best, and felt relieved when we got away without a 
shower ! 

The roads, or rather tracks, were terribly bad 
going when rain caught us on the march ; we 
crossed mountains, stumbling along among masses 
of rock, loose boulders and slippery clay, on foot, of 
course, riding being out of the question, and our 
hearts ached for our plucky little ponies, labouring 
and clambering up — the descent in each case being 
worse and more dangerous. They were indeed 
^ as active as monkeys and as clever as cats.* On 
the return journey we tied putties on their knees 
to save them in case of a slip, and felt much happier. 

Aiede is a straggling, rather dilapidated Yoruba 
town ; it looked pretty, as there is any amount of 
vegetation, bright sunshine and cool shade, but 



20 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the prevailing smells are atrocious, and the people 
most unattractive. They are Yorubas, but appear 
to be exceptionally lazy and idle, ignorant and 
fetish-ridden. Strictly ' on the quiet/ I was 
taken to see the Ju-ju stone, hidden away inside a 
circular enclosure : a large rock against which was 
propped a roughly carved wooden image, very ugly, 
smeared all over with blood, feathers, etc., as w^as 
also the ground. I was told that a sacrifice (of a goat 
or a fowl) is made there every morning, so that the 
image may be ' watered with blood ' ; there were 
indications of special oblations having been made — 
possibly on our account ! 

A compound was pointed out to me as the dwelling 
of their ^ Ju-ju woman,' described as ' white,' held 
by the Aiede folks in great reverence ; many sacrifices 
of dogs are made to her, as she has a particular 
fancy for eating them ! My Irish terrier ran fear- 
lessly in, and, lest he should get his throat cut, I 
rushed in after him, and came face to face with the 
old lady. She was a loathsome object, an albino 
negress, with snow-white hair, skin of a horrible 
blanched colour, and a terrible pair of red eyes. 
Her astonishment at the sight of me was quite 
ludicrous ; she may have considered me as a possible 
rival, about to set up in her line of business ! The 
Lagos Travelhng Commissioner, who we met at 
Aiede, seemed to have grave suspicions of the 
people there in the matter of twin-murder and 



ON TOUR 21 

human sacrifices — they certainly looked capable of 
both. 

Part of the road from Aiede to Alashigidi was 
declared impassable for the ponies, so we sent them 
round by a longer road and did the eight miles on 
foot. It was rather a pleasant variety, and included 
some rough climbing, after which I was made 
acquainted with palm wine ; it was icy cold and 
quite fresh, and seemed to us delicious, but I suppose 
we were very thirsty, for it has never seemed so good, 
to me, since. 

After leaving Alashigidi, the country was dense 
forest, damp, gloomy and utterly monotonous, 
only compensated for by the magnificent butter- 
flies. We succeeded in capturing a good many, 
especially of a kind that was, at that time, new to 
me — a truly beautiful person, with glorious colouring, 
the wings quite iridescent, appearing in one light, 
pale green, in another deep glowing purple, in another 
shimmering white, with a general effect of mother- 
of-pearl. Along the banks of the Ose River a 
rough path was blazed, to mark the boundary line, 
and we made an expedition along it on foot. It 
was a very interesting experience, penetrating 
this silent forest, where no human being had passed 
before, and delightful to notice how utterly fearless 
were the birds and butterflies, scarcely moving at 
our approach. The men who hacked out the path 
for us had immense difficulty in inducing a large 



22 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

python to ' move on ' — he had to be actually burnt 
out before he would remove himself ! The river 
itself was very lovely, cool and silent in deepest 
shade, winding noiselessly through the forest. 
Our objective was Iporo, a little standing camp, 
composed of much dilapidated grass huts in a 
clearing, on the banks of a stream, really tinkling 
and purling exactly like a Scotch burn^ and which 
I flew to sketch on the spot ! 

The following morning we started back on our 
long return journey, passing from Alashigidi to 
Erun, where we spent what should have been 
Coronation Day. On the strength of this, we 
decided to hold a durbar of our own, congratulating 
ourselves on being far from the crowded streets 
of London, and all unconscious of the tragic shadow 
then hanging over England, while the King lay 
dangerously ill. 

A number of Chiefs came in from the surrounding 
villages, to pay their respects, all arrayed in their 
bravest attire, and a very gaudy crowd they were ! 
Erun himself was arrayed in a garment composed 
of stripes of crimson and gold plush, embroidered 
on the breast with gold and sequins ; over this 
was worn a long mantle of silver grey plush — it 
made my heart ache to see its delicate folds trailing 
in the dust ! On his head was a comical high hat, 
shaped like a Bishop's mitre, made entirely of 
white and coloured beads ; from it, all round, hung 



ON TOUR 23 

a long, thick fringe of beads, thoroughly concealing 
his face. This original costume was completed 
by a necklace of coral, huge slippers, also of bead- 
work, and a staff completely covered with beads in in- 
tricate patterns, surmounted by a bead dicky-bird ! 

He sat, with immense dignity, under a crimson and 
gold State umbrella, with the other Chiefs arranged 
in a semicircle, strictly according to precedence, 
making a brilliant splash of colour with their robes of 
blue, purple and green velvet and brocade. 

While my husband explained carefully to them why 
the day had a special significance for us all, and 
described what we imagined to be going on at 
Westminster, I whiled away the time by making a 
sketch of the old Chief, and took some photographs, 
but found our guests most fidgety folks to get into 
a group — at the critical moment some one was sure 
to get up and stroll away, or lean across to make 
a remark to his neighbour ! 

In the evening, rather to our dismay, they all 
turned up again, singly this time, and gave us a 
good deal of useful information. Before each other 
they would say nothing, this being a matter of 
etiquette, but, in private, were brimful of troubles, 
complaints and general talk. 

From Erun we made our way back to Kabba, 
coming in for quantities of rain, but usually at 
night, so we had little real inconvenience from 
it, except in the matter of fording swollen streams. 



24 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

On one of these occasions^ crawling cautiously into 
the river, the ponies suddenly dropped out of their 
depth, and were obliged to swim for it. It was 
decidedly uncomfortable for ponies and riders, but 
the good little souls made a valiant struggle against 
the rushing current, and landed us safe, though 
wet, on the far side. The worst part of that business 
was the struggle to get off my dripping boots ! 

We were delighted to leave the stuffy forest behind, 
and find ourselves back in the fresh air and breezes 
of Kabba. It was an uneventful march, my chief 
concern the catching of butterflies. We got one or 
two fine '*^ Char axes," and greatly exercised ourselves 
over the moths that thronged the sweet-scented 
blossoms of the paw-paw trees at night. 

We got back to Lokoja about the middle of July, 
having thoroughly enjoyed our trek^ and, myself, 
feeling very pleased with my initiation into the 
methods of African travel. 



r?. 



CHAPTER III 
Bida and Egga 

We spent the rest of July and August in Lokoja — 
my husband, as usual, full of work ; I, very busy 
gardening. We watched the building of the bunga- 
low destined for us, and, as soon as the actual building 
was finished, we set to work, and made our garden, 
having the coarse elephant grass dug out, and 
turfy ' dhoob ' grass planted instead. Numberless 
seedlings and cuttings were put in, dotted over 
the grass ; we had scarcely one failure, and my 
seedlings are now respectable sized trees ! 

But trouble overtook us too — our dearly-loved 
little Irish terrier sickened and died, as did also 
my pony, ' Mouse,' who had carried me so gallantly 
over all those miles we had travelled. Both losses, I 
imagine, were the result of that ' beautiful forest 
country.' 

About this time the High Commissioner arrived, 
bringing Lady Lugard ; they paid Lokoja a short 
visit before going on to Zungeru, and the real Corona- 
tion Day was celebrated. In the middle of August 
we moved into our new bungalow, and, for me. 



2o 



26 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

naturally, the days flew until the beginning of 
September. 

My husband was very anxious to meet and confer 
with the Resident of Nupe, who was less able to 
leave his headquarters at the time than we were, 
and, as we were nothing loth to extend our acquaint- 
ance with Nigeria, we packed up, and started for 
Bida. 

We went up river on one of the stern-wheelers, 
as far as Dakmon on the Kaduna River ; there we 
found ponies, sent down from Bida to meet us, 
and rode in, an easy march of about fourteen miles. 
We were struck with the general air of prosperity 
and comfort displayed by the flourishing farms 
and neat little hamlets, and were rather amused to 
come upon a scarecrow, the first I had seen in this 
country. 

It was a great day for Bida : no white woman 
had ever been there, and the Emir and his people 
were determined to do honour to the event; so, 
as we approached the town, a great concourse of 
people began to throng down the hill from the 
Residency. At the head of the procession rode 
Mr. Goldsmith, the Acting Resident, followed by 
the Emir, an immensely tall and stout personage, 
gorgeously attired, and having a State umbrella 
held over his head as he rode, and ostrich feather 
fans waved by attendants on either side. Behind 
him followed the members of his family and ' Court 



BIDA AND EGGA 27 

officials/ and the procession ended in a surging 
crowd, on horseback and on foot. They made an 
attractive picture, splashes of brilliant colour and 
snowy white robes and turbans dashing hither and 
thither, pulling up their horses suddenly on their 
haunches, with a great display of jingling brass 
and gaudy leather trappings, then darting off 
again, scattering the crowed like irresponsible butter- 
flies ! After the ceremonial greetings we all pro- 
ceeded to the Residency, where more greetings 
ensued, and, on his dismounting, one could get a 
better idea of the vast proportions of the Emir — 
a truly huge man. 

The city of Bida hes rather in a hollow, surrounded 
by low hills ; its wall extends for about nine miles, 
and is pierced by a number of large gateways, most 
cunningly set, with dark recesses in their depths — 
probably with a view to dealing effectually with 
unexpected or undesired visitors ! Inside, the streets 
are lined with shady trees, which give a delightfully 
cool appearance to the thatched huts and market 
places. The Emir's palace is a great pile of clay 
buildings enclosed within a high wall, and on the 
occasion when, accompanied by Mr. Goldsmith, 
we went to visit him, we had an opportunity of 
inspecting the Nupe style of building and decoration. 
The inner apartments were more or less like great 
vaults, unlighted save by the doorways, and appeared 
to us, at first, to be in pitch-darkness; but, after a 



28 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

time, when our eyes became accustomed to the 
gloom, we could follow the outhne of the high 
vaulted roof and the massive pillars, the surface 
of which is plastered and beautifully polished 
(I believe with special clay, obtained from the 
inside of ant-heaps), resembling black marble. 

It was an odd experience, sitting in the warm 
scented darkness, our host and his people more 
guessed at than seen, great fans softly waving 
behind him, and every rustle of every gown wafting 
out the heavy perfume of musk, an interpreter 
conveyed in a hushed, monotonous murmur endless 
salutations, compliments and pious aspirations be- 
tween us, the atmosphere was highly soporific, 
and we were all relieved when the Emir proposed 
a move to the verandah. 

I requested, and obtained permission to pay a 
visit to the ladies of the harem, and, escorted by an 
aged — and presumably privileged — dotard, I passed 
through the heavy door and found as great a contrast 
to the dim quiet scene I had just left as could 
well be imagined ! A crowd of women, some mere 
girls, others middle-aged, nearly all carrying babies, 
and a swarm of brown toddlers, all laughing, clapping 
their hands, calling greetings and salutations inces- 
santly. To them it was indeed a ' bolt from the 
blue,' and, in their placid lives of seclusion, a marvel- 
lous and startling occurrence ; but, though they 
were frank enough in their expressions of astonish- 





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BIDA AND EiGGA 29 

ment and pleasure, their perfect courtesy, that 
fine characteristic of the African people, prevailed 
to restrain them. There was no mobbing, no 
pushing, or crowding. I was invited to seat myself 
on a large carved black stool, while the Emir's mother, 
a very aged sweet-faced woman, evidently set in 
authority above the rest, crouched on the ground 
beside me, gently patting and smoothing my skirts 
and feet, while she poured forth greetings and 
salutations, thanking Allah fervently that ' in her 
old age, she had been spared to see this wonderful 
sight.' 

It was very touching, and, at that time, I little 
thought I should ever see her again, though, after- 
wards, I had frequent messages from her to say 
that she still lived and still remembered, and when 
would I come back and visit her again ? 

The Emir presented us with an enormous and almost 
almost embarrassing ' dash ' or present — oxen, sheep, 
fowls and various special Bida products. Fortun- 
ately, the custom (which hurts no one's feelings) 
is to dispose of the live stock in the market and 
present to the donor, in money or cloth, the full 
value of his present, so I ' bought in ' eagerly some 
of the really beautiful coloured grass mats — there 
were seventy-five to choose from ! — and handsome 
brass-work, and bore them off with me when, on 
the following day, we took leave of our kind host, 
and cantered down to the Wonangi Creek, where 



30 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

our steel canoe was waiting, and slowly dropped 
down stream to Lokoja. 

I afterwards sent the Emir of Bida, as a token 
of friendship, a Hausa gown, made for me locally, 
of white material, much pleated, and heavily embroid- 
ered in white in the customary patterns, and this 
embroidery I outlined and embellished with gold 
thread, producing a very fine rich effect, which was 
highly appreciated by my friend. 

A few words on the subject of Hausa embroidery 
may not be inappropriate here, for it is distinctly 
interesting, and, in its way, artistic. 

The finest and most elaborate needlework is 
found on the Hausa gown or tohCj which, in itself, 
deserves a few words of description in detail. 
The accompanying drawing gives an accurate idea 
of its shape — a surplice-like garment of immense 
width, reaching to the ankles. The material is 
frequently pleated all over from neck to knees, 
where it falls loose, taking on a most up-to-date 
flow and expansion ! I have seen as much as 
thirty yards of wide English cloth put into one 
tobe ; under these circumstances, the weight of 
the gown is, of course, very considerable. 

These garments are made of every kind of stuff, 
according to the length of the wearer's purse ; some- 
times they are fashioned of European cotton velvets, 
brocades and plush, and, in the districts where the 
Lagos trade makes its influence felt, many of these 



BIDA AND EGGA 31 

gowns are to be seen, made, alas, of shoddy velveteen, 
and the beautiful native needlework replaced by 
tawdry tinsel and sequins. The vast majority, 
however, are composed of country-made cloth, 
which is, by necessity of the tiny, primitive looms, 
woven in narrow strips, some four inches wide, 
and laboriously sewn together. Some of it is dyed 
with indigo or magenta, but the best kind remains 
a creamy white, resembling a coarse heavy linen, 
and forms a most desirable background for elaborate 
stitchery. The tobe has a deep pocket on the left 
breast, reaching to the knees, and it is on this, 
principally, that the embroidery is concentrated : 
there is also a single circular design at the back, 
high on the left shoulder, which never varies, though 
the decoration in front may be amplified and 
elaborated at pleasure. 

All the designs used in Hausa embroidery are 
obviously symbolical, and their significance and 
history is a subject of deep interest, but it is most 
difficult to acquire reliable information on the point, 
as the people themselves are, for the most part, 
hopelessly ignorant about it, and merely reproduce 
the same designs from generation to generation, 
for the excellent — and, to them, conclusive reason 
that their fathers and grandfathers did so ! 

The most frequent designs are the Fuska 
(face) and the Almakashi (scissors) ; these I 
have always found included in every decorative 



32 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

scheme, however intricate and elaborate. The 
pattern is drawn in native ink, with a pointed wooden 
pen ; it is entirely free-hand, and is rather a go-as- 
you-please process, with little regard for symmetry, 
though, in the case of the gown I have illustrated, 
I think the complicated conventional design is 
marvellously accurate for a freehand performance. 

The work is carried out in native thread, occasion- 
ally dyed with indigo, or to the correct Islamic 
shade of brilliant green but usually of the same 
creamy tint as the cloth itself. The stitchery is 
absolutely simple, being mainly chain-stitch squares 
filled in with long stitches, and a curious handsome 
effect is produced by a series of tiny eyelets, worked 
in buttonhole stitch, giving a rich damask appear- 
ance. Couching stitch is also used, and most pat- 
terns are outlined with French knots. 

There is also another quite distinct kind of 
embroidery, universally employed for decorating the 
enormously wide trousers worn underneath the tobes. 
These voluminous garments terminate in an almost 
tightfitting band, some nine inches deep, just above 
the ankle, and it is here, and on the outside of the 
leg, that this needlework is lavished — a cunning 
piece of vanity, as it is well displayed when the 
wearer strides about with a sufficient swagger ! 

The designs, as can be seen from the sketch, are 
quite different from those used on the tobes ; some 
are distinctly Masonic in character, some are quite 




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BIDA AND EGGA 33 

ecclesiastical, others suggestive of Persian embroidery. 
They are carried out in gaily-coloured wools, pro- 
cured from Lagos, — the usual tints being bright 
crimson, royal blue, purple, orange, green and 
black. The combination I am aware, sounds daring, 
to say the least of it, but the result is wonderfully 
effective and brilliant, without being in the least 
bit gaudy, and it always seems to me a thousand 
pities that so much industry and real artistic effec- 
tiveness should be thrown away, usually, on the 
most wretched materials, cheap cotton cloth from 
Manchester very often, and on these inferior wools 
which will not bear the ordeal of a single washing. 

I have interested myself in collecting these 
designs, and have worked them myself on the best 
linens with fast-dyed silks and the equally beautiful 
modern flax threads, and the result is eminently 
satisfactory — the designs, of course, requiring to 
be corrected and straightened. Indeed, for tea- 
cloths, borders, cushions or doyleys, and for an 
endless variety of decorative purposes, I think it 
would be difficult to find embroidery of a more 
striking or original kind than that peculiar to 
Nigeria. 

In November, my husband had orders to accom- 
pany a patrol on the Northern-Southern Nigeria 
frontier, and as friction with some of the natives 
was a possible contingency, it was not thought 
advisable for me to go too, so I remained in Lokoja 

D 



34 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

alone, feeling sad and rather lonely, and envying 
my better half the opportunity of finding ' pastures 
new ' which I was unable to share. 

On leaving, the Sahib commended me to the 
care of the Sariki and Chiefs of Lokoja, mainly, I 
think, as a friendly joke, but they took the charge 
quite seriously, dear souls, the whole cavalcade 
turning up regularly each morning to make careful 
inquiries of the most minute description, and to 
ask whether I did not ' feel sad without the Resid- 
ent ! ' After a few days they informed me that 
' it was quite impossible for them to take proper 
care of me while I lived so far away from them — 
they had a fine compound swept out, next to the 
Sariki's house, in the town — would I not come 
and live there, till the Judge's return ? ' 

It was rather a dilemma, and I had to meet it 
by telling them how much I should have enjoyed 
visiting them, but that I had my duty too, and I 
must look after our house and garden, ponies and 
dogs, so as to keep everything in order, and finally 
satisfied their kind hearts by promising to send 
to them for all and anything that I might want ! 
Each time a letter arrived from the absentee, I 
summoned my friends, read it aloud, translating 
each sentence as I went into halting Hausa ; every 
single word was repeated and passed round eagerly, 
discussed and commented upon, amidst much 
chewing of kola-nuts,^provided by the hostess, and 



BIDA AND EGGA 35 

ponderous messages of an affectionate nature were 
impressively given me for transmission in my reply ! 

The arrival of General and Mrs. Kemball cheered 
me greatly, and the week they spent in Lokoja 
was a very happy one for me, in Mrs. KembalFs 
bright and sympathetic companionship. There was 
a cheery dinner-party at the Mess in their honour, 
and I said good-bye very regretfully when they 
went on their way to Zungeru. Shortly afterwards 
we had another glimpse of them as they passed 
through on their way down river, and we little 
thought then that our next meeting would be at 
Trinity Lodge, Cambridge ! 

One morning, three weeks later, I put on my 
riding habit with a very light heart, and rode out, 
accompanied by the whole of the Sariki's cavalcade, 
to escort our ' judge ' home in triumph. It was 
a glorious morning, and perfectly delightful riding 
through the crops of guinea-corn, now ripe, and 
standing ten feet high, — the leaves splashed and 
stained with crimson, purple and gold, like gaudy, 
waving ribbons, the heavy plumes of grain swaying 
above one's head, brilliant red, or black and white. 
Underneath the pony's feet was a veritable carpet 
of a tiny lilac blossom which always flourishes 
among the guinea-corn at harvest time and hardly 
anywhere else. * The little pink flower that grows 
in the wheat ' always comes into my mind, but this 
one happens to be mauve instead ! 



36 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

We escorted our lord and master home — a most 
rowdy party, the boldest spirits wildly racing their 
ponies along the winding track — girths (composed of 
widths of ancient cotton cloth !) parting company 
continually, and saddle and rider together taking 
a flying toss into the grass, amid shrieks of delight 
from the rest of the crowd. At each tiny hamlet 
the entire party would tumble off their ponies, 
greet and salute, salute and greet, drink quantities 
of water, climb on again, set the horns and drums 
braying their loudest, and gallop off irresponsibly, 
like the light-hearted children that they are. 

My husband afterwards told me that in the 
course of the patrol they passed through a jvalley 
where the inhabitants of the rocks and hills above 
apparently made their homes in holes and caves ; 
one member of the party idly asked what was the 
scientific name for cave-dwellers, [it having slipped 
his memory for the moment. No one appeared to 
be able to supply the word, when the native inter- 
preter, plodding along behind, came up, saying : 
* Pardon me, sir, don't you mean Troglodytes ? ' 
The Englishman, amazed, asked where he had ever 
heard such a word, and ' George ' replied placidly : 
' I was reading a dictionary one day, and I saw it ! ' 
I cannot imagine myself reading a German or Italian 
dictionary for pleasure, and storing in my mind, for 
future use, conversationally, a specially unusual 
scientific term ; I only wish I could ! 



BIDA AND EGGA 37 

Christmas Day of that year found us at Egga, 
a small riverside town on the right bank of the 
Niger, sixty miles above Lokoja. Canon Robinson 
(in JIausaland ) describes Egga as an island, from 
which one may conclude that he only visited the 
place in the rainy season ; we have marched overland 
to Egga, and walked on dry — very dry — ground 
all around it in May, and, three months later, passed 
over the same spots, steaming easily in a stern- 
wheeler ! It consists really of three or four elevated 
tongues of land, with low-lying creeks in between, 
which are so flooded by the rise of the river, 
that to traverse the town from end to end several 
canoe journeys are necessary. On the high ground 
the grass-roofed huts are clustered thick as bees, 
they perch perilously on the very edge, threatening 
to topple into the creek below — perhaps they do, 
sometimes, for the banks suffer considerably at 
each annual rise in the water. Our domicile was 
perched in solitary state on one of the small Ararats, 
farthest from the river bank, and that Christmas 
morning, creeping from under the low verandah 
of the rest-house, I had a glorious and uninterrupted 
view of mile upon mile of grass-land, flanked in the 
distance by the curious flat-topped hills at Padda. 
The distance was marked only by the ' wire road, ' 
the telegraph line leaving Egga and disappearing 
into the pearly iridescent Harmattan mists in an 
ever diminishing perspective — the one link with 



38 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

civilization, unless one counts, too, the ceaseless 
meagre stream of humble traders, in ones and twos, 
padding in noiseless procession at the foot of our 
little hill, making their way to Ilorin, at that 
peculiar half trot, half run, which looks like walking, 
but which covers the ground in amazing fashion. 

It was rather an event, this Christmas Day, the 
first we had spent in Nigeria, and much care and 
thought had been expended on the dinner menu. 
There was a plump turkey to be roasted in a native 
oven, a most uncompromising-looking affair, con- 
sisting of a large earthenware pot, half buried in 
the ground ; this is heated by the simple process 
of stuffing it full of blazing wood, and when the 
cook deems the temperature high enough, he will 
haul out the fuel, pop in the turkey, plant a flat piece 
of tin on the mouth of the oven, piling it up with 
much burning wood — and, wonderful to relate, it will 
roast the turkey to perfection ! 

The chef had his work cut out for him that 
day, for the feast was to include a most desirable 
fat teal, shot the day before, which had to be similarly 
cooked in a similar oven also a plum-pudding from 
' Home ', round which most pleasurable anticipations 
hovered. 

When the Christmas presents had been distributed 
to the household, the morning spent itself peacefully 
in writing and sketching, the Sahib working away, 
as the habit of political officers ever is out here. 



BIDA AND EGGA 39 

in spite of my loud insistence on a whole holiday : 
all arrangements had been made for an afternoon 
on the river, among the wild duck, and luncheon 
had been despatched, when, with housewifely care, 
I bethought me of making final arrangements for 
dinner, and summoned the cook. He was not 
forthcoming, but, after much whispering and sup- 
pressed giggling among the small boys of the house- 
hold, Momo, our faithful head steward, appeared, 
taking generous support from the side of the 
doorway, and adorned with a vacant giddy smile that 
turned my heart to water ! 

Very slowly he spoke, and with deadly care ; 
speech was very difficult, but he struggled through 
manfully, and, though I was bubbling with wrath, 
I could not help feeling sincere admiration. ' The 
cook was not at all well. . . . Yes, he certainly 
had drunk far too much pito (native beer). . . and 
he, Momo, had had a little too — for Kismiss ! ' — 
smiling vaguely at the floor. ' No, he did not think 
Jim Dow would be able to walk till three o'clock, 
but ' — with renewed cheerfulness, and a tremendous 
pull on himself — 'Cook say he get quite well very 
soon, cook dinner proper, Missis go shoot, no fear 
at all. ... Jim Dow fit to cook all right very 
soon ! . . .' 

Well, there was no help for it — I certainly could 
not go and find the delinquent in the purlieus of the 
town, nor, had I found him, could I have done any- 



40 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

thing, so we resigned ourselves, sending the steward 
to ' sleep it off/ and reflecting that we might as well 
spend the afternoon happily as not, we stepped 
warily into the native canoe, determined to banish 
all dismal forebodings 'on the very slender chances 
of our getting any dinner at all ! 

The canoe, an ordinary dug-out, about twenty 
feet long, contained our two camp chairs, the guns, 
four polers, and Ganna. 

Ganna is one of my many friends out here ; he 
is the younger brother of the Rogun or Chief of 
Egga, and has been interpreter to the late Captain 
Abadie, and, like all who came in contact with 
him, had the liveliest admiration and affection for 
him. He is in the latter stages of consumption, 
poor soul, and has a thin eager face, a fair command 
of English, and a terrible rending cough. He gets 
thinner each time I see him, and though he some- 
times comes to Lokoja, and attends the native 
hospital there, the doctors can never give me any 
hope of his recovery. Poor Ganna, I wonder if I 
shall ever see him again; the last time was when 
we were poling down the river in a steel canoe, and, 
in the early morning, as we drifted slowly past a 
tiny hamlet, a figure flew down the bank, and the 
familiar emaciated face and skinny, almost trans- 
parent arms appeared over the side, bearing a fine 
leopard skin, while, in a voice saddeningly husky and 
laboured, Ganna explained how he had kept the 




A Camp ox the Rivkr Bank. (p. 40) 




Roofing at Keffi. (p 31) 



\ face p. 40. 



BIDA AND EGGA 41 

skin for us, watched for us many 'days, knowing of 
our approach in the weird, mysterious fashion in 
which news travels in Africa. ' Yes, he was doing 
a Httle work now, but his chest hurt him, and he 
would come to Lokoja when his work was finished 
... he would go again to the hospital, indeed he 
would, and ask the Likitor (Doctor !) for some 
more of that good medicine. . . . Good-bye ! . . . 
Sai wota rana ! (lit. till another day) . . .' and 
the canoe dropped down stream, leaving the sunken 
hollow eyes watching us from the bank, and the 
painful hacking cough reaching our ears after the 
corner was rounded. Poor Ganna, I wonder where 
our ' wota rana ' meeting will take place — not in 
Africa, I think ! 

However, this particular Christmas Day was 
four years ago, and Ganna was then a stronger man, 
and a keen shikari, and had arranged this shoot. 
I looked at him with special interest, as he crouched, 
smiling, at one end of the canoe, clad in a dazzling 
white Hausa gown, heavily embroidered in green — 
there seemed to be more of him than usual, and the 
hope crossed my mind that he was perhaps gaining 
flesh. But, when we had poled down the creek 
where the water-lilies are clustered thick, past 
the Niger Company's warehouses, and out on 
to the great grey river, nearly half a mile wide, and 
shrouded in pale Harmattan mists, and were sweep- 
ing rapidly down stream in the direction of the duck 



42 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

grounds, Ganna dissipated my hopes by cautiously 
divesting himself of his white garb, and emerging, 
clad in a faultless Norfolk suit of light tweed — a 
present from his beloved master, as he explained 
proudly. 

The water was like oil, greyness was everywhere 
as soon as the sun began to drop into the haze, and 
a great silence prevailed — the loudest sound being 
the crackling of numberless bush fires along the 
banks, for at this season of the year the dry grass 
is fired, and in all directions there are leaping tongues 
of flame and columns of smoke. 

Presently, the ' Quack ! Quack ! ' of contented 
ducks could be heard, and we crept off our chairs 
and crouched in the bottom of our canoe, the polers 
squatting motionless at either end, their wet poles 
slowly dripping into the greasy-looking water, while 
the canoe drifted down to the sand-bank where the 
ducks were — in their hundreds, some standing in 
the water, preening their feathers, others solemnly 
waddling about on the bank — all discoursing cease- 
lessly in their gossippy, monotonous language. 
The whole bank was dark with them, tall, graceful 
' crown-birds ' standing motionless or stalking 
thoughtfully about on the sand, plump, sturdy 
mallards, and restless little teal, all busy, chatty, 
supremely happy, and utterly unconscious of the 
danger creeping on them, in the drifting canoe. 

We were so absorbed in watching the scene 



BIDA AND EGGA 43 

that we forgot the object of our expedition, and, 
indeed, it seemed nothing short of criminal to disturb 
a party so contented and peaceful, but the thousands 
of restless little bright eyes spied the glint of a gun 
barrel, the alarm was given, there was a rushing whirr, 
and the sky over our heads was instantly dark with 
beating wings. A couple of shots brought down 
some victims, and the canoe wended its way to 
another duck-ground, after landing me on a sand- 
bank, for the purpose of sketching a picturesque little 
hamlet built there by the fisher-folk during the season of 
low water, when they spend their time catching and 
drying fish ; later, when the water rises, and, each 
year, sweeps away the whole colony of frail grass 

huts, they return to Egga, and dispose of their season's 
catch. 

When the canoe, laden with further spoils, picked 
me up again, the sun was just setting in the banks 
of mist, a gorgeous colour display of sunset had turned 
the whole world rose-colour, giving to the water a 
strange pale violet hue, and we had a good six 
miles to pole against a swift current, so the nose of 
the canoe was turned up stream, and we crept along 
close under the banks, where the stream is least 
strong, and the edge gives some purchase for the 
poles. 

Our progress seemed incredibly slow, but I could 
have sat there for ever, slipping through the still 
evening, the silence only broken, away behind us, 



44 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

by the faint quacking of disturbed and outraged 
ducks, returning cautiously to the feeding-grounds ; 
one felt at peace with all the world, and I could not 
even bother to give an anxious thought to the 
complete uncertainty of our dinner ! 

Ahead of us was a tiny canoe, with only one 
occupant, but fully laden with newly-made earthen- 
ware pots, coming to seek a market at Egga ; steadily 
the man pulled, watching the sinking sun all the 
while ; then, as it finally disappeared, he deliberately 
poled into a flat sand-bank, tied the canoe to the pole 
fixed in the sand, carefully washed and prepared 
himself, then, with his face devoutly raised to the 
eastward sky, he commenced his evening devotions. 
A picturesque figure with the flaming sunset after- 
glow as a background, intent only on his prayer, 
unconscious of our approach under the bank, alone 
and — to his knowledge — unseen, not a gesture, not 
a movement of the hands, not a single word was 
omitted or hurried over — a curious blending of 
simplicity and solemnity, and, as we left him behind, 
I murmured, ' Thy Father which seeth in secret 
. . / and the Sahib nodded his head comprehendingly. 

It was quite dark when we slid into the Egga 
creek, and figures began to move on the bank and 
lights flash as we pulled up ; the most prominent 
was a short, squat personage, clad in spotless white 
drill, white shoes and a jaunty straw hat in his hand, 
holding the big lantern and generally directing the 



BIDA AND EGGA 45 

disembarkation ! Jim Dow, the sinner, restored 
to his former greatness, perfectly sober and full of 
serene cheerfulness — assuring us genially that he was 
' quite well again ' and the dinner progressing most 
satisfactorily ! 

A scramble up to the rest-house, hot baths and a 
change — and Jim Dow was quite as good as his 
word ! 



CHAPTER IV 

Keffi 

Immediately after the New Year we marched north 
from Egga to Pateji, where we were to meet the 
Resident of Ilorin, and with him accompHsh the 
dehmitating of the Ilorin-Kabba boundary. At 
one of our halts we were lunching one day, when 
the servants ran in, begging us, in some excitement, 
to ' come and look ! ' In the dusty roadway were 
a couple of donkeys, loaded with potash, a pair of 
evil-looking men, and two of the most forlorn, 
wretched little mites of children that it has ever 
been my misfortune to see. The younger of the 
two was certainly not more than four or five years 
old, both were crying helplessly, stumbling along 
in the dust, limping and exhausted. They had 
begged our boys for water, and so, most fortunately, 
attracted their attention. 

It was the first case of obvious slavery I had ever 
seen, and the terrible cruelty of it made one's blood 
boil. My husband of course detained the ' caravan,* 
the leader of which declared glibly that the children 
were not slaves, but his own offspring, and that their 

47 



48. A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

mother was just coming along behind. The elder 
toddler had spirit enough to cry out : * We are not^ 
we are not ! He bought us, for a horse ... a thin 
horse.' . . with a mournful touch of self-pity. 
Presently, a young girl came toilmg along the road, 
and the caravan leader flung at her a flood of a 
language unknown to us, so that, when questioned, 
she spiritlessly agreed that they were her children. 
She was, herself not more than fourteen or fifteen, 
and could not possibly have been the mother of 
either child ; her owner, when sternly reminded of 
this, hurriedly shifted his ground, saying that this 
was not the woman of whom he had spoken, the chil- 
dren's mother was still further behind. This was 
greeted with loud denials from the mites, who 
had already placed themselves definitely under our 
protection ! We had the caravan leader removed 
when the next dejected figure came slowly in sight, 
and the new-comer immediately and frankly 
described them all as slaves, confirmed the 
children's story, and with pitiful indifference 
remarked that they had already covered twelve 
miles that day, and were prepared to travel another 
six, so as to avoid the observation of the ' White 
Judge.' 

The men were taken into custody, the donkeys 
and loads confiscated, the women elected to attach 
themselves to another caravan, travelling back to 
their own district, and we took charge of the chil- 



KEFFI 49 

dren. After a good meal and twelve hours' sleep, 
they were different creatures, but their swollen feet 
made it almost impossible for them to walk a yard. 
I carried the tiny boy on my knee, and, after a 
grunt or two of satisfaction, his head dropped back 
on my shoulder, and he slept for hours. It was 
not exactly a comfortable arrangement in a side- 
saddle, and we were much relieved when we reached 
Pateji, and could ship our charges down to Lokoja, 
where they became two of the liveliest inmates of 
the Freed Slaves' Home. 

At Pateji, my husband found orders to return at 
once to Lokoja, hand over the Province to a new 
Resident, then on his way out from England, and 
start for Keffi, the headquarters of the Nassarawa 
Province, where he was to take temporary charge. 
We crossed to Mureji, at the mouth of the Kaduna 
River, and returned to Lokoja to make preparations 
for our departure. There was excitement and 
unrest in the air, events in the North had made the 
Kano-Sokoto Expedition an immediate necessity, 
the greater part of the Force had already concen- 
trated at Zaria, and the Lokoja garrison was rein- 
forced by troops from Southern Nigeria, under the 
command of Major Moorhouse. Dr. Cargill, the 
Resident of Nassarawa, was urgently needed at 
Kano, so, after a week spent by my husband in 
initiating his successor into the mysteries of the daily 
work of a Resident, we started off for Keffi, con- 

E 



50 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

gratulating ourselves on this opportunity of seeing 
a new part of the country. 

We left Lokoja one hot day at the end of January, 
occupying a steel canoe which was towed alongside 
by the steam canoe Black Swan. This latter was 
— well, ' occupied ' is not the word — overflowed 
by a party of officers and N.C.O.s ; Captain Macarthy 
Morrogh and Mr. Steward being on their way to 
join the Anglo-German Boundary Commission, Major 
Mackenzie and Mr. Carre from Southern Nigeria, 
bound for Loko and Nassarawa to recruit carriers. 
The two former had, of necessity, a great quantity 
of stores and baggage, and the discomfort of that 
crowded canoe must have been extreme, intensified 
as it was by the heat from their steam pipes : I 
should imagine that on parting with four of us at 
Loko, the sentiments of the remainder must have 
been unmixed relief ! 

The Benue River struck me as being remarkably 
clearer and purer in colour than the Niger, and the 
scenery is very lovely. Each evening we ' tied up ' 
by a convenient sandbank, and the men camped there, 
rejoiced, I fancy, to spread themselves out a bit. 
One evening the Black Swan contingent gave a 
dinner-party, the novel feature of which was that 
our menu was to consist of a ' French dinner ' — a most 
luxurious invention for travellers, one large box 
containing five tins, each representing a course, 
with fascinating French names. These only need 



KEFFI 51 

to be heated in boiling water — and, behold — your 
French dinner ! As we were a party of six, two 
* dinners ' were requisitioned, and we fared royally 
on delicious soup for a start. After that, I fear the 
various cooks and boys got hopelessly astray among 
the courses, for I found myself eating filleted sole, 
with apple charlotte by way of a sauce ! We gave 
up all attempt at sequence after that, and simply 
ate our way through a list of most excellent dainties, 
discovering many new and delectable combinations, 
and voted the ' dinners ' an unqualified success ! 

At Loko the party broke up ; we found ponies 
waiting for us, and hastened off as soon as possible, 
for it is a most unpleasant mosquito-ridden spot. 
The road to Kefii is monotonous and wearisome, 
consisting of the path cleared for the construction 
of the telegraph line, and it is the dullest process 
following that interminable wire, winding in between 
the stumps of decapitated trees. The only halt 
of any interest on the way was at Nassarawa, a 
town which had evidently ' seen better days,' finely 
situated on rising ground above a broad river. 
Keffi has always had a sinister reputation — firstly 
as a famous slave market, and later on as the scene 
of Captain Moloney's tragic death. The Keffi people 
are queer restless folks, finding their greatest pleasure, 
apparently, in munafiki or intrigue of all kinds. 
Our native friends in Loko j a shook their heads 
dismally, and deplored our being obliged to go among 



52 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

these ' bad, hard-hearted people/ I remember, and 
were evidently prepared for all kinds of unpleasant 
developments ! 

As we rode in through the South Gate, and up 
the long sandy road through the town, it seemed 
indeed a desolate spot after the teeming streets of 
Lokoja ; nearly all the houses were unroofed (a 
precaution against fire in the dry season), many were 
ruinous, and scarcely a soul was to be seen. But, 
glancing into the narrow low doorways, one was 
conscious of lurking forms and inquisitive peeping 
eyes ; there were subdued scufflings as, seeing them- 
selves observed, the peepers scuttled off into devious 
back alleys, like frightened rabbits. The town had 
been practically deserted since the trouble of the 
previous autumn, when Captain Moloney's death 
took place, and the outlook was indeed a depressing 
one. 

The Resident was occupying the great, mud-built 
pile, originally the house of the Magaji, forming one 
side of an open square, just opposite it was the 
Mosque, and on the left the Sariki's ' palace.* 

The Residency was, to say the least of it, a gloomy 
spot for a dwelling-house — a very large compound, 
surrounded by a thirty foot wall, affording, at best, 
a view of the sky alone, the inside occupied by a 
labyrinth of houses, some mere circular huts, dark 
and low, others well-built, flat-roofed cool houses. 
Many of the smaller huts had been pulled down. 



KEFFl 53 

giving more light and air and improving matters 
greatly. It was very quiet, very prison-like, scarcely 
a sound penetrated from outside, save the cry of 
the Muezzins from the Mosque opposite, and only 
terrific smells from the indigo dye-pits reminded 
one that there was life and industry beyond the wall. 

Dr. Cargill left for Kano almost immediately, 
and we settled down to await the arrival of our 
relief, Mr. Granville. A detachment of the N.N.R. 
had ' barracks ' near the South Gate, and Mr. 
Wilcox, in command, was our daily companion when 
we went out shooting in the evenings, the country 
round Keffi producing plenty of birds, or when we 
explored the higher ground behind the town, search- 
ing for a suitable site for a new Residency. 

On the summit of a high hill, overlooking the 
town, was a circular wall, enclosing a solitary grave, 
the resting-place of Captain Moloney, and, in the 
square, outside the Mosque, stood a tall white wooden 
cross, marking the spot where he died. All honour to 
those who placed it there — but that cross has always 
been a sorrow to m.e : close beside the wall of the 
Mosque, it could not fail to be an offence to a Mahom- 
edan community, and, being on the way to the 
market, each man, woman and child who passed, 
must be reminded daily of the tragedy that had 
ruined the prosperity of the town, and wrecked so 
many innocent, humble homes. 

During the short time we were at Keffi, we spared 



54 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

no pains in endeavouring to ' re-establish confidence ' 
walking about the town in every direction, and striv- 
ing to make friends with the people. They were, 
even then, beginning timidly to return and to come 
to the market, and, before we left, we had the satis- 
faction of seeing hundreds of nice new thatched roofs 
appearing, and the householders coming to their 
doors to call greetings and salutations, instead 
of making panic-stricken rushes in the opposite 
direction ! 

Our thoughts, while there, were naturally occupied 
with the sad events of Captain Moloney^s death, 
and we heard the story in detail from the Resident's 
clerk, a native called Silva, who was present, and 
as his account of it is rather a curious one, I may 
mention it here, though, of course, I cannot vouch 
for the absolute truth of it, and give it just as it 
was told to me. The main facts (I am quoting partly 
from the best authority, the High Commissioner's 
Annual Report for 1902) are as follows : — 

On the day in question. Captain Moloney, being 
anxious to * come to an amicable understanding ' 
with this influential Chief, the Magaji, who had 
apparently been giving him much trouble through- 
out the Province, slave-raiding and robbing caravans, 
and preferring to endeavour by argument and 
persuasion to win him over to the side of law and 
order, and make of him a useful friend to Govern- 
ment, determined on a decisive interview, while 




Native Drummers at Keffi. (n. 54) 




A Deiachment of the X.X. Reot. (p. 68) 



I /nee p. 54. 



KEFFI 55 

he had a large mihtary force temporarily at Keffi, 
to back up his authority if needful. The account 
runs thus : — 

' Captain Moloney . . . went to the king's house, 
and the Magaji was summoned to attend. He 
declined to do so, and Mr. Webster, Assistant 
Resident, was sent to fetch him. Misled by the 
Government native agent, to whose intrigue and 
false representations it now appears probable that 
the deplorable results which followed were directly 
due, Mr. Webster entered the private quarters — 
probably the harem — of the Magaji. That Chief 
was surrounded by armed retainers, who immedi- 
ately set upon Mr. Webster. He very narrowly 
escaped with his life, and was eventually seized 
and literally thrown out. Captain Moloney then 
sent him to call up a detachment of troops. The 
Magaji, seeing his arrest was imminent, rushed out 
of his house, and killed Captain Moloney and the 
agent, Awudu, before the soldiers could reach the 
spot. He and his followers then fled, but sent 
messages that they would presently return and 
finish their work.' 

Now, this clerk, Silva, had been a hospital dresser, 
and the task of preparing Captain Moloney's body 
for burial, fell to him. He declared earnestly and 
emphatically that there was no wound on the body 
whatsoever, except an arrow wound in the neck 
which had pierced the carotid artery, and caused 



56 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

almost immediate death. He further described 
how the Magaji was armed with a ' gun * only^ he 
did not touch Captain Moloney, but rode straight 
at Awudu, the native agent, who, as described by 
the High Commissioner, was the cause of the whole 
trouble, and, crying out, ' You have done this ! 
It is your fault ! ' — shot him dead, as he ran, in 
terror, towards the barracks. The whole crowd 
of the Magaji's followers, rushing out like a swarm 
of angry bees, of course fired off a cloud of arrows, 
more or less at random, and, from this man's earnestly 
told story, it seems fairly certain that it was one 
of these which killed Captain Moloney. The old 
Sariki of Keffi, who was standing close by, endea- 
voured to support the wounded man, but received 
an arrow himself, in the foot — a slight wound, 
however, from which he recovered. 

These differing facts do not, however, in the least 
remove from the Magaji's shoulders the indirect 
guilt of murder, although his hand may not have 
given the actual death-blow ; he was said to have 
been killed at Burmi, among the army of the 
Ex-Sultan of Sokoto, in the following July. 

We beguiled some of the long hot hours by making 
an effort to learn Arabic ; we did not progress very 
far or very fast, but, indeed, I think circumstances 
were rather against us ! Our teacher spoke Arabic 
and Hausa — no English, of course — we spoke 
Hausa, much English, and, in moments of excite- 



KEFFI 57 

ment, as our habit is — voluble Hindustani ! Our 
text-book and dictionary were Arabic-French ! Some- 
thing like a miniature Tower of Babel ensued, and 
we decided to postpone our studies till a more favour- 
able opportunity presented itself ! I also amused 
myself by decorating the white-washed walls of 
our house with sketches, which completely depleted 
my paint-box, but entertained me mightily — I 
believe they are still to be seen there ! 

We had bought a very handsome pony in Keffi, 
and one day, to our distress, he developed violent 
colic, and appeared to be dying. Every available 
remedy was applied, and for the whole afternoon 
he was fomented with hot blankets, but he lay 
helpless, swollen, limp and moaning. We then 
resigned him, at our boy's earnest request, into the 
hands of a native horse-doctor, a wizened old 
individual, who stood and looked, then, remarking 
laconically, ' He will recover ! ' proceeded, with great 
difficulty, of course, to get the pony on to his feet. 
He then passed his hands five or six times down the 
pony's flanks, murmuring to himself the while, finally 
taking the muzzle in both hands, he looked very 
hard into the pony's eyes, recited a string of rapid 
Arabic sentences and, stooping low, blew into 
each nostril three times. I stood by watching and 
wondering, then, in amazement, realized that a cure 
had been effected I The ' doctor ' stood aside, and 
announced as placidly as ever : ' He has recovered ! ' 



58 \A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

directing that a bran mash should be given at once ; 
this ' Kim ' ate eagerly^ and never showed another 
symptom of pain or illness ! I cannot explain this 
cure in any way ; I can only say that I saw it done, 
and done in less than ten minutes, and that the 
wizard stoutly declined to give me his prescription 
or to share the secret ! 

Shortly afterwards, Mr. Granville arrived and 
took over, and we rode out of Keffi, feeling distinctly 
light-hearted, as we had ' Leave ' and ' Home ' 
before us. But the impression of gloom and sad- 
ness left on my mind by KefB was deepened later, 
for we never saw Mr. Wilcox again, as he died at 
Bauchi a few months later. Mr. Carre, one of our 
cheery party on the Benue River, also died, Mr. 
Granville was invalided Home later, dangerously Jill, 
and Major Marsh, whose kind genial face was the 
last we saw on leaving Lokoja, was killed in July 
at Burmi, to our sorrow. 

We started for England at the end of March, and 
had a most comfortable trip on the Jebba — one of 
the few voyages I have ever enjoyed ; we were 
fortunate in our weather, our fellow-travellers, and 
in most of the amenities of boardship life, and I 
* lazed * on deck, feeling very well satisfied with 
my first year in Northern Nigeria. I had ridden 
over three thousand miles, learnt a new language, 
made thousands of new friends in the animal and 
flower world, as well as valued human ones, I 



KEFFI 59 

felt as if I had ' enlarged my borders ' mentally, and 
had certainly begun to know and love Africa with 
a deep affection that, I think, is never lost by those 
who once acquire it. 

My husband was elected to the Hausa Scholarship 
at Cambridge, and we spent a truly deUghtful May 
Term there, which passed only too quickly in the 
cordial friendship of charming cultured people, 
and among the lovely surroundings of the University. 



CHAPTER V 

Trekkine North 



o 



The following September we turned our faces again 
towards Nigeria. The ' Home ' climate had some- 
what disgusted us, exemplified as it was by weeks of 
hopeless, unceasing, soaking rain in Scotland, and, 
but for the horrible wrench of parting again with 
our nearest and dearest, we prepared for our return 
in the most cheerful spirits. 

My husband had been appointed to a new Pro- 
vince, eastward from Kano, named Katagum, one 
which had come inside the scope of the Administra- 
tion as a result of the Sokoto Expedition, and hitherto 
had not been * administered ' at all. The prospect 
of absolutely new ground, the North country, people 
of a high-class Mahomedan type, all appealed 
strongly to us both, especially as our way lay through 
Kano, of which we had all heard so much during the 
last six months. 

To our responsibilities we added an irresistible 

little fox-terrier, acquiring him absurdly cheap from 

a dealer, on account of what the latter called a 

marble ' in his eye — a sort of discoloured patch. 



61 



62 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

which, although, of course, a blemish, did not 
appear to affect his sight, and was almost certainly 
the result of a blow. This fact we were able to 
deduce from subsequent events. Long before we 
reached Africa, we discovered that Binkie had 
an undying hatred for any one who had the temerity 
to wear blue trousers ! 

He commenced to act on this principle at once, 
by attempting to bite the guard of the train, made 
unfriendly overtures to the hall-porters at the hotel 
in Liverpool, although on the most affectionate 
terms with every one except the wearers of these 
obnoxious garments ; on the landing-stage, in the 
intervals of caressing, and being caressed by a 
little girl, he made purposeful grabs at one and 
all of the blue-clothed porters, and reached the 
zenith of his reputation by biting two quarter- 
masters on board ! It was a tiresome, and, inci- 
dentally, expensive habit, as we had no muzzle 
for him, and I only breathed freely on landing in 
Lokoja, where the majority of the inhabitants are 
guiltless of blue trousers. To do him credit, I 
must say he never touched a native, but I had to 
scan the garments of my callers anxiously, and 
warn Binkie accordingly ! 

On the way down the Coast we were given a ten 
days old bull terrier pup, a very highly-bred little 
person, who, having had the audacity to be born 
with a fawn-coloured patch, had thoroughly dis- 



TREKKING NORTH 63 

graced himself in his owner's eyes. We had 
a difficult time rearing him^ and nights in bed 
became ' things hoped for, not seen ! ' 

On arrival in Lokoja we found Mr. Wallace there, 
just starting up river to Zungeru, and he gave us 
a cordial invitation to visit him there, when we 
had made the necessary preparations in Lokoja 
collecting ' the office furniture ' for Katagum, and 
engaging carriers. While there we were burgled 
in a fashion so characteristic that it may be worth 
describing. 

My husband was known — evidently — to have a 
large sum of money in silver ; this he deposited, 
naturally, in the largest, heaviest, and therefore 
least removable of our boxes, but the enterprising 
burglar evidently thought that a tin uniform case 
(which happened to be padlocked) looked promising, 
and, during a tornado at night, carried it off ! 

We discovered our loss early next morning, and 
I was utterly dismayed, as its contents were mainly 
a new photographic outfit, chemicals, paper, etc. 
We ' communicated with the police,' but, meantime, 
some thirty carriers came to be enrolled, and, guided 
by previous experience, my husband informed 
them of the loss, expressed an opinion that the box 
was not far off, and, telling them to search the 
' bush,' offered a reward of five shillings to the finder. 
The grass all round was over the men's heads, 
and drenchingly wet, but they plunged gaily in, 



64 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

shouting and hunting, and in less than half an hour 
emerged triumphant, with the box and its contents, 
the latter practically ruined, having been scattered 
far and wide in the frantic but unavailing search 
for money. It must have been a ' horrid sell ' 
for the thief ; his only prize — at least, the only article 
missing — was the clockwork engine of a toy train, 
which I had brought out as a present for a small 
black friend ! He had, luckily, quite overlooked 
a large envelope, containing stamps to the value 
of ;{25, the nucleus of a Katagum post-office ! 

We left Lokoja, a large party of twelve or fourteen 
people, with various destinations, rather tightly 
packed on the Sarota, and, during a tornado, 
trying to shut a cabin window, my husband had a 
nasty accident, absolutely tearing the nail right out 
of one finger. It was not an auspicious moment 
for even a ' partial disablement,' and gave him 
a bad time at first, but healed splendidly, and, in 
spite of many gloomy prognostications, he succeeded 
in growing a new nail eventually ! 

We made our way up the Kaduna in a steel canoe, 
slept one night under a corrugated iron shed at 
Barijuko, and the next morning started ' by train ' 
for Zungeru. It was an experience quite amusing 
for the first time ; safely embarked in a roofed-in 
truck we rattled, bumped and swayed along the 
tiny line, with much shouting and vociferation ; 
various passers-by, walking to Zungeru, placidly 



TREKKING NORTH 65 

crossed the line in absent-minded fashion, under 
the nose of the crazy Httle engine, and had terrific 
abuse and chunks of coal hurled at them by the 
native engine driver. The dirt was choking, and 
the noise made speech impossible, so I clutched 
my bull-pup tightly, and watched with interest 
the flowers along the line — glowing yellow coreopsis, 
tall and slender, away down below were patches 
of vernonia purpurea, like a copper-coloured ' button ' 
chrysanthemum, while the grass was thickly dotted 
with a tiny rose-coloured flower, one which grows 
in uttermost profusion there and in the North, but 
which I have never seen farther South. 

Some days later we had an opportunity of really 
appreciating the tram-line, when we made an 
expedition to Wushishi on a pump trolley, and found 
it a really exhilarating and delightful method of 
travelling ! 

We got a warm welcome from Mr. Wallace, and 
spent a few days with him, enjoying his cordial 
hospitality and kindness while we made our final 
preparations for our start. Government House is, 
indeed, an ' oasis in the desert ' to the weary traveller, 
luxuriously furnished with costly English furniture, 
soft carpets, bright chintzes and silk curtains, and 
fitted with electric light ; it is all very charming, 
though, perhaps, not the very best preparation for 
thirty days in the bush ! 

My husband had brought out from Home a 



66 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

couple of mono-wheel carts, his own invention, 
and now had them put together preparatory to 
our long trek. 

The cart, briefly, consisted of a single wheel, about 
three feet high, which revolved in the centre of a 
platform six feet by four, with ordinary wheel- 
barrow handles at either end. The platform was 
fixed below the wheel axle, and thus lowered the 
centre of gravity as much as possible, and lessened 
the inclination to fall over. While in England 
two ordinary carpenters in the workshop where 
the carts were built, had taken one with a load 
of about seven hundred pounds up and down streets 
with ease, and we were therefore delighted, and 
hoped that Nigerian transport would receive a help- 
ing hand thereby. Alas ! we had not reckoned with 
the carrier, who, we fondly imagined, would prefer 
the lesser effort of trundling to carrying. He 
would have none of it ! While the man behind 
had to raise the handles and start, the one in 
front, whose duty was only to pull and assist 
the balance, would also endeavour to lift ! This, 
naturally, threw much more weight on the back 
handles, with the result that every few yards 
the whole thing would tumble over and have to 
be reloaded. Even placing a man on either side 
to prevent this happening made no appreciable 
difference, and, in desperation, we were finally 
obliged to engage extra carriers for the contents of 



TREKKING NORTH 67 

the carts, and eventually marched into Zaria, the 
carts being triumphantly carried on the heads of 
two men ! 

At that time the path on leaving Zungeru, was 
simply villainous, beset with huge stones which even 
the one wheel could not avoid with the cleverest 
of steering, and this increased the local prejudice 
immensely. I really think that, had Fate decreed 
for us an ordinary, fairly level and well-patted down 
bush path, some nine inches wide, miles of which 
are to be found in some districts, and had our 
men been able to get accustomed to the novelty 
under such circumstances, the invention would 
certainly have proved a success and a great con- 
venience at distant stations, where, at present, 
a tin of kerosene oil, for example, adds ten shillings 
or more to its original cost by the time it arrives, 
on account of the carrier's pay. Later on, while 
we were detained at Kano, we tried to make a single 
cart out of the two, using both wheels, but with a very 
narrow track, about two feet wide, and this worked 
excellently until the dry wind of the Harmattan 
and the fierce sun heat through the day so ruined 
the wood-work that the wheels came to pieces, 
all the spokes falling out. Upon this we sorrow- 
fully resigned the idea until a more favourable 
opportunity, and endured the daily irritation of 
seeing loads damaged by being rubbed off at each 
convenient tree by pack animals ! 



68 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

But this digression has taken me far ahead of my 
story, which must be resumed at Zungeru, where, 
one hot afternoon, on the 29th of October, we 
said good-bye to Mr. Wallace, and finally departed, 
while the bull-terrier pup shrieked aloud at being 
immured in a basket and treated as a ' load * ; 
we walked down to the river crossing, and were 
ferried over in a crazy canoe half full of water, 
which started my new riding-boots on their down- 
ward path ! We afterwards discovered that one box 
had been planted comfortably in the same water, 
and, on opening it some days later, a sad scene 
of literal ' blue ruin ' greeted our eyes — books, 
writing-paper, photographs, clothing, all hopelessly 
destroyed and mildewed — such is African travel ! 

We slept at Ganan Gabbas, a dirty stuffy little 
hamlet, and a sharp contrast to our quarters of the 
night before, but, happily, we were not in the least 
disposed to feel depressed over the absence of arm- 
chairs and soft carpets ! 

I was interested in watching the young wife of 
one of the native police among the escort, bathing 
her tiny baby (three months old) in the chill morning 
air before sunrise, the cold water being well smeared 
all over the little brown body, while the poor mite 
— naturally — yelled lustily ! The bath finished, no 
drying operations being included, the mother scooped 
up a handful of water, closed her hand with the 
thumb pointing downwards, and, using the latter 



TREKKING NORTH 69 

as a kind of spout, directed a stream of water into 
the baby's mouth, slowly and steadily, totally 
disregarding loud gurgles, chokes and struggles 
of protest : meantime she was feeling and pressing the 
rapidly expanding little stomach, until convinced, 
I suppose, that its limit of capacity was reached. 
This treatment is meted out to all the babies, and 
is considered to be a great strengthening agent ! 
This Spartan parent, having strapped the baby 
tightly to her back, and made ready for the start, 
stooped to lift a towering load of calabashes and 
other household goods, and doing so, put her shoulder 
out. She appeared to suffer a good deal of pain, but 
took it quite quietly, turning meekly to her husband, 
who, with one bare foot planted under the injured 
arm, gave a mighty pull, and with a snap the joint 
returned to its place. She thanked him prettily, 
adjusted the load on her head, and started off 
happily on her day's march ! 

The march proved an interesting one, though 
very hot ; the autumn is almost the best time of 
the year to ' see the country ' ; in the farms the 
guinea-corn was just beginning to ripen and droop 
its massive plumes of grain, underfoot was a terribly 
stony path, but much of the road lay over hills, 
and we got magnificent views of miles upon miles 
of wooded hill and plain, unrolling themselves into 
the dim blue distance. 

At Zaria we pitched our tent on the wide plain 



70 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

outside the great pile of mud buildings then used 
as the Residency. Every one was most kind to 
us, giving us every sort of assistance. Major Hasler, 
then commanding the Mounted Infantry at Zaria, 
specially delighted me by a present of a huge bunch 
of the most splendid zinnias I have ever seen — grown 
in the tiny garden round his quarters. He and a 
brother officer, I remember, ' spread a banquet ' 
for us, as they expressed it, and a very merry party 
it was. Some anxiety was experienced during the 
afternoon as to the probable behaviour of a very 
special feature of the feast — a claret jelly — 
and diligent search was made for the coolest and 
breeziest spot in which to ' set ' it. Our minds were 
relieved, however, by the triumphant announcement 
that it had ' jelled ' admirably in plenty of time 
for dinner. We had quite beautiful table decorations 
of a lovely rose-coloured shrub, cunningly set in 
discarded cigarette tins, and one of our hosts, in 
his determination to do honour to the very first 
' Ladies' dinner ' in Zaria, decided on most daring 
flights in his costume. But, alas ! difficulties inter- 
vened, and after a little delay, he appeared — full 
of apologies — magnificent in regulation English 
evening dress, with a peerless glossy shirt-front, a 
tie tied to perfection — but no collar ! This item 
was * lost, stolen or strayed,' but our intrepid soldier 
friend did not for a moment allow such an obstacle 
to defeat his original plan, I am glad to say ! 



TREKKING NORTH 71 

The road northward from Zaria was interesting, 
a regular market garden, miles upon miles of cultiva- 
tion and farms ; the grass was quite fine and short, 
utterly unlike the luxuriant growth down south, 
and tinged with a warm brownish red shade, which 
made a delicious ' colour scheme,' stretching away 
under great spreading trees into the far pearly blue 
haze. 

We found Bebe j i most interesting. On approaching 
it, the scene seemed familiar, and we felt convinced 
that we had seen it before, until we recollected 
the delicately executed pencil drawings illustrating 
Earth's travels : here were the very same isolated 
tall palm trees, the flat-roofed massive buildings, 
high clay walls, and only the shortest and most 
meagre of herbage. We were given quarters in a 
couple of excellent cool lofty rooms, with a vaulted 
roof, beamed with wood and decorated high up 
with gaudy coloured earthenware plates of the 
commonest description, but much appreciated for 
this kind of mural decoration. We were destined 
to see them very often afterwards, and in any 
dwelling which has been hastily quitted by the 
occupants during war or under the influence of 
panic, almost invariably the plates are torn from 
the walls and carried off. 



CHAPTER VI 
Kano 

I SUPPOSE no one can approach Kano, even to-day, 
without a certain thrill of excitement and interest. 
One's thoughts involuntarily turn back to the days 
when it was all but inaccessible to white men, and 
yet the mere name of it was a kind of lodestar, 
irresistibly attracting travellers in the face of almost 
insuperable difficulties. One thinks of Clapperton, 
Lander and Barth journeying hither, and rather 
specially^ perhaps, of Richard Oudney, who died 
within a few days' march of the goal. 

I believe that every member of our party, down 
to the most irresponsible ' small boy,' had something 
to express in the way of satisfaction and excitement 
when the long red wall began to appear above the 
horizon, and we approached the very place of all 
others which we too had so longed to reach and see 
for ourselves. 

Outside the gate, the Resident, Dr. Cargill, met 
us and escorted us through the city. Our way did 
not lie through the markets and busiest thorough- 
fares, and, looking back, I think my first impression 

73 



74 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

was the surprising area of open ground inside the 
wallSj the vast stretches of cultivation and flourish- 
ing farms. This is intentional, and has been done 
for all time, so that in the event of a long siege, the 
inhabitants would be well supplied with food-stuffs, 
and practically independent of the farms outside 
the walls. 

It took us an hour to pass through the city, and 
I fear I carried away only a misty impression of 
my first ride through Kano — blurred through my 
very eagerness to see, to absorb, to miss nothing, 
added to my delight at being there, and anxiety 
to make the most of my very special privilege in 
being the first white woman to enter there ! I 
can only recall breathless heat, glaring sunshine 
on pink walls and white dusty ground, in sudden 
contrast to the warm, dark purple shadows, an 
endless stream of passers-by thronging to and from 
the various markets — hundreds of different types, 
diversely clothed, speaking different languages, but 
all ready with courteous salutations and friendly 
greetings — it made one's eyes ache and brain 
whirl, and it was something of a relief to pass 
through the gloomy depths of the Nassarawa Gate, 
and ride up the grassy mile leading to the Resi- 
dency, formerly the Emir's summer palace. Later 
on I had opportunities of learning to know the 
great city better, but, living as we did, outside the 
city, and quite four miles from the markets and 



KANO 75 

busy streets, each visit was somewhat of an expedi- 
tion, and it was hard to get more than cursory 
ghmpses of the Hfe that was Kved there, and the 
immense volume of trade going on daily. 

In the year 1824 Clapperton recorded, in the 
simple, naive fashion that characterizes the whole 
of his narrative, how, on approaching Kano, he 
attired himself in all the bravery of his naval uniform 
and rode into the town, and not a soul in the crowded 
markets turned a head to look at him, but, ' all, 
intent on their own business, allowed me to pass 
without remark ! ' 

So is Kano to-day ; to the casual sight-seer or 
the curio-hunter it has little or nothing to offer, 
no beauties of architecture, no minarets, no palaces 
— the smallest Indian bazaar displays more gay 
colours, more material for the globe-trotter's satis- 
faction. Kano is a centre of strenuous trade, 
there is no dallying and chattering and laughter, 
no sign of the ubiquitous hawker of trifling curios, 
who haunts an Indian bungalow, and even squats 
below the verandah of a Lokoja house to-day. The 
wares that have been brought across the Great 
Desert amid perils and hazards innumerable are 
not to be lightly disposed of, and the fierce-eyed 
swaggering Arabs do most of their bartering privately 
within the square, dark, low buildings, over much 
coffee and many cigarettes. 

The great pulse of commerce, here, is as well 



76 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

concealed as is the throbbing heart in a motionless 
body, and gives as little sign of its presence to the 
casual passer-by, unless he looks keenly enough 
at the silent hurrying throng all intent on trading 
for a livelihood, not sauntering, idling, gossiping, 
like the denizens of an Eastern city. The stern- 
ness of the Desert influences the whole place and 
the people of it. Patient seeking in the various 
markets reveals an almost incredible collection and 
variety of wares : Turkish coffee, green tea, French 
sugar, delicious rare tobacco, silks and cloth, all 
can be bought at a price — an enormous price, too, 
be it said ! 

But it is Kano itself as a city, rather than as a 
commercial centre, which stands out in my memory 
distinct, unique, with a charm all its own, like 
nothing else in the world. Almost all those who 
saw the city for the first time that year, when it 
became the youngest-born of the Mother Govern- 
ment, expressed great disappointment with its 
appearance ; I have heard it contemptuously stig- 
matized as a 'glorified mud-heap,' and it is often 
complained that the actually inhabited portions 
occupy so small a space inside the huge area of those 
massive walls. This, to my mind, constitutes one 
of the city's greatest fascinations. There is such 
infinite breadth and restfulness about those vast 
stretches of short, crisp turf, surrounding the streets 
and alleys and humming markets ; such a wonderful 




A Kano Street Scene, d 75) 



<-< 




A Kano Mounted Messenger, (p. 81) 



ly^rce A 7^- 



KANO 77 

peace and dignity about those two astonishing, 
jagged, flat-topped hills, ' Kazauri ' and ' Dala/ 
standing up abruptly in the middle of the plain, 
like tireless mighty sentinels, watching ever, in 
every direction, over the distant line of serrated 
pinkish wall. 

This wall itself is an object lesson to any one 
who grumbles at the quality of Kano's architecture. 
It is fifteen miles in circumference, forty feet high, 
and wide enough to drive a motor-car round the 
inside terrace, without much danger to life or limb : 
at the base it is not much less than eighty feet wide. 
There are two deep ditches set moat-like outside 
the wall ; from these all the material for the huge 
fortification has been taken. How many weary 
days of ceaseless patient labour, how many pairs 
of industrious hands have gathered that incredible 
mass of clay, handful by handful, carried it in 
miserable little grass baskets and calabashes, piled 
up the walls and gates inch by inch, till Kano became 
the impregnable fortress of the Western Soudan 
— why, the very thought is stupendous ! 

Remember, these simple folks have no tools, 
save one roughly fashioned implement, shaped 
like a pickaxe, that can do no more than loosen 
the soil — beyond this, nothing but ten slim, brown 
fingers, and that magnificent disregard for time 
which pervades Africa and makes such marvels 
possible. As an achievement, I think this plain, 



78 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

loop-holed clay wall compares favourably with 
any of the glorious monuments and fairy palaces 
of Indian fame. 

The gates — thirteen in number — are on the same 
scale, massive solid square towers, with a narrow 
passage and various shadowy recesses. The slaves 
of Kano in the early days must have been as the 
sand of the sea, for, inside the city, the buildings 
are on the same plan and of the same material. 
In Africa, it is only to the white man that Nature 
shows a brazen pitiless face ; to the child of the 
soil she is tenderly, munificently bountiful. The 
clay for building Kano was under their feet ; they 
dug it out, and set up enormous dwellings, almost 
fortresses, masses of cool dark halls, windowless 
except for slits high up near the vault of the roof, 
where the temperature never varies by ten degrees 
all the year round. And if by doing so they did 
leave great deep pits everywhere, which, in the 
rainy season, are filled with water, and even through 
the six months of deadly drought remain stagnant 
and smelling horribly — well, of course these are 
fearful evils from a sanitary point of view, and 
undeniably odoriferous, but that they add an addi- 
tional charm can hardly be disputed, the foul 
surfaces hidden by a carpet of clustering water- 
lilies, and the softly sloping edges clothed with 
velvety green grass. There is one in particular, 
so large that it forms a fair-sized lakelet, once a 



KANO 79 

place of grisly association, for it was formerly the 
custom to execute criminals on its banks : but 
now the utterly placid surface reflects, like a mirror, 
its surroundings — houses, palm-trees, the splendid, 
branching-horned cattle, sheep and goats cropping 
the smooth greensward around the brink, and the 
ceaseless va et vient of the passers-by. Slender, 
straight-featured Fulani girls come to fill their 
water-pots, balancing them on their heads with 
inimitable grace ; the whole scene is faintly veiled 
and shrouded in the milky haze of the Harmattan, 
and the slow-rising aromatic smoke. Yes — it may 
spell malaria and miasma to some, but if any one 
can pass the ' Jakko ' as it is called without drawing 
rein, I am sorry for him, for he has missed one of 
those special moments that come to us all, perhaps 
only once in a lifetime. 

One particular evening, just before; sunset, as we 
rode slowly across one of the great levels, sounds 
of trumpets and drums, mingled with occasional 
explosions of gunpowder, came drifting along to 
us, and presently his High and Mightiness, the 
Emir, came forth for his evening ride, having duly 
notified his intention beforehand to the Resident 
— a piece of deferential courtesy never omitted. 

He was a fine specimen of the handsome Fulani, 
regular in features, full of keen intelligence, and 
extremely dignified. He wore tobe upon tobe, 
gowns ample in material, gorgeous in colouring, 



8o A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

lavishly striped with crimson, gold and blue — French 
silks which have travelled from Tripoli, and decorated 
with silver Turkish embroidery. His ' fulah ' or 
turban was immense and snowy-white^ the folds 
drawn over his nose and chin, a necessary pre- 
caution against dust. He sat with ease and majesty 
on a proud-stepping camel, head and shoulders 
above the surging crowd, caparisoned and orna- 
mented with leather, coloured red, blue, green and 
yellow — a thoroughly regal figure. 

Six hundred horsemen or thereabouts accom- 
panied this almost daily ride, all rushing, galloping, 
saluting, waving arms and shouting, horses rearing 
and flinging bloodstained foam around, maddened 
by the cruel iron bit, sharp spurs, and metal, shovel- 
shaped stirrups, dashing off into the great cloud 
of dust which followed them, enveloping the throng 
streaming after on foot, banging drums, blowing 
shrill blasts on trumpets six or eight feet long, and 
firing off fusilades from ancient flint-locks and 
muzzle-loaders ! It was a curious spectacle, widely 
apart from the world of to-day, and one that might 
have stepped out of the Arabian Nights or the 
stirring days of Shah Jehan. 

We watched them on their way, and rode slowly 
about the city, finding something new and fascinating 
at every turn, till the scarlet sun dropped behind 
the far-off wall, and the rugged side of Kazauri 
and Dala turned rosy-red, indeed the whole city 



KANO 8i 

glowed suddenly pink, and the heavy smoke 
wreaths twined in sapphire blue curves in the rapidly 
cooling atmosphere. It was obviousty time to 
go home ; the Emir was back in his palace, and 
only a few straggling horsemen and a cloud of dust 
marked where he had passed ; the mu'ezzins were 
already calling in all directions from the summit 
of the Mosques, * Allahu akbar ! Allahu akbar ! ' 
and the faithful were wending their way to evening 
prayer. Reluctantly we turned our horses' heads, 
passed through the Nassarawa Gate, gloomy and 
dark in the fading light, cantered up the wide 
sandy road to the Residency, in the swiftly falling 
darkness of the African night, and were suddenly 
jerked back into civilization and modernity, to the 
dusty parade-ground, English voices, and joyful 
leaping fox-terriers ! 

The Residency itself, our home for the time 
being, consisted of a very large compound, sur- 
rounded by a high wall and entered by the usual 
recessed gatehouse. Inside the courtyard were 
several massive buildings, one the first two-storeyed 
native houses I had seen. They were great vaulted 
apartments, cool and dim, eminently suited to 
African royalty, but as dwellings for EngHsh folk, 
more than a trifle gloomy. However, we found 
our spacious mansion (extremely like a crypt !) 
was speedily and easily brightened by the intro- 
duction of clean matting, a few cheerful-tinted 



82 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

cloths, and quantities of sketches and pictures on 
the sombre brown walls. The upper storey was 
reached by a solid staircase of clay, and comprised 
a fine large room with plenty of light and air, 
commanding a splendid view over the imprisoning 
compound wall. 

Outside were the hospital buildings, the barracks 
where the detachment of the N.N.R. was quartered, 
and, beyond, the Mounted Infantry Lines and 
officers' quarters, all forming a sort of semi-circle 
round the parade-ground, where I used to sit and 
watch many an exciting game of polo, rendered 
more eventful by sundry rather alarming obstacles 
on the ground itself, in the shape of holes and tree- 
stumps. There was, in particular, a cotton tree, 
in the buttresses of which the ball lodged itself with 
malignant and unerring precision ; the process of 
hooking it out looked so extraordinary to an 
observer, that one might almost wonder ' what 
the game was ! ' 

I tried, as usual, to make a garden, but it was 
up-hill work — every scrap of earth had to be carried 
in from outside the compound, sheep and donkeys 
from the caravans regularly smashed the frail 
fence, and trampled on the beds, hordes of lizards 
nipped the head off each seedling as it appeared, 
and, the month being December, the middle of 
the dry season, my efforts were utterly defeated. 

I suppose there was not ' much to do * as a matter 



KANO S3 



of fact, but the daily stream of caravans, pausing 
to pay their toll, were an unfailing interest ; we were 
a fairly large community, amongst whom were 
some old friends of Indian days, the cool hours 
were filled with polo, and the horses of the Mounted 
Infantry proved a continual point of attraction 
for an evening stroll, every one was sociably inclined, 
and we all gave dinner-parties according to our 
several abilities. We had even a patient in hospital 
to concern ourselves about — he gave us plenty of 
food for thought for a time, but, I am glad to say, 
recovered absolutely, and has probably completely 
forgotten the many evenings when he lay, weak 
and helpless, in the dropping twilight, watching 
the flying figures in the dust outside, and listening 
to the cheerful shouts as the last ' chukker ' came to 
an end. I hope he has, for they must have been 
long weary hours. 

We were very happy at Kano, and sincerely 
sorry when the time came for us to pack up again 
and start on the last stage of our journey North. 



CHAPTER VII 

Katagum and Hadeija, and Back 

On December, 15 we actually left Kano. Trials 
and tribulations had already been our share in 
more than generous measure, over the collection 
of animals for transport, to replace the carriers 
who had brought our belongings so far. The 
donkeys were difficult to obtain and wretchedly 
small, and the problem of tying up miscellaneous 
luggage into ' loads ' was the hardest we had yet 
encountered. 

It sounds so simple, but I have never met any 
single traveller in this country who, having once 
endured the ordeal — I can call it nothing else — of 
' animal transport,' ever willingly repeated the 
experience ! And indeed it is, or should be, appar- 
ent to the least observant that the caravan transport 
is one thing, and an Englishman's luggage is another. 
I have watched hundreds of times the arrival of 
caravans at their camp for the night : the weight 
of the loads (salt, potash, kolas, cloth, etc.) is regu- 
lated to an ounce, each one is packed in exact simi- 
larity to its feUow in size and shape, so that the 

86 



86 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

two form a perfectly equally balanced burden, 
which never slips, falls, nor worries the donkey ; 
moreover, once packed, so they remain, the tre- 
mendous web of string, knotted and turned, twisted 
and knotted again, holds good for the entire journey. 
On arrival, the two loads are simply lifted off the 
donkey's back, deposited on the ground and the 
leferu on which they rest, laid beside them. In 
the morning, the pillow is replaced, and the same 
loads laid on it — the whole process taking less than 
five minutes. 

Now observe the unfortunate European traveller ! 
He will naturally look round, as far as he can, for 
loads of an equal size, and, with luck, will discover 
a couple of similar uniform cases. But who can 
guarantee that the contents of each weigh exactly 
the same amount ? Indeed, are there any two 
boxes among his ' kit ' that do ? With muscular 
carriers, six or even ten pounds more or less make 
little difference ; here, it means that the heavier 
box over-balances the other, drags the pillow, and 
incites the donkey to quietly scrape against the 
nearest tree, relieving himself of the whole thing — 
small blame to him ! — and the crash of falling loads 
is a sound only too familiar to any one who has 
travelled in this way. 

The wayfarer next hunts round among his posses- 
sions, and wonders how he is to unite any two of a 
folding bath, a camp chair, a Lord's lantern, a 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK ^7 

tent and an open box of cooking pots, into equal- 
sized and shaped loads. The answer may, and 
should be, arrived at without any of the mental 
strain usually devoted to it, for it is quite simple — 
it cannot be done I 

The wretched little animals are small and weakly 
at the best, and, since even in the caravans, with 
short marches and the ' perfect ' load, they acquire 
terrible sore backs, the employment of them with 
ill-balanced odd-shaped burdens is simply gross 
cruelty. I shudder now when I remember our 
donkeys' backs, washed, dressed and cared for as 
they were, with the utmost tenderness. Another 
serious drawback is that they travel far more 
slowly than carriers ; indeed, the caravans hardly 
ever do more than eight or ten miles a day, and 
the ' trek ox ' proceeds even more leisurely ! Unless 
each animal has it is own driver, the accidents are 
incessant, and the delay maddening, for what can 
be done by the driver of ^ve^ when one donkey 
casts its loads and skips off into the bush ? Is 
he to leave the remainder of his charge, knowing 
as he does, for a certainty, that those he leaves will 
immediately do likewise ? Having captured the 
runaway, how is he, unaided, to get two awkward 
sixty-pound loads into their former position ? It 
means that the traveller, his servants, escort and 
staff are all compelled to crawl at the rate of two- 
and-a-half miles an hour, with probably twenty 



88 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

miles to cover before water can be reached. Many 
and many a grilling half-hour have we both spent 
in this agreeable occupation ; personally I pre- 
ferred catching the donkeys, in spite of the heat, to 
adjusting my battered belongings on their shrinking 
backs ! I can safely say we had more of our posses- 
sions lost and destroyed during our journey to 
Katagum and back, than we have lost in the whole 
of our five years out in Africa ! 

On the return journey the pack oxen were our 
greatest trial ; they had an inveterate habit of 
lying down, loads and all, in any shallow river 
they crossed, and once a pack ox lies down ' all 
the king's horses and all the king's men ' will not 
move him an inch until he has recovered from, his 
fatigue. One of our largest and best defeated us 
in this fashion in a village, and no method we could 
devise, including the whole strength of the village, 
and even, in despair, a flicker of fire just under 
his nose, had the slightest effect, the latter device 
merely producing a faint smell of scorch, so hor- 
rible in its suggestion that we flew to stamp it out, 
and hurriedly sold the delinquent to the villagers, 
who, seeing us at a distinct disadvantage in the matter, 
made an uncommonly good bargain for themselves ! 

By ten o'clock on December 15 we had begun 
to get an inkling of what lay before us ; the whole 
of the donkeys had straggled out of the com- 
pound, we said our last good-byes and followed 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK 89 

them — only to find most of the loads scattered on 
the road, not fifty yards away, and the donkeys 
careering gladly back to their happy homes ! 
Patience, patience, and yet more patience ! There 
is really nothing else for it — fury only exhausts 
one, and does not catch the donkeys ! 

Eventually we got off, and were fairly started 
on the long white road, trending south-east, winding 
in and out on a dead level, among miles of farms 
and hamlets. Barth has remarked that ' the 
Province of Kano may truly be called the garden 
of Central Africa,' and to us it appeared marvel- 
lously fertile, especially at that season of the year, 
when every river-bed was dry, and the whole 
land waterless, save for an occasional well. 

One evening we had rather an interesting experi- 
ence : among our party we numbered a ' political 
agent,' Ganna by name, and a strict Mahomedan, 
an interpreter called Daniel, a Christian convert 
with more zeal than tact or knowledge, and a 
Senegalese soldier, Braima, who had become a 
fast friend of mine, marching always beside my 
pony, and giving me his opinions on things in 
general, in his queerly pronounced French, while 
he contentedly munched away at my kola-nuts 
which I scrupulously shared with him. He had 
served with the French troops in Dahomey, and 
his stories of their proceedings were most amusing, 
if slightly startling ! His affection for us became 



90 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

SO strong that, before we severed our connexion, 
he cheerfully offered to desert from the N.N.R. 
for my benefit, on condition that I would install 
him as ' head boy,' and was quite mournful when 
shown the impracticability of his suggestion ! 

In an idle moment, these three men had embarked 
on a theological discussion, and, like their enlightened 
and highly civilized white brethren in England, 
got so heated and furious in their argument that 
Ganna only averted bloodshed by a happy suggestion 
that they should all come to us and let us arbitrate. 

Daniel had first say. He commenced by a sweep- 
ing denunciation of all Mahomedans, and, inciden- 
tally, such dogs of heathen as Senegalese and such 
like. Their hearts and consciences were of the black- 
est, he informed us ; and drew vivid pictures of their 
final fate and destination. On being sharply pulled 
up, and told to confine himself to his own creed, 
he unctuously explained as follows : ' Well, God 
is a kind of a scorpion. When man do bad, he turn 
up him_ tail — so — and bite him proper I If man 
do good, then God just lef (leave) him ! ' Ganna's 
creed was too well known to us to require explaining 
at length, and the soldier added little to the dis- 
cussion except furious mdignation against Daniel 
for having stigmatized him as a dog and a heathen. 
His own ' views ' were ill-defined, I fancy, except 
for a strong sense of personal loyalty and affection, 
and a fatal passion for a row of any kind ! 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK 91 

We then set to work to place before them all 
Christianity pure and simple, untainted by creed 
or dogma, the plain doctrine of one God and Father 
of all, Christian and Mahomedan, black and 
white, and every living creature, whether known 
as ' Allah ', ' God,' or ' Le Bon Dieu/ They seemed 
curiously astonished at such a pronouncement, 
Ganna receiving it with deep-voiced ' Gaskia ne ! 
Gaskia ne ! Mahad Allah ! ' (True, true, thank 
God !) Braima, staring into the fire and grunting, 
' C'est 9a ! ' at intervals ; while Daniel sniffed sus- 
piciously and with some contempt. He retired 
finally with his smug complacency quite imshaken, 
evidently considering our doctrines milk-and- 
water affairs compared with his own fiery ultima- 
tums ! 

This little episode reminded my husband of 
another, which took place some years ago in Accra, 
when his ' boy ', a Christian, having learned to read 
at school, delighted to read Bible stories aloud to 
the orderly, and on this occasion selected ' Jonah 
and the Whale ' for his instruction. The orderly 
listened with round eyes and growing incredulity, 
and at the conclusion remarked emphatically : 
' That be dam lie ! ' ' Dam lie ? You say that ? 
Dis be Bible — if you say Bible be lie, you go hell 
one time ! ' ' Don't care ! ' said the orderly doggedly, 
' P'raps I go hell, I don't know, but I no fit to believe 
that story — dam lie ! ' 



92 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

The outraged little reader trotted off with his 
Bible under his arm, and wrath in his heart ! 

After a few days' marching through rather uninter- 
esting country, level, sandy and treeless, we climbed 
on to a sandy ridge which looked exactly as if it 
must have the sea behind it, and continued our 
way along the top for nine or ten miles, in deep 
sand, most fatiguing to men and ponies alike : 

Toiling in immeasurable sand 
O'er a weary, sultry land, 
Far beneath a blazing vault. 

There was a wonderful view on either side, miles 
and miles of plain, all sand, low bushes and scanty 
grass — a veritable sea of grey-green fading into 
pale blue in the far distance. When the eye became 
accustomed to the vast sweep of green, one discovered 
innumerable tiny hamlets and farms, all neatly 
fenced, and growing healthy crops of cotton and 
cassava, apparently in pure sand. It was a remark- 
able sight, and seemed to be the very edge of the 
Desert. I could image it being brilliantly beautiful 
in the rainy season, but in December, with every- 
thing enveloped in a dismal hot grey-drab mist, 
the scene was depressing and gloomy to a degree. 
Far apart were isolated wells, some presenting 
quite a Biblical appearance, with the waiting herds 
and flocks, and white-robed figures. 

As we entered the Katagum Province, the country 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK 93 

changed to light woodland, a great relief, and pleasant 
,to march through, had it not been for the truly 
terrible thorns. The trees were mostly mimosa 
and camel-thorn in full blossom, the sickly-sweet 
scent of which is most unpleasant and powerful. 
The last march into Katagum was like entering a 
new country, as rich and fertile as the last had 
been barren and dreary. 

We arrived on Christmas Eve, and felt great 
satisfaction at not being obliged to spend Christmas 
Day on the road. The Acting Resident was waiting 
to welcome us, and we took possession of a ' house ' 
of grass matting, built round an immense Kuka 
tree, the trunk of which formed one entire side. 
It was very spacious and really exceedingly com- 
fortable but for the presence of some highly objec- 
tionable large black ants, the smell of which, should 
they be disturbed or crushed accidentally, was so 
truly awful as to drive us all — dogs included — 
out into the open air to recover ! We had some 
really cold nights, when the temperature dropped 
to 54°, and regularly, each morning, a strong 
chilly wind would spring up about seven, and 
last till ten o'clock, when it sank away quite sud- 
denly, and usually some extremely hot hours 
followed. 

From our doorway we could look for miles around, 
over a plain of waving grass, dotted with palm 
trees, mainly the Egyptian Doum palm with its 



94 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

curious bifurcations. The town was about a mile 
from our settlement, and the river wound away 
to the south-west, bordered with brilliant green 
patches of wheat and onions. Game of all kinds 
was very plentiful at that time ; we could always 
see the deer roaming fearlessly about, and, evening 
after evening, we used to ride out in different direc- 
tions, and had capital sport. 

My own small occupations were of quite a different 
nature from my usual hobbies ; gardening at this 
season of the year was, of course, out of the ques- 
tion, but we had succeeded in conveying a few Black 
Minorca fowls from England, and they behaved 
splendidly, laying well all the time — even on the 
march, every day, we found one or two eggs in the 
basket ! The care of a farm-yard was quite a 
novelty to me. I found it a fascinating occupation 
— one that grows upon one, too. We also revelled 
in rich milk, and every morning I amused myself 
by making butter in a small plunge churn, which 
I had brought with me. It was very excellent 
butter, and I was equally proud of my cream cheeses ! 
But my efforts to manage cows, calves, and herdsmen 
after the manner of an English dairy, were a dismal 
failure, and I gave them up, submitting meekly, 
but much against my will, to the * custom of the 
country ! ' 

The Katagum people were specially pleasant to 
deal with : half Fulani, half Beri-beri, — a combina- 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK 95 

tion which seems to make for unusual intelHgence, 
coupled with admirable spirit and innate courtesy. 
They made friends at once, and the Sariki and his 
immediate followers were my almost daily visitors. 
On one of these visits, with a sort of shy reproach 
he touched the skirt of my coloured linen frock, 
and asked gently why, when I came to his house 
to see him, I did not wear pretty clothes like that 
— his people only saw me in a black gown (my 
habit !) After that I had to sacrifice comfort to 
friendship, and be careful to ride into the town in 
my lightest muslin ! 

On another occasion, the Sariki explained to me 
that, as I had evidently been * sent ' to them as a 
special mark of favour, it was quite necessary for 
them to know my name; — what should they call 
me ? ' A man's name,' I remarked, * is given to 
him by his friends. Give me a name yourselves.' 
After cogitating in whispers, the old man said, 
smiling, that they would in future know me as 
* Uwamu ' (Our Mother), and so I received my 
' country ' name, one that has stuck to me ever 
since, and by which I am known to all my dark- 
skinned friends throughout Nigeria. I am always 
proud of it, for though, at the time, I felt inclined 
to smile at being so addressed by men old enough 
to be my father, the title is recognized to be the 
highest expression of respect and affection that 
the African man can offer to a woman. 



96 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

We were presented with a pair of tame marabouts, 
but their tameness was a doubtful quantity ; and 
though it was amusing enough to see them dancing 
and playing about in the sunshine, their temper 
was not of the best, and they attacked every one 
who approached the house, snapping their formidable 
beaks angrily. The poor dogs were in absolute 
terror of them, and would warily wait their oppor- 
tunity outside, till the marabouts' attention was 
distracted, when a white streak of fox-terrier 
would fly in, only just escaping the furious beating 
of wings and clapping of beaks ! They were so 
tiresome that we parted with them, and replaced 
them by a baby ostrich, which we bought for a 
sovereign : a most attractive little person, about 
the size of a duck, a mere ball of soft, mouse-coloured 
fluff, with beautiful velvety black eyes, and long 
eyelashes ! It had never occurred to me before, 
that ostriches had eyelashes ! His diet consisted 
mainly of chopped-up onions and bran, though 
he fulfilled the traditions of his race — and alarmed 
me horribly — by swallowing all kinds of weird things. 
I have seen him devour with relish all the pieces 
of a broken glass bangle ; and any odd bits of china, 
stone, or metal appeared to be equally tasty morsels. 
He became very tame at once, and would wander 
about freely, and sometimes stand beside me for 
an hour at a time, gently nipping at my sleeve or 
slippers. 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA. AND BACK 97 

Life in this rural retreat, however, did not last 
long, and the end of January found us under orders 
to return to Zungeru, and, very sadly, packing 
once more. We started, after infinite difficulty, 
as usual over transport, which delayed us so long 
eventually that the sun was uncomfortably high 
before we said our farewells and rode away from 
Katagum. We had a guide to set us on the road 
to Murmur, a different route from that by which we 
had reached Katagum, and he either misled us, 
or was ignorant himself, for, after his last assevera- 
tion of * Oh ! it is quite near now ! ' and subsequent 
departure, we marched for hours, losing the almost 
imperceptible path, finding it again, after collecting 
our straggling party — a matter of some difficulty 
— all thirsty, tired and grumbling, calling down 
Heaven's vengeance on the perfidious guide, and 
eventually reached Murmur after sunset. 

It was a curious coincidence that we found our- 
selves on the spot where Richard Oudney died, 
exactly eighty years before (January, 1824), striving, 
in spite of desperate illness, to reach Kano, in com- 
pany with Clapperton. The latter describes the 
sad events — Oudney's determination to make a 
further effort, insisting on resuming the journey, 
for which he was quite unfit, ministering to the needs 
of the natives with what was absolutely his last 
flicker of strength, then reluctantly giving up the 
impossible, ' retiring into his tent ' and lying down 

H 



98 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

to die. There, Clapperton buried his beloved 
friend, and we were deeply interested in the site 
of his resting-place. The village people were quite 
touchingly surprised and delighted when we repeated 
the story to them ; it was obviously a familiar one. 
The Sariki's father had been a boy at the time, but 
such a remarkable event was not likely to be for- 
gotten, and they started, as one man, to conduct 
us to the grave. It may be remembered that 
Clapperton gives minute details of its position, which 
accorded exactly with the spot to which we were 
led, leaving no possible doubt of its accuracy. The 
' great tree ' had fallen, and the tomb, originally 
a massive erection of clay, had been worn down by 
rain to an insignificant mound, round which we 
planted a circle of seeds of the fragrant white acacia, 
or marengOj in the earnest hope that they might 
grow and stand, for many years, a memorial to the 
honour of that brave unselfish soul. 

At Murmur, a grave difficulty presented itself. 
The people told us we were off the main road alto- 
gether, the wells were almost dry, and we could 
not hope to find enough water for our party and 
animals between there and Kano, save on the regular 
caravan road, joining which necessitated our turning 
north and marching to Hadeija, a large town twenty 
miles north of Katagum. It was not a matter to 
be lightly decided, adding even twenty-five miles 
to a march as long as ours ; yet, the responsibility 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA. AND BACK 99 

of taking a large party of men and animals through 
a waterless district was one from which most people 
would shrink^ so we assembled the whole party, 
explained the situation, and frankly consulted them. 
They unanimously voted for the extra march to 
Hadeija, knowing, I suppose, better than we did, 
the utter impossibility of obtaining sufficient food 
and water anywhere ' off the line ; ' and probably 
influenced by the fact that the carriers from Katagum 
bolted in the night, giving as their reason for so 
doing their determination not to ' die of thirst.' 

The decision relieved us of an immense anxiety, 
and we started cheerfully for Hadeija, sleeping 
that night at a tiny hamlet, where we were met and 
welcomed by the Emir's messengers. 

The following morning we reached Hadeija, and 
the scene, on our approach to the town, was one 
that I shall never forget. There was the vast 
extent of rose-red wall, swarming with dark figures, 
the river flowing between us and the town, and, on 
the far bank, — a space of nearly half a mile — a 
dense mass of people watching with intense interest 
and expectancy. They stood, an absolutely silent, 
swaying crowd, as we picked our way down the 
steep bank, crossed the shallow river, and scrambled 
our ponies up the other side. There we saw a path- 
way in the crowd kept by troops — ^positively cavalry, 
four or five hundred of them, — drawn up in two 
double lines, rigid and motionless in their saddles, 



100 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the horses loaded with jingHng brass armour, heavy 
breast-plates and head-pieces, neighing, squealing 
and kicking, but forced to stand comparatively 
still, merely pawing the ground and tossing foam 
from their tortured mouths ; stirrup touching 
stirrup with a military precision that would not 
have disgraced any regiment of British cavalry. 
The soldiers were fine big men, splendidly 
turned out, and sat like living statues, but for the 
bright, restless black eyes, between the folds 
of white cloth litham, following our every move- 
ment. I doubt, though, whether any one there 
could have been half as much interested in us, 
as I was myself at seeing this spectacle of truly 
barbaric African splendour, riding behind my hus- 
band, feeling very small, travel-stained and dusty, 
amid so much brilliance and colour ! It seemed to 
take one back centuries in the world's civilization, 
and, with a gasp, came the realization that we had 
stepped into a world where time had stood still, 
and the ages passed over without leaving a 
mark ! 

At the end of the long line of horsemen was a 
little group of the chief office-holders, surrounding 
their Emir, who, as we dismounted, approached 
to greet us. He was a large, powerfully-built 
man, with the kindliest of faces, and the gentlest 
voice I have ever heard ; his quiet tones, almost 
a whisper, veiling an authority, the response to 



« » > 
> 1 ) 



J 1 I ^ 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK loi 

which, in its instant obedience and child-like 
submission, was quite startling. 

His voluminous garments of brilliant green and 
white, and towering white rawani, or turban, were 
surmounted by a burnous of white cloth, the hood 
of which, edged with silk fringe, drawn over the 
tall head-dress and falling round his face, gave him 
a positively patriarchal expression of benevolence 
and kindhness. The courteous, dignified cordiality 
of our welcome was perfect, and, the ceremonial 
greetings over, we were escorted to the rest-camp 
prepared for us outside the city. Here, a regular 
little colony of grass houses had been built, large 
enough to accommodate a party twice the size of 
ours : water, wood and provisions were ready ; 
not a comfort was lacking, not a detail had been 
overlooked. My friend, the Senegalese soldier, 
having, as he frankly said, no experience of such 
friendly visits while he served in the French army, 
harboured suspicions of an ambush and treachery, 
and displayed, at first, a fierce determination not 
to let us out of his sight ; — suspicions which, how- 
ever, were completely dissipated when he discovered 
the unbounded, lavish hospitality offered to him 
and his companions ! 

In the cool of the evening, we walked into the city, 
and were amazed at the solidity and immense size 
of the wall, the area inferior to Kano, but, in point 
of height and condition, greatly superior. The gate- 



102 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

ways were huge, and so cunningly arranged with 
rectangular approaches that no armed force could 
possibly rush them, — indeed, no more than three 
or four men at a time could cross the narrow bridges, 
and, were any attempt at defence being made inside 
these would probably not cross them alive. The 
gates themselves had been removed, in obedience 
to an order issued by my husband, while we were at 
Katagum, and Hadeija, the impregnable, the un- 
conquered, stood friendly, smiling, open to all 
approach, — surely a happy omen for the future 
for increased prosperity and uninterrupted pro- 
gress, we thought, — a hope, alas! not destined to 
be fulfilled. 

Inside the gate by which we entered was an exten- 
sive space of open ground and level turf, where the 
cattle were quietly grazing, and the people passing 
up and down ; far away in the distance were the 
buildings, flushed in the sunset, overtopped by 
towering trees and clusters of feathery palms. It 
was a sore disappointment to have to turn away 
without exploring that unknown city, to turn 
my back on Hadeija, a mere passing traveller, 
knowing that the chances of my seeing it again 
were infinitesimal, — to me, it has always been 
the most poignant regret of these five years spent 
in Nigeria. I am thankful not to have known then, 
that so soon those peaceful streets would echo 
with war-cries, and bloodshed and death be dealt 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK lo 



J 



out with a just, though unsparing hand, for the sake 
of civilization and progress. I had just time to 
try to make a hurried pencil-sketch of the scene 
before me, and the gate. This, however, was ren- 
dered almost impossible by the friendly surging 
crowd, by that time assembled, — all longing to 
know what in the world I was doing, chattering, 
peeping, pressing forward — not mobbing, though — 
that delicate attention is reserved for highly civilized 
countries ; in Africa it is ' not done ! ' So I gave 
up the attempt in amused despair, showed my 
pictures to as many of my new friends as I could 
reach, and shut up my sketch-book to take a last 
look at one of the most fascinating places of its 
kind that I have ever seen. 

The next morning we were up early, teeth 
chattering, and shivering in the bitter chill of the 
winter dawn, in spite of a huge wood fire. The 
Emir had announced his intention of escorting 
us on our way, to a point seven miles from Hadeija, 
adding with emphasis, that, when the Sariki-n- 
Mussulmi passed through, he only accompanied 
him five miles ! He clattered off, surrounded by 
his army of horsemen and an apparently unlimited 
crowd on foot, leaving us to digest the compli- 
ment, and drink our morning coffee over the 
fire. 

We found them all assembled under a group 
of trees. As we dismounted, the horsemen formed 



104 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

up into a gigantic double circle, ourselves, the Emir, 
his head men, and a few of our own people in the 
centre. When the last farewells had been said, 
my husband asked that the Limam might offer 
prayers for our safe journey, and — perhaps — another 
meeting some day, a suggestion which evoked a 
deep murmur of satisfaction. The ' cavalry ' dis- 
mounted and stood beside their horses, the Limam 
stood up, his towering white head-dress and earnest 
dark face turned to the morning sun, his solemn clear 
voice pouring out the prayer in sonorous Arabic, 
every word distinct in the great silence ; thousands 
of heads and hands around followed every gesture, 
our own included, for, at that strange moment 
creeds seemed very far away, and the one Father of 
us all, to whom such earnest words were being 
addressed on our behalf, the sole reality. It was 
a sight, I suppose, such as few people have ever 
witnessed, and it made a very deep and lasting 
impression on us. I had a lump in my throat 
when, as I turned to mount my pony, the stately 
old Emir laid his slender brown hand, with a beautiful 
amber rosary twined among the fingers, on my arm, 
and said gently : ' You will come back to us ; surely 
God will send you back.' And perhaps not the least 
remarkable incident was, when, as we turned our 
horses' heads, our escort, those who had been most 
suspicious, most incredulous of our host's good 
intentions, asked leave, to a man, to fall out and 




Bringing in Fire-wood. fp. 103) 










A Kaxo Doouwav. (p. ic;) 



l_^ce /> 104. 



KATAGUM AND HADEIJA, AND BACK 105 

obtain the Limam's blessing, kneeling humbly at 
his stirrup ! 

The whole circumstances of our visit to Hadeija, 
compared with the stormy events which took place 
there two years later, are illustrative of a point, 
we have frequently noticed, on hearing accounts 
of the peaceful journeys of missionaries and sports- 
men, and of the perfect hospitality and friendliness 
they have found ever3rwhere : that it is one thing 
to travel independently through the unknown 
parts of Africa, and quite another to administrate 
them successfully, introducing, of necessity, un- 
popular measures, and restraining undesirable 
existing customs. One acquaintance of ours, 
travelling about in search of sport, has wandered all 
through the Munshi country, where the natives 
have proved themselves aggressive and inimical 
to a degree towards any effort to establish law and 
order. This is a fact, I think, commonly overlooked 
by those who, with insufficient knowledge of the 
immense difficulties confronting a Government in 
territories such as these, are inclined to condemn 
wholesale and belittle the necessity of punitive 
expeditions and display of force. 

From Hadeija our march was perfectly ^ plain 
sailing.' The Emir's messenger went before us and 
smoothed away every possible difficulty, only leaving 
us on the border of the Kano Province. 

One incident of the road which stands out in my 



io6 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

memory was the ludicrous struggles of our old cook, 
Jim Dow, to become an expert horseman, and to 
fully enjoy the privilege of having a horse to ride. 
He had bought an extremely tall horse, attracted 
more by its utter mildness of disposition than by 
any other remarkable point of suitability. Having 
saddled up his depressed-looking steed, he, being 
a dumpy little individual, under five feet in height, 
could not possibly mount without assistance. This 
he indignantly spurned, and would solemnly lead 
the horse, till he discovered a likely-looking tree. 
The horse was placed conveniently under it, and 
the little man clumsily and slowly climbed into the 
lower branches, from which he hoped to drop grace- 
fully into the saddle. But the sad steed invariably 
strolled off in an absent-minded fashion at the 
critical moment, leaving poor Jim Dow hanging pain- 
fully from a branch, and using blistering language 
in ' Kru ' ! I have seen this manoeuvre repeated 
four or five times on a march, and he was a never- 
failing source of amusement to the whole party ! 

We reached Kano on Sunday, the 7th of February, 
having decided to sleep the night before at a tiny 
village a few miles out, as one of our ponies had 
broken loose and could not be re-captured until 
late in the afternoon. This small mishap was 
extremely fortunate for us, as a matter of fact, 
as we afterwards heard that at the very hour when, 
had we not been delayed, we should have ridden 



KATAGUM and HADEIJA, and back 107 

up to the Residency gate at Kano, a curious and 
unpleasant scene was taking place there. 

A native soldier had been confined in the guard- 
room on account of insolence and insubordination. 
While there, he coolly possessed himself of a rifle 
and a pouch full of ammunition, and darted out 
of the guard-room, the bewildering suddenness of 
his action apparently paralysing the guard for the 
moment. He rushed out on to the parade ground, 
shrieking vengeance on all ' Batures ' (Englishmen), 
calling to them to come and be shot, brandishing 
his rifle, — evidently quite insane and ' running 
amok.* Taking careful aim, he shot dead five horses 
tethered in the shade, belonging to his officers, and 
his shooting was so straight that most natural 
reluctance was displayed by his comrades in the 
matter of his re-capture. He actually sent a bullet 
through the doorway of the hospital hut, possibly 
seeing some one moving there. Finally the unfor- 
tunate lunatic was shot down, having been success- 
fully ' stalked ' from behind trees and other cover. 
It was a nasty occurrence, and much relief was 
expressed at our non-appearance at such an awkward 
moment. 

On arrival we found every one very sad and 
anxious about Captain Abadie, who was lying very 
ill. He did not improve during the two days we 
spent there, and, shortly after leaving, we heard, 
to our sorrow, of his death,— a loss to Nigeria 



io8 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

and his friends which could never be over-esti- 
mated. 

At Zaria we met many old friends, but stayed 
one night only, as we were anxious to lose no time 
in getting down country. It was wretched there 
then, in a tent, with a strong Harmattan blowing 
clouds of sand into our eyes, filling every crevice, 
and covering our food before we had time to eat it, 
even with the greatest expediency ! 

At Karshi we had the good fortune to meet Captain 
Robinson and Major Porter, going North. We had 
tea with them at their camp, outside the town, and 
in the evening they came and dined with us, only 
stipulating that they should be allowed to contribute 
to the feast ; and I shall always remember the pro- 
cession that preceded the arrival of our guests, — 
' boys ' carrying chairs, lanterns, Lager beer in 
buckets of cold water, roast guinea-fowls, and a 
box of chocolates ! We had a most cheery dinner, 
and sat talking into the small hours, and even 
managed to breakfast all together the next morning 
before going our several ways. It is one of the 
pleasantest of my many pleasant memories in this 
country, — the spontaneous friendly kindness of 
two complete strangers, as they were then, coming 
at a time when most needed, for our spirits were 
almost as low as our provisions, and the bull-terrier 
pup had distemper ! I do not suppose the two 
people concerned realized then, or do now, what 



k 

KATAGUM AND HADEIJA. AND BACK 109 

a difference they made in our outlook on life at 
that time, — if not, I make them a present of the 
information now ! 

On the 28th of February, we found ourselves 

once more in Zungeru. A vacant bungalow was 

lent to us, and we spent a few days there very 

comfortably, in spite of the excessive heat. We 

heard with dismay of the terrible disaster in the 

Bassa country, where Captain O'Riordan and Mr. 

Burney lost their lives. My husband received 

orders to take over the Kabba Province once again, 

and we started on the last stage of our long journey. 

The noisy little train rattled us back to Barijuko ; 

we embarked in a steel canoe, and commenced 

to paddle and drift down the Kaduna. The river 

was very low, and we stuck continually on the 

sandbanks, when the polers all turned out into 

the water, not more than seven or eight inches deep, 

and literally dug out the canoe till she was once 

more afloat. We were overtaken the next day by 

a second canoe, containing Captain Wright (who 

had won a V.C. in the Kano Expedition) invalided, 

home, and three others. Each evening we ' tied 

up ' in company, and had cheerful ' sand-bank ' 

dinner-parties. It was very placid and delightful 

travelling ; I suppose we were both rather tired, 

and, for the first time in my life, I found huge 

enjoyment in doing absolutely nothing, beyond 

watching the river banks and sunlit water. 



no A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

At Mureji there was quite a gathering; and — a 
thing unknown — a collection of five ladies ! Dr. and 
Mrs, Thompstone were there, on their way to 
Zungeru, and three Nursing Sisters, travelling 
up and down. We met some old friends, and were 
quite a gay party, but it was a sad day for me, — 
my beloved baby ostrich was suddenly taken ill, 
wandering about as usual, on the bank, and, in 
spite of the greatest kindness shown me by Dr. 
Miller of the C.M.S., who was on board, the poor 
little bird died in a few hours. It seemed piteous 
indeed, when he had travelled so far without a 
single mishap, and I was bitterly grieved at the loss. 

It was, however, a great delight, under any cir- 
cumstances, to see the Niger again ; as the Corona 
sped down stream, every bush and rock seemed 
familiar, and to be welcoming us ' home ' to Lokoja. 
We settled down in our former bungalow, and, in 
a few weeks, I could hardly believe that we had 
travelled all those hundreds of miles in the past 
six months. The much-talked-of North country 
had considerably disappointed us in its appearance ; 
and, with the exception of Kano and Hadeija, I 
think I can safely say that neither of us has the 
least desire to see any part of it again. 



CHAPTER VIII 
Kabba, Semolika and Patti Abaja 

It was not until the end of July that I found myself 
* touring ' once again, when we started for Kabba. 
It was interesting and pleasant going over the same 
ground that we had covered two years before ; and 
characteristic of the country that there w^as not a 
single change to be noticed on the road : the little 
Hausa farm, somewhat expanded, perhaps ; Oduapi 
as loud and genial as ever, with the blue and green 
gown apparently standing the test of time and 
wear most satisfactorily ! 

At Kabba things were altered for the better. 
The old quarters had been pulled down and new ones 
built ; police barracks had sprung into existence ; 
and a general air of progress and prosperity was there. 
We stayed a few weeks, and the place took such a 
hold on our affections, that, at the risk of appearing 
sentimental, I will give some description of it here. 
My enthusiasm is the more excusable when I recall 
that the High Commissioner himself expressed 
unqualified admiration for Kabba, even after his 

in 



112 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

long tour, during which he had visited nearly every 
part of the Protectorate. 

It is, in itself a small and insignificant town in the 
centre of the Province, it is not on the way to any- 
where in particular — anywhere, that is, that draws 
the stream of Europeans so ceaselessly passing up 
and down the highways of the Protectorate ; it has 
no great political importance to drag it into promin- 
ence, no Emirate, with all the pomp and circumstance 
attending a powerful native ruler ; it has none of the 
halo of mystery and attraction which hovers over 
Kano, Sokoto and the North generally ; nor is it on 
the path of the immense caravans which throng the 
Northern routes. These either end their journey 
at Ilorin, and return North, laden with fresh merchan- 
dise, or else, passing down through Nassarawa, 
divide themselves into small canoe-loads, when they 
meet the Niger at Loko. Kabba only sees those 
humble traders, who, in twos and threes, are carry- 
ing native-made cloth to Lokoja, or returning with 
loads of potash ; in fact, the little place just sits 
there, a tiny mouse-coloured town, snugly tucked 
away on the slopes of a thickly wooded hill-side, in 
one of the very quietest backwaters of all the world's 
rushing and scurrying tide. 

Picture to yourself a green — truly emerald green — 
plain, holding an area of, roughly, ten square miles, 
dotted with palm-trees {Elaeis guineensis), their tall 
slender stems crowned with crests of graceful droop- 




MuREji — A Caravax about to oi'Oss Till-: XicvAi. (p. no) 




A Steam Caxoe ox the Xkjek. (p ii6) 



\faccf>. 1 12. 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 113 

ing plumes, and bearing a respectable fortune in the 
palm-oil contained in the closely clustering bunches 
of nuts on each tree. Hundreds of acres are under 
cultivation, mainly yams, cotton and capsicums, 
the last-named glowing like little tongues of flame 
among the glossy winding trails of the yams, which, 
at a distance, resemble smilax on a magnificent scale. 
Away, beyond, rise the blue hills, in a huge circle, 
jealously shutting in this little green paradise from 
the tiresome world of restless white folks, who would 
take count of time, make roads, try to introduce 
sanitation, and otherwise employ themselves in 
fruitless and unnecessary works to the dire discom- 
fort of the peaceful denizens of peaceful places ! 
The ancient wall stretches away across the plain, 
enclosing an area of which Kabba town to-day 
occupies possibly one-hundredth part. A second 
inner boundary wall surrounds the town proper, 
excluding the steep little hill crowned by the Fort, 
which is now in as bad a state of repair as the aged 
walls themselves, but which, three years ago, was 
nevertheless the abiding-place of a small military 
detachment, and a handful of native police, in fact, 
the English Quarter of Kabba, whence might be 
heard any morning ringing words of command in 
English, bugle-calls all day long, and at evening - 
time the native sentry challenging all and sundry 
with ' Holl !-who-go-thaire ! ' in his most awe- 
inspiring tone. This * Enghsh Quarter ' was the 

I 



114 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

only aspect of Kabba that had the power of damping 
my spirits, beside the Hteral and visible damping of 
our belongings which took place pretty regularly. 
Our quarters were a rambling, ill-constructed clay 
building, measuring a good sixty feet from end to 
end ; the crumbling mud walls and ant-eaten, 
collapsing wooden supports surmounted by a pain- 
fully inadequate thatched roof. This house, incred- 
ible as it may seem, was designed by an Englishman, 
whose desire for spaciousness and magnificence of 
proportion evidently outweighed his knowledge of 
elementary architecture, and blinded his foresight. 
How the native labourers must have smiled, and 
patiently shrugged their shoulders, as they piled up 
the ridiculous structure under his imperious orders ! 
Meantime, the tornadoes swept up over the hills to 
the South and West, tearing like a white wall across 
the plain, and wreaking their fury on this ill-fated 
hill-top in a most thorough-going fashion. At such 
a time it made one giddy to look up at the roof, while 
it creaked and swayed horribly in the hurricane, each 
gust seeming to bring the inevitable collapse nearer. 
We had spent rainy seasons in Africa before, so we 
took no needless risks, and in the places most essen- 
tial for our comfort, we rigged up tents and ground- 
sheets, thus securing to ourselves and a percentage 
of our belongings islands of comparative safety and 
dryness ; but, for the rest . . . ! I never could 
help smiling at the sight of the Sahib, manfully 



KABBA, SEMOTJKA AND PATTT ABAJA T15 

getting through his day's work, interviewing the chiefs 
and head-men of various neighbouring villages, with 
the rain pouring through the roof, and an umbrella 
held over his head, while his guests squatted around 
him, placidly enduring the ceaseless streams of water 
pattering on their persons, and displaying as much 
polite cheerfulness as the circumstances would permit. 
Kabba itself is much the same as any of the smaller 
towns in the Protectorate in appearance ; a collec- 
tion of clay-built thatched houses, clustered closely 
together, seeming to cling affectionately to the rocky 
hill-side above — the Ju-ju Hill, deeply reverenced, 
dearly loved, and jealously guarded by all. There is 
the usual crowded market, with low, dark booths or 
shelters lining the streets, where the ladies of com- 
mercial pursuits display the invariable collection of 
coloured cotton cloths, beads, miscellaneous food- 
stuffs, spices and capsicums. They are some of the 
most light-hearted and spirited women I have met, 
those at Kabba. As I rode through the busy market 
heads would be popped out, and white teeth -flash in 
smiles, calling merry greetings to ' Uwamu,' and 
vociferating warnings to the fat brown toddlers, rapt 
in wonder, and straying perilously near my horse's 
hoofs. They are dear, simple souls, untouched by 
civilization, happy and unspoilt as little children, 
yet self-reliant and independent withal. A scene 
illustrative of this was enacted before me daily while 
at Kabba : the open space in front of our quarters 



ii6 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

bathed in warm sunlight ; above, blue sky and wheel- 
ing kites; below, the valley, stretching away into 
purple distance. Little groups of people, humble 
folk, trading in a small way between Lagos and the 
Hausa States, carrying country-made cloth, palm- 
oil, salt and kola-nuts, turned in here daily to dis- 
burse, with cheerful reluctance, the small percentage 
then levied on each load as a caravan tax. Those 
moving in the same direction were, of course, travel- 
ling acquaintances. Many were women, and the 
babble of laughter and chatter in various tongues was 
incessant. The tender-hearted philanthropist would 
have to seek far and long in this merry crowd for 
the ' down-trodden women of Africa ' and the 
* black sister in slavery ', of whom one seems to have 
heard. There is not much that indicates subjection 
or fear about these ladies, sitting at graceful ease 
among their loads, or strolling about in the hot 
sunshine, polished mahogany shoulders gleaming, 
white teeth flashing in laughter, while the slender 
perfectly-shaped hands gesticulate dramatically, illus- 
trating the incident of absorbing interest, which is 
being related in musical sing-song Nupe, almost like 
a Gregorian chant in its slow cadences. The outer 
garment, consisting of a gaily-tinted country-made 
cloth, wrapped tightly round the body, just below 
the arms, is adjusted, tightened, tucked in with 
lightning rapidity, and precision. The ^' black sister '' 
has a word, a joke, a stream of courteous greetings 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 117 

for every individual there. As each new arrival 
appears upon the scene^ a chorus of salutations in 
Hausa, Nupe and Yoruba meets him ; a dozen kindly 
hands are stretched out to help him down with his 
heavy load ; endless inquiries are pressed upon him 
as to his health, the comfort of his journey, the state 
of the road, etc. ; and he becomes at once an honoured 
guest in the cheerful coterie. Every departing 
traveller has the same circle of willing friends, eager 
to help him to adjust his sixty or eighty pounds of 
merchandise, and start him off on a fresh stage of his 
journey with a shower of valedictions, good wishes 
and pious ejaculations and prayers for his safety, — 
his replies borne faintly up to us on the warm air, 
as he drops down the steep path into the valley 
below. 

Of course, it may be called merely superficial 
friendliness and courtesy, and it is quite possible 
that, while the latest arrival absents himself for ten 
minutes or so, discoursing to the Resident, the 
speckled chicken which erstwhile dangled by one leg 
and a piece of string from his load may not be there 
when he returned, and may be adorning the baggage 
of the astute trader, who has just left with some 
alacrity ; but, even so, for myself, I would gladly take 
the chance of having my pocket picked, if, on one of 
the many occasions when I have entered a crowded 
omnibus in London, one of the row of cold, critical 
unfriendly faces opposite would break into a smile, 



ii8 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

and say what I heard all round me at Kabba, in 
sonorous Yoruba : ' Akwabo ! Akwabo ! ' (You 
are welcome, very welcome !) Indeed, I can never 
conquer that curious feeling of chilly depression that 
overtakes me each time I return to England, and 
feel that, except for the tiny minority of my own 
friends, I am alone in the crowd; infinitely more alone 
in Bond Street, where almost every brick and stone is 
familiar, than I could ever be in the busy streets 
of Kano, or any other city of Nigeria, which I might 
enter even for the first time, where I should find 
two hands and one willing tongue all inadequate for 
the due return of the ceaseless shower of smiling 
salutations and greetings that would be poured upon 
me from every side. And this is by no means a 
tribute to any persona] charms of mine. Any travel- 
ler, black-skinned or white, receives the same treat- 
ment as a matter of course. 

It is, however, a ' far cry ' from Bond Street to 
Kabba, and I very much doubt whether moralizing 
is permissible in so small and simple a record as this. 
It must have been — as usual — the fault of those 
chattering ladies ! 

Outside the town, there is a little stretch of forest 
belt, and, as no one has ever disputed its possession 
with me, I am pleased to consider it exclusively my 
own property ! The path is of the very narrowest, 
not more than three feet anywhere, giving barely 
room enough for me and my pony. On either side 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 119 

rises a wall of greenery, full of climbing plants 
innumerable. Hanging from the branches of great 
trees, twenty and thirty feet above my head, them- 
selves loaded with ferns and parasites, are gracefully 
twining creepers, swaying tantalizingly and rather 
contemptuously, it seems, just out of reach of my 
farthest stretch. Two months before, it was a 
flaming mass of glorious scarlet Mussaenda elegans. 
Now, in July, that has passed, and the mode for the 
month is a flower I dearly love, but which, owing to 
a miserable ignorance of botany, I cannot address 
by its proper name. I think it would strike the lay 
mind as a species of mimosa. The stem is thorny ; 
the leaves, which are minutely pinnate, close modestly 
at sunset. The flower smells of a thousand sweet 
things, and consists of a collection of tiny florets 
massed together, forming one infinitely delicate 
ball of slender, silvery-white threads tipped with 
golden pollen. It is everywhere, clasping the tree- 
trunks, foaming over the bushes, and shrouding the 
deep cool recesses, where the shining dark ferns lie 
hidden away, scenting the whole air, and proving 
itself an irresistible fascination to the butterflies — 
busy gossips that they are — flashing purple and 
velvety black, gleaming yellow and palest blue. 

One of the huge ' Kuka ' trees is clothed to a 
height of fifteen or twenty feet in a gorgeous mantle 
of Gloriosa superba, each vivid green leaf ending in a 
long tendril which clings desperately to all it meets. 



120 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

The blossoms, when first opened, are of a dehcate 
pale golden colour, daily developing crimson splashes 
at the base of each petal, and later becoming entirely 
an exquisite deep apricot shade — a perfect feast of 
daintily varying hues. 

Added to these treasures, my ' Kingdom ' is the 
happy home of troops of gay restless monkeys, seldom 
visible, but everlastingly on the move behind the 
green curtain, swinging, leaping and chattering, ever 
disturbing flights of tiny green parrots and demure 
little grey doves. 

Skirting the crumbling wall, one follows a narrow 
footpath towards a rocky eminence a quarter of a 
mile away, and, dismounting, explores it on foot. It 
is a tiny hill of great steepness, composed for the 
most part of piles of massive boulders, from which 
nearly all the soil has been washed away by the 
rain of many seasons. An almost invisible track 
guides one up the precipitous side to the summit, 
an area of, possibly, fifty feet square, occupied 
entirely by great rocks, shady niches and coarse 
creepers. 

The place has a history and a reputation of its 
own ; it is called the ' Look-out Hill,' and was greatly 
used — so runs the tradition — in the times of Fulani 
slave-raiding expeditions from Bida. Once arrived 
at the top, the full significance of the name is grasped. 
Far and wide, in all directions, one can view the 
surrounding country, and command every road lead- 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 121 

ing to Kabba, without being visible from below. 
How vividly one can picture the anxious watcher, 
crouching motionless among the rocks, scanning 
with straining eyes the paths winding like white 
ribbons among the peaceful yam-fields and waving 
grass, on the alert to detect the first signs of the 
advancing Fulah army, and then flying breathless 
along the scented forest ways, back to the town, his 
poor heart thumping on his ribs, to carry the dread 
news that sounded the knell of slavery for himself, 
his wives and children. 

The Kabba folk are of the Bunu tribe ; whence their 
origin I cannot venture to say. At all events, they 
speak a remarkably unpronounceable language of 
their own, to the utter confounding of any unfortun- 
ate interpreter who does not happen to have been 
born within fifty miles of the place. Bunu language 
is not precisely musical, but I have observed with 
mild astonishment that these natives rather like 
talking it ! My friend, the Balogun, likes to chat 
easily with his retinue in this tongue, which appears 
to have no vowels except odd sounds evolved from 
somewhere in the region of the collar-bones, and which 
seems to demand some special development about 
the nose and chest, just as Yoruba and Kru require 
peculiarly shaped mouths for their correct enuncia- 
tion. I think the Balogun likes to feel that he is 
making an impression on ' the Judge ' in a small way, 
by this exhibition of jaw-breaking phraseology He, 



122 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

by the way, is a man of property, and, as befits the 
' second chief ', is a leader of society in Kabba, dress- 
ing recklessly in a gorgeous black and white velvet 
robe. He knows, too, what is due to a lady, even 
an English one. Once, when I showed him some 
elaborate embroidery on which I was working, he 
rose manfully to the occasion, and, making use of his 
one piece of colloquial English, rather startled me by 
ejaculating pleasantly : ' My God ! * 

Fetish has a firm hold in Kabba, but to which 
' school ' the people belong, I have never been able, 
nor indeed have I tried, to find out, as I have some 
belief in treating any man's religion with as much 
reverence and reticence as he does himself. Before 
describing what I do know of Bunu ceremonies, I 
would like to repeat here Mary Kingsley's admirable 
definition of * Fetish ' : ' the religion of the natives 
of the western coast of Africa, where they have not 
been influenced either by Christianity or Mahome- 
danism ' : a fairer and truer view than that usually 
taken, as ' rank heathenism.' However, the whole 
subject of Fetish is so well and exhaustively treated 
both by Miss Kingsley and Major Mockler-Ferryman 
in their respective works on West Africa, that it would 
be as futile as unbecoming for me to attempt to 
stumble and halt over the ground they covered so 
royally and so completely ; therefore I will content 
myself with describing the Bunu funeral ceremonies 
as carried out in Kabba^ as these happened to come 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 123 

under my notice and seemed to me rather unique 
and interesting. 

In the first place, the corpse is wrapped in the 
family burying-cloth, which is an intrinsic feature 
of every Bunu household. It is a large cloth quilt, 
sewn and embroidered with yarns of every imagin- 
able hue — the wealthier the family, the more elabor- 
ate and gorgeous the burying sheet, the value fre- 
quently running up to several pounds. As soon as 
one is devoted to its special purpose, the bereaved 
relations immediately set to work to provide another 
according to their means, against a future death. 
Nature appears to be very much the same all the 
world over, and feeling in Kabba, on the subject of a 
proper burying-sheet, runs just as high as it does in 
the Mile End Road over the momentous question of 
coaches and plumes ! 

When thus suitably arrayed, the corpse is kept in 
the house for three days, while four maidens of tender 
years are selected, and, being placed in strictest 
seclusion in a house set apart, are not permitted to 
speak a single word during these days. As soon as 
the lying-in-state is accomplished, a great number 
of people from the neighbouring villages arrive, in 
obedience to the Sariki's summons ; not necessarily 
out of friendship for the dead man, but merely as 
a matter of religious ceremonial. Each guest brings 
a certain proportion of gifts in cloth, food-stuffs 
and cowries — especially the last-named. The whole 



124 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

party having assembled, they start forth for the 
Ju-ju Hill, the corpse borne in the midst, drums 
beating, horns hooting, women uttering mournful 
cries, and general excitement prevailing. The grave 
has been previously dug in a chosen spot on the 
hill-side (which is practically one large and over- 
crowded cemetery), and is of a curious shape. After 
the ordinary grave has been prepared to a depth of 
four feet or thereabouts, a tunnel is dug at one end 
of it, and continued into the earth for a distance of 
about twelve feet, the passage being wide enough 
to admit a man, creeping on hands and knees. 

The party at the foot of the hill seat themselves 
in a wide circle, and the four silent girls, coming 
forward, and raising the body, bear it away up the 
hill. It is lowered by them into the grave, and 
carefully pushed up the tunnel, the idea being that 
no earth shall fall on it. Then, in solemn silence, 
they return and collect the various offerings of food, 
cloth, and cowries from the assemblage, and deposit 
them beside and around the corpse ; finally, the outer 
grave is filled in. I have been told that several 
pounds' worth of cowries are thus buried at each 
funeral. Meantime, the folks below are holding high 
revel, dancing, singing, capering, banging tom-toms, 
and shouting a most enthusiastic send-off to their 
departed fellow-countryman, while he sleeps, all 
unconscious of the fun he is missing, lying just where 
he would choose to lie, on the slopes of his beloved 




The Emir's Band. Bida. (p. 124) 




My ' Pai.m' Cat. (p. 137) 

( S andinia hinotata.) 



[/nee fr. 124. 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 125 

Ju-ju Hill. Is it very different from an Irish wake ? 
And is it really much more ' heathenish ? ' 

Local funerals remind me of another Kabba story, 
which, though startling, I know to be absolutely 
true. It is as follows — An English Police Officer, 
while conducting an inquiry there, had a number of 
witnesses brought before him (natives), amongst them 
a woman, with, as usual, a child strapped to her back. 
While the inquiry was proceeding, the Police Officer 
became conscious of a horrible smell, and, when he 
could endure it no longer, inquired the cause among 
his interpreters and the people collected around him. 
All sniffed incredulously, and declared that, to their 
consciousness, there was no smell whatever. They 
could detect nothing, and evidently put it down, in 
their own minds, as one more of the imbecile fads 
that Englishmen are prone to ! The day was warm, 
the court-house crowded, the flies seemed more 
numerous and more maddening in their buzzing than 
usual, and, the terrible odour becoming intolerable, 
the Police Officer, feeling slightly sick, called for 
brandy and soda, and, springing up, declared his 
intention of discovering the cause. One turn round 
the court-house decided him that the horror was in 
the neighbourhood of the female witness. He peered 
closer, and saw at once that the baby on her back 
was dead ! He announced his discovery in horrified 
amazement, and was informed quite tranquilly, and 
as a matter of course, that the child had been dead 



126 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

for ' many days/ but that, as the mother had come 
from a distant village to give evidence, she must, of 
course, wait till her return before she could give the 
body burial ! There are many minor ceremonies 
and festivals, connected with matters agricultural, 
the ultimate success of the crops, the coming of the 
new yams, etc., but there is little variety in the 
proceedings, the main point being, apparently, 
the making of a * cheerful noise ' and the sac- 
rifice of nothing more dreadful than a few 
fowls ! 

Some distance to the south of Kabba there exists 
a tiny town of the name of Semolika, curiously 
situated on the summit of a steep hill, below which 
runs the winding bush path — the traveller's high- 
way. The Semolikas are not nice characters ; 
most of their time is spent in squatting on the rocks, 
watching the road below, till they can spy a string 
of traders, or a small caravan, when they swoop 
down like hawks, robbing and murdering these 
unfortunate passers-by ! At other times they amuse 
themselves and * keep their hands in ' by attacking 
their neighbours, who hold them in the lowest 
estimation, describing them as having ' hearts of 
stone,' which means, roughly, that they are insensible 
to sentiments of friendship, honour, family ties and 
common humanity. No Semolika youth can claim 
to be considered a man, until he is the proud possessor 
of a drinking-cup, consisting of a human skull, 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 127 

taken with his own hand from some poor wretch 
he himself has murdered ! 

These amiable people cherished undying resent- 
ment against the ^ white man ' in general ; they 
claimed— rightly or wrongly — to have been unfairly 
treated by him, and, having sw^orn to kill the very 
next Englishman who entered their stronghold, 
they fiercely attacked a small military patrol, under 
a young officer, who, on hearing continuous com- 
plaints of the Semolikas and their behaviour from 
the neighbours all round, decided, with pardonable 
imprudence, to march through the place as an object 
lesson of superior force. The Semolikas did enough 
damage to the party to necessitate reprisals, and in 
October of that year an expedition left Lokoja 
to avenge the insult, accompanied by my husband. 
The force was entirely successful in breaking up the 
culprits' fastness, and as the operations were speci- 
ally interesting owing to the peculiar situation of 
the place, I will quote from the Resident's official 
report of the attack. 

* . . . On Sunday, the i6th, we marched into 
Igarra, which is curiously situated, being on the 
opposite side of a narrow valley to Semolika ; the 
inhabitants of both places are therefore always in 
view of each other from the summits of their respec- 
tive hilltops, and sit by the hour watching each others' 
movements — the distance being about three thou- 
sand yards. The people of these two places have 



128 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

never been friends, the Semolikas, owing to their hill 
being the more difficult of the two to climb, fre- 
quently raiding the Igarra farms, and, in addition 
to the farm produce, as often as not carrying away 
women and children. As they are known to practise 
human sacrifices, the Igarras are kept in constant 
dread of these raids, and, on markets being held at 
places in the neighbourhood, large parties arrange 
to pass along the road together, and are always 
armed. 

' On climbing to the summit of the Igarra hill, 
1,750 feet, it could be seen what a very awkward 
place Semolika hill must be to ascend. The local 
formation of boulder-like smooth-topped rocks ap- 
pears to have been rather concentrated in this parti- 
cular mountain, and they rose, one after another, in 
constant succession, at gradients varying from 
almost the perpendicular, the thin silvery strip of 
colouring over the surface of these slabs showing the 
direction of the ascending path. The Igarras helped 
us tremendously, but still, when it came to asking 
for information about other ways of getting up to 
Semolika, the ignorance was too general to be cred- 
ited, and I think that even then they were not too 
sure that the ''white man" would win, and were he 
not to they might expect a bad time for long years 
to come from their old enemy ! So, although much 
reconnoitring was undertaken, no better path could 
be seen. On reconnoitring parties approaching 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 129 

within earshot of the many observing points the 
Semohkas were continuously guarding, they would 
be received with shouts of defiance and derision, 
the question being always asked : '' Why don't you 

come and try ? " etc The Semolikas were 

kept busy now, and could be seen improving 
sangars, or endeavouring to make difficult places 
still worse. 

* Finally, it was decided to advance on the morn- 
ing of Tuesday, the i8th, and on the night before, 
at 8.30 p.m., the gun detachment carried out their 
gun, in order to commence the ascent of the Igarra 
hill, from where it had been decided to cover the 
advance. Although this hill is not so difficult as 
Semolika itself, still, no ordinary leather sole and 
heel could ever hope to reach its summit, and it was 
with wonder and admiration that I watched the 
manner in which the Igarra people turned out in 
their hundreds on this cold and drizzling night, to 
help to get the gun to its destination. At places 
they, accustomed as their toes have apparently 
become to cling to smooth surfaces, suffered severely, 
and at two points in particular one could only des- 
cribe their manner of handling by comparing the 
gun to a heavy beetle being carried off by a vast 
company of ants ! It was at one of these places 
that Captain Phillips, who was commanding the 
detachment, had, with admirable foresight, arranged 

for drag-ropes, hold-fasts and corresponding para- 

K 



130 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

phernalia, but our eager allies would brook no delay, 
and, literally falling on the gun and its mounting, 
ran the heavy loads up the sides of this precipice 
by sheer force of keen desire. After three hours* 
hard climb, at each resting interval of which the 
streamingly hot volunteers were most affectionately 
patted on the shoulders by gunners and permanent 
gun carriers alike, with many '' Sanu's ! " to denote 
their admiration of the herculean task, the selected 
ledge of rock was safely reached, and the gun duly 
mounted. Heavy rain set in about 2 a.m. and with- 
out bedding or shelter of any kind, the conditions 
were not pleasant. 

' The main body was supposed to leave camp at 
3.30 a.m. which would enable them to arrive at the 
foot of the Semolika hill at dawn. One of the 
worst places where it was thought opposition might 
prove most effective against our side was about 
one-third of the way up, and was marked by three 
palm trees. Some strong sangars had been built^ 
and the natural features of the place certainly pre- 
sented the most fearsome difficulties. It was hoped, 
therefore, that the gun would succeed in clearing this 
trap, and facilitate the advance for the attackers ; 
from about 4.30 a.m., therefore, every effort was 
made either to distinguish our own men commencing 
their climb, or the enemy concealed in the heavy 
undergrowth which was interspersed among the 
rocks. Unfortunately, there was a thick mist 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 131 

after the night's wet weather, and this handicapped 
the gunners to a very great extent. At 6 a.m. the 
first Dane gun boomed out, reverberating among 
the rocks and hillside, and almost immediately 
after a break occurred in the veil of mist, showing 
some hundreds of the enemy, scampering, veritably 
like monkeys, from ledge to ledge, from boulder to 
boulder, making their way to their various points of 
vantage, in order to assist in the defence of their 
virgin stronghold. A very well-judged shrapnel 
was fired at this moment, and, I think, must have 
checked the enthusiasm of some at least of the 
defenders, who could be seen hurriedly scuttling 
back. Could this have been repeated, the attackers 
would have been much less opposed, except, of 
course, by the natural existing difficulties which 
beset the path, the chief of which, was, I believe, 
regarded by the Semolikas as their piece de resist- 
ance, which was most thoroughly emphasized per- 
sonally, in my case, as it was while clinging to an 
eight foot ledge, struggling in vain to get a foothold, 
that a Dane gun was fired from most uncomfortable 
proximity ! A long pointed boulder, impossible to 
climb, terminated at the so-called path, which, at 
this place, consisted of a narrow ledge close to, and 
under the point of, the boulder. The defenders had 
ingeniously built up from this ledge, and thus most 
effectually shut an apparently natural entrance gate 
to the hill-side. At short distances away were stone 



I 



132 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

sangars in well-selected positions and, had they been 
occupied by a more modernly armed enemy, I fear 
our casualities would have been very heavy. The 
drop to the right from the ledge was considerable, 
but a small, loaf-shaped foothold happened to be 
protruding some feet down, and this was the only 
means of proceeding onward. A hurried one-legged 
balance had to be made upon its surface when the 
ledge beyond had to be smartly clutched. On part- 
ing with the perch, it was occupied by a native, who, 
by pushing upwards, succeeded in precipitating the 
climber, on his face, on to the higher level, once 
again in comparative safety, and thus every one had 
to take his turn ! 

* The higher level was a vast sheet of smooth rock, 
100 to 150 yards in length, sloping at a very steep 
gradient, and offering another deadly opportunity to 
the modern firearm. But the Semolikas, at this 
place, were content with stones only, and were not, 
apparently, good shots with these missiles, for 
though many were more or less hurt, only one man 
was struck in the face. After this, the defenders 
retired, firing continuously, until the king's quarter 
was reached, where a further determined stand was 
made — and where Lieutenant Galloway received a 
wound. This was their last combined effort, and 
for the remainder of the day only desultory firing 
took place by people hidden here and there in caves 
and behind rocks. A zareba was formed in the best 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 133 

place available ... an attack being expected during 
the night, but nothing happened, the rain possibly 
damping the enemy's ardour, as well as his ammuni- 
tion ! For the next few days every endeavour was 
made to discover the whereabouts of the fugitive 
Semolikas, but without success, although acting on 
supposed reliable news which was frequently brought 
in, the hills for miles around were diligently searched 
by our troops. . . .' 

Meantime, knowing what I knew of the Semolikas 
and their rocky fortress, I spent an anxious and miser- 
able time in Lokoja, waiting for news of the result ; 
I also said good-bye, with much regret, to Mr. and 
Mrs. Wilmot, of the Bank of Nigeria, who left for 
England. For two whole years Mrs. Wilmot had 
remained in Lokoja, with only a few days' change, 
occupying the smallest and most uncomfortable 
quarters, making acquaintance with most forms of 
discomfort, but ever cheery, energetic and plucky, 
an object lesson to us all, and though I knew I should 
miss my friends greatly, one could not help rejoicing 
to see their well-earned holiday come at last. 

My husband hurried back to Lokoja a day ahead 
of ' the Army ' and delighted me with a few curios 
he had secured for me at Semolika. One special 
treasure is w^orth describing in detail ; it was, I 
believe, the Chief's own stool, and consists of a 
solid block of mahogany, black and polished from 
long use. The base is solid, and the seat upheld by 



134 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

roughly carved kneeling figures, while the centre 
portion is a pillar, having four doors which actually 
open and shut, turning in clever little sockets, and 
revealing recesses inside, the whole thing being, as I 
have said, one solid block of wood, without a join or 
addition anywhere. The cutting of those little 
doors is a great delight to me, and I have never seen 
among the many stools I have collected, another at 
all like it ; indeed, the servants were so impressed 
with the odd arrangement that nothing would 
induce them to open the doors, suspecting Ju-ju, 
and they greatly disapproved of my doing so ! 

For the next few weeks life drifted quietly along, 
the monotony relieved by a passing visit from General 
Kemball, and very sadly, later on, by the death of 
' Binkie,' our dearly-loved little fox-terrier. His 
devotion and faithfulness to the last was very touch- 
ing ; when he was too ill to walk, he would painfully 
and slowly drag himself down the steps, across the 
gravel, and lie, exhausted, at the gate, his head 
between his paws, watching the Resident's office 
with wistful eyes for the return of his beloved master. 
Over and over again I carried him back to his basket, 
only to see him persistently make his way out again. 

I remember finding in the Spectator some lines 
headed, ' Modie, a fox-terrier,' and with the name 
altered to ' Binkie,' I have kept them tucked away 
in my mind ever since. I will make no further 
apology for quoting them here, beyond the hope that 



X 



KABBA. SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 135 

the author, * G.W.F.G/, will accept as a tribute the 
comfort they gave to a heavy heart ; any dog-lover 
who has not seen them before will love them as I do, 
and the unfortunate person who is not a dog-lover 
will simply — skip them ! 

Not strange, perhaps, that, on her beat, 
Nature should hush, by one wide law, 

The patter of four fitful feet. 
The scrape of a persistent paw. 

And yet the house is changed and still, 

Waiting to echo as before 
Hot bursts of purpose hard to chill. 

And indignation at the door. 

No friendly task he left unplied, 

To speed the hour or while the days, 

The grief that mourned him when he died 
Spelt out his little meed of praise. 

They say he only thought in dreams. 

What matter ! Lay the silken head 
Throbbing with half a world of schemes 

Under the silent flowers instead. 

The Spring winds in the lilacs play, 
Beside the old wall where he lies : 

The ivies murmur night and day 
Their tiny lisping lullabies. 

Then ask not if he wakes again : 

He meddled not in things too deep ; 
And Nature, after joy or pain 

Gives nothing half so kind as sleep. 

In the beginning of December we spent a fort- 
night on a short tour, in the course of which we 
discovered Patti Abaja, a quaint little spot just 



136 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

North of Lokoja, and not. more than fifteen miles 
from cantonments. The path winds among rather 
thick bush to the foot of an abruptly-rising lofty 
hill, thickly clothed with trees. Here we dismounted 
and sent the ponies round to make the ascent by a 
longer but easier path, and after a really stiff climb 
over rocks and boulders for about an hour, we arrived 
at the summit, breathless but triumphant, and were 
confronted by miles of an absolutely flat plain, partly 
cultivated, but covered mainly with fine short grass. 
It looked exactly as if some playful giant had shaved 
the top clean off the mountain ! A further walk 
along the level brought us to the little hamlet of 
Patti Abaja, and here was still further room for 
wonderment, for, close beside it, the same playful 
giant had evidently been to work again, and had 
scooped out a dozen or so huge handfuls of the centre 
of the hill, then tired of his joke, and wandered off to 
seek new occupation elsewhere ! There was a com- 
pletely circular basin almost under our feet, the sides 
precipitous and rocky, covered with thick greenery ; 
down below a carpet of farms flourished, and a few 
figures moving about looked like ants from our lofty 
perch. At a point just below the viflage a stream, 
issuing from the rock itself, tumbled and foamed 
away down into the vafley, and meandered off among 
ferns, water plants and grasses, supplying delicious 
cold water to the community above. The air was 
perfectly glorious in its invigorating freshness, with 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 137 

the most delightful ' nip ' at sunset and dawn. While 
there we had a pair of very fascinating little animals 
brought to us ; they were, I think, what are called 
' palm-cats ' (Nandinia hinotata) ; at that time they 
were very tiny, and, when full grown, only slightly 
larger than a ferret, extremely pretty, with soft dark 
grey fur, marked with black spots and rings. They 
were very young and helpless, and required a good 
deal of hand-feeding before they got lively and 
independent, but they travelled round with us in 
a covered basket quite safely, and, once settled in 
Lokoja, they were quite at home, perfectly tame and 
delightfully playful. One, alas! was killed by 
accident, but the other grew and flourished for some 
months, till one sad day, when he caught and ate a 
large locust, and from that time he refused food, 
drooped and died. I was sorely disappointed and 
grieved at the loss of my tiny pet, who, at a call, 
would come flying out from any corner, scamper up 
to me, run up my skirt, and sit on my shoulder, with 
his little wise eyes twinkling, and tiny paw^s up-held. 
We made a shooting camp at Patti Abaja, and 
spent Christmas there, in company with Captain 
Phillips, of the Gunners, whose tastes were similar to 
ours, and though the sport, as far as big game was 
concerned, was a failure, we were all happy pottering 
about after guinea-fowl, etc., and thoroughly enjoyed 
the difference in the temperature. It was practically 
impossible to get near big game, although there was 



138 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

plenty about, for the ground was as hard as iron, and 
the steps of a booted foot, or of a pony, rang as though 
on a pavement, and must have been audible to the 
animals at a great distance. We wound our way 
down the hill a few days later, feeling that, even if 
our spoils had not been many, our Christmas camp 
had, at all events, been a pleasant ending to a pleas- 
ant year. 

About the middle of January we fared forth again, 
with the object of, at last, accomplishing the delimita- 
tion of the Kabba-Ilorin boundary, interrupted two 
years before, and went up the river to Egga, where 
we were to meet the Resident of Ilorin, Dr. Dwyer, 
and from where the boundary line would start. I 
had some misgivings, for travelling and camping in 
company is not always conducive to peace and har- 
mony ; but directly we all started off my anxieties 
were laid to rest, and we spent a delightful three 
weeks together. If the roads were of the worst, the 
camps were of the best, all the arrangements worked 
smoothly, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves 
sitting cosily round huge wood fires in the chilly 
evenings, chatting and exchanging reminiscences. 
I made some new acquaintances in the flower world : 
the Mexican poppy {Argemone mexicana) made me 
wonder how it got there ; Strophanthus was in full 
bloom — queer uncanny blossoms, each pinkish cream 
petal lengthening out into a streamer four or five 
inches long, resembling a flower less than some 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 139 

curious butterfly or sea anemone. The natives are 
terrified of it ; beside its poisonous qualities, they 
beheve that the juice produces instant bhndness, 
and I could not persuade any one to break off a 
spray for me to sketch, and was obliged to do it 
myself, amidst much alarm and disapproval ! In the 
forest was bright red Bryophyllum and another small 
shrub, loaded with glowing flame-coloured flowers ; 
Dr. Dwyer discovered a specimen of Isochelis for me, 
and my last ' find ' was Kigelia Africana^ a large 
tree with truly splendid blossoms of deep crimson, 
hanging on pendant stems like glowing lamps set in 
the brilliant green foliage. 

The middle of February found us back in Lokoja, 
with plenty of work in the office to be ' wound up ' 
before we went on leave, which kept by husband 
busy until the High Commissioner arrived in March, 
desiring to inspect Kabba with a view to its becom- 
ing the headquarters of the Province. A flying visit 
was paid there while I packed up, the Sahib hurry- 
ing back to catch the next mail-boat, and as — to use 
an Indian expression — we had ' laid a dak ' at vari- 
ous points on the road, he managed to cover the fifty 
odd miles in eight hours ! My bull-terrier had just 
then burst a blood-vessel, and had to be destroyed, 
to my grief, and on March 23 we set our faces down 
river and towards home, with no more impedimenta 
than a parrot, a first-rate talker, who, by the way, 
distinguished himself, after a few^ days in the neigh- 



140 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

bourhood of the galley, by exclaiming, while I was 
displaying him to a friend, ' Who the hell are you ? ' 
After that I was allowed to keep him in my own 
charge ! 

We had a very pleasant trip, and found a special 
interest in the persons of two Arab merchants, who, 
trading between Tripoli and Kano, had had the 
suggestion made to them at the latter place, that, 
instead of the long and perilous Desert journey back, 
occupying seven months at least, it would be far 
cheaper and more convenient for them to convey 
themselves and their merchandise (ostrich feathers) 
to the Coast, and return to Tripoli by sea — a most 
excellent plan, and one that should, and would, be 
universally adopted, but for deep-rooted conserva- 
tism and distrust of new ways. As these two men 
consented to make the experiment, every assistance 
was given them by Government to reach Lagos, and 
Sir Alfred Jones gave them and their loads free 
transport to Liverpool — for they were, on this occa- 
sion, to come to London, instead of transhipping at 
the Canaries, so as to test the London market for 
their feathers. They were most highly intelligent 
men ; one, ' Nassuf,' was the son of an extremely 
wealthy Tripoli merchant, the other was a travelling 
acquaintance, who, having been robbed of all his 
possessions in the Desert, was, with characteristic 
kindliness, being taken charge of and seen safely 
home by Nassuf. They were in quite prosperous 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 141 

circumstances, and had plenty of money, but found 
themselves sorely handicapped, oncq^ they left Africa, 
by speaking nothing but Arabic and Hausa. There- 
fore, our assistance as interpreters was requisitioned, 
and we visited them daily on board, enjoying many 
long talks about Tripoli, Kano and the Desert, so 
that they came to look on us as their natural pro- 
tectors and friends, and, on learning that we, of 
course, intended leaving the ship at Plymouth, their 
dismay and alarm was so deep and sincere, that we 
decided to go round to Liverpool with them, and, 
at least, see them safely ashore with their valuable 
merchandise, valued by Nassuf at £60,000 ! 

On arrival, we were met by Sir Alfred Jones, who, 
with his usual enterprise, took a keen interest in the 
experiment, and, at his earnest request, we consented 
to take charge of Nassuf and his companion while 
they were in England, and bore them off to the 
North-Western Hotel. There they nautrally attracted 
a good deal of attention in their picturesque flow- 
ing white robes, but their manner of receiving it 
was perfection in its well-bred unconsciousness; 
indeed, their simple, quiet dignity was in marked 
contrast to the behaviour of the gaping crowed which 
followed us everywhere, and also, alas ! to that of 
well-dressed strangers who thought them fair game 
for rude impertinence. Given a pot of coffee and a 
box of cigarettes, our ' lambs,' as we called them, 
were perfectly happy, and would sit for hours in the 



142 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

big hall, utterly unmoved by the novelty of the scene 
of continuous bustle of arrival and departure, but 
watching it all with their bright intelligent eyes, and 
asking numberless shrewd questions in low-toned 
rapid Hausa. 

We then conveyed our charges to Euston, and, on 
the road, Nassuf confided to us that he much disliked 
being mobbed and stared at, therefore he wished, 
immediately on arrival in London, to exchange his 
Arab dress for orthodox English garments, and, much 
as we regretted the change, we could only sympathize 
with the feeling that prompted him, and promised 
to ' make an Englishman ' of him without delay. 
At Euston we packed our ' lambs ' into a cab, and 
before getting into another ourselves, explained the 
situation to the cabman, requesting him to drive to 
the first general outfitter he could find in the Totten- 
ham Court Road. Just as we were starting, he pulled 
up, climbed off his box, and, putting a perturbed and 
puzzled face through the window, inquired in an 
anxious and somewhat embarrassed whisper : * Beg 
parding, sir, but might they be males or females ? ' 
With heroic efforts to preserve our gravity, we gave 
the necessary information, and were unfeignedly 
thankful at having escaped being driven up to a 
' ladies' shop,' and the consequent explanations ! 
■ Arrived at the outfitter's, Nassuf, treading noise- 
lessly, and smilingly serene, walked up to the counter, 
and asked us to convey to the salesman his desire to be 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 143 

dressed from head to foot — ' just like him/ indicating 
my husband — ' one of everything — good things/ he 
added, * I have plenty of money ! ' and, to the bewil- 
derment of the onlookers, he untied endless knots in 
a mysterious hidden, white sash, and poured forty 
sovereigns out on the counter ! A kindly assistant 
took charge of him, and we waited patiently, much 
amused at the fragments of Arabic and English, 
struggles with refractory and novel garments, and sup- 
pressed chuckles that proceeded from the little dress- 
ing-room, until Nassuf emerged radiant and complete 
from his shiny boots to the gloves he so proudly 
carried, all his picturesque grace vanished, alas ! but 
quite secure from unwelcome attention, and, to his 
amazement, his outfit cost him rather less than £6 ! 
I greatly suspect that the wily young merchant 
retailed that costume to great advantage when he 
reached Tripoli ; meantime he adopted quite an air 
of indulgent amusement over the appearance of his 
friend, who, either from conservatism or from a 
chivalrous desire to spare his benefactor's purse, 
firmly declined to alter his costume ! 

We spent several mornings in a great feather ware- 
house in the City, with a view to finding a market for 
Nassuf's wares, but his hopes were rather dashed at 
the sight of masses of splendid plumes from South 
Africa, and the price offered for his feathers was, he 
declared, not half what he could obtain in Tripoli. 
Even allowing for Eastern methods of striking a bar- 



144 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

gain, he was obviously telling the truth, for, had it 
been at all to his advantage, nothing would have 
been easier than for him to have disposed of all his 
feathers then and there. I am inclined to think the 
reason is that the Tripoli market, not being supplied 
with the really beautiful South African feathers, 
possibly values more highly the inferior sort from 
Nigeria — and they are very inferior, possibly because 
the birds are not farmed, and are plucked at any 
season of the year, and in a most thorough and cruel 
fashion. Poor Nassuf was mournfully puzzled to see 
his enormous ox-hides, in which the feathers were 
packed, valued at five shillings each ! In Tripoli, 
he explained, they are eagerly bought for a high price, 
being in great request for Arab tents ! 

So, after every kindness and courtesy had been 
showered on the young merchant — and nothing 
could have exceeded his grateful acknowledgment 
of it — the decision was arrived at to repack his 
feathers, and speed him on his journey to Tripoli, 
and, after a visit to the Colonial Office (when we 
persuaded him to resume his national dress), we con- 
veyed our charges down to the Docks, much encum- 
bered with packages of apples, razors, cheese and a 
gold-topped umbrella, and saw them safely established 
on the Gulf of Suez, en route for Malta and Tripoli. 
It was quite a sad parting, the two men were child- 
like in their grief and affection, and we could only 
console them by promising, whenever the opportunity 



KABBA, SEMOLIKA AND PATTI ABAJA 145 

occurred, to visit Tripoli as the guests of Nassuf's 
father, and, meantime, to bear them in mind, and 
send them news of ourselves. 

A couple of hours later we were watching a play, 
our leave had really begun, and the Gulf of Suez, 
preparing to slip down the Thames, carrying off our 
' lambs,' seemed already part of a passed fantastic 
dream. 



CHAPTER IX 

Borgu 

Outside the Bar at Forcados an October tornado 
was in full swing, huge green seas swept past, the 
wind howled and the rain fell in torrents, almost 
hiding from view the little black ' branch boat ' 
tossing uneasily half a mile away. We stood on 
the streaming deck, watching our belongings being 
transferred, with the greatest difficulty, from the 
mail-boat to the other, each boat-load apparently 
faring worse than the last as the hurricane increased 
in violence, and it seemed an absolutely foolhardy 
risk for us, and four other passengers for Nigeria, 
to attempt to reach the Dodo in an open boat. It 
was an impasse, for the tides did not suit, and, 
with every desire to assist us, our Captain was 
not justified in incurring the danger of trying to 
cross the Bar : waiting was out of the question, 
even for twenty-four hours, as these tornadoes some- 
times last for days together, therefore we had to 
make the best of an unpleasant situation and 
' face the music ' ! So the Dodo steamed round us 

147 



148 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

and anchored on our lee side — at what seemed a 
very long distance — so as to give us, at least for the 
start, a certain amount of protection, and enabling 
the ladder to be let down, a great consideration, 
which avoids the dangerous process of being deposited 
in a heaving, rocking boat by means of a ' mammy 
chair * or a bucket. 

Our baggage safely (more or less !) transferred, 
kind friends lent us oilskins, and we six unfortu- 
nate wayfarers cautiously crept down the ladder, 
established ourselves in the boat, waved farewells 
to the line of anxious faces at the rail above, and 
set forth, benefiting for a few minutes by the shelter 
afforded by the ship, but only too soon finding 
ourselves very much at the mercy of wind and 
waves. 

Most fortunately, however, it is provided that, 
in the face of real and present danger, the smallest- 
spirited of us has no sense of fear, but rather one of 
exhilaration — it is no new discovery of mine, I 
know, but it is an immense comfort at the moment, 
and, though the chances of our being swamped 
at any moment were enormous, I had the satisfaction, 
while I hugged ' Diana ' (our latest acquisition, a 
beautiful setter-spaniel), of deciding that if this was 
the end of the chapter, it was nice to finish in such 
good company ! I think I had just arrived at this 
philosophic reflection when our boat was whirled 
and sucked in under the stern of the Dodo, where 



BORGU 149 

the propeller was revolving, and the heaving sea 
threatened to throw us up and crush us like egg- 
shells. There was just a moment while we all 
stared upwards at the black stern and held our 
breaths, then the wave passed and a mighty pull 
brought us round, just in time, and a few minutes 
later we were all standing on the Dodo's dripping 
deck, congratulating each other on having succeeded 
in getting there ! It was quite the nastiest experience 
I have yet had, and I know that all my companions 
would agree that I have by no means exaggerated 
the seriousness of it. This transhipping from 
* intermediate ' boats is a most unpleasant, and also 
dangerous business, ruining baggage and risking 
lives ; it is not too much to say that no one should 
be called upon to take such a risk, and I believe that 
every official in Northern Nigeria would rather 
sacrifice a week's leave than do so. 

We returned our borrowed oilskins by the boat- 
men's hands, and groped our way, in the driving 
rain, to our luggage, only to find that the particular 
box we sought had been forced open and rifled, and 
our new three-guinea mackintoshes had vanished ! 
This was getting on towards ' the last straw,' but 
the kindly skipper, after much hunting, found a 
large native cloth, which I could wrap over my 
soaking muslin blouse, and, when some tea had been 
made, and one of us had produced an immense 
plum-cake, we began to forget our sorrows, and 



150 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

steamed up to Burutu just as the darkness was 
falling, much comforted to see the smiling black 
face of ' Momo/ our faithful head steward, come 
down to meet us. 

The next morning, as the 'Empire fussed and 
paddled up the familiar creeks, and the sunshine 
was bright again, we opened the boxes that seemed 
to have suffered most from sea-water. My own 
clothes had fared badly, and it was a little saddening 
to cast overboard stained sodden masses (including 
my best evening frock !) which had been dainty 
muslins and chiffons. Destruction to nearly all 
one's possessions is all in the day's work in Nigeria, 
but it was rather saddening to see the destructive 
process well begun even before arrival ! 

We had a coop full of English fowls. Buff Orping- 
tons and Black Minorcas, and they, poor things, 
had very narrowly escaped drowning, and had been 
so terribly knocked about that they could hardly 
stand for many days ; indeed, I think we were lucky in 
losing only two hens as a result of their experiences. 

We arrived in Lokoja on the 14th of October, 
and found many familiar, kind faces to welcome 
us ; one dear friend of mine had even delayed her 
leave a few weeks so as not to miss us — a really 
heroic proof of friendship, and one greatly valued ! 
Almost immediately my husband was ordered to 
take charge of Borgu, the Northernmost Province 
on the right bank of the Niger, and we were jubilant 



BORGU 151 

at the prospect of seeing some new country, especially 
as Borgu possessed a great reputation for good 
shooting ; but our departure was delayed unavoidably 
for nearly three months, involving a state of restless 
uncertainty and suspense, a thing abhorrent to us 
both, and which has, oddly enough, been our portion 
almost continuously for the last ten years ! 

There came to Lokoja at this time a quaint and 
unusual visitor in the person of ' Fritz. ' ' Fritz ' was a 
young hippopotamus, I can hardly call him a baby 
on account of his size (about that of a very large 
pig), though he was only a few months old, brought 
down the Benue by Captain Stieber, the Resident 
of German Bornu, on his way to Berlin. He (Fritz, 
I mean !) was the oddest thing in pets, for he was 
perfectly tame, and could scarcely be called sharp, 
or even lively, but there was distinct individuality 
in his wide, rather satirical smile and tiny twinkling 
eye which commanded respect, though he did not 
lend himself to petting. For fear of losing this 
valuable little person he was usually tied up when 
taken down to bathe, for which purpose he wore an 
elegant and original collar, made of a cask hoop ; he 
seemed perfectly happy and contented, wandering 
among the grass at the Preparanda, consuming untold 
quantities of tinned milk, and rolling in awkward 
ecstasies in the warm sand. I believe Captain 
Stieber was perfectly successful in landing his pet 
safe and well at the Berlin Zoo. 



152 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

In December we got our ' marching orders/ 
packed up, and — on Christmas Day ! — started on 
our long river journey to Bussa, our new head- 
quarters. When our last friend had waved ' Good- 
bye ' at Mureji, and the little white stern- wheeler 
swept round the bend, and swung out into the 
great silent, gleaming river, where the distance 
was all opalescent Harmattan mist, the water 
like glass and the heavy air laden with soft aromatic 
scents, floating lazily out from the walls of tropical 
verdure on either hand, we felt that the ' onward 
and outward craving which so deeply possesses 
us both was in a fair way to be gratified. 

After the hurry and stress of departure from the 
busy station down river, and the final disgorging 
of passengers, mails and cargo at Mureji, it was 
infinitely peaceful to lie out on the now deserted 
deck and absorb and drink in the matchless beauty 
of it all, a beauty which seems to seize and hold 
one, making the blood race and pulses throb. The 
marvellous colouring, the masses of vegetation 
hanging over motionless reflections, clear and detailed 
as their originals, in the olive-hued water ; the solemn 
fish-eagles, sharply silhouetted against the pale 
sky, immovably still and ceaselessly peering into 
the silent pools below ; those mysterious little 
creeks creeping inwards where the branches hang 
low giving glimpses of flecked sunshine and shade, 
gloom and gold, bringing to mind that strange 













r. 
r. 



S. 



<^ 




u-) 



s: 



BORGU 153 

indefinable world that is neither dream-land nor 
fairy-land, but which very surely exists, and is 
sometimes momentarily revealed to most of us. 

A tangible part of the universal placidity was our 
pilot : he would sit crouching on the deck, hour 
after hour, wrapped in a white blanket, for the 
morning air was very keen, his wise old face tire- 
lessly watching the water. They steer by sight, 
of necessity, as the channels shift and change con- 
tinually ; not a word passed, but the slightest 
wave or quiver of his slender brown hand conveyed 
his meaning to the stolid sailor at the wheel, and the 
little boat crossed and recrossed, dodged and curved 
in perfect obedience to the silent watcher, closely 
noting every ripple and swirl with his far-seeing 
dreamy eyes. 

At Jebba the scene changed abruptly from low- 
lying grassy marsh land and warm sand-banks, 
where the wild duck and geese were wont to gather, 
to great beetling cliffs and walls of rock, which 
rose sheer from the still water, seemingly shutting 
in the river altogether, and giving the impression 
of one end of a Highland loch. Jebba struck me 
as rather a dreary spot, in spite of its undoubted 
beauty, having been formerly the head-quarters 
of the Government and now utterly deserted, save 
for the Niger Company's Store, which gives it an 
air of some life and briskness. I climbed the hill 
by the old zig-zag path, now scarcely discernible, 



154 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

and wandered round the remnants of ruined bunga- 
lows ; of some, nothing remained but the flight of 
cement steps, standing forlorn where all else had 
vanished ; others were the crumbling ruins of native- 
built mud houses — everywhere was desolation and 
decay. There is something essentially saddening 
about an abandoned station, and the island at 
Jebba, with its traces of ' white ' occupation, added 
to the impression of melancholy desertion : the 
cemetery was there, a lasting and tragic record 
of duty doggedly done, in the teeth of all difficulties, 
quiet heroism, and true British persistence, under 
the inspiration of an indomitable leader — to the end. 
However, there was little time for cheerless 
reflection ; our evening was spent strenuously — 
the Sahib struggling with fever — in shifting our 
belongings from the security of the Kapelli which 
now had to turn round and steam down river again, 
to carry the mails and passengers from Mureji 
to Lokoja, to the narrow quarters of a steel canoe ; 
and, in the chilly grey dawn of the following morning, 
with endless unnecessary buzzing, chatter, and running 
to and fro, the little paddle-wheel began to revolve, 
and we were away on the next stage of our journey. 
The fussing and churning of our tiny boat seemed 
utterly impertinent in the face of the gigantic 
frowning cliffs, the 'Ju-ju Rock ' towering grim and 
bare save for a thick undergrowth, at the base, of 
the unsightly euphorbia, greatly dreaded by the 



BORGU 155 

natives, who declare that Uke strophanthus, it 
will cause instant blindness to all who touch it. 
The sun rose on scenery resembling a mighty salmon 
river, the water swirling past smooth grey rocks, 
sheer cliffs and overhanging verdure ; this stretch 
of the Niger immediately above Jebba had almost 
the appearance of a stone gate-way, for, later, the 
swift current spread itself out again, wide and placid, 
to level green lowlands far away on either bank, 
until Badjibo was reached, and we were once more 
among rocks and rising ground. 

Here a halt of two days occurred, perforce, as 
our small craft could go no higher, a further transfer 
of our possessions into native canoes being necessary, 
and we had to wait until the ' Etsu ' of Badjibo 
could procure the said canoes from some mysterious 
direction indicated by a vague wave of his hand. 
Meanwhile, we were most comfortably installed 
in an excellent rest-house — excellent, that is, to 
African travellers' eyes — the square compound, 
encircled by a mud wall, containing four native- 
built huts, might not appeal very strongly to 
fastidious tastes, but, to us, it spelt something 
like luxury, plenty of room, a dim, cool, clean 
dwelling, built solidly and well as the Nupe custom 
is, and a real relief after the terribly cramped accom- 
modation and blistering heat of a steel canoe. Here, 
too, a new diversion awaited us in the shape of the 
undesirable activities of an angry swarm of bees, whose 



156 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

advent made our household generally move faster 
than I had ever seen them do — I can imagine 
nothing more effective than swarming bees for 
making slow folks bustle ! 

Outside our compound were two immense trees, 
one covered with creamy-white pendant blossoms, 
the other bearing bright yellow berries in almost 
incredible profusion. It was one of our chief 
pleasures to watch these trees, and find delight in 
the ever-varying throng of brilliant-hued birds who 
came, chirped, ate and fought all the morning long. 
Great plump green pigeons, with their exquisite 
plumage, deep yellow breast and wings shaded 
mauve, green and grey, others which we called 
the ' black fidgets ' from their incessant twittering 
and flying, flashing, as they went, a deep metallic 
blue ; there were smaller birds too, one almost 
entirely canary-coloured, another tiny wren-like 
thing, all crimson and soft brown, hundreds of tiny 
atoms of bird-life, hopping and darting so quickly 
that a clear view of them was almost impossible, 
except in the case of the exquisite little ' honey- 
birds ' who, caring nothing for the luscious berries, 
frequented the other tree, and delicately sipped 
the honey out of the drooping flowers, their backs 
gleaming brilliant green, and breasts glowing copper 
— their whole persons smaller than a cockroach ! 
They were a busy, merry crew, children of the sun- 
shine, happily untouched by want or fear. 



BORGU 157 

We fished the next day, without much science or 
skill on my part, and, to our immense surprise, our 
efforts were rewarded by the landing of a most 
uncanny-looking fish ; indeed, as it whirled out 
of the water, I believed for a monent that we had 
inadvertently hooked the corpse of a green pigeon ! 
Its length was about ten inches, the head blunt and the 
body very round, gaily striped with brilliant yellow 
and green, the breast a paler yellow, and protruding 
like a pouter pigeon. He was quite a stranger to 
me, and to this day I have never discovered his name — 
I trust it may be one befitting his truly gorgeous 
appearance ! At all events, the immediate circle 
of admirers of our prowess unanimously cried 
* A — a ! ' (No, no !) and assured us that our catch 
was bitter and uneatable ; and when an African 
native pronounces any living thing uneatable, it 
must be uneatable indeed, so we took their word 
for it, and having suffiiciently admired his somewhat 
grotesque beauty, we carefully unhooked him and 
put him back. 

Early next morning we left Badjibo, heading a 
procession of native canoes, and a most adventurous 
journey we had ! The river hereabouts is split up 
into various channels by islands and rocks, and we 
found ourselves in true Highland scenery, brown 
water rushing and creaming in its fall round and 
over huge boulders, the river fringed on either 
side by an immense growth of trees and bushes 



158 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

hanging above the stream, and making it a matter 
of great difficulty for the canoe-men to make any 
headway against the strong current, owing to the 
almost impossibility of finding ground for their 
long palm-wood poles. They could only seize 
branches and twigs, and so endeavour to haul the 
canoe up-stream, which method was, naturally, 
productive of a rich crop of misadventures, such as 
the sudden crashing down of the rotten branch to 
which the muscular brown arms were clinging, and 
the consequent rush down-stream of the canoe — our 
heads being banged and swept by branches and 
creepers, until it could be brought again under 
control by the whole party hanging desperately on to 
the nearest tree, and the strenuous effort, swirling 
and rocking, had to be commenced again, till we could 
crawl back to the same point, and beyond, perhaps, 
into smoother water, till the next rapid appeared, and 
the same difficulty — and, incidentally, danger — had to 
be encountered once more. I can vouch for it that 
we had not a ' dull moment ' from start to finish, 
and one could hardly be reproached for harbouring 
a slight feeling of insecurity, especially as the 
water continuously bubbled in through a very 
inadequate mend in the bottom of the canoe, just 
under my eye, and vigorous baling went on ' amid- 
ships ' all the time ! Anything less like the lower 
reaches of the Niger could hardly be imagined ; 
in the narrow channels where the trees meet over- 



BORGU 159 

head and the water tumbles, loud-voiced, over 
rocks and snags, it is hard to recognize it as 
the same river, and only in the open reaches 
do the crimson and white quisqualis and purple 
convolvulus remind me that I have met and 
loved them some three hundred miles nearer the 
coast. 

At the worst points, where the whole face of the 
river appeared to be barred with a rush of falling 
waters, and no smallest passage was visible amidst 
the tumbling foam, the canoes were hauled under 
the steep bank, and their entire contents bundled 
out thereon, we, the passengers, clambering, by the 
aid of roots and branches, to a place of some security, 
where we sat on the warm sand and watched the 
manoeuvres down below. The majority of the canoe- 
men, divesting themselves of their clothing, took 
boldly to the stream, where, with the rushing water 
up to their shoulders, struggling against the current 
and slipping on the stones, they deftly and manfully 
dragged the absurd little crafts through the rapids 
by means of rope hauling, vigorous pushing, swim- 
ming, and attempts at poling. They are practically 
amphibious, these men, and it was a fine sight, the 
active figures swimming and wading, dark, wet 
skins gleaming, white teeth flashing, while the air 
was full of shouts and cries, not to mention the 
chorus of advice and directions from the bank, and 
pious ejaculations of thanksgiving as each canoe 



i6o A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

reached a place of safety. Once arrived in more 
placid waters, the re-embarkation would take place, 
and the journey be resumed. 

Our river trip ended at Leaba, a small village 
above which is the Wuru rapid, about the worst 
on the river ; the natives have driven great tree 
trunks vertically into the rocky bed of the stream, 
and attached to them a stout rope by which the 
unfortunate traveller must drag himself and his 
canoe through the seething torrent. There is a 
saddening loss of life here, and death by drowning 
is so frequent that the riverside folks are perfectly 
stolid and unmoved by it, as we noticed when a 
man lost his life that very afternoon, trying to cross 
the river at this spot. The water is also infested 
with alligators of considerable size ; possibly they 
come up at high water, and are unable to get back 
until the next wet season — one is told that the body 
of a man upset from a canoe in the rapids is seldom 
or never recovered. 

At Leaba we found ponies awaiting us, and did 
the remaining few marches on horseback, leaving 
the baggage to make its way slowly up-stream, and 
on the gth of January we reached Bussa, where 
the Assistant Resident, Mr, Dwyer, gave us a cordial 
welcome. Bussa town is a mere hamlet, or, rather, 
collection of hamlets, straggling along the river 
bank ; a place of no importance whatever, where 
there is not even the mildest attempt at a market. 



BORGU i6i 

where trade is nil, and existence about as stagnant 
as the mind can picture it. 

At that time, however, we had no opportunity of 
making close acquaintance with the place, as, 
about ten days after our arrival, we were obliged 
to hurry off to Illo, as work of much urgency awaited 
my husband there. Anticipating long marches and 
great heat, I decided to travel in an improvised 
hammock, but the paths were so bad, and the 
bearers so unskilful, that, after the first day, I gladly 
mounted my pony, leaving Diana in sole possession 
of the hammock ! It was a hot, weary journey, 
the dust and glare very unpleasant ; each halting- 
place seemed a dirtier and more unsavoury hamlet 
than the last, till we reached the large walled town 
of Kaoji, where our spirits, which had rather drooped 
at the apparently hopeless poverty and desolation 
of our new province, revived a little at the sight of 
brisk, intelligent Fulanis, replacing the apathetic, 
ignorant, dull Borgus. 

We had scarcely unpacked at Illo, when, to our 
intense dismay, Diana, who, with her sweet dis- 
position and high intelligence had made herself 
very, very dear to us both, began to flag and display 
the usual dread symptoms, and ten days later we 
miserably buried her under a great shady tree. I 
do not think we have ever cared to go out shooting 
since. 

That very day came the disquieting news of the 

M 



i62 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

disaster at Satiru near Sokoto, involving the deaths 
of Mr. Hilary, Mr. Scott and Mr. Blackwood, while 
endeavouring to effect the arrest of the ringleaders 
of a small faction of malcontents, who had been 
spreading disaffection. Such an event as anything 
resembling a native rising naturally called for 
prompt action, and troops were hurriedly moved 
north, the Illo detachment was ordered away at 
once, and, as my husband's work called us to Yelwa, 
we also prepared for departure, and, less than six 
hours after the telegram had arrived, the busy 
' lines ' and fort stood empty, silent and deserted, 
while a procession of canoes was rapidly descending 
the river. 

Illo is not actually on the Niger, and at Giris, the 
small village where we embarked, we noticed a 
quaint local custom which I do not remember to 
have seen elsewhere. Some of the round huts had 
bunches of short, dry bamboo twigs hanging from the 
apex of the thatch, rattling cheerfully in the evening 
breeze, and, on inquiry, we were told that any young 
man who desired to marry hung out this signal, so 
that all match-making parents of daughters might 
take a note of his intentions, and presently parade 
their most attractive daughters for his benefit ! 
A vision crossed my mind of this simple system 
adopted in more civilized circles, and harassed 
mothers anxiously scanning the surrounding chimney- 
pots from a top window in Grosvenor Square ! 



BORGU 163 

A few days later we were back at Bussa, and a 
time of considerable discomfort arrived for all of 
us. March and April are always the hottest and 
most unpleasant months in Nigeria, but Bussa 
seemed to me to be much hotter and more unpleasant 
than any other spot I know^ This was partly due 
to our wretched houses — badly built, ill-thatched 
mud dwellings, which afforded little protection 
from the heat, the inside temperature reaching 
103° and 104° every afternoon. The nights were 
oppressively hot. We used to move our beds all over 
the compound in order to catch the least particle 
of breeze, and were out each morning at five o'clock 
to get an hour's ride in the cool — for by half-past 
six no one would care to be out in the sun. Perhaps 
the worst feature of these months was the ' dry 
tornadoes,' violent dust-storms, when the clouds 
would roll up with most hopeful rapidity and inky 
blackness, and a hurricane of wind would tear through 
the house for an hour or so, laden with dust, dirt and 
sand, almost instantly covering every thing with a 
deep layer, at the same time usually removing a 
good deal of the flimsy thatch. One could only 
sit and endure, protecting eyes, mouth and hair 
from the flying grit by means of a motor veil, and 
longing for rain till the hurricane passed and died 
away, leaving us very miserable and uncomfortable- 
and as dry as before ! 

However, the 30th of April brought the first rain^ 



i64 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

and we thankfully put the ' hot weather ' behind 
us for the rest of the year. At the end of May we 
started on a visit to Ilesha, a customs station in 
the south of the province, to inquire into a serious 
theft of Government money which had occurred 
there. It was infinitely pleasanter marching than 
our last journey northward, and the paths were 
good enough to allow of our cantering a great part 
of our long marches. From Bussa we were escorted 
to the Meni River, some three miles, by the Sariki 
and all his myrmidons on horseback, and, as we 
had a march of twenty-two miles before us, and a 
good road, we drove the whole party in front of us 
at a sharp canter. It is curious and amusing to 
notice how utterly uncongenial to the native and 
his horse is a steady canter — they simply cannot 
do it, their horsemanship consisting entirely of furious 
sprinting and a dancing sort of walk, varied by 
plunges into the high grass, and rushes back on to the 
road. We had the greatest difficulty in keeping 
our escort going, and, to our surprise, men and 
horses were quite blown when we reached the 
river bank. Here we said our farewells, crossed 
the river in canoes — the ponies swimming — mounted 
again and rode off. 

We had a capital sandy track through shady 
forest country, the young green grass seemed 
absolutely made to be a background for primroses 
and bluebells — instead it was thickly sprinkled with 



BORGU 165 

delicate mauve terrestrial orchids, and the deeper 
purple iris-like flowers of ' ground ginger,' while 
feathery asparagus fern climbed and trailed every- 
where. We crossed two deep rocky rivers with 
some difficulty, lunched and rested awhile on the 
shady bank of the second, and late in the afternoon 
reached our first halt, a town named Wa-wa. One 
incident of that day's march which comes back 
to me was my dismounting to lead my pony across 
an awkward deep cleft in the road ; he jumped 
very wide, dragging the rein from my hand, broke 
away and cantered gaily off up the path towards 
Wa-wa, leaving me to contemplate ruefully the 
joys of a five-mile walk to complete a long march ! 
Nevertheless, recollecting an insatiable greediness 
to be one of the culprit's chief characteristics, I 
set off along the path at a leisurely w^alk, and, as I 
expected, very soon discovered him, grazing to his 
heart's content, and so pleased with his surroundings 
that he submitted most placidly to be captured 
and mounted. 

Wa-wa is a large town of rather unusual appearance, 
consisting of groups of tiny hamlets separated by 
wide green spaces, at this season of the year covered 
with delightful short turf. Narrow red gravel paths 
connecting these clusters of houses gave quite a 
cultivated air, and the spacious green stretches 
were very pleasant to look at. The trees, too, were 
unusually large, and each hamlet rejoiced in spreading 



i66 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

' shedia ' and ' durmi ' trees. We had a roomy 
and comfortable rest-house, which unhickily admitted 
a fair share of the torrential rain which fell during 
the night ! 

The following day we found the rivers much 
swollen, and crossing them by means of fallen 
trees and rickety native bridges savoured some- 
what of Blondin's feats. Between Kali and Vera 
we had quite a special piece of good fortune ; 
cantering through the cool shady woodland, we 
both pulled up suddenly, noticing two large animals 
moving among the trees and high grass. We had 
barely exchanged a whisper when, as they bounded 
across an open gi'assy space, we discovered, to our 
delight, that we were watching two large lions! 
There was no possibility of doubt, the ground 
was quite open and the animals were distinctly 
in view, in brilliant sunshine — and the tail of a lion 
is quite unmistakable, with its odd little bunch 
of hair at the end ! The road itself was crossed 
and re-crossed with numberless tracks of deer, so, 
no doubt, the lions found it a profitable hunting- 
ground. We watched the bush intently on the 
chance of getting another glimpse of the splendid 
creatures, but the few stragglers who had come 
up did not apparently sympathize with our desire, 
and displayed unusual activity about reaching the 
camp ! 

As we approached Kaiama, the old Sariki came 



BORGU 167 

out with all his people, and the usual accompani- 
ment of beating drums and blowing horns, and 
escorted us to the confines of the town, where we 
turned off, and, after following a path in the bush 
for about a mile, came upon a clearing, some eight 
or ten acres in extent, in the centre of which stood, 
bare and solitary, a double storeyed brick bungalow 
— the Residency ! Formerly Kaiama was the pro- 
vincial headquarters, and the staff inhabited a 
clay-walled enclosure in the town, containing a 
few wretched huts, originally a French fort. Here, 
the site was low and unhealthy, and a change was 
decided on ; the brick bungalow was built, but was 
never finished or permanently occupied, as a further 
decision was arrived at to move the headquarters 
altogether to Bussa ! It is regrettable that the 
bungalow could not have been removed too ! It 
was very comfortable, of course, to find oneself 
on a wooden floor, and under a watertight roof, 
but the situation was so ill-chosen, so utterly lonely 
and desolate, that it was depressing to a degree. 
Absolutely nothing was in sight but the monotonous 
endless bush, not a sound, not a single habitation, 
not even a breath of rising smoke, for the town 
was distant and invisible. Scarcely a soul ever 
came or went, for the path to the town was said to 
be infested by leopards and hyaenas, and was 
sedulously avoided, even before sunset. 

We visited the grave of Mr. Ward-Simpson, a 



i68 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

young police officer who died there three years ago ; 
it was a very peaceful spot^ in the deep shade of a 
spreading tree, and we satisfied ourselves that 
it was well-cared for, and neatly fenced in. 

The Sariki of Kaiama is a highly intelhgent old 
gentleman, though he bears a distinctly bad 
character among all his neighbours for high-handed 
bullying and dishonesty. We found it very inter- 
esting listening to his stories of past years, which 
he delighted to tell with a considerable sense of 
humour, while he turned the leaves of the Spectator 
with a great air of interest and appreciation. He 
had rather a special connexion with the late High 
Commissioner, Sir Frederick Lugard, having, years 
ago, when the latter was travelling through Borgu, 
making treaties, saved his life by warning him of an 
ambush prepared for him. He has always been very 
loyal to the Government, and it is a pity that he is 
held in such detestation by his own people, though, 
perhaps, only natural that, with native cunning, he 
should have used his boasted friendship with the 
High Commissioner as an universal threat to all whom 
he wished to intimidate. He goes in terror of 
death by witchcraft or ' medicine ' (i.e. poison) and 
solemnly assured us that quite lately he had had a 
wonderful escape — a woman in the town having 
actually kept an iguana, and, of course, everybody 
knows that to touch an iguana with any article 
belonging to the Sariki would cause the latter's 



BORGU 169 

instant death ! This well-known fact was warmly 
upheld by many of our own following, so it evidently 
behoves one to choose one's pets carefully in Kaiama ! 
The Sariki had, however, soothed his shattered 
nerves by relieving the conspirator of every bit 
of ' real estate ' that she possessed ! 

A few days ' marching through the cool green 
woods, lavishly decorated with what the florists 
call ' stove plants,' white and crimson striped 
lilies, and the earliest Gloriosas, unfolding their 
delicate crimson, gold-edged petals — for, in June, 
the ' mauve ' season is over, and the ' scarlet-and- 
gold ' time coming, brought us to Bodebere, a pretty 
little hamlet where we camped under a huge shady 
tree, and had the benefit of a truly magnificent view 
of miles of wooded country, sloping away to the 
south, where some blue peaks were faintly visible. 
We were much struck with the quantity of young 
life around us — beside the human babies, there 
were lambs, kids, ducklings and chickens scuttling 
about under our feet. The sheep and goats in this 
country are extremely small, for the most part, 
and their babies are the most fascinating, absurd 
little furry bundles imaginable, about nine inches 
high, and needing only a green painted stand to 
make them perfect toyshop treasures ! 

On the road into Ilesha we noticed that almost 
every third bush was a custard apple, loaded with 
fruit. We gathered them as we passed, and 



170 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

thoroughly enjoyed their deHcious creamy golden- 
hued pulp. The people call them ' Gwando-n- 
daji ' (wild paw-paw), and, judging by the hundreds 
of skins and stones scattered on the road, they 
greatly appreciate them also. The custard apple 
is almost the only wild fruit in the country which 
is really palatable, except, perhaps, the tamarind, 
which, though very refreshing, is terribly acid 
when eaten raw. 

We found Ilesha a wretched ruinous-looking 
town, dirty and unattractive ; there was no rest- 
house on the high ground where the police 
detachment is quartered, so we descended, rather 
disgustedly, into the town, quite fifty feet lower, and, 
after winding amongst grubby little lanes and evil- 
smelling narrow byways, emerged upon an open 
space beside the market, where a fair-sized native 
house was got ready for us. 

There was a general air of disturbance, quite 
contrary to custom no one had come to welcome 
us, the markets were deserted, hardly an individual 
was to be seen — obviously there was trouble in the 
air ! Presently a string of most forlorn-looking, 
decrepit old men limped, crawled and hobbled 
up, and, when they had, with immense difficulty, 
doubled up their rheumatic limbs into a sitting 
posture before us, they poured forth their tale 
of woe. A misfortune unprecedented, unheard- 
of, beyond the experience of even the most aged 




Repairing the Bussa Residency, (p. 170) 




Balu. (p. 180) 

(SERVAL CAT.) 



[/ace p. 170. 



BORGU 171 

of them, had occurred in the night — the old Sariki 
had died ! ' Full of years ' he must have been — 
our toothless, palsied visitors mumbled that he was 
much older than any of them, and one amongst 
them was actually the heir ! 

Their sorrow and dismay was truly pathetic, 
as they lamented that ^ all the people were bewildered 
. . . they could do nothing . . . they knew not 
what to think. . . . ' We offered our condolences 
and sympathy, and when they had asked and 
received permission to carry out the funeral cere- 
monies exactly as if we were not there, they departed 
somewhat cheered and comforted. 

The three next days were rather a trial — the 
drumming day and night, the incessant wailing 
and shrieking of the women, the entire cessation 
of business of all kinds, and the consequent difficulty 
of obtaining supplies, made me watch the digging 
of the huge grave with rather a personal interest. 
It was done in a manner exactly similar to the 
Kabba custom which I have already described in 
detail. By the evening of the third day all the 
people from the surrounding villages had arrived, 
the last comer being the special person entrusted 
with the duty of actually laying the dead man in 
his grave, a duty which might be performed only by 
one who had never seen the Sariki's face in life. 
The funeral was accompanied by much firing of 
Dane guns, a terribly noisy performance, and we 



172 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

felt sincerely thankful to hear before long that the 
ammunition had given out. But the drums and 
horns lasted all night, and were used with untiring 
vigour ! 

The curious custom ordains that the women of 
the establishment must ' wail ' in idleness for three 
months, and, further, that no head of a household 
may sleep inside his own house for the same period. 
Therefore, immediately the burying was accomplished, 
a large camp of little grass huts sprang up all round 
the grave, outside the ' royal ' compound. It seemed 
to me very touching, the absolutely conscientious 
way these simple souls obeyed the ' custom ' at 
what must have been the greatest inconvenience 
and discomfort to themselves, many of them infirm 
old men, bent and crippled with rheumatism, 
sleeping for many weeks in miserable little grass 
shelters, in the torrential rains just then commencing. 

Some days were spent in endeavouring to get 
light upon the robbery of money from the toll-clerk's 
house, but with little or no success. It was rather 
defeating, at the outset, to be gravely assured by 
the clerk himself, an intelligent, educated native, 
that ' the robbery was undoubtedly effected through 
the wicked machinations of these evil-minded 
Borgus — they having placed ju-ju or medicine in his 
dwelling, so that he — and the police guard ! — should 
so soundly sleep that the unprincipled thieves were 
enabled to pass over his prostrate body, and remove 



BORGU 173 

the box ! ' This perfectly lucid and apparently 
satisfactory explanation was borne out by the 
production of the said ju-ju, consisting of little 
balls of grass containing horrible mixtures of various 
ingredients, which had been found stuffed into the 
thatch of his house. Such overwhelming reasons 
for successful burglary had, in every one's opinion, 
rendered all inquiry useless, and the thief had had 
plenty of time to carry his prize out of Northern 
Nigeria altogether, which made the investigation 
rather a hopeless task. Not a clue of any kind could 
be obtained, and all examination produced nothing 
but the wearying reiteration of the bewitchment 
story. 

On our way back to Bussa we spent two days at 
Kaiama, and while there a terrific tornado came up 
one afternoon, and we were very thankful for the 
solid protection of the bungalow there. We stood 
on the verandah, watching the magnificent light- 
ning, as the storm passed away over the town, and, 
simultaneously with a blinding flash, came a report 
like a Howitzer, which made us both wonder if 
anything had been ' struck.' Early the next morn- 
ing arrived the Sariki himself, and with an air of 
mystery and some trouble, informed us that ' a 
stone from God ' had fallen during the storm, burn- 
ing and wrecking a hut — happily unoccupied at the 
time — and had buried itself at some depths in the 
ground. His people were scared and worried, and 



174 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

were already ' making ju-ju ' and preparing offerings 
of blood and oil on the spot where the ' demon ' 
lay buried. They seemed, in a dim sort of way, 
to connect the event with our visit, and when we 
suggested digging up the stone, they obeyed with 
the greatest alacrity, and the ' devil ' was accordingly 
exhumed and handed to us, while we, in return, made 
a present of money to remove unpleasant impres- 
sions by means of a little feast. 

The find appeared to be an aerolite of most 
singular appearance, and I cannot describe it better 
than by quoting a letter written by my husband 
to the Spectator on the subject : — 

' It is shaped like an axe-head, or like a slightly 
flattened egg^ with the broad end sawn off and 
filed to an edge. It is four inches in length, and 
two and a quarter inches wide at its widest end, 
gradually narrowing to a blunt point. At its 
greatest depth, about three and a quarter inches 
from its point, it measures an inch and a half ; 
from this point its curves to both ends are beautiful. 
It has a smooth mottled surface, is non-magnetic, 
and weighs a little over half a pound.' * 

We bore this treasure off in high delight at acquir- 
ing so unusual a curiosity, and found ourselves 
back at Bussa by the end of the month. By that 

^ This * aerolite ' has subsequently been examined by the 
Royal Meteorological Society, and pronounced to be^ * a very 
good specimen of a Celt,' 



BORGU 175 

time the rains were in full swing, and the surround- 
ing country had become a marsh, rendering walking 
impossible, and riding dangerous and unpleasant. 
It was, however, a good opportunity for closer 
study of the primitive Bussa folks, and their town — 
the scene of Mungo Park's tragic death. I spent 
much time endeavouring to elicit details on this 
latter subject, which might have more resemblance 
to the probabilities, and even the truth, than the 
published and accepted accounts. I am now con- 
vinced of what I had always suspected, that Mungo 
Park's death was a purely accidental one, due 
entirely to ignorance of the dangers of the river 
in the neighbourhood of Bussa. The statement 
that ' armed natives, seeing the predicament the 
strangers were in, hurled their weapons in showers 
on them,' is, to any one who knows the geography 
of the place, bordering on the ridiculous, and is 
strenuously denied by the natives of Bussa, who 
declare that the correct version of the tragedy 
is that said to have been given to Major Denham 
in Kuka by the son of a Fulah chief, who had come 
from Timbuctoo. This man ' denied that the 
natives who pursued the boat in canoes had any evil 
intention ; their object was mere curiosity to see the 
white men, and the canoes that followed Park from 
Timbuctoo contained messengers from the King, 
who desired to warn the strangers of the dangers 
of navigating the river lower down ! ' More than 



176 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

this, the Bussa people tell how, at -every hamlet 
by the river-side, the inhabitants, seeing the travellers 
speeding to almost certain death among the rapids, 
rushed to the bank, gesticulating and shouting 
warnings, which, alas! misunderstood by the 
Europeans, doubtless hastened the tragical climax. 
And this is by far the most reasonable hypothesis, 
for, had any of these natives desired to compass the 
destruction of the exploring party, there was no 
need for them to raise a finger or a voice — the rocks 
in the river would accomplish all that was necessary. 
That they had no sentiments of ill-will towards 
Park is manifest from the fact that the Sariki-n- 
Yauri (king of Yelwa) had provided him with all 
necessary transport, and was himself a heavy loser in 
canoes and men by the disaster. I laboured patiently 
to obtain the true facts of the story, and felt re- 
warded by the hope that, in the future, the Bussa 
folks may be acquitted of so cowardly and cruel a deed. 
Another theory about the Borgus which, to the 
best of my belief, is entirely erroneous, is their 
supposed connexion with early Christianity. Major 
Mockler Ferryman remarks that ' they (the Borgus) 
themselves assert that their belief is in one Kisra, 
a Jew, who gave his life for the sins of mankind.* 
I was much astonished to find that this idea is 
utterly fallacious, and is not even known to the 
people. In the first place, Kisra, or rather Kishra, 
is buried close to Bussa, and his tomb can be seen 



BORGU 177 

by any one, which immediately disposes of the 
possibiHty that the Borgus, in honouring him, refer 
in any way to Jesus Christ. 

Kishra was a Mahomedan pure and simple ; he 
lived — so the tradition runs — in Mecca, during the 
life-time of Mahomed, and beginning to prove 
himself positively a rival to the Prophet, was driven 
forth, with his large following, and apparently 
drifted eventually down to Borgu. His memory 
is deeply honoured and revered, but entirely as a 
warrior king, and in no sense as the pioneer of any 
special religion. Certain rites and ceremonies of the 
most frankly Pagan description are still performed 
at his burying-place, the site of which is well-defined 
and, as I have already said, visible to all. 

The Borgus to-day, whatever their previous 
record may be, could not, by any stretch of imagin- 
ation, be called a war-like race. They are absolute 
Pagans, and appear to be still very low in the order 
of civilization ; their progress has perhaps been 
hindered by their being somewhat apart from the 
large Emirates and busier centres of the Pro- 
tectorate : they are also separated by their peculiar 
language and customs. In Bussa itself a language 
quite distinct even from Borgu is spoken, which 
greatly increases the difficulty of obtaining rehable 
historical information from them. They are the 
quietest and most law-abiding folks imaginable — 
indeed, I have heard it said of them that ' they have 

N 



178 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

not the intelligence to commit a crime ! ' They 
do not trade, and appear to have an unlimited 
capacity for sitting silent and motionless, dirty 
and unclothed, before their huts, gazing vacantly 
into space. Their farming is as scanty as their need 
for food-stuffs will permit ; just sufficient is grown 
to save the little communities from want, and not 
a square yard more ! The villagers on the river- 
bank are fishermen, and live greatly on river oysters, 
as is attested by the enormous heaps of oyster- 
shells surrounding each hamlet. These oysters 
are found on the rocks at lowest water, and though 
we never attempted to eat them, the shells interested 
us greatly, answering exactly to the description of 
the Aether ia semilunatUj having very rough out- 
sides, and the interior showing a very beautiful 
mother-of-pearl appearance — exquisitely iridescent, 
with raised pearly blisters. We cherished visions 
of discovering ' Niger pearls,' but that dream, 
I fear, will have to be realized by some one else ! 

Sir Frederick Lugard was perfectly correct in 
ascribing the invincibility of the Borgus to their 
reputation for a knowledge of witchcraft and deadly 
poisons ; they are more deeply steeped in 'Ju-ju ' 
and superstition of all kinds than any African 
natives I have come across. One firm article of 
their faith is the ' Tsafi ' or ' speaking of oracles,' 
the message being received by a ' priest ' who, 
while holding a freshl}^ killed fowl in one hand and 



BORGU 179 

rattling a calabash full of seeds in the other, announces 
that the ' god ' speaks to him in these sounds. A 
curious test for ' false witness ' — a matter of very 
frequent occurrence — is for the two people con- 
cerned to mix a handful of earth taken from in 
front of the Sariki's compound in a bowl of water : 
a portion of this mixture is drunk by the disputants, 
and also by the Sariki himself, to prove that it is 
not poisoned. Shortly, very shortly, he who has 
sworn falsely swells up to an enormous size and 
dies in torment ! Such implicit faith is placed in 
this method of ascertaining the truth that my 
husband was frequently implored to make use or 
it, for it is said that no man who has not a clear 
conscience would dare to submit to it — and this I 
quite believe. 

On one occasion while we were at Bussa, a prisoner 
was brought in with terrible festering wounds on 
his arms and wrists, the explanation — quite placidly 
given — being that his captors (the inhabitants of a 
remote village) having secured him with ropes, and 
so cut into the flesh, became aware that he was a 
* witch ' and would fly away ; to avoid which disaster 
they had ' made medicine ' — some unspeakable 
compound — and poured it over the prisoner's head 
and shoulders. This treatment had produced 
appalling blood-poisoning, and though I cannot 
vouch for what he can do from a flying point of view, 
the poor witch will never use his hand and arm again. 



i8o A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

The most precious and sacred possession of the 
Bussa people is a couple of drums said to have 
been brought by Kishra from Mecca and treasured 
ever since. These drums are kept in a small house 
built for the purpose, and watched over day and 
night by their own keepers, rigorously and jealously 
guarded ; and, but for a lucky accident, we might 
have left Bussa without obtaining a glimpse of them. 
Most fortunately a festival occurred, when the 
drums were exhibited in the open, and we seized 
the opportunity of inspecting them. Their anti- 
quity was undoubted, and we decided that they 
had a distinctly Egyptian appearance, being, in 
reality, I think, great water basins ; they were 
made of solid brass, and were about the size of large 
wash-tubs, covered roughly with ox-hide, to con- 
vert them into drums. We hunted eagerly for 
inscriptions or hieroglyphics, of which there were 
none whatever, and one of us ventured to photograph 
them, but owing to the crowd and the dust, and the 
universal reluctance to have their ' Ju-ju ' sub- 
mitted to the higher Ju-ju of the camera, we felt 
obliged to respect the people's feehngs and make 
no insistence on obtaining a successful photograph. 
On the morning of October 4, while we sat 
at breakfast in the verandah, appeared a ragged, 
scantily-clothed native, with a sheepish smile, 
holding in his hand a tiny bunch of long, soft, 
pale fawn-coloured fluff— -a ' bush ' kitten of some 



BORGU i8i 

kind evidently, scarcely a week old, blind and 
helpless, chiefly remarkable for his large round 
ears, conspicuously barred with black and cream- 
colour. Delightedly, I seized him, and overwhelmed 
the bringer with streams of eager questions, which 
he, good man, was quite unable to answer, and, 
having rewarded him with the sum of eighteenpence 
(which produced transports of gratitude) we applied 
ourselves to the task of * bringing up ' our new 
acquisition. His sole desire, poor mite, was to 
crawl to warm darkness, so we arranged for him a 
small wooden box filled with cotton wool, and here 
he slept away the first week or two of his existence, 
while we anxiously improvised for him a feeding- 
bottle out of an empty eau-de-Cologne bottle, 
fitted with a piece of rubber tubing ! This device 
proved brilliantly successful, and ' Balu,' as we 
called him on account of his woolly, bear-like 
appearance, throve and grew, gaining strength 
and spirits daily. His education was confided to 
an orange-coloured domestic cat, who had been 
presented to the household, and though the latter 
laboured undei the disadvantage of being a kitten 
himself — and a male kitten, too, and presumably 
unacquainted with nursery customs — he devoted 
himself absolutely to the new-comer, and would 
spend hours licking the long pale fur, which puzzled 
and concerned him sorely. But he stuck manfully 
to his task, and we usually had to rescue Balu, a 



i82 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

miserable little object like a drowned rat, with 
wet hair clogged all over his shivering body. We 
discovered him to be the Serval or Tiger cat {Felis 
Serval), and he speedity proved himself the most 
fascinating and playful of pets. He showed the 
most furious antipathy to natives — in his earlier 
days fleeing at the sight of one, and later, standing 
his ground, spitting and growling, his ears flat on 
his head, and a relentless little paw ready to strike 
at the intruder. But of white people he had no fear, 
and would walk up to any stranger to inspect and sniff 
him, and usually began inconsequently to play with 
him or sharpen his claws in his putties ! 

He showed high intelligence when quite tiny, 
and when hungry he would trot off and try to 
fish his ^ bottle ' out of the water-cooler, where 
it was kept, which effort usually ended in over- 
balancing and an impromptu bath ! 

To assure ourselves of his whereabouts and safety, 
we had a couple of shillings beaten out into tiny 
silver bells, which were tied round his neck, and 
greatly assisted us to find him when he was leading 
us wild dances, hiding under bushes, tearing up and 
down the borders and in and out of the sunflowers. 

His first essays towards solid food were somewhat 
disastrous, taking the form of catching and eating 
large locusts, with an accompaniment of furious 
growls. Doubtless he found some which were 
not wholesome, for we rescued him twice when 



BORGU 183 

almost dead — the result of nocturnal expeditions^ 
followed by violent sickness and exhaustion. This 
decided us to ' wean the infant/ which we accom- 
plished by means of tiny spoonfuls of porridge, 
gradually progressing to scraps of lightly cooked 
chicken. Once he commenced to lap milk and 
eagerly eat cooked meat and eggs we heaved a 
gigantic sigh of relief, for our rearing troubles were 
ended, and Balu fattened and grew — almost visibly 
— his kitten fluff gradually disappeared, and he 
emerged a most beautiful little animal, bearing a 
magnificent coat of tawny colour, striped and 
marked with black, the chest and stomach being 
pure white with black spots and stripes. 

I have thought it w^orth w^hile to describe our 
pet at this length as his kind is, I believe, extremely 
rarely seen, and is considered absolutely untameable. 
Our success in this direction we owe, no doubt, 
to the] fact that, by a most lucky accident, we 
obtained [him so extraordinarily young, and, with 
unremitting care, were fortunate enough to bring 
him safely through his babyhood. 

As he grew older his play naturally became 
rather fierce, as his teeth and claws developed ; 
but his temper was always perfectly sweet, and 
the manifold scratches with which we were both 
adorned were all the results of the glorious games 
he would play by the hour, and regularly, each 
night, Httle paws would scratch at my mosquito 



i84 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

net, and urgent demands for admission would be 
made, when a tired happy kitten would creep in, 
curl himself on the blanket at my feet, and sleep 
blissfully, till ' early tea * brought milk and more 
play-times ! 

At this time we were greatly cheered and enlivened 
by the arrival of the British Commissioners of the 
Anglo-French Boundary Commission, on their way 
up river. They spent two days with us — on their 
part, I think, rather glad to 'spread' themselves 
after their cramped journey up the river, and for 
us it was a ' whole holiday ' and one we thoroughly 
enjoyed, so that it was with real regret that we 
speeded them on the next stage of their travels. 

But we had no chance of further stagnation, 
as, to our great delight, orders had even then arrived 
transferring my husband to the Nupe Province, 
and the prospect of making a home for ourselves 
at Bida was as pleasant an undertaking as we could 
possibly have desired. In December Mr. Fremantle 
arrived, and, after handing the Province over to 
him, we left Bussa on the 21st, and, as we dropped 
down the swift stream, we forgot, as one always 
does, all the disappointments and drawbacks of 
Borgu, and remembered most distinctly all its 
charms and the kindly friendships we had formed 
there. 




The Steel Caxoe ix which we descended the Bussa Rapids. 

(p. 184) 




The Tennis Court, Uida. (p. 1S8) 



\facef>. 184 



CHAPTER X 

Bida 

The journey down river was less eventful than 
the one we had made the previous January ; it 
commenced with an eight mile walk round the 
Mullale Rapid, while the steel barge, emptied of 
most of its contents, plunged and tossed like a 
small Noah's Ark on the rushing river. The rest 
of the ' bad water ' we negotiated in the barge 
ourselves, and some of it was quite exciting, the 
fall of the water being quite appreciable. 

Christmas Day was spent on the river below Jebba, 
and on the 27th the familiar outline of the hulk 
at Mureji loomed large ahead, and we found ourselves 
among our old friends. We met Captain Mercadier, 
one of the French Commissioners of the Anglo- 
French Boundary Commission, on his way up to 
Bussa, which meeting was fortunate, as we were able 
to give him all necessary information about his 
journey and the transport arrangements made for 
him before we left. For this he expressed his gratitude 
with all the delightful courtesy so characteristic of our 
French neighbours, a courtesy we had more than 

185 



i86 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

once experienced in Borgu, where our Province 
marched with part of French Dahomey. 

We paddled up the Kaduna in a steel canoe, 
slept at Dakmon, and in the morning mounted 
the horses sent for us and rode along the shady 
road winding away from the river and over the 
low hills to Bida. 

The first instalment of our ' welcome ' was a 
dainty breakfast on the road spread under the 
shady trees and greatly appreciated after a ten 
mile ride, and that disposed of, Mr. Lafone, the 
junior Resident, who had been in charge of the 
Province, arrived, escorting the Emir^ accompanied 
by his ' Court ' and, it seemed to us, most of the 
inhabitants of the city. It was an interesting 
meeting ; one's mind went instinctively back to 
the occasion of our last visit to Bida, when some- 
thing of the same sort had happened, and one 
realized that five years in the placid lives of these 
simple people make little or no mark. But the 
Emir himself had aged very remarkably, having 
passed, seemingly, out of vigorous manhood into 
more than middle age, but his proportions were, 
if anything, more generous than ever, and his 
emotion and pleasure at seeing us was touching 
and sincere. 

While ' the Sahib,' with his unerring memory- for 
faces, that most precious gift, recognized and saluted 
the various officials of the Emir's Court, I noticed 



V BIDA 187 

unmistakable surprise mixed with the cordiaHty 
of the greeting offered to me. I suppose the dear 
souls had expected me to have been divorced or sold 
long ago ! 

After a few minutes' chat with the European 
officers who had so kindly come out to welcome us, 
we all remounted and commenced the hot dusty 
ride to Bida, drums banging, horns braying, 
' praises ' shouted in hoarse stentorian tones, the 
usual dashing about of horsemen, and breathless 
rushing to and fro of the crowd on foot, a curious 
kaleidoscope of varied colours appearing and dis- 
appearing in the glittering haze of dust. 

Though we both felt the sincerest pleasure and 
contentment with all things, it was a relief to all 
of us when the police guard of honour had been 
inspected, we had passed through the Residency 
Gateway and the gay crowd was wending light- 
heartedly towards the city, and we six white folks 
sat down in the cool bungalow, and gaily drank 
to * Bida and the New Year * in cool and delicious 
champagne cup which our hosts had provided in 
honour of our arrival and the festive season. 

We settled down at once in our new and comfort- 
able quarters, which seemed actually luxurious 
after the mud houses of Borgu, and, when we had 
time to inspect the compound, found a great interest 
in noting the changes and improvements since our 
last visit. It was charmingly laid out and thor- 



i88 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

oughly well planted with orange, lime, and mango 
trees, showing every sign of care and interest, a 
thing extremely comforting to a gardener who had 
always struggled against ' fearful odds ' ; an excellent 
lawn tennis court had been made of ' native cement,' 
formed in the first instance of mud patted and 
beaten to the solidity almost of stone, then washed 
over with a solution of locust beans, soaked in water 
for forty-eight hours, a dark-coloured evil-smelling 
mixture which served to bind all the loose particles 
on the court and gave it a black metallic shine. I, 
of course, found endless occupations in a field so 
desirable as my new home, while my husband bent 
all his energies to studying the different conditions 
of a new Province ; in this work he had the most 
loyal help from every one, and I fancy that we shall 
always look back on our four months at Bida as a 
time instinct with warm friendship and good feeling. 

The Residency stood considerably higher than 
the surrounding country, and I never tired of the 
picture from our verandah, where the city lay, about 
a mile distant, in a gentle hollow outlined by the 
pink wall, and crowded inside with dense and 
luxuriant trees and clusters of closely-set thatched 
roofs with, here and there, the more imposing 
buildings rising rosy-red among the humbler grass 
roofs. 

We made close acquaintance with the market, 
which, in its way, interested me even more than that 



BIDA 189 

of Kano, being less extensive and so more accessible. 
It was always a pretty and animated scene, the 
open squares and spaces crowded at sunset with a 
dense throng of happy folks, selling, buying, chatter- 
ing, shouting, and laughing, moving in a haze of 
dust, all apparently giving far greater heed to the 
social aspect of the gathering than any serious com- 
mercial enterprise. The market continued until 
long after dark, and the flares and native lamps 
made a weird and fascinating effect. The goods 
offered were of the most varied description, articles 
of brass and leather work, grass mats, fishing nets, 
cloth, beads, sugar-cane, and foodstuffs of all 
kinds — even wooden doors were for sale, ready to 
be fitted to any clay hut, in fact a highly representa- 
tive collection of the heterogeneous miscellany 
presented in any West African market. 

On January 25 occurred the ' Great Sallah/ 
a Mahomedan festival which appears to com- 
memorate the Sacrifice of Isaac — a sheep being 
killed ceremonially on the occasion. We assembled 
ourselves outside the city wall, and, sitting under 
an improvised shelter, watching the seated thousands 
waiting patiently in the sunshine, it would not have 
seemed strange to me to see the Disciples passing 
down the irregular lines, distributing the loaves 
and fishes to the hungry listeners. 

Presently the Limam's voice rose clear and shrill, 
away in the distance, under the shade of a mighty 



igo A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

tree where the Emir and his court had their places ; 
the thousands rose to their feet, and as the sonorous 
Arabic pealed out on the hot still air, the prayers 
began. It was a wonderful and moving spectacle ; 
the reverent responses rose from the assemblage 
like a muffled roar, but perhaps the most astonishing 
feature of all was the prostration when the huge 
throng fell on their faces as one man, reminding us 
of a vast field of corn swept by a sudden gust. 

The prayers finished, we were conducted to the 
Emir's seat, where special prayers were offered 
for us all, each being named in turn, strictly in order 
of precedence, not forgetting the High Commissioner 
and the two former Residents of the Province, Major 
Bur don and Mr. Goldsmith, both dearly loved and 
remembered. 

Shortly after this festival our httle community 
was reinforced by Mr. and Mrs. Bargery of the C.M.S. 
They^occupied a large compound outside the city, 
and we all admired the business-like energy with 
which they settled down and ' got square/ turning 
two unattractive^;mud houses into a bright pretty 
home in an incredibly short time. The days slipped 
away, February drifted into March, and March into 
April, clouds began to gather in the hard blue sky, 
and Hghtning and distant thunder proclaimed the 
approaching rains ; our thoughts turned towards 
' leave,' and only one event, but that an important 
one for us, remained before we left Nigeria — the 




The great Salla. (p 189) 




The Prostration, (p. 190) 



I face p. 150. 



BIDA 191 

arrival of our new High Commissioner, Sir Percy 
Girouard, who had succeded Sir Frederick Lugard. 
He arrived at Katcha on the Niger on April 13, 
where my husband was ready with two members of 
his staff, to receive him. About twenty of the highest 
officials of the Bida Court and their followers 
had been despatched also by the Emir as a mark 
of his fealty and loyalty to the Government. By 
all these, the High Commissioner was escorted 
to within ten miles of Bida, where the remainder 
of the European staff and the police guard of honour 
had assembled. The Emir, with the rest of his 
Court and five or six thousand followers, mounted 
and on foot, was also waiting to receive him, and 
accompany him triumphantly to the Residency. 
The cloud of dust raised by the horsemen was 
visible for three or four miles as they approached, 
so the High Commissioner must have had a choky 
time, to say the least of it ! We did our best to 
induce him to remain for the night, but with his 
characteristic energy he determined to push on 
the same evening, and camp five or six miles further 
on, to the north of the town, towards Zungeru. 

My husband's leave had already been sanctioned, 
and, on mentioning the fact, his dismay can be 
imagined when Sir Percy Girouard apparently 
demurred, saying that all the senior officers appeared 
to be proceeding on leave directly he arrived ! I 
need hardly say, however, that he would not hear 



192 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

of our remaining longer, as we had already completed 
eighteen months, and we therefore left Bida, as we 
had arranged on April 20. 

It was, in truth, disappointing to have to come 
away at such an interesting stage in Nigeria's 
development ; a page was being turned in its history, 
the old order was changing, and the long projected 
railway was to become a solid fact, a change that 
could not fail to prove an immense advantage. 
Caravan trading, so far, had attracted all the energies 
of many thousands of the inhabitants, who had 
employed their time in lengthy journeys from the 
interior to the coast and back ; with the railway in 
operation this anachronism would lose its raison 
d'etre and gradually cease to exist ; much greater 
numbers would then be available for cultivation, 
a gain of the highest importance, as the future pros- 
perity of the country must depend greatly on its 
agricultural success, especially in the direction of 
cotton. As one who has watched its growth and 
steady advance during the last five years, I should 
like to close my book with the heartiest good wishes 
for the future success and advancement of the 
country we both love so well. 



Part II 



HOUSEHOLD HINTS 



< 



.,^ CHAPTER I 

The Home 

This chapter is, of necessity, addressed chiefly to 
those who are permanently settled at headquarters, 
either Lokoja or Zungeru, as the Political Officer 
and his wife will, naturally, have to abandon all 
hopes of conveying household furniture, etc., to a 
far distant objective, owing to the great difficulty 
and expense of transport ; the chapter on Camp 
Life will be found more useful by them. 

The house itself is a wooden bungalow, or, at the 
out-stations, a native-built clay house ; in either 
case it consists of four walls, a ceiling and a floor— 
and a wide shady verandah. In the distant out- 
stations, of course, there is no furniture at all, to 
speak of, except the camp outfit belonging to each 
official, which he carries with him, and which includes 
a camp bed, wash-stand, bath, one small table, one 
chair and a Lord's lantern. But we are ' getting 
on ' in Nigeria, and it is now found possible to do 
a little more for every one in the way of plain furniture 
at headquarters, so that I do not think any one 
need walk into an utterly empty bungalow nowa- 

195 



196 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

days. However, it is obvious that anything in 
the way of ' home comforts ' must be brought out 
independently from England, as there is not even 
the opportunity, which occurs constantly in India, 
of buying second-hand furniture from neighbours 
on the move. 

Fortunately, very little is needed : I should 
advise investing in a few wicker chairs and light 
tables either at Madeira, or at home ; they are no 
trouble to bring and are very cheap. It is worth 
noting that the faster line of steamers do not always 
call at Madeira now, so that, unless one is certain 
of calling at the Canaries, it is wisest to bring wicker 
furniture direct from England. 

A few yards of a pretty, light chintz or cretonne 
can be converted into chair cushions, stuffed with 
native cotton, and will furnish a room amazingly. 
It is well, too, to bring out some lengths of cheap 
muslin, coloured or white, as fancy dictates, for 
curtains, etc. A coarse kind of muslin can be 
bought locally, and, when faintly dyed with indigo, 
it becomes quite a pretty pale blue, very cool- 
looking, and can be constantly renewed when faded. 
A barrel, containing a small outfit of crockery and 
glass, makes one quite independent of the local 
stores, which, at most, may be able to replace 
breakages — after a fashion ! A supply of enamel 
paint will enable you to give quite an ' air ' to the 
rough shelves which can be made locally, beside 



THE HOME 197 

lengthening their Uves considerably. For the floor, 
nothing is nicer or cheaper than an Indian dhurri 
or cotton carpet, but, as the bungalows are all fitted 
with linoleum, no more is really needed than a few 
of the artistically coloured grass mats, made chiefly 
at Bida, and found almost everywhere ; they cost 
about three shillings each, rising to six shillings, 
according to the distance from Bida, and are quite 
delightful. No one could fail to be pleased with 
the brightly coloured native cloths, or to find 
them useful for covering rough ugly tables and 
unsightty deck-chairs, and for making portieres, 
etc. You will also find Bida brass-work of a highly 
decorative sort, charming, quaintly-shaped little 
burnt earthenware jugs from Ilorin, carved wooden 
stools, boasting of from ten to twenty legs — cut from 
one solid block of wood — from Ibi, queer carvings 
from away down south of Kabba, the brilliantly 
tinted Hausa leather work, fashioned into cushion 
covers, bags, purses, and an endless variety of articles, 
and carved and ' poker-worked ' calabashes, etc., 
all of which will help to cover the walls and give the 
room a homelike, or, at least, an occupied look. 

At Kano, we lived in a great vault-like apartment 
in the Residency (formerly the Emir's summer 
palace), and though, at first, it presented an appear- 
ance of utter gloom and desolation, an extraordinary 
improvement was effected in a couple of hours by 
an improvised sideboard, boxes piled up to serve 



igS A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

as tables, and covered with gaily-coloured cloths, 
the pinky-red walls decorated with sketches and 
prints, a few gorgeously hued Japanese paper wall 
hangings scattered about, and the clay floor covered 
with grass mats. 

The walls of a wooden bungalow are usually of 
boarding, either painted white or a horrible ^ duck's 
eg^ ' blue, or else varnished a rather dark and 
monotonous brown, so the whole room will need 
colour as much as possible. A few pictures are an 
immense help in decorating, and, nowadays, such 
beautiful and artistic framed prints can be bought 
so cheap, it would be well worth while to bring out 
half a dozen. Of course, if you sketch yourself 
the problem of wall decoration is solved ; polished 
brown boards make a perfect background for water- 
colour sketches, unframed, but placed in gilt mounts, 
so that all you need is a packet of tacks and a hammer. 
If you cannot do your own sketching, make a point, 
before leaving England, of pillaging those among 
your friends who do ; no one, Tthink, could resist a 
pathetic appeal for a pretty sketch to carry away into 
far Africa ! And, indeed, it is a joy sometimes, when 
the temperature is unpleasantly high, little worries 
abounding, and Africa asserting itself unduty, to 
be able to glance occasionally at a sketch of some 
English woodland, or a corner of a picturesque 
village. ^ 

Whilst we were in India, we had, among our 




Mv Writing Table, (p. 19S) 




The Residency, Bida. (p. 200) 



( face p. 19S. 



THE HOME 199 

treasures, a most beautifully executed water-colour 
sketch of one or two deodars, standing out from a 
cool, wet, grey mist on some hill-side in Kashmir, 
and we used to consider this picture as a most valu- 
able tonic during a Punjaub ' hot weather.' While 
on this subject, let me add, from personal experience, 
that sketch-books and blocks will be ruined during 
the rainy season, unless carefully wrapped in water- 
proof paper, and the best kind of paints for standing 
the climate are the ' slow-drying ' kind, in tubes, 
sold by Windsor & Newton. 

If lamps are brought out, they should be plain 
metal ones, with punkah tops ; extra wicks must 
not be forgotten, and at least a dozen spare chimneys 
are quite necessary, on account of breakages — the 
simple plan of boihng the chimneys before using them 
should never be neglected, as they do not break 
nearly so easily. A folding wire frame with three 
or four simple paper shades is a more simple arrange- 
ment than a globe, and far more serviceable. The 
servants will be found absolutely omnivorous over 
kerosene oil ; they spill it, they light the kitchen 
fire with it, and I have heard a despairing bachelor 
housekeeper declare that they drink it, so rapidly 
does it disappear ! Kerosene is, of course, very 
dear, and more so up country than in Lokoj a ; I have 
often found it a distinct economy to insist on the 
pantries and kitchen burning native oil in native 
lamps when far away from headquarters ; these 



200 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

little lamps give quite a bright light and do not 
smoke — they are also most useful for night-lights. 
It will be found better and far cheaper in the end 
to bring out all house and table linen from home, 
even dusters and chamois leathers, though the 
coarsest sort of native cloth makes excellent kitchen 
cloths and stable rubbers. Plate powder is still, 
I think, practically an unknown luxury in Northern 
Nigeria, and silver is usually cleaned with bath- 
brick ! A process which may well be substituted 
is to wash the silver well in hot water, containing 
a little Scrubb^s Ammonia, and then polish it with 
a chamois leather ; nothing keeps it in such good 
order, and the average * boy/ though untiring in 
putting on the plate powder, feels no inducement 
to take it off. But, alas ! the friendly ' Scrubb's ' 
is not always available, so that, as far as possible, 
articles of real silver should be confined to toilet 
things and tea-spoons. A plated tea-spoon is a horror, 
but I once had the pleasure of seeing four of my 
silver ones light-heartedly thrown into the Niger* 
along with a basin of soapy water ! 

A set of carpenter's tools, and a collection of hooks, 
screws, nails and tacks will be found perfectly 
invaluable ; armed with these, and, I hope, the 
help of the foregoing hints, the little bare room 
can be transformed into a bright pretty sitting- 
room where every one will enjoy coming, and will 
feel it more * like home.' Sometimes space does 



THE HOME 201 

not admit of a separate dining-room, but this need 
not necessarily spoil the appearance of the sitting- 
room. The dinner-table, when not in use, can wear 
a gaily coloured native cloth, a few books, photo- 
graphs, etc., and a well-polished, neatly arranged 
sideboard is no eyesore. This latter, by the way, 
must have its legs placed in saucers or tins fitted 
with water, with a Httle kerosene added, to save the 
sugar, jam, cake, etc., from the incursions of millions 
of hungry ants. 

Let the filter stand on a box or table on the 
breeziest side of the verandah ; almost every one has 
a special plan, or a pet filter, so that no rule can be 
laid down to suit everybody. I think that, perhaps, 
the evolving of cool drinks is more a matter of per- 
sonal endeavour and experience than almost any 
other department of housekeeping : it is an attain- 
ment so very necessary that it is attempted by every 
one, more or less, and the best advice I can give is 
to seize upon the host who provides you with really 
cold soda or sparklets, and find out how he arrives 
at them ! In Lokoj a and Zungeru there is a supply 
of water condensed from the river ; this we have 
poured at once into a Berkefeld drip filter, merely 
with a view to getting rid of the ' condensed ' taste, 
though this can also be accomplished as well by 
pouring the water from a good height several times 
from one vessel to another. Ordinary water can 
be boiled, then pumped rapidly through the large 



202 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

foot-pump Berkefeld filter into the drip filter ; 
this first filtering saving much wear and tear to 
the candles of the latter. The water is then 
drawn off into bottles and placed in native earthen- 
ware coolers, which, being porous, keep it delight- 
fully cool. These coolers are extremely cheap ; 
they can and must be frequently renewed to 
ensure perfect cleanliness, and can be employed 
most usefully for cooling butter and cream as 
well as soda-water. 

In one's bedroon, little furniture is needed ; in 
fact, I think the less one has the better. This is 
distinctly fortunate, as there is none forthcoming ! 
In Nigeria, we have not yet arrived at the stage 
of walnut wardrobes and pier-glasses, and a new- 
comer may be appalled at the lack of accommodation 
for stowing clothes. I have found that clothing is 
much better not shut up in boxes, unless they are 
damp-proof tin ones, and even these must be carried 
out into the sunshine, and the contents sunned 
nearly every day in the rainy season. It is almost 
incredible how quickly clothes will acquire a mouldy 
smell, and appearance of mildew, unless they are 
constantly looked at and aired. Any native car- 
penter will be able to make rows of stout wooden 
pegs for hanging clothes, and it is far better to 
have them so, as, when disturbed daily, and hung 
out in the sun for an hour or so, they will not harbour 
mosquitoes to any great extent. Where one is 



THE HOME 203 

dealing with a clay wall, it answers well to stretch 
a length of native cloth tightly along the wall, 
immediately below the nails or pegs, to protect 
light coloured clothes from the reddish dust, always 
rubbing off. All boxes should be placed on blocks 
of wood or bricks, on account of white ants, and all 
boots and shoes on shelves, never on the floor ; foot, 
gear must be kept in constant wear, and also be 
inspected carefully and polished daily. Insects 
of all kinds abound ; there is one whose special 
aim in life is to build little mud palaces in any 
quiet spot, boots, shoes, folds of gowns, keyholes — 
even in the bowl of a pipe, unused for a day or two. 
No corner of any room can be left undisturbed even 
for a few days, and it is advisable to have each room 
completely cleared once a week, and the floors 
washed with a weak solution of creolin. It has 
a pleasant tarry smell, and acts as an excellent 
deterrent to mosquitoes and sandflies. 

While on the subject of mosquitoes, I should Hke 
to mention (what I imagine to be a small discovery 
of our own five years ago) that it is an excellent plan 
to sew a strip of calico or nankeen, about eighteen 
inches deep, all round the mosquito net, just above 
where it tucks in under the mattress. This greatly 
protects one's hands and feet, should they touch 
the net during the night, otherwise they will be 
devoured. Moreover, the strip is not wide enough 
to keep away any air or make one feel ' stuffy.' 



204 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

An air-cushion is a most useful possession, being 
so easy to stow away in a bedding valise ; ours, we 
found, were greatly coveted by the boys, who regarded 
them with some awe, and designated them as ' breeze 
pillows ' ! 

The whole subject of small comforts and house 
decoration is a most fascinating one, but it is so 
much a matter of personal taste and activity that 
it does not seem to me to be necessary to add more 
to these very general hints than to express the 
conviction that no English housewife in West 
Africa— if she is ' worth her salt ' — will spare herself 
in the endeavour to, at least, turn ' quarters ' into 
' home/ even if only for a few months. 



CHAPTER II 
The Household 

The household in Nigeria, and indeed, all over West 
Africa, is by no means the compHcated affair that 
one has to cope with in India, and housekeeping 
is reduced to the greatest simplicity. 

The staff consists of a cook, with an attendant 
satelhte, called a ' cook's mate,' a steward, or ' boy,' 
with usually, in a married household at least, an 
under steward, or perhaps a couple of small boys 
to assist generally in the housework and table 
service. There may be an orderly attached, but 
his duties consist rather in the airing of clothes and 
boxes, cleaning of guns and boots, and carrying 
of letters, etc. 

Each pony has his own ' doki-boy,' whose duties 
are fully described in the chapter on the stable, 
and the mistress may, in her enthusiasm, decide to 
employ a regular gardener. All these good people 
live in the compound, the only outside servant being 
the laundress. This lady is only to be found at 
headquarters (she is usually a Coast woman), in 
out-stations, and in the bush the washing is done — 

205 



206 



A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 



generally with inconspicuous success — by one's 
own boys, or the wife of a doki-boy. It is distinctly 
useful to bring out from home one or two flat-irons, 
and make a point of ' getting up ' one's most cherished 
muslin blouses, etc., oneself. 

Wages are high, absurdly so, but the demand for 
fairly capable servants is so great, and the supply 
so small, that there is little prospect of the present 
scale of pay being reasonably reduced. Also, alas ! 
in many bachelor establishments, the standard of 
excellence in service is not high enough to produce 
a really good class of servants, and I am quite 
certain that any Englishwoman who has kept house 
in India would absolutely gasp at the quality and 
quantity of work done by a highly paid ' boy,' 
in possession of most eulogistic testimonials from 
previous masters. The following is a fair average 
of wages paid, per month, all over the country : 
in some cases, servants of an undesirable kind may 
be engaged for less, but this is no real economy, 
while in some other cases even higher wages are 
paid. 



Cook ...... 


. 2 





(If an Accra boy £3 or £3 los.) 






Cook's Mate ..... 


. 15 





Head Steward,. .... 


2 





Under Steward. .... 


. I 





Laundress. ..... 


I 





Doki-boy ..... 


I 





Gardener 


I 






THE HOUSEHOLD 207 

Roughly £100 a year, for the services of seven 
people, all lazy and stupid, mostly untruthful, and 
frequently dishonest, ignorant of the first principles 
of order and cleanliness, and, unmistakably, consider- 
ing Missis rather a bore when she insists on trying 
to inculcate these. 

My personal experience with house servants is not 
a very varied one, as we still have some of those we 
engaged on first coming to West Africa five years 
ago ; but, in fairness to them, I must not omit to 
say that I have only very rarely found any one of 
them in the least degree untruthful, and that I 
know them to be absolutely honest ; they have never 
stolen a single article or a halfpenny from either 
of us during these years. 

Servants may be of all languages and tribes, and 
they have no ' caste.' Some are Mahomedans, 
some Pagans, some professing Christianity, but 
their religious convictions do not appear to affect 
any of them very seriously. One important point 
for the new-comer is, that one servant, at least 
— the head steward for choice — should speak 

good, intelligible English; most of the Coast boys, 
and those trained by the Roman Catholic missionaries 
at Onitsha, can do so. 

With the exception of the cook and steward, our 
household is required absolutely to speak Hausa, 
and nothing else, to us and each other, which saves 
endless confusion, and gives a comfortable sense of 



2o8 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

security that one's orders are correctly transmitted 
to doki-boys, gardener, etc. 

It is the custom to pay a certain percentage of the 
wages weekly, usually two shillings per head, for 
* chop money ' (subsistence allowance), and the 
balance at the end of each month, which arrangement 
shows ingenuously what a solid, clear profit the 
household makes. This balance of pay is generally 
expended, on the spot, in the acquiring of such 
luxuries as a gaily striped umbrella, or a smart pair 
of ' English ' boots. 

The majority of servants are reckless gamblers, 
and a perfect network of lending, borrowing, and 
extorting of an exorbitant rate of interest, prevails 
amongst them, in spite of strictest prohibitions 
on the subject. 

The Cook and His Kitchen 

The Nigerian kitchen is arranged on the Indian 
plan — apart from the house, and just as much in- 
spection and supervision will have to be exercised. 

Kitchen appliances of a rough-and-ready kind 
can be bought at the local stores, but it is far more 
satisfactory to bring most of them direct from 
England, especially a nest of aluminium saucepans, 
their lightness being a great advantage while 
marching. 

At headquarters, a kitchen table, some rough 
shelves and pegs will be available, and a meat-safe, 



THE HOUSEHOLD 209 

which, however, has to be accommodated on the 

breeziest corner of the verandah. 

The mistress will do well to walk into the kitchen, 

as a matter of course, at any hour of the day : the 

cook and his mate will, possibly, like to sleep there, 

and if the visit is made regularly, after breakfast, 

the beds or mats can be whisked out of sight, for 

the time being, and the malpractice never discovered. 

In Lokoja and Zungeru the kitchens are now fitted 

with very good little ranges, which are a great 

improvement on the open, brick fireplaces of earlier 

days. I remember well, the day that mine was 

first put in, going to the kitchen to see how it worked, 

and finding the cook, radiant with pride and pleasure, 

lighting the fire in the oven. The fuel consists 

entirely of wood. In out stations, the poor chef has 

a good deal to contend with, usually an open fire 

for ordinary cooking (on the floor) and for an oven, 

an ingenious arrangement of a large country pot 

half buried in the ground ; into this, blazing wood 

is thrust until the interior is quite hot, when the 

fuel is hauled out, the cake or bread popped in, a 

flat piece of tin or iron laid on the top, and piled 

up with burning wood. It can be readily understood 

that an oven of this description makes successful 
baking a matter of some uncertainty. 

The kitchen table must be scrubbed with soap 

and water daily, the pans and utensils scoured, and 

the walls occasionally whitewashed. You will find 



210 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

your cook slightly bored with your insistence on 
these small details, but always polite, cheerful and 
amenable. He is a teachable person, too, and 
takes a kindly interest in one's making of cakes, 
sweets, etc., but his knowledge of cookery is strictly 
limited — the veriest tyro in India earning ten 
rupees a month is a cordon bleu compared with 
him. 

Housekeeping in his department is of the utmost 
simplicity : he turns up immediately after break- 
fast, smiling genially, usually arrayed in a spotless 
white suit, or a suit of pyjamas of striking pattern 
and colouring, a jaunty straw hat in his hand, and 
immaculate white shoes on his feet. He gives you 
the account of the previous day's marketing, you 
reproach him for the toughness of the mutton, 
the heaviness of the bread, and the total absence 
of the savoury ; all of which he takes most 
philosophically, and explains glibly, to his own 
entire exoneration. You then give him half-a- 
crown (or, to save trouble, ten shillings twice a 
week), and indicate tentatively what you would 
prefer for luncheon and dinner. It is no use order- 
ing dishes definitely ; they never appear, and when 
you indignantly demand the devilled kidneys 
arranged for, the tranquil answer : ' Cook say, 
kidney no live for market to-day,' defeats without 
soothing you. 

So you let him depart, to work his wicked will, 




th<-0^, 



'Amelia,' a youx(; Giraffe brought home by the late 
Captain Phillips, D.S.O. (p. 210) 




Chuku,' a naiive Dog -rescued during the Aro-Chuku 

Expediitox. (p. 223) 

[/ace p. 210. 



THE HOUSEHOLD 211 

stalking off under a patriotic sun umbrella, striped 
in sections of red, white and blue cotton, followed 
by the satellite, bearing the market basket, while 
you, the anxious housewife, must simply put your 
trust in Providence and hope for the best. 

The average cook has little or no discrimination, 
if the menu is left entirely to him : we once found 
ourselves guests at a bachelor dinner-party, where 
the feast commenced with chicken soup, followed 
by stewed chicken, which was, in its turn, succeeded 
by minced chicken ; finally, to our despair, the 
board was graced by a couple of roast chickens — 
and this with an unlimited supply of mutton and 
beef in the market. 

You must be prepared to get very indifferent meat ; 
the animals are badly slaughtered, and cut up 
without any regard to joints, etc., so that beef is 
really useless, except for making soup or mince, so 
tough is it. The mutton usually grows on a goat, 
and is also tough, which, I suppose, accounts in 
part for the eternal chicken taking so prominent a 
place in the day's menu. Tough meat, by the way, 
can be much improved by wrapping the joint in 
paw-paw leaves for an hour or two ; if left too long 
it will decay altogether, so personal supervision is 
necessary — the cook does not profess to understand 
such faddy nonsense ! Turkeys can be reared in 
the compound quite easily, also ducks ; both are 
excellent, and there is always a pleasant possibility 



2T2 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

of occasional additions to the larder, in the shape 
of guinea fowl, bush fov,i, pigeons, and venison, 
which, when hung for twent3'-four to forty-eight 
hours (according to the temperature), is absolutely 
delicious. The menu can always be kept from 
monotony by small dishes, such as sheep and ox 
tongues, brain cutlets, stuffed paw-paws — an excel- 
lent substitute for vegetable marrow — tomatoes, 
' farcies/ or garden eggs, treated in the same way. 

Personally, I do not care for native dishes, and 
' palm-oil chop ' is, to my mind, an abomination ; 
but ground-nut soup is very good indeed, and 
should not be overlooked, especially as it is a delicacy 
that every cook understands how to make. Fish 
can nearly always be had, so that once one has 
taught the cook how to make real curries — as they 
are made in Inida — a fair variety can easily be had, 
with little or no assistance from odious and unwhole- 
some tinned food. 

I fear the chef will not be found a great hand at 
puddings : his inspirations do not soar much higher 
than banana fritters and cornflour mould. I remem- 
ber a painful incident which occurred at the 
commencement of my career as a West African 
housekeeper, when the appearance of an unexpected 
guest caused me to order an impromptu pudding, 
a sweet omelette. When, in due course, the pudding 
appeared, looking deliciously light and frizzling 
hot, a curious smell accompanied it, and the first 



THE HOUSEHOLD 213 

mouthful revealed it as a savour}^ omelette, highly 
seasoned with onions and fresh chilis, filled with 
apricot jam ! I have since heard of an enterprising 
cook, who artistically tinted a cornflour mould 
bright blue, with indigo. He can be taught to 
make very fair tart pastry, but, as a rule, 
it is safer to confine oneself to fruit salads, trifles, 
and other cold sweets, which one can prepare one- 
self. The impossibility of getting fresh milk is, 
naturally, a great handicap in cooking, but ' Ideal ' 
milk is quite useful in preparing mayonnaise and 
many other sauces, and the tinned cream (Golden 
Butterfly brand) sold by the Niger Company is 
almost as good as the fresh article, as it can be 
whipped quite stiff if kept in cold water for a few 
hours before opening. 

Vegetables cannot be had regularly, unless the 
housekeeper is also a gardener, and grows them 
herself. There is, however, a native spinach, which 
is quite as good as the English kind, and grows like a 
weed. Country tomatoes, garden eggs, okros, sweet 
potatoes, green paw-paws, and yams are all of great 
use in supplying the table with the necessary green 
food ; but I feel sure that the housekeeper who 
reads the chapter on Gardening will instantly 
decide to do better than tamely submit to limiting 
her household to country produce of this kind. 

At a pinch (when touring in forest country) we 
have found young Indian corn, or maize, well boiled, 



214 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

not at all a bad substitute for other vegetables, and, 
when the corns are boiled, then Hghtly browned 
over the fire, they are excellent, eaten with butter, 
pepper and salt. 

In the way of fruit, there are usually bananas to 
be had, pineapples in the spring and summer, and 
occasionally oranges. In Lokoja the mangoes are 
quite good, and I have had guavas and custard 
apples. The country abounds in tiny limes, which 
are sold in great quantities, very cheap, and make 
most delicious lemon squashes. 

The Steward and his Duties 

The head steward, or ' boy,' must be carefully 
chosen, and is worth training, for in his hands 
lies the greater part of your daily comfort, and to his 
shortcomings can be traced most of the irritability 
which is recognized as a natural weakness of the 
dweller in West Africa. 

He will require endless patience, and daily insist- 
ence on small details of cleanliness and order, for 
he has a happy knack of carrying out an order for 
five or six days, then quietly discontinuing it, and 
trusting to his mistress' preoccupation not to 
observe the omission. Never flatter yourself that 
any system you have introduced, with apparent 
success, will continue to work for a week without 
some supervision and inspection. The genus 



THE HOUSEHOLD 215 

' head boy * is a light-hearted, easy-going, tractable 
sort of creature ; some are masterful and quarrel- 
some, some are placid and lazy, but all of them like 
to have one or two small boys about the house, to 
whom they can relegate most of their work, while 
they are swaggering in the market, in spotless 
raiment, with redundant watch-chain and a sun 
umbrella. Some, I am sorry to say, are bad, very, 
very bad, and I cannot help feeling most strongly 
that more than one vigorous, valuable young life 
has succumbed out here to sickness and death, 
mainly for the want of proper attendance — better 
cooking and the small comforts and niceties that 
every man requires, but is, usually, helpless to 
obtain and insist upon for himself. I have seen 
unspeakable habits of dirt and slovenliness pre- 
vailing amongst bachelors' boys — yes, and dangerous 
ones too, tinned food kept for days in open tins, and 
served up again to the unfortunate master, cups and 
plates washed and wiped — well, it serves no purpose 
of mine to recount these horrors, and it is only fair 
to add that I have known boys whose skilful care, 
devotion and unselfishness towards sick masters 
could hardly be excelled. I only hope that every 
Englishwoman who spends even a few months in 
Nigeria will leave behind her two or three servants 
inoculated with habits of scrupulous cleanliness, 
thoughtfulness and common sense, to lighten the 
lot of some lonely man who now feels uncomfortably 



2i6 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

that in his mother's house at home the table-cloth 
is not hideously grubby and crooked, the milk and 
jam served in messy tins, the glasses cloudy, and 
the forks and spoons more than doubtful, but 
vaguely supposes all this is necessary in West 
Africa — it isn't ! 

As a rule, I suppose the Coast boy makes the 
best head steward : he speaks English, and has 
usually served a white master before. He acts as 
housemaid and parlourmaid in one, starts his day 
with energetic sweeping and some sketchy dusting, 
waits at table, cuts his master's hair, acts as valet 
generally, and is the spokesman and middle man 
between his mistress and the rest of the household. 
He is responsible for the existence and condition, 
good or otherwise, of nearly all of your possessions ; 
therefore, it really answers best to have the actual 
work of laying tables, cleaning knives, lamps, etc., 
performed by the under steward, so as to leave your 
major-domo free to superintend and investigate the 
working of the whole establishment, down to the 
stable, and report on it to his mistress ; he should 
be taught to do this without fear or prejudice, or 
any suspicion of sneaking or mischief-making : 
obviously he cannot, with any show of dignity, 
rebuke the misdeeds of the cook or orderly ; if he 
has to wash plates and scrub out the pantry, equally 
obviously he must be honest and, as far as possible, 
superior to bribery. Not being embarrassed with 



THE HOUSEHOLD 217 

caste prejudices, he will concern himself with the 
feeding and washing of the dogs, the care of the 
poultry-yard, and our faithful head boy has, more 
than once, been employed to shoot a hopelessly sick 
pony. 

There is little more to add on the subject of the 
household staff. The cook's mate is but an embryo 
cook, who presently emerges from his modest position 
and blossoms into a cook, with a satellite of his own. 
I believe that, as a matter of fact, the cook's mate 
does a fair share of the cooking : this will be readily 
ascertained when the cook gets helplessly drunk 
and dinner is forthcoming all the same ! 

The small house boys are equally budding stewards, 
and, if well looked after, it is amazing how they 
sprout, physically and mentally, and how soon they 
find out that a rise in pay is merited. 

One word of advice to housekeepers, masculine 
and feminine — don't beat the boys. There is still 
a prevailing idea that the master who wields the 
bulala (whip) with most vigour gets best served. 
But this I beg leave to doubt. For the time being, 
fear may make them move faster and remember 
longer, but there is, deeply implanted under every 
woolly, black scalp, the sacred duty of reprisals, 
and the boy who is frequently flogged will take it 
out somehow, sooner or later — be sure of that. 
Moreover, the servant who really needs constant 
hitting is not worth keeping ; and, indeed, were 



2i8 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

he, through such a process, to be evolved into a 
perfect treasure, he would be bought too dear, 
at the cost of so much irritation and mental stress. 
For, it must be admitted, that for one occasion 
when a boy really deserves a flogging he gets 
hulala ten times, because Master is feverish or 
worried, or * jumpy ' ; and poor Master seldom thinks, 
till afterwards, of the spectacle he presents, pursuing 
a fleeing boy, and vociferating — because he cannot 
find his shirt-stud. Alas, for ' British prestige ' ! 

I was told, a short time ago, by one such master, 
whose naturally sweet disposition had doubtless 
been tried by time and circumstances, that he 
had had his boy severely flogged (' six dozen '), 
because the salt on his dinner table was damp. As 
a rule, a little mild sarcasm, or a ridiculous nick- 
name bestowed is far more ef&cacious than a 
scolding, and if a severe reminder is necessary, 
judicious fining has the greatest effect, for the most 
sensitive bit of a house boy's soul lives just under- 
neath his belt : when this is done, the culprit must 
see the fine, in money, thrown into the river, or 
placed in the kitchen fire, and know that it is gone 
beyond recall, or else he merely credits you with 
making money out of him, and is rather shocked at 
your meanness. 

We want, do we not, to raise their standard, not to 
lower our own, and though, of course, there are 
black sheep, many of them, I do believe that good 



THE HOUSEHOLD 219 

treatment evokes good service. The householder 
who, remembering how comparatively new to the 
country the art of domestic service is, shows a little 
consideration, never breaks a promise, and does not 
scold or whack all round, because it happens to be a hot 
morning, will probably fare best, after all ; moreover, 
on returning from leave, he or she will be sure to 
find ' Audu ' or ' Ibrahim ' smiling a welcome at 
Burutu, all anxious to take up service again with 
such a desirable Master or ' Missis.' 



CHx\PTER III 

Dogs, Poultry and Cows 

Dogs 
This collection of notes, which aims at giving 
assistance to English men and women in Nigeria, 
would, to my mind, fall miserably short of the mark 
if it failed to include within its scope some practical 
suggestions for the provision of comfort and the 
preservation of health of their dogs. 

That West Africa is 7wt a healthy country for 
English dogs is only too sadly certain, but it is 
equally certain that they will continue to come as 
long as Englishmen do, therefore it is not worth 
while giving sage advice as to the wisdom and true 
kindness of bringing or not bringing them — especially 
as I like to try and be consistent, and I cannot 
picture myself taking ship at Liverpool without one, 
or even two of my own ! 

I have met a variety of English dogs out here^ 
from massive bull-terriers down to the most fascinat- 
ing little person, a tiny Yorkshire terrier ; but, to 
those who, coming out for the first time, are puzzled 
in the selection of a dog, I would like to say : — let 

221 



222 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

him be a young dog and a small one. A puppy, 
well over distemper, aged from six to twelve months, 
will suffer far less from the change of climate, food, 
etc., than an older dog, and, when he does not 
weigh more than twenty or thirty pounds, his 
lightness makes it a simple matter for him to be 
carried on the march — for no dog should ever be 
allowed to run all through the hot hours of a long 
march. We, who are a long way off the ground, 
on horseback, occasionally grumble at the heat ; 
what must be the sensations of the faithful little 
follower padding wearily along, close to the baking 
earth, all chance of breeze kept from him, as a rule, 
by high grass on either side, and a pitiless sun 
scorching his spine all the time ? 

We learnt this lesson through sad experience, the 
loss of a dearly loved little Irish terrier, who marched 
always on his own feet. He had lived in perfect 
health for four years in India, and had even weathered 
eight months in Sierra Leone, but died in Lokoja, 
after three months almost continuous touring in 
the bush. 

Since then our dogs have never been allowed to 
run ; we have had two carried all the way from 
Zungeru to Katagum and back, a distance of eight 
hundred miles. They very soon got accustomed to 
the confinement ; one was usually carried on the 
saddle of one of our mounted servants, and, after a 
few days, he learnt to appreciate the arrangement 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 223 

and to jump up at the pony, begging to be picked 
up as soon as the sun got hot. The other dog, a 
bull-terrier, had an ordinary square provision box 
filled with grass, its cover, a native-made wicker 
basket, having a small goat-skin fastened just on 
the top to keep off the sun. The cover fitted 
loosely, admitting plenty of air and was easily secured 
to the box by a few strings. After the dog had 
run three or four miles in the fresh early morning, 
and hunted and amused himself to his heart's content, 
he was usually very ready to pack himself into his 
box, especially as there were invariably a few tooth- 
some bones to be found there, and he then slept 
peacefully in it, until his carrier dumped him down 
in camp. 

The feeding of dogs is naturally a great factor 
in -the preservation of their health, and it will require 
supervision. The main difficulty is to give them 
sufficient bulk of food without including too much 
meat ; here, we have no fresh potatoes, etc., and 
porridge becomes rather an expensive article of 
dietary, as oatmeal costs a shilling for a small tin, 
which disappears at once ! I have been told that 
two large dogs required a tin of oatmeal and a tin of 
army rations daily to feed them. I think they 
must have become very bilious bull-terriers, and a 
serious item of expense to their owner ! We allow 
threepence a day per dog ; this buys a piece of meat 
and some bone, also a fair quantity of * gari ' (native 



224 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

flour). The gari is well boiled with the meat, and 
appears looking like a brownish sago pudding. The 
mixture is then flooded with milk and much appre- 
ciated by the dogs. Every few days a little powdered 
sulphur is mixed up with the feed, and is highly 
beneficial. Afterwards, they get their bones, and 
the fare seems to suit them admirably. We always 
make a point of giving our dogs, especially young 
puppies, weak tea if they will drink it. In India 
I was told that it would prevent distemper altogether, 
and, though I cannot vouch for the truth of this, 
it seems to be a harmless little indulgence, and every 
mistress will, I expect, like to see the little wistful 
faces asking ever so plainly for a saucer of tea. 

Dogs are all the better for a dose of castor oil 
about once a week ; it improves their appearance 
and condition immensely, and it is a perfectly 
simple matter administering it — when one knows 
how — so a short explanation of the process may not 
be misplaced here. One person, kneeling down, holds 
the dog's body firmly between his knees to prevent 
him from backing, and, putting his left forefinger 
gently into the corner of the dog's lips, pulls out his 
cheek, forming a sort of pocket into which the oil 
is gently poured by another person, thus avoiding 
all forcing open of the teeth and the consequent 
struggle and horrors of spilt oil. As a rule the 
patient does not object in the least ; the oil quietly 
filters through his teeth, and down his throat ; 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 225 

if he does not seem to be swallowing it readily a 
little pressure on his nostrils closes them, and 
compels him to open his throat. When a dog's coat 
becomes ^ staring/ his eyes lustreless, and he appears 
generally spiritless and feverish, castor oil is indi- 
cated, after which quinine must be given — five 
grains daily is not too much — until he recovers. 
One of our dogs swallowed a tabloid of quinine, 
wrapped in a slice of meat, every day, without 
detecting its presence ; but some are tiresome in this 
respect, and the only alternative is to open their 
mouths and drop in a salt-spoonful of sulphate of 
quinine. This they cannot get rid of except by 
swallowing it, and the bitter taste is soon forgotten 
in the joy of a rewarding tit-bit of some sort. We 
had a small fox-terrier who knew the very sight of the 
quinine bottle, and bolted at once out of the room ! 
The foregoing suggestions, however, are intended 
only for occasions when the dog's owner is quite 
convinced that treatment of this kind is absolutely 
necessary ; failing that, I would most earnestly say, 
leave drugs alone, merely permit no neglect, for, 
assuredly, a comfortable dog will be a healthy dog ! 
Another point of the utmost importance to a 
dog's well-being and comfort, is to keep him, as 
far as possible, free from fleas and ticks. Fleas, I 
suppose, dogs will have for all time, no matter how 
carefully they are washed and brushed ; the great 
enemy in Nigeria is the tick. During the rains 

Q 



226 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the grass swarms with them, and, as one cannot 
walk along a bush path for a hundred yards without 
finding several of them on one's skirts, the number 
acquired by the dogs on a ten minutes' hunt after 
a mouse or a lizard can be well imagined. Each 
dog must be most carefully searched and the pests 
removed at least twice a day, special care being 
taken to inspect the inside of his ears, the little 
' pocket ' on them, between his toes, and underneath 
his collar. There is none so wily as the dog tick 
in choosing secluded nooks in which to suck his 
victim's blood. The inside of the dog's ears should 
be smeared over with carbolic or sulphur ointment 
applied with a feather ; both are abhorrent to 
ticks, and it is really a kindness to rub his whole 
body lightly with these ointments or a very weak 
solution of creolin or ' J eyes' Fluid.' It will be 
found that flies attack and bite dogs' ears to a 
quite serious extent ; I have seen native dogs 
with their ears positively eaten away, but this 
can, of course, be prevented by persistent care and 
perseverance. Carbolic or sulphur ointment must 
be rubbed on thickly, daily, and at night-time, but 
unless notice is taken of the very first few bites, it is 
most difficult to effect a cure. 

Poultry 

The keeping of poultry is certain to become, in 
the near future, a feature of every English household 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 227 

in Nigeria, therefore the subject may as well have 
its place in this chapter, though I do not, in the 
least, feel qualified to offer any ' counsels of per- 
fection,' as, so far, we have been able to make only 
two efforts to introduce English fowls into this 
country, and I must frankly confess that there are 
many difficulties in the way of a complete success. 

However, the class of fowl bred in the country 
is such a wretched one, the birds are small, skinny 
and tasteless, and the eggs no larger than bantams', 
that the importation of good breeds is a very real 
necessity. Here, as in other matters, the periodical 
leave to England after twelve or eighteen months 
has prevented the rearing of chickens from being very 
seriously undertaken, but I have a strong impression 
that if every one will, at all events, ' make a start/ 
the good work will be carried on, and it will not be 
long before the miserable ' country fowl ' is a thing 
of the past. 

My personal experience on the subject of English 
fowls is as follows : — Five years ago, we brought 
out four Black Minorca hens and one cock ; the 
latter died shortly after his arrival in Nigeria, but, 
on our way up country, we had the good luck to be 
presented with a very fine Plymouth Rock cock. The 
hens behaved beautifully ; they travelled in a 
large wicker basket, and regularly laid eggs in it 
during the daily march. A fortnight later, alas! 
the Plymouth Rock died, and two hens succumbed 



228 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

also, all dying from the same complaint, dysentery. 
After six months, we brought our remaining two 
hens back to Lokoja, and they survived for the rest 
of the tour, but they greatly deteriorated, both in 
their appearance and in their laying, the eggs 
diminished in size and lost their flavour. 

On our return from leave, we brought a fresh 
consignment of fowls, and if I call them ' a mixed 
lot * it is not intended altogether as a term of dis- 
paragement, for we had purposely selected mixed 
breeds. A fine Buff Orpington cock with a slight 
Black Minorca strain, two Black Minorca hens, a 
handsome Houdan hen, and two highly indiscrimin- 
ate ' would-be ' Orpington hens made up the party. 
Further fortified by an incubator, a kindly gift 
of Sir Alfred Jones, we fared forth to Bussa, firmly 
intent on poultry rearing. 

This time, our efforts were distinctly successful ; 
in six months our stock of six had increased to twenty- 
three, and had it not been for the persistent and 
endless depredations of hawks, we should have 
reared a far greater number. We found the Houdan 
an admirable and devoted mother, and her progeny 
were our delight, so handsome were they, with a 
slight Orpington strain added to their own beautiful 
spangles and jet-black crest. Before a year was out 
all the original hens except one died, quite suddenly 
and mysteriously, pointing to poisonous food or 
snake-bite; but still, to-day, I am glad to think 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 22^ 

that we have distributed four fine EngHsh cocks 
in different parts of the country, and have, at all 
events, contributed our mite to the all-important 
task of improving the food supply in this country. 
It is not in the least sublime to say that empires 
are built on men's stomachs, but, indeed, they form 
a surer foundation than their gravestones to my 
un-soaring mind ! 

The incubator — owing to our peculiar circum- 
stances — but to no fault of its own, was not a great 
success. Our manner of living was, however, excep- 
tional, and did not give the incubator a ghost of a 
chance. During the day the lamp could not be 
lighted at all, and in spite of all ventilation, etc., 
the atmospheric heat in the room itself ran the 
thermometer higher than it should be. Almost every 
night violent gusts of wind, sweeping through the 
house, extinguished the lamp two or three times, 
thoroughly chilling the eggs. Another difficulty was 
the obtaining of really fresh eggs ; the only success- 
ful hatchings I accomplished were with guinea- 
fowls and eggs obtained from our own hens : but, 
as the action of the incubator was so uncertain, 
we were reluctant to risk many eggs, when the hens 
were ready and willing to sit. It was, however, 
a great amusement and delight to us, and the hatch- 
ing process was one of absorbing interest — to our 
native friends it appeared a piece of paralyzing 
Ju-ju — the newly born chick gracefully dropping from 



230 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the tray above to the softer floor below with a 
comical air of bewilderment and surprise ! Under 
more normal circumstances I am certain that incu- 
bators (which can now be bought very cheap) 
would be of the greatest value in chicken rearing 
out here : a ' foster-mother ' or ' breeder ' is quite 
necessary to avoid the terrible infant mortahty 
resulting from careless mothers and prowling hawks. 

Far the easiest and most paying is the rearing of 
ducks ; they give no trouble, and seem to require 
none of the coaxing and attention apparently neces- 
sary for the hens ; quite quietly they appear to make 
their own arrangements, and in due time emerge 
with an eminently attractive and satisfactory family 
of sixteen or thereabouts. Except for a tendency 
to walk the babies off their legs, ducks are devoted 
and excellent mothers. 

An extremely useful scrap of knowledge we have 
picked up, is, when the hatch is due, or nearly so, 
to seize the opportunity, when the hen or duck is 
off the nest, to immerse the eggs gently in hot 
water (105°); almost immediately the 'live' eggs 
begin to roll about and dance in the most exciting 
fashion, and those which, after a few minutes, make 
no movement at all may be safely considered as 
' wrong ' and removed from the hatch, as their 
presence is injurious to the hatching chicks, and 
embarrassing to the mother. 

I have found that the chief difficulty lies in finding 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 231 

enough boiled food for the fowls ; the victims of 
dysentery undoubtedly got the disease from eating 
too much whole grain^ but it is a grave problem to 
give them enough of anything else. There is, at 
present, in this country, nothing available to answer 
to the regular ' chicken's food ' mixture, provided 
at home, consisting of boiled turnip cuttings, potato 
peelings, cabbage leaves, sharps, etc. Perhaps 
when our vegetable gardens are on a firmer basis we 
shall be able to lavish green food on our fowls ; at 
present, there are but boiled yams and sweet potatoes 
to be had, but the fowls do not take kindl}/ to them, 
nor to boiled rice, which, by the way, does not agree 
with them. On the whole, I think they prefer 
boiled gari to any other cooked food ; I have seen 
them enthusiastic over aggidi (a native food) mixed 
up with maize and a few odds and ends from the 
breakfast table. Guinea-corn thus becomes their 
staple article of diet, and it is only by giving them full 
liberty all day long, and allowing them to procure 
their own grass and insect food, that the enemy, 
dysentery, is avoided. 

We were wrong, I suppose, in selecting Black 
Minorcas, from a sitting point of view, as I believe 
that, even at home, they are non-sitters, and they 
certainly are in Nigeria ! However, with an incu- 
bator this is a matter of no importance, and it would 
be difficult to find a more satisfactory breed from 
a laying point of view. I should say, most decidedly, 



232 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

that Dorkings or Plymouth Rocks would be found 
excellent breeds to bring to this country, the latter 
being good sitters and a hardy breed ; but they must 
be kept free from damp, which is, I fancy, the cause 
of their frequently contracting disease in the legs 
and feet. I have also heard an authority on different 
sorts of poultry describe Dorkings as ' the very 
best breed for amateur poultry keepers,' they are 
excellent mothers, and quite the best kind for table 
pm'poses. 

I cannot feel that I am able to give any very 
practical advice on this subject ; my own experience 
has been too limited to build a theory on, but as 
the chicken, in one guise or another, is bound to 
appear so frequently on our tables, it is more than 
advisable, it becomes a positive duty, to endeavour 
to encourage all newcomers to help, by importing 
fowls from England, to improve the Nigerian 
species. When next I come out I shall certainly 
bring a collection of Dorkings and another incu- 
bator, for it is worth remembering that the hen of the 
country is such a tiny creature that she cannot 
possibly cover more than three or four good-sized 

eggs. 

I also cherish golden dreams of bringing out English 
geese, as I believe they would succeed, and repay, 
a hundred-fold, the trouble of bringing them. Geese 
are less troublesome to feed than fowls, as they find 
so much for themselves roaming about ; they are 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 233 

also good sitters (I am speaking of the white Embden 
geese), and, of course, a great deUcacy for the table. 
They should be brought out in the proportion of 
two geese to one gander. 

It is, perhaps, worth mentioning that bringing 
out live stock entails little or no trouble ; any large 
dealer will ship the birds in strong coops with a 
supply of grain for the voyage, and their owner 
will find them established on deck, and requiring 
nothing more than a daily visit, and a little arrange- 
ment with the ship's cook or butcher, as to their 
cleanliness and a small supply of boiled food. These 
good folks are so accustomed to the care of all kinds 
of live stock, domestic and wild, being carried to 
and from West Africa, from a full-grown giraffe to 
tiny gazelles, no larger than a rabbit, that they 
are invariably most ready and willing to supervise 
anything of the sort. 

All this considered, I am sure that every one will 
agree with me that it is worth while giving a trial 
to imported live stock for the farm-yard ; my 
ambition even soars — in secret, and in fear and 
trembling — to the importation of a few rabbits, for 
experimental purposes. I am aware that the indis- 
criminate introduction of rabbits has caused unpopu- 
larity elsewhere before now, but I should suggest 
their being kept in confinement at first, and I 
should not think that the provision of green food 
need be a difficulty, as they would almost certainly 



234 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

enjoy the young leaves of Indian Corn, which can be 
grown anywhere. I will venture, finally, to say, that, 
in my opinion, the humble bunny would prove a 
most welcome addition to the Nigerian menu ! 

Cows 

To mention the subject of dairy management may 
seem rather unnecessary, and cause a smile when it 
is realized that cows cannot be persuaded to live 
and flourish in Lokoja, or any of the southern 
districts of Nigeria, and that for the most part 
one's sole anxiety, as a dairy expert, consists in the 
selection of sound tins of preserved milk ! But, 
as the joys of possessing one's own cows, and obtain- 
ing a sufficiency of milk, cream, and butter, can 
be realized by those whom kindly Fortune allows 
to live in the Hausa States, far removed from the 
deadly Coast, and further north still, it seems 
to me as well to set forth my own very small 
experience in the matter. 

My first step towards keeping cows — and that a 
veritable step in the dark — was the selection of a 
churn. At this point, the eternal difficulty of trans- 
port loomed into view as uncompromisingly as 
usual, and I decided on a small tin, plunge churn. 
It consisted of a tin cylinder about eighteen inches 
long, and four inches in diameter, with a cover, 
through which passed a tin plunger, with flanges 
at the lower end. This churn has the advantage 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 235 

of being very light and portable^ and we found it a 
complete success ; it was perfectly easy to clean, 
and did its work most rapidly, turning out a pound 
of butter in fifteen minutes. 

The next necessary point is to possess your own 
cows ; the usual plan of receiving a daily dole of a 
bottle full of milk, Heaven knows how or where 
obtained, cannot be sufficiently condemned. Out 
of my own experience I have known the simple 
Fulani cow-keeper to half fill the basin before milking 
with extremely dirty water, and this I only dis- 
covered by the merest accident. One would hardly 
expect to find such up-to-date practices as ' water- 
ing the milk ' in Nigeria, but it is done ! 

I know that milch cows are not at all easy to come 
by out here ; the Fulani, the only herdsman in the 
country, knows the value of his stock, and will not 
sell, for there is a tremendous trade done in the 
markets in sour milk and rancid butter. 

I started with a stock of five cows, each with a 
small calf, and in full milk : I then, with a lamentable 
want of foresight and proper humility, decided 
on, and attempted to carry out all kinds of innovations 
and dairy principles, such as separating the calves 
from the cows, endeavouring to pacify the former 
with milk mixed with dusa (bran) — which I could 
never induce them to touch — and treating in a high- 
handed manner the remonstrances of the maisanu 
(cowman or head dairymaid). I may say at once it 



236 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

was a dead failure ; the cows went off their milk 
immediately, and from all of them I did not get 
more than a quart twice daily, and the mai-sanu 
ran away, appalled at my wicked violation of 
immemorial customs ! My courage, born of ignor- 
ance, ran into the soles of my shoes, I obtained a 
new mai-sanu, and, bowing my head in chastened 
submission, I resigned into his hands the whole 
outside arrangements of the ' dairy,' only stipulating 
that his hands should be scrupulously clean before 
milking, and the udders wiped with a damp clean 
cloth — also that he should produce a large basin 
full of milk morning and evening. This was done ; 
how and when the calves were tied or separated, I 
did not inquire. I am quite sure that, one day, a 
more strong-minded and conscientious fellow- 
country-woman will know all about it, and reform 
things magnificently ; meantime — cleanliness and 
purity assured — I was content to leave ' pretty 
well ' alone, and let the mai-sanu make his own 
arrangements. 

The cows of Northern Nigeria are splendid animals, 
of great size, with enormous branching horns, but 
their udders are very small, and English dairy folks 
would doubtless smile at the idea of extracting milk 
at the rate of one quart only, daily, per cow ! But 
so it was, and when due allowance is made for inferior 
grazing and the dry season, perhaps it was not so 
astonishing. At any rate, the supply proved ample 




Our exergetic D.S.C. (Captaix Burxside) traixixg bullocks. 

(P- 236) 




GlAXT SUX-FLOWERS AT BUSSA. (p. 243) 



{face p. 236. 



DOGS, POULTRY AND COWS 237 

for our requirements, so I felt it would be both 
ungracious and foolish to grumble. I found the 
milk very rich and delicious, and from the special 
pan set aside each evening for cream to set, a good pint 
and a half of thick cream was forthcoming the next 
morning, yielding roughly a pound of excellent 
butter. There was always cream for the porridge 
at breakfast, plenty for puddings and mayonnaises, 
and even for cream cheeses, which I made every 
few days. 

We marched our cows down country from Katagum 
on our return, and they gave us a capital supply of 
milk on the road ; but, once established in Lokoja, 
they fell off in appearance and milk. The calves 
sickened and died, as well as the cows, and, much 
to our sorrow, we had to recognize that, obviously, 
the only thing to do was to dispose of the remainder, 
alas ! to become tough beef in the market. It was, 
I suppose, inevitable, owing to the total change of 
diet to green, luxurious grass, which the cows devoured 
eagerly, to their own undoing ; but I parted 
very sadly from my philanthropic dream of 
providing the English community in Lokoja with 
a regular supply of fresh milk, etc. It was a plan 
I had very much at heart, and I have not altogether 
forsaken it, but I quite recognize that it cannot 
be done^with the Hausa cow. 

It is a matter for great regret, this difficulty of 
keeping cows alive in Lokoja ; many a ' bad case ' 



238 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

in hospital longs for fresh milk — as unobtainable, 
unfortunately, as ripe strawberries or blocks of ice. 
Possibly, one fine, very fine day, when, in our 
wisdom, we remove our cantonment to the breezy 
heights of the Patti plateau (six hundred feet above, 
and perfectly accessible, all these good things may 
be ours. Meantime, unless you are going to the 
Hausa States, and away north, the only dairy 
equipment you will need to bring is — a tin- 
opener ! 



CHAPTER IV 
The Garden 

I REMEMBER that my opinion of the possibiHties of 
gardening successfully in Northern Nigeria expressed 
itself in three stages : first, on arrival, with joyful 
confidence : ' I am certain anything will grow out 
here ! ' Secondly, after six months, in despair : 
' Nothing will grow out here ! ' Thirdly, after a year, 
with renewed but chastened cheerfulness : ' Some 
things will do all right ! ' 

The subject was more or less unexplored ground 
when I arrived in the country five years ago ; I could 
get little or no gardening information, except that 
one or two enterprising spirits had tried — and failed. 
Perhaps the chief reason for this was that the amount 
of work to be got through in each day makes it 
practically impossible for any Government official 
to give the personal attention absolutely necessary 
to the making of a garden. 

The country produces no native gardeners, similar 
to the mali of India ; the utmost one can extract 
from the local artist is that he will scratch up weeds 
and grass, and faithfully water everything daily in 

239 



240 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the dry season. The tour of service of from twelve 
to eighteen months, followed by leave home and an 
uncertain prospect of returning to the same station, 
has, I suppose, prevented any attempt at all being 
made in the majority of cases, and the very few spots 
that have been started as gardens seem to have 
flourished until their owners left, when they were 
utterly neglected, the bush claimed its own, and all 
traces of cultivation vanished far quicker than 
they had appeared. 

But now that things are progressing generally in 
Nigeria, life conditions improving somewhat, and 
each station containing a larger number of white 
men, willing to carry on each others' labours in this 
line, the gardening problem comes nearer solution, 
though I fancy that, for all time, it will need a stout 
heart and endless perseverance. 

The Flower Garden 
The first ^ don't ' that occurs to me under this 
heading is on the subject of English out-door 
flowers. One's natural instinct is to try and sur- 
round oneself with the old favourites, sweet-peas, 
mignonette, poppies and pinks, but the attempt, 
I fear, is sheer waste of time and trouble ; hardly 
any will come to maturity and blossom in the 
verandah ; they will grow up cheerfully to a certain 
point, then wither off, and transplanting seedlings in 
the open is out of the question, unless permanent 
shade can be given. 



THE GARDEN 241 

I think I can claim to have given them a fair 
trial — I brought out the usual ^ collection ' from 
England, made experimental sowings in boxes on the 
verandah, nursed and watched them tenderly, but 
I got no results in the blossom line except from 
the convolvulus. I then tried a collection from 
a French firm, and from these seeds, I succeeded in 
coaxing blossoms, from zinnias, marigolds, nastur- 
tiums, balsams and petunias — the rest were a 
complete failure. 

My third experiment was with acclimatized seeds 
from India, and these gave far the best results. The 
first success was a splendid bed of portulacca, blazing 
with crimson, white, mauve and gold, rejoicing in 
the sun which shrivelled everything else. I should 
like every one to make a point of raising this beautiful 
little flower, for it is easily grow^n, and gives a real 
reward for very little trouble. It should be sown 
at the end of the rains, in boxes on the verandah, 
sheltered until the little plants look sturdy and 
fleshy, then planted out in bed or border, and shaded 
from the sun for a day or two, until growth is started, 
the plants will then begin to spread and blossom into 
a carpet of glowing colour. 

Balsams, marigolds, sunflowers, vinca and zinnias 
will do well sown out in the open, under moderate 
shade, especially the last-named ; the finest zinnias 
I have ever seen were a bunch presented to me 
out of a bachelor's little garden at Zaria. Sun- 

R 



242 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

flowers attain an immense height and blossom 
magnificently ; I had huge plants, almost trees, at 
Bussa, fourteen and sixteen feet high, bearing 
masses of flowers. Balsams I have always been a 
little contemptuous over, but the best double kinds 
are well worth while cultivating. A special packet 
from Sutton, called, I think, ' Rose,' gave splendid 
results, thick clusters of delicate rosy pink blossoms, 
resembling pink carnations or rosettes of chiffon, 
flowered in one bed continuously from July to 
December, and established themselves on the 
firmest basis in my affections. All varieties of 
convolvulus can be sown outside, and will climb 
and twine and riot delightfully everywhere, clothing 
hideous walls and bare fences. In Lokoja I have 
taken great pains to cultivate freely that most 
charming creeper, the sapphire blue Clitoria, a 
climbing pea of the greatest beauty, and a free 
grower, bringing, in the first instance, twenty seeds 
from Government House in Sierra Leone ! It has 
rewarded my efforts so well that now no one need 
want for quantities of seed ; there is also a white 
variety which is just as beautiful and satisfactory. 
Cannas flourish, and make capital patches of colour, 
the finer kinds, some of which are very gorgeous, 
doing just as well as the ordinary scarlet sort, which 
grows all over the country, and from the seeds of 
which Mahomedan rosaries are made. Phloxes, 
nasturtiums and asters can be induced to flower 



THE GARDEN 243 

with a good deal of preliminary care and watering ; 
but those who, not unnaturally, desire to achieve the 
maximum result with the minimum effort, will do 
well to concentrate their endeavours on zinnias and 
sunflowers, especially the single Japanese sun- 
flowers, as they are eminently decorative. Vinca 
is a flower which might be dubbed uninteresting, 
but it has a special virtue, that of blossoming 
practically all the year round, and being available, 
when everything else is shrivelled and dead, in the 
dry est season. 

Another public benefactor is salpiglossis, an 
exquisite plant with velvety glowing flowers of all 
shades — no well-regulated Nigerian garden should 
be without it. 

To my mind the wild flowers of the country are 

by no means to be despised in the garden, many 

are really extremely beautiful ; all are indigenous to 

the soil and therefore no trouble to grow, and I 

believe that the main reason that they are not more 

frequently seen in gardens is that the gardeners have 

never had the opportunity of noticing them in the 
' bush.' 

There is a splendid coreopsis with golden daisy- 
like blossoms some three or four inches in diameter, 
the seed of which I gathered on the march a year 
ago, and subsequently sowed in large round beds. 
The result was a perfectly glorious blaze of brilliant 
yellow blossoms for weeks together, when the 



244 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

rains had finished. Terrestrial orchids in their 
mauve, purple, yellow and green beauty would 
be exquisite dotting the grass, as would the crimson 
and white striped lilies, fragile babianas, and the 
lesser gloriosa, which is not a creeper. A tiny 
scarlet salvia has often appealed to me and the 
little plant, Striga Senegalensis, would form a carpet 
of deep cool mauve, delightful to see. 

The Lawn 

It is said to be very dear to the heart of every 
Englishman to own a lawn, and it certainly should 
be doubly so to John Bull in exile ; in a tropical 
country well-kept turf is much to be desired, there 
is nothing so cool and refreshing to tired eyes dazzled 
with the glare of sunshine and baked earth, and, 
perhaps, nothing that gives such a home-like and 
cared-for look to a West African compound. This 
demesne is usually reclaimed bush, which in nature 
grows rank, reed-like, coarse grass, and the ground 
destined for a lawn must be thoroughly and deeply 
dug up. It is worse than useless to attempt to 
remove it by merely pulling up the grass. 
After digging and turning, all the roots must be 
picked out most carefully, for it is indeed heart- 
breaking to see the enemy reappearing all over your 
infant lawn. 

If the fine short grass, called in India ' dhoob ' 
grass^ can be found in the neighbourhood, and it 



THE GARDEN 245 

usually can be, especially along the edges of roads, 
it should be brought in quantities (with its roots), 
planted closely in tiny bunches all over the prepared 
ground, watered daily, patted down to encourage 
spreading, and your lawn will be fairly started. 
Another method is to chop up the grass in lengths 
of about four inches, mix it with good soil and water, 
and spread the mixture all over the lawn, but, on 
the whole, I think the planting will be found most 
satisfactory. If ' dhoob ' grass is not to be had, 
English grass seed must be sown, but this is an 
experiment I have never had occasion to make. 
I have seen what is called Bahama grass grown with 
great success in Sierra Leone, and fashioned into 
lovely velvety croquet lawns. 

Trees and Shrubs 

The planting of useful and ornamental trees is 
no less than a positive duty incumbent on every 
householder in West Africa ; they are infinitely 
less trouble, and give far more lasting satisfaction 
than flower growing ; besides, even in this most 
selfish of all selfish countries, it behoves us all to 
think of those who will come after us, and not neglect 
to plant a mango stone because we ourselves may 
scarcely hope to gather fruit from the tree that 
will result. I do not think I am exaggerating when 
I say that I suppose that every flowering tree and 



246 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

shrub in Lokoja, and many in Zungeru, owes its 
existence to the wise labours of those ' old hands * 
who, years ago, planted out the ground around the 
old Preparanda with trees, from which innumerable 
cuttings have been obtained ; at all events, I have 
never forgotten to feel grateful to them. 

Orange and lime trees grow readily from pips, 
mangos and date palms from stones, pineapples 
can be raised from the leafy crowns on the fruit, 
paw-paws spring up wherever the seeds are scattered, 
but they, like bananas, are not ornamental, and 
should be relegated to the back garden. 

During the rainy season slips of flowering trees 
and shrubs never fail to strike ; ' frangipani ' with 
rosy blossoms and delicious scent, Poinciana Regia, 
better known as ^ flamboyant ' on account of its 
regal scarlet flowers, three kinds of acacias, red, 
yellow and white, fragrant rose-coloured oleandars, 
and many others, can be put in wherever your 
fancy dictates, and will certainly reward your 
patience — usually by endeavouring to flower before 
putting out a single leaf ! 

There is a delightful, sweet-scented golden alla- 
manda, growing in sturdy bushes, and forming an 
ideal hedge, as it is loaded with blossom for more 
than half the year. Another somewhat similar 
flower is Thevetia, which sows itself pertinaciously 
from its poisonous seeds, and Tahernaemontana 
is another most decorative shrubby plant, with 



THE GARDEN 247 

shining dark foliage, and a flower resembling a 
gardenia. 

Nigeria abounds in indigenous blossoming trees 
and creepers, all beautiful, and mostly sweet-scented, 
from the gorgeous Spathodea Nilotica, Erythrina 
and Kigelia Africana downwards ; indeed, no one 
who travels about with open eyes can fail to acquire 
enough seeds, pods and stones to plant acres with 
beauty and fragrance ; day after day, on the march, 
I have filled my pockets. 

The bush, too, is full of flowers well worth cultivat- 
ing, as I have before remarked. There are creepers 
and climbing plants innumerable, including Mus- 
saenda elegans, bearing handsome flame-coloured 
blossoms, crimson Caconia panicvdata, Strophanthus 
with its fantastic, trailing creamy petals, delicate 
asparagus fern, and Landolphia owariensis (the 
rubber vine), queen of climbers, a sheet of snow- 
white, intensely fragrant flowers. And if Landolphia 
is the queen of climbers, surely the king is a gorgeous 
apricot-hued Gloriosa Sitperha, which fastens its deli- 
cate persistent tendrils round every available support, 
and when the flowering season is over is beautiful 
still with bursting pods full of scarlet seeds. In 
the forest, beside the river one finds clerodendron, 
bryophyllum, quisqualis, and a thousand others ; 
indeed, I only wish I had enough botanical knowledge 
to name half the native flowers and trees I have 
raised from seed collected casually on the march. 



248 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

The Verandah Garden 

Perhaps the verandah garden is one's dearest and 
closest interest ; wise people may shake their heads, 
and mutter about the number of mosquitoes^attracted 
by the watering of ferns and flowers, but, after all, 
when there are at least two millions of mosquitoes 
about, a thousand more or less makes very little 
difference, and I am certain no Englishwoman in 
Africa will forgo her verandah garden for so trifling 
a reason ! 

I have had orchids and ferns, all varieties of 
so-called crotons, for they are really codeums, hun- 
dreds of sturdy little orange trees, raised from 
pips collected at the luncheon table, cannas and 
caladiums, and tubs of the invaluable aromatic- 
scented occimum viride, whose virtues saved us 
endless annoyance from mosquitoes. Here a few 
English flowers blossomed, one tiny rose bush, 
petunias, balsams, Japanese sunflowers, etc., creepers 
of all kinds flourished, sky-blue, rose-coloured and 
yellow convolvuli climbing and clasping the verandah 
posts, sapphire blue clitoria twisting and twining 
in beautiful confusion, mingled with a brilliant 
scarlet convolvulus-like climber, while tiny, starry 
Ipomea quamoclit, crimson and white, wound slender 
feathery arms round every available twig and stem. 

The bath-water must be kept every morning to 
water the verandah garden, the soapiness and 



THE GARDEN 249 

especially the suspicion of Scrubbs ammonia, if that 
is used, are most beneficial, and by doing the 
watering yourself you can ensure a due proportion 
and see that ferns are not starved while seedlings 
are drowned. 

I have always longed to have real roses in my 
verandah garden, but I fear they would but add one 
more to the long list of disappointments. Though 
they do well in Southern Nigeria, I have so far 
seen only one rose tree here at Zungeru ; it was 
growing an immense height, full of green leaves 
and long stalks, an infallible sign that the general 
temperature is too high, and its blossoms have 
been few and poor. Still, I believe with much 
care and pruning the more delicate kinds might 
succeed ; I hope to try one day. Last year I devoted 
my energies to the cultivation of geraniums and 
pelargoniums, which were only a partial success, 
but were handicapped by being carried about the 
country. I also experimented with tuberoses, which 
were an immense success, growing freely as if they 
really liked the soil and temperature. I have great 
hopes that the more delicate bulbous plants will 
flourish in Nigeria during the rains, therefore I 
have included a few of them in the list at the end 
of this chapter. 

The Vegetable Garden 
It seems to me a matter for the gravest regret 



250 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

that the culture of vegetables is not more seriously 
undertaken in this country where fresh vegetables 
are so essential to health, and such a priceless 
addition to the daily menu of tough and tasteless 
meat. To any one who has lived in the tiniest Indian 
station, and seen the Goverment garden supplying 
each household with an enormous basket of vege- 
tables for the noble sum of is. 6d. per month, 
it seems as incredible as it is almost criminal that 
West Africa is not as well catered for ; it could be 
done, as many private gardens in the country have 
amply proved, but — it is not done ! To quote 
Major Ronald Ross : — ' Government sometimes 
maintains, at considerable cost, botanical gardens 
for various economical purposes. I was told that 
these gardens used to grow vegetables for the 
Europeans, until stopped by a mandate from England, 
on the ground that a Government botanist is not a 
market gardener ! ' Comment is quite needless, but 
there is some comfort in reflecting that if we cannot 
all soar to the giddy eminence of a ' Government 
botanist ' we may yet emulate, more or less, the 
humble market gardener, and to this end I am 
offering my small experience in this line. 

Growing vegetables is, to my mind, the most 
satisfactory part of garden work in West Africa ; 
the percentage of failures is certainly smaller, and 
the results so entirely to be desired. But, like 
the rest of your garden, it will have to be made 




o 

M 



5; 



oo 



x: 




o 

M 



THE GARDEN 251 

before you can set to work to grow vegetables. 
Divide the ground into beds as long as space will 
allow, and not more than three feet wide, with 
paths between. Every bed must have a roof or 
shelter, consisting of matting or palm branches, 
fastened to uprights four or five feet high, and the 
earth must be well banked up so as to be quite a 
foot above the ground level. 

Vegetables do best when sown in September, 
when the heaviest rains are over, though a few 
kinds can be sown even in the dry season with some 
success if care and regular watering are given to 
them ; I have sown vegetables in May, August and 
December, always with satisfactory results, my 
object being to secure fresh vegetables nearly all 
the year round. 

The most important factor in the success of the 
vegetable garden (and, indeed, amongst the flowers 
too) is that the seed should be quite fresh from Eng- 
land. A small quantity arriving twice a year will give 
far better results than one of the large ^ collections ' 
which, moreover, invariably contain many items 
that are quite useless in this country. I had a 
huge tin of vegetable seeds given me last year — a 
precious prize — only to find, to my dismay, that it 
consisted mainly of strawberries and peas ! I have 
heard of English peas being grown and eaten in the 
Bornu country ; my own experience has been that 
they grow most hopefully until they are about 



252 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

two feet high, they then begin to wither off and 
disappear. 

Tomatoes will be found to succeed admirably ; 
if they are inclined to grow too luxuriantly and to 
run to leaf rather than to fruity this can be checked 
by cutting off half the leaves and snipping away 
many of the flowers. I have never seen better 
tomatoes than those grown in Nigeria. 

French beans and scarlet runners are most suc- 
cessful ; the young plants of the latter shoot up 
in the most amazing ' Jack and the Beanstalk ' 
fashion, and the dwarf beans are quite loaded with 
beans six weeks after sowing. 

Cucumbers give excellent results, also vegetable 
marrows. These should be sown in boxes on the ver- 
andah, and planted out when they attain the dignity 
of four leaves. Let them be planted close to the 
uprights so that they can commence climbing at 
once instead of sprawling along the ground. I 
found it quite a good plan at Bussa to plant these 
vegetables out beside a low clay wall, and, after 
assisting them to reach the top, to leave them to 
their own devices ; it was always an amusement to 
hunt for and happen upon unexpected ripe cucum- 
bers ! 

Lettuces, radishes and cress may all be relied 
upon, also spinach (the native sort) and carrots ; 
kohl rabi, the turnip-rooted cabbage, is a most 
excellent and useful vegetable eaten quite young ; 



THE GARDEN 253 

we found it one of our best crops, and beyond the 
thinning out required no attention at all. My 
beet-root, cabbages, Brussels sprouts and rhubarb 
all failed, but that I strongly suspect was in some 
degree due to the incursions of greedy fowls. In 
this connexion, I may mention that a low close 
railing, made even of guinea-corn stalks, is most 
useful to fence in each bed if there is a farmyard 
loose in the compound. 

English potatoes have been grown at Zungeru, 
I believe, but rather as an interesting experiment 
than as an article of diet. Onions are so extensively 
grown by the natives that they are hardly required 
in the garden, except the tiny spring onions for use 
in a salad. 

I do not think it is widely enough known that, 
when English vegetables are ' out ' the native bean 
{wake) if gathered very, very young, is practically 
indistinguishable from French beans, and a tuber 
(tumuku) in appearance and taste closely resembles 
new potatoes ; both plants grow like weeds and are 
immensely prolific ; I have seen fifty pounds of 
tumukus gathered from seve^i plants ! 

I should say, from my study of the climatic effect 
on plants generally, that hardly any of the really 
hardy English vegetables would ever reward one 
for the trouble of growing them in Nigeria, such as 
cauliflower, turnips, etc. Sea kale might do well, 
and such a delicacy would be well worth striving 



254 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

after. A valiant effort has been made to grow 
mushrooms from imported spawn, but the process 
entailed a good deal of rather elaborate arrange- 
ment, and the result was nil. But I see no reason 
why they should not be cultivated in grass ; I have 
eaten quite delicious tiny mushrooms which I 
gathered myself on the polo-ground at Lokoja. It 
seems to me that if a crisp fresh salad and cucumber 
can be produced daily, with a dish of tomatoes and 
another of French beans, one may well be grateful 
for small mercies, and concentrate attention on 
growing these, experimenting meanwhile with every- 
thing and anything that comes to hand. 

I am specially anxious to see the Avocada pear 
grown freely in Northern Nigeria ; it flourishes on 
the coast, and a more delicious fruit could hardly be 
desired. I raised four strong little trees in Lokoja, 
which, alas, went the way of all things in my absence, 
and I believe there are a few at Zungeru. It is a 
very easy matter to bring a quantity of the large 
seeds from Sierra Leone, or from off the ship, where 
they usually appear at table. 

In conclusion, I am appending a list of flower 
and vegetable seeds which I hope will find their 
way into every one's baggage, for they will, according 
to my small experience, reward the amateur gardener 
best ; also a few of the flowering shrubs and creepers 
which ought to have a place in the garden, and which 
would, I feel sure, flourish in Nigeria. 



THE GARDEN 255 

Flower Seeds 

Convolvulus, of all kinds. Cinerarias. 

Zinnias. Aquilegia. 

Sunflowers. Heliotrope. 

Portulacca. Asters. 

Marigolds. Coleus. 

Balsams. Pelargoniums. 

Phlox. Carnations. 

Vinca. Nasturtiums. 

Petunias. Sweet Sultans. 

Cannas. Gaillardias. 

Dahlias. Salpiglossis. 

Sweet-scented Tobacco. Geraniums. 

It will be observed that many familiar garden 
flowers are omitted from this list ; this is not an 
oversight, simply — they will not thrive. I am, 
moreover, drawing on my own limited experience 
only^ and that not merel}'^ of successes, but also of 
failures and disappointments. 

Bulbs, etc. 

Tuberoses. Agapanthus. 

Achimenes. Monbretia. 

Eucharis, and various hot- Ixia. 

house lilies. Amaryllis. 

Freesia. 

Flowering Shrubs, Climbers, etc. 

Poinsettias. / 



Hibiscus. 

Stephanotis. 

Tacsonia, and other Passion 

flowers. 
Lapageria. 



Princess Alice of 
Monaco. 
Roses^ Comtesse Riza du Pare. 
J Ma Surprise. 
I Comtesse d'Auerstadt 



256 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

Vegetables 

French Beans. Tomatoes. 

Scarlet Runners. Cress. 

Broad Beans. Lettuces. 

Cucumbers. Radishes. 

Melons. Marrows. 

Sea Kale. Carrots. 

Spinach. Parsley. 

Egg Plant. Spring Onions. 



CHAPTER V 
The Stable 

My feminine readers may feel inclined to ' skip ' 
this chapter with the remark : ' Well, the stables 
are not in my department ' ; but I think the wife 
of an official in Nigeria will usually find that her 
husband has more work of his own to do than he 
can well squeeze into each day, and, however slight 
her previous knowledge on the subject may be, the 
certainty that, unless she bestirs herself and gives 
personal attention and supervision, the ponies wiU 
be neglected, ill-fed and uncleanly, will, I feel sure, 
be sufficient stimulus to any true Enghshwoman. 
For she naturally loves horses, and cannot but be 
fond of her wiry little thirteen-hand ponies in 
Nigeria ; because they are, as a rule, sweet-tempered, 
willing, honest little souls, whose mistress will, in 
almost every case, have reason to remember how 
gallantly they carried her on such and such a march, 
and how cleverly they climbed and negotiated the 
nasty places, and forded uncertain-looking rivers. 
This alone will give them a strong claim on her 
loving care, and she will admit, after a time at all 



257 



258 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

events, that it is worth while to learn all she can 
on the subject, and to spend half an hour every 
morning at the stables, inspecting each pony and 
his house, and another half-hour after the evening 
ride to see them dried, rubbed down and fed. For 
ourselves, I hardly think we could sleep in peace 
unless we had paid our usual visit to the stables 
to satisfy ourselves that all was well there, the 
ponies comfortable and well supplied with grass. 

The morning visit may well be spent in what would 
appear to the new-comer to be childish reiteration of 
most elementary instruction to the man who makes a 
profession of looking after your horse. For instance, 
it is quite necessary to demand to be shown the 
inside of your ponies' feet every day : your horse- 
boy — until trained — takes no personal interest in 
them, and assuredly will not clean them out on his 
own initiative, so, without your daily examination, 
a tiresome attack of thrush may lay your pony up 
for weeks or months, or a painful little stone, picked 
up perhaps in the last canter home, may remain 
there all night to his great discomfort. At present 
the ponies are not shod in this country, and though 
we may advance to metalled roads I hope for the 
sake of their owners and themselves they will never 
require it, for I can see heavy additional trials in 
store for them both, when the shoeing art is imper- 
fectly learned and slovenly applied. 

Each horse has his own attendant, but the grass- 



THE STABLE 259 

cutter of India is not kept, as the grass is so near 
and in such quantities that it can usually be cut 
from one's own compound, or at least from a few 
yards off. Here the watchful eye is necessary ; the 
' doki (horse) boy ' (who, as a rule, is a combination 
of utter incapacity, laziness and complete ignorance ) 
likes immensely to be left at home when you go for 
a ride. He will then cut a bundle of the coarsest 
and wettest marsh grass he can find — naturally— 
as ten minutes ' work will produce a bigger bundle 
than half an hour's cutting of the fine, short grass 
which is so infinitely bettei. He will then squat 
down on the ground and engage in a process that 
is absolutely blood-curdling to the unaccustomed 
onlooker ; the grass is taken in small bundles, 
grasped by his left hand, while his right foot is 
firmly planted on the ends of the stalks ; he then 
chops up the grass, a most murderous-looking 
weapon falling rapidly, and without, apparently, 
any special aim, within half an inch of his foot at each 
blow. I used to feel quite sick with apprehension, 
and even now I always expect to see five brown 
toes fly up into the air ! The doki-boy forthwith 
conveys this mass of wet stuff into the pony's 
stable for his consumption during the night, thus 
forming a sound basis for cohc in the morning. 
DonH let him do it. Even if dhoob grass is not to 
be had, make him cut the grass before midday, and 
have it well spread out in the sun, so that the pony 



26o A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

gets it thoroughly dried. Remember, he does not 
want real food at night, only something comforting 
to munch, that will employ his mind harmlessly and 
happily, and divert his attention from trying to break 
loose and go off to fight any other pony he can find 
near at hand. 

The main horse food out here is guinea-corn 
simply shredded off the large stalk, the little stems 
being left, to ensure the pony eating slowly, and 
thus digesting his meal. It is not easy to lay down 
a rule for quantity, as ponies vary, and the size of 
stalks of guinea-corn also varies ; the best thing for 
the pony's owner to do is to ask the advice of the 
neighbour who appears to have the best-kept ponies, 
or, if there are no neighbours, let him or her ask 
the ponies themselves by watching them feed. It 
soon becomes easy to determine whether they are 
getting enough ; that is the main point, for I believe 
that a pony can scarcely be over-fed in this country. 
Try them with twelve large stalks of guinea-corn 
for each feed, i.e. about half a bundle per day to 
each pony. The guinea-corn is sold in bundles, 
varying a little in size and price, according to whether 
the district is a corn country or not ; as a rule a 
fair-sized bundle costs, roughly, a shilling. 

On tour, in places where guinea-corn was not to 
be had, and the ponies doing hard work, we have 
given them crushed Indian corn (maize) ; they liked 
it and throve on it. Dusa (bran) should invariably 



THE STABLE 261 

be mixed with the feeds, be they of maize or guinea- 
corn, three large handfuls to each feed ; the ponies 
are fond of it, nothing is better for them, and it can 
always be obtained easily. The majority, too, will 
drink far more readily and copiously if a handful 
of dusa is stirred into the water. 

Country potash (honwa) is a daily article of diet 
with the Nigerian pony. He has it, a piece about 
the size of a walnut, thoroughly dissolved in his 
water, and he thinks so much of it that often he 
will not drink without it. N.B. — Keep the konwa 
yourself and give it out every day, for it is also an 
article of diet for the doki-boy ! 

I expect the ponies would much enjoy lucerne if 
the garden could be made to produce it, but I am 
sorrowfully compelled to admit that after growing 
a crop of carrots with infinite care, and triumphantly 
bearing them off to the stables as a wonderful treat, 
the ungrateful ponies spit them out contemptuously 
and would have none of them ! 

The stables themselves must be rather a shock to 
an English mind : they are just circular huts — one 
for each pony — either with mud walls and a conical 
thatched roof, or else with walls of grass matting. 
Mud walls have the advantage of windows, which 
give a breeze, but bring possibiHties of flies and 
wasps at the same time. Doors are usually wanting ; 
the pony is picketed by one of his feet to a wooden 
post about two feet high, round which he can circle 



262 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

by means of a ring upon it. The post is driven into 
the ground in the middle of his stable. The ponies 
are quite accustomed to this method ; they have their 
heads free, and they can lie down or walk around as 
they feel inclined. We always prefer the plan of 
fixing three bars firmly in the doorway, dispensing 
with the picketing arrangement, and thus giving the 
ponies the luxury of a loose box. The stable floor 
is of ordinary hardened mud, and should be freshly 
sanded every day. Bedding is not required. 

A few words as to the doki-boy. He is lazy, and 
utterly ignorant of his job, usually downright 
frightened of his pony, and at every whisk of the 
latter's tail, will make agonized appeals to his better 
feelings, uttering apprehensive clucks the while. 
Still, even the raw material, if he is docile and willing, 
is quite teachable, and he is, I think, invariably 
kind to his pony. His sins are mostly those of 
omission. 

You will have to begin from the very beginning 
in your education of him, and see all his work, for 
your own sake and the pony's. For instance, I 
remember one evening, when a pony came in much 
heated after polo, we stood by while our horse-boy, 
quite our best and most intelligent, proceeded to 
rub him down as usual, after which, to our horror, 
he shook out a clean rubber and began to fan the 
sweating pony with it ! This, on a distinctly 
chilly evening after sunset ! 




Mr Lafonk's 'Wiiitk Mouse.' (p. 261) 




RiniXG Astride — a locally ^L\I)I■: skirt 1 (p. 265) 



\ face p. 262. 



THE STABLE 263 

Hand-rubbing is quite unknown, and will be 
most unwillingly adopted, but it is worth any 
amount of tiresome teaching and repetition of 
the same order ; there is absolutely nothing that 
will so quickly improve the looks and condition 
of ponies. We have them tethered close to the 
verandah each morning and afternoon, and super- 
intend the hand-rubbing ourselves, no pony's toilet 
being considered complete till his doki-bo}^ is himself 
in a healthy perspiration. The ponies, too, enjoy 
the process, especially if they are rewarded for 
steadiness and patience by many pieces of juicy 
sugar-cane, which, by the way, is most useful for 
fattening up a thin pony, as well as being a handy 
little delicacy to carry on one's visits to the stables. 
It should be peeled and cut in small pieces three 
inches long. 

The new doki-boy, too, has no idea how to put on a 
saddle and bridle, and for many days I fear you will 
have to take them off, as every strap will be united 
to the wrong buckle, and put them on yourself 
before him, which usually ends in broken nails, dirty 
hands, much heat and a lost temper. But never 
trust the doki-boy' s powers until you are quite sure 
of them, as it is really dangerous to life and limb ; 
you can hardly imagine how many subtle ways he 
can invent of putting on a bridle the wrong way. 
He also prefers to drag it off without undoing the 
curb-chain or throat-lash, a most reprehensible 



264 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

piece of laziness that has to answer for many a 
docile pony showing temper and refusing to be 
bridled without an unpleasant struggle. It is an 
excellent thing to cultivate an unforgettable habit 
of loosening girths, curb-chain and throat-lash 
oneself on dismounting. 

One word more of warning : water must not be 
given after food. It seems an absurdly superfluous 
caution, but I can assure you it has been done, is 
done to-day, and will be done as long as the pony's 
welfare is not cared for personally by his owner. It 
is, as every one knows, most dangerous, on account 
of colic and indigestion, and may frequently account 
for the ingenuous statement of the doki-boy that 
' Allah has given the doki a pain in his stomach ! ' 
Water should be given quite half an hour before the 
corn, the latter being well spread out on the ground 
to ensure slow feeding and thorough digestion. 

Saddlery must, of course, be brought out from 
England, and should be selected with the greatest 
care ; all metal work must be non-rusting, and 
head-stalls and girths chosen to fit ponies from 
thirteen to fourteen hands. I have found it a very 
satisfactory plan to adopt the Richards' numdah 
(I believe the patent is called the ' Wykeham ') ; the 
saddle itself has no stuffing and fits on to the numdah, 
which, being specially soft, adapts itself to the shape 
of the pony, and thus avoids the only too frequent 
cause of a sore back or wither. It is about three 



THE STABLE 265 

inches in thickness and^ having absorbed all the 
perspiration, can be easily dried in the sun, the 
under surface being well beaten and brushed to 
prevent it from getting hard or caked. I have ridden 
over two thousand miles on one of these numdahs, 
and I will venture to say that it is practically 
impossible to give a pony a sore back. It can be 
imagined what a blessing that is on the marcn, when 
it is so difficult to lay him up for a few days even ; 
besides, all the bother of continually re-stuffing a 
saddle is done away with. Any saddle can be 
fitted with a ' Wykeham ' numdah by Messrs. 
Richards, at Winchester, for a guinea. 

When choosing a saddle, take care to select one 
(with a cut-back tree, of course) that is not longer 
than necessary ; the Nigerian ponies are much 
shorter in the barrel than English horses, and are 
apt to get their backs rubbed with a long saddle. 

As the result of my own experience, I most strongly 
advise every woman who intends, to do much riding 
out here, especially in the way of marching, to 
abandon her side-saddle altogether, and adopt 
the ' astride ' position. In the first place, it is far 
more comfortable and less tiring on a long march ; 
secondly, it does away with the necessity of bringing 
out special saddlery for oneself, it makes one quite 
independent of being ' put up,' and also enables 
one to march in the most comfortable of clothes, 
a short divided skirt or bloomers, putties and shoot- 



266 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

ing boots ; thirdly, and most important of all, it is 
the greatest blessing to the pony. No matter how 
straight you sit, sooner or later the strain of a side- 
saddle begins to tell on a pony, from the mere fact 
that the weight of the rider's two legs is on one 
side of him ! I noticed this especially at Katagum 
when riding horses which had never carried a 
side-saddle before, and so sensitive were they to 
the innovation that it was almost impossible to keep 
them in the road at all — they bored so badly to the 
near side. 

Bring out also picketing gear ; it is much more 
durable than country rope, and does not rub the 
hair off the ponies ' feet. It consists of a stout iron 
ring, with a short chain, attached to a wide padded 
leather bracelet, buckling round the pony's fetlock. 
You will have to teach the horse-boys how to clean 
saddlery ; I think there is nothing better than 
beeswax and soft soap, but saddle soap can usually 
be bought. The mai-doki's incorrigible laziness 
comes out here ; unless frequently watched and stood 
over, he confines himself to giving the seat of one's 
saddle a polish like a mirror, and never touches 
one of the out-of-sight straps and parts, which need 
far the most care and softening. Bits must be well 
dried and wiped directly they are taken out of the 
pony's mouth, and the whole of the saddlery should 
be kept in the house. A saddle stand is easily made 
by any native carpenter, and is by no means an 



THE STABLE 267 

eyesore in the verandah, if the saddles are well 
polished and the bridles shining. 

Only on one occasion on the march I lost sight 
of my saddle, which was carried off to the doki- 
boys' quarters, and to what use it was put I cannot 
fathom ; I only know that, the next morning, it 
appeared with the seat deeply scratched and scored, 
and looking five years older ! The African servant 
is utterly devoid of respect for valuable belongings ; 
he possesses nothing himself that is worth taking 
care of, and he listens with polite but bored sub- 
mission while you very forcibly point out his crimes 
of destruction, but he is obviously indifferent, 
really, to the damage done, and thinks it all rather 
a silly fuss. ' Is not a saddle still a saddle even if 
it is hideously scratched and ill-treated ? ' When 
removing a saddle from a pony, he delights to 
dump it down on the ground, anywhere, in sand, 
dust or mud, the side flaps crushed underneath 
anyhow, although there may be half a dozen people 
standing by, ready to carry it off to its proper place. 

I fear these pages may seem full of dismal dis- 
couragement and gloomy warnings, so, before leav- 
ing the subject, I will repeat once more that the 
doki-boy is a criminal only from ignorance, that he 
is teachable, and that, possibly, he appears a greater 
sinner because his evil deeds, as a rule, are — or 
should be — committed before his master's eyes, 
which is, in itself, some little comfort ! 



268 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

The rainy season^ from June till November, is 
the most mihealthy time for ponies, especially in 
the Niger valley. They are very subject to 
colic and to the peculiar form of horse-sickness 
which is attracting so much attention from the 
medical and veterinary officers. It shows itself 
in fever, weakness of the loins, swollen glands, and 
wasting away, accompanied by a voracious appetite, 
and, so far, has not been definitely diagnosed, though 
every effort is being made to understand its nature 
by examining specimens of blood, etc. Arsenic has 
been suggested as a cure, but at present it seems 
to me that, once the doctor or veterinary surgeon 
has discovered the peculiar bacillus in the blood, 
there is little or no hope of the pony's complete 
recovery, and the best thing for the unfortunate 
owner to do is to sell him for what he will fetch, or 
give him away to a native. The native can fre- 
quently patch up a sick pony till he is quite fit 
enough for the light work they give him, though he 
would be quite useless for polo or hard marching. 
I have seen only too many good little ponies die, 
and, once they sicken, I always feel that the dosing 
and nursing is rather hopeless work, and the sure 
bullet the kinder way ; though, if it is determined 
to make a fight for the pony's life, the only way is to 
employ a native horse-doctor — he may know more 
about it than we do, and he certainly cannot well 
know less ! 



THE STABLE 269 

There are very few other ills that the West African 
stable is heir to, if ordinary care and supervision 
are given. It is worth mentioning that the mai- 
doki will ascribe everything that he cannot account 
for as the result of cold, from a mosquito bite up 
to a serious sprain, and ' Sainye ya kamma shi ! ' 
(' he has caught cold ') will become a familiar 
sounding phrase, and will have to be politely but 
firmly discouraged. 



CHAPTER VI 
Camp Life 

After a year spent in Nigeria, I am sure you will 
agree with me, on looking back, that the time spent 
* on tour ' was the happiest and most enjoyable of 
all. The life in the open air, the constant change 
and variety of scenery, the daily march that makes 
one so hungry at meal-times and so sleepy long 
before recognized bed-time, the incessant items of 
interest, among people, animals, birds, butterflies 
and plants — all combine to make one think it an 

ideal existence, and one where it is almost impossi- 
ble to be cross, bored, or grumbly, in the clear sun- 
light, and amongst some of the loveliest surroundings 
imaginable. But this charming state of things is 
not to be reached all at once. To begin with, you 
must start with a firm determination to make the 
best of everything and anything : your unselfish- 
ness must be untiring and your cheerfulness in- 
fectious; your husband is certain to have a little 
leaven of difficult and possibly tiresome work 
mixed with his share of the picnic, so at these times, 
at least, the give and take of daily life may well 

271 



272 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

be enhanced by lavish giving on your part. Here, 
no one can help you but yourself ; but I can do 
something else for you, and that is, to supply you 
with a few hints, gathered from our own experi- 
ence, which will make the camp arrangements run 
smoothly, and ensure your comfort in the remotest 
' bush.' For it is not a sound argument to say, 
' If we get so hungry, we shan't be particular what 
we eat ' — it is just when one is famished that one 
wants a good, simple, well-cooked meal, not tough 
meat and eggs of doubtful freshness. Do not be 
discouraged at the start ; it seems a colossal under- 
taking to calculate full provisions for some weeks, 
but it is really a simple matter after a little practice. 
At the end of this chapter you will find a list of stores 
necessary for the use of two people going to camp, 
and out of reach of European stores, for a month. 
The quantities are of necessity rather approximate, 
depending, as they must in some cases, on individual 
taste. Wherever you go, the villages can usually 
supply sheep, fowls, eggs, maize and yams, sweet 
potatoes and fruit and guinea-corn, and in many 
places there is excellent bush-fowl and guinea-fowl 
shooting to be had, thus adding the best of all dishes, 
game, to the larder. 

Stores are carried in ' chop-boxes,' i.e. deal boxes, 
with hinged lids, hasps and padlocks, and with 
handles. For size, i8 in. x lo in. x 8 in. is about 
right, for they must be considered as loads, and it 



CAMP LIFE 273 

is no use having them larger, as you will only have 
to leave them half empty, on account of the weight, 
and things will tumble about and bottles get broken. 
Even the size I have just mentioned cannot be 
packed full, but when one wants to carry fruit, or 
any light addition, the space comes in handy. We 
have found it useful, when bringing stores out from 
England (a proceeding much to be recommended 
to the economical housekeeper), to have a few of 
the cases made as described above, so as to have them 
ready for touring after their contents have been 
removed. Three should be enough, and one may 
usefully be devoted to rice alone, unless you are 
satisfied with and sure of being able to obtain the 
native sort : a 50 lb. bag of rice just fits in, and is 
invaluable, as fresh vegetables are almost impossible 
to come by. We have a fitted chop-box, made to 
our own design, containing a tray, and divers divi- 
sions, to accommodate china and glass. Below, 
there is one space which holds the plates and dishes, 
another that just fits two sparklet bottles, and a 
third which usually carries the day's supply of bread 
or biscuits. The tray contains the teapot, four cups 
and saucers, milk-jug and sugar-basin (all china), 
and four tumblers, all in their own partitions ; the 
cruet-stand has also a little corner to itself, where 
nothing ever upsets, and we are saved the eternal 
worry of unscrewing patent receptacles to get at 
the salt, etc. This leaves an empty space in the 



274 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

middle of the tray, where the small tins of tea, sugar, 
milk, tea-cloth, etc., live, the idea being that break- 
fast, luncheon, or tea, can be prepared at once, 
without touching the other chop-boxes, if so desired. 
Knives, forks and spoons all have their own separ- 
ate spaces, a better arrangement than the usual 
leather straps in the lid. The divisions are lined 
with felt, so that china tea-things and glass tumblers 
(all of thickish material, of course), which, to my 
mind, are so infinitely preferable to ironware as to 
make ' all the difference,' can be carried in safety for 
many months, even allow^ing for unlikely accidents, 
such as a carrier slipping on a stone while fording a 
river, etc. 

On coming out here, we had ordered a costly 
luncheon basket from England but, before it 
arrived we had done our first tour of some weeks' 
duration with the chop-box I have just described, 
and instantly decided that we could not be bothered 
with the dainty, but much less serviceable little 
arrangement of wicker, etc., so we rifled it of its 
least complicated fittings, and wrote it down under 
the heading of * Experientia docet ' in the house- 
hold accounts. 

I will make no apology for having discussed this 
subject at such length, for I know, from personal 
experience, what an immense difference to one's 
comfort a really practical chop-box makes ; it is, 
therefore, worth describing in detail, as such an 




One of our Camps, (p. 275) 




The Ar ail-Cart, Bida. (p. 280) 



{/ace p. i-ii^. 



CAMP LIFE 275 

article cannot be bought ready-made. It is only 
necessary to add that the dimensions should be about 
32 in. X 14 in. x 14 in._, and the weight should not 
exceed 50 to 55 lb. 

Don't forget to take the indispensable mincing- 
machine ; if necessary at headquarters^ it is doubly 
so in the bush, where you frequently have to eat 
meat an hour or so after it has been killed. A 
Berkefeld filter is the best, easily carried, simple 
and quick to work, beside being simplicity itself to 
clean and fix up : there is another, on the foot- 
pump principle, which saves labour, or at least 
exertion, but its extra weight is a great drawback. 

We will suppose, you are able to provide yourselves 
with two 80 lb. Regulation Officer's tents ; Govern- 
ment supplies one, and you would do well to bring 
a second as a private possession : one tent is quite 
too small for two people, and it is a pity to lose so 
much comfort for a detail so easily carried out. 
Have them pitched one behind the other, the front 
one to serve for meals and daily occupation, the back 
one as sleeping quarters. You can always get a 
small, roofless attachment, with matting walls, 
erected in a few minutes, at the back of the sleeping 
tent, to act as a bathroom. At times, when we felt 
fairly secure from possible rain, we pitched the outer 
fly of the front tent in front again; it is quite a 
simple matter, with the aid of a few extra poles, 
supplied from the village, and extends one's quarters 



276 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

delightfully, for a stay of any length, if the camp 
is in a shady spot — otherwise, of course, it makes 
the tents warm. 

For camp furniture, none is better than the ' X ' 
patent. The beds are most comfortable, and are 
by no means the Japanese puzzle that some camp 
beds are : there are excellent little tables, that can 
be put together in a couple of minutes, and a canvas 
basin and bath of the same pattern. With refer- 
ence to the bath, I may say, that we have found it 
more convenient to carry with us a regular tin, tra- 
velling bath, with cover and strap, containing a 
wicker lining ; it is so immensely useful for holding 
all kinds of odd things : an enamelled washing- 
basin, fitted with a canvas or leather cover and 
a strap, is also a great comfort, as, inside it, the whole 
of your washing paraphernalia travels, and it is 
such a joy to find everything you want under your 
hand, when your bath is temptingly ready — the 
towels having been thrown over the bathroom wall 
to sun themselves till you are ready for theiti. 

Two really comfortable chairs of the ordinary, 
canvas, deck-chair pattern are most desirable, in 
addition to the regulation, little sit-up arm-chair 
affairs ; a lounge is what one wants after a long, hot 
march. We have found it very useful to bring out, 
* on our own,' an extra, small ' X ' table, and a 
second armchair ; the table being precious to a 
degree as a dressing-table. 



CAMP LIFE 277 

When the chop boxes are neatly ranged round 
the sides of your tent, and the furniture, above 
mentioned, opened out, you will not care to fill up 
any more space with unecessary articles. But 
never allow yourself to be uncomfortable for the 
want of things you are certain to miss every day : 
it will spoil half your pleasure, and it is well worth 
the cost of an extra carrier, if necessary, for the pur- 
pose. I fancy that every one, after one tour in the 
bush, will find that experience teaches that a few 
things taken, were useless, and some left behind were 
sorely wanted, and a little judicious sorting and 
arrangement will ensure the second trip being far 
more comfortable, without in the least increasing 
the bulk of your personnel. 

Personal clothing can be carried in tin uniform 
cases, and it should be reduced as far as is com- 
patible with the foregoing axiom. I have found 
that a touring wardrobe, consisting of a habit skirt, 
boots, etc., two coats, one short holland skirt, a 
plain tea-gown, two changes of underclothing, a few 
muslin stocks, one pair of thick boots, and, instead 
of slippers, long, loose, Hausa boots, can be easily 
packed into a fair-sized uniform case. I always 
take, too, a folding Panama hat, for wearing in camp 
(one marches, of course, in a solar topee) ; a very small 
dressing-case, which is a great comfort, as it keeps all 
one's toilet necessaries together ; a writing-case, tiny 
work-box, and sketching materials, all packed in 
the one box. 



278 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

The servants do the washing, in a rough and ready 
fashion, so that many changes are absolutely un- 
necessary, especially as the items are not '' got up " 
at all, and can be washed and dried in an hour or 
two. 

It is useful to have one extra tin case, not dedi- 
cated to any special purpose : it acts as a sort of 
overflow box, and, indeed, one usually finds it over- 
flowing. One or two favourite books, sketching, 
or photography, butterfly catching, and a small 
but '' lasting " piece of needlework, will amply fill 
up your leisure hours in camp. I remember a friend 
of mine in India worked a quantity of very beauti- 
ful point lace during a shooting trip in Kashmir ; 
she used to sit on a box and stitch, while the camp 
was being pitched and struck. Personally, I find, 
as a rule, that after the inevitable preliminary ar- 
rangements and luncheon, a change and a rest, a 
couple of sketches, and a stroll through the village, 
tea-time and twilight come long before I am ready 
for them. 

The camp kitchen requires a little special arrange- 
ment, and both mistress and cook will have to employ 
their utmost ingenuity to prevent all the culinary 
operations from being conducted on the bare ground. 
The cook will not grumble, he rather enjoys squat- 
ting on his heels, balancing pots and pans on a pile 
of blazing wood, and surrounding himself with a 
charmed circle of feathers, egg-shells and onions. 



CAMP LIFE 279 

But as long as he sees that all his implements are 
thoroughly cleansed and scrubbed — and one need not 
go far to find sand in Africa — there need be no real 
uncleanliness, however primitive the conditions ; 
indeed, I always find my camp kitchen far more 
accessible than the one at headquarters, where a dash 
has to be made across a scorching compound at each 
visit. Many a simple cooking lesson have we jointly 
given, in the open air, under some shady tree, seated 
on boxes, wrestling with a wood fire in a light breeze. 
A wide smooth board, scrubbed spotless every day, 
makes quite a useful kitchen table, placed across 
two provision boxes ; one side being kept, scrupu- 
lously, for bread-making, etc., the other used for 
operations involving meat, onions, etc. Another 
detail that requires the mistress' assistance is a 
camp meatsaf e — a few yards of mosquito netting or 
muslin, and the frame of an old umbrella, will 
solve the difficulty at once. The muslin must have 
a drawstring at the top and bottom, and the birds 
or joints hung on to the ribs of the open umbrella, 
which swings gracefully from the nearest tree. 

For light, you cannot improve on the '* Lord's " 
lantern, issued by Government : it gives a splendid 
light, and travels in its own case, which also contains 
a canister, holding kerosene ; this latter, however 
only carries enough oil for about a fortnight, so it 
is necessary to take a tin of kerosene as well. It is 
not wise to economize much over oil, for a light should 



28o A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

be kept burning all night where you sleep. We 
usually carry also an excellent little lantern, fitted 
for candle or lamp, and are therefore never con- 
demned to that ' dim, religious light ' which is so 
conducive to most irreligious exclamations, when 
the master falls over a gun-case in the dark, or wants 
to read a paper. 

During our last leave we had made, to our own 
design, a small arrangement, which, from personal 
experience, we can recommend most strongly. It is 
a light wooden box, measuring about i8 in. x 14 in. 
X7 in. ; with a hinged lid, lock and key. Inside 
it is lined with padded baize, and divided into com- 
partments, containing, respectively, a pair of candle 
lamps, four glass globes, two punkah tops, and 
a box of candles. This box travels everywhere in 
perfect safety, and is an endless comfort : amongst 
other advantages, it saves the inconvenience of 
placing a heavy " Lord's '' lantern on a small camp 
dinner-table, which always seems to attract instantly 
every flying pest for a radius of fifty miles at least. 
Moreover, during more than six months of almost 
incessant travelling, only one globe has been broken. 

The actual marching will, of necessity, and from 
choice too, be done in the early morning, but if 
possible, when making the first start, let it be in the 
afternoon, a short march of only an hour or two 
(this is nearly always possible from any large centre), 
getting to your camp well by daylight. This is 



CAMP LIFE 281 

essential ; the carriers will not be accustomed to 
their loads, they will all squabble and fight for the 
lightest ones, and, even did you purpose a morning 
start, an early one would be an impossibility. Then, 
on arrival in camp, no one knows where to put any- 
thing, and there is certain to be much to arrange and 
alter, for the West African servitor will, for the whole 
of your trip, place each chair and box exactly where 
he planted them that first evening, so be warned 
and, on that momentous occasion, insist upon having 
everything placed exactly where you hope to find it 
every day for the next few weeks — so much comfort 
depends on this. If you are accompanied by a 
military or police escort, the tents will be pitched 
without any difficulty ; but otherwise, I fear that a 
little trouble and patience must be expended in 
teaching the carriers this most important accom- 
plishment. 

But do not lose heart, and feel miserable and 
disappointed, if things are rather in a muddle, the 
servants slow and unmethodical, the carriers dis- 
posed to dump down their loads anywhere, and 
disappear into the village. Take the word of a fairly 
old camping hand, things will be better to-morrow, 
and better still the day after. Meantime, a kettle 
can be boiled in a few minutes, and, though you are 
probably fatigued, yourself, after much packing, 
and perhaps a longer ride than you have taken for 
some time, a cup of tea will make a wonderful differ- 



282 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

ence. The mistress, who, after half an hour's rest 
for every one, gets up cheerfully from her comfort- 
able chair, saying brightly, ' Now then, Suli, or 
Mohammadu, I am going to help you,' can reduce 
chaos to order and comfort in no time, and will find 
her servants willing to assist ; for, as I have said 
before in this chapter, cheerfulness is infectious, 
and nowhere more so than amongst Africans. I 
have often seen a crowd of sullen, angry faces 
suddenly break into happy, childish laughter, moved 
by one well-timed joke. 

Speaking from my own experience, I can only say 
that I consider the carriers to be a much maligned 
set of folks ; they are very easy to deal with, and 
after the first march, there is never a dispute— 
except, of course, over ' chop ' — the carrier fraternity 
would wrangle in Paradise over the possession of 
half a yam. I have known most of them by name ; 
on one long tour they used to come and say ' Good- 
morning ' with broadest smiles, and, even after long 
and trying marches, they would go out into the'^bush, 
entirely on their own initiative, and collect bunches 
of flowers for ' Missis ' to decorate her tent and 
dinner-table with. Their affectionate impulses went 
so far as to induce them to rifle birds' nests and bring 
me the fledglings, until I had to be severe about it. 
A little sympathetic attention to their various 
ailments and wounds, makes them consider one as a 
valuable ally and friend. 



CAMP LIFE 283 

Once shaken down into the routme of marching, 
you will elect to get up at dawn, your toilet will 
take about twenty minutes, and a simple breakfast, 
consisting of coffee and eggs, or grilled chicken, 
should then be ready. During breakfast, the carriers 
will pounce upon, and whisk away, the whole con- 
tents of the camp, and in less than an hour from the 
time you woke the long line will have streamed 
away into the distance, the head-man having 
instructions where to pitch the next camp, and to 
have a good supply of water and fire-wood ready. 
Your better half will probably have a little work 
to do, in the shape of a final interview with the 
Chief of the place, so the carriers can always get a 
good half-hour's start. 

You will then begin your march, walking in the 
fresh, cool, morning air, through the loveliest, green- 
est, dew-soaked country possible to find, along 
the tiny footpaths, which constitute the ' high 
roads ' in Nigeria. I believe some people never 
walk a yard on the march, but I always thoroughly 
enjoy it \ it breaks the monotony of many hours in 
the saddle, and, I think, must be good for one, as 
riding at a snail's pace is not, after all, very violent 
exercise. 

If a march is extremely long, it is quite easy to 
keep the cook and a few carriers, with table, chairs, 
etc., behind the others, have a cold luncheon prepared 
the day before, and select a shady spot near water, 



284 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

about half-way^ for luncheon and a rest — as a rule, 
you will find that the carriers have already selected 
it with some discrimination. The ordinary day's 
march occupies five or six hours, and averages from 
fifteen to eighteen miles. This sounds very little, but 
it is as much as your carriers and ponies (and your- 
self) are able for, without distress, and, unless time 
is a serious consideration, I do not advocate march- 
ing again in the afternoon. A Political Officer will 
usually have ample work at each halting-place to 
occupy the hours of daylight. I have done seven 
and eight hours in the saddle many a time, but it is 
tiring, hard work for every one, and makes the 
whole thing a weariness, instead of a pleasure. 

You will, I think, find, when you ride in, that 
tents have been pitched, everything unpacked and 
made ready for you, the servants will have rested, 
the cook will be hard at work, preparing luncheon, 
and the staff will assure you, with smiling faces, that 
the march has been ' not far too much at all.' If 
one anticipates several weeks of hard marching, it 
is a good thing to hire small ponies for the cook 
and head steward, as it ensures their arriving first, 
and arriving fresh. 

The evening stroll at sunset is always full of 
interest for me. There is the village to inspect, 
cloth-making and cotton-spinning to admire, and, 
perhaps, many little trifles of Hausa leather work, 
etc., to buy. In places where a white woman has 



CAMP LIFE 285 

never been seen before, she may cause a panic among 
the simple souls. In one remote little Pagan village, 
I remember, the men came, as usual, headed by 
their Chief, to the * palaver,' and, at sight of me, 
they fell prostrate, covered their heads with their 
flowing garments, lay on the ground and moaned 
in fear, refusing to be comforted till I retreated from 
the scene. I have since discovered that an occa- 
sional albino negress (truly, a fearsome sight) is 
held by them in great reverence, and practically 
worshipped ! 

In another village the people fled at the sight of 
me, the only person holding his ground being a man, 
nursing a sick baby, who had high fever, from teeth- 
ing pain. We prescribed, and supplied, for the 
poor mite, a remedy so old-fashioned, that I almost 
blush to record it — a nicely smoothed and rounded 
chicken bone ! And, when the incessant wail of 
pain died away, and the baby chewed contentedly 
at its ' comforter,' the frightened women and 
children crept back and smiled, and told each other, 
doubtless, that we were physicians of a very high 
order ! 

One can always, I find, gain the confidence of 
the women-kind, by taking notice of the ' pikkins,' 
or by a little care and solicitude for a wound or sore. 
Merely the applying of a clean bandage, personally, 
establishes your position in the village as the ' God- 
sent,' and, which matters more, as the friend of 



286 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the ladies — for I have a strong conviction that 
(in spite of the laments indulged in by good people 
at home, over the sad position of the down-trodden 
woman of Africa) the ladies rule the villages and 
set the public tone : I have seen most lively rows 
and free fights started by one lady's uncontrolled 
tongue, or quarrelsome temper. 

You will, of course, like to see that your ponies 
are properly housed, well-fed, and comfortable for 
the night. It is as well to take blankets for them, 
in case they have to sleep in the open, or stand in 
the rain. When possible, it is a great comfort to 
have an extra pony, to march along with you — one 
of them may go sick or lame, on a rough road, and 
have to be put out of work. Ponies usually fatten 
and thrive well on the march, possibly because 
guinea-corn, etc., is so much more plentiful in the 
bush than at headquarters ; but it is decidedly 
anxious work, taking horses one values into thick, 
forest country, where guinea-corn is not obtainable 
and grass rank and scarce. Great care should 
be exercised over the ponies' drinking water, 
and they should hy no means be allowed to drink 
at any pool or stream they may cross. I firmly 
believe that bad water is one of the causes of much 
of the horse sickness so prevalent here, and unless 
I can see clearly up and down stream for some dis- 
tance, and satisfy myself that the water is not full 
of decaying vegetation, nor stagnating under over- 



CAMP LIFE 287 

hanging branches, my pony has to wait for his drink 
until a healthier state of things can be found. 

Where roads are rough and stony, extra care is, 
of course, needed in searching the ponies' feet for 
stones — it may not occur to the doki-boys. 

In some parts of the country tents are seldom 
necessary, as^there are rest-houses at all the halting- 
places on the main roads, and very delightful they 
are to spend a day or two in, when they are water- 
tight and in good repair — simply shelters, with a 
very deep, low, thatched roof coming to within four 
feet of the ground, no walls (grass ones can be 
added by the villagers in half an hour, if desired), 
cosy, yet airy from their great height, very roomy, 
and usually watertight ; though, to ensure this, 
when there is rain about, it is a good thing to pitch 
the outer fly of a tent over your bed, thus securing a 
dry, comfortable night, even in a tornado. In a few 
places, where the rest-house is placed in a forest 
clearing, outside the village, it seems rather confiding 
to sleep so insecurely, but I have been told that a 
lamp and mosquito curtains will daunt any but the 
hungriest lion. 

I have only one or two more suggestions to offer 
before closing this chapter : the first and most im- 
portant may not sound attractive, but it is abso- 
lutely necessary — to put all the clothing you intend 
wearing the next day under your pillow at night. 
Indeed, it is the only way to ensure its being dry, the 



288 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

damp penetrates everywhere, and at 5 a.m. one does 
not feel disposed to walk about, lightly clothed, 
unlocking boxes, and extracting one's garments. 

Another small point, which is useful to know and 
act upon, is, that a very small quantity of powdered 
alum will clear dirty, brackish water very quickly ; 
all the solid matter sinks to the bottom, and the clear 
water can be poured off, thus saving the unpleasant 
necessity for a muddy-looking, uninviting bath : 
a few crystals of permanganate of potash are rather 
nice in a bath, too, when the water is unpleasant to 
smell and look at. 

On long marches it is worth while trying to culti- 
vate a taste for Kola nuts : they are marvellously 
refreshing and stimulating, and the clean, bitter 
flavour is rather delightful once one is accustomed to 
it. I have, often and often, staved off the pangs of 
hunger, thirst and fatigue, with a Kola nut, the sharp- 
ness tempered by a piece of chocolate munched 
along with it. 

For the benefit of your servants and carriers, a few 
simple remedies, easily obtained from the medical 
officers, should be taken into the bush ; they are 
tabulated below, with a list of stores. This last, 
it must be remembered, is confined severely to 
necessaries ; it can be supplemented by all kinds of 
luxuries, such as tinned sardines, cheese, butter, 
potted meat, etc., always bearing in mind that the 
ottal transport allowed by Government, at present 



CAMP LIFE 



289 



to each official on the march, is an average of twelve 
to fourteen loads of fifty-six pounds each. 



Provisions necessary for Two People 

One Month 



for 



4 lb. sugar. 

4 lb. tea. 

14 lb. flour. 

4 tins biscuits. 

18 tins milk. 

6 tins lard. 

6 tins jam. 

2 tins baking-powder. 

2 tins coffee. 

2 packets candles. 



I packet matches. 

1 tin kerosene, 

12 boxes sparklets. 

2 bars soap. 

I bottle curry-powder. 

12 soup squares. 

I case whisky. 

I case limejuice. 

salt, pepper, mustard, etc. 



Medical Stores 



I roll lint. 
I roll cotton-wool. 
I packet bandages. 
I tin Epsom salts. 
I tin boracic powder. 



1 tin sulphur ointment. 

2 bottles liniment. 

I bottle chlorodyne. 
A small quantity of iodo- 
form ointment. 



u 



CHAPTER VII 
What to Wear 

I APPROACH this subject with some diffidence, as it 
is one so differently regarded by different individuals. 
No two people ever seem to agree about clothing for 
the tropics, so I shall not attempt to offer opinions 
on the merits or demerits of ' flannel next the skin/ 
etc., but shall confine myself to a few general hints, 
which, I hope, may be equally useful to the disciple 
of Jaeger and Viyella, and to the advocate of musHn 
and cambric. 

One broad axiom that none will dispute, I may give 
safely : in all kinds of clothes, aim at variety rather 
than at super-excellence of quality and delicacy of 
trimming. Remember that you have to wear wash- 
ing gowns all the year round, and their constant 
attendance at the wash-tub will destroy them very 
quickly if you have only three or four to ring the 
changes on. This applies especially to white gowns, 
which, cool and dainty as they are, I do not recom- 
mend very strongly, as a dusty path or a shower of 
rain will make them unwearable after half an hour, 
and back they must go to the washerman, who pro- 

391 



292 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

ceeds to forcibly illustrate the meaning of ' wear and 
tear.' 

Linen skirts of any colour that is not too delicate 
are invaluable ; half a dozen of them, one or two 
holland, and a couple of simple muslins or cool 
cottons, should carry you triumphantly through 
your time. The woman endowed with clever fingers 
can, of course, add to her stock, armed with good 
paper patterns, lengths of unmade material, and, 
if she is lucky, a sewing-machine, and she will prob- 
ably be very glad of the occupation for her spare 
time. Shirts and blouses of thin flannel, washing 
silk and muslin can be brought in any number that 
space allows — the more the better, but the local 
laundry cannot goffer frills and almost always 
tears lace ! Cambric and muslin blouses of the 
' shirt ' order are the most useful kind, as silk rots 
almost at once. For this reason let your smarter 
blouses be of crepe de chine rather than silk. 
Evening gowns you will scarcely want ; one, or at 
most two simple dinner frocks, and a tea-gown to 
wear for dinner at home, will be ample. For the 
benefit of those who may have to spend some time 
on tour, I may mention that I derive the greatest 
comfort from a very thin cashmere or nun's veiling 
tea-gown, or rather an elaborate dressing-gown for 
dinner in camp, and also find it useful as a dressing- 
gown during the colder part of the voyage. You 
will want one warm dress of the coat-and-skirt de- 



WHAT TO WEAR 293 

scription to start your voyage in, for it is usually quite 
cold from Liverpool to the Canaries. It should be 
of the plainest tailor-made sort ; once arrived in 
Africa you will not wear it again, probably, until 
you reach the same point on your way home. The 
same may be said of what was once described to me 
as a ' human ' hat, unless it is of the very plainest ; 
for some reason which I cannot quite define, but can 
nevertheless thoroughly appreciate, a ' smart ' hat 
looks absolutely ludicrous out here : in fact, any 
tendency to over-dressing has only one effect, that 
of making your company, usually a few hard-working 
men, feel thoroughly uncomfortable. All one wants, 
after all, is to appear fresh, spotless and dainty, which 
can be best accomplished by a clean linen frock, a 
shady simple straw hat, a sensible sunshade and 
garden gloves. 

If it will not quite break your heart, be advised 
and brush back your fringe, if you have one ; it is 
quite impossible to keep it in curl or tidy, and the 
peace and comfort you will get from the absence of 
clammy dank wisps of short hair will amply repay you 
for what you may think an unbecoming change. 
May I also whisper that no one should allow her 
friends at home to persuade her to invest in an 
' artistic and invisible ' ' transformation ' ; they 
are all too visible, and, for this country, are simply 
waste of money. 

In Nigeria there is nearly always a breeze modify- 



294 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

ing the damp heat, which reminds me that a Hght 
cloth or flannel coat is rather indispensable for sitting 
outside after tennis, on cool evenings ; and, when it 
sets to work to rain after a sultry day, one finds it 
very chilly in muslin, the temperature drops so 
suddenly and considerably, that a thin serge or flannel 
skirt is exceedingly comfortable. 

Your riding-habit should consist of a very short 
skirt of moderate thickness ; I am no believer in 
what tailors call ' Colonial ' habits, they very sel- 
dom set so comfortably, and never wear so well as a 
good solid cloth ; moreover, the gain in coolness 
is not perceptible : at least, that has been my experi- 
ence, after some years in India. For underneath 
you will find rather loose knickers most comfort- 
able, made of dark coloured washing material ; 
the best is called ' moleskin ' by breeches-makers, and 
is used for the thinnest kind of riding-breeches for 
men. Don't have your knickers made by a habit- 
maker, simply have a good pattern of bicycling 
knickers copied ; two pairs should be quite enough. 
A cloth coat is unnecessary ; a few holland and white 
drill loose coats will answer much better, and, as 
starched collars are somewhat at a discount, soft 
white muslin scarves, worn like a hunting-stock, look 
neat and are coriif or table. I think it is a consider- 
able advantage to have your habit very short in- 
deed, as, while touring, it is a great pleasure and 
variety to walk the first few miles of the march, a 



/ 
WHAT TO WEAR 295 

pleasure which is completely spoilt if you have to 
hold up a heavy habit skirt. Riding on tour is such 
crawling work, that, if you prefer it, you could quite 
well ride your marches in an ordinary short walking 
skirt, though personally I think there is no garb so 
entirely comfortable as well-fitting riding garments. 

For those wise women who adopt the ' astride ' 
position, a divided skirt is, of course, necessary. 
The very best is, I believe, made by Ross of Bond 
Street, but that, being the perfection of cut and 
smartness, is, naturally, an expensive investment, 
and for rough work in this country an ordinary 
divided bicycling skirt would answer perfectly, or 
else full bloomers worn with shooting boots and 
putties and a rather long-skirted coat — person- 
ally, I should advocate the latter. 

Bear well in mind, there must be no trifling with 
your mackintosh ! When it rains in West Africa, it 
does rain, and you want the most serious and really 
waterproof mackintosh obtainable. I have found 
that the essential point is to have it of a light weight, 
loose and easy to slip into, at a moment's notice, even 
on a plunging frightened pony, when the tornado 
catches one on the march. The firm of all others for 
this purpose is Burberry, in the Haymarket. I doubt 
whether any umbrella really keeps out the rain ; 
for ordinary use, I should advise a strong silk en-tout 
cas of a dark colour that will serve equally well for 
sun or shower. You will also want a really big cotton 



296 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

umbrella, lined with green — in fact, it would be a 
graceful attention to bring a second one for your 
better half, as they are quite necessary for and con- 
stantly used by men who have to go out in the sun 
in the middle of the day. 

It will be wise to stock yourself before leaving home 
with all small etceteras, such as ribbons, laces, 
buttons, thread, needles, etc. We cannot yet buy 
' chiffons ' in Nigeria, and, unless you bring them 
all with you, it entails writing home, and waiting two 
months for a reel of silk or a packet of needles. I 
remember well being utterly unable to get from 
market or stores a single reel of white cotton, for 
weeks, and my husband being reduced to wearing 
a highly decorative but somewhat unusual pair of 
amateur boot-laces made of bright crimson Hausa 
leather ! 

Boots must be fairly solid as to soles ; the soil of 
West Africa seems to have a specially destructive effect 
on English leather. In Sierra Leone, for instance, 
the soles are worn out in a few weeks, though in 
Nigeria things are not so bad; for while in Sierra 
Leone, I walked because I loathed crawling in a 
hammock, here, with ponies, walking is not a bit 
necessary. Still, it is impossible to get boots re- 
soled, so as to be wearable, therefore do not economize 
in this direction, only remember that all your foot- 
gear must be constantly worn or it will spoil. Black- 
ing boots are only a vexation, they always seem 



WHAT TO WEAR 297 

sticky, and dirty one's hands and skirts ; I should 
recommend a stout, really stout, pair of tan laced 
boots for heavy walking, about half a size larger 
than usual, a lighter pair for ordinary wear (tan 
buckskin is delightfully cool and soft for the dry 
weather), and a couple of pairs of walking-shoes of tan 
or black glace kid. It is useless to lay down anything 
definite, as people use their feet so differently ; some are 
hard on boots, while others can wear them for years 
apparently. Of course, boot-trees have a good deal 
to say to the longevity of foot-gear, and, now that 
such light ones are to be had, three or four pairs would 
not be too many. I have heard it said that walking- 
shoes are dangerous on account of snakes, but they 
are far cooler than boots, and one really does not 
have to pick one's way among snakes as a rule, and I 
have always found them a pleasant variety. x\bout 
indoor shoes you will, of course, decide for yourself ; 
I think perhaps they wear out quicker than at home — 
mine do, at all events, but my incessant perambula- 
tions in the garden, stables, etc., may have something 
to do with that ! They should be glace kid, not 
patent leather, on account of coolness. 

Riding-boots ought to be tan, and a very easy fit ; 
I have been told that stiffened canvas uppers and 
tan-leather feet constitute delightfully cool riding- 
boots, but I have no personal experience of them, 
and think one can hardly improve on good tan 
leather : I have never desired anything cooler, even 



298 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

in a Punjab hot weather. A little toilet powder 
sprinkled inside makes them much easier to pull 
on. 

Mosquitoes do not deal more gently with us here 
than they do elsewhere ; all the men wear long loose 
boots, made in this country, of Hausa leather ; they 
are an absolute protection, and, if somewhat too 
clumsy for a lady's wear, as a rule, they are exceed- 
ingly useful in camp. For ordinary use, a pair of black 
canvas gaiters, buttoned and reaching to the knee, 
can be worn over ordinary evening slippers. They 
are so neat as not to be noticeable at all, and are an 
absolute protection when mosquitoes are numerous 
and hungry. 

So much for your outer woman. At the end of 
this chapter, I am giving a list of what appears to me 
the least possible supply of clothes to make you 
comfortable, and, bearing in mind that it takes 
two months to get additions out from Home, even 
to Lokoja, and much longer up country, you will 
doubtless agree that it is best to be independent. 
You will want a large quantity of underclothing, 
and, first of all, you must decide for yourself about 
the solidity of vests, etc. I cannot suggest hygienic 
principles, as I never practise them ; do as you are 
accustomed to do, as that appears to make for com- 
fort. I met one lady in Africa, who told me she 
wore merino combinations, because, having worn 
them always in England, she felt cold without 



WHAT TO WEAR 299 

them — and this in a mean temperature of eighty 
or ninety degrees ! 

I think perfect comfort and happiness can be 
found in fine cambric or nainsook combinations, 
or spun-silk vests and cambric knickers. I rather 
doubt the desirability of washing-silk under-gar- 
ments, chiefly because the art of laundry work is 
in its infancy, and the silk shirts that I have had 
washed have returned distinctly hard and harsh. 
But the main point, in a climate like this, is to have 
enough of whatever you decide to wear ; you will pro- 
bably change everything two or three times a day, and 
washing is not done here in a day or two, as it is in 
India. Let everything be of the thinnest texture, 
compatible with bad washing. The Lahman under- 
wear is excellent in its thinnest qualities, and is 
invariably praised by those who wear it. 

A supply of old underlinen to wear on the voyage 
and throw overboard is invaluable ; I dislike no- 
thing more than arriving at one's destination with a 
bulging soiled-linen bag, and an uncertain prospect 
of getting it converted into clean clothes. On 
the way home this is quite a simple matter ; after 
twelve months in the hands of the gentle African 
laundry folk, most of your underlinen will be fit 
for nothing else ! 

At least six pairs of corsets are necessary, the 
coolest kind obtainable, certainly, but I can assure 
you that to leave off wearing them at any time for 



300 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

the sake of coolness is a huge mistake : there is 
nothing so fatiguing as to lose one's ordinary support 
even with a view to being ' comfy/ Always wear 
corsets, even for tete-a-tete home dinner on the 
warmest evenings ; there is something about their 
absence almost as demoralizing as hair in curling- 
pins ! 

I should avoid expensive and ' faddy ' varieties 
of underclothing. I remember when I first went to 
India, I was induced to buy, at a guinea each, four 
night-dresses of some special mixture of silk and wool, 
which, I was told, would be ' ideal wear ' for the Red 
Sea and other warm localities. Perhaps I am hope- 
lessly prejudiced against anything resembling flannel, 
but I thought them horrible, and after enduring one 
for half an hour, they were all stowed away, to be 
presented to my ' ayah ' at the first opportunity. 
If you think fit to wear a kamerband at night (a 
distinctly prudent proceeding), a yard or two of 
white flannel, simply torn into lengths about eighteen 
inches wide, and worn outside the nightdress, answers 
the purpose better than anything else ; the nights 
are almost invariably cool, and usually breezy 
towards dawn. 

With these few hints, aided by your own common 
sense, I think your outfit is sure to be successful 
and satisfactory, and your comfort and dainty appear- 
ance assured ; so I need say no more, except a word 
or two on the subject of a sun-hat, which you must 



WHAT TO WEAR 301 

have, no matter how much your artistic feehngs may 
rebel against it. Be sure it is large enough, for the 
part that needs most protection is the back of the 
neck, and no helmet-shaped ' topi ' will give you real 
shade there. I like best the spreading, mushroom 
shaped wide-brimmed hat, which will fit well down 
over back hair and all, so that hat-pins and chin- 
strap can be dispensed with. A grey hat, with a grey 
silk puggaree looks — well, as nice as a solar topi 
can be made to look ! With this and a couple of 
simple straw or Panama hats, you will need no more ; 
the appearance of the latter can be varied by different 
ribbons and scarves to relieve the monotony. 

If you have any favourite kinds of scent, soap or 
powder, bring them with you ; scent and powder are 
not to be bought here, of course, and one's ' very 
own ' soap is a delightful small luxury everywhere. 
I should like to say a word for ' Papier poudre.' It 
is the greatest boon in a hot damp climate, which 
gives a tendency to greasiness to the best com- 
plexions, and does far less harm than the use of 
powder ; moreover, it never leaves white streaks 
on nose or cheeks, even if you pass the little, scented, 
absorbent leaf over your face without a mirror. 
Now as to boxes, and I have done. 
I should strongly advise against the usual leather 
cabin trunks ; they are so heavy that, although it is 
true that they fit under a berth, it is a herculean 
task to pull them out for anything you may happen 



302 A RESIDENT'S WIFE IN NIGERIA 

to want. They are likewise too heavy and too large 
for one carrier's load, and so are useless for camp 
travelling ; they wear badly too under rough usage, 
which they are quite certain to get. Use regulation 
tin ' uniform cases/ sized approximately 36 in. x 
12 in. X 15 in. This is the ideal size for a carrier's 
load, which he carries on his head, steadied with one 
hand, so you can imagine that anything much wider 
than the above dimensions is a great sorrow to him. 
But I think, for the sake of your skirts, you might 
be allowed one box a little longer, say 42 in., or 
just long enough to take a skirt without folding ; 
for the average carrier will make no objection as to 
length, so long as you consider his feelings as to width. 
You will find these boxes handier too in the cabin ; 
you can put a couple of them under the sofa-berth, 
and feel fairly independent of the sea that comes in 
once or twice on every voyage. On the journey up 
river, on the little stern-wheelers, space is a great 
consideration, and a big trunk quite un-get-at-able ; 
one feels less compunction in improvising a seat out 
of a tin box than out of a leather one, and seats have 
to be improvised very often on these occasions ! 

The following list is only intended as a basis to 
work on, and to be added to as your fancy dictates 
and your purse allows : — 

Six cambric night-dresses. Twelve spun silk vests. 
Two flannel night-dresses. Six pairs tan thread stockings. 
Twelve cambric combinations. Six pairs black thread stock- 
Six pairs cambric knickers. ings 



WHAT TO WEAR 



303 



Three white petticoats. 

Two silk moirette petticoats 
(wears much better than 
silk). 

Two dozen handkerchiefs. 

Six pairs corsets. 

Twelve camisoles. 

One white (washing) dressing- 
gown. 

One woollen dressing-gown. 

Four linen skirts. 

Two holland or drill skirts. 

Two muslin dresses. 

One cloth gown. 

One tea-gown. 

Two evening gowns. 

Blouses ad. lib. 



One habit skirt. 

Four riding coats. 

Two pairs riding breeches. 

Two Panama hats. 

One solar topi. 

One light coat 

One en-tout-cas. 

One sunshade. 

One mackintosh. 

One pair thick tan boots 

One pair tan walking boots. 

One pair tan glace walking 

shoes. 
One pair black glace walking 

shoes. 
Six pairs house slippers 
One pair tan riding boots 



INDEX 



A 

Abadie, Captain, 107 

" Aerolite," 174 

Aiede, 19 

Albino, 20 

Anglo-French Boundary Com- 
mission, 184, 185 

Anglo-German Boundary Com- 
mission, 50 

Ant hills, 18 

Arab merchants, 140 

Ashburnham, Captain, 2 

Astride, riding, 265 



B 

Badjibo, 155 

Balu, 181 

Bargery, Mr. and Mrs., 190 

Bebeji, 71 

Benue, river, 50 

Bida, 27, 185 

market of, 189 
" Binkie," 62 
Bird-life, 156 
Black Swan, 50 
Borgu, 147 

people of, 177 

superstitions of, 178 
Boxes, 301 
" Boys," 214 
Bryophyllum, 139 
Bunu language, 121 

funeral ceremonies, 122 
Burglary, 63 
Burutu, 3 
Bussa, 160 



Camp life, 271 

kitchen, 278 

provisions, 289 
Cannas, 17 
Carriers, 282 
Carts (mono-wheel), 66 
Chop-boxes, 272 
Churn, 234 
Cook, native, 208 
Coronation Day, 22, 25 
Cows, 234 

D 

Dogs, 221 

feeding of, 223 

dosing of, 224 
" Doki boy," 259, 262 
Duck-shooting, 42 



E 



Egga, 37 
Ekiurin, 17 
Erun, 22 



Filter, 201 
Fish, 157 
" Flamboyant," 7 
" Fritz," 151 
Fruit, 214 
Furniture, 196 
bedroom, 202 



G 



Ganna, 40, 89 



304 



INDEX 



305 



Garden, 239 

flower, 240 

verandah, 248 

vegetable, 249 
Girouard, Sir Percy, K.C.M.G., 

191 
Gloriosa Superba, 12 
Goldsmith, Mr., 26 



Karshi, 108 

Katagum, 92 

Keffi, 47 

Kemball, General and Mrs., 35 

Kigelia Africana, 139 

Kishra, 176 

Kitchen, Nigerian, 209 



H 

Hadeija, 99 

Emir of, 100 

departure from, 104 
Hasler, Major, 70 
Hausa embroidery, 30 

scholarship, 59 
Home, the, 195 
Horse-doctor, native, 57 
Horses, feeding of, 260 
Household, 205 

wages of, 206 

servants, 207 
Housekeeping, 210 



Igarra, 127 
Ilesha, 170 

funeral at, 171 
Illo, 161 
Incubator, 229 
Isochelis, 139 



Jebba, the, 58 

Jebba, 153 

Ju-ju hill, 124 

house, 17 

rock, 154 



K 



Kabba, 15, 112, 115 

Ilorin boundary, 138 
Kaiama, 167 

Sariki of, 168 
Kano, 73 

Emir of, 79 

residency, 82 
Karonga, the, 5 



Lawn, 244 
Lions, 166 
Lokoja, 8 
Look-out hill, 120 
Lukpa, 15 

M 

Marabouts, 96 

Meat, 211 

Mexican poppy, 138 

Moloney, Captain, 54 

Momo, 39 

Mosquito net, 203 

Mungo Park, death of, 175 

Mureji, no 

Murmur, 97 

Mussaenda Elegans, 13 



Nassuf, 140 



N 



O 



Oduapi, 13 
Ose River, 21 
Ostrich, tame, 96 
Oudney, Richard, 97 
Oven, native, 38 
Oxen, pack, 88 
Oysters, 178 



Palm-cats — Nandinia binotata, 

137 
Patti Abaja, 136 

Patti hill, 8 

Phillips, Captain, D.S.O., 129 

Poultry, 226 

feeding of, 231 

Preperanda, 6 



3o6 



INDEX 



R 

Rapids, ascending, 159 
Rapids at Wuru, 160 

at Mullale, 185 
Riding habit, 294 

boots, 297 



Tornado, dry, 163 
at Kaiama, 173 
Transhipping, 147 
Transport, animal, 85 
Trees and shrubs, 245 



Saddlery, 264 
Salla, great, 189 
Sekondi, the, i 
Semolika, 126 

attack on, 131 

stool, 134 
Serval cat, 182 
Sierra Leone, i 
Slaves, 47 

Sokoto, disaster at. 162 
Stable, the, 257 
Stern -wheelers, 5 
Steward, duties of, 214 
Stone, Mr., 3 
Strophanthus, 138 



U 
Underclothing, 298 
" Uwamu," 95 



Vegetables, 213 

W 

Wa-wa, 165 
Wear, what to, 291 
Wilmot, Mr. and Mrs., 133 



Zaria, 70 
Zinnias, 70 
Zungeru, 65 




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